Quick Hits

Quick Hits

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Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante is a Brazilian-born fi ghter who is known for his excellent stand up, as well as his solid Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game. Cavalcante trains out of American Top Team in Florida with teammates like Thiago Alves, Thiago Silva, and Jorge Santiago. The 25-year-old has compiled a MMA record of 14-2-1 and is considered one of the top 10 lightweights in the world. After starting his career in various promotions like HOOKnSHOOT, Shooto, and Cage Rage, he had made his home in the K-1 Heroes shows in Japan. Prior to his debut in K-1, “JZ” had already won seven of his fi rst nine fi ghts, with his only loss coming to Joachim Hansen, as well as a draw with Ryan Schultz.

Making his debut in K-1 in May 2006, Cavalcante defeated Hidetaka Monma by TKO in the fi rst round. Barely breaking a sweat in his next fi ght against Hiroyuki Takaya, “JZ” knocked out the Japanese fi ghter in 30 seconds with a fl ying knee. Winning his next fi ght by majority decision against Caol Uno, a popular MMA veteran in Japan, earned him more notoriety with the fans. In his next two fi ghts, he would submit Rani Yahya and defeat Nam Phan with strikes. His next bout was supposed to be his toughest as he would take on another top talent in Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro. Ribeiro at the time was 14-1, with his sole loss coming to Tatsuya Kawajiri. That fi ght took no time at all, as Cavalcante fl oored Ribeiro with strikes just 35 seconds into the fi ght. After that fi ght, Cavalcante was highly regarded to be one of the future champions in the lightweight division.

After a submission victory over Andre Amade, Cavalcante moved to the Dream promotion in Japan. He was immediately entered into its lightweight grand prix and was matched up with rubber guard expert Shinya Aoki. Aoki had been making waves with the MMA fans after submitting Joachim Hansen with a gogoplata at Pride Shockwave 2006. The fi ght started out with Cavalcante being the aggressor, knocking Aoki down a few times, but not looking to get into his guard. However, after getting a punch through, and barely missing a high kick, Aoki was able to grab onto Cavalcante’s legs. “JZ” pounded on Aoki’s back and ended up striking the back of Aoki’s neck accidentally. Aoki was in pain and was not able to continue. The fi ght was ruled a no contest. They would rematch a month and a half later. Their second fi ght was a completely different from their fi rst encounter. Aoki threw multiple submission attempts, including a close armbar, but the Brazilian worked out of it. Unfortunately for “JZ,” he ended up dropping the unanimous decision.

Since the Aoki fi ght, there hasn’t been any word on when and where Cavalcante’s next fi ght will take place. One thing is for sure, though; you don’t want to miss it.

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WE’RE NOT DOCTORS, WE JUST PLAY ONE ON TV.

COMING TO GRIPS WITH IT

Want to increase your forearm and grip strength like Sam “Hands of Stone” Stout? Grab a rope and start climbing. You can also work your shoulders, back, arms, and core by doing timed-hangs, weighted rope climbing, hanging leg raises, and pull-ups.

I.P. FREELY

If you’ve ever had a jagged piece of calcified awfulness blocking your urethra, you know that kidney stones are no joke. The good news is that consuming a beer a day is suspected of helping lower your risk of developing kidney stones by flushing your kidneys and preventing the masses from forming. Protecting your pee hole should be a priority, so check out page 76 for more hops haps.

SHIN GUARDING

If shin splints are keeping you down, ditch the treadmill and hit the trails. Running on grass is much better for your shins than pounding the pavement or treadmills.

HEAR & NOW

Recent research suggests that one in four teens is in danger of suffering early hearing loss as a direct result of continuous exposure to loud music from iPods and MP3 players. Turn your tunes down or you’ll be paying for it sooner than you think.

SOUND AS A POUND

32

The number of pounds that Chris Weidman cut in 10 days to make the 185-pound middleweight limit for his short-notice fight against Demian Maia at UFC on Fox 2.

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The number of pounds that UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar typically cuts before making his 155-pound lightweight limit. Edgar walks around at 157 lbs. during his training camps and naturally loses the weight.

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Arkansas native Rachel Wray is a natural beauty from The Natural State, but don’t let her charming Southern demeanor fool you. The 23-year-old former NFL cheerleader recently traded in her pompoms for four-ounce gloves, proving she’s more at home in the cage than on the sidelines.

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Fighting in the cage is a long way from cheerleading for the Kansas City Chiefs. Do you miss your pompoms?

Sometimes—every now and then. If I hear a good song, I miss the dancing. However, I can’t explain in words how much I love fighting. I truly love it.

Do you ever find yourself doing spirit fingers after throwing a good combo?

Yeah [laughing]. After my fights, you can see I bounce up and down like a cheerleader. You can’t take the cheerleader out of the fighter.

You’re now 2-1 as an amateur fighter. What was losing your first fight like in March?

It was a really positive experience. Obviously, I wish I would have won, but it was a huge honor to fight for the title. It came down to a very close decision. It’s not like I got knocked out or submitted. It was an amazing, bloody battle for three rounds. No clinching. No ground fighting. The crowd was so loud I couldn’t even hear my corner. I didn’t even feel like I lost. I like that I was in an actual dogfight for the first time. After that fight, I’m ready for anything. It was very positive.

What do you need to work on the most?

Definitely my wrestling and takedowns. I’m really comfortable on my feet. I love to stand and box. I’m comfortable on the ground, but not as confident in my takedowns.

image descHow did you get into fighting?

I had no background whatsoever. I was a cheerleader and a dancer all my life. I danced and cheered in college at the University of Arkansas, and then I became a cheerleader for the Chiefs after I graduated. In Kansas City, we got a free gym membership to Title Boxing Club, and I fell in love with boxing. I was doing the boxing workouts twice a day. I couldn’t get enough. I started working with a trainer. Boxing became my life. Then, I started seeing fighters next door at HD MMA—that’s LC Davis and Jason High’s gym. I walked in one day and tried kickboxing. Then I became a member. I was living two different lives—cheerleading during the day and fighting at night. When cheerleading auditions came up for the Chiefs again, I decided to fight instead. I had my first fight six months later. Cheerleading led me to fighting.

What did your parents say when you told them about it?

They are pretty conservative, so I kept it to myself for a while because I wasn’t sure I could do it. Eventually, I let them watch me hit mitts…then spar…then grapple. They finally put it all together and have been very supportive.

Forget the stupid Rachel Ray cooking jokes. What’s your fighting nickname?

Thank goodness. I get that way too much [laughing]. So far, everyone’s calling me “The Cheerleader.”

How about Rachel “Death” Wray?

Uhhhhh, I guess I could use my last name to make it clever. But my opponents always call me “The Cheerleader” when they are talking trash. But I’m proud of the nickname. I own it.

Do you cut much weight?

I walk around at 136 pounds. I’ve fought at 120 pounds, and my last fight was at 115 pounds. That was a major cut.

I guess weight cutting was a new concept for you?
As you can see this is how playing poker online works if you are playing poker in a poker room such as this or BlackChip Poker
Yes, but LC Davis and Jason High—they know how to cut weight—walked me through every step.

When’s your next fight?

I’m trying to line up something in June. In the meantime, I’m going to enter a grappling tourney.

How long until you go pro?

I don’t have a set number of fights, but I’m thinking eight or so. I do a lot of work, so getting paid would be nice, but I still have a lot of work to do. I’ll turn pro when I feel like I’m ready.

Who’s your favorite fighter?

Ronda Rousey. I’m a huge fan. I love all the female fighters—Miesha Tate, Cat Zingano, Cyborg. I pay way more attention to women’s MMA than I do the men’s.

Do you miss cheerleading at all?

No, just the girls. The Chiefs had an amazing group of genuine girls. I still talk to them. They’ll be my bridesmaids one day.

Are you getting married soon?

No, no. It’s hard to find boys when you practice every night.

Are guys intimidated that you fight?

No, I think they are more intrigued by it. Fighting is fun.

image descWas the photo shoot a refreshing reminder that you don’t always have to get punched to have fun?

The shoot in Atlanta was really fun—cute little outfits, old cars. I hadn’t been to Atlanta since my college cheerleading days, so I took my mom with me and we went shopping and ate at some good restaurants. I love the city. You can’t beat Southern hospitality.

What do you do with yourself when you’re not training?

I like the outdoors. I go to my family cabin, four-wheeling, shooting guns. I have two Berettas—a .22 and a .32—both with laser grips. They’re awesome. I like to shoot, and carry it around just in case.

In case of what?

You never know.

Speed Round time. What’s your Favorite movie?

Gone With the Wind.

On a hotdog, ketchup or mustard?

Ketchup, but I can’t eat hotdogs. They aren’t on my diet.

What Pandora station are you listening to right now?

Kid Rock.

Best physical feature?

My butt, which everyone is looking at now. I hope my parents don’t have heart attacks.

Did Bobby Petrino ever give you a motorcycle ride at Arkansas?

No [laughing]. No he didn’t. I would always pass him at the field house after cheer practice, and he would always say “Hi.” But no, no motorcycle rides for me.

Why are manhole covers round?

Huh, what’s a manhole cover [laughing]? I don’t know.

Would you rather be knocked out or choked unconscious?

Choked out, for sure. It feels good when you wake up. The first time, I thought I’d been out for hours. I was like, “Whoa, this feels good.”

Here’s to waking up feeling good.

Cheers to that.

Follow Rachel on Twitter and Instagram: @cheerleadermma and cheerleadermma

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// Photos by Paul Thatcher
// Makeup, Hair, and Wardrobe by MARAZ

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image descYou’ve been through some madness this past year, but now you’re back in action. How is life for Eddie Alvarez?
My life very much consists of family and training. Being here in Florida makes everything organized and simple. Honestly man, I miss Philadelphia. I miss my friends, family, and the people in Philadelphia, but I couldn’t be happier with the lifestyle change. I get to wake up every day, take the kids to school, and head off to training. We get done around 1 p.m., pick the kids up, do homework, hang out at the pool or the beach, and go back to training again at night.

I bet you don’t miss those Philly winters.
Oh man, those are fun. When it snows, my kids and I used to go out and play in it. We’d go out and have a snowball fight or build an igloo, but when it’s just cold, it’s awful. It’s hard to get to get up for training and get excited.

You’re a member of the Blackzilians. Being that you are neither black nor Brazilian, did you have to go through some initiation process?
No [laughing], it’s more of an expression that everyone from everywhere is welcome. At the beginning, there were black and Brazilian fighters, and it was their way of coming together and saying we are all one. For me, that’s what it says. Everyone that is in there is one unit, and we all work together.

You fight at lightweight, but the past two places you’ve lived are known for some decadent cuisines. How do you dodge those bullets?
Honestly, a lot of it is just tunnel vision. I get in the zone, and I’m only thinking about getting lean, fast, and ready for the fight. When you have that frame of mind, it’s really simple to stay away from the bad stuff. You can see the difference in just one training session when you eat like shit versus when you eat like a lean, bad fighting machine.

You’re back in the cage on November 2. Does it feel good to have a challenge to set your sights on?
It’s funny because I’m at a point in my life where there are no ends to the means. I used to set goals, push, and then I’d achieve them. After that, I’d be like “What’s next?” I’ve begun to realize it’s a never-ending game. I have my goals. I know what I want to achieve, but for me, it’s really just about the next day. I’m really beginning to enjoy what I’m doing, and I’m in a very good place with the right people and right team behind me. I’m enjoying what I do every day.

Your upcoming bout with Michael Chandler is a rematch from your epic battle back in November 2011. In the only other rematch of your career you wrecked Shinya Aoki to avenge the loss. Does your motivation change at all in those situations?
I don’t know if the motivation changes. I’m always motivated to win and dominate my opponent. I never let my losses define me as a fighter. I never let any of my wins define me as a fighter. I think it’s important to not look too far into it. I know what I’m capable of. Unfortunately in this sport, some times you take a loss. The important thing to do is correct the mistakes you’ve made, come back stronger, and show that you are a champion. That’s what I’m going to do on November 2.

A good friend of yours, Frankie Edgar, is the “King of Rematches.” Did he give you any advice for your upcoming rematch?
Since I’ve moved to Florida, I’ve only spoken to Frankie once. He called me to tell me congratulations that I got my rematch with Chandler and talked to me a little bit. But we haven’t really gotten to talk too much. I will call him, though, and might be able to train with those guys a little bit before I go into this next fight.

I once saw Frankie wearing boat shoes in the airport. He defended them because they were Polo, but would those shoes fly in Philly?
Boat shoes. They’re like loafers. [Laughing] To each his own, man. We’ve got our own style. I don’t know how they do it in Jersey, but if that is what he’s rolling with these days, then I’m sure he’s doing it right.

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In 2006, Arianny Celeste had no idea that a simple trot around the Octagon would change her life for- ever. Now, more than six years later, the dark-haired beauty has become the cover girl for the UFC and is popularly recognized as MMA’s top ring girl.

The addition of 20-year-old Arianny was a block- buster gain for the UFC in 2006, but it also served as a career-launching opportunity for her. It came at a time when the sport was steady, but certainly not amongst the mainstream. UFC president Dana White was in the process of building a global powerhouse— one that would forever change the way we view mixed martial arts. Through it all, Arianny was able to sit cageside—fight by fight—and see MMA and the UFC become something she never thought was possible.

“I’ve seen the UFC blow up, and we’re going all over the place now,” says Arianny. “When I first started, it was just fight cards in Vegas and California. If you look at us now, we’ve gone global, and it’s expanding rapidly. For me, it was just being at the right place at the right time. I went from a casting room with 40 girls to walking around the Octagon in front of thousands of people. It’s easy to throw around the word ‘amazing,’ but that is exactly what this experience has been like for me. I’m so proud to be a part of the UFC. These people are like my family.”

Recently, Arianny’s family has expanded, as she joined Authentic Sports Management and the Blackzilian Team out of Boca Raton, Florida. With superstars Alistair Overeem, Rashad Evans, and Vitor Belfort, the addition of Arianny as a Blackzilian has been the perfect complement of beauty to the brawn.

“Everyone in the MMA world was talking about this new agency and this new team and that all the big fighters were joining it,” she says. “When I was finally ready to take on a full-time manager, that’s the first place I went. It turned out to be the best decision I could have made. I love being the first female Blackzilian. I feel like I’m the baby sister that CEO Glenn Robinson and all the guys look out for. Professionally, I feel lucky to be a Blackzilian because it means you have the best of the best when it comes to sponsorships, career management, and guidance.”

With the UFC’s recent signing of Ronda Rousey, Arianny and co-ring girl Brittney Palmer won’t be the only ladies in the Octagon anymore. The UFC’s expansion of its roster bodes well for female fighters, highlighting the evolution of the sport. It’s a good time to be a woman in the MMA industry—and Arianny has been blazing the trail for the last six years. While Arianny doesn’t plan to put on the gloves, she is thrilled for what the future holds for women’s MMA.

“It has been so exciting to watch the rise of Ronda Rousey,” says Arianny. “I think she is a great role model for young women and espe- cially for girls who aspire to be athletes. I think any woman who can break through traditional barriers—whether it is sports or business or human rights— deserves to be celebrated. In MMA, we finally have a female athlete who has done exactly that.”

As Arianny’s busy schedule continues into 2013 and her fame continues to skyrocket (she’s been on the cover of countless magazines, including Playboy and Maxim), the one constant in her life has been her love of music.

“I’ve always had a deep passion for music,” says Arianny. “My family is very musically inclined. We have singers and musicians down the lines. When I was younger, I dreamed of becoming a singer, but it has taken the back- burner the last few years. Right now, I’m getting back into it, and I’m also going on a lot of auditions for television and film. Of course, I’m still thrilled being a UFC Octagon girl.” Garrett Derr contributed to this article.

SPEED ROUND

Last concert you attended?

Guns N’ Roses in Las Vegas. It was awesome—I cried when they played ‘November Rain.’

Last good movie you saw?

Skyfall. I’d like to be a Bond Girl in a film someday. Casting?

Favorite place to travel?

Anywhere by the beach. I love Rio and Sydney.

Greatest fear?
Being alone. I think family is so important, so one day I hope to be married with kids.

Celebrity crush?

Ryan Gosling—he’s handsome, tough, and romantic. HOT.

Final thought?

My 2013 calendar is out. You can purchase it on ariannyceleste.com.

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Bellator Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler doesn’t walk in the counsel of his doubters—he knocks them down.

Mike Chandler has two tattoos, which is a relatively small number for a championship fighter in mixed martial arts—a world stacked with bodies etched in green and black ink often swirling with conflicting emotions and ideas. Chandler is only 24 years old, but the consistency and simplicity of his messages are brief, clear, and strong. His faith—absent the salty sermon of a proselytizing preacher—gives him direction and strength.

“Blessed,” reads the cursive green-inked tattoo above his left pectoral. On the right side of his 185-pound frame, which he cuts to 155 pounds for fights, reads Isaiah 45:17: “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment, you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me, Says the LORD.”

Chandler is accustomed to converting his MMA doubters.

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In 2004, the University of Missouri wrestling team was improving, and high school senior Mike Chandler wanted to be a part of their success. He finished second in the state his senior season and where other wrestlers were given scholarships, Chandler was asked by head Mizzou wrestling coach Brian Smith to walk-on his emergent program. No scholarships, no expectations—another body in the room for others to sharpen themselves upon.

Chandler v AlvarezSmith was in the midst of leading arguably the largest turnaround in Mizzou athletics history, and to do so, he recruited some of the best wrestling talent in the country, producing a Tigers’ lineup that at one time consisted of two-time National Champion Ben Askren, two-time All-American Raymond Jordan, and two-time All-American Matt Pell.

How’s that for middleweight shark bait? No matter where he landed in live groups during practice, Chandler was guaranteed to be the guppy chum.

“That team was special, all those guys knew what it was like to win, and I wanted to be just like that, I wanted to learn how to win,” says Chandler. “I watched them, I worked out with them, and I just made sure I learned everything I could about wrestling.”

Chandler won his spot in the starting lineup in his first year and every year afterwards, earning a bid to the NCAA tournament four times and placing fifth in the country as a senior in 2009. Success didn’t come without sacrifice. While others partied, Chandler spent his time between workouts under the guidance and friendship of his roommate Raymond Jordan (currently ranked second on the Olympic
ladder at 84kg).

“I don’t think I had a drop of alcohol until I was 21 years old,” he says. “I knew that I needed to work harder than other guys, and I didn’t need the distractions.”

Wrestling ended for Chandler in 2009, but he entered his next endeavor much the same way he began wrestling as a youth—a runt determined to lay claim to a title. Unfortunately for his future opponents, Chandler had practice rising to the competition.

Chandler didn’t remake himself when transitioning to MMA, he continued along the same projection, dictating his journey to the top with unparalleled commitment. After hanging around the Mizzou wrestling team for a season as the volunteer assistant coach and training sporadically at gyms across the country with former teammate and current undefeated Strikeforce standout Tyron Woodley, Chandler decided to commit completely to the goal of becoming the best lightweight in the world.

“I couldn’t hop around anymore,” says Chandler. “I needed coaches to correct me every day. I needed to train for fighting like I did wrestling—wake up, train, eat, train, sleep. I moved to Las Vegas, bought a house, and made Xtreme Couture my home. I made a commitment to myself.”

He immediately went to work on the areas that he needed to improve, namely his non-existent striking game. “It felt like an unnatural motion to throw a punch, but I had basics when I got to Vegas, and then I met Gil.”

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Striking coach Gil Martinez has taken Chandler’s natural aggressiveness and crafted a unique style that moves the thick-chested fighter around the cage. “I want him to be himself in the cage, I want him to outwork his opponent, exhaust him, and eventually knock his ass out,” says Martinez.

The other important key to Chandler’s 18 months at Xtreme Couture has been learning to submit opponents. As a lifelong wrestler, the idea of pulling guard or playing from his back was antithetical, a submission to another man’s aggressiveness that would impede his progress.

“We taught him how to defend,” says Martinez in reference to the knee-bar submission Chandler defended in the Bellator quarterfinals against BJJ brown belt Marcin Held. “That guy is a submission expert, and we submitted him.” Chandler finished the Polish native in the second round via arm triangle.

“That’s Chandler, he doesn’t just want to win, he wants to beat a guy at what they’re good at, he wants to take it from them on their home turf,” says Martinez.

In November, the scouting report for Bellator Lighweight Champion Eddie Alvarez—who was mentioned as one of the top three lightweights in the world—was that he had quick, heavy hands that were bolstered by a wrestling pedigree capable of avoiding and landing takedowns.

“Chandler was all over that tape,” says Martinez. “We had a gameplan for Eddie. Pressure him, pressure him, pressure him—don’t give him an inch. Where everyone else had screwed up was playing defense, which is what Eddie wanted.”

Chandler was the underdog heading into the fight. Most pundits saw him as an opponent with a bright future, but who had too soon run into the buzzsaw of Alvarez. As the media minds melted in the glow of Alvarez’s strengths, Chandler became more focused.

“I knew that I could beat him, no matter what anyone was saying,” says Chandler. “I really knew that he couldn’t handle my gameplan.”

By now you know the result—the crashing of fists to skulls, the flash knockouts, and the dramatic swings in momentum. What was missing was the intangible that Chandler was feeling for the final few moments of the third period, when it looked like he might be taking a loss as a result of being pelted in the head for three minutes by the heavy hands of Alvarez.

“I kicked him and hurt my foot. When I put pressure on it, I bent down a bit and got a face full of knee. That stung me,” says Chandler. From there, he received his three-minute lashing to end the third period. “It was the best thing that could’ve happened to me because now I know I can take a beating, and fans know I can take a beating. They know that I’m here to fight.”

Chandler doesn’t just appreciate his survival skills from a distance, he saw it as the power to penetrate the fighting spirit of his opponent when the start of the fourth round began. Chandler saw a man he knew that he would defeat. Chandler smelled blood and went in for the kill.

“He was already kinda going through the motions, but when I got on top of him and started unleashing, he defended it differently,” he says. “Then he rolled over to his stomach, and it was over. I knew it was over.”

Chandler’s submission was almost misleading in the stat line, because it was his attack of Alvarez from the inside that had won the fight.

The next step for Chandler is watching the Bellator Lightweight Tournament for which Chandler has confidence that Bjorn Rebney, CEO of Bellator, will have new and exciting opponents. In the meantime, Chandler has decided to take time to
heal from his battle with Alvarez and spend his free moments with family. He wants to inspire others by telling them his story of overcoming doubt to become a champion.

“My goal is to be known as the best lightweight in the world,” says Chandler. “I’ll keep working hard to get there, but I also have goals of reaching people outside the cage.”

Chandler’s story to listeners would combine the doctrines tattooed to his chest with his belief in hard work as a determinate of future success. With a lightweight title and an undefeated record, he has substantial reason to believe it’s a reason for success.

“I’m not the biggest name yet, but I want to use whatever I can to give back,” says Chandler. “I know I’ve truly been blessed.”

“when I got on top of him and started unleashing, he defended it differently — then he rolled over to his stomach and it was over. I knew it was over.”

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BRINGING COUNTRIES TOGETHER, ONE BEATING AT A TIME.

SUPER DUPER

Super Fight League—India’s first MMA organization—is headed to Chandigarh, India, on April 7 for SFL 2. Headlining the card will be a motley crew of talent, including Todd Duffee vs. Neil Grove, Paul Kelly vs. Gabe Ruediger, and Alexander Schlemenko vs. Ikuhisa Minowa. Check out superfightleague.com for more info.

CASINO BATTLE ROYALE

Bellator 67 is headed to Casino Rama in Ontario, Canada, on May 4. Bellator’s fourth event north of the border will be broadcast live on MTV2 and in commercial-free HD on EPIX.

FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS

Former NHL enforcer Steve “The Boss” Bosse is set to square off with Renato “Babalu” Sobral at Instinct 4 in Montreal, Canada, on May 5. Bosse, who trains under Firas Zahabi at the Tristar Gym, hasn’t fought since sustaining a broken hand in his highlight-reel KO of Houston Alexander in October. In addition, Phil Baroni is buzzed to be scrapping with Martin Grandmont in a welterweight tilt.

LONDON CALLING

For members of the U.S. Greco-Roman and Freestyle Wrestling Teams, the road to London, England, for the 2012 Olympics goes through Iowa City, Iowa, on April 21–22. Bellator featherweight Joe Warren will vie for a spot on his first Greco-Roman Olympic Team at 132.25 lbs. Warren—a favorite to win the 2008 Olympics—was forced to serve a two-year suspension for testing positive for THC in 2007.

MAXIMUM EXPOSURE

Maximum Fighting Championship 33 is scheduled for May 4 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Nathan Coy and Ryan McGillivray will vie for the vacant MFC Welterweight Title on HDNet.

Live Action

The MMA Show Live will be held May 12–13 at The National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, England. The event is an interactive fan experience that consists of five training areas where some of the biggest names in the business—including Rashad Evans, Kenny Florian, Jake Shields, and Rory MacDonald—will host special group training seminars, Q&A sessions, and an autograph zone where fans can meet their favorite fighters. Visit themmashowlive.com for more info.

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image descDana White has spoken publicly about enjoying watching your fights. Does that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside?
Dana has been in the sport of mixed martial arts for a very long time, and he really knows the sport inside and out. If he’s happy with what I do, then that is great for me. It’s a tough business—losses and bad performances are going to happen—but if the boss enjoys your fighting style, there is some job security in that. I also like to perform well and get the win because at the end of the day I’m in the winning business.

The hat you wear during your walk to the cage and post-fight interviews has become your signature look. How did that come about?
When I first started wearing the hat, it was in tribute to my grandfather, who was a bare-knuckle boxer. He used to wear a trilby hat and braces—or what you guys in America would call suspenders. In England, suspenders are a bit different because they are women’s underwear. Some people don’t get my walkout. Some people don’t get it at all, and others get it confused with Mickey from Snatch. But I wear it as a tribute to my grand daddy. Originally, I wore the hat that belonged to him, but one of my mate’s dogs chewed it up and I had to get another one.

The UFC has made two trips to Sweden, and you’ve been on both cards. You’ve also competed numerous times in your home country of England. Are there are any noticeable differences between the crowds in the two countries.
The English crowds are a bit louder. They are very similar to American crowds in that aspect, as they are both very vocal. Swedish crowds are different in that regard, but they are very knowledgeable about the sport. They clap and applaud the ground work, which is not appreciated as much in the U.K. and America. They are different types of crowds, but both good in their own ways.

What’s the secret to having KO power as a 135-pound fighter?
To be honest, it isn’t much of a secret. It is just one of those things where you either hit hard or you don’t. You see it at heavyweight as well. Some of the fighters in that division hit very hard and others don’t. Obviously, it has a little bit to do with technique and timing, but it also comes down to genetics and your ability to be a heavy-hitter. Look at Roy Nelson. He gets in there and throws a wild bomb, and if he hits you…you are going out. I know the lighter fighters are criticized because they are not all finishers, but if you put it into context with the rest of the divisions, there are actually quite a lot of finishes. Trying not to be biased—which I completely am—when you watch a fight in the lighter weight classes, there will be knockouts and submissions, but if those don’t happen, you are guaranteed to see an exciting fight between two guys who will never gas out. On the other hand, in the heavyweight division, if the knockout or submission doesn’t happen, you are going to see two boring guys lying on top of one another. That’s why I personally prefer watching the lighter fighters compete.

As a fighter who lives in England but spends time training at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, what is your motivation for coming stateside?
I live in England, but when I get closer to a fight, I like to travel to American Top Team to train. I have been going there for quite some time, and there are a lot of great training partners at the gym. Going there also provides me the opportunity to get away from my day-to-day life and put all of my focus on the fight ahead.

It’s rumored that you have solid skills on the soccer—excuse me—futbol field. Had you not chosen a career as a professional mixed martial artist, is there any chance we would know you as Brad “One Kick” Pickett?
That was the main goal. When I was growing up, I wanted to be a futbol player. That was my thing. I love futbol so much, and if I could make the same money playing futbol, I would much rather kick around a ball for 90 minutes than get punched in the face. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sport of mixed martial arts, but futbol is something I have played my entire life. I didn’t get into MMA until I was 26 years old.

At the end of the day, which way do you go…The Beatles or The Stones?
Man…that is a tough one [laughing]. I’ve never been asked that question before. I feel I would have to take The Rolling Stones to be honest. No…scratch that. I would take The Beatles. I have to say I’m truly torn on this one. You really threw a wrench in the works with this. I’m going to say The Beatles. Or maybe The Beatles and mix in The Rolling Stones. I’m torn over this issue now.

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Hatsu Hioki’s mat destruction of American Top Team’s Chris Manuel in Sengoku’s Featherweight grand prix was vintage Hioki as much as it was an emphatic statement:

Leg trip, mount, and bring the pain. Armbar to topside triangle choke, bear down on opponent with all 143 pounds while constricting blood to the brain. And since he can, pummel him a bit before taking the arm home, forcing the tapout in less than 5 minutes. The Japanese fighter solidified his spot as the tournament’s favorite.

Hioki first ventured into mixed martial arts by placing third in amateur Shooto championships. At just 19 years old, the Nagoya-based fi ghter won his fi rst three bouts after turning professional. Then he ran into another future Japanese standout, Hirokyuki Takaya. The “Streetfi ght Bancho” landed overhand rights at will, knocking down Hioki multiple times. But the Alive team representative shook them offen route to losing his first bout.

That kind of resiliency — along with ill-fated slugfests like a draw against Bao Quach and a decision loss to Jong Man Kim — earned him the endearing unoffi cial moniker “Iron Broomstick.” At 5 feet 11 inches tall and 143 pounds, he holds wins over former WEC Featherweight title challengers Joe Pearson and Jeff Curran. He nearly submitted ADCC and Brazilian Jiu- Jitsu world champion Baret Yoshida before scoring a technical knockout. Like all Shooto standouts, he defeated Shooto legend and MMA cult icon Rumina Sato.

But perhaps his greatest accomplishments were in the only two non-Japanese bouts of his career, where he traveled to Canada and defeated TKO champion and UFC-WEC veteran Mark Hominick. In the fi rst outing, he worked “The Machine” over on the mat, fi nishing with a triangle choke. Their second bout saw Hioki beat the Shawn Tompkins pupil standing. It signaled a shift in Hioki’s game — he was no longer the fighter that hit the mat multiple times against Takaya. More importantly, he could fight a champion’s fight, lasting five 5-minute rounds.

His impressive international ledger spawned rumors Hioki was headed back to North America to fi ght for Zuffa’s WEC. Instead, the PRIDE veteran signed up for Sengoku’s Featherweight tournament.

The organization hopes to fill the void left by PRIDE’s departure. Its approach is a sporting one rather than the usual Japanese meld of professional wrestling theatrics and shoot fighting. Hioki fits perfectly into its mold: a serious athlete in need of a grand stage to rock. Shooto, for all of its virtues, is like a first love — always remembered but gladly in the past.

The move from Shooto’s ropes to Sengoku’s has been smooth for Hioki. He dispatched Manuel with his classic aggressive submission game. Standing, Hioki fights like a patient Miguel Torres, employing his length to keep distance and punish opponents. He favors low kicks and is increasingly interested in trading leather. Defensively, he loves push kicks and keeps his head out of range like Yushin Okami. A quiet character, Hioki entered the tournament’s second round — as a headliner — a three-to-one favorite over banger Ronnie Mann. He handed the Brit his second loss in 19 bouts by transforming an anaconda choke into a triangle.

The victory moved his record to 19-3-2, marking his tenth submission. He’s never been stopped, and moving into the tournament’s dusk, it appears he won’t go gently.

Two wins — that’s one night in Japan’s tournament format — away from the Featherweight championship, Hioki, 26, embodies Sengoku’s youth movement as a calm but dangerous role model. The killer instinct he brought into Sengoku has the universally ranked Featherweight on the brink of Japanese superstardom. And his chain submissions prove the “Iron Broomstick” is a weapon to watch.

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Over the last three years, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has experienced an influx of former PRIDE fighters. Some have enjoyed success. Others have tasted defeat. FIGHT! Magazine looks at those fighters and where they stand in the UFC.

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua – c

Many fans deemed Rua the number one light heavyweight in the world. When he debuted in September against Forrest Griffin, most predicted that Shogun would destroy Griffin, but the opposite occurred. Rua appeared fatigued early in the fight, and his overall game left something to be desired. Shogun eventually succumbed to a rear naked choke in the third round. After the fight, it was revealed that he had a knee injury. Rua underwent surgery and was slated to fight the former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell in June. Unfortunately, Shogun re-injured his knee in training, and had to pull out of the fight. Rua is hard to gauge, since we haven’t yet seen him healthy in the Octagon.

Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva – b

Silva came into the UFC after suffering back-to-back losses in PRIDE. His first fight was a long-anticipated match with Chuck Liddell. The fight lived up to the hype, with the fighters standing toe-to-toe for the majority of the fight. However, Liddell got the better of the exchange, and won the unanimous decision. Wanderlei fought hard and looked much better than his two previous performances. Silva will face Keith Jardine, the last man to beat Chuck Liddell, at UFC 84.

Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou – C

Sokoudjou came into the UFC with a lot of hype, after knocking out Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona expeditiously. Sokoudjou took on Lyoto Machida in his fi rst fi ght in the UFC, and was submitted in the second round. Rumors have surfaced that he will face Kazuhiro Nakamura at UFC 84. We’ll see if Sokoudjou was pushed too hard, too fast, or just ran into the buzzsaw that is Machida.

Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira – b

Nogueira has fought twice in the UFC, debuting against Heath Herring. Herring had Nogueira hurt badly in the fi rst round, but Minotauro recovered and controlled the pace the rest of the fi ght. Nogueira proceeded to fi ght Tim Sylvia for the interim UFC Heavyweight Championship. Sylvia used his reach to keep Nogueira away, but Nog showed his true heart and came back to submit Sylvia in the third round via guillotine choke. His next fi ght remains a mystery, as there is no clear heavyweight contender – unless estranged heavyweight champion Randy Couture returns, or the UFC can sign Fedor Emelianenko.

Marcus “maximus” Aurelio – b

Aurelio debuted at UFC 74 back in August, against Clay Guida. The fi ght was very close, with the nod given to Guida. Aurelio then fought Luke Caudillo, and stopped him with strikes in the fi rst round. Most recently at Ultimate Fight Night 13, Aurelio submitted an overmatched Ryan Roberts with an armbar in just 16 seconds!

Akihiro Gono – b

Gono has only fought once in the UFC against Tandem McCrory and defeated him by arm bar. He was slated to face top welterweight contender Jon Fitch, but had to pull out with a hand injury.

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson – A

Jackson came to the UFC in February of 2007 to face the man that gave him his fi rst defeat: Marvin Eastman. After successfully knocking him out, Rampage fought a rematch with Chuck Liddell for the UFC light heavyweight championship which he won in the fi rst round by KO. Jackson then fought the fi rst-ever unifi cation bout in the UFC, defeating Dan Henderson by unanimous decision. Up next is season one winner of The Ultimate Fighter, Forrest Griffi n.

Ryo “Piranha” Chonan – c

Chonan only has one fi ght in the UFC, and lost in a decision to Karo Parisyan. Chonan’s performance was unimpressive. His next fi ght appears to be Roan Carneiro at UFC 85.

Kazuhiro Nakamura – F

Nakamura has only fought once so far in the UFC, putting up a poor performance against Lyoto Machida. To make matters worse, and the reason for the failing grade, Nakamura followed his fi ght with a positive drug test for marijuana. Nakamura is rumored to be fi ghting Sokoudjou at UFC 84.

Anderson “The Spider” Silva – A+

Silva is the only fi ghter given an A+, and for good reason! Since coming into the UFC, Silva has demolished the competition. No one has made it out of the second round. After knocking out the hardheaded Chris Leben in about fi fty seconds, Leben went on to destroy Rich Franklin. The Spider has submitted Travis Lutter and knocked out Nate Marquardt, as well as knocking out Rich Franklin once again. At UFC 82, Silva faced Dan Henderson, who many fans thought be able to thwart Silva. Silva hurt Henderson and then fi nished him with a rear naked choke. FIGHT! Magazine currently ranks Silva as the #1 poundfor- pound fi ghter in the world.

Heath “Texas Crazy Horse” Herring – c

Texas Crazy Horse has had his ups and down since coming to the UFC. His much-anticipated debut was spoiled by Jake O’Brien, as Herring was taken down and controlled throughout the fi ght. Herring rebounded with a decision win over Brad Imes, but then lost in his third fi ght, to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Herring was close to having the fi ght stopped, but didn’t capitalize when Nogueira was hurt. Herring won a split decision recently at UFC 82 over Cheick Kongo. It will be interesting to see how the UFC will match him up next since another Noguiera/Herring fi ght is unlikely.

DAN HENDERSON – C

Perhaps one of the best pound-for-pound fi ghters in the sport today, Henderson has yet to taste victory in the Octagon. Henderson fi rst faced Quinton Jackson in a match that went to decision. Henderson fought well, but Jackson ultimately controlled the majority of the fi ght. After much convincing from UFC president Dana White, Henderson moved down to unify the 185-pound title with Anderson “Spider” Silva. Henderson controlled much of the fi rst round, but eventually got tangled in the Spider’s web, and fell to a rear naked choke. Regardless, Henderson has faced two of the most dominant fi ghters in mixed martial arts and there is nothing to be ashamed of. There is no word of what Henderson will do next. However, he’ll be a tough opponent for anyone, regardless of weight class.

Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic – D

Once considered the second-best heavyweight in the world, there were high expectations for Cro Cop in the UFC. Cro Cop came in at UFC 67, to face Eddie Sanchez whom he defeated. At UFC 70, he faced Gabriel Gonzaga, a fi ght he was also expected to win. Gonzaga controlled Cro Cop for the majority of the fi ght, before knocking Filipovic out with his own primary weapon: the high kick. Cro Cop was then matched with French kickboxer Cheick Kongo and dropped yet another fi ght, this time by decision. The UFC and Cro Cop have since parted ways with Mirko moving on to the Dream promotion. He insists that he will return to the UFC after a few fi ghts to avenge his losses.

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