“This Sunday marks the ten-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The way America looked at itself was altered immensely on that date, and a decade later the world is a very different place. Memories of panic and uncertainty are still present, but the urge to keep moving forward is even stronger. In remembrance of this anniversary, TheFightNerd.com, has released an exclusive short-film that commemorates this event alongside the New York MMA community. ‘A Fighting Spirit’ is a video memoir that interviews members of the NY martial arts community and discusses where they were when the Towers collapsed, how they have coped, and how New York and America have grown stronger.
Directed by Kahleem Poole-Tejada (director of the full-length documentary ‘New York MMA’) and produced by Matthew Kaplowitz (Editor-in-Chief of TheFightNerd.com) in association with Ranger Up, the film takes viewers around a tour of downtown Manhattan and provides a glimpse inside several of New York City’s top MMA gyms. It features many NY-based fighters, such as Renzo Gracie, Chris Weidman, Pete ‘Drago’ Sell, and Vitor ‘Shaolin’ Ribeiro, as well as Stephen Koepfer of NY Combat Sambo, Mark Yehia of ‘Elite Plus MMA,’ Rob Constance of ‘The Renzo Gracie Academy’ and President of the ‘Ultimate Absolute’ grappling tournament, and Emilio Novoa, President of ADCC North America. Also appearing is UFC middleweight fighter Jorge Rivera, as well as Strikeforce middleweight Tim Kennedy, who adds the voices of members of the U.S. Armed Forces to this emotional piece.”
As a New York resident since August 2002, the ten-year anniversary of 9/11 has put me in a reflective mood all week. Maybe you feel the same. If you have any recollections or tributes to share from that day, please leave them in the comments section. Here, I’ll start…
In all our excitement for Rampage vs. Machida, we haven’t really put much effort into covering the *other* event this weekend — Strikeforce Challengers: Wilcox vs. Ribeiro, which goes down tomorrow night at the Jackson Convention Complex in Jackson, Mississippi. The main card will be broadcast live on Showtime beginning at 11 p.m. ET. But should you actually take the time to watch it? Consult the flowchart below and find out. For the vision-impaired, there’s a larger version right here.
Alistair Overeem (-255) vs. Brett Rogers (+220) Andrei Arlovski (-170) vs. Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva (+160) Roger Gracie (-435) vs. Kevin Randleman (+325) Ronaldo Souza (-480) vs. Joey Villasenor (+380) Vitor Ribeiro (-130) vs. Lyle Beerbohm (+105) Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante (-195) vs. Antwain Britt (+165)
Strikeforce’s May 15th event in St. Louis — which is slated to feature the heavyweight clashes between Alistair Overeem vs. Brett Rogers and Andrei Arlovski vs. Antonio Silva — picked up two more notable matchups this week. First off, BJJ prodigy Roger Gracie (2-0) is set to face off against explosive UFC/PRIDE veteran Kevin Randleman (17-14). Gracie’s grappling credentials include eight titles at the Mundials and sweeps of the 98kg and Absolute divisions at the 2005 ADCCs; his last MMA fight was two years ago, when he choked out Yuki Kondo at Sengoku 2. Randleman has suffered decision losses in his last two bouts against Mike Whitehead and Stanislav Nedkov, and has dropped nine of his last 12.
“I was really just playing around, just working on my technique, and this kid, this little blue belt, grabbed a leglock—I was wearing a gi—and I couldn’t slide my leg out. He just bellied out on the leglock in the standing position and you just heard the bone go crunch. The hairline fracture turned into an actual break.”
We should have known there would be trouble after Hayato "Mach" Sakuraineeded seven and a half extra hours to make weight for today’s DREAM’s welterweight GP finals. The tournament favorite might have been fighting through exhaustion when he met Marius Zaromskis in the semis, in a bout marked by wild striking exchanges. Sakurai absorbed the more damaging blows, and the fight was halted about four minutes in so that doctors could check on a spurting gash under Mach’s left eye. When it was finally restarted after a long break, Zaromskis measured up Sakurai then threw a high left kick that put his lights out. A few more punches on the ground, and it was game over.
On the other side of the bracket, Jason High scored an upset of his own, handing jiu-jitsu juggernaut Andre Galvao his first MMA loss in a very close decision fight; one judge gave it to Galvao for his submission attempts in the first round, while the other two saw it for High due to his superior striking in the second. But the thrill of victory wouldn’t last long for High, as Zaromskis scored another head kick knockout — this time with the right leg — in their finals match.
In non-tournament action, Shinya Aoki outpointed Vitor Ribeiro in a disappointingly dull 15-minute bout, Dong Sik Yoon had to quit just a minute into his fight against Jesse Taylor after suffering a foot injury, and Paulo Filho survived a brutal striking assault from Melvin Manhoef and won the fight via armbar in what might be the leading contender for comeback fight of 2009. Complete results and more DREAM.10 fight videos are after the jump.
(Hayato Sakurai vs. Shinya Aoki. Listen for the Japanese version of Frank Trigg calling the action at the 1:20-1:27 mark of the video.)
The opening round of DREAM’s 2009 welterweight grand prix went down today at DREAM.8 in Nagoya, Japan, with Hayato Sakurai and Andre Galvao establishing themselves as early favorites to go all the way. In the evening’s main event, Sakurai was able to defeat Shinya Aoki for the second time in his career, reversing position after a slick takedown from Aoki, then unleashing a brutal series of knees to the head and punches that forced a stop to the action just 27 seconds into the fight. Aoki, who didn’t bother putting on weight for the match, hopefully learned that he’s better off at lightweight.
Elsewhere in the welterweight GP, Andre Galvao looked impressive yet again, taking out UFC/WEC vet John Alessio by armbar at 7:34 of the first round; the powerful jiu-jitsu ace increases his record to 3-0, with all wins by armbar. Jason High was able to bounce back to the W column with a quick choke-out of Yuya Shirai, while Marius Zaromskis edged out Seichi Ikemoto by decision after a 15-minute slugfest.
In the non-tournament bouts, Jeff Monson won for the third time in three weeks (!), using his significant grappling advantage over Sergei Kharitonov to sink in a north-south choke early in the first round. Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro was also victorious in his return to competition, controlling Katsuhiko Nagata for most of the first round of their match until a series of knee-strikes from Ribeiro opened up a nasty gash on Nagata’s head; doctors immediately went in to check the wound, and decided to stop the fight. And in a minor upset, Riki Fukuda — a late replacement for Dong Sik Yoon — was able to score a very close decision over Murilo Rua after a 15-minute standup battle.
Ribeiro, who holds notable career victories over Tatsuya Kawajiri, Joachim Hansen, and Mitsuhiro Ishida, spent his time off opening a gym in New York City called Modern Martial Arts. Unless his skills have deteriorated significantly in his hiatus, he should have no problem dispatching Nagata, who has gone 1-3-1 in his last five fights. Video of Ribeiro kicking Ryuki Ueyama’s ass in March 2007 is after the jump.