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Tag: Olympic wrestling

Has Olympian Henry Cejudo Become the Biggest Bust in MMA History?


(Photo via The Gazette.)

Far be it from us to knock an Olympic wrestler for his lack of work ethic, but we’ve begun to notice an alarming and depressing trend in the MMA career of Henry Cejudo. Mainly, that he has more or less flaked out of his last four scheduled fights under the Legacy Fighting Championships banner, and even worse, the fights he actually did show up for in that time, he did at a significantly reduced payrate due to his inability to make weight.

So perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise to us that Cejudo has already withdrawn from his scheduled flyweight title fight with WEC/UFC vet Damacio Page at Legacy 31 in June, citing “personal reasons.” This comes after Cejudo forced a catchweight fight with Ryan Hollis at Legacy 24, no-showed at the Legacy 25 weigh-ins due to a last second “illness,” and again showed up heavy for his fight with Elias Garcia at Legacy 27. How he is still employed by Legacy remains as much a mystery as the circumstances that have led to his most recent drop-out.

Could it be that Cejudo has some dire life circumstance to tend to, like Rousimar Palhares and his sick mother? It’s possible, but the much more likely scenario is that Cejudo lacks either the time or the commitment to make 125 lbs, even as far out from the fight as he is, and has withdrawn in a last ditch attempt to save his rapidly descending reputation in the MMA world.

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[EXCLUSIVE] Bellator’s Joe Warren Talks Bellator 98 Health Scare, Getting Back to Fighting, and the Return of Olympic Wrestling


(Photo via Bellator)

By Elias Cepeda

Former Bellator champion Joe Warren was set to face Nick Kirk earlier this month at Bellator 98 in Connecticut before the state’s commission refused to allow him to fight. The exact reason was not given at the time but speculation from fans and members of the media as to why Warren was barred from fighting abounded.

Some wondered if Warren had tested positive for marijuana as he had during his competitive wrestling days. Even Bellator’s CEO Bjorn Rebney volunteered a theory – that Warren had been knocked out during his training camp and so was not being allowed to fight because of brain damage. Just two fights ago, of course, Warren was hurt badly in a KO loss to Pat Curran. That was his second straight KO loss.

Warren has since been cleared to fight in tonight’s Bellator event and he and Kirk will square off in this season’s bantamweight tournament. CagePotato visited with Warren as he cut weight Wednesday.

Not knowing how else to get into the matter with Warren as he stepped out of the sauna we simply had to ask, “What the heck happened?”

“A big mess happened,” Warren said.

“The Connecticut commission is stricter than most and I had a CT scan and MRI done leading up to the fight. I had three different doctors telling me different things. They didn’t read the images correctly and thought I had an abnormality on the image of my brain. One was telling me I had had a stroke, one was telling me I’d never fight again. Crazy stuff. Another said that I was fine. I was running around for weeks getting different tests done out of my own pocket, my family was scared. It was a huge ordeal.”

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Legacy FC Signs Olympic Gold Medalist and Undefeated MMA Fighter Henry Cejudo, Debut Set for October


(We still liked it better when Brandi Chastain did it. Photo via FOX News.) 

The mixed martial arts career of Henry Cejudo is off to a promising start, to say the least. Already holding the honor of being the youngest American wrestler to ever take gold in the Olympics, Cejudo made the switch to MMA last March and has already reeled off four first round finishes in the time since. And while his opponents haven’t exactly been the caliber of, say, Ronda Rousey’s first few, comparisons between the two are being made nonetheless.

And now, it appears the bantamweight prospect will be thrust back into the limelight once again (albeit a much dimmer one), as word broke yesterday that the Olympian has signed with well known Texas-based promotion Legacy FC. In addition, Cejudo is primed to make his debut on Oct. 11 against 4-1 Ryan “Riptide” Hollis at the Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas. The event will air live on AXS TV.

The four time high school state wrestling champion spoke elatedly with MMAJunkie:

It was very important to me to join a professional organization that will allow me the opportunity to continue to grow as an MMA athlete. It was equally important for me to partner with an organization that has an established track record of helping fighters grow into world-class athletes and champions. I want to fight for a credible organization and face high-caliber opponents. Legacy is that organization and has made that commitment to me.

After the jump: Cejudo’s aforementioned victory over Matsunaga in the Beijing games, a brief glimpse at Cejudo’s MMA skills via some Spanish news site and a video of Hollis’ most recent performance.

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Bellator CEO Appears Ready to Let Welterweight Champ Askren Leave for the UFC


(I would totally wear that shirt. But if somebody asks me who it’s supposed to be, I’d tell them it’s Rob Tyner. / Photo via MMADiehards)

Former Olympic wrestler Ben Askren is undefeated in 12 fights since he began fighting MMA in 2009, has won his last two by TKO, and has beaten many of the best welterweights outside of the UFC. It’s little wonder why fans have been curious how the Bellator welterweight champion would do against the best in the world in the UFC and even champion Georges St. Pierre, if only because of Askren’s superb wrestling.

In the not so distant past, however, Askren has gone above and beyond to be a company man for Bellator and has insisted he had no interest in the UFC. Fine, we don’t like you anyway, you’re boring and not pretty, UFC President Dana pretty much responded.

But last week, when White was asked whether the UFC would speak with Askren, whose contract is up with Bellator, White said that his promotion would indeed talk to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Freestlye wrestler.

That was trippy enough, but it’s a testament to the fact that the UFC usually seeks out the best fighters in the world, no matter how popular or “exciting” MMA fans or White himself think they are. Bellator, however, seems to be taking a different approach.

While the organization has been snapping up aging and losing former UFC fighters left and right, their CEO now says that they are not even interested in re-signing Askren — a home grown elite fighter of their own.

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[EXCLUSIVE] For Prize & Pride: Joe Warren on MMA, Wrestling And Doing What is Needed


(Photo via USA Today)

By Elias Cepeda

MMA fighters are typically quite good at talking about participating in the sport in philosophical terms. It is human chess, it is the ultimate competition, they feel peace in the cage or ring after the bell sounds, they get a thrill out of it, it is the most pure sport expression of martial arts, etc.

Most MMA fighters are pretty smart and since they participate in a constantly attacked and judged sport, many have come to see themselves as ambassadors for the sport on the whole.

It is important to remember, however, that professional fighters are prize fighters. That is, no matter what auxiliary benefits they get for fighting other trained athletes, they do it for money.

Fighters fight to put food on their plates and roofs over their heads. Joe Warren never forgets this.

The former Greco Roman wrestling world champion is in his car driving to his home state of Michigan on a recent afternoon. In tow, are the reasons he fights – his family. After winning a world championship, Warren was focused on making the U.S. Olympic team in 2008 and going to Beijing and winning gold.

A failed marijuana test and ensuing two-year suspension slammed that door shut for Warren. It was only then, at the relatively ancient age of thirty two, that he decided to follow in the footsteps of other world-class wrestlers turned fighters like Mark Coleman, Dan Henderson and Matt Lindland and fight MMA.

“I was training to win a world championship, I won a world championship and then didn’t get to wrestle in the Olympics,” Warren tells CagePotato on the ride to Michigan.

“While training for wrestling, some of the best fighters ever were in the room. Guys like Randy Couture, Matt Lindland and Dan Henderson. So, it was always in my mind. I started to do a little bit of color commentary but I didn’t have any credibility in fighting because I hadn’t fought. So, I decided to take some fights. I had some babies now and I needed to keep making cash.

So, I called Dan [Henderson] and they got me a fight instantly. In a month, I was in the Featherweight World Grand Prix. I flew out there starting fighting.”

Not only did Warren jump right into the fire against champions like Chase Beebe, “Kid” Yamamoto and Bibiano Fernandes in his very first three fights back in 2009, he did so with only a month of MMA training in his pocket. “I went in there strictly a wrestler,” Warren says.

“I flew out to Team Quest maybe a month before my first fight in Japan. I didn’t have a chance to learn the fighting aspect of it. It was just about safety – keep my hands up.”

Despite his lack of experience and, frankly, skills, Warren did well. He beat Beebe and Yamamoto before losing by submission to Fernandes. Then, he moved on to Bellator and won their featherweight title.

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Hope Is Not Lost: IOC Recommends Wrestling for Inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games


(Photo courtesy of Wrestlingisbest.tumblr)

Not to get your hopes up too much, Nation, but in a vote held yesterday in St. Petersburg, Russia, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) recommended three sports for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games: Baseball/Softball, Squash, and Wrestling, the latter of which was unjustly pulled from the games in February. While wrestling finds itself against some stiff competition (in baseball/softball at least, squash is right up there with handball in terms of asinine Olympic sports), this still represents a major hurdle being cleared in the race to save the foundational Olympic sport.

The international governing body (FILA) President, Nenad Lalovic, along with former Olympic wrestlers Jim Scherr (U.S.), Lise Legrand (France), Carol Huynh (Canada), and Daniel Igali (Nigeria) were chosen to plead wrestling’s case to the IOC yesterday. In a pre-written statement, Lalovic continued to push the idea that an MMA-style reformation would successfully draw in a wider audience for the struggling sport, and claimed that it was in fact already underway:

While our place in the Olympic Games is still not guaranteed, this decision recognizes the great lengths to which we are going to reform our sport and address the IOC’s concerns.

At FILA’s recent Extraordinary Congress we enacted a number of rule and governance changes and we hope that our continued efforts will ensure we are successful at the final vote in September. We recognize that there is still a long road ahead but we will continue to work to preserve our place in the Olympic Games. 

The final vote to decide which sport will be included in the 2020 games will be held in Buenos Aries, Argentina in September. In the meantime, we have an obligation, nay, a DUTY to do everything within our power to discredit baseball as a sport. So…PETE ROSE MARK MCGWIRE BARRY BONDS 1919 WORLD SERIES JOSE FUCKING CANSECO.

-J. Jones

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Is an MMA-Style Transformation the Only Thing That Can Save Wrestling From Its Slow Demise?


(Unfortunately, scribed just below this sculpture were a series of hateful, anonymous comments telling these “pussies” to, among other things, “Quit lay-n-praying and knock a motherfucker out.”) 

Following the sport’s shocking removal from the 2020 Olympic games, the wrestling community has called upon every conceivable resource in an attempt to restore the sport’s reputation amongst casual fans and potentially introduce it to even more. Sadly, us history buffs have thus far failed to sway the group of geniuses who declared handball and all that horse-related bullshit as sports more worthy of our viewership from reverting on their monumental mistake. But now, it appears that the International Federation for Wrestling has decided to follow our beloved sport into the fire in a last ditch attempt to save their own. USA Today has the scoop (via MMAJunkie):

“We have to think about how to make a show because without that today, it’s difficult,” FILA acting president Nenad Lalovic told USA TODAY Sports.

Former world champion Bill Scherr, chairman of the Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling, has met with UFC chief executive Dana White and Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney. MMA stars and officials have been very supportive of wrestling’s efforts. Scherr said his sport can learn about presentation from the MMA world. “We need to think about ways to change how the stage is presented,” Scherr said. “They compete in an octagon and we compete on a mat. We don’t have to compete on a mat. We can compete in sand, we can compete in grass and we can compete on a mat or an octagon. I don’t know. We can get survey groups together and see what looks best.”

There you have it, Potato Nation: Goodbye USA Wrestling. Hello SandFC!

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Olympic Gold Medalist Henry Cejudo To Make MMA Debut Next Saturday


Cejudo on Inside MMA talking about his upcoming MMA debut.

With the future of Olympic wrestling up in the air, it isn’t necessarily a surprise to learn that some Olympic hopefuls are giving MMA a shot. Earlier this week, it was announced that Henry Cejudo, the youngest American wrestler to win an Olympic gold medal, is preparing to make his MMA debut in March.

The twenty-six year old wrestler failed to make the Olympic team in 2012, but has had a very decorated amateur wrestling career, including an Olympic gold medal at 55 kg (121 lbs) in 2008. This doesn’t mean that Cejudo is completely one-dimensional, however. He also has over three years of amateur boxing experience, which includes winning a Copper Gloves tournament in 2010.

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Interview: Frankie Edgar Awaits His Next Opportunity, Discusses Olympic Wrestling Controversy


(Photo via Esther Lin/MMAFighting.com)

CagePotato contributor Oliver Chan was on hand at this weekend’s MMA World Expo in New York City, where he got his microphone in front of a wide-range of MMA stars and personalities. We’ll be running highlights from his interviews all week. First up: A brief chat with former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, who is enjoying a rare moment of peace between his last epic battle and whatever comes next…

CAGEPOTATO: You just came off a tough fight against Jose Aldo, and everybody wants to know: What’s next on the agenda for you?

FRANKIE EDGAR: Yeah, it’s two weeks out and I really haven’t made any decision on what I’m gonna do. You know, I’m gonna get back in there, but I don’t know when — not too long, I don’t like taking too long of a break. I’m already training, so we’ll just see how it goes.

Do you think you’ll jump back up to lightweight?

I think I’ll stay at ’45 for now. We’ll see what happens in the future, though.

Is there any opponent in particular you’ll be gunning for?

Nah, I don’t pick people’s names out, really. We’ll talk to Dana [White] and Lorenzo [Fertitta], Joe Silva and these guys, and my team, and we’ll figure out something out, I’m sure.

Switching gears, here, the big news from the Olympic Committee is that wrestling is possibly on the chopping block for the 2020 Games. What are your thoughts on that?

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Video: 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist Henry Cejudo Returns to Competition in New York City

At 21 years old, Henry Cejudo became the youngest American to win a gold medal in Olympic wrestling, when he swept through the 55kg freestyle field at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. When he returned home, Cejudo began to immerse himself in boxing training, winning tournaments in Arizona and training with Freddie Roach. Before long, Bellator approached him with an offer to join their Season Three bantamweight tournament. “I was close enough to signing with Bellator that they faxed the papers over and I was ready to sign them,” Cejudo said. “I thought about it for a day and during that time I got a call from USA wrestling about me coming back. I had a decision to make, and I think I just see myself with another gold medal and maybe doing MMA afterward.”

Cejudo now plans to compete at the 2012 Games in London. His comeback began yesterday evening at the “USA vs. Russia”-themed Beat the Streets 2011 Gala in New York City’s Times Square, where he competed in wrestling for the first time since Beijing. Cejudo faced Junior World bronze medalist Rasul Mashezov and won 2-0, 4-3. The American team beat the Russians 5-2 overall, aided by wins from 2010 U.S. Open champion Jordan Burroughs and 2009 World bronze medalist Tervel Dlagnev.

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