“Some fighters rise to the occasion, and some fighters are dwarfed by the moment.”
That’s how longtime UFC commentator Joe Rogan puts it in this recent video from FUEL TV, which examines the overwhelming nature of competing in the UFC for the first time, and how those “Octagon jitters” may have negatively affected such hyped-up talents as Daniel Cormier, Hector Lombard, Cung Le, Carlos Condit, and Anthony Pettis. Even if the fight goes well for you, the emotions can be almost too much too bear (see especially: Cat Zingano). It’s an interesting look at the mental challenges that new UFC fighters face, which tend to multiply the more-obvious physical ones. So check it out.
0:00: Some asshole wonders why Matt Hamill needs walkout music if he’s deaf. HA! The joker in question acknowledges that the joke was mean…then repeats it, in case you missed it the first time. 1:10: ”Spread the fuckin’ legs. Fuck. Fuckin’.” 1:53: Hamill’s coach expresses his disappointment in a loving, supportive way. 2:37: “Elbows! Whrrsthgoddmnelbws?? Shut the fuck up. Shut up.” 3:54: “Tito! Get up! Try! You gotta try, Tito!” 4:29: “Well, he wants you to hit him. That’s cool.” 4:49:Donald Cerrone head-kicks Nate Diaz to the mat, then refuses to follow him down, as steam blasts out of Greg Jackson’s ears. 5:23: Donald Cerrone trips Nate Diaz to the mat, then refuses to follow him down, as Greg Jackson has a massive coronary and pisses himself. 5:40: Donald Cerrone trips Nate Diaz to the mat, then refuses to follow him down, as Greg Jackson’s head literally launches off his body. 5:46: “GO FORWARD! GO FIRST! GO FORWARD! GO FIRST! GO FORWARD! GO FIRST! GO FORWARD! GO FIRST! GO FORWARD! GO FIRST! GO FORWARD! GO FIRST! GO FORWARD! GO FIRST! GO FORWARD! GO FIRST! GO FORWARD! GO FIRST! GO FORWARD! GO FIRST! GO FORWARD! GO FIRST! GO FORWARD! FORWARD!” 6:18: Jackson calls Nate Diaz by his brother’s name, possibly on purpose just to fuck with him. 6:35: Richard. Fucking. Perez.
It’s a good way to waste your lunch hour today — better, at least, than talking to that weird guy at the office who always just eats a can of soup for lunch, like, every day. (Seriously? Get some protein in there, you’re a grown ass man.) Anyway, watch it and tune in Saturday. It’s free, so you’ve got no excuse not to, fight fans.
The extended trailer to UFC 159 is an interesting case study. On one hand, it reminds us that at the very least, watching Jon Jones defend his belt against Chael Sonnen will be an entertaining experience. And that’s important, considering the match was seemingly made only with entertainment value in mind. As a light-heavyweight title contender, Sonnen is about as undeserving as it gets, but according to UFC president Dana White (as quoted in the video by Jones), the fans really want this fight. Now, we all know that’s bullshit; I don’t think anybody reacted to the Jones/Sonnen booking with anything other than utter bafflement. Still, it’s a fun fight, right? Right?
Here’s the problem: The UFC 159 video preview does nothing to suggest that the fight will actually be competitive. In fact, it gives more credence to the theory that Jones vs. Sonnen will be a total blowout. Did you know that Jon Jones has never been taken down in his UFC career? (Meaning, Sonnen will have a very tough time executing his only real pathway to victory, even if he is the self-proclaimed “best MMA wrestler in the world.”) Another fun fact: Jon Jones owns the most submission victories in the history of the UFC light-heavyweight division, while Sonnen has already been submitted four times in the Octagon. I mean, besides his takedowns and his trash-talk, tapping out is one of the main things that Chael is known for. As Bones puts it:
- This week’s fight will be Bubba vs. Kelvin Gastelum, a 5-0 prospect (and full-time bail bondsman) from Arizona who, at 21 years old, is apparently the youngest competitor ever allowed onto The Ultimate Fighter. Jones picked the matchup because he sees Kelvin as Team Sonnen’s weakest link, and feels that Bubba’s vast experience edge and overall skills will make the difference in the fight. As usual, Coach Chael Sonnen tries to stay positive: “They don’t know what they handed you,” he tells Kelvin. “They handed you a big opportunity. Everybody here’s gotta win this tournament to get in the UFC. You just gotta beat this guy. This is your ticket, right here.”
- Kelvin is apparently a big Ronda Rousey fan, so Chael sweetens the pot by arranging for Ronda to call Kelvin and wish him luck, then promises that Ronda will come down and train with him if he wins. Man, that devious bastard.
- Chael Sonnen’s friendliness is still throwing Jon Jones for a loop; the champ likes to keep a “mystique” about himself and maintain a distance from future opponents, but Sonnen is making that difficult by constantly engaging Jones in pleasant conversation. Seriously, Chael, when are you going to start fucking with his parking spot and hiding his sandals?
Also: Henderson hints that he’s bringing a secret weapon to this fight, but if that doesn’t work, he’ll just have to hit Machida with his right hand. (Makes sense.) Of course, Hendo vs. the Dragon is a matchup of power vs. speed/footwork, but as Henderson puts it, “we’ll see how quick this old man is too.”
- Adam Cella returns to the TUF house, still wearing his hospital gown, and claims he has no memory of the fight. Nevertheless, he tracks Uriah Hall down in the shower and jokingly asks Hall why he hit him so hard. Hall still feels uncomfortable about the fact that he nearly ended Cella’s life. The fact that he’s naked while Cella is trying to have a conversation with him does nothing to alleviate the tension.
- Kevin Casey suffered a cut over his right eye during his elimination-round fight against Eldon Sproat, and says he chose to fight Collin Hart — a wrestler — because he runs a lower risk of getting the cut re-opened against Hart than he would against a talented striker, like Bubba McDaniel, for example. So yeah, in a way he is ducking Bubba, but it makes sense from a strategic standpoint. Unfortunately, Collin vows to elbow Kevin Casey’s face in.
In advance of the UFC’s first women’s title fight on February 23rd, Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche are getting the Primetime treatment, with a three-episode mini-series introducing viewers to the fighters’ personalities and personal histories. As we learn, Rousey and Carmouche both found themselves directionless after formative experiences — the Olympics for Rousey, the Marines for Carmouche — until MMA opened new chapters in their lives. The similarities end there, pretty much. Rousey is currently living the upwardly-mobile life of a UFC champion, while Carmouche is still broke as hell, working full days at the San Diego Combat Academy just to make ends meet.
A win for Carmouche would be life-changing, and she revels in the opportunity. “I absolutely think I’m going to spoil the UFC’s plans,” she says with a smile. (Hey, whatever happened to looking out for the company?)
Even if Liz is set up as the scrappy underdog who has fought tooth and nail to get where she is, the episode makes sure to push the adversity in Rousey’s life even harder. For better or worse, the Primetime series reaches an all-time high of emotional intensity in the final segment of this episode, as Rousey describes the heart-wrenching story of her father’s suicide, then breaks down in a moment of self-loathing for telling it. “I feel like I’m prostituting his memory for my own career gain, and it makes me feel like a fucking asshole,” she says through tears. Powerful stuff. Give it a look, and you’ll see a side of “Rowdy Ronda” that you might not have known about.
- How likely is it that Edgar will become the third UFC fighter in history (after Randy Couture and BJ Penn) to become a UFC champion in a second weight division?
- Is anybody buying the idea that Bigfoot’s size and power will be a challenge for Overeem?
- What would Rashad Evans need to do, hypothetically, to convince you that he deserves another crack at Jon Jones?
- The UFC injury curse has been eerily quiet lately, with very few withdrawals of marquee fighters over the past two months. So, were Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta justified in throwing those virgins into the volcano?
And now that we have your attention, you might as well watch this stuff too…
Every once in a while, videos come out that you wish were a little longer. Usually, they include this chick. Others, however, contain candid and inside looks into the lives and mindsets of top fighters. A new one released by Fuel TV called “UFC Roundtable Welterweights” is one of those videos.
Our favorite fitness guru and MMA coach Jay Glazer sat down with four legends — BJ Penn, Renzo Gracie, Georges St. Pierre and Matt Serra — to discuss the psychology of pre-fight moments like stare downs, warm ups, and the walk to the cage/ring. Given all the heat and history between most of these guys, it was cool to see them sit next to one another and seemingly enjoy what the others had to say.
St. Pierre, for example, waxed sports-psychologist philosophical about how he turns his fear into courage, and even his two-time nemesis Serra was impressed. Penn gushed about how Renzo was the one guy who didn’t look away from him during a stare down. I guess time and everyone being rich has a way of healing old wounds.
The latest in a series of video spots promoting the UFC in Australia, “The Art of Fighting Part 3: Learning to Dance” focuses on combat sports legend Mark Hunt, the former K-1/PRIDE veteran who has found an unexpected career rebirth inside the Octagon. After losing six consecutive MMA fights from 2006-2010 (five via armlock, one via Manhoef), Hunt is now on a three-fight win streak — including knockouts of Chris Tuchscherer and Cheick Kongo — and is currently calling out old foes while on injury leave.
Hunt is not a complicated man, and his best quotes in this clip are zen-like in their simplicity. (“The best part about fighting is the fighting.” “My gameplan is just knock his head off. That’s the gameplan.”) Plus, the 38-year-old New Zealander says he’d probably be in jail if not for fighting. So thank you, MMA, for saving Mark Hunt from a shameful life of white-collar crime.
On yesterday’s edition of the Verbal Submission radio show, Hendricks stated that he won’t take another fight before getting his title shot, even if reigning champion Georges St. Pierre decides to fight Anderson Silva in his next appearance. Judging from GSP’s non-committal post-fight interview with Joe Rogan on Saturday, squaring off against the Spider doesn’t really seem to be a priority for him. UFC fans may want to see GSP in a champion vs. champion catchweight superfight against Silva, but if St. Pierre decides to remain in his division for now, there’s at least one challenger who could give him a hell of a match. (Hint: It’s the bearded dude with the magical death-fists.)
In advance of Georges St. Pierre‘s long-awaited return at UFC 154 on November 17th, the UFC has made four of the welterweight champ’s greatest performances available on YouTube, along with the last four fights from the interim champ, Carlos Condit. Unfortunately the videos aren’t embeddable, but you can use the handy player above to give yourself a refresher course on the following…
- GSP’s blitzkrieg of Jay Hieron in his Octagon debut at UFC 48.
- GSP’s rear-naked choke of Frank Trigg at UFC 54.
- GSP’s revenge-TKO of Matt Hughes to win his first title at UFC 65.
- GSP’s revenge-TKO of Matt Serra to reclaim the unified belt at UFC 83.
- Carlos Condit snatching a knockout victory from the jaws of defeat against Rory MacDonald at UFC 115.
- Condit’s highlight-reel knockout of Dan Hardy at UFC 120.
- Condit’s demolition of Dong-Hyun Kim at UFC 132.
- Condit’s controversial decision win over Nick Diaz at UFC 143.
And for a different take on GSP’s historic reign in the sport, check out lookoutawhale‘s classic “Bloodsport Karma” film after the jump. We know it’s a lot to watch, so feel free to take the rest of the day off.
On November 17th in Montreal, Georges St. Pierre returns to the Octagon from his year-and-a-half layoff, and honestly, it couldn’t come soon enough. When St. Pierre and Carlos Condit meet for the UFC welterweight belt at UFC 154, it will have been a full three months since the last time the UFC put on a title fight that wasn’t a total mismatch. That drought of superfights has been one of the reasons why MMA has simply felt less exciting lately, but finally, things are picking up again, and I can’t freakin’ wait.
We’ve been thinking about GSP vs. Condit for a hell of a long time, and the anticipation has reached that saturation point where we just want this damn thing to be over by now. St. Pierre says his knee isn’t a weak link anymore, he’s 100%, he’s “back better than ever.” And it’s never a good idea to doubt such a fantastic and disciplined athlete. But still…a hungry and motivated Carlos Condit is the last guy you want to face when you’ve been out of the game so long.
Speaking of welterweights, Johny Hendricks and Martin Kampmann will be squaring off in the co-main event. (Kampmann scores the best point in the promo interview by promising to kick Hendricks in the beard.) Could an impressive performance put one of these guys next in line? And who will come out on top? Check out the extended trailer above and let us know what you think.
The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes premiered Wednesday in Australia and the U.K., pitting the George Sotiropoulos-led Aussies against Ross Pearson‘s gang of Brits. Needless to say, if you’re interested in seeing the UFC’s next wave of funny-accented fighters, we’ve got you covered. Check out the full episode #1 video after the jump, which features the guys moving into the TUF house — baller as hell, except for the bunk-beds — the standard f*ck-fueled pep-talk from Dana White, an immediate health crisis on Team U.K., and the first welterweight scrap between Benny Alloway (Team ‘Roo) vs. Valentino Petrescu (Team Queen).
In their continuing efforts to convince you that Vitor Belfort has at least a puncher’s chance against Jon Jones at UFC 152, the UFC has just made the Vitor Belfort vs. Tank Abbott fight from UFC 13 available on YouTube. Just 20 years old at the time, Belfort had made his Octagon debut three months prior at UFC 12, winning the four-man heavyweight bracket in a combined fight time of two minutes. Belfort’s subsequent “superfight” against Abbott — still a somewhat legitimate competitor back then — turned out to be another blitzkrieg. In just 52 seconds, it was all over.
But even more so than the overwhelming striking performance from the Phenom, I think my favorite part of this video is 3:30-3:41, where Belfort calls out for his beloved trainer “Stankie,” and we get a glimpse at a younger (but still pretty old) Al Stankiewicz. Then, we see that Stankie’s hands are wrapped as if he was going to fight that night. Classic.
UFC president Dana White and the four headliners for Saturday’s UFC on FOX 4 event — Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Brandon Vera, Lyoto Machida, and Ryan Bader — will be in attendance today for the “Shogun vs. Vera” press conference in Los Angeles; you can watch it live in the player after the jump beginning at 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT. We expect each man to make a perfectly logical and well-reasoned argument why he should be the next light-heavyweight title-contender. Personally, I think Jon Jones should just go down the row elbowing each fighter in the nose at full strength, and the last guy to start crying earns the shot. But what do I know — I’m just an unappreciated promotional visionary.
Over the last ten years, we’ve watched Mauricio “Shogun” Rua go from young phenom to living legend. Though injuries and and controversial judging have occasionally slowed his momentum during the second half of his career, Shogun enters next weekend’s UFC on FOX 4 matchup with Brandon Vera as a standard-bearer for his generation of fighters, and is still considered among the elite of the light-heavyweight division.
In honor of Rua’s continuing legacy, we’ve picked out the 16 videos that best summarize his journey as a fighter — from the past to the present, from his most unforgettable triumphs to his most crushing defeats. Enjoy, and pay your respects in the comments section.
Mauricio Rua vs. Rodrigo Malheiros de Andrade. Shot in 1998 when Rua was just 16 years old, this footage shows the future PRIDE/UFC star competing in a Muay Thai smoker in somebody’s house in Curitiba, Brazil. Though Shogun shows flashes of his trademark aggression, his technique hasn’t quite blossomed yet, and he winds up getting head-kick KO’d at the video’s 7:15 mark.
Mauricio Rua vs. Rafael Freitas, Meca World Vale Tudo 7, 11/8/02. Rua was 20 years old when he made his official MMA debut against Rafael “Capoeira” Freitas, who was tenacious in his attempts to put Shogun on his back. But Freitas couldn’t keep him there, and the standup exchanges were lopsided in Rua’s favor. After a few minutes of abusing his opponent with knees, punches, and stomps, Shogun finally puts Freitas out cold with a head-kick.
“They brought me into this fight as a fish for Shogun to eat.”
So said Brandon Vera during yesterday’s hour-long “UFC’s Road to the Octagon” special on FOX, which previewed next weekend’s UFC on FOX: Shogun vs. Vera card in Los Angeles. Vera is well aware that few people are giving him a chance in the night’s headliner — especially considering that he hasn’t had an impressive victory in over three years — but the opportunity to fight Shogun and return to elite-fighter status has given him new motivation for training.
Frankie Edgar is the UFC’s official king of fighting the same guy back-to-back. He did it in 2010 with BJ Penn, in 2011 with Gray Maynard, and now he’s heading into fight #2 against Ben Henderson, the Philippians-quoting WEC standout who bullrushed the UFC and out-pointed four consecutive opponents to win the lightweight belt. (In case anybody cares, Randy Couture is at #2 on the immediate rematch leaderboard thanks to his rivalries with Pedro Rizzo and Vitor Belfort; then there’s a handful of guys who have had one immediate rematch, and that’s it. It’s a pretty short list.)
What makes the rematch at UFC 150 different for Edgar, of course, is that he won’t be a defending champion this time. Though he fought his ass off against Bendo at UFC 144, the numbers simply weren’t on his side. (Plus, he ate that face-shattering upkick at a moment when he really needed to maintain his momentum.) Ben Henderson is just as iron-chinned, aggressive, and hard-working as Edgar, so maybe the biggest advantage in the matchup is the fact that Henderson is a large lightweight, and Edgar isn’t. Will this be the fight that finally convinces Frankie to seek his fortune at featherweight? Or will he reclaim his belt with another unbelievable display of heart?
As you’ll see in the next clip (after the jump), Jon Anik and Brian Stann were at the other end of that hall the whole time, and God knows what they must have made of the pacing thing. Cruz and Stann break down the action, and unsurprisingly, Dominick is unable to stand still. You get the sense that Cruz was pulling for Urijah to win. Did he see something in Barao that spooked him, or did he just want another opportunity to beat up his old rival?
“It was pretty silly of course when I heard it, but it’s Michael Bisping. Everyone pretty much expects something ridiculous to come out of his mouth, right? I mean, that’s pretty much what he does.”
Said Bisping: “Listen pal, when you were a glint in your dad’s eye, I was kicking ass in the UFC.”
“And probably saying ridiculous things, also,” Benavidez continued. “It’s not gonna change the fact that [Demetrious Johnson and I are] the top two guys in the world and that we’re going out to make history that night. So everyone that supports us, thanks and we love you. Everyone that doesn’t, including Bisping, I think you soon will and you’ll be excited for this. So yeah man, it’s gonna be great, and [*pats Bisping on the shoulder*] glad to have you on the card as co-main, buddy.”
Ooooooh, burn! Notably absent from the press conference was BJ Penn, which made Rory MacDonald question where his opponent’s was at. As MacDonald said later in the press conference (via MMAMania):
In seven seconds, Ryan Jimmo went from being “one of the most boring fighters in the world” to the greatest celebration-dancer since Jamie Varner. Also, he tied the UFC’s official record for fastest knockout thanks to his one-punch demolition of Anthony Perosh at UFC 149. As Dana White explained at the post-fight press conference, “It probably would have been the fastest knockout in UFC history, but the ref was far away from the action, and it took him so long to get there…[The fight is] actually stopped when the ref touches and stops the fight. So if the ref was in position…[Jimmo] probably would have gotten the fastest knockout.” Meanwhile, Duane Ludwig’s unofficial knockout record continues to be absolutely meaningless.
Jimmo’s dramatic UFC debut actually made it onto SportsCenter’s Top 10 Playsthat night, where it was likely beaten out by at least one guy catching a fucking baseball. Sadly, the clip above doesn’t include the complete robot-dance that Jimmo did immediately following the knockout. You can see a gif of it after the jump, courtesy of caposa.
The UFC’s summer schedule marches on this Saturday with UFC 149: Faber vs. Barao, the promotion’s injury-ravaged Calgary debut. Here’s the full-length video trailer for the event, which is especially worth watching if you’re not too familiar with Renan Barao, the Brazilian bantamweight on the 28-fight win streak who’s battling Urijah Faber in the main event. Barao is the kind of deadly-from-all-positions phenom who seems destined for a major title someday, and collecting the interim bantamweight strap with a big win over the California Kid would be a star-making moment for the Nova União product.
Finally, we get a look at injury replacement Shawn Jordan, who trainer Greg Jackson calls “one of the most athletic heavyweights I’ve ever seen in my life.” For proof, check out the backflip he does at 7:23. Jordan is riding back-to-back second-round stoppage wins against Lavar Johnson in Strikeforce and Oli Thompson in his UFC debut. But is veteran striker Cheick Kongo too much, too soon? And are you guys going to buy this card or what? Shoot us your UFC 149 thoughts in the comments section.
- Before his first fight with Sonnen at UFC 117, Anderson Silva had been hit a combined 166 times by his previous 11 UFC opponents. Sonnen landed on him 320 times. (Each of these must have counted as two.)
- Sonnen has actually out-landed all of his opponents in the UFC and WEC. Unfortunately, he’s also allowed 18 serious submission attempts during his UFC fights, which places him 3rd on the all-time list. We’re guessing he’ll never catch up to Melvin Guillard.
- Silva’s triangle/armbar submission of Sonnen 23:10 into their fight was the latest stoppage in UFC history.
- Sonnen’s 34 takedowns in the Octagon place him at #1 among middleweights.
- Sonnen is the “World’s Best Trash Talker,” which has been scientifically proven by the researchers at CompuTrash.
After the jump: Sonnen discusses the training camp support he gets from his mother/co-conspirator, and the full video of Sonnen’s UFC 136 smashing of Brian Stann.
UFC 148′s co-main event is the not-nearly-as-anticipated rubber match between Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin. “In this third one, there has to be a convincing winner,” Ortiz says, “and that’s gonna be me.” No matter what the outcome of the fight, July 7th will mark Ortiz’s transition from UFC star into retired Hall of Famer. So how will he perform in the last three rounds of his career? And if he manages to carve out a victory, what does that mean for Forrest Griffin?