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July, 2013

The UFC Featherweight Ladder: Ranking the Division’s Worthiest Challengers


(Pictured above: Barry “Sarge” Walters, the schizophrenic UFC fan who can often be seen running onstage during weigh-ins. / Photo via Getty)

By Alex Giardini

Unlike some weight-classes we won’t mention, the UFC featherweight division is currently loaded with dangerous contenders, any of whom could be a serious title threat in the future. At UFC 163 (August 3rd, Rio de Janeiro), divisional ruler Jose Aldo defends his belt against fan-favorite “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung, and as long as an immediate rematch isn’t booked, there will be a feeding frenzy of 145-pounders trying to make their case as the true #1 contender. So who’s worthiest of the next title shot? Let’s put aside the phony UFC rankings and business-driven matchmaking and break down where each featherweight contender really stands in the pecking order.

Ricardo Lamas

(Photo via Esther Lin/MMAFighting)

Lamas is the obvious frontrunner to be next in line but why is he being overlooked? The fact that Jung got the title shot over Lamas after their UFC 162 bout was canceled raised a few eyebrows in itself. Lamas, who hasn’t lost in over a year and a half, has blazed through his opposition in the UFC including men on this very list, and despite demolishing a highly-regarded prospect in Erik Koch back in January, his immediate future is unknown. Lamas has a devastating striking game — including some flashy and dangerous kicks — which gives him the ability to end a fight at any moment. He also has a quality wrestling pedigree, alongside a brown belt in jiu-jitsu, and his ground and pound is murderous; woe to anyone in the division who finds himself on the bottom of Lamas’s elbows and power strikes.

It’s relatively strange that Lamas was skipped in line for a title shot but maybe the UFC feels Aldo’s competition should come with a familiar face. Jung is no slouch, finishing all three opponents thus far in his UFC career, but Lamas also has an equally impressive track record in the company – undefeated in four bouts with previous stoppages over Cub Swanson, Matt Grice. The aforementioned brutalizing of Erik Koch was a major reason to include him in the mix, as Koch was a highly-touted prospect who was already paving his way to a title shot before he met “The Bully.” With Conor McGregor and Cub Swanson angling for fights with the Chicago-born fighter, his next move is up in the air, but maybe he’ll remain quiet until August 3rd to see how everything pans out.

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Coincidence Much? Chael Sonnen Returning to Middleweight After “Fight Night” Bout With Shogun Rua

We are shocked, Potato Nation. SHOCKED WE TELLS YOU.

For reasons that are not yet understandable despite being clearly explained to us, P4P G.O.A.T., multi-division UFC champion, possessor of the arms and the charms, the hefty lefty, the flyin hawaiian, the Juggernaut, bitch, Chael Phinneus Sonnen Esq., recently announced that he will be returning to the middleweight division after he defeats Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at Fight Night: Sonnen vs. Shogun on August 17th.

It’s a goddamn travesty is what it is. As we all know, Sonnen was last “defeated” by light heavyweight “champion” Jon Jones via technical knock out (emphasis on “technical”) at UFC 159 in a fight that he would have undoubtedly won had referee Keith Peterson not been in Jones’ pocket and prematurely stopped the fight. So discouraged by the evident corruption at 205, Sonnen broke the news of his middleweight return on UFC Tonight yesterday:

I’ve moved to Southern California and am training at Reign with Mark Munoz. My new contract, which is a five-fight deal, was finalized today.

I’ll return to middleweight after beating Shogun. There are two guys I want to get matched up with: Vitor Belfort, because he’s awesome and he’s on an incredible roll. And Wanderlei Silva, who I’ve heard is going back to middleweight. The landscape has completely changed. I’ve got a new contract and I’m returning to the weight class.

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The 9 Kinds of Knockouts You See in MMA Fights


(#10: The failed troll-attempt knockout. / Photo via Getty)

By BG, cross-posted from Break.com

All knockouts are basically the same — a fighter gets his brain turned off and then gravity takes over. But when you’ve been watching MMA as long as we have, you begin to notice patterns. So here’s a guide to nine notable sub-species of KO, ranging from frighteningly violent to kind of hilarious. Enjoy, and let us know if we’ve left out any of your favorites…

The First-Punch Knockout

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. When you end a fight with the first punch you throw, it either means you’re a total badass, or you had a little help from your opponent. (See also: The First-Kick Knockout)

The Falling Tree Knockout

The knockout-victim stiffens up on his feet and falls to earth as slowly and deliberately as a mighty redwood. Bonus points if you can punch the guy a few more times on the way down. (See also: Barboza vs. Etim, Mercer vs. Sylvia)

To see the rest of the list — including the lawn-chair KO, the dive-bomb KO, and the cheap-shot KO — click here to continue reading this post on Break.com!

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Ronda Rousey to Make Big-Screen Debut in ‘The Expendables 3′


(Photo by @brianbowensmith via @rondarousey / Click for full-size version)

Real-life action hero Ronda Rousey has booked her first film role, and luckily it has nothing to do with that Hunger Games bullshit. As revealed yesterday by Sylvester Stallone himself, the UFC women’s bantamweight champion will have a part in The Expendables 3, which begins filming next month in Los Angeles; boxing star Victor Ortiz will have a part as well. But don’t worry, the film won’t steal attention from Ronda’s day job. From an MMAFighting report:

According to UFC President Dana White, filming of the movie won’t impact Rousey’s scheduled title defense against Miesha Tate, scheduled on Dec. 28 in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

“That’s why I said, `Yes,” said White via text message. “Ronda listens, unlike others.”

Ouch. That remark was obviously directed at Edward James Olmos.

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Do-or-Die Alert: Tim Boetsch Draws Luke Rockhold for ‘UFC 166: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos III’


(Boetsch may have won the battle, but the piece of glass Okami left on the mat surely won the war. Photo via Tracy Lee/Yahoo) 

The UFC career of Tim Boetsch has seen some incredible highs and just-as-unforgettable lows to say the least. After kick-starting his tenure at light heavyweight with one of the most savage debuts of all time (and a personal favorite fight of mine) at UFC 81: Breaking Point, “The Barbarian” would drop two out of his next three to Matt Hamill and Jason Brilz before being ousted from the promotion. It was a decision that nearly bankrupted Capital One and resulted in the pillage-related deaths of no less than 400 people, but I digress.

Three straight stoppage wins on the local circuit would see Boetsch called back up to the big leagues to face Thiago Silva at UFC 117. Although an Inner Circle concert injury would see Silva ousted and Todd Brown brought in, the result would be a unanimous decision victory for Boetsch nonetheless. It was a redemptive feeling that wouldn’t last long, unfortunately, as Phil Davis and his freaky, deeky submission skills would force Boetsch to drop to middleweight in a last ditch effort to save his career. With the help of world-renowned trainer Matt Hume, Boetsch would go on an impressive 4-fight win streak at 185, including one of the greatest comeback victories in MMA history.

Back-to-back losses at the hands of Costa Philippou and Mark Munoz, however, have once again placed “The Barbarian” in hot water. In even worse news, the man Boetsch will have to defeat to likely stay employed will be former Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, as the two have just been booked for UFC 166 on October 19th.

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Brian Stann to Fill in for Joe Rogan as UFC 163 Color-Commentator


(“…AND ONCE AGAIN MACHIDA PROVES HE’S ONE OF THE MOST DANGEROUS AND ELUSIVE FIGHTERS IN THE DIVISION, LET’S KICK IT BACK TO CURT AND JAY IN THE STUDIO GRRRRAAAAAAHHHHGGH!!!”)

Newly-retired American hero Brian Stann has already lined up a gig covering college football for FOX Sports South this fall, but he’ll get a little more experience on the mic next month when he fills in for Joe Rogan at UFC 163: Aldo vs. Korean Zombie (August 3rd, Rio De Janeiro). Ariel Helwani first reported the news on last night’s edition of UFC Tonight, adding that a scheduling conflict is preventing Rogan from performing his usual color-commentary duties at the event.

As MMAMania points out, this will be the first time since UFC 134: Silva vs. Okami back in August 2011 that Rogan has been absent from a UFC pay-per-view card. (We can only assume that either Joe Rogan doesn’t like Brazil or Brazil doesn’t like Joe Rogan.) In the past, Kenny Florian has been the go-to guy when the UFC needs a substitute color-man, but it looks like the UFC wants to give this Brian Stann kid a shot and see if he’s got the goods. Will Stann be able to toss in relevant analysis in between Mike Goldberg’s endless plugs for Corn Nuts? And will you be paying to watch this two-fight card in the first place?

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Going the Way of the Dodo: 5 Things in MMA on the Brink of Extinction


(“I spoke with Human Resources and they reassured me that showing up to work punch-drunk wouldn’t be an issue.” Pic Props: MMATKO.com)

By Jason Moles

Time has a unique way of changing how we live. From communicating with friends to conducting business, from diagnosing illness to differentiating gender — almost every facet of life has changed in the past 50 years. But you don’t need to wait half a century to see change. Eight years ago we didn’t have Twitter, the Harlem Shake, or weight divisions under 155lbs. (including women) in the UFC. With each new staple of life, we’re forced to replace things formerly deemed “must-have.” (Beeper, anyone?) Other things outlive their usefulness only to die a cold, miserable death in the desolate wastelands of obsolescence.

Mixed martial arts is no different. The sport isn’t immune to the ravages of time, nor is it capable of escaping the inevitability of certain aspects becoming passé. For example…

UFC Fighters with Part-Time/Full-Time Jobs

A quick glance in the rear-view mirror and you’ll see just how far we’ve come in the short life of MMA as we know it. Rules, regulation, fighter pay, and health benefits have all improved since the birth of “Ultimate Fighting” in 1993. In the age of DVR and skipped commercials, sports offer advertisers what no one else can — a holy grail overflowing with viewers in real time. Sooner rather than later, companies like Zuffa will be an even more attractive destination for blue chip sponsors and marketing agencies to plug their products.

This influx of cash, combined with political pressure from the outside and dissension from within, will pave the way for a much needed hike in the UFC fighter pay scale, and the death of paltry fight purses. From there on out, all fighters will be able to pay their bills and provide for their families doing what they love and that alone. There is one caveat, though: UFC hopefuls will need to spend every free second fighting or training for fights if they ever hope to be competitive in the Octagon.

UFC Fighters with Less Than 10 Professional Fights

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Heads Up, Taters: Now’s Your Chance to Win a (Potentially Quite Awkward) Day in the Life of Rory MacDonald!

If there’s anything we’ve learned about UFC welterweight contender Rory “Mini Rush” MacDonald over the past few years it’s that he loves to fight and he loves to shop. And now thanks to his sponsor, Ecko, you can join him for a little of both!

Cool, right? Well, yeah, but also…kinda strange. We guess it really depends on what you bring to the table.

Because if you, your buddy that you get to bring and Rory, like, totally click, you’ll be sure to have fun during this day of “private” training and shopping with “Ares.” Hell, you guys will probably all stay in touch afterwards and tell inside jokes over Skype once a week while eating popcorn. On the off chance that doesn’t happen, however, it might get a lil’ awkward for some non-athlete to have a private training session with a world class fighter and then, because this is totally something that lots of strangers do together, go clothes shopping together at an Ecko store.

Does Rory watch you shop? Do you watch him shop? Will there be a montage of one of you trying on different outfits while the other approves or disapproves? Also, R-Mac doesn’t seem that lively and verbose from interviews with strangers that we’ve seen, so is talking kind of out of the question? So many questions about this wonderful day to come.

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Aleksander Emelianenko to Earn Next Paycheck Against TUF 10 Whipping-Boy Darrill Schoonover


(Do you ever get the feeling that the Emelianenko brothers have Bill Cosby tied up in a closet somewhere? / Photo via MMAWeekly)

After emerging from a retirement that lasted all 12 days of Christmas, nomadic heavyweight Aleksander Emelianenko has been on quite a tear in 2013. He beat up Bob Sapp, he beat up Some Dude, and he got us all hot and bothered by appearing on a poster with Cro Cop. Indeed, the life of a can-crushing international playboy was too seductive to avoid forever. Not that baking bread in a Greek monastery isn’t totally awesome, and all.

Which brings us to Alek’s latest not-particularly-competitive booking: Fightlinker passes along the announcement that Emelianenko will return at an August 25th ProFC show in Rostov-on-Don, where he’ll face Darrill Schoonover, the Texas-bred heavyweight and TUF 10 castmember who is perhaps known best as…yeah…Titties. (Man, Rampage Jackson is just a master when it comes to personal branding.)

Schoonover was a hot prospect when he entered The Ultimate Fighter in 2009, carrying a 10-0 record (all wins by stoppage) and the title of Shark Fights Heavyweight Champion. Then, he went on Kimbo’s season of the reality show, got knocked out in the quarterfinals by Marcus Jones, got TKO’d by James McSweeney at the TUF 10 Finale, then lost four more fights in the minor leagues. But Schoonover is currently on a three-fight win streak, and even pulled off a decision win against Paul Buentello last year.

So…any predictions on this one? The most accurate guess wins this cool rock I just found outside of my house.

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What Will Rampage Jackson’s New Comic Book Be Like? Here Are Some Unsolicited Suggestions


(This is an actual thing that’s happening. Image courtesy of Lion Forge Comics via TitoCouture.com)

By Matt Saccaro

A few days ago, our friends at MiddleEasy were kind enough to let the MMA world know some earth-shattering news: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was going to be starring in his own comic book, Rampage Jackson: Street Soldier.

The comic’s premise? Rampage gets superpowers from a meteorite and then goes around fighting crime. Seriously, that’s it. The cage-fighter best known for dry-humping female reporters and tigers is now a superhero. However, one area where Lion Forge, the comic’s publisher, might run into trouble is coming up with storylines. Rampage’s comic will need story arcs and bad guys and other things. Fortunately for them, we at CagePotato have given this some thought.

What have we come up with? Check it out!

    Villains:

Dana Wight: An evil business mogul who harbors a terrible secret — he’s a soulless zombie that’s attempting to convert the entire MMA world into his own undead army. Dana Wight uses his billions of dollars to thwart Rampage Jackson’s efforts at improving the world. Wight consistently tries to pay Rampage off but he never realizes one important, in-no-way-false fact: Rampage Jackson is not for sale!

The Crimson Singlet: The Crimson Singlet will be one of Rampage’s worst foes. Rampage’s feud with the Crimson Singlet is fueled by the fact that he and Rampage used to be on the same wrestling team. Rampage abandoned the tenets of wrestling while the Crimson Singlet embraced them. Did Rampage betray the Crimson Singlet or did the Crimson Singlet betray Rampage? The comic book can tackle this complicated, psychological issue. What makes this story more exciting is that the Crimson Singlet is, obviously, a master of Rampage’s weakness — wrestling.

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