MMA Fighter Challenges People to Punch Him in the Face, Everyone Fails

January, 2014

MMA Coach Mauricio Zingano, 37, Found Dead After Apparent Suicide [UPDATED]


(Mauricio Zingano [right], shown here with his wife Cat and their son Brayden. / Photo via zinganobjj.com)

Third-degree BJJ black belt, coach, and former MMA fighter Mauricio Zingano has died at the age of 37, after reportedly committing suicide yesterday in Denver. Zingano was the husband of top-ranked UFC bantamweight Cat Zingano, the father of a young son, and the owner of two Black House MMA gym-affiliates in Colorado. Zingano’s manager Jorge Guimaraes confirmed the tragic news last night with Globo:

Yes, he hanged himself in Denver on Monday. It’s something unexplainable, [I] do not know what may have motivated him to do so. We were together and he was fine, had plans and a lifetime ahead. It’s a tragedy. I’m going to Denver today to assist Cat, who is devastated, does not know what to do.”

According to his bio, Zingano began studying Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the age of 16 under the tutelage of the Gracie family, and represented their art in several “challenge matches,” in which martial artists from other disciplines would come to the Gracie Academy to challenge BJJ fighters. (“He was known as one of the ‘gate keepers’ at the Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy during an era where bouts were fought without protective gear, weight classes and on a moment’s notice.”)

Zingano went on to become a two-time BJJ national champion, and was undefeated in amateur and professional MMA competition. He opened his first BJJ school in 2004, and was voted “Colorado’s MMA Coach of the Year” in 2010.

Our deepest condolences go out to the Zingano family during this painful time.

Updates, after the jump: MMAWeekly adds a couple more details on Mauricio’s death, and Cat Zingano releases an official statement.

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GIF-Ranking the ‘UFC Fight Night 35: Rockhold vs. Philippou’ Main Card Fights By Interest Level

Tomorrow night, the UFC returns to Georgia to deliver an action-packed evening featuring a who’s who of “Who’s that?” with Fight Night 35: Rockhold vs. Philippou. I’m kidding of course, because Fight Night 35 is at least attempting to make up for its lack of name power with a six-fight main card, and you know what they say about quantity over quality (it never fails!).

So as has become tradition with every great (or at least mediocre) fight card, it’s time to rank the Fight Night 35 main card fights according to our — and therefore, your — interest level. Let’s do this!

#6 – Cole Miller vs. Sam Sicilia 

The only reason we ranked this fight last is due to the fact that a win won’t do much for either man other than secure their job for another fight. But don’t get us wrong, there’s plenty to watch for in this showdown between TUF alums. Cole Miller has dropped three out of his past five fights, but that didn’t stop him from calling out half the lightweight division (including “Colin Magoober”) after narrowly defeating Andy Ogle at Fight Night: Munoz vs. Machida last October. We expect him to go full heel against Sicilia, who recently saved his career and broke a two-fight skid by tearing through Godofredo Castro like a dingo through a baby at Fight Night 32. This one probably isn’t going the distance.

Speaking of dogs, it had completely slipped my mind that Bjorn Rebney once drove a railroad spike through a dog’s head and now it’s literally all I can think about. Ranking:

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The Nine Most Disappointing Debuts in UFC History


(Photo via Getty)

By Adam Martin

Tomorrow night in Georgia, former Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold returns to the Octagon for the first time since having his face kicked into space by Vitor Belfort at UFC on FX 8 last May. Although Belfort was coming off a blistering head kick KO of Michael Bisping at UFC on FX 7, many were still picking and betting on Rockhold to defeat “The Phenom” in his UFC debut, and the betting line surprisingly closed as a pick ‘em.

Things didn’t go Rockhold’s way that night, to say the least. In hindsight it’s not such a bad loss considering what Belfort did to iron-chinned Dan Henderson in his next bout, but it was still incredibly disappointing for the highly-touted Californian to be knocked out in less than five minutes when — on paper at least — the fight with Belfort should have been much more competitive.

Of course, Rockhold isn’t the first UFC fighter who fell short of expectations in his Octagon debut. The question is, will he rebound in his second fight, or fall deeper into “bust” territory? Read on for our list of eight other fighters who didn’t live up to the hype in their first UFC appearances, and let us know if we’ve left out any notable disappointments.

Ben Rothwell

(Photo via Getty)

After the IFL collapsed, the promotion’s former heavyweight champion Ben Rothwell made his way over to the UFC and debuted against fast-rising contender Cain Velasquez at UFC 104. Although Rothwell’s aura of invincibility had been cracked by Andrei Arlovski’s limbs at Affliction: Banned the previous summer, there was still hope that he could get back to his winning ways and make a run for the UFC heavyweight title.

But against Velasquez, it was clear that Rothwell was thoroughly outclassed by a far superior mixed martial artist, and “Big Ben” suffered the second true knockout loss of his career. In hindsight, it’s not surprising that Rothwell couldn’t hang with Velasquez, the current UFC heavyweight champion, but at the time it was a harsh reality check for those hardcore MMA fans who believed in Rothwell after his IFL run.

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Browne vs. Werdum, Tate vs. Carmouche Announced for UFC on FOX 11, April 19th in Orlando


(Yeesh…even the Lizbos wouldn’t go near that mug. / Photo via Getty)

The UFC announced this evening that the rumored heavyweight title eliminator between Travis Browne and Fabricio Werdum will take place at UFC on FOX 11, April 19th at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. It’s not yet clear whether Browne vs. Werdum will serve as the event’s headliner, but the winner of the fight will likely receive a title shot against Cain Velasquez at the end of this year, after the champ recovers from shoulder surgery.

Also on the UFC on FOX 11 lineup, women’s bantamweight contenders Miesha Tate and Liz Carmouche will face off in a meeting of fighters who know what Ronda Rousey‘s armbar feels like. Tate is riding a two-fight losing streak, thanks to her unsuccessful performance against Rousey at UFC 168, which followed her TKO loss to Cat Zingano in April. (Both of those matches won Fight of the Night, by the way.) Meanwhile, Carmouche is coming off a decision loss to Alexis Davis at UFC Fight for the Troops 3 in November. Tate and Carmouche were originally slated to fight each other last July, before Tate got drafted to coach on TUF 18.

Tickets for UFC on FOX 11 will go on sale February 14th. We’ll let you know when more fights are added to the card.

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So Here’s Why Pat Curran vs. Daniel Straus III Doesn’t Make Sense…

Last night, Bjorn Rebney announced that Bellator 112 will feature the opening rounds of the welterweight tournament and be headlined by a trilogy-completing featherweight title fight between Daniel Straus and Pat Curran. If this fight booking comes as a surprise to you, well, it should. But allow Bjorn to clear up the confusion:

Daniel Straus and Pat Curran are two of the best featherweights on the planet and deserve every ounce and praise and recognition they receive.

Hard to argue with that. Now if we can just wrap things up without saying something ridiculous…

Our featherweight division continues to be the deepest and strongest featherweight division in MMA, and I’m very excited to have this title fight headline a huge night of fights on March 14 from The Horseshoe Hammond.

Well, at least he tried.

Let me see if I can follow Bjorn’s line of logic here: Straus just defeated Curran by clear-cut unanimous decision last November. Meanwhile, there are two, count ‘em, TWO, featherweight tournament winners waiting in the wings for a shot at Straus. One is Magomedrasul Khasbulaev, who has been unable to secure a fight license in America since winning the season 8 tournament (which, let’s be honest, Bellator probably has a hand in). The other is Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, who just won his second featherweight tournament at Bellator 108 and is the only man to defeat Straus under the Bellator banner.

Yet despite all this, Bellator is granting Curran an immediate rematch against a guy who dominated him just two months ago. And that somehow validates the depth of the Bellator featherweight roster? You gotta hand it to Bjorn, he is second to none in the fight game in his ability to keep a straight face while making immediately contradictory and insanely unaware statements.

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Shinya Aoki on Survival, Rebounding From Defeat, And How PRIDE Changed His Life [Tokyo Dispatch #1]


(“I’m honored that anyone would watch me fight, but my goal isn’t to appeal to people.” Photo via MMAWeekly)

By Elias Cepeda

If it wasn’t for his cauliflower ear and your knowing how a person gets such a proud deformity, Shinya Aoki is the type of fighter you’d never suspect was, in fact, a fighter, just from looking at him or speaking with him outside of training or competition. To the untrained eye, Aoki looks like just another Tokyo hipster or backpack kid — slight in frame, stylish, with thick-framed glasses.

Sure, he’s got a gravely, action-hero voice but it delivers extremely humble words, for the most part. Shinya Aoki always appeared to be a mild-mannered, soft-spoken person from the interviews I’d seen of him over the years.

As he sits in a conference room in a Tokyo high-rise on this rainy late December afternoon, nothing I see on the surface changes that perception. For a half hour, Aoki is warm, engaging, quick with a smile and nervous laughter.

In just over one week’s time, however, Aoki will be in a ring, attempting to snap another man’s arm in half. The only reason he will not is because the opponent will smartly tap out before his limb breaks.

Like many great fighters, Shinya Aoki flips a switch, so to speak, from Clark Kent to a kind of malevolent Superman when it comes time to compete. Not only has the ordinarily calm and friendly Aoki not hesitated to break the bones and tear the ligaments of opponents, throughout his career, he also isn’t above standing over their prone bodies and flipping them the bird, as he did to Mizuto Hirota in 2009.

The submission wizard and MMA veteran of over forty professional fights, knows exactly when he makes that shift from civilian to ruthless warrior.

“From the moment I get in line to make my entrance [to the cage or ring],” he says. “That’s when it switches.”

Aoki’s psychology going into a fight is simple and logical. In fact, it is the mindset one could easily imagine would develop in any other skinny teenager who started doing martial arts. Aoki may have developed into one of the world’s best fighters, but when he steps onto the mat, all that is on his mind is survival.

“When I’m out in normal street clothes, I’m a regular person,” he explains. “When I get in the ring, I’ve got to turn on that animal instinct. I’ve got to become a survivor. That’s what switches in my head.”

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Alvarez vs. Chandler 3 Is Happening, And It May Headline a Bellator Pay Per View


(Photo via Tracy Lee/CombatLifestyle.com)

The rivalry between Bellator lightweights Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler has already produced a 2011 Fight of the Year candidate and Bellator’s most-watched broadcast of all time. It would be insane if the promotion didn’t try to pair these two up for a rubber-match in 2014. So yeah, that’s happening.

On Friday, Bellator revealed that Alvarez and Chandler are already filming promos for the fight, which doesn’t have an official date or venue at this point. Shortly afterwards, MMAFighting published a video interview with Alvarez, in which the Bellator 155-pound champ told Ariel Helwani that he believed the fight would headline a pay-per-view card:

We weren’t able to do the first one on pay-per-view, and I definitely want to headline a pay-per-view card, and we get an opportunity to do that. What better way to do that than to have one of the best trilogies in MMA history? Why not fight the guy three times, four times, five times? Who cares? It’s a hell of a fight every time.”

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Matt Riddle Signs With Titan Fighting Championships, Faces UFC vet Michael Kuiper at TFC 27 [MAYBE BUT PROBABLY NOT]


(After snapping this photo, Riddle would spend the next 15 minutes hitting himself in the head with his shoe.)

I wasn’t sure if I should start this article with a stoner joke or a vagabond joke, so I’ll just combine the two and say that Matt Riddle has more or less evolved into the Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker of the MMA world at this point. For the past year or so, the TUF 7 alum has just sort of drifted through several MMA organizations, handing out stoney life lessons on child-rearing, corporate greed and the employment crisis in America, all while retiring from MMA at least twice in the process.

And while Kai’s story ended in a murder charge, it appears that Riddle is destined for the slightly-more-dignified world of regional MMA (that was a joke, nerds, so please fight the urge to lose your shit in the comments section). News broke earlier today that “Deep Waters” has signed with Titan Fighting Championships — not to be confused with Legacy Fighting Championships, who Riddle almost fought for before Bellator bought out his contract — and will face fellow UFC vet Michael Kuiper in the co-main event of LFC 27 in February.

If I were a gambling man, however, I’d say that you’d be better off placing money on any currently scheduled UFC squash match title fight than on the likelihood of seeing Riddle actually show up for this thing. Although Titan FC CEO Jeff Aronson insists that Riddle is “…being exceptionally cooperative” thus far, he probably just spoke to Riddle after he had smoked a particularly potent strain of Cali Kush. Matter of fact, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Riddle pulls out of this fight tomorrow and claims that he thought he was receiving a role in the next Clash of the Titans movie the entire time.

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Anderson Silva Wants A Third Crack at Chris Weidman, Who Won By ‘Accident’ at UFC 168


(Now cast-free, the Spider will reportedly be walking without crutches by next month. / Photo via Instagram.com/UFC)

I’m not sure if this is good news or bad news, but Anderson Silva has no plans to retire following his sickening leg break at UFC 168, and the former middleweight champ is looking for a third fight against Chris Weidman as soon as he recovers. In fact, Silva is already trying to build heat for a re-rematch, crapping all over Weidman’s latest win in a new interview with Globo. As MMAFighting’s Guilherme Cruz translates:

“I believe that, if you pay attention to these technical details, you will see that (Weidman checking the kick) was instinct, not something that he trained to do,” Silva said. “No, I don’t think (Weidman should consider it a win). It was an accident. And I’m pretty sure I would have won the fight…

To land the perfect kick, I needed to distract him by punching him in the face so he wouldn’t pay attention to the kick. He was protecting the upper part of his body, and the raised leg instinctively. The kick was so strong he lost balance…I saw my mistake, and now I’m only worried about my comeback. If the UFC thinks I deserve another opportunity (against Weidman) or if I need to earn it. I just want to do what I do, it doesn’t matter if it’s for the title or not. I want to do what I do well.”

Yes, Anderson, he raised his leg instinctively — almost as if he’d been drilling the defensive technique for months and was doing it on muscle-memory alone. Since the fight, Weidman has repeatedly stated that checking leg-kicks was a specific part of his gameplan going into his second meeting with Silva, so to imply that the checked kick was in any way “accidental” is absurd, and kind of disrespectful. Plus, Silva is “pretty sure [he] would have won the fight” if his leg didn’t snap in half? Congrats, Andy — you have officially entered the loss-justification leaderboard, somewhere between “the Japanese poisoned my food” and “I had a cracked skull, bro.”

Anderson’s desire to return to action is even crazier when you consider how agonizing his recovery has been to this point:

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In the Wake of Matt Brown’s Sexist Comments, Has the UFC’s Image Finally Grown Up?


(Dana White’s “I’m not the president of a massive company” pose, typically used by presidents of massive companies. / Photo via Getty.)

A few years ago, Matt Brown’s recent, sexist comments about women’s MMA wouldn’t have rocked the boat much. Some people would’ve complained, citing such infractions of decency as the reason why the UFC wasn’t where the NFL was in terms of mainstream appeal. Dana White would’ve simply responded “Fuck you, dummy” or some other dismissive, useless remark. The UFC is cool, and it’s cool because the fighters aren’t corporate, generic, and anodyne. They’re as real as it gets, as opposed to the walking-press releases that are athletes in other major sports.

For proof, look no further than motorboat-gate. Rampage Jackson acted lecherously towards a female reporter (and this wasn’t the first time he’d done such a thing). Nothing happened. When Yahoo’s Maggie Hendricks lambasted Rampage and the MMA media, Joe Rogan called her “cunty” and MMA fans thought it was the cleverest comeback since Lord Palmerston verbally thrashed his enemies in parliament.

CagePotato’s own Ben Goldstein got to the crux of the issue:

Nine out of ten UFC fans will side with Quinton Jackson and Joe Rogan every time, because Rampage and Joe are awesome, and motorboating is hilarious, and who the fuck is Maggie Hendricks anyway? Seriously, here’s another representative comment from the UG thread from member ‘Bat21?:

“shitty cunty?!?!? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!!
Fuck, I’m still laughing after 5 minutes. You’re the man, Joe.”

Jesus. If this is the mindset of the average UFC fan, then good luck being taken seriously, guys.

A high-profile commentator for the NFL or NBA couldn’t get away with throwing around slurs like this in public forums. I know that the fast-and-loose quality of the UFC’s frontmen and fighters has been part of the brand’s great success to this point. But there will come a time (we hope) when MMA is so popular that guys like Rampage and Rogan will have to behave like gentlemen — so they may as well start practicing for it now.

Has this time finally come? Do UFC employees finally have to behave, as Ben Goldstein put it, like gentlemen?

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