erika eleniak photos
Classic Crush: 20 Photos of Erika Eleniak, Super-Babe of the ’90s

January, 2014

Injury Updates: Pettis Hoping for Early July Return, Bisping Possibly Facing Additional Layoff


(via Fox Sports.)

Suffice it to say, the past couple years have been injury-plagued (or perhaps even, cursed) ones for the UFC, but especially so for the promotion’s champions and biggest stars. Dominick Cruz has been out of action since Eisenhower was in office, Jose Aldo fought just once in 2012, and Anderson Silva, Anthony Pettis, and Cain Velasquez have all undergone major surgeries recently. Jon Jones is arguably still recovering from his war with Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165, as his next title fight with Glover Teixeira has been delayed some three times since initially being announced.

But not all is hopeless; Jones and Aldo both have their next fights lined up, and Cruz and Silva have either vacated their titles or been removed from the title picture, freeing up some space in their respective divisions. And Pettis, who underwent successful knee surgery back in November to fix a torn PCL suffered in his title-earning win over Ben Henderson at UFC 164, expects to be back in action just in time for the UFC’s annual Fourth of July card.

“The doctor said six to eight months, so I’m hoping six months,” Pettis told UFC Tonight yesterday evening. Unfortunately, Cedars-Sinai Medical Group orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert Klapper also appeared on the program (video above) and seemed slightly less positive about the lightweight champion’s recovery timetable:

In my opinion, this is about the toughest thing you can come back for. Of all the injuries that can happen to a knee, when you’re talking about the ACL or the meniscus, these are the structures in the front. It’s easy for us as surgeons to get there. When you’re talking about the back of the knee, where the arteries and nerves are, a much trickier area to get to, the results are not as terrific as they are with the structures we rebuild in the front. I would pray for him. Coming back in July? That’s really optimistic.

My God, an injured UFC champion is becoming a more frequent occurrence than a tween star meltdown these days (I’m sorry). At least Pettis has that amazing UFC healthcare to fall back on, whereas Bieber only has enough money to turn major highways into his own private race tracks. I guess it’s not easy growing up anywhere.

Keeping with the string of terrible, injury-related news, UFC Tonight also touched on a potential health issue that could further delay Michael Bisping‘s octagon return. News on that after the jump…

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Vitor Belfort Plans to Roll the Dice, Will Apply for a TRT Exemption in Nevada


(Fedor wore it better. / Photo via MMAJunkie)

When UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta announced that he wanted to book Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort in Las Vegas, it suggested that Belfort’s well-documented usage of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) might be in jeopardy.

Though the Phenom had been allowed to undergo hormone therapy while competing in Brazil throughout 2013 due to the looser standards in his home country, his 2006 steroid bust in Nevada led former NSAC executive director Keith Kizer to claim that Belfort would be unlikely to secure a TRT exemption for any future fight in Vegas. Then, Keith Kizer suddenly left his post earlier this month, opening the door for a replacement who might be, shall we say, more amenable to the UFC’s needs.

Which leads into today’s news that Belfort will indeed be applying for a therapeutic usage exemption for TRT in Nevada when his title fight against Weidman is officially booked. Ariel Helwani passed along the news on last night’s installment of UFC Tonight:

He said he’s on TRT and that his doctors said he has to be on it. This has been prescribed and he’s planning on applying to be on a TUE for the next fight.”

Well, bullshit. For the sake of argument, let’s take Belfort at his word — he needs to load up on testosterone in order to function normally. Is that a valid reason for any athletic commission to grant him an exemption? You’re gonna let a guy use steroids because he’s too sick to compete without them? Honestly, that sounds like the worst reason to give a professional fighter a TUE. But hey, we all know that in Brazil, doctors are essentially Gods and their advice must be followed at all costs, no matter how ridiculous.

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Michael Johnson vs. Melvin Guillard Booked as New UFC Fight Night 37 Co-Main Event, With Ross Pearson Out Due to Knee Injury


(“Wait, so Ross Pearson’s not on this card anymore? F*ck it, I’m not going.” — Nobody. / Photo via Getty)

UFC officials confirmed this morning that Ross Pearson has pulled out of his lightweight do-over fight against Melvin Guillard at UFC Fight Night 37: Gustafsson vs. Manuwa (March 8th, London) due to a knee injury suffered in training. Details about the exact nature and recovery time of Pearson’s injury are scarce, though Pearson claims that he’ll require surgery.

I know what you’re thinking: Does this mean that Ilir Latifi vs. Cyrille Diabate gets bumped up to the UFC Fight Night 37 co-main event? LOL, of course not. Luckily, the UFC has already found a replacement for Pearson — Michael Johnson, who’s coming off an impressive knockout of Gleison Tibau at UFC 168, and has been calling out Nate Diaz and Khabib Nurmagomedov since then in an attempt to land a big fight. And while those call-outs may have been slightly premature, a decisive win against Guillard could go a long way in making Johnson’s case as a contender worthy of top competition.

Johnson vs. Guillard has a personal hook to it as well. The two hard-hitting 155′ers were Blackzilian training partners for a while, until Guillard left the crew. A few months later, Guillard took some shots at Johnson on Twitter for no apparent reason. Your predictions for this one, please.

“Gustafsson vs. Manuwa” will air on UFC Fight Pass (unfortunately), and will also feature Brad Pickett vs. Ian McCall and the return of Gunnar Nelson.

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The Five Best MMA Fighters Who Only Fought Once


(Photo via Susumu Nagao)

By Mark Dorsey

One unfortunate aspect of MMA is that far too many fighters continue to compete long after they should have hung up the gloves. It’s hard to watch once-great athletes tarnish their legacies and put themselves at risk for dementia pugilistica. That’s why it’s so refreshing when fighters decide to retire at the right time. Even rarer are the ones who taste success just once before walking away. Here’s our tribute to a few legendary fighters who were literally one-and-done.

Rulon Gardner has faced more hardship throughout his life than most men could ever survive. As a kid, he was punctured in the abdomen by an arrow during show-and-tell at school. As an adult, Gardner survived crashing into a freezing river in his snowmobile after getting lost; he wasn’t rescued until almost two days later, by which point he had suffered hypothermia that would later cost him a toe. Gardner also survived a motorcycle crash and a small plane crash that plunged him into Lake Powell, Utah, and forced him to swim for an hour in order to reach safety.

Despite these tremendous survival stories which could earn any man a made-for-TV movie, Gardner is best known for wrestling the most dangerous man to ever don a wrestling singlet. In one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history, Gardner defeated Aleksandr Karelin in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. What made the upset so incredible was that Karelin, the three-time defending gold medalist, was undefeated for 13 years going into the match. Hell, Karelin hadn’t even given up a single point in six years. Yet somehow, Gardner, a pudgy farm boy from Wyoming, managed to shut down Karelin’s offense, making him an unlikely Olympic Gold Medalist.

After winning Bronze four years later at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Gardner left his wrestling shoes on the mat in a symbolic gesture of retirement. However, the competitive urge persisted and Gardner was convinced to compete in an MMA match at Pride Shockwave 2004. His opponent in that classic freak-fight was Hidehiko Yoshida, a judoka and a fellow Olympic gold medalist. Yoshida was a serious submission threat who entered the fight coming off a win over Mark Hunt and a draw against Royce Gracie. However, Gardner had been training with Bas Rutten which paid off, as he managed to win a rather boring unanimous decision victory over Yoshida. Gardner controlled the match and showed that he had a promising combination of raw skills and incredible strength. However, despite his potential as an MMA fighter, Gardner never competed in the sport again. In an interview with Ariel Helwani, Gardner admitted that he didn’t have the killer instinct for MMA because he didn’t really enjoy hitting people or getting hit.

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Has Tito Ortiz Actually Been Beaten Into the Living Death? One Specialist Says “Possibly”


(For reference.)

In the lead up to their first fight some twelve years ago, Ken Shamrock promised to beat then light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz “into the living death” at a pre-fight press conference. It was a confusing, horrendously-delivered threat that not only drew an uproarious reaction from Ortiz, but set the precedent for such future Ken quotes as “You got kicked. By a kick.” and “I am very confident this fight can go either way.”

Over a decade later, it appears that Shamrock has finally made good on that promise, albeit through a far more convoluted means than actually beating Ortiz in a fight. We all know that a neck injury forced Ortiz out of his fight with Rampage Jackson last October, leading to the cancellation of Bellator’s inaugural pay-per-view in the process, but according to Bjorn Rebney, there’s a possibility that we will never see Ortiz step foot in the cage again. Again. As he told MMAWeekly:

When I initially got on the phone with the doctors, and Tito announced to us that he had fractured his neck, that was and is the primary concern. There’s not a substantive answer at this point to whether he’s going to come back.

We’re having discussions with him. The key was to get 120-percent healed. It’s an unsettling conversation to have a specialist in the field of neck injuries to tell you that with the right kind of drop on the head, or the right kind of impact on the spine, paralysis could be a result. That’s never a good conversation: A) for a world class althete, but B) it’s never a good conversation for the person in my position charged with putting that person inside of a cage to fight against top tier competition.

At this point, you kind of have to feel bad for Ortiz, don’t you? All the poor bastard wanted was one (delusional) last shot at a (Bellator) glory, and now he’s worse for the wear than he’s arguably ever been in his career. If this isn’t a sign that he should have stayed retired and never married a porn star, I don’t know what is.

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UFC Full Blast: One-Eyed Bisping Critiques Machida vs. Munoz, Josh Thompson Freaks Out Over Melendez vs. Sanchez [VIDEOS]


(Props: FOX Sports)

I kind of like these “Full Blast” videos that the UFC has been putting out lately. Usually when I’m watching UFC fights at home, I’m surrounded by my half-wit friends who say things like, “Why doesn’t that guy on the bottom just get up and kick the other dude in the head. Game over.” And I’m like, uggggggggh. So it’s cool to see what people with actual first-hand insight on the sport have to say.

Of course, not every fighter’s approach to a Full Blast segment is the same. As you can see above, heel-superstar Michael Bisping prefers the snarky approach, making sure to remind us how boring Mark Munoz is, and how he could whoop Munoz and Lyoto Machida at the same time. On the other hand, he gives legitimate respect to Machida for his perfectly executed head-kick knockout, and for the gentlemanly way that the Dragon stopped his follow-up punch in mid-flight. Also, Bisping and Conor McGregor are the Scut Farkus and Grover Dill of MMA. Please spread awareness.

After the jump, UFC on FOX 10 headliner Josh Thomson starts out doing color-commentary for the Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez slugfest at UFC 166, then switches directly into enthusiastic fan mode. (Can you blame him? That fight was bananas.) Skip to the 2:43 mark to see Thomson absolutely losing his mind.

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Photo of the Day: Kaitlin Young Proves That Horrific Training Injuries Aren’t Just for the Boys


(“Photo: Kaitlin Young’s gash is a sight to behold” – actual fake headline from Jesse Holland.)

In the long history of horrific cuts suffered by MMA fighters during training, this axe wound posted by Invicta FC bantamweight Kaitlin Young might just top them all. Passed along by MiddleEasy earlier today, the above photo prompted Young to quickly dispel rumors that the injury was the result of actually being attacked with a demonically-possessed axe, stating on her Twitter, “shot under my buddy’s jab, and he kicked at the same time. Knee vs forehead.”

Sounds too convenient, if you ask me. All I’m saying is that we still leave open the possibility that a Stephen King story come to life is responsible for this.

Seriously though, that has got to be one of the worst goddamn cuts I’ve ever seen, MMA or otherwise. I give it 5 out of 5 Eastmans. I’m pretty sure I can see Kaitlin’s thoughts. I’m going to go throw up.

-J. Jones

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Yushin Okami on Bridging the East-West Training Divide and Moving Forward After His UFC Release [Tokyo Dispatch #2]


(Photo via Getty)

By Elias Cepeda

I got off the Oedo subway line from Shinjuku station at the Kiyosumi Shirakawa stop and waited for a few minutes to meet up with my guide for the night, Stewart Fulton. Stewart is a Scottish ex-pat who has lived in Tokyo for over a decade. He’s also a professional fighter and has bled and sweated with some of the best fighters in all of Japan.

On this Friday night, Stewart is taking me to the gym of the man UFC president Dana White has said is the best fighter to have ever come out of Japan — Yushin Okami. Uncle Dana may very well be right about that.

It’s an interesting time to visit with “Thunder” because, despite White’s lauding of him, the UFC released Okami last fall. Now, the former middleweight title challenger is signed with the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) and is expected to make his promotional debut in March against a yet-to-be-determined opponent.

Stewart has told me that I can train with the group of select professional fighters that Okami will lead tonight but also warned me that it is a sparring day and that they go hard. After three straight days of hard grappling at other schools in Tokyo, I’m fine with sitting through tonight’s session as a spectator and leaving with my head still attached to my body.

I wonder out loud to Stewart what kind of mood Okami will be in tonight. He hasn’t done many interviews since being cut by the UFC. Okami’s release shocked some observers since he is still clearly a top middleweight. Surely, it shocked Okami as well. Who knows how eager he’ll be to talk about the topic.

Luckily, there are plenty others to discuss. Namely, training.

Stewart tells me that over the years he’s been amazed that Yushin has never appeared to be injured during training. Injuries happen constantly in training and fighters are almost always nursing several of them that vary in severity.

“I’ve never noticed him favoring an injury during practice,” Stewart tells me.

“Either he doesn’t get hurt or he’s very good at not showing it.”

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Torre Alert: Well-Known Jiu-Jitsu Fraud David Lang Uncovered Running McDojo in Upstate New York


(“Nah dude, check out his *original* Tapout shirt. No way this guy’s a phony.”)

Well, this is coincidental.

If you haven’t read my interview with Fighting in Plain Sight director Edward Doty yet, what the hell, brah? Also, I’d recommend that you check it out, if only to learn a little more about the fascinating story of Rafiel Torre, the former MMA reporter/”fighter” turned convicted murderer. You see, back in the early aughts, Rafiel liked to pass himself off as a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt and former Navy SEAL who retired with an unblemished fight record of 17-0. It wasn’t until he unretired in 2001 and put on a work at King of the Cage 7 that his history of deception began to reveal itself. Rafiel Torre wasn’t a Black Belt, he wasn’t a former Navy SEAL, hell, Rafiel Torre wasn’t even his real name (although I suppose it wouldn’t have been as easy to sell himself as a native Brazilian with a name like Ralph Bartel).

In any case, I threw the article together last night, and what pops up on the front page of the reddit MMA page this morning? Only a story about a notorious Jiu-Jitsu fraud and phony war hero being uncovered running a BJJ McDojo in Cortland, New York (a mere hour’s drive from my hometown). His name is David Lang, and his similarities to Torre don’t end at the false military and martial arts credentials. No, like Torre, Lang also claimed/claims to have been born in Brazil and moved to the US at a young age. Lang even fabricated a Brazilian cousin *named* Rafael in an attempt to add credence to his claims, for Christ’s sake.

But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. Let us first begin to understand how Lang was exposed as a fraud in the first place (via the Police Gazette, who uncovered his most recent scam):

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Six Massive UFC Fights That Could Actually Happen in 2014


(Meanwhile, Alex’s friends were parked outside with a giant magnet. / Photo via Getty)

By Nasir Jabbar

With Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, and Cain Velasquez all currently out of action due to injuries or bitter hiatuses, UFC executives will be scratching their heads trying to come up with marquee fights in 2014. But amidst this gloom, there are a few massive fights that could still happen. Some are more realistic than others, but if the stars align, these matchups would no doubt fill the void. Let’s run them down in order of probability…

Major fights within reach

Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson 2 or Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier: Very few gave Gustafsson the chance to last twenty-five minutes with the champ, let alone nearly dethrone him. The two engaged in a thrilling yet technical battle at UFC 165, which was as entertaining as it was controversial — making a rematch very interesting and potentially lucrative for the UFC. Prior to his first meeting with the Mauler, Jones had dominated every one of his opponents, which led to the New Yorker searching for his “Frazier”, the worthy rival who would define his legacy. Gustafsson could very much play that role as they look to meet again.

On the other hand, Daniel Cormier could play that role just as well. Unlike Gustafsson, Cormier has a genuine dislike towards Jones which would only add hype towards the fight. But, of course, the two potential challengers would have to get by Jimi Manuwa and Rashad Evans, respectively, to get their title shots. And of course there’s a hard-hitting Brazilian named Glover Teixeira who might derail these plans altogether.

Jose Aldo vs. BJ Penn: Incredibly, Penn is looking to become a three-weight world champion as he embarks on his unexpected new life as a featherweight. Before his year-long break from the sport, Penn had been fighting at welterweight without much success. (He hasn’t won a match since his quick knockout of Matt Hughes back in November 2010.) Penn will make his 145-pound debut against old rival Frankie Edgar as he looks to avenge, not one, but two defeats. Even though there is a connection between Penn and Aldo’s head coach Andre Pederneiras, the Prodigy would surely jump at the chance to compete for a belt.

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