The extended video preview for UFC 129 has hit the Internet tubes, and as usual with these things, we get confident words from all the headliners, intercut with Joe Rogan raving about what beasts they are. Here’s a cheat-sheet…
— Georges St. Pierre says it’s an honor and a privilege to be part of all-time biggest gate in UFC history, and promises to give the fans a good show. Welterweight title contender Jake Shields says he has no problem fighting in hostile territory — which might be the first time that any part of Canada has been described as “hostile territory.” Says Shields: “Everyone has holes. He’s human. Once I get on top of him, I’m going to pass and put him away.” GSP respects Jake’s six year, 15-fight win streak, but says that fighting for a UFC world title is a different game. Particularly when you’re fighting Georges St. Pierre.
(“Why yes, I *am* getting too old for this shit. Thanks for asking!”)
During his 14-year MMA career, Randy Couture has ditched the UFC no less than three times — once in 1998 to pursue opportunities in Japan, the second time due to a short-lived retirement in 2006 following his second knockout loss to Chuck Liddell, and finally in 2007 due to a money disputes and a perceived lack of respect. Each time, the lure of competition has brought him back to his home in the Octagon. But there’s only so much a 47-year-old can take, and after a series of vaguehints in recent months, it seems like Randy is preparing us for his final departure, seriously, for real this time.
During an appearance on the ESPN UFC podcast, Couture stated that his upcoming UFC 129 fight against Lyoto Machida will very likely be his last, win or lose. As he put it:
Sometimes an MMA fight is so close — or controversial — that matching the fighters up again a few months later is the only logical option. In honor of the upcoming immediate rematches between Leonard Garcia and Nam Phan (at UFC Fight Night 24 on March 26th), and Edgar vs. Maynard 3 at UFC 130, we decided to round up our favorite “do-over” fights of all time…
6. STEPHAN BONNAR vs. KRZYSZTOF SOSZYNSKI UFC 116, 7/3/10 Why it was necessary: A clash of heads during their first fight at UFC 110 opened up a nasty gash on Bonnar’s forehead; the referee didn’t see the illegal impact, and awarded a TKO victory to Soszynski due to cuts. Furious at taking his third-straight loss in such an unjust manner, Bonnar filed a formal appeal with the Combat Sports Authority of New South Wales. Unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears, but the UFC hooked Bonnar up (as they often do) by giving him an immediate rematch with K-Sos on the blockbuster “Lesnar vs. Carwin” card. What happened: Bonnar/Soszynski 2 turned out to be a meat-and-potatoes brawl reminiscent of Bonnar’s first war with Forrest Griffin. The American Psycho and the Polish Experiment both appeared to gas out by the middle of the second round, but Bonnar was able to keep throwing and landing until he overwhelmed K-Sos with strikes at the 3:08 mark. The fight netted both men $75,000 Fight of the Night bonuses, and produced one of the greatest victory poses in UFC history.
Randy Couture is one of the most beloved fighters in MMA thanks in part to his ability to win fights he is meant to lose and also because he’s always willing to give reporters and fans his time, regardless how turrible or oblivious they may be.
(In his next fight, Bader would like to face someone of great historical significance. Anybody got Kimo’s number? Pic: MMA Convert.)
Contrary to popular belief, the UFC middleweight division has not quite cornered the market on making strategically advantageous call-outs. While the world’s 185-pound fighters are lining up to let everybody know how much they’d all love to fight Michael Bisping – which is like so 2010 – their light heavyweight brethren are also making requests of UFC matchmaker Joe Silva. It seems that at least a couple of 205-pounders have been spending some time on the “Fighters” page over at UFC.com and thinking to themselves, “Let’s see here, who can I beat?”
Ryan Bader, for one, emerged this week from whatever dark room he’s been huddled in, rocking back and forth since UFC 126 to tell ESPN.com he’d very much like to fight Tito Ortiz. Cuz, why not? Sure, just a withered shell of his former self, Ortiz hasn’t won a fight since 2006, is barely clinging to his career and seemingly can’t make it to the cage without a serious back injury, cracked skull or giant laceration over his eye, but still … fighting him would mean A LOT to Bader. You know, on a personal level.
(Ricco Rodriguez battles Randy Couture at UFC 39 while wearing the henna tattoo that almost brought down an industry. Photo courtesy of Sherdog.)
This Saturday, former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez faces TUF 10 vet James McSweeney in the co-main event of BAMMA 5 (MEN Arena; Manchester, England), which you can watch live via $10 online pay-per-view at bammatv.com. With 10 consecutive wins already under his belt — and his personal demons under control — you’d think that a decisive win over McSweeney would move Rodriguez one step closer to a UFC return. That’s what we thought anyway, until we asked Ricco about it on last week’s episode of The Bum Rush Radio Show. (The interview with Rodriguez begins at the 1:30:11 mark.)
As it turns out, the recent report that claimed Rodriguez was on the verge of signing a new contract with the UFC was mostly hot air. And in fact, it would be a minor miracle if “Suave” got anywhere close to an Octagon during his lifetime. Here’s the excerpt from our Bum Rush interview, in which Ricco Rodriguez — for the first time ever — explains why he’s been blacklisted from the organization.
RICCO RODRIGUEZ: No, [the report] definitely wasn’t accurate. There were some talks to possibly get into the UFC, but that opportunity is just not available, and I just don’t ever see myself returning to the UFC. Dana holds a grudge pretty well, and he has his reasons, and I don’t blame him. I understand what I did at that time, and it was a tough pill to swallow and he has every right to be upset with him…The truth of the matter is, is that I single-handedly almost tore down the UFC at one point in my career. A lot of people don’t know this, and you’ll probably be the first one that I’ll ever admit this to.
("Tell me again what it was like hanging out on the set with Hocky Balboa.")
When a story emerged last week that less than a month prior to the bout Vitor Belfort had jumped ship from training with Shawn Tompkins at TapouT Training Centre in Las Vegas in favor of holding his camp for his February 5 UFC 126 showdown with UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva at Xtreme Couture, the Internet exploded with theories about the obvious fragile mental state of "The Phenom" and fans and pundits quickly began writing off the former UFC heavyweight champ’s chances in the fight.
According to Belfort, the truth is, although he returned to working under the tutelage of Tompkins for this camp, he never really actually stopped training at the Randy Couture-helmed gym.
In a recent Twitter post Vitor (who incidentally trained almost exclusively with the Xtreme Couture coaches he’s working with now like Gil Martinez and Ray Sefo for his planned UFC 122 fight with Yushin Okami that was scrapped in favor of the Belfort-Silva bout next month) wrote that Tompkins was way off in his assessment of the situation.
"I dont think I have anything nice to say other than just ignoring it all. I have the right to choose who to train with. I have loyalty and respect and that is why I didn’t hide[the fact that I was also training at Xtreme Couture] from him," Belfort tweeted. "He tooks this more personally. I made my choice and this is just his opinion of it and nothing more."
(The last time Big Daddy got paid on time and in full.)
By Cage Potato contributor Chris Colemon
Only 17 years removed from its inaugural bout, the UFC is just now exiting its awkward teen years and developing into a suave, sophisticated adult. After an extended bout of growing pains that at times threatened the sport’s very existence, MMA is finally coming into its own. Today’s fans witness seemingly daily achievements and milestones that speak to the sport’s rapid expansion. In 2010 alone, the UFC held its first events in Abu Dhabi and Australia, opened offices in China, set a new North American attendance record for an MMA event, crowned its first Mexican heavyweight champion, and launched their first attack in the Battle for New York.
But the UFC’s epic tale is not unlike any other in that each chapter begins where another one ends. For every historic first, there is an all but forgotten last.
Here is a short list of some of the UFC’s important lasts – the rules and regulations sacrificed in the fight for our sport’s survival.
On paper, Machida, who was robbed of a decision over Quinton Rampage Jackson at UFC 123 in November after losing the light heavyweight belt to Mauricio Shogun Rua in May at UFC 113, is probably the UFC’s number two light heavyweight contender at the moment behind Rashad Evans, making the announcement that he will be facing an odds defying game plan master like Couture in his next bout somewhat of a head scratcher.
The cost vs. reward ratio is skewed in Randy’s favor.
If he beats the 47-year-old nearly-retired former champion, he beat a 47-year-old former champion, which shouldn’t raise his stock much in the UFC’s light heavyweight class. If he loses to Couture, he’ll have lost three fights in a row and will likely be relegated to fighting mid-card against Krzysztof Soszynski in his next bout, while Couture will likely get a crack at winning the UFC 205-pound belt for a record fourth time in his career by facing Shogun.
Although he says that he isn’t specifically fighting to win a title shot, Couture is cognizant that a win over Machida would put him in line to face Rua (the other fighter besides Lyoto that he named as being the two opponents he would take a break from acting to face) for the title.
In the interview above with MMA30′s Dave Farra, Couture talks about how he plans to bring the fight to Machida and also touches on some topics near and dear to him, including why his protegee Gray Maynard was somewhat sluggish in his UFC 125 fight with Frankie Edgar and his former Team Quest stablemate Chael Sonnen’s recent rash of bad decisions.
Chicks dig fighters — even the ones who talk funny. But even with the natural advantages that come with muscles, scars, and fame, we’re still occasionally surprised by the lady-killing ability of some mixed martial artists. Of all the MMA PUA‘s, these six are the most accomplished…
DEAN LISTER Notable conquests: WWE star Milena Roucka (aka ‘Rosa Mendes’), model Flavia Mazoni Notes: ‘The Boogeyman’ is semi-retired from the sport these days, choosing instead to spend his time training hopeless cases. But in his prime, Dean Lister was just as notable for his ability to attract exotic beauties as he was for his in-cage exploits. Grappling ability plus a cartoonishly strong-looking jawline is a combination that women can’t resist, apparently.
MATT HAMILL Notable conquests: Bikini model Wendy Foster, a super-hot former fiance named Brittany, an old girlfriend that was apparently down for whatever. Notes: Snagging a Hooters Girl of the Year would be an accomplishment for any man. But to do it without the use of one of your five senses? Bro, that’s legendary. (Then again, deafness is probably an asset when you’re pretending to be interested in your girlfriend’s stories.) Matt Hamill’s ex-fiance, a bartender from upstate New York, was just as hot, and of course there were those rumors of Hamill’s partner-swappin’ lifestyle with a freaky old flame. Respect the Hammer.