Names in the Game from the Magazine

Names in the Game from the Magazine


In my last article, I introduced you to some of the basics of MMA wagering, including how to read a betting line and how to convert that line into a percentage. This article builds on that foundation, so if you missed it, check out the first issue of FIGHT! or the MMA Wagering Guide on It’s important to understand how to convert a line into a percentage, because that percentage – the probability a fighter is going to win or lose – is the cornerstone of MMA wagering.


Everything starts with setting my own line for a fight, thus setting my own winning percentage. I then compare my own percentage to the percentage the sports books are setting. By identifying and betting significant differences, I build value in the long run.

I compare percentages instead of raw lines because it is easier and more accurate. A smaller gap between closer lines can actually represent a larger edge! Compare lines of -400 vs. -450 and -160 vs. -190. The percentage gap is more than double for -160 vs. -190, though it may seem smaller just looking at the lines.

The comparison of lines isn’t hard. The hard part is setting your own line. Fortunately, getting started setting a line is easy: simply start doing it. Write down your own line for a fight card, ideally before you see the odds makers’ lines. I recommend you start with a percentage, but you should convert it to a betting line so you’re familiar with both.

Use the market lines to check your work. Note the places where you are far off the market and consider why. Did you overlook a factor, or have you identified value? The first time you make your own lines, you’ll likely fi nd you’re way off. But you’ll be surprised at how quickly you get closer as you gain experience.

Even more valuable feedback is to watch for any “line movements.” If the market lines move (going from -200 to -220 for example), do they move in your direction or away? If lines are repeatedly moving your direction (you set a line of -250, the market opens at -200 but moves to -220), that’s a good indication you are on the right track. If you’re consistently off in the wrong direction, then you know you need to rethink your approach.

Of course, you can’t use a small sample size like one fight card and have a high degree of confidence in your ability to pick winners. But you have to start somewhere.

You can also check your work by grading your line against the actual fight. However, don’t fall into the trap of being too results oriented. Just because a coin lands on heads doesn’t mean the probability wasn’t 50% for tails. Try to evaluate your line based on the whole fight, not just the results.

Explaining the full process for setting your own line isn’t something I can cover in a few hundred words. But I can show you some details on my own process to get you started. So let’s look at some of the factors involved in building our own line for Serra vs. Hughes at UFC 79.

I like to break down a variety of factors when setting my own line. First I draft a bit of a “scouting report” on each fighter, most of which ends up being published in Performify’s Picks on I start by looking at a fighter’s record, focusing on recent fights. I’m mostly looking at who they fought, how they won or lost, and if the fights were close or clearcut. We all know the maxim “styles make fights,” so I like to break down some additional details on each fighter’s style and tendencies. I also watch a lot of tape. It’s not uncommon for me to watch every fight I can find of a fighter before setting my own line.

With this background information on both fighters, I try to project each fighter’s prospective game plan based on their strengths and weaknesses. I also try to identify unknowns – factors I realize I can’t know – and weigh them, such as the likelihood of existing injury, or questions about a fighter’s conditioning. Finally, I consider public perception; is one fighter overrated or underrated by the general public?

Here’s an excerpt of a scouting report on Matt Hughes, which should give you some insight to factors I consider important in evaluating a fighter.

Matt Hughes (41-5 MMA, 15-3 UFC): One of the most dominant fighters in UFC history. Was tested twice in 2006, and at 34 may be nearing the end of a hall of fame career. A dominant wrestler, he usually sets up submissions or strikes through wrestling and ground control. 22% of wins go to decision. Has shown too much tendency lately to want to stand and strike, and has paid the price with one devastating loss and one near-loss in the last year. Despite a career of dominance, some questions remain about his submission defense; three losses by submission (Penn and Hallman x2), and was nearly submitted again by Penn at UFC 63.

Last fight: defeated Chris Lytle by unanimous decision (30-27) at UFC 68 (March 2007). Used a conservative game plan: takedowns, strong ground control, no significant offense behind it.

Last loss: St. Pierre at UFC 65 (November 2006). Hughes made the mistake of trying to stand with St. Pierre and was dominated throughout the fight on the feet before being stopped via strikes early in the second round.

Also consider common opponents. If the fighters haven’t fought each other before, have they both fought the same person? Have they each fought different third parties who have faced each other? In our example of Hughes vs. Serra, we have several. Both have fought BJ Penn, Chris Lytle, and Georges St. Pierre. Hughes was most recently defeated by St. Pierre, who was in turn defeated by Serra. So if we cut out the middle step we have Serra defeats by Hughes. Bet the farm, right? Unfortunately “MMA Math” (or MMAth), is nothing close to an absolute. In fact many people probably weigh common opponents too heavily, or weigh the wrong ones.

Common opponents are definitely still something you should consider, but go back to the maxim “styles make fights.” Just because Fighter A defeats Fighter B who defeats Fighter C, that doesn’t always mean Fighter A will easily defeat Fighter C.

In this case, I think the common opponent of Lytle is more telling. Serra barely won a split decision over Lytle at The Ultimate Fighter 4 finale less than a year ago, where Hughes recently won a decisive (if conservative) unanimous decision.

A casual fan might feel that it is easy to say Hughes should win this fight over Serra. I certainly would say Hughes should be a significant favorite to regain his title. However, there is a big difference between identifying someone you think “should win” and someone who is actually a good bet as a heavy favorite. I would set the line for Hughes around 80%, or -400. We’ll see what the market says…


Sacrifi ce is a word that goes hand-in-hand with being a champion, and nowhere is that maxim truer than in the world of mixed martial arts. When fans see an MMA match, they know the fi ghters have shed blood, sweat, and tears to prepare for combat, but what many don’t realize is that few fi ghters have the luxury of working out and training exclusively. Most mixed martial artists, even successful ones, have to hold down nine-to-fi ve jobs to support themselves and their families, while struggling to fi nd time to train for the next match. Three examples are World Extreme Cagefi ghting (WEC) star Charlie Valencia, King of the Cage (KOTC) Lightweight Champion Joe Camacho, and King of the Cage veteran Dave Rivas. While their names are well recognized in the sport, what many people don’t know is that these three mixed martial artists have held down day jobs for years, balancing the demands of fi ghting at a professional level while supporting and providing for their loved ones.

Charlie Valencia is probably best known for his impressive performance on the TapouT television show where he scored a KO, and a recent win at WEC 31, where he punched, kicked, and suplexed his way to victory. However, although fans are awed by his displays in the ring, it’s Valencia’s dedication to supporting his family that deserves the most commendation. “I drive for Anheuser-Busch,” Valencia explains. “I get in at seven and get done around fi ve.”

It’s not the life that most fans picture for an MMA star. The average day for Valencia consists of a routine that encompasses work, family responsibilities, and training. “I wake up early,” he explains, “I have an 11-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son, so I get them up for school. I get my son dressed, and then my wife takes over.” Knowing the constraints of his day, Valencia makes every effort to share as much quality time with his family as he can. After work, there’s fi nally time to train at Classic Kickboxing in Pasadena, California, but it’s not always easy to fi nd the motivation, especially after a grueling day. “It’s tough because I drive all day and then I have to drive to practice,” Valencia relates. “I start training at seven-thirty, and try to get done by ten.” The short training period isn’t by choice, but due to the fact that Valencia must integrate all aspects of his life, a job made particularly diffi cult in knowing that he has to do it all again the next day.“ I try to wind down but it’s hard,” he says. His strong mental outlook keeps him going. “You have to battle through it,” Valencia attests, “because without great sacrifi ce there are no great rewards.”

The people that best know of Valencia’s sacrifi ces are his family, and the MMA fi ghter is grateful for a strong support system that helps him overcome the hurdles of balancing fi ghting and a day job. “My wife understands the sacrifi ces,” Valencia explains. When he has to travel for a fi ght, other members of his household chip in. “My father and mother come to the house to make sure everything is okay, and other family members too. They all come and do their part which makes it easier for me,” he adds gratefully. Even with the support, Valencia acknowledges that it might be the point in his career when he needs to solely focus on training. “It’s tough because I’ve always had a job since I was sixteen,” he explains, noting how diffi cult it is for fi ghters to gain the kind of sponsorship necessary to be able to dedicate themselves to training. “People don’t understand how signifi cant sponsorship is,” Valencia explains, thankful for the help of his own sponsors. “Fighters don’t get paid that much, so it makes a big difference if you win,” the MMA pro says. “And I want to win to provide for my family.” Another fi ghter who is no stranger to the diffi culties of juggling work and training is Joe Camacho. The MMA star scored a decisive TKO victory over Thomas “The Wildman” Denny to capture the 160-pound KOTC Lightweight belt on January 23, but what’s even more amazing is that for years Camacho has been working as an art director of graphic design, coaching other fi ghters, and still fi nding time to train. “I get up every day for work at seven, and all day I’m on the computer,” Camacho explains. “It’s funny because people think it’s easy, but the computer drains you. It’s the kind of work that wears you down so by the end of the day all you want to do is rest.”

But for Camacho, it’s not time to rest, it’s time to train. That task is made even more diffi cult by the fact that the MMA fi ghter also teaches classes at California Kickboxing. “ I have to balance training, teaching, and private classes,” Camacho explains. This in addition to his regular job. The grueling routine makes it diffi cult to balance another aspect of a fi ghter’s career; nutrition. “I have to eat late at night since I train from fi ve-thirty to ten, so all that’s open is fast food.”

In light of the championship win, Camacho has decided to make the transition to training exclusively. “It’s been really tough to balance it all out,” Camacho says. In a sport where reactions are everything, it is very diffi cult to not have the kind of training opportunities that your opponents have. “A lot of the fi ghters that I’ve fought train exclusively,” Camacho explains. “They’re always on the mat.” Camacho, who has faced Joe Stevenson and Rob Emerson, explains the diffi cultly of not being able to solely train. “ They focus on what they have to do. I have to focus on work and meeting deadlines, then I have to get back into fi ght mode.”

Still, Camacho has handled the task well, having maintained the balance for over a decade, even as he separated his day job from his MMA career. “ I never really advertise what I do,” the fi ghter explains, “so it’s kind of been like Fight Club, showing up to work with a black eye, that kind of thing.” But now, with the championship belt around his waist, Camacho is ready to make the transition to training exclusively to defend his crown as King of the Cage.

Another King of the Cage veteran who handles the daunting task of balancing a strenuous job, family responsibilities, and training for MMA is rising star Dave Rivas. Coming off a unanimous decision win in early January, Rivas is no stranger to the pressure of preparing for fi ghts while juggling professional obligations. Rivas, who works for Countrywide in the loan business, knows the kind of mental strength it takes to be a champion. “I put in nine to ten hours, then right after that it’s training,” Rivas says. “It’s very hard. Your body is tired and you’re mentally tired, too.” Even though his work day starts at eight on an average day, Rivas is up well before that.“ I get up at fi ve and run for thirty minutes to an hour,” Rivas explains. “I have a son and drive him to a different district for school. Then I drive back and get to work doing loans.” Rivas breaks up the daily monotony with some quick exercise midday. “ At lunch I try to get an hour workout,” Rivas says. “Then it’s back to work, and after that I pick up my son and get to training.” The MMA fi ghter has a long day, with his training lasting several hours. “ I get back at around ten to eleven and try to go to bed around eleven-thirty.” Like other fi ghters who balance full time jobs and their training, Rivas recognizes the diffi culty and sacrifi ce it takes. “ I’m still almost a newlywed, and it’s very stressful for the family when you’re away for
so long,” Rivas explains, grateful for the support his family gives him.

After a while though, the balancing act becomes increasingly diffi cult. “Sometimes you start questioning if you want to do this,” Rivas describes. “It puts a block in your mind and when you question your drive, you don’t want it as much.” Rivas’ determination keeps him going, and for him, it’s not about the money, it’s about the love of MMA. “ When I started fi ghting I got $250 a match, but I loved doing it. That’s the thing with fi ghting, is we go back in for the challenge.”

The juggling act of maintaining a day job, making time for family, and training can take it’s toll, but Rivas sums it up well: “When you go out there and you get your hand raised, it’s all worth it.”


I am cornering my team in an MMA event, and I look at the judges and think: These people cannot possibly be qualified. Two of the judges are men who are older than dirt and the other is a woman with a bouffant hairdo. Give me a freaking break. I tell my fighters not to leave it in the judges’ hands. These judges have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. How can they possibly know what to look for when judging an MMA fight?


This is a scene that repeats itself every weekend across the country. I periodically ask judges, “What is your combative sports background?” Most have never trained MMA,  but instead they take some sort of weekend seminar to learn the ins and outs of the game. I have wrestled since age 5, boxed and trained Muay Thai for 25 years, and done BJJ for 17 years, and I still learn something new every day. How can a weekend seminar or a white belt in some nondescript martial art qualify someone to judge a fight? The answer is easy—it doesn’t. The sport of MMA is too technical and complicated for people like this to be judging or refereeing. I have nothing personal against any of these people, but I do consider it an insult that they are deciding fighters’ fates.


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The futures of young fighters are put in the hands of some very unqualified people, and that does not sit well with me. Boxing has gotten a bad name because of shady judges’ decisions. Is the sport of boxing corrupt? Maybe, but more likely it has a lot to do with unqualified judges who know nothing about boxing and are deciding a fight. Now, many of those same judges are involved in the sport of MMA.


Don’t get me wrong, there are some very good refs and judges, but they are few and far between. One athletic commission—which will remain anonymous—hired one of their judges though shady circumstances. The head of the athletic commission was friends with a guy who owned an insurance company. They formed an alliance so promoters in that state had to acquire insurance through the friend’s insurance company. I can’t prove it, but I’m betting the commissioner was probably getting kickbacks from the deal. That’s bad enough, but for some odd reason, the wife of the insurance owner was suddenly judging fights in that state. It’s this kind of stuff that warrants a punch in the face. I wouldn’t hit the wife, but the other two would be as good as sleeping if I had my way.


An easy way around all of the backroom, shady deals is simply to have stringent rules and guidelines that qualify someone as a refor a judge. Should they have five years of BJJ and striking? Some guidelines need to be in place to ensure the refs and judges actually know the details of the sport they are being paid to take part in.


Trainer and former fighter Matt Hume agrees that there is a problem. “How can a judge—qualified or not—confidently score a fight when there are no definitive guidelines?” he says. “What scores more points, a take down or a punch? A kick or a punch? Is the bottom man always losing if he’s getting hit, but attacking with submission attempts?”


These issues also have to be defined and figured out. Someone like Matt Hume would be a great person to head up a sanctioning body that determines national standards for judging and reffing qualifications/guidelines. If MMA is going to avoid the corruption that plagues boxing, we need national standards.


phentermine doctor portland oregon Know Your Role


Refs have an even more important role in a fight than judges.Refs cannot only decide the fate of a fighter’s career, but they can also save a fighter’s health and life. I have seen a new phase that refs have been going through when a fighter is caught in a choke. The ref will grab a fighter’s arm and lift it to see if the athlete is asleep. What the hell is this? Who teaches someone to do this?


It’s like watching a WWE match, and suddenly Hulk Hogan starts counting down with his finger when he is going to escape the choke. Fighters that are unconscious will have a variety of reactions: some will go stiff, some will convulse, and some will go limp. Lifting a fighter’s arm and letting it go tells me nothing. Instead, simply ask a fighter to blink his eyes, ask if he’s awake, or watch his breathing. Fighters can go unconscious with their eyes open, and many refs are also fooled by this. It’s not hard to figure it out if you have been around the sport for a while. I can tell when a fighter is asleep from my living room TV before many refs know.


A ref who has not competed is usually completely out of his element. It’s very hard to understand the process of someone moving from position to submission unless you have done it. When this sort of transition takes place, it is important that the ref already know what’s coming and the danger involved. Being grandfathered in due to sheer experience should not automatically qualify you as a ref.


Soma Addiction The Perfect Union


A fighters’ union would be a great step in helping determine the requirements and guidelines that referees and judges should have to meet and follow. Many of the people in control of MMA in their states know very little about it. At the end of the day, what is it going to take for the promoters, fighters, and fans to get qualified refs and judges? I’m guessing a lot of hell raising and articles like this are a good start.


It’s a complicated situation with a lot of politics involved, but I have never been politically correct. I speak my mind, because in a situation like this, I couldn’t care less what someone who works for a commission thinks of me. If they care about the athletes, they will read this with an open mind. If we are going to improve the status and further legitimacy of MMA, change needs to happen. We owe it to the athletes.

taking phentermine before working out How the body responds to exercise:

Let’s take a closer look at the process of exercise and how it relates to effects on the body. Strenuous workouts are more than just the process of burning calories, cutting fat and trying to grow muscle. It’s great to feel the pump up of a workout, but there is much more going on than many people know. Many athletes actually are breaking down, barely holding onto muscle as they train for intense competition.

Through strenuous workouts, the most important aspect is trying to maintain the body’s composition. The body is really an intricate mechanism in which millions of molecules of amino acids, fats, hormones, and neurotransmitters are circulating throughout the body’s tissues. These molecules are in a constant struggle to keep up with all the demands that are placed upon the body. The body is in crisis mode; constantly building things up and breaking others down, then building new things to stay alive. If the proper building blocks are not in the blood stream when the body needs them, then catabolism occurs. Catabolism is a mode when the body’s cells, particularly muscle tissue, is in a state of breakdown. In this stage, an athlete will not see the results he expects from his workouts, and will end up feeling very tired and run down. Some people may even start to see fat weight gain and muscle loss while working out intensely. Intense exercise breaks down the body, and without proper recovery there cannot be progress.

symptoms of coming off phentermine How to repair the damage – recovery is everything:

Exercise is a stimulus; it’s a stress to the body. To recover from the stress, the proper nutrients have to be put into the body in order to see positive results from hard training.

I have seen and tested some of the most wellknown athletes in America. I will tell you from experience, it is very difficult to stay out of catabolism (breakdown) during intense levels of training. All athletes should strive to maintain an anabolic status (building up) of their tissues, especially muscle tissue. In an anabolic state, the body will have the best potential for recovery and growth, energy and stamina will remain at its peak level and the best results from hard workouts will occur.


The Program:

Step 1: Food and Liquids


It is best to replace lost fluids with a sports drink that contains sodium, carbohydrates, and potassium. Most drinks contain high levels of glycemic carbohydrates. While this is not necessary for the average Joe trying to lose weight, it is optimal for the endurance athlete who needs the fastest recovery.

Restore Carbohydrate Reserves:

Muscle glycogen fuels the body during exercise. So, someone who exercises for more than 90 minutes and wants to be ready for the next day’s workout must replenish carbohydrate reserves. Studies repeatedly show that properly timed carbohydrate meals optimize restoration of muscle glycogen stores. The sooner one can ingest carbohydrates after exercise, the quicker glycogen will be restored. Taking in carbohydrates during exercise is also a wise strategy to help with recovery.

Exercise scientists recommend athletes eat 1-1.5 grams of carbohydrate per 2.2 lbs. of body weight within 30 minutes of exercise, followed by additional meals every 2-4 hours thereafter. A 150 pound person should supplement with roughly 70-100 grams of carbohydrates within the first 2 hours after exercise. During the next 4 to 24 hours after exercise, and before the next exercise session, he should eat enough carbohydrates to total 3 to 5 grams for every pound of body weight. Breads, cereals, grains, pasta, vegetables and fruits are good examples of high carbohydrate foods. Generally, a single serving of carbohydrates would something like 2 slices of bread, ½ cup cooked rice, potatoes, or pasta, or 1 cup fortifi ed cereal contains 22 grams of carbohydrates. In practical terms, you could take in 75 – 100 grams of carbohydrate by eating:

› A banana and a bagel

› ½ cup raisins and a slice of bread

› 2 cups of orange juice and a cup of yogurt

› 2-2.5 cups of pasta

As part of your rehydration process, look for sports drinks that will provide 24 to 30 grams of carbohydrates every half hour. Consuming one cup of a sports drink containing 6-10% carbohydrates every 15 to 20 minutes can delay the onset of fatigue.

Immediately After Workouts, Consume High Glycemic Carbohydrates: The type of carbohydrate eaten after exercise can affect the rate of glycogen synthesis as well. Recent studies indicate that high glycemic index foods actually induce greater glycogen resynthesis than do low glycemic index foods. A high glycemic index food is one that rapidly raises blood sugar levels after it is eaten. For example, sucrose or glucose, both high glycemic index sources, resynthesize muscle glycogen twice as fast as fructose, a low glycemic index sugar. In addition, your recovery meal should be low fat and low fiber. Fat and fiber blunt the desired increase in blood sugar levels. It is important to note that lower glycemic index meals are preferable at other times of the day.

Ideal high glycemic index foods include most fruits, baked/mashed potatoes, parsnips, carrots, rice, bread, and other baked goods. When eating snack bars, looks for varieties sweetened with glucose or fructose.

Consume Protein with Your Post Workout Meal:

Insulin transports glucose into the liver and muscle tissues, where it is stored as glycogen. Muscle cells are most sensitive to insulin up to 2 hours after exercise, when elevated blood insulin levels expedite the replenishment of muscle glycogen. Because insulin plays such a vital role in replenishing glycogen stores after exercise, researchers have focused on methods to enhance insulin release during the recovery period. Studies show that protein, when combined with carbohydrates, almost doubles the insulin response. So it is important to include protein in your post workout meal. If protein and carbohydrates are balanced in what is referred to as “the optimum recover ratio” of 4 parts carbohydrate to 1 part protein, the protein does not seem to interfere with rehydration and gastric emptying. So if an athlete consumes 70-100 grams of carbohydrates after exercise, he should also eat 17-25 grams of protein to enhance the insulin response without slowing gastric emptying.

Step 2: Supplementation

Consume Arginine with Your Post Workout Meal:

The amino acid arginine affects insulin uptake and post exercise recovery. Carbohydrate-arginine supplementation increases muscle glycogen replenishment 50% more than carbohydrates alone. Arginine also has the added benefits of reducing ammonia in the body, increasing growth hormone levels, increasing creatine stores in the muscles, and helping with wound healing and immune system function. In summary, the addition of protein in the correct ratio with carbohydrate – and along with arginine – can improve performance by enhancing insulin response, thereby promoting faster recovery.

Consume Ribose with Your Post Workout Meal:

Ribose supplementation can dramatically increase the regeneration of ATP in the muscles, resulting in quicker recovery and increased strength. The recommended dosage is 3-5 grams per day.

Supplement with Phosphatidylserine (PS):

Phosphatidylserine is one of the
body’s phospholipids, and is an integral part of the structure and maintenance of cell membranes. Phosphatidylserine supplementation can help to counteract some of the negative effects of strenuous training. In particular, it has been shown to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which accelerates protein breakdown for energy. Phosphatidylserine can help athletes recover faster from strenuous workouts by reducing muscle breakdown and the accompanying muscle soreness. It also has the added benefit of enhancing memory and learning ability.

Supplement with HMB and Acetyl L-Carnitine: HMB (hy droxy-methylbutyrate) is a metabolite of the amino acid leucine. There have been a number of published studies demonstrating that HMB can improve muscle strength and lean body mass, and can reduce muscle damage and strength loss associated with intense workouts. In addition, it has been shown to improve VO2 max in supplemented athletes. Acetyl LCarnitine (ALC) helps transport fatty acids in the cell’s mitochondria. Research has demonstrated that ALC promotes certain improvements in athletic performance, including increased endurance, reduced blood lactate levels during exercise, and improved anaerobic strength output. In addition, it has been shown to increase the rate at which fatty acids are broken down for fuel, thereby creating a glycogen sparing effect during exercise.

Supplement with Glutamine:

Glutamine is one of my favorite aminoacids. It is the most deficient amino acid in athletes that I have tested. Without it, an athlete will lose muscle mass. With it in abundance, muscles can grow or at least be maintained. Glutamine functions as a source of energy for white blood cells and other immune cells, which reduces resistance to infection. Research with athletes shows that endurance exercise significantly lowers blood levels of glutamine. Supplemental glutamine can restore glutamine levels to normal levels and help prevent onset of illness, and it has a strong anticatabolic effect through neutralization of cortisol.

Optimize Hormone Functions:

Growth hormone levels decrease with age, usually starting in the mid-thirties in normal populations, but in athletes the growth hormone levels can start to decrease in the mid-twenties. This early decrease in growth hormone level is due to the amount of stress and the demands placed on the body. For elite and endurance athletes, it is important to try to maintain healthy growth hormone levels. Growth hormone is considered the master hormone, controlling many other hormones in the body and for this reason it may help increase low levels of other hormones, like testosterone, which is defi cient or low in many athletes.

Growth hormone has an incredible effect on healing time and recovery. GH is released at its highest levels during sleep. During this time, the natural recovery phase, occurs the greatest recovery from breakdown of tissues, soreness, and injuries. Growth hormone also has important effects on protein, lipid, and carbohydrate metabolism.

Protein metabolism: In general, growth hormone stimulates protein anabolism in many tissues. This effect refl ects increased amino acid uptake, increased protein synthesis, and decreased oxidation of proteins.

Fat metabolism: Growth hormone enhances the utilization of fat by stimulating triglyceride breakdown and oxidation in adipocytes.

Carbohydrate metabolism: Growth hormone is one of a battery of hormones that serves to maintain blood glucose within a normal range. Growth hormone is often said to have anti-insulin activity, because it suppresses the abilities of insulin to stimulate uptake of glucose in peripheral tissues and enhance glucose synthesis in the liver. Somewhat

paradoxically, administration of growth hormone stimulates insulin secretion, leading to


I recommend using the amino-acid growth hormone precursors that are found in many health food stores. These are called growth hormone precursors, growth hormone analogs, or secretagogues. These formulas usually consist of specific amino acids, such as arginine, lysine, and ornithine in powder form, and are taken at night before bed. These formulas may optimize your normal functions, but they will never cause you to overproduce a hormone.

Research on this topic has come a long way. I have personally seen many fighters come in to my office the days before a fight crashing, because of their depleted body mass and energy reserves. At our clinic, we utilize body composition machines to keep a close eye on protein, fat, water, and overall cellular health on the athletes I work with. We are able to alter the nutritional and supplemental status of an athlete depending on a quick in-office test. We are now able to manage the overall health of an athlete, sort of like checking the fluids of your car engine. If an athlete expects his body to perform like a high performance sports engine, then we have to make sure that all of the parts are in perfect working order.


When things heat up between Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber on this season of The Ultimate Fighter, it won’t be “Made for TV” tension.

UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz and number one contender Urijah Faber have a long history together—a rivalry that stretches back five years—and it won’t be resolved until the two fighters meet for a third time this summer. Even then, there are no guarantees that Cruz and Faber will be able to put their feud to bed. Legitimate tension between the two coaches isn’t the only reason to be excited about this season of TUF.

Cruz v FaberSeven years and 14 seasons after becoming the unlikely catalyst for the growth and development of the UFC, the hour-long reality television staple is ready to emerge from an extreme makeover. This year, the UFC’s flagship series transforms from a taped reality competition into a live sporting event.

Rebranded as The Ultimate Fighter Live, the inaugural season kicks off with a two-hour premiere on March 9 on FX, featuring 32 lightweight fighters trying to win their way onto the show. Over the 12 Fridays that follow, the cast of 155-pound competitors will battle it out in the hope of fighting on the June 1 finale.

Unlike previous seasons—where everything was pre-recorded months in advance—the shift to Friday nights on FX and the new live format will result in the events of each episode being taped the week they air. Best of all, every episode will conclude with a bout that will air live in the Eastern and Central time zones (Mountain and Pacific will be on tape delay).

While they don’t agree on much, both Faber and Cruz admit they are looking forward to the opportunity to coach on the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter Live on FX.

“I wanted to do this in the past, but I didn’t get the opportunity to because they needed me and Faber to fight,” says Cruz, who is riding a 10-fight win streak. “Now we’ve been given this opportunity on an even bigger stage, and I think it works better for the UFC. They can show the lighter weights on regular TV, and it gives me and Faber a better push. It’s going to be a huge opportunity for all the dudes who are on the show.”

In addition to being a great opportunity for the fighters who will eventually make up Team Cruz and Team Faber in the hopes of earning themselves a six-figure UFC contract, the show will offer fans an inside look at the dynamic between the two bantamweight rivals as they prepare to face-off for a third time.

“I think we’ve got a great storyline,” says Faber. “We’ve got a split record—1-1 in the fights that we’ve had with each other—and it’s going to be interesting to have us face-to-face, getting on each other’s nerves, checking out each other’s training regimens, and just being in close contact before a fight. It’s going to be a unique experience. I really don’t know what to expect, and I think that’s why everyone is going to tune in.”

Unlike many previous seasons where the heat between the coaches was either nonexistent or amplified in the attempt to make entertaining television, The Ultimate Fighter Live is sure to highlight the palpable acrimony between the two bantamweights.

“I’m absolutely positive that there will be some more tension when we’re training in the same facility together, but it’s a competitive tension,” says Faber. “He has something that I want, and I’m the guy that’s going to be there waiting to beat him up. You don’t want to get too close to the guy you’re going to have to destroy, especially when there is already animosity. There’s some mutual respect there, but we’re definitely not best friends.”

Part of what has caused the tension to linger for Cruz is the constant presence of Faber at the top of the marquee—and front and center in the marketing and promotion of the lighter weight classes. Despite the fact that Cruz avenged his 2007 loss to Faber with a unanimous decision win in July 2011, the champ continues to be in the shadow of “The California Kid.”

“I think he’s definitely been gifted in a lot of situations. How can you not say that?” says Cruz. “He’s built a lot of accolades through his career, but let’s keep it real—the guy’s had four title shots in two years. I’ve had four title shots in two years, and I’m the champ. He gets pushed and pushed and pushed into these top-notch positions because of his way of selling tickets and his way of speaking—not necessarily his fighting abilities.

phentermine united kingdom COACHING CLASH

Before the two dynamic bantamweights do battle in the cage for a third time, they will put their coaching skills to the test. Not surprisingly, the soon-to-be leaders of Team Cruz and Team Faber will be taking different approaches when it comes to trying to guide their respective charges to victory this season on The Ultimate Fighter Live.

Cruz v Faber
“First and foremost, I’m going to be motivating these guys,” says Faber. “I’m aware of the fact that everybody is different, and I’m going to be trying to help guys fill in their weaknesses and keep their strengths strong. I’m going to be more of a mentor. I’m not a dictator by any means. A lot of these guys are going to be accomplished fighters, so I just want to be able to help where I can. I’m going to have all my Alpha Male guys helping coach. We’ll probably have quite a
few guest coaches too. I’m hoping to get some of the top stand-up guys like Phil Nurse and Mark DellaGrotte, and I’d like to get Duke Roufus. I think we’re going to have a lot of people coming out.”

Cruz will fill out his coaching staff from the team at Alliance MMA in San Diego where he trains, and he promises a much different approach to coaching than you’ll see from his counterpart.

“Right now, I have Eric Del Fierro. I’m going to switch out wrestling coaches between Phil Davis and Adam Lynch—also from Penn State—who I brought in to get me ready for my past few camps. I’ll also have Adrian Melendez to help with boxing and Lloyd Irvin to help with BJJ. Those are pretty much the main guys that you’re going to see. As for me, you can expect a very hands-on approach—very straight, narrow, to the point. If I feel like people aren’t doing things right, I’ll call them out on it. I don’t beat around the bush. If you’re not shooting a double-leg correctly, I’m going to tell you that it sucks and that you need to redo it. I’m not there to play games. I’m there to work.”

After they’re finished with their coaching duties, the two rivals will once again stand opposite each other inside the Octagon, with the victor leaving with the UFC Bantamweight Title and—perhaps even more importantly—a 2-1 edge over his rival.

While Cruz believes that a victory over Faber this summer will provide a conclusive ending to the final chapter of their five-year feud, Faber isn’t opposed to another fight in the future.

“Our first fight was a very long time ago— we’re both different fighters,” says Faber. “When I beat him this second time, I won’t have any trouble giving him another shot, but there’s going to be some other guys in line as well. We’ll see how that goes. We’ll see how the fight plays out.”

If the move to Friday nights on FX and the new live format isn’t enough to entice you to watch The Ultimate Fighter Live, the first legitimate coaching rivalry in a long time should. With Cruz and Faber being asked to coexist and compete with one another for the next several weeks, this season should keep viewers glued to their chairs for the time being.

“I’m excited,” says Faber. “Not only is it going to be cool to help mold some of these future UFC studs, but also to get a lot of exposure for myself, my guys, and my team. There’s going to be a lot of perks to this thing.”


The Ultimate Fighter Brazil began filming the first international season of TUF in February, with MMA legends Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva serving as opposing coaches. Fuel TV is currently in negotiations to air the 12-episode season in the United States.


The fighters you see on TV were once green professionals, fighting in front of small crowds for a few hundred dollars and travel money. Almost every week, I am at a local MMA event in the Southeast watching new pros make their debut. With the shear number of gyms popping up, I am seeing more fighters who are ill prepared for their pro debut. In many sports, this may make little difference. However, in MMA, where violence is honed to a fine edge, there is the potential for serious injuries. My first inclination is to blame the promoter/matchmaker, but they are only partially accountable. The lion’s share of fault lies with the fighters, coaches, and managers. It comes down  to knowing when a fighter is ready for a pro debut.


In my gym, that’s an easy question to answer: When I say so! I have made my share of mistakes, but I have learned a lot over the last 11 years. Below are the five factors I believe must be weighed prior to a fighter making his debut in professional MMA.




This is the most important aspect of the game for an aspiring pro fighter. Most amateur fights have three-minute rounds. The bump from three-minute to five-minute rounds is a huge difference. An aspiring pro should have an extensive strength and conditioning program under his belt and a solid camp leading up to the debut. No matter how prepared a fighter is, it’s never enough for that first fight.




Professional fighters need to be well rounded. Having a weakness in one area is harder to mask at the pro level. At a minimum, young pros should have solid boxing, a strong clinch, good sprawl, and more experience than a blue belt in BJJ. Expertise in one area can make up for weakness in another area with the proper strategy and gameplan.




An amateur career is necessary. Competitive experience in any of the disciplines that constitute MMA is acceptable, though a wrestling/grappling background is generally preferred. Fighters should have a minimum of five amateur wins, with at least one of the fights being a real test.




The best way to prepare for a professional debut is to train with other pros. Often, this will take place in the form of a mock fight. If a fighter can survive and even excel in the cage for three, five-minute rounds against a seasoned vet, he will be prepared against another green pro.




These are the qualities that only an experienced coach is qualified to determine. Regardless of what we call them—toughness, heart, fortitude—these qualities will often dictate victory. A fighter who works hard, learns to deal with adversity, and listens to his coaches has a great chance of becoming successful in pro MMA.


MMA is a serious sport. The line between victory, defeat, and injury is razor thin. Fighting professionally raises these stakes considerably. Correct preparation requires thousands of hours of hard work. Even when a fighter is ready, it’s important to have smart matchmaking. Only an inexperienced coach would allow a fighter to make his pro debut against Dan Severn for $200—which I did to Forrest Griffin in 2001. Nowadays, I try to match a green pro against another green pro, keeping my eyes open for matches that give my fighter a stylistic advantage.


The rush to turn professional (and make some money) must be carefully examined. More money can be made with a good career that starts out with the right foundation—a reputable gym, smart coaching, and a solid skill base. Fight smart fights rather than jumping into the deep end for instant gratification. It’s not as easy as it looks, and a fighter’s health and longevity in the sport necessitates proper preparation. It takes patience to do it right.


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.

Dave Jansen

Portland, Oregon’s Dave Jansen found fighting during a stint as a waiter at Gustav’s Pub and Grill in 2004. One of his co-workers, UFC veteran Chris Wilson, trained at Team Quest and convinced him to come to practice. Jansen had wrestled for 15 years, earning a state title in 1997 at 151 pounds, but had burned out on a partial scholarship to the University of Oregon and left school his sophomore year.

Jansen liked what he saw at the venerated gym, but didn’t think he could make the commitment, much less a living in the still-emerging sport. The service industry had sucked him in. It wasn’t until Jansen turned on the TV and saw Wilson fighting in the International Fight League that he was sold. In June 2006, he joined Quest and fought five months later in an amateur fight.

Jansen, 30, won all six of his amateur fights before turning pro in January 2007. His wrestling helped him establish a quick base, but his jiu-jitsu started winning fights, with eight submission victories. In a marathon run, he fought 12 more times in 22 months before catching the eyes of WEC matchmakers.

In an impressive debut, Jansen outworked veteran Rich Crunkilton by unanimous decision at WEC 43, announcing his presence on the national stage.

Jansen bought a moped with his WEC money and cruises the chilly streets of Portland.

“What attracted me to fighting was almost being your own boss,” he says. “What you get out of it is what you put into it. I was never into team sports. It just wasn’t for me if somebody stumbled on the five-yard line and cost you the game, but you played a great game. Another thing, it’s like the base of humanity. Raw aggression.”

Next, Jansen faces fellow up-andcomer Kamal Shalorus at WEC 46 in January. Shalorus has a decorated grappling background and heavy hands, though Jansen doesn’t think much of his standup and plans to beat him to the punch. He’s a long way from waiting tables.

“I’m after the WEC title,” he says. “I don’t think this is the sport that you do unless you’re going to do it to the fullest. I’m in it 100% to go as far as I can.”

Anthony Morrison

Anthony Morrison has made many sacrifices. He was raised on the rough streets of Philadelphia. Growing up, Morrison knew he was meant to do something more. He began training on his own in his grandma’s basement and fought for a better way of life. Morrison trained at various gyms and would sleep on floors and couches for months on end.

“What woke me up was when I was a senior in high school and I had a daughter on the way. I saw lots of my friends get locked up and some killed. I wanted to be there for my daughter,” says Morrison. “The streets don’t care about how old you are. Only two ways out of the streets: judged by twelve or carried out by six. I had to get out by just leaving … period.”

Morrison packed two duffle bags and got on a train to Richmond, Virginia. “Antmo” settled in with Team Combat, home to Ultimate Fighter winner Amir Sadollah, before moving to Las Vegas. Morrison’s time at Team Combat has evolved his game into what it is today.

“I have never been a part of a real team, and being here really feels like home to me. Not only do I get quality training, but Kru and the rest of my boys at Team Combat really look out for me on a professional and personal level … and that’s real.”

At Ring of Combat 27, Morrison defeated Kurt Pellegrino pupil Jeff Lentz to claim the organization’s 145-pound title. The victory was a highlight in his career, but the win was bittersweet.

“When I won the belt I felt good, but the second I got out of the cage it was back to reality. I had to deal with burying my aunt and cousin. So, while I was happy, the family loss was heavy on me,” says the WKA Featherweight Champion.

“I fought that fight with a heavy heart. My aunt had a heart attack, my cousin got shot. The win was kind of surreal.”

Building upon that victory, Morrison is coming off the biggest victory of his career. He defeated UFC veteran and former Ring of Fire Champion Alvin Robinson by TKO in the opening round.

“I felt real confident going into this fight, and I knew in my heart I could beat him,” says Morrison. “When I landed the first leg kick on him I could see it in his eyes, I broke his will right there.”

Morrison has made many sacrifices in his life and continues to do so as he pursues his career. It pains him to be away from his daughter and wife, but he understands the commitment he must make.

“I want my family and teammates to know I appreciate them putting up with everything while I chase this dream. I want to thank Kru and all of you for everything you guys have done to keep this opportunity alive for me. I hope to make everyone proud.”

Daniel Madrid

Daniel Madrid is one of the best middleweight prospects in mixed martial arts. The Gracie Barra Phoenix fighter maintains a great work ethic and is constantly improving his game. A jiu-jitsu purple belt under Marc Zee, Madrid is ready to take things to the next level.

Madrid describes himself as “an unorthodox fighter. I use angles and switch stances often. I will stand-up with anyone or go to the ground with anyone. I train to be an all-around fighter, not just one dimensional.”

Looking up to fighters such Bas Rutten, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, and Kazushi Sakuraba, Madrid’s interest in MMA began at an early age.

“I remember a time when I was 14 years old, I went over to a friend’s house to hang out. His older brother was really big in the fighting scene and was watching some Pancrase, and that’s when I got to see Bas Rutten fight for the first time. I knew I was hooked. I started learning jiu-jitsu the next year.”

Every fighter waits for his chance to compete at the next level. When the opportunity presented itself, Madrid made the best of it. He accepted a short notice fight against Daijiro Matsui at Art of War Fighting Championship 14 in China, taking full advantage.

Daijiro Matsui is one of the toughest veterans in MMA. He has faced a who’s who list of superstars and has a very deceiving record. In their fight, Madrid submitted Matsui into unconsciousness with a slick reverse triangle choke. Finishing a fighter such as Matsui isn’t an easy feat; not even a prime Wanderlei Silva could finish Matsui.

“I didn’t see it ending the way it did at all. I thought my hands were going to be my key to success via knockout, but that’s mixed martial arts at its finest for you,” says the Phoenix, Arizona, resident.

“You have to expect the unexpected in fights and have great cornermen who can see the unexpected when you can’t. Luckily for me, I have a great camp that gave me all the tools to achieve this victory.”

Being a full-time fighter is not easy. Despite a difficult road ahead, Madrid continues to remain positive and attributes much of his success to the support of his family and friends.

“My greatest achievement in life is knowing that I make my family proud for having a dream and continuing to pursue it. Without my family behind me, I don’t think that I could have come this far in my life,” says Madrid. “Stay strong and have an undying desire to pursue your dreams no matter what obsta
cle stands in your way, and don’t leave any regrets in the back of your mind that may hinder you later in life.”

Daniel Madrid lives by those words. Behind this well-rounded middleweight fighter lies a humble man on the verge of making it to the next level. The realization of a dream is his driving force.


Utter the name Leonard Garcia to die hard MMA fans, and they will likely smile before launching into a verbal tornado of praise and admiration that parallels the very fighting style of Garcia himself.


Whether it’s a fan-pleasing brawl against Roger Huerta in the UFC or battles with the likes of Jens Pulver, Mike Brown, or “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung in the WEC, Garcia embodies a gameness that silently states his willingness to fight to the death every time that trademark smile creeps across his face following a blow from his adversary.


Maybe it’s just the way he’s wired, or maybe he’s been taught to love chaotic clashes. Then again, maybe it’s because Garcia is a man who has had to literally fight for his own physical survival, well before MMA was even a twinkle in his eye.


“I loved football growing up, I loved it,” Garcia says. “I walked-onto the football team in college and barely squeaked by in the tryouts to make the team. I became friends with the other players, and we’d go out on the weekends together.”


Unbeknownst to Garcia, such success and new found friendship would inadvertently lead him into a scuffle that would change—and threaten to claim—his very life.


“One night me, a girl, and some teammates were at a taco stand.The other players decided to cut out early, but I stuck around to eat,”he says. “After I went to the counter and got my nachos, I was going to my seat and this guy was standing right in my way.”


Leonard sidestepped the man, giving him room to pass, but instead,the man pawed at Garcia’s nachos and stuffed some of them into his mouth. Resisting the immediate urge to throw down, Garcia questioned the man, who responded by reaching for seconds.


“I dropped my tray and blasted the guy right in the face and dropped him,” Garcia says. “The management saw everything, so they just kicked the guy out and didn’t call the cops on me.” Although the avoidance of law enforcement seemed to be a blessing in the moment, time would show it to be more of a curse in disguise.


When Garcia left the building, that same man was sitting on the hood of a car.


“The driver asked me, ‘Did you hit my brother?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, dude, he ate my nachos.’ So the driver got out and said, ‘Why don’t we go back here and fight then?’ I shrugged my shoulders and said, ‘Ok.’” Garcia was untrained at the time, but his scrappy Mexican spirit seemed to be helping him along just fine as the two men went at it.


“We were fighting from a clinch and we were wailing on eachother when I felt a hard pain in my back, like someone boot-kicked me in the spine. I kept fighting, but then I felt it again,” Garcia recalls. When Garcia looked over his shoulder, expecting to see the nacho stealing brother feeding him cheap shots, he spied nothing but empty air. Garcia secured a crude body lock on his foe, and forced him backward and onto the ground, knocking him out as the man’s head hit the asphalt. It was only then that Garcia realized something wasn’t right. He stood up and couldn’t uncock his left arm. Then he heard what he now describes as the sound of running water. At his feet, he noticed blood pooling on the ground.


Garcia had been stabbed eight times.


When his female companion came around the building and began screaming, Garcia noticed the knife sticking out of his left shoulder. He nearly died that night, the holes in his back, chest, and sides oozing what blood wasn’t filling his collapsed lungs. His recovery took months and it essentially involved learning to breathe again, using a machine that gave him resistance to inhale and exhale. As the weeks passed Garcia by, so did the spot on the football team that he had narrowly secured during tryouts. After rehabilitation, Garcia struggled with direction in his life, as he considered dropping out of school. Football had been the only reason he’d pursued college.


“That’s when I met Clay Pittman, a Machado BJJ black belt and a teacher at the school I was attending,” Garcia says. Pittman had heard of Garcia’s competitive spirit through the grapevine, and he soon enticed Garcia into stopping by for a free lesson in BJJ. “He told me that he had some 14-year-olds that could give me a run for my money in a fight,” Garcia says. “Obviously, I wasn’t buying it.” With his curiosity piqued, Garcia went to the school, donned the kempo gloves and shin pads that Pittman handed him, and listened as Pittman brazenly stated that the kid would put Garcia on the ground and make him give up. When Garcia asked how the kid planned on making him give up, Pittman simply shrugged and invited Garcia to find out. Rear-naked chokes, armbars, and triangles awaited Garcia on the ground, and from that moment, he was hooked. But his journey was only still beginning.


Soon, Garcia found himself in attendance at a local MMA show, where a promoter—desperate for a fill-in on the card—combed the crowd for a suitable replacement. Arriving at Garcia, the promoter assured him that he was the perfect size for his would-be opponent. With little more than one month of training under his white belt, Garcia made the jump into MMA.


“I beat the guy up very quickly,” Garcia says. “I caught him with a big left hook and tried to follow up with an uppercut, but he fell right into a guillotine and I got him. They were really impressed because apparently he was this guy who was supposed to come in and mess shit up, but I beat him.” For his efforts, the promoter handed Garcia a check for $300. The wheels in his head began turning—he once again had an athletic purpose in life, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.


The road taken by some fighters is as straight as their punches, but others do things a bit differently. For Garcia, it took gridiron dreams being sliced to ribbons in a flash of steel, a long and torturous recovery, and a chance taken on a fledgling sport to find out what he was put on this earth to do. And as the smile on his face always shows, Leonard Garcia couldn’t be happier about it.


KEY VICTORIES: Anthony Njokuani, Mike Lullo, Marcelo Guidici
WEIGHT CLASS: 155 lbs.
AGE: 25

An MMA fight doesn’t often end as a direct result of leg kicks to the body. However, that’s exactly what happened when Edson Barboza, Jr. was granted his big chance at UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida. Showing a solid mix of striking and grappling in the opening round, Barboza began using leg kicks in the second stanza to chop away at opponent Mike Lullo, who was also making his UFC debut. Barboza continued his assault in round three, delivering a series of crushing low kicks to Lullo’s thighs that sent him crashing to the canvas a mere 26 seconds into the round. Lullo was down for good, and the fight was mercifully ended.

For anyone that knows Barboza’s Muay Thai background, the power he displayed in his UFC debut was not surprising. Barboza won 25 of his 28 Muay Thai fights in Brazil, with 22 of those victories via (T)KO. However, after a successful Muay Thai campaign, Barboza realized that his career would be better served by a move to mixed martial arts, and, in turn, a move to the United States. He landed at The Armory in Jupiter, Fla., which is also the home of fellow UFC fighter Luiz Cane.

The move to The Armory proved to be a great choice for Barboza. Instead of solely relying on his Muay Thai expertise, The Armory has helped Barboza round out his already considerable grappling prowess. He currently holds a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Although he’s only been active in MMA for about two years, Barboza is quickly making waves.

He tore through his first five opponents (four KO wins, one submission) to line up a title shot against Marcelo Guidici in Ring of Combat, the premier regional promotion in the Northeast. Like he would later do to Lullo at UFC 123, Barboza buzz-sawed Guidici, cutting his legs out from under him for a TKO stoppage just three minutes into the fight. He became the Ring of Combat Lightweight Champion and earned a birth into the UFC before he could even defend the belt.

After chopping down Lullo, Barboza was called back to action against fellow striker Anthony Njokuani. The two were expected to throw down some heavy blows at UFC 128 in March, and they didn’t disappoint. While both men got their shots in, Barboza’s style was cleaner, and he landed several punches that wobbled Njokuani. In the end, neither fighter could put the other away, but Barboza proved he belonged in the big leagues, earning a 29-28 decision on all three scorecards and upping his record to an unblemished 8-0.

Barboza is scheduled to face Takanori Gomi at UFC: Rio on Aug. 27 in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. If Barboza hopes to remain undefeated, he will need to avoid the KO power of the former Pride Lightweight Champion.

WEIGHT CLASS: 185 lbs.
AGE: 27
COUNTRY: United States
NICKNAME: The Predator

With his ferocious fighting style and flowing dreads, it’s easy to see why Ohio’s Brian Rogers is nicknamed “The Predator.” The middleweight made everyone in attendance at Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson take notice as he blasted through opponent Ian Rammel before donning his Predator mask to celebrate with the hometown crowd.

A former linebacker from North Canton, Ohio, Rogers is a fighter that everyone pays attention to, either because of his fighting style or the way he talks. The 27-year-old knows exactly what he wants to do in the sport of MMA, and he’s ready to conquer those goals. Rogers has spent much of his early career working out of Ohio-based promotions, but he made his Strikeforce debut in March and hopes to build on that momentum. He’s had a taste of The Ultimate Fighter tryouts a couple of times, but that unfortunately hasn’t materialized.

“I’ve been close to being on TUF a few times,” says Rogers. “I think I’m good enough to compete with any of the middleweights that have been on that show. Believe it or not, people tell me that I’m one of the most exciting fighters around, but every time I go to the TUF auditions, I get told I’m too boring. I think it’s because I say a lot of complete sentences, like I’m not dumb enough for it or something.”

Rogers may not have to go the TUF route after his arrival in Strikeforce. From the splashy tuxedo shorts he wore at the weighins to his vicious TKO win at the show, Rogers is a fighter and a showman. He understands how the game of MMA works, and he’s happy to show off when it’s necessary.

Growing up a karate practitioner, Rogers moved to football and other sports before becoming bored. His competitive nature led him to MMA. Now, Rogers feels he is ready to make the jump to the next level. Training out of the Strong Style Fight Team in Ohio, Rogers isn’t looking to get lost in the mix of a bigger camp, and he has no plans of leaving his home state. As a matter of fact, he’s so confident in the team he has in Ohio that he’s put an open challenge down to any other Midwestern team that wants to face off with his guys.

“I’m not one to call anybody out, but I’ve always just wanted to be the best middleweight in Ohio, and then be the best middleweight in the Midwest, and then get on the national scene,” says Rogers. “I feel like I’m on the verge of doing that.”

RECORD: 8-1-1
WEIGHT CLASS: 135 lbs.
AGE: 29
COUNTRY: United States

When 145-pound Brandon Garner started fighting professionally in 2005, there weren’t a lot of options for a guy his size, other than stepping up to take fights at 155 pounds or above. World Extreme Cage fighting forever changed that when they began featuring lighter weight classes, and the UFC blasted the door wide open when it absorbed the WEC in 2010, adding featherweights (145 lbs.) and bantamweights (135 lbs.) to its roster.

Even though Garner hasn’t fought for the WEC or UFC, the acceptance of lighter weight classes has opened doors in other promotions, leaving him able to fight at his natural weight. With an overall record of 8-1-1, Garner debuted at 155 pounds. Although he lost his first professional bout to Mike Boyd, Garner went on to defeat UFC veteran Jason Dent, and he then avenged the loss to Boyd before dropping down to 145 pounds.

An accomplished grappler and brown belt under Royce Gracie, Garner isn’t afraid to unleash his hands, either. That’s not too surprising when you find out that he is also an Army Combatives instructor in hand-to-hand combat. In fact, he has been Strikeforce veteran Tim Kennedy’s wrestling coach for the past few years.

Though five of his victories have come by way of submission, Garner has spiced things up by knocking out his last two opponents. With his skills rounding out and his record blossoming with four straight victories following his draw with Ardak Nazarov, don’t be surprised if you see Brandon Garner on your radar sooner rather than later.


From reality-show renegade to bona-fide fighter, Matt Mitrione is making a name for himself.

“I’m really interested in this fight,” says Matt Mitrione about his upcoming heavyweight throw-down with Cheick Kongo at UFC 137. The ever-improving fighter with a 5-0 record in the UFC addresses each of his fights as a classroom test rather than a bloody brawl. “Maybe I get away with screwing up because other guys haven’t been as good as Kongo. Or maybe I make the same mistakes, and he makes a highlight reel out of me. At least I’ll know if I’m legit or not.”

For better or worse, everything about Matt Mitrione has to do with testing himself to see where he stands amongst the rest. Before he became the polarizing personality on The Ultimate Fighter, before his stint in the NFL, and before being an All-Big Ten defensive tackle for the Purdue Boilermakers, the fighter affectionately known as “Meathead” had always gone the uphill route to success. It’s never the easiest path, but it’s most certainly the Meathead path.

“I was a complete fuck-off in high school,” says the 33-year-old about his younger years. “My GPA was a 1.42, and I did nothing academically.” Despite being an All-American two-position football player at Sacred Heart Griffin High School in Springfield, Ill., Mitrione’s grades prevented him from qualifying for a scholarship. So what did he do? “I really had to humble myself,” he says. “I went from a Catholic school to a public school, sat out a year of football, got my GPA back up, and made my way into college. That’s a lot of mental determination when you’re 17 years old.”

Once he made it onto the Purdue football team, he appeared destined for a career in the NFL. However, an injury during his senior season left him an undrafted free agent who had to scratch his way onto an NFL team. Short tenures with the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings may have been fulfilling to some, but Mitrione wasn’t satisfied.

After coming to grips with the notion that a career in football would be short lived, Mitrione decided to go back and give his first love a try. As a teenager, Mitrione had been infatuated with mixed martial arts. Aside from playing football, he also practiced Shotokan karate and competed in a kickboxing competition before heading off to Purdue. However, due to his scholarship obligations, combat sports were strictly prohibited. Here was a guy who hadn’t participated in combat sports since high school, seeking to make a career as a mixed martial artist. Again, the Meathead way came into play.

As his NFL career wound down, Mitrione sought out Purdue wrestling coach and former Dream and Pride FC fighter Tom Erikson to see where he was as a mixed martial artist. “I told Tom that I was thinking about fighting, and I needed to see where I was at with wrestling,” says Mitrione. “I knew he was a great wrestler, but I didn’t know the caliber of how good he really was—he just kicked the shit out of me. I realized that I wasn’t prepared to fight at all.”


Undeterred, Mitrione arrived at the Integrated Fighting Academy in Indianapolis, Ind., as a raw talent who desperately needed to add some dimension to his skill set if he was ever going to make it in MMA. That’s where he met his inspiration and mentor in the form of now-retired welterweight Chris Lytle.

“I respect Chris a lot,” he says about Lytle, who helped transfer his gridiron grittiness to the cage. “He’s always a professional and always down to fight no matter what. When he goes out to scrap, he goes to earn his money. I was raised to really respect hard work and leadership and that’s exactly what Chris represents.”

He then caught wind from his good friend—Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth, who owns the Illinois MMA promotion Capital City Cage Wars—that The Ultimate Fighter was looking for heavyweights and all he had to do was submit a video to be considered. Despite being greener than fresh grass, Mitrione decided
to give TUF a shot.

“The producers of TUF had heard that I was kind of weird but a potential talent,” Mitrione says. “They asked me to send over a video, and I did. It’s pretty hysterical. They thought I was funny and apparently somewhat abrasive, so they brought me in for an interview and realized that I was too much of a dickhead to pass up.”

With nothing but a few months of MMA training to rely on, Mitrione entered the house alongside bigger names, including street fighting legend Kimbo Slice and former IFL Heavyweight Champion Roy Nelson. But these names and faces meant nothing to Meathead—all he saw was a bunch of guys who needed their asses kicked.

“Maybe it’s my ignorance, but I figured that my hands and feet would carry me as far as they could. I thought I had a chance to win it,” Mitrione says. “I had no idea who Roy Nelson was. I introduced myself to him, and when I asked him who he was, I think he was kind of surprised that I didn’t know anything about him. Everyone else was just a face.”

Mitrione would ultimately lose to James McSweeney in the quarterfinals, but his controversial demeanor also made him one of the standouts on the show. Because of his polarizing persona, Meathead became a despised but mustsee personality. His interactions with everyone from Rashad Evans to Scott Junk painted Meathead as an aloof jerk who really didn’t take the competition seriously.

“There was definitely some creative editing,” he says when talking about how he was framed on the show. “A lot of those antics were just me entertaining myself and my way to keep my sanity.”

But the idea that he wasn’t taking mixed martial arts seriously was immediately put to rest. Under the tutelage of Lytle, Mitrione roared out of the gates and squashed the naysayers with one impressive performance after another.

In his first official pro fight, most expected the monstrous figure of Marcus Jones to take out Mitrione at the TUF finale. Those who did were treated to a highlight-reel, second-round knockout by the ex-football player. Some anticipated that Kimbo Slice would flatten him in his second fight. Wrong again. This time the 6’3” heavyweight chopped down Kimbo with brutal leg kicks before scoring another second round stoppage. A unanimous-decision victory over Joey Beltran and annihilations of both Tim Hague and Christian Morecraft finally proved that Matt Mitrione was for real. But despite the victories, Mitrione doesn’t see what the big deal is.

“I’m flattered that people say that I’ve improved so much, but I feel that I have so much to learn, and I really don’t see this growth yet,” he says. With the heavyweight division in the process of being shaken out, fans are looking for new blood to step in and contend for the title. With his upcoming test against devastating striker Cheick Kongo, Meathead will figure out where he falls in the heavyweight hierarchy.

Life has been nothing but a series of tests for Matt Mitrione. From the gridiron to the Octagon and everything in between, he has managed to pass all of his challenges the only way he knows how—the Meathead way. Things won’t be any different on October 29. “I know that I’ve been through so much athletically and emotionally in my life that I can handle anything that comes my way,” he says, “especially if it’s just one person trying to kick my ass.”

Maybe it’s my ignorance, but I figured that my hands and feet would carry me as far as they could. I thought I had a chance to win it.”