M-1 Global

M-1 Global

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(Props to Lowkick.)

Each week, FIGHT! brings you the best from our friends around the web.

– What if the UFC Held Its Own Heavyweight Grand Prix? (Cage Potato)

– Five Lessons: UFC 125 (Versus MMA Beat)

– Antonio McKee: Loss in UFC Debut Was a ‘Humbling Experience’ (MMA Fighting)

– UFC 125 Aftermath: Clay Guida’s Enthusiasm For Fighting Is A Draw For New MMA Fans (SBNation.com/MMA)

– 11 Fighters The UFC Should Sign In 2011 (Heavy.com/MMA)

– Video: Hatsu Hioki vs. Marlon Sandro Featherweight Title Fight From Sengoku ‘Soul of Fight’ (MMA Scraps)

– Watch Dana White Give Snoop Dogg $20,000 in Unmarked Bills (MiddleEasy)

– Miesha Tate Targeting March 5 in Ohio for Welterweight Title-Shot (Five Ounces of Pain)

– Brock Lesnar Wants You to Read His New Book (MMA Convert)

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FIGHT! is offering MMA fans a free video stream of M-1 Challenge XXII, live from Moscow. The card features three championship bouts as well as bouts featuring UFC vet Luigi Fiorvanti, Bellator vet Pat Bennett, and women’s MMA prospect Cindy Dandois. Check out the full M-1 Challenge XXII card here. Be here at 11 a.m. EST, Fri., Dec. 10 for free, live MMA direct from Mother Russia.

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M-1 Selection- Semifinals 2010- by KahL-One from Kahleem on Vimeo.

After 13 years of promoting fights in Europe, Asia, and more recently, North America, M-1 Global is known primarily in the U.S. as the management group that guides Fedor Emelianenko’s career. This brand confusion was largely M-1’s fault, as the company spent the last few years co-promoting fights with bodog, Affliction, and Strikeforce, and running its over-ambitious M-1 Challenge series, which pitted fighters from various nations against each other in a World Cup-style team format, culminating in a year-end championship.

In 2010, M-1 focused its energies on the Selection tournament, a series of fights in America, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Western Europe aimed at developing talent for M-1 Challenge shows, which the company hopes will groom elite talent for large-scale, internationally televised shows promoted by M-1 and its partners. The three-round tournament produced contenders for M-1 Global’s vacant Lightweight, Welterweight, Middleweight, Light Heavyweight, and Heavyweight.

On October 28, M-1 Global will crown its first divisional champions as M-1 Selection tournament winners from Eastern and Western Europe clash in St. Petersburg. The heavyweight title will go to the winner of Maxim Grishin vs. Guram Gugenishvili, the light heavyweight belt will go to the winner of Magomed Sultanakhemedov vs. Rafael Moks, and the lightweight championship will go to the winner of Artiom Damtovsky vs. Mairbek Taisumov. The welterweight and middleweight championships will be awarded to the winner of yet-to-be-determined bouts in Atlantic City on Dec. 11.

The belts will go into circulation on M-1 Challenge shows in 2011, giving the company a chance to prove to American fans that it’s about more than Fedor.

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While the biggest shows took the weekend off, five FIGHT! Rankings qualifying fight cards took place between Thurs. and Sat. Bellator 29, King of the Cage: No Mercy, KSW 14, Jungle Fight 22 and the M-1 Selection 2010 – The Americas Final all had some impact on our rankings, mostly in the form of competitors returning to our rankings after long layoffs or guys logging their third qualifying fights and entering our rankings for the first time. Here’s how the cookie crumbled this weekend.

Bellator 29


(Bellator heavyweight Neil Grove)

After their wins on Thurs., Cole Konrad and Neil Grove will meet in Bellator’s season-three heavyweight tournament final. Konrad moved from #47 to #42 in our Heavyweight Rankings with his win over unranked Damian Grabowski, while Neil Grove enters the rankings at #32 with his win over Alexey Oleinik, who enters at #68. Though Konrad has more qualifying wins, Grove comes in 10 spots above him in the rankings because his first qualifying fight was in the UFC which offers the highest possible value in our rankings system. Brett Cooper moves from #92 to #64 in FIGHT!’s Welterweight Rankings with a win over Matt Major, who will enter our rankings after his next qualifying fight. After competing at 145 pounds and holding the #44 spot in the Featherweight Rankings, Jameel Massouh has been reassigned to Bantamweight, where he immediately takes up residence at #10 following his first round stoppage win over Nick Mamalis, who falls from #15 to #34. Jason Guida slips from #79 to #81 with a loss to unranked Justin Lemke. The fall is due solely to the inclusion of two more heavyweights in our rankings – Guida remains just two spots from the bottom of our list of rankings-eligible heavyweights.

KOTC: No Mercy

kotc_logo1

Bellator veteran Jimmie Rivera took the King of the Cage Bantamweight Championship from Abel Cullum on Fri. night and found himself installed at #21 in our Bantamweight Rankings because of it. The split decision loss actually helped Cullum, who moves from #35 to #31. At Lightweight, Noah Weisman enters at #116 with a win over unranked Sean Wilmot. Heavyweight prospect Ron Sparks was booked to fight Ray Mercer on the televised card, but unfortunately for Sparks, this is the second qualifying fight this summer in which his opponent dropped out and the fourth in the last year; “The Monster” was booked to fight Tim Sylvia, Bobby Lashley, and Ray Mercer (twice) before each withdrew.

KSW 14: Judgement


(After a disappointing showing against Tim Sylvia, Pudz gets back on track.)

No fighters entered the KSW ring with a ranking but a few left with one. Eric “Butterbean” Esch returns to our Heavyweight Rankings at #58 following his loss to Mariusz Pudzianowski. The ranking is probably not an accurate measure of his ability as much a reflection of the strength of competition component from his earlier fights. “Pudz” is now one qualifying fight from entering our rankings. Two 155-pounders entered our rankings following wins in the KSW Lightweight Tournament; Finn fighter Niko Puhakka enters at #108 and Danny Van Bergen enters at #144.

Jungle Fight 22

Brazil’s Jungle Fight promotion has proven to be a proving ground for young South American talent and most of the fighters on this card were logging their first qualifying fight. The only ranked fighter, Edilberto de Oliveira, fell from #88 to #112 in our Welterweight Rankings after his loss to unranked IFL vet Eduardo Pamplona. In a Lightweight feature bout, Yuri Alcantara entered our 155-pound rankings at #85 after defeating Manuelo Morales, who enters at #129.

M-1 Selection 2010 – The Americas Final


(This is M-1 Heavyweight Kenny Garner’s happy face.)

M-1 Global’s 2010 Selection tournament is nearing its completion. Tournament winners from the Americas final will meet tournament winners from the Eastern and Western Europe finals later this fall at M-1 Challenge events to establish the first M-1 Global champions in five weight classes. On Saturday night, nearly the entire notched their third qualifying fight and established a rankings value in the process. Now that nearly every M-1-contracted fighter has an established rankings value we should see a lot of movement following the upcoming M-1 Challenge shows.

American Top Team’s Kenny Garner enters our Heavyweight Rankings at #38 with a fast TKO win over Pat Bennett, who drops from #53 to #75. Byron Byrd enters FIGHT!’s Light Heavyweight Rankings at #38 with his win over Daniel Vizcaya, who enters at #71. Tyson Jeffries enters our Middleweight Rankings at #56 with a win over Mike Geurin, who enters at #111. Tom Gallicchio moves from #90 to #49 in our Welterweight Rankings with a win over Len Bentley, who enters at #103. Jose Figueroa enters at #89 LW with a win over George Sheppard who enters at #143. IFL vet Bristol Marunde re-enters our Middleweight Rankings at #84 with a win over one-time UFC fighter Shane Primm, who falls from #69 to #75 at Light Heavyweight. Fellow UFC vet Luigi Fioravanti moves from #105 to #89 in our Middleweight Rankings with a win over unranked Woody Weatherby.

No other ranked fighters appeared on these cards.

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Each week, FIGHT! Magazine brings you the best from our friends around the web.

Did TMZ Mislead Everyone with Its Roger Huerta Street Fight Video and Story? (Cage Potato)

The Anderson Silva Flow Chart Everyone Should Print Out and Hang On Their Wall (Middle Easy)

Jon Fitch Doesn’t Care If You Like Him Or Not (Heavy MMA)

Nelson More Impressed by Dos Santos Than He Is by Lesnar or Carwin (MMA Fighting)

Dana White Talks Jones’ Future, Japanese MMA Revival, Anderson Silva’s Job Security (Versus MMA Beat)

Vadim Finkelstein Still Thinks Fedor is #1 P4P (Low Kick)

The Face Melting Power of Marlon Sandro (MMA Scraps)

Yoshiyuki Yoshida To Fight At Bellator 31 (Five Ounces of Pain)

UFC Marketing Team Striking Out (Watch Kalib Run)

Roy Jones Jr. Sues Zuffa / Roy Nelson (MMA Convert)

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(Jose Canseco loses a boxing match to an old man with chicken legs. Props to MMAScraps.)

Each week Fightmagazine.com delivers the spiciest bits from our friends around the web.

MMA’s Weird-Stomach-Tattoo Hall of Fame Picks Up a New Member (Cage Potato)

The 5 Biggest Threats to Brock’s Belt (Heavy MMA)

Rusty Business (5 Ounces of Pain)

Dan Quinn to fight Aaron Brink. Also, stevia is magic. (Middle Easy)

Midseason Awards: Best Knockout (MMAFighting)

A Game of Their Own: M-1 To Launch Reality Show (Lowkick)

GSP Will Retire When He Is #1 P4P (Watch Kalib Run)

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(“Super” Carlos Rocha in action, courtesy of Sebastian Kappes)

Last weekend’s MMA news coverage has largely been dominated by the star-studded shows UFC 114 and DREAM 14. Due to the big hype around these two major league events, many thought they were the only topics that mattered in the MMA world. How wrong they were, as the European MMA scene offered a rarely seen amount of high class shows with aspiring young talent and established veterans. FIGHT! proudly presents last weekend’s European MMA event recap.

Pumukli reigns supreme in Prague

At the Heroes Gate debut show in the beautiful Czech capital Prague, Slovakian striker Attila Vegh (19-3-1) outpointed the experienced Lithuanian Egidijus Valavicius (17-8) in the main event. Vegh notched his nineteenth career win and finished off a busy May, in which he fought four times, with a statement. In further action, Swede Magnus Cedenblad (6-3) punched Czech veteran Tomas Kuzela (14-12) into submission, while Finnish Cage Warriors veteran Jarkko Latomäki (17-6) made short work of late replacement Maros Nagy (1-2), submitting him with a triangle choke in round one.

Tiger-time in the Ukraine

RusFighters Sport Club’s brightest talent, Alexander Sarnavskij (10-0), continued his path to winning the M-1 Selection Eastern European lightweight tournament. The 21-year-old eeked out a split decision over tough veteran Karen Grigoryan (10-3-1) and will next fight Belarussian Artiom Damkovsky in the final. The Selection Semifinals on May 28th in Kiev delivered few upsets, with the favored fighters like DREAM veteran Magomed Sultanakhmedov (13-4) and heavyweight Alexander Volkov (7-1) all advancing to the final stage.

Morten Djursaa swats the Mosquito

Danish “Lumberjack” Morten Djursaa (6-2) managed to defend his welterweight title on May, 29th. He took on the game German Cage Warriors veteran Cengiz “Mosquito” Dana (12-15) and stopped him with a rear naked choke midway through the first round. After fighting most of his career fights in Denmark, Djursaa seems to be destined for bigger challenges soon.

French affair in Russia

Cyrille Diabate-trained Gregory “Blade” Babene (12-7) was simply on fire this weekend. The French Muay Thai stylist took part in the WAFC’s Mayor’s Cup 2010, which featured an eight-men tournament with none other than UFC veteran Sean Salmon (18-10) amongst others. Babene blasted through his first two opponents and went up against his compatriot Eric Cebarac (6-3) in the finals. Cebarac was even more impressive that night: He mauled Ukrainian grappler Vladimir Shemarov (9-9) in just over a minute and submitted the aforementioned Sean Salmon in just 25 seconds. Babene won the final French affair in Russia with a rear naked choke to score the biggest win of his young career.

UFC veterans successful at M-1 in Finland

Swedish Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace David Bielkheden (16-7) managed to score his third consecutive victory in an M-1 superfight in Helsinki, Finland. It took him seven minutes of fighting to do so, as he punched Russian Sambo stylist Musa Khamanaev (3-2) into submission. In further superfight action, UFC-experienced Bulgarian Jordan Radev (23-4) only won a split decision over Croatian Maro Perak (17-2-1), despite being the heavy favorite. Meanwhile, Russian M-1 lightweight star Yuri Ivlev (13-5) dispatched German Mario Stapel (16-13) in just over three minutes, scoring his fourth consecutive TKO/KO victory. The M-1 Selection Western Europe tournaments unfolded as well, with lightweight top contender Mairbek Taisumov (11-2) advancing, as well as Spanish welterweight Abner Lloveras (10-4-1) and German heavyweight striker Dawid Baziak (8-1).

Super Carlos shines at German MMA Championships debut

While many would suspect the German MMA scene to suffer heavily under the recent ban from television, live events in 2010 remain a big success in the western parts of Germany. On May 29th, fledgling promotion GMC – German MMA Championship – held its debut show in Herne. In front of a sell out crowd of over 1100 spectators, German based Brazilian “Super” Carlos Eduardo Rocha (8-0) did not fail to deliver in the main event. The undefeated Jiu-Jitsu blackbelt took on the dangerous Fatih Balci (5-4) and scored a first round submission win that left the undefeated fighter looking for bigger challenges on the European scene. In further action, highly regarded Ulas Aslan (7-3), who holds a victory over Finnish bad boy Niko Puhakka, scored his fourth win in a row by submitting the experienced Robert Scott Westerman (7-9).

Che Mills victorious in Spain

TUF contender Che Mills (10-4) came back this weekend to rebound from two defeats in a row. The British fighter wasted no time in defeating Spanish welterweight Manu Garcia (19-10) at Cage Mania in Marbella as he knocked him out in nine seconds of the opening frame, notching his tenth career win.

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grigoryan
(Russian lightweight Karen Grigoryan in action, courtesy of MixFight.Ru)

M-1 will continue their Eastern and Western Europe Selection tournaments on May 28th and 29th respectively.

On their way to determine the five winners form this year’s selection events, M-1 will hold the Eastern Europe semifinals on May 28th in Kiev, Ukraine and their Western Europe counterpart one day later in Helsinki, Finland.

The Eastern Europe fight card is packed with a plethora of tough Russian up and comers that are gunning for a spot in next year‘s M-1 Challenge. While most of them will ring no bell to the average fight fan, early favorites to win the tournaments are Arsen Timerkhanov (8-1) at welterweight, Alexander Sarnavskij (9-0) and Karen Grigoryan (10-2-1) at lightweight, Alexander Volkov (6-1) at heavyweight, Rasul Magomedov (6-0) at light-heavyweight and DREAM veteran Magomed Sultanakhmedov (12-4) at middleweight.

M-1 Selection Eastern Europe Semifinals

Tournament Semifinals (-70,3kg):
Karen Grigoryan (RUS) vs. Alexander Sarnavskij (RUS)
Arsen Ubaidulaev (RUS) vs. Artiom Damkovsky (BLR)

Tournament Semifinals (-77,1kg):
Shamil Zavurov (RUS) vs. Ramazan Abdulzhalilov (RUS)
Arsen Timerkhanov (RUS) vs. Magomedrasul Khasbulaev (RUS)

Tournament Semifinals (-83,9kg):
Magomed Sultanakhmedov (RUS) vs. Dibir Zagirov (RUS)
Alexie Belyaev (RUS) vs. Murad Magomedov (RUS)

Tournament Semifinal (-93kg):
Rasul Magomedov (RUS) vs. Shamil Tinagadjiev (RUS)
Vyacheslav Vasilevsky (RUS) vs. Alihan Magomedov (RUS)

Tournament Semifinals (+93kg):
Arsen Abdulkerimov (RUS) vs. Maxim Grishin (RUS)
Alexander Volkov (RUS vs. Alexander Romaschenko (UKR)

On May 29th, spectators in Helsinki will be treated to no less than sixteen mma fights. M-1 upped the ante for this event, as the Western Europe semifinal event will be full of super fights with established international talent.

UFC veteran David Bielkheden (15-2) will look to add his third straight win at 77 kilograms to his record after being cut from the UFC in early 2009. The Swedish grappling expert last fought in November 2009 when he punched the durable Finn Ville Rasanen into submission. Bielkheden is slated to square off with Russian M-1 veteran Rashid Magomedov (5-2).

Fellow UFC veteran Jordan Radev (22-4) will fight against “Mean Machine” Maro Perak (17-1-1). For this fight, the stocky Bulgarian wrestler moves up one weight class to light-heavyweight. Perak, the 27-year-old Judo stylist from Croatia, will once again try to break into the upper echelon of European MMA. His first try was squashed by Polish star Jan Blachowicz, who submitted Perak back in December of 2008 at KSW 10.

Russian lightweight Yuri Ivlev (12-5), who was one of the cornerstones of the Russian Legion’s 2009 M-1 Challenge win, will lock horns with Mario Stapel (16-12). The 33-year-old German Cage Warriors and FX3 veteran managed to revive his career with a move to Matt Hughes’ HIT Squad in Illinois. The stocky Russian Ivlev will provide a tough test for Stapel, who returns to the European scene.

Female mma fans will be pleased as well, as “The German Tank” Sheila Gaff (6-1) will put her striking prowess to test against Belgian Cindy Dandois (3-0), who upset Strikeforce veteran Marloes Coenen in her pro debut and has yet to taste defeat in MMA.

In further action, former European superstar Jani Lax (8-7) will return to action after a three year layoff against experienced Dutch fighter Danny van Bergen (7-6-3) and Shooto European champion Matteus Lahdesmäki (8-4-3) from Finland will duke it out with French grappler Jean Robert Monier (5-6-1).

Lightweight is without a doubt the Selection semifinals’ most interesting category. Former Chechen soccer player turned MMA fighter Mairbek Taisumov (10-2), the early favorite to win the tournament, will square off against undefeated Frenchman Julien Boussuge (5-0), who trains at the renowned Team Haute Tension. On the other side of the bracket, Dutch Muay Thai stylist Victor Kuku (7-6-1), who is famous for his deadly knee strikes, will fight against undefeated German Bundesliga-wrestler Sebastian Nowak (5-0) in a true clash of styles.

M-1 Selection Western Europe Semifinals

Superfights
David Bielkheden (SWE) vs. Rashid Magomedov (RUS)
Cindy Dandois (BEL) vs. Sheila Gaff (GER)
Maro Perak (CRO) vs. Jordan Radev (BGR)
Yuri Ivlev (RUS) vs. Mario Stapel (GER)
Matteus Lähdesmäki (FIN) vs. Jean Robert Monier (FRA)
Enoc Solves (SPA) vs. Juha Saarinen (FIN)
Jani Lax (FIN) vs. Danny van Bergen (NED)
Mikael Grönfors (FIN) vs. Kriss Larcin (BEL)

Tournament Semifinals (-70,3kg):
Mairbek Taisumov (AUT) vs. Julien Boussuge (FRA)
Victor Kuku (NED) vs. Sebastian Nowak (GER)

Tournament Semifinals (-77,1kg):
Berrie Bunthof (NED) vs. Semih Arslan (BEL)
Miljan Jaksic (CRO) vs. Abner Lloveras (SPA)

Tournament Semifinals (-83,9kg):
Rafal Moks (POL) vs. Danijel Dzebic (CRO)
Jermaine Voetman (NED) vs. Ahmed Bayrak (TUR)

Tournament Semifinal (-93kg):
Thomasz Narkun (POL) vs. Timo Karttunen (FIN)

Tournament Semifinals (+93kg):
Drazen Forgac (CRO) vs Dawid Baziak (GER)

Further Info can be found at www.m-1global.com and www.speedpromotion.fi.

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thorpe-3
(Matt ’12 Gauge’ Thorpe, UK MMA legend. Copyright – Ian Edmondson / Escape Photography)

At the recent Knuckleup: Origins show which took place on the 20th February, a career was finished as UK MMA mainstay Matt ’12 Gauge’ Thorpe was stopped in a round by Wales’ hard-hitting John Phillips. This represented a sad day for some as, in recent times, Thorpe has entertained many by only ever taking tough fights, and utilising an exciting all-action style which never disappoints. Tributes have rained in for Matt over the past few weeks from many notable names on the UK scene, who concur with this writer in saying that ’12 Gauge’ was truly a special and unheralded fighter that helped shape the now successful face of mixed martial arts in the British Isles.

Aaron Chatfield, a long time friend of Matt’s, who has acted as both a coach and a training partner in the past certainly rated his charge. “I genuinely believe that Matt had the skills, fitness and strength to be a world class fighter,” beamed the man once nicknamed ‘Red Mist’. “I’ve trained with him for a long time and there’s nothing he can’t do: he can box with top boxers, he can Thai box with top Thai boxers, he can wrestle with good wrestlers and compete on the ground with black belt BJJers – he’s got all of those attributes, and I have never seen anybody that trains as hard as he does.”

He continued, “The things he does are unbelievable. An old boxing saying goes, ‘A champion is a guy that trains like a champion when nobody is around to watch him,’ and Matt used to go and do his hill sprints on his own and absolutely hammer them. It’s easy to do when you’ve got a coach shouting at you, or when you’ve got other fighters to compete with, but to go and do your hill sprints on your own until the point where you’re sick takes a very special individual.”

Chatfield also praised Thorpe’s personality outside the cage. He divulged, “It’s interesting, because Matt is the complete opposite to what most would think an MMA fighter is – he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He has a very nice, gentle personality and he will do amazing things for people. I promoted ‘King of the Cage’ in the UK, and the event wasn’t too popular, and I lost a lot of money. Matt was the only fighter that came up to me and said, ‘Don’t pay me, I know you’ve lost a lot of money’.”

Back in 2005, Matt took on Dan ‘The Outlaw’ Hardy who, on the 27th of March, will become the first Brit ever to fight for a UFC title when he takes on the phenomenal Georges St. Pierre in New Jersey, with the aim of taking the welterweight crown back to Nottingham. Thorpe took him to a five round split decision, with just one point being the difference maker and rendering Hardy the victor, and Aaron admits to wondering where Matt might be now if one judge looked at it the other way.

“We look at that so many times – it’s that big what if,” he revealed. “There was one point difference [between the two] and one judge saw it for one point to Dan Hardy. If that point had gone in the other direction, then who knows if it would have been Matt fighting GSP? Maybe not, but you still look back on that and think on a better day, that might have gone our way and we would have been in the UFC.

“Something that a lot of people don’t even consider with the fight,” he carried on, “Is that Matt fought with sciatica, and after that he had surgery, didn’t train for six months and didn’t fight for another year. And that’s Matt – he just cracked on with it; he doesn’t complain. That moment sticks in our minds though, because to go five rounds with Dan Hardy and take it to a split decision is something no one else has done. Also, if you look at the fight, Dan Hardy went out of his game. He’s known as a striker, and he didn’t strike with Matt. He definitely thought, ‘I’m not going to strike with Matt; I’m going to have to change my gameplan,’ and that was good to see someone of Dan Hardy’s capabilities think he’s got to adapt and do something different to beat Matt. I seriously have a lot of respect for Dan Hardy, and I think his biggest strength has always been his self belief and the fact that he doesn’t think can lose – it doesn’t even enter his mind, and Matt had him in so many of those things. The triangle [in the first] for example, any other fighter I can think of would have tapped out; the same with the arm bar.”

Hardy himself, now 23-6, was also full of praise for the fighter who pushed him to his limits in 2005.

“My fight with Matt back in 2005 is still my toughest fight to date,” admitted ‘The Outlaw’. “Looking back on it, I realise that it was an important learning curve in my career. It was the first time I tried to out-think a fighter through a gameplan, and the first time I stepped into the cage to force a ground fight.”

Hardy also talked of the close nature of the bout, and how he thinks Thorpe will make a fantastic trainer.

“Matt gave me all I could handle that night, and on another day it could have gone the other way. I think he will make a great coach – he has a lot to teach and is a very well rounded fighter. I wish him the best of luck on the other side of the fence, and expect to be seeing him cornering future MMA stars in the UFC one day.”

Chippenham’s Leigh Remedios, a long-time training partner of ’12 Gauge’ also lauded the abilities of an ‘on-form’ Matt Thorpe. “He trains pretty much as he fights – he could be hot or cold,” remarked Remedios. “Sometimes, he’d come over and train and I’d feel like I could handle him really well, but when he was on form, he just smashed me!

“On his day,” he continued, “He was world class – there’s no doubt in my mind about that. He could fight anyone in the world and do well. If he brought his ‘A game’, he was fine against anyone. He is the fighter that has fluctuated the most at such an extreme level. The nickname ‘Shotgun’ is appropriate, because he’s awesome in all ranges.

“I’m not sure how much people in this country know about Matt, but he’s been fighting a long time and was fighting pro years and years ago, on a lot of the shows before MMA became big. He was one of the ones that laid down the roots, before it was cool to be a fighter – he fought just because he wanted to fight, not to be on TV or anything.”

To finish up, Leigh added that he thinks Matt has some of the positive attributes required to be a great coach. “He’s a very technical fighter,” Remedios explained. “He’s not like a ‘one trick pony’ and he doesn’t get by on natural attributes or anything like that. He’s got a lot of information to pass on that’s for sure.”

thorpe-2
(Thorpe, as a part of the Team England M-1 team in Japan. Courtesy of CageWarriors)

Fellow Northern Cartel teammate and Team England M-1 Challenge representative Ian Butlin was also keen to sing the praises of Thorpe, who made his pro debut in 2002.

“Matt Thorpe is without doubt the hardest working fighter I have had the pleasure to train with. He was willing to fight anyone, and I’m sure he will pass this on to his students!”

One of Ian’s brothers, David, a coach of the aforementioned M-1 Challenge team, and a training partner of Matt in his own right also only had good things to say about him. “Matt is one of the nicest guys I have ever trained with,” enthused David. “I don’t usually like people, but Matt is always a cool guy to be around; maybe too nice would be my only criticism. He has amazing skills and no weakness in any technique. He trains more professionally than anyone I have trained with, and has been a pleasure to train with over the years. The up and comers who have the opportunity to train with him should consider themselves lucky and jump at the chance. I’d like to thank him for all the great memories and enjoy more to come on his new path! Matt and his wife Jenny are a great asset to UK MMA.”

The third battling Butlin sibling, ‘Big’ Andy also commented on Thorpe’s retirement.

“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Matt for around 8 years,” he divulged. “Throughout this time, he has become a very good friend and one I have a lot of respect for.

“As a fighter, Matt has always been dedicated with a proper fighters’ work ethic, and his natural attributes are awesome. He’s a very skilled fighter in all areas and naturally gifted. His long range boxing at its sharpest could cause good pros trouble, and I’ve brought seasoned amateurs and pros to spar with him and they only had good things to say. Having been with Matt for many of his fights both in the UK and abroad, I’ve been able to witness first hand some quality performances at a very high level. I’d like to wish Matt all the best in the future, and I know he still has a huge amount to offer the sport.”

Danny Wallace was a coach at Team Colosseum during Thorpe’s tenure there, and he described a brief history of how Matt ended up at his gym. “I first met Matt when he was training with Phil Wright, who used to coach under Straight Blast Gym,” began Wallace. “He had a little club in Marple. Back then, when we were running the Colosseum, and we used to travel round and visit other clubs, Phil’s was one of them. Matt was only about 18 then, and he was as tall as he is now, but he was very thin. We had a bit of a chat, and a little spar, and he was clearly very good. Even back then he was very technical. He was a lot lighter then, and there was stuff that I could get away with then that I couldn’t do now. When I first sparred with Matt, I could pick him up with one arm. Nowadays, he would tear it off and slap me with it!”

The narrative continued, “Phil’s club hit a few difficulties, as many MMA clubs did in the early days, and he shut it down. What Phil did, and I thought this was quite admirable, was he went round his students, and said ‘you need to train with suchabody, because their way of training suits you,’ and when he got to Aaron Chatfield and Matt, he said they needed to train at the Colosseum.

“Matt and Aaron came as a bit of a double act really, for better or worse, and they started training with us. When they came along, they really injected a positive frame of mind, and they really were buzzing for it. They progressed from there really. Myself and Aaron would corner Matt and, initially, he would take a long ‘warm up’ time, and a long fight prep, but as his career progressed, that time got smaller, he took less time to prepare.”

Danny also emphasised how good a person Matt is, and how that could hinder his performances. “He’s very laid back and very easy going, to an extent where it was a hurdle me and Aaron had to overcome to make a fighter out of him. He’s a very nice guy, and we almost had to train that ‘niceness’ out of him. He’s more naturally nice, and you’re never going to find Matt fighting on the street! If you did ever find him fighting on the street though, I wouldn’t want to be the poor guy that made that error!”

Wallace concluded by depicting how he thinks Matt’s life as a coach may play out, and how training techniques picked up along the way may help him in the future.

“He should do very well as a coach,” beamed Danny. “At the Colosseum, we had a very open way of training. At a club, you don’t simply learn off the coach, you learn off the guy holding the pads; he’ll point things out and mention things. We used to open up the teaching side, because there is a lot to be learned simply by teaching.

“Sometimes as well, if somebody else teaches a technique, you can see it from a different outlook and learn. That’s what MMA is all about; this open frame of mind, and that’s how the traditional arts have stagnated themselves. I came up through Karate, and it makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck now, because we always used to think that you could only learn off the guy at the front. That’s not the case, the guy at the front can help the guy at the back. Matt should make the transition very well, and he’s certainly got a great support mechanism in place with his friends at the Colosseum, and others he’s met. I would also hope he’ll be keeping his sessions open, and encouraging others to chip in and assist.”

Danny Rushton was another trainer at Team Colosseum who was crucial in the development of ’12 Gauge,’ and he described his relationship with Matt.

“I trained with Matt for a good while,” he revealed. “Other than a few months at his original club, I think mine was the one he came to straight after that. He’s learned quite a lot since I first met him, and he’s gone from a young lad that didn’t know a great deal to a quality fighter. I don’t think he ever quite reached his potential; he’s got a lot of skills without any real weak area. Sometimes, he’d put it all together and be absolutely superb, and other times he wouldn’t quite fight to his potential.

“He was always on the brink of doing something great,” flowed Rushton, “But he never quite got there. You get some fighters that are awesome in the gym, but when they get in the cage; the pressure just gets to them, and I think that it was maybe the pressure which stopped Matt showing his full skills in the cage. In the training room, Matt was class and his skills are absolutely second to none, and I always took him as one of the best welterweights around when he was in that weight.”

Rushton continued to describe why he thought Matt didn’t get the opportunities he maybe should have in his eight year pro-career. He said,

“There were a couple of key fights in his career where he could have really achieved greatness, but he underperformed in, and was maybe underestimated because of this. Saying that though, there were also fights where he performed exceedingly well and couldn’t get the easy fights that a lot of fighters pad out their records with. He didn’t get a lot of easy match-ups; they were all tough, challenging matches on either the international stage or at a very high British level. There was no ten fight winning streak fighting cannon fodder, which some fighters build a reputation through.

“Matt’s very understated, a very quiet individual and very modest. He’s a good student too, and was always keen to pick things up and learn more. He’d go and train with various other clubs and coaches to better himself, and that was partly why his skill base is so good. When he’s trained with me, I’ve always considered him to be a coach anyway, apart from in the very early days. He’s done quite a lot of coaching, and in the last few years, we’ve all shared the duties really. He’s got a really good knowledge, can transfer that knowledge accross and he keeps learning which is quite important.”

Tom Blackledge was a comrade of Thorpe, representing England in the M-1 Challenge, and he had plenty of good things to say about his friend. “He was great as a teammate,” said the TUF 10 ‘Team Rampage’ assistant coach. “We were all close mates, and he was always making sure we all made weight; he was always there with us in the saunas for hours when we were cutting. As a fighter, he’s very good. Sometimes he’s had a bit of bad luck, and he was unfortunate that he couldn’t focus fully on his training, with his work.

“I’ve known Matt for about ten years now,” he continued, “And we’ve trained together on and off. I rate him highly – he has a good skill set and he trains hard; it was just hard for him probably because he had to hold down a full time job as well as training, and at a high level, that’s a difficult thing. He’s a nice, regular, quiet guy – a cool guy and good to get along with. I think he’ll do great [as a trainer]. He’s had a lot of years of doing the sport, he’s made a lot of good contacts, I’m sure he’ll call on Aaron [Chatfield] for support as well if he needs it, and hopefully he’ll do well as a coach.”

In his fourth contest, Matt took on a young debutant named Che Mills, who has now gone on to fight at a top domestic standard and soon heads to Japan to fight in Astra. Matt finished the fight in a mere 42 seconds, and Gloucester man Mills admits he didn’t know what hit him.

“Before that fight, I’d only had one semi-pro fight, so really, that was my first proper experience of MMA,” revealed Che, whose last outing was a losing effort against ‘Judo’ Jimmy Wallhead. “I don’t think he got enough attention really for what he achieved, but that’s probably down to the fact that every time I see him, he’s always respectful and not big headed. A lot of other people out there are very boastful, and that’s how they get where they get to, even if their skills aren’t really up to par.

“With that fight I had with him, I was going in there just ready to have a fight, and obviously he submitted me, so after that, I was like, ‘Wow – This is not as I thought it would be!’. It just taught me that I needed to focus more on things like the ground game, and that MMA is more like a sport.”

Mills also stated that he thought Matt would make a great coach. “I think his personality will help,” he reasoned, “Because with me personally, that’s what I respond to, and he’s nice and calm. I can’t take all the army style slapping you around the head and things, so I think he will be a good trainer because he’s got the knowledge, and the personality to get on with people as well.”

Another past opponent, Tor Troeng, who faced Matt in December 2009 had this to say about ’12 Gauge’. “Matt was not only a fighter that put me in a lot of trouble in the ring, but he is one hell of a nice guy with a cool and humble attitude to the sport. It was an honour to fight him.”

Matt may have been a nightmare to fight, but to promote, he was the exact opposite. Alex Burzotta, UWC Promoter revealed, “I first met Matt Thorpe when he fought at UWC 5 on Saturday 10th November, 2007. My first impressions of him were that he was very polite and quiet. He was also professional in the way he was punctual, made weight and fought the following day. He won his bout due to his opponent being disqualified. He was a true pleasure to have worked with and I wish him all the best for the future.”

Warrior Promotions supremo Ian Dean, Thorpe’s manager, continued the good vibes by sending more praise the Bredbury man’s way.

“I’ve always had a lot of respect for Matt Thorpe,” admitted Dean. “He’s never shied away from a tough fight and always looked to prove himself against the very best guys out there. In an age where many domestic fighters will stay at their home event and often be spoon fed their way to the top, Thorpe did it the hard way and travelled around the UK and fought on many of the domestic circuit’s top shows. Then, when he got the opportunity to fight overseas at Bodog, M-1 and in Finland, he jumped at the chance and put in some solid performances, especially when he represented Team England in last year’s M-1 Challenge.

“Like many people, I will always remember Matt for his fights at Cage Warriors, and especially the epic five round war against Dan Hardy back at CW Strike Force 4: ‘Night of Champions’ in 2005. He put on a fantastic display that night, and I think his place in UK MMA history will always be assured due to that epic contest. It’s still one of the best fights ever to take place in the UK. But most of all, Matt is a humble guy who was a pleasure to work with, and I’m honoured to have worked with him over the past few years. I think he will do good things as a coach and I wish him all the best.”

Some would argue that Wolfslair’s Rob Broughton is the premier heavyweight in the UK after winning the ZT Fight Night Heavyweight Tournament, and as an M-1 teammate to Matt, he got to know ’12 Gauge’ quite well.

“Matt was sound – all the M1 guys were great and we had a right laugh out there,” beamed Broughton. “He’s a good, skilled guy, a good fighter and a good coach. Matt’s a nice, quiet fella, that keeps himself to himself and I’ve always got on well with him, and he’s always helped me out with my side of the game. I think he’ll do very well in the future as a coach, but I think it would be good to see him fight again to be honest.”

Top flight referee Marc Goddard concluded the tributes that came in for Matt, saying “To me, Matt’s always been an exciting fighter. If you were to single out one fight, his one against Dan Hardy is still probably single-handedly the best British fight that I’ve ever had the pleasure of officiating. That was when he really caught my eye. I always thought he was a real handful; especially when he was at welterweight. He’s a skilled kid with good hands, long arms, long legs and had a good game off his back. He’s just a regular kid, and he was a pleasure. He was unassuming, a genuinely nice guy and everything good about the sport. As far as being a coach, for such a young guy, he’s been around quite a long time, and he has the experience with the M-1, the fact he’s fought all over the world and also that he’s been in with some top guys. I’m sure he’s going to be a massive plus to any young, aspiring fighters.”

If you are one of the new breed of fans that has never seen Matt fight, try to find his epic war with Dan Hardy at all costs. This highlighted Thorpe’s huge amount of skills, as well as his will to win and determination to finish fights. He also has all the attributes to be a superb coach, and ’12 Gauge MMA’ and ‘Team Colosseum’ (which he will continue to help out at) are certainly teams to watch over the coming years, and from everyone who has contributed to this, Matt, if you are reading, thank you for everything you have done for MMA in the UK.

thorpe-1
(Thorpe, victorious in the M-1 Challenge last year, courtesy of M-1 Global)

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The 109 Hatchet Swings Often

Last week seemed to be hatchet week with Mark Coleman, Philippe Nover, Tim Hague, Rolles Gracie, Justin Buchholz and Frank Trigg all getting the ax after UFC 109. Are you surprised by any of the cuts and if so, why?

Tommy G.
Connecticut

Talk about a bad week to be a losing fighter! I don’t ever recall that many guys getting cut after an event. Yes, Tommy, two of the cuts caught me off guard for different reasons.

The most surprising to me was the release of Mark Coleman. You’d be hard pressed to find a UFC fighter who fought in the main event of a Pay Per View who got cut right after on the basis that he couldn’t be competitive in the UFC anymore. Did Mark look good in the fight with Randy? Not at all, But there a few reasons I thought he’d survive the ax.

First, there was a very marketable fight on the table between Coleman and Tito Ortiz with plenty of legitimate bad blood between the two. Just watch their interaction during Mark’s post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. The promotion of that fight would write itself and I have to think it could serve as a legit main or co-main event on a Spike TV card. While many say it wouldn’t be competitive, I disagree. It was supposed to happen at UFC 106 and Tito just went three rounds with Forrest Griffin who has fought two close fights with Stephan Bonnar, Coleman’s victim at UFC 100. Some have questioned the choice of Coleman as Randy’s opponent in light of the release. Given that Mark’s previous fight was that Bonnar win, I think it was a legitimate matchup with a good story line of two Hall of Famers meeting for the first time. That said, the Bonnar victory was recent enough that I wouldn’t have thought that a loss to Randy, who Dana feels is a top-five light heavyweight in the world, would equal a pink slip for the Hammer.

The other one that surprised me, to a much lesser degree, was Rolles Gracie being shown the cage door. Rolles looked utterly awful in his loss to Joey “The Mexicutioner” Beltran, so much so that Renzo Gracie called the performance embarrassing. I heard at the event that Gracie suffered a huge adrenaline dump from first time UFC jitters and that he may have had some injuries coming into the fight. Whatever the case, while I was shockingly unimpressed with him at 109, I’d heard that he was going to get one more fight to prove himself and overcome his nerves. That, coupled with him being a member of the first family of MMA, left me a bit surprised when he was let go without getting one more shot.

Demian Over Chael?

I can’t believe that Demain Maia got the title shot against Anderson Silva instead of Chael Sonnen. What gives? Do you think it was because of Silva’s manager, Soares?

Nicholas
Tennessee


(I can’t really believe it either, Nicholas.)

No, I don’t think Ed Soares played into this decision at all. Remember that although Chael put on a dominant performance against Nate Marquardt, he did get nailed with a knee and an elbow off the bottom that left him with serious forehead and nasal lacerations. As a result, he’s on a medical suspension that prohibits him from having any contact before March 9. Would you want four weeks to spar in preparation to fight Anderson Silva? Me neither.

Demian, who has gone 6-1 in the UFC with four Submission of the Night bonuses, appeared to come out of his win over Dan Miller relatively unscathed. However, he was given a medical suspension for an eyelid laceration that runs all the way to August 6 unless cleared early by an ophthalmologist or ocular-plastics doctor. Given that the fight has been officially announced, Demian must have gotten the clearance. Maia is a great choice on late notice. He has a clear advantage on the ground while Anderson has a huge advantage striking. A classic striker vs. grappler matchup. Additionally, Abu Dahbi is famous for its prestigious grappling championships, so having the best grappler in the UFC fighting for the title in the main event of the promotion’s first card in the country is a perfect fit.

UFC Door Open for Mousasi?

Pep, Gegard Mousasi cut his ties with M-1 Global. It seemed like it came out of nowhere. He’s still with Strikeforce but do you think we’ll see him in the UFC? How do you think he’ll do if goes there?

Jonathan
London, England

081509_mousasi_what1

It does seem sudden but it may have actually been brewing for a while. There were reports last year that Gegard thought that the UFC had offered him a contract last year for 40K to show and 40K to win and had not been made aware of the offer by his management, who then encouraged him to sign with Strikeforce. UFC matchmaker Joe Silva said no offer was made and that if they did make an offer it would have been for considerably more money. (Gegard was rumored to be making 125K per fight in Affliction before they went under.) Whatever happened, the relationship seemed less than a perfect fit. When Mousasi asked for a deal that would have given him “lifetime security”, similar to that of M-1’s only other premiere fighter, Fedor Emeliaenko, the answer was no and Gegard exited stage left.

From my perspective this is welcome news for MMA fans. For now it means little as Mousasi is still under contract with Strikeforce and is rumored to be defending his Light Heavyweight title against King Mo on their April CBS card. The length of that contract seems to be a question, but whenever it expires I’d be very surprised if we didn’t see Gegard in the UFC. Dana White said at the UFC 108 post-fight press conference that he was interested in Mousasi. The only fighter that the UFC has ever wanted that they couldn’t sign was the M-1-controlled Fedor. With M-1 out of the way, it should come down to financial terms and it’s hard to see anyone outbidding the UFC for a fighter they really want. From Gegard’s perspective, the only thing stopping the ultra-talented Dutch-Armenian from superstardom and more respect on Pound for Pound lists is top flight competition and massive media exposure. The UFC can offer him both.

As for his place in the division, it’s hard to say, but I suspect that he might be a legitimate top title contender right now. The reason I’m not more definitive is that it’s always tough to gauge a fighter without seeing him tested against elites in his division. He is 28-2-1 with 26 stoppages and is currently riding a 15 fight win streak and hasn’t lost in 3½ years. He’s only 24 years old and has a seemingly unshakable demeanor (UFC jitters unlikely) and it would be very interesting to see him against the UFC’s best.

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