The Ultimate Fighter

The Ultimate Fighter

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(Jonathan Brookins is The Ultimate Fighter.)

At FIGHT! Magazine, we believe there is a need for a completely objective and unbiased ranking system for fighters to replace the myriad subjective rankings that have become skewed, in many instances, by fighter popularity. In an effort to address this issue FIGHT! Magazine brings you its computerized rankings system which takes into account a fighters strength of opponent, strength of performance, and frequency of activity. Go here for a detailed explanation of how FIGHT!’s rankings work.

The UFC crowned a new Ultimate Fighter on Dec. 4 at the Palms in Las Vegas, Nev. – full results can be found here – and not coincidentally, this season of the long-running reality show featured numerous lightweights who have competed at 145 pounds in the past. A few of them fought at featherweight in their UFC debuts, and a Bantamweight bout graced the undercard as well in advance of the UFC’s full absorption of the WEC in 2011.

In the main event, TUF Finalists Jonathan Brookins and Michael Johnson engaged in a seesaw battle with Brookins taking the win. The TUF winner enters FIGHT!’s rankings at Featherweight – where his first two qualifying bouts took place – where he immediately takes up residence in the top 25 at #24. Michael Johnson will remain unranked until he logs three qualifying fights.

TUF vet Stephan Bonnar carried the card, notching a unanimous decision win over Igor Pokrajac. Bonnar moves back into the top 25 at 205, from #28 to #24, with the win, while Pkrajac falls from #48 to #54. In the night’s co-feature, former contender Demian Maia retained his top-ten standing in our Middleweight Rankings with a unanimous decision over Kendall Grove, who stays put at #38. The night’s only other middleweight bout featured Dave Branch’s defeat of Rich Attonito. Branch moved from #44 to #29 following his win, while Attonito enters our middleweight poll at #62.

At Welterweight, Rick Story made a convincing case for a step up in competition with a win over Johnny Hendricks. Story moves from #20 to #12 while Hendricks slips to #26.

In the nights other televised fight, Leonard Garcia took a controversial split decision over TUF 12 participant Nam Phan. Garcia falls from #24 to #44 in our Featherweight Rankings, while Phan climbs from #83 to #69. In other featherweight action, unranked Pablo Garza defeated Fredson Paixao. Garza lost to Johnson in the preliminary round of TUF 12 but wins his UFC debut, while Paixao crashes from #33 to #67. Formerly unranked Ian Loveland took a unanimous decision from Tyler Toner, setting up shop at #29, while Toner falls from #36 to #62.

In the nights lone bantamweight bout, formerly unranked Nick Pace beat Will Campuzano and enters the Bantamweight Rankings at #19. Campuzano fell from #36 to #62.

No other ranked fighters appeared on the card. Check back later today for a gallery of Paul Thatcher’s best shots from the fights.

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(Demian Maia showed that he’s becoming more than a submission master.)

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The UFC’s next blockbuster event is more than a week away but this weekend is filled to the gills with meaningful fight cards. In fact, Dec. 4 was shaping up to be the biggest day ever for UK MMA before a snowstorm hit Newcastle, so let’s take a quick look at what’s going down over the next three days.

Thurs., Dec. 2

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Two noteworthy events will be held tonight on opposite coasts as Tachi Palace Fights 7 pops off in Lemoore, Calif. The card is stacked with UFC vets James Irvin, John Alessio, Jay Silva, Seth Baczynski, and Tim McKenzie as well as Strikeforce and Dream vet Darren Uyenoyama. Allessio’s scrap with Phil Collins is for the vacant TPF Welterweight Championship and Cole Miller’s kid brother Micah will square off with Isaac De Jesus for the TPF Featherweight Championship. But the star of the show is Shooto South America Flyweight Champion Jussier da Silva – “Formiga” is widely regarded as the top 125er on the planet, and tonight will be his U.S. debut. He signed a four-fight deal with TPF, but if Dana White keeps his word about adding flyweights to the UFC, da Silva could be the next small guy to graduate from Lemoore to Zuffa’s cages. You can watch the fights live on MMAJunkie starting at 8:30 p.m. EST.

Across the country in Rhode Island, UFC and Affliction vet Dan Lauzon re-emerges on the regional circuit to take on Wai Kru fighter Damien Trites at “Snow Brawl.” Lauzon needs an impressive win on the small stage if he wants to get back to the big leagues.

Fri., Dec. 3

Tampa Bay’s XFC returns to the hi-def airwaves on Dec. 3 as Jarrod “Wild” Card defends his XFC Featherweight Championship belt against Luis Palomino. American Top Team’s Mario Rinaldi will face Christopher “Beast Boy” Barnett in a feature fight and Kim Couture-killer Marianna Kheyfets will be back in action. You can watch the main card of XFC XIII live on HDNet this Fri., Dec. 3 at 9 p.m. EST.

On the other side of the state, Art of Fighting will host AOF 10: Blackout in Jacksonville, Fla., where UFC veteran Rob Emerson will fight Eric “It’s A Wrap” http://www.artoffighting.tv/ Up the coast in New Jersey, Lou Neglia’s Ring of Combat will host its 33rd event featuring a slew of prospects from 125 on up.

Sat., Dec. 4

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Stateside, the biggest fights on Saturday night will go down in St. Louis, Mo., where Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu pits #8-ranked Light Heavyweight Dan Henderson against #5-ranked Light Heavyweight Renato Sobral. Top-ten heavyweight Antonio Silva will face late replacement Mike Kyle while Scott Smith and #14-ranked welterweight Paul Daley will likely engage in an free-swinging dustup. A middleweight scrap between Robbie Lawler (#24) and Matt Lindland (#32) and a vet-versus-prospect bout between Benji Radach vs. Ovince St. Preux round out the main card.

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In Las Vegas, the UFC wraps up the season 12 of The Ultimate Fighter at the Palms. Jonathan Brookins and Michael Johnson vie for the TUF title and Stephan Bonnar faces Igor Pokrajac in the main event. In other main card action, #9-ranked middleweight Demian Maia looks to start climbing back to contention against Kendall Grove and hot prospect Rick Story (#20 welterweight) faces Johny Hendricks (#21). The UFC also launches its new featherweight division with several bouts contested at 145, headlined by Leonard Garcia and TUF 12 contested Nam Phan.

Two other WEC vets will be in action on Sat. but not in Las Vegas. Jeff Curran will headline XFO 37 in Lakemoor, Ill. The UFC, Pride, WEC, IFL, and Bellator vet faces David Love in the main event. Fellow Bellator vet Felice Herrig will also appear on the main card. South of the equator, #20 middleweight Paulo Filho co-headlines Bitetti Combat 8 against Yuki Sasaki. Glover Teixeira headlines the card against Hans Stringer.

Across the pond, the UK was poised for a huge night until inclement weather forced the cancellation of BAMMA 5. But that still left cards in Liverpool, where Olympian MMA Championships http://www.fightmagazine.com/mma-events/fightcard.asp?eventid=705 will crown heavyweight and bantamweight champions, and London, where Cage Warriors, Cage Rage, and UFC vet Ross Pointon returns from a two-and-a-half-year hiatus at UCMMA: Kings of the Cage. The promotion will also crown featherweight and bantamweight champions on Sat. as well as staging its first women’s MMA bout.

Check back in with Fightmagazine.com tomorrow for results and rankings analysis of Tachi Palace Fights 7, check in on Sunday for results and rankings analysis coming out of Strikeforce and The Ultimate Fighter 12 finale, and check in Monday morning for rankings analysis from the rest of the regional action this weekend.

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(MMA fans react to the release of FIGHT!’s updated rankings.)

Much-maligned and almost universally misunderstood, FIGHT!’s Computerized Ranking System has been the source of controversy and consternation since the magazine launched in 2007. Though some of the most commonly-raised concerns are answered each month in the magazine, there is still an obvious need to explain the logic and calculations that underpin our rankings system. Once we do that, we think our critics will have a better understanding of and appreciation for our rankings and what we hope to accomplish with them.

The first step towards understanding FIGHT!’s rankings is to understand how our fighter database works. Our database was not created with the goal of offering every result from every fight card; Sherdog and Mixedmartialarts.com already do a good job of that. Our database exists to feed information into the rankings formula. That’s why our database is “missing” fights; we only enter fight cards promoted by what we call Qualifying Organizations. These are organizations which consistently book top-level talent or, in some instances, have a track record of developing talent for top-level shows. Once results from a qualifying fight are entered into our system, a calculation is made based on the strength of the organization in which the fight took place, the quality of opponent, and the outcome of the fight.

The strength of organization is the only element of our rankings where subjectivity factors in. When creating an event in our database, FIGHT! staff determine the value of the card: 1.5, 2.25, or 3. The lowest value is typically assigned to regional shows and developmental leagues. The middle value is assigned to national and international promotions that fill undercards with third-tier fighters and prospects. Like the top of a pyramid, the highest value is reserved for a handful of promotions that are historically home to the very best fighters in a given weight class.

The relative value of a win or loss is also dependent on the quality of a fighter’s opponent. If a fighter beats a more highly ranked opponent, his or her value will increase greatly. A fighter will not benefit as much from a win over a lower-ranked or unranked opponent. Conversely, a loss to a lower ranked, or unranked, opponent will damage a fighter’s value significantly. The only way a fighter can lose points after a win or gain points following a loss is if a highly-ranked and lowly-ranked competitors fight to a split decision.

The third factor in our rankings calculation is outcome. A stoppage is worth more than a decision but there artificial ceilings and floors built in to account for so-called fluke knockouts or submissions; the most a fighter can gain or lose after a fight is one full point.

Does our system have flaws? Sure. Since it is bound by results, Jon Jones’ value suffered following his DQ loss to Matt Hammill even though he was clearly the superior fighter. Does our system have anomalies? You bet. But there is always underlying logic.

For example, some of our readers lost their minds when Chael Sonnen was installed at #1 over Anderson Silva in our Middleweight Rankings. He temporarily took the top spot by a razor-thin margin after his dominant decision win over Nate Marquardt. But that was a function of matchmaking – from 2008 to 2010, Sonnen beat three top-10 guys (Paulo Filho, Yushin Okami, and Marquardt) and lost to another (Demian Maia). Over the same period of time, Silva beat one top-10 guy (Dan Henderson) and took several lower-ranked fighters to decision (Patrick Cote, Thales Leites, Maia). But the beauty of our rankings is that anomalies work themselves out over time. When UFC 117 was in the books, Silva returned to #1 and Sonnen’s performance actually validated his high ranking.

This year FIGHT! invested a lot of time and energy in expanding our pool of Qualifying Organizations so that we could provide our readers with broader, deeper, and more accurate rankings. In 2011, FIGHT! will roll out rankings for the men’s flyweight and strawweight divisions as well as five women’s divisions from 105 to 145 pounds and you’ll see greater representation in the rankings from emerging MMA scenes like the U.K., Europe, and Australia.

FIGHT!’s Computerized Rankings System isn’t perfect, but we prefer its cold math over pundits subjectively shuffling names around on paper. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, at least our loyal readers care enough to take a stance.

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Ryan “Darth” Bader sees weaknesses in Antonio Rogerio Nogueira’s game and plans to capitalize on them in a knockout performance at UFC 119 in the co-main event. Interview by Danny Acosta. Shot and edited by Rick Lee.

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Spike TV and the Ultimate Fighting Championship know how to butter their Texas biscuits as UFC Fight Night 22 rolls into the premiere of The Ultimate Fighter: Team St-Pierre vs. Team Koscheck. Nate Marquardt and Rousimar Palhares headline the live action from the Frank Erwin Center in Austin before a new batch of lightweight hopefuls and a 170-pound coaching feud between Josh Koscheck and UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre are seen through the reality show lens. Here are our FIGHT! picks for the hump day bouts with odds courtesy of bodog. We are currently 85-46 with our picks in 2010.

Nate Marquardt (-250) vs. Rousimar Palhares (+190)

Middleweights Nate Marquardt and Rousimar Palhares took an extra two weeks to prepare for their contender clash after leaving UFC 118 to headline UFC Fight Night 22. Both debuted in the Octagon with wins over Ivan Salaverry and hold victories over Jeremy Horn. A three fight-win streak for Palhares meets its toughest test in the former 185-pound title challenger, who aims to rebound off a disappointing defeat to Chael Sonnen in February.

Marquardt has displayed submission and knockout ability inside the Octagon, while Palhares has fashioned an overwhelming and destructive grappling game stifled only by Dan Henderson in five appearances. Palhares wings punches to get inside the clinch and “The Great” will be prepared to exploit the weaknesses in the Brazilian’s transitional game. The more well-rounded and experienced fighter, Marquardt will avoid submissions long enough to force Palhares into a fight-ending mistake.

FIGHT! Pick: Marquardt

Efrain Escudero (-160) vs. Charles Oliveira (+130)

With only 22 seconds of ring time, Charles Oliveira hopes his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can tangle up The Ultimate Fighter season eight winner Efrain Escudero. “Hecho en Mexico” missed weight by three pounds and forfeited 20% of his purse to the Brazilian. The draining weight cut could effect his performance and the consistent pressure required to outwrestle a quick submission artist; however, Escudero’s ability to dictate where the fight takes place will find him the ‘W’ eventually.

FIGHT! Pick: Escudero

Jim Miller (-155) vs. Gleison Tibau (+125)

Jim Miller faces off with another powerhouse grappler in the lightweight division when he steps in the cage against Gleison Tibau. The New Jersey native has the better boxing and wrestling, but most importantly, the cardio, to damage Tibau before the American Top Team fighter can push Miller to the edge with his jiu-jitsu.

FIGHT! Pick: Miller

Cole Miller (+210) vs. Ross Pearson (-270)

American Top Team’s Cole Miller stands across from “The Ultimate Fighter” season nine winner Ross Pearson in lightweight action to kick off the night. Miller has a marked submission advantage; however, Pearson’s physicality has been the kind to trouble “Magrinho” in the past. Look for inside strikes and rough clinch work for the Brit en route to a hard-fought decision.

FIGHT! Pick: Pearson

Recap

Nate Marquardt (-250) vs. Rousimar Palhares (+190)
FIGHT! Pick: MarquardtResulting Outcome:  CORRECT

Efrain Escudero (-160) vs. Charles Oliveira (+130)
FIGHT! Pick: EscuderoResulting Outcome:  INCORRECT

Jim Miller (-155) vs. Gleison Tibau (+125)
FIGHT! Pick: MillerResulting Outcome:  CORRECT

Cole Miller (+210) vs. Ross Pearson (-270)
FIGHT! Pick: PearsonResulting Outcome:  INCORRECT

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Go behind Paul Thatcher’s lens as he shoots Josh Koscheck for the cover of the September 2010 issue of FIGHT! Magazine. Video shot and edited by Rick Lee.

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(Four women enter and fight for a couple rounds of yet-to-be-determined length, one woman survives.)

Bellator’s third season launches tonight in Hollywood, Fla. with the first fights of the heavyweight and women’s 115-pound tournaments. Go here for the full card and check back tomorrow for full results and analysis of what impact the bouts had on our rankings.

This afternoon fighters will weigh in at the Dodge Theater for Strikeforce Challengers 10, which takes place tomorrow night in Phoenix. A catchweight bout between Joe Rigs and Louis Taylor headlines but the real attraction is the four-woman 135-pound tournament. The winner of the one-night tourney will earn the right to face Strikeforce Women’s 135-Pound Champion Sarah Kaufman.

This week in an interview with Purefight, UFC Middleweight Alan Belcher said that he is facing several surgeries to repair the detached retina that led him to withdraw from UFC Fight Night 22 in Austin, Texas, and he may never fight again.

They say you can’t go home again but this week Diego Sanchez announced via Twitter that after two tough losses, he has resumed training at Jackson-Winkeljohn Mixed Martial Arts in Albuquerque. Sanchez rose to prominence at the gym but left in 2007 after Jackson welcomed UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre.

On Monday, MMAJunkie reported that Nick Catone had to withdraw from UFC Fight Night 22 due to a shoulder injury. He is replaced on the card by teammate Dave Branch.

Last week Zuffa filed suit against Bellator Fighting Championships and MMA agent Ken Pavia, alleging that the parties conspired to steal proprietary documents. This week Bellator filed suit against Zuffa claiming tortious interference in their dealings with “The Ultimate Fighter 12” cast member Jonathan Brookins. According to MMAJunkie, Brookins’ manager, Mickey Dubberly, of K.O. Dynasty Sports Management, disputes that Brookins was even under contract with Bellator when he signed with the UFC.

FIGHT! will also be tracking the action at Friday’s King of the Cage: Imminent Danger card, and Saturday’s XFO 36 and War on the Mainland. Check back on Monday for full analysis of what impact these fights had on our rankings.

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(Grantham, Adam Singer, Forrest Griffin, Rory Singer.)

Hopefully this is not starting a trend for me. I promise – I hope – that I will not write any more obituaries masquerading as blogs.
On Saturday night I set out to my friends bar to watch the UFN show with my guys. I had just had dinner with my girls (wife and daughter) and I was planning on having a great weekend: two MMA events, Fathers Day, time with friends. What could be better? On my way downtown I received a call that cast a dark cloud over the weekend, and over the near future. One of my guys called and asked if I knew John Grantham. I said of course I do, he is one of my oldest friends.

“I just heard that he was found dead.”

I pulled my car over, told my guy thank you for the info, and started making frantic phone calls. No way was my big, tough, 33 year old friend dead. Ten minutes later and it was confirmed. John had been found dead in his apartment Saturday evening. No one is sure how long he had been dead or how he died. All I knew was that my long time friend was dead, and his son Jake would never see his father again.
Now don’t bother looking up John on Sherdog. His contributions to MMA came in much more subtle ways. John always claimed he was the only guy to corner a fighter in both a K1 championship fight and a UFC championship fight. Who was I to argue? John played defensive tackle at Georgia Tech. He transitioned to Thai boxing and law enforcement after graduation. He had an ill fated tryout with one of the upstart pro football leagues about four years ago. At one time John was a very highly ranked amateur Thai boxer and promising pro. He lost a close decision in a fight and never did it again. He said he did not like the pressure.

Me, my brother, John and Scott Hicks opened our first gym together about 10 years ago. This was the first version of The HardCore Gym (and Plachalarm Muay Thai). John was a huge, muscular and intimidating gentleman. The first time we sparred, he went light and I bloodied his nose because I was so afraid of him. John rarely had an aggressive bone in his body, unless he was drunk. John, Rory, myself, Forrest and a large cast of others training hard and playing harder. This was one of the most exhilarating times in my life. Check out Forrest’s book, Got Fight, for some crazy stories by and about “Big John.”

One of the highlights of my life was the week we spent in Vegas when Forrest won The Ultimate Fighter Season 1. Rory, John and I bled a lot for that victory. The events that took place in our suite at The HardRock after the fight are sealed in a vault that will remain forever closed. John spent all night, every night for a week playing blackjack and drinking beer. We would meet for breakfast and then he went to sleep until we had dinner and he went “back to work.” He claimed he did not have any any water, just beer for a week. Every night he found a way to make friends with whatever motley crew of people he ran into. That’s how John was, you were going to like him or he was going to keep working at it until you did.

John had problems deep down in places only a few people knew about. I was one of those people. John and I shared many of the same afflictions. But where I was reserved and generally in control, John was larger than life and often let his demons get the better of him. He did things that we all knew were wrong, but it was just John being John. We loved him for it but knew that it would catch up to him one day. Last week the world caught up with John and his son Jake will remember this Fathers Day for all the wrong reasons.
RIP John Grantham. I love you.

Adam Singer is the owner of The HardCore Gym/American Top Team of Athens in Athens, Ga.

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UFC veteran Chris Leben credits his team and experience for the biggest win of his career over Aaron Simpson and feels reestablished in the middleweight division. Interview by Danny Acosta. Shot and edited by Rick Lee.

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“The Ultimate Fighter” season 11 winner Court McGee dedicates his victory to Chuck Liddell and hopes to be an upstanding citizen in his UFC career. Interview by Danny Acosta. Shot and edited by Rick Lee.

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