After the disaster that was Bellator 149, I was really looking forward to the UFC to bring me out of the depression. The UFC’s answer to the Bellator’s nonsense was UFC 196, headlined by Lightweight Champ Rafael dos Anjos vs. Featherweight Champ Conor McGregor. This “Champion vs. Champion” fight would have broken UFC records. Regardless of the outcome, history would’ve been made on March 5th. The news of RDA’s broken foot comes at the worst possible time as Rafael dos Anjos vs. Conor McGregor has been canceled.Read More
Well…this has been an interesting week in the UFC. With the recent injuries to the UFC 196 main eventers (Fabricio Werdum and Cain Velasquez), the UFC was forced to put next week’s PPV on Big Fox (Fox Sports 1) for free, saving you the $55 PPV price. On behalf of Werdum’s injured back and foot: You’re Welcome. Hopefully Chael Sonnen did not copy write that phrase.
Anywho, that is next week. This week featured another free card on Big Fox Saturday night which was headlined by Anthony “Rumble” Johnson vs Ryan “Darth” Vader…I mean Ryan Bader, with the winner to earn a title shot over Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier in the fall. In the co-main event, Josh Barnett and Ben Rothwell squared off in a match major title implications in the pathetic Heavyweight division. UFC Power Ranger, Sage Northcutt, was also hoping to make an impression. Needless to say, for a free event, there was some “Must-See TV, but thank god it’s free” potential.
Bryan Barberena (11-3) submits Sage Northcutt (7-1) via 2nd Arm Triangle Choke
Well, that was fun while it lasted. The UFC spent a lot of time trying to make us believe that Sage Northcutt was the next big thing. But he ran straight into a tough SOB in Bryan Barberena. Side note: Sage really makes a lot of fans want to punch him in the face. He is always so happy…makes me sick.
Anywho…the first round was won by Northcutt as he connected with a big punch that knocked down B.B. But as the fight went on, three big things stood out to me. First, Sage doesn’t really know how to control his aggression. When he saw an opening, and to his credit, he charged in like a bat straight out of hell, but he gassed quickly. The second thing I noticed is that Northcutt may not be used to getting hit in the face. That may sound funny, but in watching the facial expressions of Sage after he got hit, he almost looked panicked. Which brings me to the third point: it looked liked panicked in the uncomfortable situations in the fight. He really looked lost in basic Jiu-Jitsu situations. Then B.B. locked in an Arm-Triangle Choke from the wrong position (in half-guard…on the wrong side) and Sage tapped. It appeared that Sage was a little quick to tap out in what looked like a panic move. While this puts a 20ft tall brick wall in front of the “Sage Northcutt hype train”, the dude is only 19. He’ll be back.
This won’t help his bruised ego, though. You, sir, are mean.
*Cue mic drop*
Jimmie Rivera (18-1) def. Iuri Alcantara (32-6-1) via Unanimous decision.
This was a fun fight. Jimmie Rivera won his 18th straight with this very entertaining bout. The 1st round was closely contested but Rivera secured a takedown in the final seconds. The second round was at a quicker pace and was very similar to the first. Rivera did get knocked down in the 2nd and 3rd round but it didn’t really do much damage. With this win, Rivera firmly puts his name as a potential division dark horse.
Ben Rothwell (35-9) submits Josh Barnett (34-7) via 2nd round via Gogo Choke
The heavyweight division is starting to make a little more sense now as Josh Barnett is submitted for the first time in his 20-year career. The 1st round was a bit slow, but the pace picked up in the 2nd. The end came when Barnett went for a single-leg takedown, and Rothwell locked up his arms around Barnett’s neck, dropped his hips, and that’s all she wrote. Rothwell firmly puts his name in the “Contender” status.
Anthony Johnson (20-5)
murderers wrecks destroys defeats Ryan Bader (20-4) via 1st round TKO
Well…that was fast. Exactly 86 seconds. There is not much to say here. From the 1st second of the fight, it was pretty obvious that Ryan Bader wanted nothing to do with Anthony Johnson’s fists – and that is a GREAT idea – but do you know what happens when you shoot for a takedown but don’t set it up with some strikes?
You get waxed.
So as we stand, Anthony Johnson is the new #1 contender for the light heavyweight title. Oh boy.Read More
What a week to be a MMA fan! UFC 194 has received most of the attention, and understandable with Conor McGregor headlining. But with the UFC Fight Night on Fight Pass on Thursday and The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale on Friday, there is an MMA fix for all of you addicts out there. I am not a big fan of clichés, but this could be the most important week in UFC history.
The future of the company depends on the next two weeks.
Featherweights (145lbs): Max Holloway (14-3; 10-3 UFC) vs. Jeremy Stephens (24-11; 11-10 UFC)
This undervalued, hidden gem of a matchup pits the very durable Stephens against the elite Hawaiian Max Holloway. Stephens is coming off a spectacular TKO win against Dennis Bermudez in July, while Holloway is fresh off his bizarre win against Charles Olivera (let’s just forget about that one), but completely mauled Cub Swanson in April. This is a very important fight for the future of the featherweight division. For Stephens, a win would place him on the “Fighters to look for in 2016” list. However, if Holloway wins, he will likely just to the No. 1 contenders list in the division…with a caveat: Frankie Edgar. If Frankie Edgar loses to Chad Mendes, Holloway is likely next up for a title shot; if Edgar wins, will likely have to win another fight to stake his claim; most likely against Chad Mendes.
Stephens is a meat and potatoes guy and a very straight forward fighter. He likes to punch you in the face. That’s it. Seriously, that’s all I have to say about his game. Holloway is an exciting young fighter. He is very agile, circles the cage, and has a very diverse striking arsenal. He can hit you at any angle, from any position, and has a furious pace that can tire opponents in a hurry. Last time Stephens fought, he missed weight by almost 5lbs; this can play huge role in this fight.
My pick is Holloway via 3rd round TKO.
Welterweights (170lbs): Demian Maia (21-6; 15-6 UFC) vs. Gunnar Nelson (14-1-1; 5-1 UFC)
Two elite grapplers match up in another marquee matchup in the 170lbs division. Gunnar Nelson is a Goju-Ryu Karate practitioner that added Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to his arsenal that makes him an intriguing fighter. He is a counter-striker by nature, and always looks to counter his opponents that get within his range. The problem with Nelson is that if he doesn’t have an opponent that with be aggressive in the striking game, he won’t throw anything. With that said, he is a magician with his grappling. If he gets you on the ground, he is quick to find a dominant position to lock in a submission. Other than that, he has the propensity to be a very boring fighter. And as much as Nelson is a magician on the ground, Demian Maia is the equivalent to Jesus.
Maia uses his striking as a means to get his hands on you. And once he does that: game over. He only looks to transition to an advantageous position and rarely strikes while doing it. These two are pretty similar but without an opponent that will be aggressive, which Nelson is not, Maia will have the advantage. Maia has a conditioning issue, so even with the inevitable non-action, he has the propensity to gas.
I am going with Gunnar Nelson via unanimous decision.
Middleweights (185lbs) Jacare Souza (22-3, 1 N/C; 5-0 UFC) vs. Yoel Romero (10-1; 6-0 UFC)
This will be an extraordinary matchup, and the winner will emerge as a deserving challenger for either Luke Rockhold or Chris Weidman. Aggression and explosion are both fighters game as they stalk forward into a hard punching combination or takedowns. Souza is a very technical striker and constantly moves his head off of the centerline which makes him very hard to hit. With that said, he is only looking for a takedown from clinch range. And unlike Damian Maia, he is very violent once he gets the opponent to the ground. Romero is a freakish athlete with a ridiculous amount of power and speed for his size. He probably has the best takedowns in MMA and is vicious in the clinch and on the ground. With the grappling strengths of these two, this is likely to be a standup battle. Both fighters are on a tear, but you cannot go against the sheer power and violent potential of Romero.
I’m going with Romero via 3rd round TKO.
Middleweight Championship Chris Weidman (13-0; 9-0 UFC) vs. Luke Rockhold (14-2; 4-1 UFC)
I am having a tough time with picking this fight. I have never seen a title fight between to juggernauts so evenly matched up. This will be Weidman’s fourth title defense and his toughest. These two were destined to cross paths so there is no way for this fight to be anything but an incredible matchup with two of the best middleweights in history. This will be epic. Both are pressure fighter, but what differentiates the two is that Weidman will look for the takedown, whereas Rockhold would prefer to strike. Both are excellent grapplers as well. These two are essentially fighting against themselves. Rockhold uses more kicks-that is the only difference between the two. This will be super close and will likely cause some controversy as to who won. In razor-thin decisions in title fights, the judges tend to give the decision to the incumbent champion.
I am going with Chris Weidman via super close split decision.
Featherweight Championship Jose Aldo (25-1; 7-0 UFC) vs. Conor McGregor (18-2; 6-0 UFC)
History typically dictates that when two championship fights appear on the same card, the heavier weight class takes top billing. However, UFC had no choice but to let Aldo and McGregor take the main event slot, mostly due to Conor McGregor being such a charismatic figure hyping the fight by talking alone. Let’s not get it twisted: Conor can back up his intense bravado with his smooth/violent game. Jose Aldo, however, is possible the G.O.A.T. –he hasn’t lost in 10 years.
This is probably the biggest fight in UFC history.
Like the middleweight title fight, these two were destined to meet up in the cage. Ever since McGregor snatched Aldo’s title from his hand in a faceoff in April, the anticipation is killing me. Everything about McGregor’s game revolves around aggressive forward movement and pushing his opponent toward the cage. The one aspect that sets the Irishman apart from the rest is his masterful fight IQ. His fighting mind works like a computer, constantly adjusting to whatever he sees in the octagon. If he throws his straight left hand and you move your head to your left, next time he’ll faint the straight left and lead you straight into his uppercut. He is that good. One thing about Jose Aldo, he tends to get nastier the harder he is pushed; he can turn vicious. With that said, Aldo’s gas tank has always been a question. And with the pace McGregor goes at, typically throwing about 40 strikes per minute, I don’t think this is going past the 3rd round. I am going with
McGregor via 3rd round TKO.Read More
UFC 193’s main event will top a five-bout, pay-per-view card that will go live at 10pm EST.
The UFC does not believe in coincidences. They planned this PPV card perfectly. Their strategy of placing Women’s MMA on its well-deserved pedestal will come on full display at UFC 193.
It’s no coincidence hat the UFC is rolling out its Money maker, Ronda Rousey, in a relatively new UFC market in Australia. The stadium packs 70,000 seats and almost all tickets have been sold. The star power of Rousey is undeniable. But a new star is waiting in the wings. More on that below. And when it is all said and done, this new star can quite possibly takeover this show. More on that below.
This card is stacked with intrigue (Rousey vs Holm), a breakout star in the making (Uriah Hall), and fighters that you would question why they haven’t retired yet (Mark Hunt vs Antonio Silva).
Here is my preview of the two title fights.
Ronda Rousey (c) vs Holly Holm
Ronda Rousey now has the reputation on being a ferocious finisher. Her ability to finish her opponents in a quick, clean fashion is second to none. This is likely the fight where Rousey will run into problems.
Vegas oddsmakers place Rousey as a 12:1 favorite. I have no idea what that means but it seemed important enough to put in here. For all of Rousey’s improvements in the standup department, Holm has the clear striking advantage by a wide margin.
Holm is, by definition, an out-fighter. Now, I realize I haven’t covered the intricacies of out fighting, so here is a concise explanation. The out-fighter seeks to maintain a gap from their opponent and fight with faster, longer range punches and kicks while being extremely quick on their feet by cutting angles and circling, which often makes up for a lack of power. Think Muhammad Ali or Lyoto Machida.
“Stick and Move” is Holly Holm’s game. Her foot speed is excellent, and it’s difficult to keep up with her as she moves, drops a few punches, then moves, throws a punch-kick combo, then moves again. This is exactly the gameplan that can give Rousey problems. Holly Holm can make you pay if charge in like a raging bull… which is what made Rousey millions of dollars. I see this fight is one in which the uber aggressive Rousey charges after Holm for several rounds, eating clean punches and kicks as Holm continues to move and cut angles. Eerily similar to how the Rampage Jackson vs Forrest Griffin fight went. Holly Holm can win this fight.
I am picking Rousey via unanimous decision but it wouldn’t shock me if Holm won. She will need to fight smart.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (c) vs Valerie Letourneau
Enter the UFCs breakout star. Okay so it is no surprise that I am slightly obsessed with the Polish champ. I’ve covered her striking expertise already so I won’t bore you with my obsession. The champ has a challenger in Valerie Letourneau who plays right into her strengths. Valerie is a former bantamweight (135lbs) so her size advantage is a point of intrigue. We have all been witnesses to what Jędrzejczyk can do when she is able to let her hands fly – I have previously stated that she is the best striker in the UFC. It is like watching Emeril Lagasse cook: pure magic. That is why Letourneau needs to get this fight to the ground as quickly as possible. I don’t see that happening.
The champ is just too quick. Third round TKO win for the champ.
Antonio Silva vs. Mark Hunt
This will be a depressing fight as memories of “once was” with these heavyweights will certainly bring on the nostalgia. Where will I be when I am 40? Will I be reliving off of past glory like these two? What will my future kids be like? If the #2 pencil is the most popular, why is it still number two? Where exactly is Waldo?
Back in 2013, these two heavyweights put on one of the greatest matches of all time. It ended in a draw, so a rematch was the next logical decision to make. But “Bigfoot” Silva failed a post fight drug test and was suspended for a year and hasn’t looked the same since. Quite honestly, neither has Mark Hunt. With a combined age of 77, I’m sure you all have one question: Why haven’t these heavyweights retired yet? Great question!
With a very thin Heavyweight division, no fighter is more than three victories away from a potential title shot. Believe it or not, win this fight and the next, then you have a potential contender.
You may as well set the whole division ablaze at that point. 2015 has not been kind to either fighter as they have looked every bit of the 36yrs old and 41 yr old respectively. With TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) now banned, Antonio Silva hasn’t looked the same. Was it cheating…more on that at another time. This will not be as good as their 2013 classic. Being that this is a Heavyweight fight, don’t expect this to go the distance. Someone is getting knocked out.
Mark Hunt via second round TKO.
Uriah Hall vs. Robert Whittaker
I am real excited for this fight. Both fighters are coming off of spectacular KOs, so the competitiveness will be there. Both are excellent strikers with good wrestling to counteract. I can see this going either way. Both are pretty even fighters, but Hall is the better counter striker with better footwork.
Uriah Hall via Unanimous Decision.
Jared Rosholt vs. Stefan Struve
This is an interesting fight. Probably the only time where I can honestly say that I have no idea what will happen. Struve is a 7ft tall 265lbs mountain with an 84-inch reach, and hasn’t really learned how to use it until recently. Rosholt is a three-time All-American Division I wrestler, so this will need to be his key to victory. When he takes you down, he is more content to lay on you and try to gain a dominant position (and do nothing be than ground-and-pound.
Because Struve’s cardio has always been suspect, I am picking Rosholt via Unanimous Decision in a very boring fight.Read More
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Blythe is a former sports and entertainment broadcaster who quit it alllllll in order to dedicate more time to her growing digital brands. As a solopreneur based in Jacksonville, Florida, this podcast highlights the ups and downs of managing a side hustle in hopes it can lead to that elusive work/life balance.