Names in the Game from the Magazine

Names in the Game from the Magazine


After a whirlwind 2012, UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez is enjoying the calm after the storm.


For Cain Velasquez, entering the cage against Brazilian slugger Junior dos Santos on December 29 wasn’t nearly as difficult as explaining to his 3-year-old daughter why they weren’t celebrating Christmas on December 25.

“It was hard—we had to lie to her a little bit,” says Velasquez. “On Christmas Day, we just did a normal training day. I went to practice and did the normal stuff, and we didn’t really celebrate Christmas. My wife and I talked about it before and decided that we would celebrate Christmas after the fight. Once we got home from the fight, we had a great Christmas.”

Such are the perils of life as a professional cage fighter, especially one who’s scheduled to headline the UFC’s traditional end-of-year event. Fortunately for Velasquez, his December 29 win over dos Santos proved to be one of the best performances of his professional career, and the belated holiday proved to be very merry.

“When we got back to California, we told her that Santa was going to come the next day,” Velasquez says. “We put her to bed, and the next morning, she got to wake up and open all of her presents.”

Velasquez probably deserved a few extra packages under the tree, as well. After all, to the victor goes the spoils, and Velasquez’s rematch victory over the Brazilian slugger was 25 minutes of heavyweight MMA at its finest. According to FightMetric, Velasquez landed 210 total strikes during the fight and scored with 11 of 33 takedown attempts. He assaulted dos Santos from the opening bell, and while the former champ showed incredible heart during a fight that ultimately left his face almost unrecognizable, Velasquez was in complete control throughout the five-round affair.

The traditionally modest Velasquez describes his work with a few less superlatives.
“I think I did good,” Velasquez says. “I think the first two rounds, I put a lot of pressure on him. From that, I kind of tired him out, and I didn’t give him the room he needed to show his hands. I think keeping him on the feet with the wrestling and then going up top really helped me out. We’ve been in the position before in practice, where we have fresh guys in while we’re doing five rounds. I just knew that with the early pressure he would be more tired than I was. And he was.”

For Velasquez, the victory was especially sweet. After all, regaining the UFC Heavyweight Title was his ultimate goal, but doing it against the man who handed him his lone career defeat was an even more rewarding experience.

“It was definitely special,” Velasquez says. “It’s not just getting the belt, itself. It’s avenging my only loss against a guy who people thought was kind of unbeatable.”
Velasquez’s gift came with a special bonus, as well—UFC sponsor Harley-Davidson promised the winner a custom-made motorcycle. While the century-old American bike manufacturer has done the same for past winners of The Ultimate Fighter, the prize was especially appreciated by Velasquez, who has developed into a bit of a biking enthusiast.

“Me and my wife were talking about it, and we decided biking was something we could do together,” Velasquez says. “We ended up doing it, and I just kind of fell in love with it.”

Velasquez ended up ordering a customized Touring Road Glide, which he’s looking forward to using for road trips around his Bay Area home. He offered to buy his wife a motorcycle, as well, but she’s content for now to let her husband do the driving.
“She doesn’t have one yet,” Velasquez says. “I told her, ‘If you want one, we can get you one,’ but she wasn’t super excited about it. I think she’d rather have a new purse than a motorcycle. But we go on trips together. I’ll take her on the back, and we’ll go places.”
Rest and relaxation have been Velasquez’s primary focus thus far in 2013. After a belated Christmas celebration came a whirlwind media tour that saw the UFC Heavyweight Champ visit Chicago, Miami, and Mexico City. When that excitement died down, it was time for a family vacation.

“I was getting in the gym when I could, but we definitely needed to take a family trip because they deserve it,” Velasquez says. “We also just spent time at home. We had family over to do a Christmas party. That’s pretty much it.”


But now, it’s back to business. The contenders to his UFC crown are already lining up and taking aim at the division’s new kingpin. Junior dos Santos’ camp called for an immediate rematch, but Velasquez doesn’t believe that’s justified. After all, when he lost his title to dos Santos in 2011 via first-round TKO, Velasquez had to work his way back to a championship bout with a win over Antonio Silva.

“I think the win over dos Santos was decisive enough that we should move on,” Velasquez says. “He’s in the same shoes I was in where I had to come back and fight again. There was no talk from my side for an immediate rematch with the way that I lost. I just took it, and I knew I would have my chance again, but I knew I had to earn it.”

That said, Velasquez definitely sees a rubber match with dos Santos in his future.

“I think we will definitely meet again, for sure,” Velasquez says. “I don’t know when, but I know we will.”

Alistair Overeem had been expected to challenge for Velasquez’s title prior to his shocking UFC 156 loss to Antonio Silva. Instead, it appears “Bigfoot” is now a leading candidate to rematch the man who beat him in May 2012. This time, however, there will be even more on the line.

Regardless of the opponent, Velasquez will look to defend his belt for the first time, and history isn’t necessarily on his side. In the 16-year history of the belt, no man has ever defended the title more than twice. Velasquez wasn’t able to successfully defend the crown during his first run as champion, but he promises things will be different this time around.

“I definitely want to defend it,” Velasquez says. “That’s been my goal since the beginning. That’s the name of the game. You don’t want to get it once or twice. I want to keep accumulating these belts for a while. That’s my whole focus right now.”

Brothers in Arms

Cain Velasquez’s return to the top of the UFC’s heavyweight mountain comes just as his American Kickboxing Academy teammate Daniel Cormier is making his highly-anticipated Octagon debut. The undefeated Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix winner is slated to face Frank Mir in April, and a win would boost his already surging stock.
UFC president Dana White is often quick to offer his take on teammates fighting, but Velasquez doesn’t anticipate a problem, as he expects his training partner to ultimately move down to 205 pounds.
“I think he’s talking about going down to 205 pounds,” Velasquez says. “But I think with him being a friend, a teammate, and a coach, I don’t want to fight him. He’s a workout partner, and he’s my wrestling coach. Especially with the fights with Junior dos Santos and Brock Lesnar, so much of it had to do with my wrestling, and I worked very closely with DC.”
For his part, Cormier has yet to reveal his ultimate plan. He has teased a move to light heavyweight and has gone so far as to challenge UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones. Velasquez believes his path will never cross Cormier’s, but he does believe success lies ahead for his teammate.
“I think whatever he does, he’s going to be a champion,” Velasquez says. “He can win a belt in either weight class.”

No Excuses

Prior to Cain Velasquez’s rematch with Junior dos Santos, a video of a training session prior to the pair’s first fight was leaked online. The clip provided irrefutable video evidence of a long-rumored knee injury that Velasquez carried into the first matchup.
While the video, which was posted without the fighter’s consent, made it clear Velasquez was dealing with a serious injury in the first fight, he would have preferred it to have remained under wraps.
“Even though I was hurt, what’s the point of me crying about it and telling everyone?” Velasquez says. “For me, I just had to come back and fight and win—not talk about it. I wish the people would have told me that it was going to come out or something because I would have told them, ‘No, don’t bring it out. It’s stupid.’ It is what it is, but it did make me mad. Putting out that video without letting me know was a little frustrating.”
At full health, Velasquez went out and dominated dos Santos in the rematch. Still, Velasquez refuses to make any excuses for losing in just 64 seconds in the pair’s first encounter.
“It’s just that coming into the second fight, if I wasn’t successful, people would be like, ‘Okay, you weren’t hurt, what’s the excuse this time?’ And it would just be making excuses. There’s no need for them.”

Unleash the Fury

UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez recently found himself under attack, as undefeated English boxing prospect Tyson Fury labeled him a “little midget on steroids” and challenged him to a fight in either an MMA cage or boxing ring.
Velasquez was unfazed by the challenge and admitted he didn’t really know who Fury was before the unexpected call-out. That being said, Velasquez would be more than happy to meet Fury in the Octagon, provided he works his way through the UFC’s ranks.
“He’s just trying to ride my coattails,” Velasquez says. “If he wants to go to the UFC, just work your way up the way everybody else does. Do it. Don’t talk about it. Do it.”


Mixed martial arts is the fastest growing sport in the world. It garners more attention and new fans daily. The emergence of so many new athletes sometimes makes it hard for fans to notice some of the fighters on the verge of making it to the next level. takes you deep inside the sport and presents you with some of the upcoming New Blood.

By Mick Hammond // MMAWEEKLY.COM

Chas Skelly

Record: 10-0
Key Victories: Luis Vega, Daniel Pineda
Weight Class: 145 lbs.
Age: 27
Country: United States

Looking back on his third-round TKO win at Legacy FC 16, undefeated featherweight prospect Chas Skelly sees both the positives and negatives of his performance.

“There are a lot of things that I could’ve done better that I didn’t do because I was trying to set him up for a certain submission the first couple rounds, but it wasn’t working,” says Skelly. “It should have been a 30-second fight, instead of three rounds. The good thing is, I learned a lot from that fight, and it was a very valuable experience for me, so I can’t say too many bad things about it.”

That veteran-like outlook comes on the heels of a successful comeback following a two-year layoff. Skelly’s three wins in three fights in 2012 couldn’t have been more successful.

“In 2010, I suffered an injury that put me out for a year, then in 2011, I tried to come back from the injury and got hurt again,” he says. “Finally getting back in there and getting great coaching and training partners at Team Takedown, things are going great for me. It’s nice to get back in there and get a few wins under my belt. Last year went better than I could have ever expected.”

Having fought in Bellator before his injury, Skelly is looking forward to getting back to that level and finishing what he started prior to his layoff.

“Now that I’m back and rolling and feeling good, I know I can push myself just like I used to before I got hurt—that’s a huge step for me,” says Skelly. “Hopefully, I’ll get a call up to the big time.”

Matt Hobar

Record: 6-1
Key Victories: Steven Peterson, Aaron Cerda
Weight Class: 135 lbs.
Age: 26
Country: United States
Nickname: Crowbar

Legacy FC bantamweight prospect Matt “Crowbar” Hobar may have suffered the first defeat of his career in 2012, but it was the rather odd finish to the fight that left a sour taste in his mouth.
“Four minutes into the first round, he [Steven Peterson] pressured into me, and I threw a looping overhand left punch that landed on top of his shoulder,” says Hobar. “My elbow actually popped out of
its socket.”

Luckily, Hobar’s dislocation was a clean one. Two months later he was ready to fight again, and Legacy FC signed the rematch. Hobar managed to control much of the second fight on his feet and earned a majority decision. For the normally ground-based fighter, winning the bout without having to take it to the mat was a big step forward in the evolution of his fight game.

“This is the first fight I stood all three rounds and banged with the guy,” says Hobar. “I’m a wrestler, so I’m always taking it to the mat and trying to get a submission or ground-and-pound. I actually controlled the whole fight from my feet, so I’m very happy with that.”

The win gets Hobar back on track, and with a 6-1 record, possibly into title contention.

“I’d like to fight for the Legacy FC Bantamweight Championship—that’d be great,” says Hobar. “I also know that you have to make those fights happen, so I’m going to take things one fight at a time and look for good match-ups that are entertaining and bring in the fans.”

Ryan Benoit

Record: 6-1
Key Victory: Joseph Sandoval
Weight Class: 135 lbs.
Age: 23
Country: United States
Nickname: Baby Face

While bantamweight prospect Ryan “Baby Face” Benoit was expecting a win in his bout against Joseph Sandoval at Legacy FC 16, the way it came about was completely unexpected.

“I ended up catching him with a straight right hand,” says Benoit. “I wasn’t expecting him to go down. Usually, when you’re trying to really grind your punches, you can feel them land and expect a reaction, but that one, I just kind of threw it out there and he happened to go down. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
The win capped off a banner year for Benoit, who went undefeated in his three fights and raised his record to 6-1. Perhaps more noteworthy for Benoit was the fact that 2012 was the first time in years that he was completely healthy when he stepped into the cage.

“I’ve had to take some big layoffs in between fights early in my career, going almost an entire year without a fight because of hand injuries,” he says. “I ended up breaking my hand one time this year, but it wasn’t too bad, and I think I was only out for six weeks of training. I’ve already had four hand surgeries during my career and to not have to go through that this year was a huge relief.”

Benoit feels his hand issues came simply because he started as a wrestler and hadn’t yet developed the proper striking technique. Along with becoming more refined in his stand-up game, Benoit says that he’d like to be more comprehensive in his training environment.

“One thing I’d like to have more of is a team structure,” he says.
Benoit feels he’s made the right moves forward to warrant bigger opportunities in the near future. He also hopes that a move down in weight will allow him to better capitalize on those opportunities when they should arise. With the UFC opening up career sustainability for 125-pounders, if Benoit keeps going the way he did in 2012 (two knockouts and a submission finish), the 23-year-old prospect could be entertaining bigger opportunities in the near future.

“I think I’ve done well and have started to pay my dues a little bit,” he says. “My last four fights have been on AXS TV, and I’ve finished all of them. My last three fights, I’ve finished in the first round. I feel comfortable in front of the cameras, so I’m ready for whatever comes. I’d like to start making my drop to 125 pounds. I’ve seen these guys at 135 pounds, and they’re huge. Even though I look muscular, they’re a little bit bigger than me. I think if I can make the weight, I can be a force at 125 pounds.”


Ever since Royce Gracie started tapping out one-gloved boxers at UFC 1, the submission has become one of the unique intricacies of MMA. It’s a breath-holding moment when a submission is nearly finished and you know the defenseless fighter is either seconds away from tapping or going unconscious. The 11 current fighters on this list laugh at that thought—entering the cage at least 20 times to prove they can’t be tapped.

11. Martin Kampmann
0 submission losses in 26 fights.

He’s not the first fighter you think of when pondering un-tappables, but the numbers don’t lie. The Danish welterweight has survived the submission games of Jake Shields, Paulo Thiago, Carlos Condit, Nate Marquardt, and Thales Leites. Kampmann is usually willing to engage a ground fighter on his own turf, showing either a complete lack of game-planning or his own personal way of flipping the bird to lauded submission games he was supposed to fall victim to.

10. Urijah Faber
0 submission losses in 32 fights.

The golden boy of the lighter weight classes someway, somehow managed to never tap in 32 fights, despite usually fighting a weight class or two above his current bantamweight home. Faber is a fine Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner to be sure, but his scrappiness on the ground has been his best weapon, scrambling out of bad positions and gutting out close submission attempts by his opponents. Renan Baroa, Takeya Mizugaki, Raphael Assuncao, Mike Brown, and Bibiano Fernandes couldn’t make “The California Kid” submit.

9. Gilbert Melendez
0 submission losses in 23 fights.

A Cesar Gracie product, “El Nino” chooses to completely ignore anything having to do with submissions, having never been submitted nor submitting an opponent in 21 wins (well, Harris Sarmiento tapped to strikes). A relentless scrambler fueled by a deep gas tank keeps this California native in a safe place whenever the action hits the floor. Submission veterans Tatsuya Kawajiri, Shinya Aoki, Rodrigo Damm, Clay Guida, and Rumina Sato couldn’t handle his game. When you’re training with the Diaz brothers and Jake Shields, you either learn to escape or you get prosthetic limbs.

8. Demian Maia
0 submission losses in 21 fights

Regarded by some as the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner in MMA—regardless of weight class—the middleweight turned welterweight had every fighter at 185 pounds rejoicing that Maia wasn’t around to crank their limbs anymore. His sound technique keeps him out of trouble at all times, never breaking a sweat when his back is on the canvas. His dedication to Muay Thai kept him off the mat in his last few fights, but he went back to his roots in his most recent fight by making Rick Story’s head explode like a Gusher fruit snack with a choke/neck crank combo.

7. Frank Mir
0 submission losses in 22 fights

The submission game of the big boy division is often overlooked due to some sloppy fighting from gassed out heavies. Mir, on the other hand, has escaped the clutches of Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (twice), Roy Nelson, and Tank Abbott (ok, that last one is a joke). The Las Vegas local combines strength and technique, coagulating a brutal submission offense that almost no fighter wants a part of. Even trying submission attempts on him can be hazardous to your health—just ask the pins in Big Nog’s arm.

6. Sean Sherk
0 submission losses in 41 fights

Sean “The Muscle Shark” Sherk hasn’t let one of the worst nicknames in MMA keep him from spitting in the face of submission adversity. With the un-chokable neck of a rhino, coupled with the arms and legs of an alligator, Sherk is physically incapable of being submitted. The former UFC Lightweight Champion battled BJ Penn, Hermes Franca, Kenny Florian, Nick Diaz, Georges St-Pierre, and Matt Hughes without even the faintest thought of tapping.

5. Shinya Aoki
0 submission losses in 39 fights

Not only has Shinya Aoki gone nine years and 38 fights without tapping out, he did it almost exclusively in the submission heavy MMA landscape of Japan. The Far East had an appreciation for the submission game back when American fans were screaming for blood and booing ground games (we all know that doesn’t happen anymore). One of the best offensive ground games in the business keep opponents on edge and unable to work a submission game of their own. The Grand Master of Flying Submissions lives by the mantra “The best defense is a good offense.”

4. Nick Diaz
0 submission losses in 35 fights.

One of two Cesar Gracie-trained black belts on this list, the elder Diaz brother is known primarily for his offense, not his defense. However, he’s been able to get by with less than mediocre takedown defense since few fighters dare take him to ground. Submission savants BJ Penn, Hayoto Sakurai, Chris Lytle, and Frank Shamrock couldn’t even get close to a submission attempt, let alone a finish.

3. Jake Shields
0 submissions in 35 fights.

Unlike a lot of other fighters on this list, Shields spends every possible second he can fighting on the ground—opponents’ submission skills be damned. His self-proclaimed “American Jiu-Jitsu” merges his collegiate wrestling skill with a Cesar Gracie black belt. “Grinding” and “suffocating” do not accurately describe his style that keeps even the best submission fighter looking clueless. Georges St-Pierre, Mike Pyle, Renato Verissimo, and Carlos Condit couldn’t tap him. He even gutted out of a rear naked choke by Jason Miller just to prove his cajones.

2. Diego Sanchez
0 submission losses in 28 fights.

If you are not sitting down before reading the list of badasses who haven’t been able to tap “The Dream” in the cage, pull up a chair so you don’t fall over. Paulo Thiago, BJ Penn, Clay Guida, Joe Stevenson, Jon Fitch, Nick Diaz, and Kenny Florian all gave it the old college try, but Sanchez made it out alive every time. When not trying to absorb power from thunderstorms (remember that?), the Greg Jackson-trained lightweight’s constant motion and cardio make him impossible to corral. Getting him into a bad position is nearly impossible. Keeping him in a bad position is an exercise in futility.

1. BJ Penn
0 submission losses in 27 fights.

Not only has the pineapple-eating Hawaiian never been submitted in MMA, he did it in multiple weight classes: Diego Sanchez, Kenny Florian, Sean Sherk, and Jens Pulver at lightweight; Nick Diaz, Jon Fitch, Georges St-Pierre, and Matt Hughes at welterweight; Renzo Gracie and Rodrigo Gracie at weird, random weights; and just for fun, Lyoto Machida at heavyweight. You have to wonder how Penn is still walking. The first American to win the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Championships never let a thing like a poor gas tank or scale keep him from losing a limb.

Sub-Free Fighters
These fighters have entered the cage at least 20 times without getting submitted.

Mike Pierce
0 Submissions in 21 fights.
Survived: Carlos Eduardo Rocha, Jon Fitch, Brock Larson.

Rashad Evans
0 Submissions in 20 fights.
Survived: Jon Jones, Phil Davis, Lyoto Machida.

Fabricio Werdum
0 Submissions in 22 fights.
Survived: Roy Nelson, Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

Roy Nelson
0 Submissions in 25 fights.
Survived: Fabricio Werdum, Frank Mir, Jeff Monson.

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
0 Submissions in 25 fights.
Survived: Kazushi Sakuraba, Phil Davis, Vladimir Matyushenko.

Michael Bisping
0 Submissions in 27 fights.
Survived: Jason Miller, Dan Miller, Rashad Evans.

Renan Barao
0 Submissions in 31 fights.
Survived: Urijah Faber, Cole Escovedo.

Yushin Okami
0 Submissions in 35 fights.
Survived: Nate Marquardt, Evan Tanner, Jake Shields.

Hector Lombard
0 Submissions in 36 fights.
Survived Faliniko Vitale, Brian Ebersole, Akihiro Gono.


To teach a champion, you have to understand his influences. For Georges St-Pierre, no mortal is more instructive than the brilliant mind of John Danaher.

Inside a windowless, underground office at the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York City, John Danaher is sitting behind a computer, pondering an article he’s just read on the Internet.

Outside the door of the office on Dodger-blue mats, an afternoon jiu-jitsu class waits patiently for him to emerge—10 minutes pass, then 20. Danaher is only feet away, but none of the students poke their heads inside his office or dare to interrupt with sounds from their own conversations. As America’s busiest city bustles overhead, 50 of the Big Apple’s most successful professionals sit cross-legged and silent, waiting for their teacher to pay them attention.

When Danaher finally emerges, he beckons over a 160-pound black belt, and in a soft, clear Kiwi accent says, “Today we will learn the Tomoe Nage. The first step to the Tomoe Nage is to make sure you have a solid grip on your opponent’s lapel. The second is to grab his sleeve at the elbow with your other hand…”

Danaher’s words give way to action. The third-degree Renzo Gracie black belt sits gently to his left hip as he puts his foot into his opponent’s waist, then he rotates in a circle before using his leverage and grip to flip him ass-over-head. He recomposes to his feet, stiffens his back, and repeats the same instruction. The serious-faced Danaher never changes expression or opens his mouth to breath.

After a third demonstration, the class retreats to mimic at they’ve seen. Professor Danaher sits against the wall and scans his classroom.

The class is here to absorb what UFC fighter and Danaher-trained grappler John Cholish has jokingly referred to as the “Danaher Experience,” a reprieve from the false machismo and over-confidence of typical jiu-jitsu and MMA coaches. In this room, the attention is placed on the student and optimizing his physical attributes through a carefully crafted learning experience. No excess explanation, just the facts.


When you grow up on an island, most of what you learn comes from the written word. For Danaher, who was raised in the “idyllic and fulfilling” town of Whangaparaoa, New Zealand, it was books about America that offered him both an escape and education. “I avidly read about American history,” says Danaher. “I think because I knew I’d live here one day.” Much of his life on New Zealand’s north island was Spartan-like. “I didn’t watch television until 1976. And even then it was to cheer wildly for the Americans during the Montreal Olympics.”

A bright student, Danaher breezed his way through high school and college, earning a Master’s in Philosophy from Auckland University before being awarded a scholarship to Columbia University to earn his Ph.D. He arrived in New York City in 1991.

Danaher, then 240 pounds and power-lifting as his “main source of physical recreation,” found work as a bouncer at the Upper West Side’s Crane Club, an establishment that had started out hosting Jewish singles parties but had since attracted professional sports teams and more malevolent late night intrigues. According to Dr. Peter Maguire, a historian and author who befriended Danaher at Columbia, “He was level-headed in confrontation, a total gentleman. That is until the second he wasn’t.”

Columbia University by day and the Crane Club by night, Danaher’s life in the early ‘90s was a compartmentalization of his passions. In Morningside Heights, he could teach “Intro to Moral Philosophy” to undergrads and write his dissertation (paraphrased as “Logic of Theory Change in the Physical Sciences: What Makes Scientists Want to Revise Theories in the Face of Contradictory Evidence”), and in the evening he could confront violent humans. It was on the barstool that Danaher got his first up-close study of the physical and psychological solutions used to control another human’s aggression.

“Violence is universal, but in America, there were subtle differences,” says Danaher. “In New Zealand, there were more fist fights. In America, there was more talking before fights, and less actual fighting. But when violence did break out, it got more serious quickly, especially at hip-hop clubs, which tended to have more of a knife and gun culture.”

Danaher didn’t just learn about gunplay, he also witnessed the advantage American wrestlers were enjoying in street fights. “In New Zealand, wrapping up another man was seen as unsportsmanlike, but I could see they had a leg up.” In late 1994, a friend showed Danaher a grainy video cassette of UFC 2, and the control-hungry Kiwi formed an instant attraction to Brazilian ground fighters like Royce Gracie. Puzzle solving as a means to control another human—the conceit was too powerful for Danaher to ignore.

Danaher began training with Craig Kukuk, the owner of a small gym in NYC who was often being visited by Renzo Gracie, Matt Serra, Ricardo Almeida, and “other luminaries of the sport.”

“John looked like a sasquatch back then,” says Serra. “He was 250 pounds, hair down to his shoulders, and he’d roll in a mesh Giants jersey.” Serra, whose favorite anecdote about Danaher is that he wore a rash-guard and a jean jacket to the former UFC champ’s wedding, describes Danaher sartorial individualism as “I don’t give a fuck.”

By 1996, Renzo had settled in New York and promoted Danaher to purple belt. Entering his final year at Columbia, Danaher was splitting time between rolling jiu-jitsu and preparing the defense of his dissertation. Renzo had just lost Serra and Almeida to relocation and needed someone to instruct his day classes. He offered Danaher the position, forcing Danaher to decide between quitting his Ph.D program and losing the opportunity to pursue jiu-jitsu as a full-time job.

“I wanted to remove him from the academic world,” says Renzo. “I thought he was going to kill himself. Very depressive, very sad constantly, you know? I saw that, and I said, ‘You shouldn’t write about things that put you down for weeks.’ He was writing about religion—I said, ‘My man, our religion is jiu-jitsu! It’s our lifestyle!’”

Danaher took an afternoon to “ruminate” on the offer. He chose jiu-jitsu. “People thought I was crazy, but the thing is, I always did philosophy because I loved it, and I didn’t feel the need to get a piece of paper that said I’d finished. I was in a new area of inquiry, and I wanted to get as good at that as I had been in the academic work.”

“Danaher’s an autodidact,” says Dr. Maguire, who had wished to see his friend complete his dissertation defense. “His jiu-jitsu is different because he’s pulled the problems apart and studied them objectively. He’s a study in violence, and he’s earned his Ph.D in human aggression. What we’re seeing now is his twist on the sport.”


Danaher had been working with Georges St-Pierre for three years when the Canadian had his first UFC title defense against Matt Serra. Although Serra no longer trained in NYC, he was Renzo Gracie’s first American black belt and Danaher’s former coach. Once the fight was booked, Serra called Danaher and asked him not to coach St-Pierre.

Danaher agreed, and Serra won by TKO, but after Serra’s victory there was a long line of fighters between St-Pierre and a rematch, leaving the former teacher of “Introduction to Moral Philosophy” in a serious moral quandary.

“The most dangerous thing from Matt’s perspective was showing Georges how to beat Matt Serra,” says Danaher. “I would never do that—it would be nothing less than a betrayal. On the other hand, I’d be betraying Georges if I didn’t help him beat Koscheck and Hughes. I couldn’t be loyal to one without being disloyal to the other.”

Despite the fighter’s brief détente, Danaher still wasn’t allowed to train St-Pierre inside the academy. To accommodate him, St-Pierre would wear a “baseball cap, hooded sweatshirt pulled over his face, and a bulky leather jacket” and wait outside Renzo’s for Danaher to finish his final class of the night. The pair would then call up local karate schools and dojos and ask to use their mat space. “They’d always try to turn us away, but then they’d see Georges pull down his hood and they’d freak out.”

After the destruction of Koscheck and Hughes, Danaher once again stopped coaching St-Pierre before his rematch with Serra, a gesture that both fighters and teacher seem to agree was a difficult and proper decision. “It was never awkward with me and John because he always did the right thing,” says Serra. “He stayed out of it and didn’t coach him for the rematch. It was a tough spot, but he a very honorable dude.” St-Pierre won the rematch and regained his title.

With the Serra fights behind them, St-Pierre and Danaher grew even closer. They started reading the same books, discussing philosophy, and studying…dinosaurs. They’re unapologetically nerdy about their non-fighting intellectual pursuits, but the bulk of their conversations still cover the psychology of human aggression and how to dictate and control an opponent. Their concentration is what you should expect from a pair who have revolutionized ground fighting in MMA and made St-Pierre the best wrestler in the history of the UFC.

Today, Danaher’s world is filled with learning and teaching. Whether he’s in Montreal with Georges or NYC with a room full of respectful blue belts, Danaher is no longer splitting his passion for philosophical thought and physical applications—he now has a laboratory where he can combine the two.

“Look, I wouldn’t call him ‘Little Mary Sunshine,’ or anything,” says Dr. Maguire. “John Danaher is a realist and a stoic. Human happiness has never been an objective of his life. But he is a born teacher, and he’s found his classroom.”


Mixed martial arts is the fastest growing sport in the world. It garners more attention and new fans daily. The emergence of so many new athletes sometimes makes it hard for fans to notice some of the fighters on the verge of making it to the next level. takes you deep inside the sport and presents you with some of the upcoming New Blood.


RECORD: 26-8
KEY VICTORIES: Forrest Petz, Evan- gelista Santos, Marius Zaromskis
WEIGHT CLASS: 170 lbs.
AGE: 23

Many pundits often talk about the next generation of fighters sprouting from kids who grew up in the sport—Jordan Mein is of that generation. He may be just 23 years old, but Mein has already fought 34 professional bouts, defeating some size- able names in the world of MMA, including UFC veterans Forrest Petz, Joe Riggs, and Josh Burkman, Pride alum Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos, and former Dream Welterweight Champion Marius Zaromskis.

That’s a formidable list for a 23-year-old, but Mein is a formidable fighter. He had his first kickboxing bout at 11 years old, his first amateur MMA bout at 14 years old, and his first pro bout at 16 years old. How’s that for growing up in the sport?

Mein has never backed down from a fight, consistently taking on every fighter thrown his way. In fact, his pro debut was against current UFC welterweight con- tender Rory MacDonald. That may have led to a 4-4 start as a pro, but since late 2007, he has added 22 wins to that total. The lone blemish in his last nine fights was a split decision loss to recent Strike- force title contender Tyron Woodley, but Mein followed that fight up with wins over Tyler Stinson and Forrest Petz.

As for Mein growing up in the sport, he has a true love of fighting, training, and competing. For him, just taking that step forward with each fight is all part of the process that adds up to a career. “I think by beating guys with names, it gives you more recognition,” says Mein. “I’ve had some hard fights, but I’ve been fortunate enough to fight guys who have been around. Fighting in The Score Fighting Series this last year gave me a lot of recognition in Canada. Fighting for Strikeforce in the States helped me get my name out there worldwide. I just want to get my name out there. That’s my goal.”

With Mein still under contract with Strikeforce, and Strikeforce folding into the UFC in early 2013, it’s likely that Mein’s name will soon get even more attention.


RECORD: 12-2
KEY VICTORIES: Ryan Healy, Alex Ricci
WEIGHT CLASS: 155 lbs.
AGE: 26
NICKNAME: The Body Snatcher

Canadian lightweight Jesse “The Body Snatcher” Ronson continues to make strides forward in his career the old fashioned way—by beating increasingly difficult opposition. Such was the case in August, when he defeated fellow up- and-comer Alex Ricci by unanimous decision in The Score Fighting Series.

“The key to that fight was staying smart and keeping my balance,” says Ronson. “I had to stay straight up, stay alert, and stay ahead of him. I did, and I proved I was the better striker. I thought I could finish him, but he’s tough and was in great shape.”

The win was Ronson’s sixth in a row—a streak that began after he made an overhaul following a loss to Mike Ricci in April 2011.

“That fight with Mike, I was doing all the wrong things in camp,” says Ronson. “I was training to defend his strengths. After that fight, I changed my coaches and the way I train, and I put on some size. Everything has been coming together. Everything has changed. It was a huge revamp, and I can honestly say that I’m a 100 percent different fighter than who I was when I fought Mike.”

Ronson’s most recent victor y was over Ryan Healy, brother of Strikeforce title contender Pat Healy. Ronson had to go the distance, but he did so against an increasingly difficult veteran, proving once again that he’s ready for the bright lights that The Score Fight Series has afforded him on A XS T V.

“2012 has probably been my most successful year as a fighter,” he says. “I fought some really tough guys and got a lot of exposure.


RECORD: 12-2
KEY VICTORIES: Joseph Henle, Jacen Flynne, Cezar Ferreira
WEIGHT Class: 185 lbs. AGE: 26
COUNTRY: Bosnia-Herzegovina

Growing up during the Bosnian War in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Elvis Mutapcic didn’t discover his combat sports chops until he left basketball and soccer behind when his family moved to Iowa. Mutapcic spent the majority of his formative professional years fighting for the Midwest Cage Championship, amassing a record of 8-2 before finally getting a shot in a bigger regional promotion in Las Vegas.

The transplanted Iowan served notice that his was a career to watch when he crushed Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira at Superior Cage Combat 2. The 25-second knockout of Vitor Belfort’s pupil—who is currently in the UFC—coupled with a follow-up submission victory in MCC, launched Mutapcic into the Maximum Fighting Championship in Canada.

Mutapcic wasted no time once he hit the bright lights of the MFC, quickly establishing himself as a force there, finishing off longtime veteran Jacen Flynn. He TKO’d the TUF alum in less than two minutes in his MFC debut.

“I went out there and fought at my pace, and I thought I performed pretty well,” Mutapcic says. “I was prepared for the best Jacen ever and assumed he was a well-rounded fighter, which he was, but I landed a good knee to his chin and ended the fight.”

That performance ratcheted his re- cord to 11-2 and threw him into a battle for the vacant MFC Middleweight Title. In that fight, Mutapcic took out formerly undefeated Joseph Henle, TKO’ing him with a leg kick and taking home the gold. Mutapcic’s career is on a skyward trajectory, and he doesn’t see it slowing down any time soon, although his goals are modest.

“I want to take it one fight at a time, but I think 2013 will be a bigger year than 2012,” he says. “I’m currently a full-time fighter, but I also have a full-time job, and I just want to be able to support my family and do what I love. That’s the main goal right now.”


Mixed martial arts is the fastest growing sport in the world. It garners more attention and new fans daily. The emergence of so many new athletes sometimes makes it hard for fans to notice some of the fighters on the verge of making it to the next level. takes you deep inside the sport and presents you with some of the upcoming New Blood.


Daniel StrausRECORD: 21-4
KEY VICTORIES: Marlon Sandro, Alvin Robinson
WEIGHT CLASS: 145 lbs.
AGE: 28
COUNTRY: United States

Heading into 2012, Bellator featherweight Daniel Straus knew he needed to take chances if he was going to rebound from his loss to Patricio Freire in May 2011.

“Coming off that loss, I learned a lot,” says Straus. “It took a lot out of me. I wasn’t upset for myself, I was more upset with what I didn’t show. This year, coming back to Bellator, I wanted to be
a different fighter, and I wanted to stand out a little bit. I went back to the drawing board with my coaches and teammates and started working really hard. Coming back and getting some solid wins and winning the Season 6 Featherweight Tournament has helped me a lot.”

Although Straus has won four straight Bellator fights (five overall) and claimed the tournament title, he still feels he hasn’t delivered what he’s capable of.

“I’m not going to lie to you, I feel like I can do a lot better than I’ve been doing,” he says.

Not content to sit around and wait for the Bellator Featherweight Title shot that he earned with his tournament win—the title picture is currently backlogged a bit—Straus showed his versatility in his last fight by submitting Royce Gracie black belt Alvin Robinson. The key to Straus’ newfound success? He takes no one for granted. He always has something to prove.

“If you overlook an opponent, you’ll most likely lose that fight, so I try not to look past anybody,” says Straus. “I always feel like I’m the underdog, no matter what. I feel like if I look at it like that, I’ll fight like I’m the underdog, and it’s going to give me the win.”

That attitude is obviously working. Straus has won five consecutive bouts since his loss to Freire. Now he intends to wait for the title picture to clear up, and he hopes to get a chance to avenge his loss to Freire.

Current champion Pat Curran, who is rehabbing an injury, will next defend his title against Freire, with Straus challenging the winner. “My goal is to get that belt around my waist,” says Straus. “I’m just waiting for that chance.”


Barb HonchakRECORD: 7-2
KEY VICTORIES: Aisling Daly, Roxanne Modafferi, Felice Herrig
WEIGHT CLASS: 125 lbs.
AGE: 33
COUNTRY: United States
NICKNAME: Little Warrior

Currently riding a six-fight winning streak, up-and-comer Barb “Little Warrior” Honchak is quickly establishing herself as someone to reckoned with in Invicta FC’s 125-pound division. Proof positive of her growing potential is her second-round TKO victory over Bethany Marshall in July and a unanimous decision over Aisling Daly in October. Those two victories under the Invicta banner continued her winning ways over tough competition, including highly touted Felice Herrig.

Honchak attributes much of her recent success to a switch to Miletich Fighting Systems in Iowa. She adds that there’s not one physical thing that has led to her winning streak, but her attitude in training has been making a big difference.

“I just train as hard as I can possibly train, and whether it’s a win or loss, after a fight, I go back and study up on where I was weak or most vulnerable and find the mistakes and try to fix them,” she says. “I think that is the key to my success, trying to fix my problems so it doesn’t happen gain. I know other girls are watching those videos and seeing what happens in those fights, so I try to fix all the problems I’ve had in my previous fights.”

With Invicta introducing championship fights at its most recent event, Honchak is positioning herself for a flyweight title shot. Although it’s still a little tough to catch a glimpse of the top women in MMA, Invicta is giving women a platform to ply their wares, and UFC president Dana White is warming more and more to the idea of women fighting in the Octagon. Keep your eyes open for fighters like Barb Honchak—as the women’s side of the sport explodes, she’s definitely one to watch.


Erik PerezRECORD: 12-4
KEY VICTORIES: Ken Stone, John Albert, Paul McVeigh
WEIGHT CLASS: 135 lbs.
AGE: 22

Greg Jackson may not be on UFC president Dana White’s Christmas card list, but there’s no arguing that he and his fellow coaches in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are helping lead many fighters to the top of the proverbial heap. The latest Jackson talent to creep into the spotlight is bantamweight Erik “El Goyito” Perez.

The native Mexican is only 22 years old, but he already has more than four years of experience under his belt. He lost his first two professional bouts (both by split decision), but once he got going, Perez didn’t look back, going 12-2 in his next 14 fights.

A talented submission artist, Perez worked his way through the ranks before finally getting his opportunity at the big leagues as a lastminute replacement at the TUF Live Finale in June 2012. Perez made the most of that opportunity, submitting highly touted TUF Live cast member John “Prince” Albert via armbar in the first round. He backed up that performance with highlight-reel, 17-second knockout of Ken Stone at UFC 150 in August.

The expectations for Perez are now high, but he is up to the challenge. He will make his third appearance in the Octagon on December 29 in Las Vegas, when he faces Byron Bloodworth at the promotion’s year-end UFC 155 event. Should he get past Bloodworth, Perez is likely to start climbing up the bantamweight title ladder.


Mixed martial arts is the fastest growing sport in the world. It garners more attention and new fans daily. The emergence of so many new athletes sometimes makes it hard for fans to notice some of the fighters on the verge of making it to the next level. takes you deep inside the sport and presents you with some of the upcoming New Blood.


Sam SiciliaRECORD: 11-1
KEY VICTORY: Cristiano Marcello
WEIGHT CLASS: 145 lbs.
AGE: 26
COUNTRY: United States

With just one loss and one decision victory in 12 fights, Sam Sicilia carried a lot of momentum into his stint on The Ultimate Fighter: Live reality series. Of his 10 victories prior to the show, Sicilia had finished nine of his opponents. Despite all of his success prior to the reality series, TUF still represented a huge step for the fighter from Washington.

He handled the pressure well, quickly knocking out a training partner of UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz to gain entry into the fighter house. Cruz then served as his coach on the show. Just as quickly as he made a splash to gain entry in the fighter house, however, he tasted the sour side, losing a controversial split decision on TUF. Had it not been for that loss, Sicilia would have been considered a favorite to make the finals of the show.

He made amends on the TUF Finale, taking out one of the series’ early favorites, BJJ whiz Cristiano Marcello. He once again showed off his striking prowess, disposing of Marcello with an assault of knees and punches midway through the second round.

Currently riding a seven-fight winning streak, Sicilia is stacking the cards ever more in his favor by dropping from lightweight to featherweight, hoping to enhance his strength and power. If he can continue improving on the skills that have led him to an 11-1 start, Sicilia will soon be in the UFC featherweight title mix.


KEY VICTORIES: Jens Pulver, Mitch Chilson, Bae Young Kwon
WEIGHT CLASS: 145 lbs.
Eric KellyAGE: 30
COUNTRY: Philippines
NICKNAME: The Natural

In Asia, Eric Kelly isn’t that much of a “New Blooder,” but he is to the rest of us around the globe. That’s changing quickly, as Kelly’s rise through the ranks is happening at the same time that mixed martial arts in Asia is finding a new gear. He has earned his props fighting for two of the top promotions in the region, holding the URCC Featherweight Title, while also impressing One FC crowds.

Kelly has a strong submission game, but he has also shown that he packs power with his striking skills. Kelly submitted his first six opponents, and he TKO’d former UFC lightweight Champion Jens Pulver in his most recent bout.

Kelly has been caught in the middle of fighting for both URCC and One FC, which is a good place to be, as both promotions are fighting to keep him under their respective banners. The dual promotion career, however, did cost him a title shot. While he holds the URCC Featherweight Title, Kelly was offered a shot at the One FC belt as well. Having an obligation to defend his URCC belt a short time after his scheduled One FC bout forced him to forego the title shot to ensure his health for the URCC fight.

Still, it’s not a bad position to be in for a fighter barely three years into his professional career. A native of the Philippines, Kelly is sure to be in one spotlight or another as the sport continues its ascendancy in the Asian market.


RECORD: 12-0
KEY VICTORIES: Luiz Cane, Kevin Randleman, Travis Wiuff
WEIGHT CLASS: 205 lbs.
AGE: 30
COUNTRY: Bulgaria

Stanislav NedkovStanislav Nedkov has already realized one dream—to fight in the UFC. Now, with his Octagon debut under his belt, Nedkov is on a quest to earn UFC gold.

Nedkov—a black belt in jiu-jitsu and two-time Bulgarian National Freestyle Wrestling Champion—didn’t have an easy road to the UFC. Only the second Bulgarian fighter to enter the UFC’s ranks, he fought the majority of his pre-Octagon days in Bulgaria and Japan. The world didn’t really take notice of Nedkov until his fights in the now-defunct Sengoku promotion in Japan. Nedkov had already amassed eight professional victories, but when he TKO’d veteran Travis Wiuff and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Kevin Randleman, pundits and fans took notice.

Nedkov notched one more victory prior to his UFC signing, but his debut would take more than one year due to opponent injuries. One fight, a planned bout against Steve Cantwell at UFC 120, was scratched just 48 hours before the two were slated to lock horns.

Once he fi nally made it under the brightest spotlight in the sport, Nedkov lived up to his billing. An athlete who had primarily focused on the grappling arts as a young man, Nedkov opted to display his striking skills that have become just as much a part of his repertoire as his grappling. He TKO’d Luiz Cane—a BJJ black belt known for packing power in his punches—in the opening round of their fi ght, immediately serving notice that he would be gunning for a spot in the upper echelon of the light heavyweight division.

Nedkov is expected to return to the Asian scene in November to fight in the UFC’s first event in China. Barring injury, he is slated to face another tough test in Thiago Silva. Should he get past Silva, Nedkov will be on the fast track to fighting a top contender with an opportunity to prove he belongs in UFC title talks.


Todd Duffee

There are comebacks…and then there are third-round comebacks. Not the takea-beating-and-latch-ona-fight-ending-submission comeback like Big Nog is renowned for. I’m talking about the fights where it’s berserker time—throweverything-including-the-kitchensink mode. When submissions aren’t your bag, it’s time to throw the fists of fury, and hope that your can wing a punch and land a prayer like these five believers.


UFC 144: 2/26/12
Round 3: 0:54

For two rounds, Yushin Okami beat Tim Boetsch like a hammered crab, peppering him with strikes and landing knees to his delicious underbelly. Before the final frame, Boetsch’s cornerman told him to be “super aggressive,” a prodding that must have jarred loose his inner “Barbarian” horde. Boetsch stormed from his corner, landed a big right hand and a couple of uppercuts, and it was sayonara Okami.


UFC 114: 5/29/10
Round 3: 2:33

In a juxtaposition of physiques, Colossuslike Todd Duffee had stuffed nine takedown attempts and landed 56 power strikes to Kingpin-like Mike Russow’s paltry 17. Duffee looked to be cruising to a unanimous decision, when Russow decided to land punch 18—a right hand to Duffee’s organic-steel temple. Big tree fell hard, and Russow followed up with blow 19 to prove his Marvel Comics superiority.


Strikeforce: 12/19/09
Round 3: 3:25

After San Shou schooler Cung Le put on a head-kicking clinic in the first two rounds—dropping Smith twice—“The Comeback Kid” unloaded a left hand of steel that sent Le to the canvas. Smith swarmed like a fat kid on a honey jar, destroying any evidence contrary to his total domination, and securing another feather in his comeback cap.


UFC 31: 5/4/01
Round 3: 4:51

Before he was bedazzling bathrobes, Shonie Carter was back-fisting his way into MMA pimpdom. By most accounts, lightweight Matt Serra (prior to his pizza addiction) was well on his way to grinding out a win in his UFC debut. However, with time winding down, Carter threw a lazy left head kick that missed its mark, but he followed it up with a spinning back fist that left Serra bedazzled on the canvas.


UFC 115: 6/12/10
Round 3: 4:53

After two rounds of “The Waterboy’s” tenacious takedowns, crisp combos, and superior hydration, Carlos Condit chose the third round to unleash his “Natural Born Killer.” With the clock ticking down, Condit trapped MacDonald against the cage and made it rain…elbows. He bludgeoned Mac’s face to a bloody pulp and earned the TKO with seven seconds to spare.


Be advised Carlos Condit: UFC Welterweight Champion Georges “Rush” St-Pierre is returning to the Octagon at UFC 154 on November 17 a new man.

Here’s a scary thought: UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre, unbeaten and largely untouched for the past five-and-a-half years, has been struggling to find motivation in the cage. That’s right. “Rush,” the French-Canadian phenom who is generally considered—at worst—one of the top three pound-for-pound fighters in the world, hasn’t been operating at peak levels.

“I lost the fire, and I just didn’t have as much fun as I used to,” says St-Pierre. “My last couple of fights, I was getting tired. It was like I lost the fi re. I had a lot of pressure. I was over-trained, and I think that was a big issue.”

Georges St-PierreOf course, St-Pierre has been winning despite his apparent lack of mental focus. He currently boasts a nine-fight win streak, and the shocking 2007 effort from Matt Serra is St-Pierre’s lone blemish in his last 16 trips to the Octagon. Were it not for Anderson Silva’s incredible UFC run, St-Pierre would likely be in consideration for the title of “Best Fighter of All-Time.”

But MMA is often an out-of-sight, out-of-mind world, and St-Pierre has been on the shelf since an April 2011 win over Jake Shields. He was expected to face Nick Diaz in 2011, but the mercurial Californian was scratched from the bout in favor of Carlos Condit when Diaz no-showed a pre-fi ght press conference. St-Pierre then suffered a torn ACL and was forced out of that fight, which ultimately allowed Condit to decision Diaz for the Interim UFC Welterweight Title.

St-Pierre now faces Condit in a title unifi cation contest at November’s UFC 154 event in Montreal. While Condit has been saddled with the Interim tag, St-Pierre believes his own time out of the cage means the “Natural Born Killer” deserves the title of champion.

“In my contract, I’m supposed to defend my title once a year,” St-Pierre says. “I have not defended it for more than a year, so of course Carlos is the champion. I haven’t fought for a long time. It’s up to me to come back and prove to everyone that I can regain the title. But for now, Carlos is the champion. When the injury happened late in 2011 and I found it was an ACL tear, I knew it was going to be a long rehab, and I knew I basically had to give away the title. I felt like this from the very beginning.”

During his time away from the sport, St-Pierre has undergone reconstructive surgery on his knee and endured aggressive rehabilitation in an effort to rebuild the joint. But St-Pierre says the rehab has done more than simply bring him back to full physical strength—he’s feeling mentally re-energized, as well.

“It’s been a very long time, and I’ve been changing a lot of things in my training,” St-Pierre says. “I think the reason I got hurt was mostly because I was over-trained. But now, I feel like I’ve been reborn. It’s a new beginning, and I’m very anxious to get back into the Octagon. I’m training smarter, and I’m more efficient. I also have more fun doing it. I think that’s the key to this whole thing—having fun. I figured out that when you have fun, you’re better at what you do. The whole reason I started doing martial arts was because I had fun and I loved it.”

St-Pierre, a consummate professional whose methodical approach to everything, from his time in the gym to his time with a microphone, does sound reinvigorated. Smiles are flashed more frequently, and he again seems excited to talk about fighting rather than simply obligated. It’s a new energy he believes will translate to the Octagon, as St-Pierre promises to bring a more exciting approach to his fights.

“I need to be more opportunistic,” St-Pierre says. “I should be fighting with less defense and less precaution.”

Condit is unquestionably a legitimate threat to St-Pierre and brings an impressive five-fight win streak to the cage, as well as a mark of 13-1 in his past 14 fights. He’s also an extended teammate of St-Pierre, as they both fight under famed coach Greg Jackson’s extended umbrella. Of course, St-Pierre trains largely with Firas Zahabi of Montreal’s Tristar Gym, while Condit’s daily work takes place in New Mexico.

Georges St-PierreThe two have generally avoided working with each other over the years, as both anticipated the matchup at some point in their respective careers. Because their training interactions have been limited, St-Pierre says he’s not concerned about any potential advantages his opponent may have in terms of tactical knowledge.

“Carlos knows me, and I know him,” St-Pierre says. “We never trained together, but he knows my strengths, and I know his. He’s going to try and fight his fight, and I’m going to try and fight my fight. I’m going to focus on what it takes to win, and that’s what I’ll try and do.”

A former World Extreme Cagefighting Welterweight Champion, Condit does have a healthy following in the sport, but he’s nowhere near the status level of St-Pierre, who UFC president Dana White has repeatedly claimed is the biggest pay-per-view draw in the sport. Still, St-Pierre is more than familiar with his opponent’s abilities, and he insists he has a healthy respect for Condit’s skills.

“Carlos is very, very dangerous because he adapts very well to any kind of situation,” St-Pierre says. “He’s a different fighter than all the guys that I’ve fought…he likes to create his opportunities in a fight. He likes to create chaos, and from there he finds his opportunities. This fight is going to be a nasty fight. It’s not going to be a beautiful fight. It’s going to be hard, and I’m very ready for that.”

St-Pierre’s future spot in the UFC Hall of Fame is already secure. As Canada’s finest mixed martial artist, he shoulders the weight of an MMA-crazed nation, and his record alone speaks to his quality as a fighter. But this fight represents St-Pierre’s first fight as a 30-something-year-old athlete, and he’s looking to rebound from an injury that has ended other athletes’ careers.

GSP hasn’t finished an opponent in regulation since 2009, and there are a number of young guns who want nothing more than to solidify their legacy in the sport by beating the legendary St-Pierre. In many ways, it’s a crucial crossroads for the longtime champion. Can he silence the critics and re-assert his stature as an MMA legend, or has his competition caught up to him during what will wind up as a 19-month layoff?

An energized St-Pierre seems to think it’s the former, and he is unquestionably excited about the opportunity to show his own evolution as a fighter.

“It’s never good to get hurt, but I think the fact that I got hurt forced me to step back and change my life, change my training program, and make it better,” St-Pierre says. “I made improvements, and I now I have more fi re. I want to do it, and I want to have more fun. I found the fire again. For me, the most important thing is to get back and be able to be healthy. Right now, I’m healthy, and I’m blessed that I’m able to do what I love to do for a living. I’m just very glad to be back. I changed a lot of stuff in my training and my life, and I’ve never been so pumped up to step into the Octagon again.”


While Georges St-Pierre’s dominant UFC run has often left fans wondering is there is viable competition remaining for him to face at 170 pounds, his time on the sidelines following an ACL tear has allowed several new contenders to step up in the division.

St-Pierre meets Interim UFC Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit in the main event of November’s UFC 154 event, and the night’s co-feature between Johny Hendricks and Martin Kampmann is expected to determine the next challenger to the crown.

St-Pierre admits he’s been keeping an interested eye on the division during his time on the sidelines, and he’s excited to challenge a new crop of contenders.

“I think it’s very interesting right now,” St-Pierre says. “There are new contenders in the welterweight division. It makes me very excited to get back in the cage.”

St-Pierre didn’t want to look past his bout with the alwaystough Condit and consider what might lie ahead with the winner of Hendricks vs. Kampmann. However, he was willing to share a few possibilities for how he believes the fight may shake out.

“If it’s a short fight, like a finish in the first round, I think it’s Hendricks,” St-Pierre says. “If it’s a long fight, I believe Kampmann will win. But I think they’re both the top contenders, and I think it’s going to be very interesting to see what happens on November 17.”

Both Hendricks and Kampmann have looked impressive in recent outing and are unquestionably deserving contenders. However, if St-Pierre is able to get through Condit, fans may instead call for GSP to face Nick Diaz, the outspoken former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion who was expected the challenge for a title at 2011’s UFC 137.

It’s a bout that once very much interested St-Pierre, too, but he said he’s not trying to force the matchup right now—especially considering Diaz came up short in a February matchup with Condit. Instead, he will let the division play out over the next several months, and if Diaz is eventually brought to the table, he’ll happily oblige.

“I wanted to fight Diaz mostly because it was a fight that everybody wanted to see,” St-Pierre says. “But now, Carlos beat Nick, and people want to see me fight Carlos Condit. I think if everything goes well, the winner of this fight may end up fighting Nick Diaz. But who knows? I’m focusing on Carlos Condit right now. That’s the only thing in my head.”


While you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone willing to question Georges St-Pierre’s fighting abilities, the UFC Welterweight Champion has taken some criticism for a run of five decisions in his past six fights. St-Pierre admits he was missing a little bit of the drive necessary to finish high-level opponents, but he also believes that he’s often been in the cage with foes not necessarily looking to do anything other than see the final bell.

“Sometimes, you break a guy mentally before you break him physically by a knockout or submission,” St-Pierre says. “Mentally, he accepts the outcome. He’s not fighting to win anymore. He’s fighting for survival. It’s the instinct of a human being. We don’t want to get beat up. We fight for survival. Even though you know you’re going to lose, you fight for survival.”

St-Pierre declined to name any specific opponents to whom he was referring, but he was willing to single out one fighter in particular who did not adhere to that approach. Perhaps surprisingly, it was an oft-criticized welterweight who fans sometimes contend isn’t capable of putting on crowd pleasing affairs.

“There is one guy I remember who fought to win until the very end, and that’s Jon Fitch,” St-Pierre says. “He never gave up. He didn’t fight not to lose. He was trying to win the whole time, and I could feel it.”

Now, St-Pierre wants to ensure he’s that type of fighter, as well. A safety-first mentality just won’t cut it. He wants to put opponents away inside of the distance, and he insists he now realizes exactly what that takes.

“My last fight with Jake Shields is a good example,” St-Pierre says. “I did get poked in the eyes, too, but I tried too much for the knockout. I tried too much for the big right hand. I did pretty well the first round, the first two rounds, but then I tried to over-commit. I had a lack of patience, and I wanted to go straight for the knockout instead of picking him apart. Knockouts come when you don’t expect them to come.”


Mixed martial arts is the fastest growing sport in the world. It garners more attention and new fans daily. The emergence of so many new athletes sometimes makes it hard for fans to notice some of the fighters on the verge of making it to the next level. takes you deep inside the sport and presents you with some of the upcoming New Blood.


Bruno CarvalhoRECORD: 8-2
KEY VICTORIES: Maicon Bastos, Eduardo Pachu
WEIGHT CLASS: 155 lbs.
AGE: 30

It’s not always easy being known as a knockout artist with serious stand-up skills. For Brazilian prospect Bruno Carvalho, his dangerous striking skills have led him to some vicious knockouts, but it also leads to getting tagged with questions about his overall MMA game.

“I train everything so I can be prepared for all situations,” says Carvalho. “I try to keep the fight standing, but I’m ready to fight jiu-jitsu if my opponent can put me down.”

Carvalho’s background in the Muay Thai is well known throughout Brazil. He holds two wins over current UFC lightweight prospect Edson Barboza, and he has shown devastating power in both his hands and feet. Now, with his focus solely on MMA, Carvalho wants to prove that he’s ready for the big leagues, and if that means pulling off a few submissions along the way, then so be it. Like so many fighters, Carvalho hopes to land on the radar of UFC matchmakers Joe Silva or Sean Shelby, and he’s happy to do whatever it takes to get there in the meantime. Whether he’s one fight away or five fights away, Carvalho is committed to living his UFC dream, and that’s bigger than just making it to the big show.


KEY VICTORIES: Anita Rodriguez, Angela Magana
WEIGHT CLASS: 125 lbs.
AGE: 26
COUNTRY: United States

Following a start to her career that saw her win eight fights as an amateur and a professional, up-and-comer Jessica “Evil” Eye suffered the first loss of her career, losing to Aisling Daly just more than one year ago. The loss made Eye reassess her training and skill set. Since then, she’s rebounded with a five-fight winning streak.

“Obviously, the loss to Aisling was a huge devastation to me, so I wanted to change everything and come back with a lot of power so that I could show people that one loss doesn’t say anything about who I am,” says Eye. “I feel like I’ve grown up in the cage and grown up as a person. Now, I’m going to take everything I’ve learned in life and take it into the cage and use it. It’s one thing going into a fi ght knowing how to do something, but to do it under pressure when you actually need it, that’s hard, but I’ve learned how to do it.”

Eye has two victories under the Bellator banner, and she most recently defeated Angela Magana in the main event of Rock-N-Rumble 6 in Cleveland, Ohio. Having finally gained some national exposure during her Bellator tenure, Eye is eager to return to the promotion and be a big part of their launching on Spike TV in 2013.

“I’ve been extremely happy with Bellator and everything they’ve done for me and all the help they’ve given me,” says Eye. “I’ve decided to sign a two-year agreement with them, and they’ve talked about having me back when they move to Spike in January. I’m really going to take some time to get ready for what Bellator has planned and the tournaments they have coming up.”

Jessica Eye


RECORD: 18-3
KEY VICTORIES: Tyler Stinson,Brett Cooper
WEIGHT CLASS: 170 lbs.
AGE: 27
COUNTRY: United States

Steve CarlIt’s been a one-year learning experience since Steve Carl last stepped foot inside the Bellator cage. When Carl made his debut in Bellator, he was a 12-1 prospect with aspirations of climbing to the top of the promotion’s welterweight division. Unfortunately for Carl, he went 2-2 over his four fights with Bellator, before leaving the organization in 2011. The losses served as a wakeup call for Carl, because as soon as he saw his name on the marquee, he thought he had made it.

“The losses that I had, I let the hype feed into me a little bit too much,” says Carl. “I got to see the commercials on TV, I got to see all this build-up, but really it’s still just two guys in a cage. I let it consume me. Now, I realize it’s just a fight. It’s you and another guy in the cage, and you’re trying to go in there and put it all on the line.”

Since leaving Bellator, Carl has amassed a perfect 4-0 record, with four submission finishes, all in the first round. He’s re-tooled his training—instead of killing himself every day just to prove he could push further than his opponent, he’s working to actually become a better fighter.

“Over the last couple of years with my training, I’ve really dialed it down,” says Carl. “I used to over-train. I would just push myself, because, mentally, I was putty. I didn’t think I belonged with those guys at all, and now my mental game is 100-times stronger, and I don’t need to push myself as hard.”

With his training schedule under control and his mental IQ for fighting at a new level, Carl is ready to jump back to the big show and prove that he belongs with any of the best welterweights in the sport. The Iowa native has his sights set on the UFC this time, and he knows he belongs there. Looking at the roster of UFC welterweights, Carl believes he can go toe-to-toe with the best in the world. Now, he’s just waiting for his opportunity to prove it.