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Four European MMA Fighters the UFC Should Sign in 2014


(Mamed Khalidov squints in celebration after choking out Melvin Manhoef last June. Photo via Piotr Pedziszewski/Sherdog)

By Nasir Jabbar

The UFC’s ongoing quest for world domination will see the promotion hold over forty events in 2014, including the “European Tour” that kicks off March 8th in London with UFC Fight Night 38. After that, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Poland, and Turkey will also host Fight Night events, catering to the many fans across Europe who are hungry for their UFC fix.

Since these events will be broadcast on the UFC’s online service Fight Pass, they will likely be filled with European talent, to not only attract local crowds but to keep the costs down. The UFC’s European Head of Operations Garry Cook previously revealed that the promotion was on the lookout for another matchmaker to join Joe Silva and Sean Shelby, specifically to help fill those events. So, I’ll do the job for them and highlight four European fighters that UFC needs to sign this year…

MAMED KHALIDOV

(Khalidov vs. Kendall Grove @ KSW 21, 12/1/12)

Current Employer: KSW
Notable Wins: Mevlin Manhoef, Kendall Grove, Rodney Wallace, Matt Lindland, James Irvin
Why the UFC Should Sign Him: We’ve been Khalidov-nuthuggers for years, but can you blame us? Currently riding an eight-fight win streak (all wins by stoppage) the Polish wrecking machine is widely regarded as the best middleweight not signed to a major promotion. Admittedly, his opponents have mainly consisted of cans and UFC washouts, but he has dispatched them in brutal fashion. The Chechnya native has displayed a wide range of attacks as he continues to swallow the competition KSW feeds him, utilizing his devastating submission game and vicious striking.

Many of the big players in the MMA world have tried to get the elusive signature of Khalidov, with BellatorStrikeforce and the UFC all failing. Khalidov went as far as to call the UFC’s offer “laughable” back in 2012, but with the 33-year-old racking up more wins since the initial offer, the Zuffa brass might be convinced to dig deeper into their pockets to make another offer. Despite the possibility of being a fairly “expensive” European signee, he would provide a stiff test for many of the top 185-pounders on the UFC’s roster. And if the UFC really wants to break into the Polish market, they need this guy.

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23 Ways That MMA Is Like Porn


(So is this a gi class or a no-gi class? Jeez, BangBros, a little wardrobe consistency wouldn’t kill you.)

MMA and porn go hand in sweaty hand. The similarities are kind of shocking when you think about it. For example…

1. You started watching it when you were a teenager, and you’re still into it, somehow.

2. The amateur stuff can be surprisingly awesome.

3. After seeing a crazy move in an MMA fight/porn scene, you’ve attempted it in your personal life and failed miserably.

4. Most people who start careers in MMA or porn burn out within a couple years — which makes Robbie Lawler and Lisa Ann‘s continued success absolutely miraculous.

5. Your tumblr feed is flooded with GIFs related to both forms of entertainment.

6. Your girlfriend will only watch it with you on special occasions.

7. It’s depressing to hear how little some of these guys get paid.

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10 Things the New UFC Fighter Uniforms Will Not Include


(“Trust me Roy, this thing is going to change your life.”)

According to BleacherReport, the UFC is working on a deal to create a standardized uniform for its fighters, including fight shorts, walkout shirts, and hats. The uniforms would consist mostly of UFC-branded product and logos — along with the brand of the apparel company — although there would be several spots on the shorts and shirt reserved for fighters’ personal sponsorships.

Clearly, the UFC is pursuing a more “major league” appearance, while trying to avoid any more embarrassing surprises. Until the uniforms are revealed, we can only speculate on whether they’ll bring a positive change (professionalism, yay!) or a negative one (loss of individuality, boo!). But no matter what they end up looking like, we can name at least ten things they won’t include…

Sequins

Chains of any kind

Shoulder pads with big-ass spikes

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The Ten Most Random Replacement Opponents in MMA History


(He wore his own shirt in hopes of getting MMA fans to learn his name. Instead, they all asked him if he’s a cameraman for the new Danny Trejo movie.)

By Seth Falvo

By now you’ve heard that Rashad Evans is out of his co-main event clash against Daniel Cormier at UFC 170, and has been replaced by promotional newcomer Patrick Cummins. Unsurprisingly, reactions to this announcement have ranged from “Who is Patrick Cummins?” to “UFC Books Match Between Number One Contender And Twitter User.“ Cummins certainly feels like an unusual replacement opponent, but how does he stack up against other fighters who were granted a shot in the spotlight out of sheer necessity for a warm body to step in and save a fight?

Coincidentally enough, we’ll start with his next opponent…

10.) Injury Replacement Daniel Cormier Wins the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.

(Photo Courtesy of Getty Images.)

The Details: Replaced Alistair Overeem against Antonio Silva at Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov (09/10/2011).
Why He Makes the Top Ten: It’s hard to believe that just under three years ago, Daniel Cormier such an unknown prospect that sportsbooks didn’t even bother creating odds for him to win the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, despite creating odds for Ray Sefo and Valentijn “Othereem” Overeem; a $20 bet on Cormier “FIELD” to win the tournament would have netted you $1,000. But when Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem injured his toe/realized fighting in the tournament was pointless and pulled out of his scheduled bout against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, Cormier handled Silva so effortlessly that it was impossible not to take note. Cormier would go on to defeat Josh Barnett for the tournament title, and the rest is history.
Why He Isn’t Ranked Higher: While Cormier may not have been high on our radars at the time, it’s hard to call an Olympic wrestler an “unknown prospect.”

On a somewhat related note…

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Ranking the 5 Best Signature Submissions in UFC History


(Farm Boy Strength: No can defense. Photo via Getty.)

In the brief history of the UFC, there have been a handful of submissions so unique, so brilliant, so positively Raven that they became synonymous with the fighters who dared attempt them in the octagon. That a sport as old as jiu-jitsu is still capable of evolving and expanding its techniques is a credit to the dedication and inventiveness of the modern mixed martial artist, and a fact that has led to many a thrilling moment inside the cage.

Recently, UGer Tycho made the painstaking effort of cataloging and graphing every single submission ever executed in the octagon by frequency. Not wanting to let such a thorough and digestible work simply come and go, we decided to focus on the rarest of rarities, the aforementioned “signature” submissions, and rank them according to brutality, ingenuity, and of course, brutality. Enjoy.

#5 – The Hughes Headlock (a.k.a “Dave Schultz Front Headlock”)

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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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Five UFC Title Rematches That Urijah Faber Should Look to For Inspiration


(Photo via Getty)

By Scott Sawitz

After taking the fight on less than a month’s notice, Urijah Faber will step into the main event of UFC 169 (February 1st, Newark) against Renan Barao, who took a definitive and dominant five-round decision over the former WEC stalwart at UFC 149, for what was then supposed to be an interim title in the bantamweight division. With Dominick Cruz vacating his title due to yet another injury, Faber will have his third opportunity to win UFC gold. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have much time to prepare for Barao, who’s become one of the toughest outs in all of MMA.

Faber’s year-round commitment to being in near peak condition — a Team Alpha Male requirement, it seems — affords him this luxury of taking a fight on short notice. Over 18 months have passed since the California Kid walked out of the cage against Barao on the losing side, and what could have been Faber’s last UFC title fight has turned into something else entirely. With four wins (and three submission finishes) over highly ranked opponents marking a stellar 2013 campaign, Faber willed himself into title contention one more time by running roughshod over the UFC’s 135-pound division.

With the rematch set, and Faber looking ahead to what could (once again) be his last shot at a UFC belt, one imagines that the Duane “Bang” Ludwig-led Team Alpha Male squad has a much different game plan in mind for Faber against the Brazilian champion. Ludwig, who has spoke of his fondness for watching fight video in preparation, should have five UFC title rematches on his mind while preparing his fighter for next month’s bout. Each of these fights contain profound lessons that could help Faber become the first Team Alpha Male member to hold a UFC championship belt. Let’s begin…

Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos 2 @ UFC 155

(Photo via Esther Lin/MMAFighting)

Lesson: Make your opponent fight your game

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The 23 Worst Things About Being an MMA Fan


(Photo via Getty)

By Matt Saccaro

1. Having to explain that the UFC is not the WWE.

2. Boxing vs. MMA discussions.

3. MMA “lifestyle” brands thinking you’re a goon who’ll only wear clothes if it has skulls, wings, or a tribal pattern on it.

4. Hearing casual fans talk about Kimbo Slice every time you decide to catch a PPV at a bar.

5. Hearing non-MMA fans talk about “this rolling around on the ground” every time you decide to catch a PPV at a bar.

6. The obscene cost of being an MMA fan (PPVs, Fight Pass, etc.).

7. Other MMA fans saying you’re not a TRUE fan because…[insert bullshit reason].

8. After the fight scene in a movie or TV show, everyone glares at you because they know you’re about to bash it for how unrealistic it was.

9. Debates about who was the GOAT.

10. People still going on about how awesome Pride was. Yeah, it was awesome, but it’s still dead and it ain’t coming back!

11. Dealing with other “fans” who “train UFC”

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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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5 MMA Fighters Who Left at the Right Time


(One of these men is on this list. The other one continues to jerk us around. / Photo via Getty)

By Mark Dorsey

Following Anderson Silva’s devastating leg-break against Chris Weidman at UFC 168, many observers hoped that one of the greatest fighters of all time would decide to retire in order to spend time with his family and count all of the “Anderson Silva money” he’s earned from fighting. Hell, even Silva’s son was hoping he would hang his gloves up. But following successful surgery, Silva has expressed his desire to return to the cage. Hopefully this is not the case. Silva has nothing left to accomplish in the sport, and at 38 years old, he would be facing a steep uphill battle to recover and earn back his belt.

Choosing to walk away from a long, fruitful MMA career is not an easy decision. Most fighters continue to compete long after they should have walked away. Nevertheless, every once in a while, an astute fighter realizes that their best days are behind them, and they decide to leave the sport for greener pastures. The following list is a tribute to five fighters who decided to leave MMA at the right time.


(Photo via Esther Lin/MMAFighting)

Georges St-Pierre recently decided to leave the sport of MMA for an undetermined amount of time. The reason why GSP’s decision to vacate his welterweight title is so incredible is because it’s so rare to see athletes leave at the top of their game. We’re used to dominant athletes staying too long, unable to give up the roar of the crowd and the lure of the paycheck. The list of accomplishments on GSP’s resume is long, varied and practically unparalleled in the sport of MMA. His in-cage achievements make him a legitimate candidate for the greatest of all time, with only fighters like Anderson Silva and Fedor Emeliananko even worthy of being mentioned in the same breath.

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