Ultimate Fighting Championship

Ultimate Fighting Championship

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(Pettis cracks Ben Henderson en route to winning the WEC Lightweight Championship.)

The winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Lesnar vs. Team Dos Santos will be crowned on June 4 at The Pearl at The Palms Casino and Resort in Las Vegas, Nev., and the card will be topped by a likely lightweight title eliminator bout.

Promised an immediate title shot versus the winner of Edgar vs. Maynard II, former WEC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis (#9 Lightweight) instead has to settle for a match with hyperkinetic wrestler Clay Guida (#9). Guida, winner of three in a row after losses to former title contenders Diego Sanchez (#8 Welterweight) and Kenny Florian (#17 Lightweight), could take Pettis’ spot in line with a win.

Other bouts on the card include Jonathan Brookins (#22 Featherweight) vs. Jeremy Stephens (#18 Lightweight) Scott Jorgensen (#7 Bantamweight) vs. Ken Stone, Josh Grispi (#16 Featherweight) vs. George Roop (#46) and Renan “Barao” (#5 Bantamweight) vs. Demetrious Johnson (#4).

The full card can be viewed here as it develops.

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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.

UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones went down just as many predicted it would, with the young Turk “Bones” taking out Rua with strikes in the third round. Jon Jones is your new UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, sliding from #4 to #1 in the Light Heavyweight Rankings in the process. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua slides from #1 to #5.

In the other light heavyweight bout of the evening, Luiz Cane stopped Eliot Marshall, jumping from #37 to #24. Marshall fell from #35 to #63 and might have squandered his second Octagon opportunity.

In the night’s feature fight, former WEC Featherweight Champion Urijah Faber outlasted former WEC Bantamweight Champion Eddie Wineland. Faber gains ground in the top five, moving from #4 to #3 in the Bantamweight Rankings while Wineland slips from #8 to #11.

In an unaired prelim fight, #2-ranked bantamweight Joseph Benavidez held his position with a decision win over Ian Loveland, who actually gained ground from #32 to #31 simply for making it to the 15 minute mark with a highly ranked fighter.

At middleweight, former King of Pancrase and UFC Middleweight Championship contender Nate Marquardt held steady at #12 in the Middleweight Rankings with a decision win over Dan Miller. Miller also stayed put, albeit at #29.

In the only other fight at 185 pounds, Nick Catone jumped from #83 to #55 with a win over unranked Costantinos Philippou.

Several lightweight bouts with top 20 implications went largely overlooked leading into UFC 128; Jim Miller kept his #5 Lightweight Ranking with a win over Kamal Shalorus, who hung tight at #39. Kurt Pellegrino slipped further away from title contention with a loss to Gleison Tibau and the fighters traded spots afterward, with Tibau jumping to #15 and Pellegrino falling to #22. In the only other action at 155#, unranked Edson Barboza took out Anthony Njokuani, who fell from #68 to #85.

The card’s lone heavyweight matchup featured PRIDE standout Mirko Filipovic vs. Brendan Schaub. The one-time NFLer took out “Cro Cop,” climbing from #23 to #14 in the Heavyweight Rankings while Filipovic fell from #32 to #45.

Mike Pyle cracked the top 10 with his win over Ricardo Almeida, moving from #15 to #10 in the Welterweight Rankings. Almeida fell from #18 to #26.

And in the card’s only featherweight fight, Erik Koch made a statement by finishing Raphael Assuncao and jumping from #17 to #7 in the Featherweight Rankings. Assuncao crashed from #25 to #47 following the loss.

Go here for full results.

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In Concho, Okla., Bellator 37 featured the opening round of its season four featherweight tournament. Former tournament finalist Patricio Freire stopped Georgi Karakhanyan, leaping from #20 to #10 in the Featherweight Rankings. Karakhanyan fell from #33 to #53

Wilson Reis held steady at #23 after finishing IFL vet Zac George, who enters the rankings at #103. Daniel Straus actually slipped one spot, from #19 to #20, after defeating unranked Nazareno Malegarie, because he was leapfrogged by Freire.

On the local undercard, UFC vet Jake Rosholt gained ground from #108 to #74 in the Middleweight Rankings with a quick stoppage win over unranked John Bryant and UFC vet Roli Delgado vaulted from #69 to #29 Featherweight Rankings with a win over WEC vet Jameel Massouh, who crashed from #14 to #34 in the Bantamweight Rankings) following the loss.

In Europe, Golden Glory held a semifinal bout in its United Glory World Series, where one-time UFC fighter and WEC vet John Alessio suffered a first round knockout loss to Siyar Bahadurzada. Alessio fell from #27 to #44 in the Welterweight Rankings and probably lost any chance of scoring the Zuffa contract he’s been seeking in the near future. Strikeforce hopeful Bahardurzada, who typically competes at 185 pounds, jumped from #21 to #11 in the Middleweight Rankings. Hopefully with Zuffa’s help, Strikeforce can get the Afghan wrecking machine fighting stateside, where he needs to be. Lord knows both Strikeforce and the UFC could make use of a dynamic, world-class striker who can fight at welter or middleweight.

To the east, Poland’s premier league KSW featured a catchweight bout between Mamed Khalidov and James Irvin. Khalidov finished Irvin quickly with an armbar but didn’t benefit, holding on at #48 in the Middleweight Rankings. Irvin, for his part, didn’t suffer from the loss except for probably earning himself another suspension from the CSAC for fighting internationally after pissing hot for steroids. Irvin stayed put at #94 in the Light Heavyweight Rankings.

The other notable on the card, Sokoudjou, climbed from #83 to #60 at 205 pounds with a win over unranked Jan Blachowicz.

Go here for full results.

In Australia, UFC vet Shane Nelson took on Australian vet Jai Bradney at Nitro 2: Throwdown. All fights on the card were entered into our database as part of our continued efforts to generate rankings that reflect the depth and breadth of the international fight game.

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There’s gonna be a whole lotta shaking going on as top 25 fighters in multiple weight classes throw down on two continents. Let’s take a quick look ahead at Saturday night’s fights.

The main event of the weekend is UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones. The card is headlined by a UFC Light Heavyweight Championship bout between reigning champ Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (#1 Light Heavyweight) and number one contender Jon Jones (#4), and supported by marquee bouts featuring Urijah Faber (#4 Bantamweight) vs. Eddie Wineland (#8), and Nate Marquardt (#12 Middleweight) vs. Dan Miller (#29), Jim Miller (#5 Lightweight) vs. Kamal Shalorus (#39), and Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (#32 Heavyweight) vs. Brendan Schaub (#23).

Spike TV will play host to two preliminary fights, Luiz Cane (#37 Light Heavyweight) vs. Eliot Marshall (#35) and Edson Barboza vs. Anthony Njokuani (#68 Lightweight). The UFC will stream two local feature fights live on Facebook.com; Ricardo Almeida (#18 Welterweight) vs. Mike Pyle (#15) and Kurt Pellegrino (#15 Lightweight) vs. Gleison Tibau (#22).

The unaired prelims feature Joseph Benavidez (#2 Bantamweight) vs. Ian Loveland (#32), Raphael Assuncao (#25 Featherweight) vs. Erik Koch (#17), and Nick Catone (#83 Middleweight) vs. Costantinos Philippou.


(I don’t know about you guys, but I’m pulling for Warren vs. Freire II.)

In Concho, Okla., Bellator 37 features the opening round of its season four featherweight tournament. The four quarterfinal matches pit Patricio Freire (#20 Featherweight) vs. Georgi Karakhanyan (#30), Zac George vs. Wilson Reis (#23), Kenny Foster vs. Eric Larkin, and Nazareno Malegarie vs. Daniel Straus (#19).

Bellator’s local undercards continue to improve as Saturday night’s feature bouts include UFC vet Jake Rosholt (#108 Middleweight) vs. John Bryant and UFC vet Roli Delgado (#69 Featherweight) vs. WEC vet Jameel Massouh (#14 Bantamweight).

In Europe, Golden Glory will hold the semifinal bouts in its Ultimate Glory World Series, where one-time UFC fighter and WEC vet John Alessio (#27 Welterweight) will face frustrated Strikeforce hopeful Siyar Bahadurzada (#21 Middleweight) and UFC vet Roan Carneiro (#59 Welterweight) will fight Tommy Depret. To the east, Poland’s premier league KSW will feature a Mamed Khalidov (#48 Middleweight) vs. James Irvin (#94 Light Heavyweight) and Sokoudjou (#83 Light Heavyweight) vs. Jan Blachowicz.

Check back after all the bouts are in the books to see how FIGHT!’s rankings shake out.

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The UFC will hold the Fight Club Q&A and official weigh ins for UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones on Fri., March 18 at Prudential Center Arena in Newark, New Jersey. The card is headlined by a UFC Light Heavyweight Championship bout between reigning champ Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (#1 Light Heavyweight) and number one contender Jon Jones (#4), and supported by marquee bouts featuring Urijah Faber (#4 Bantamweight) vs. Eddie Wineland (#8), and Nate Marquardt (#12 Middleweight) vs. Dan Miller (#29) .

The Fight Club Q&A featuring former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell will air live on Fightmagazine.com at 2:00 p.m. EST/ 11 a.m. PST. Official weigh ins will follow at 4 p.m. EST / 1 p.m. PST. The main card of UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones will air live on pay per view on Sat., March 19. Select undercard fights will air on Spike TV and Facebook.com/UFC.

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

– 10 MMA Fights You Wish You Never Saw (CagePotato)

– Almost Heaven: West Virginia Legalizes MMA (MMA-Scraps)

– UFC 128 Rumor: 50 Cent to Accompany Jon Jones to Cage vs. Shogun Rua (BleacherReport.com/MMA)

– How Zuffa’s Purchase of Strikeforce is Not a Monopoly (MMA Convert)

– Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva: I’d Love to Send Brock Lesnar Back to Pro Wrestling (LowKick)

– Mark Pavelich Fires a Verbal Bazooka to all Other Canadian MMA Organizations (MiddleEasy)

– Zuffa-Strikeforce Deal Could Mean Uncertain Future for Women’s MMA (MMA Fighting)

– Video: Georges St-Pierre Graces Cover of Men’s Health (Versus MMA Beat)

– Undefeated Sambo Champion Blagoi Ivanoc Signs With Bellator (Five Ounces of Pain)

– Alistair Overeem Discusses UFC’s Purchase of Strikeforce (5thRound)

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The UFC will hold it’s pre-fight press conference for UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones on Weds., March 16 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The press conference will feature UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (#1 Light Heavyweight) and number one contender Jon Jones (#4), as well as co-main event fighters Urijah Faber (#4 Bantamweight) and Eddie Wineland (#8), along with featured fighters Nate Marquardt (#12 Middleweight) and Dan Miller (#29) .

The press conference will air live on Fightmagazine.com at 12:30 p.m. EST/ 9:30 a.m. PST. The main card of UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones will air live on pay per view on Sat., March 19. Select undercard fights will air on Spike TV and Facebook.com/UFC.

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(Do you wanna be a f***in’ global magnate?)

Dana White dropped a bomb on the mixed martial arts industry and community Sunday when he announced that Zuffa had purchased Strikeforce. The UFC President been critical of the promotion before (see: Strikefarce) and reversed course quickly before as well (see: Tito Ortiz and Randy Couture). But while those close to the company were talking openly about the purchase for weeks, White & Co. managed to keep a lid on the deal until today and his announcement left MMA fans and pundits momentarily speechless. That moment was fleeting as people started weighing in on issues ranging from whether or not there would be UFC vs. Strikeforce superfights and if the companies would exchange fighter contracts. While these are valid questions, the conversation is focusing too much on immediate implications while ignoring the underlying causes for and far-reaching consequences of the purchase. So I humbly offer my analysis of why this deal went down and what it means for the fight game.

White mentioned several times in the 20-plus minute long interview that if UFC is to seriously pursue it’s plan for global expansion it needs more fighters, more staff, etc. On it’s face, the deal seems to offer Zuffa little in this regard; Strikeforce has never promoted a show outside of America and while it does have a number of noteworthy fighters under contract, its roster is quite limited compared to that of UFC. What Strikeforce can offer is access to Japanese fighters and close ties to influential figures in the flagging Japanese MMA industry. It’s no coincidence that as Japanese MMA is crumbling – DREAM have yet to announce a show and World Victory Road all but announced the end of its Sengoku series – Zuffa acquires an American MMA promotion that has close ties to K-1 and DREAM promoter Fighting and Entertainment Group. White’s blunt, macho approach plays well in the Middle East and the America’s, but he acknowledges that working in Japan has been problematic. In Coker, Zuffa now has a representative who can smooth ruffled feathers in the Land of the Rising Sun, and it can use Strikeforce as a neutral advance party to establish a foothold for live events in Japan. Add in the fact that Strikeforce can bring marketable Japanese stars like Satoshi Ishii (#21 Heavyweight), Shinya Aoki (#4 Lightweight), Tatsuya Kawajiri (#10 Lightweight) to the table and Zuffa will be able to make a much softer landing in Nippon.

Another point that White stressed during the interview was that the UFC and Strikeforce would continue to operate separately, even negotiating against each other for the same fighters. While this may be true for the term of Strikeforce’s current broadcast agreement with Showtime, White will not hesitate to pull the trigger on any decision that serves UFC’s short, medium, or long-term goals. If we learned anything from Zuffa’s ownership of WEC, it’s that the company will tolerate brand confusion among consumers as long as it serves a purpose. To test the market for sub-155# weight classes, for example, or produce shows in tertiary markets that can’t support UFC shows, or tie up air time on cable channels that are interested in broadcasting MMA. But at the end of the day, UFC is such a dominant brand that a majority of fans never really knew what WEC was, just as many fans of “UFC fighting” don’t know what a Strikeforce is or what it does. It’s naive to think that we’re more than a few years away from eulogizing Strikeforce as Zuffa transfers the fighters and staff it wants to UFC and retires the brand to the realm of nostalgic t-shirts.

The greatest long-term consequence of the dealt may be the disappearance of the MMA middle class, so to speak. There will be countless local shows, an amalgam of regional promotions airing on HDNet Fights, Bellator, and UFC, exponentially larger than any of its competitors, if you can really call them that. Fans are already speculating about the future of marquee fighters like Nick Diaz (#6 Welterweight), Paul Daley (#10 Welterweight), and Josh Barnett (#6 Heavyweight), and Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Dan Henderson (#2 Light Heavyweight), each of whom ran afoul of the UFC while under its employ. But no amount of personal animosity will prevent White & Co. from making a deal if the money makes sense, and frankly, everyone has a price. When the UFC is the only big show in town, a lot of fences will be mended. Either that or there will be a lot of people left out in the cold.

The purchase should also eventually allow Strikeforce’s world class talent to compete under the UFC umbrella. Dream matchups for Gilbert Melendez (#3 Lightweight), Ronaldo Souza (#3 Middleweight), Gegard Mousasi (#8 Light Heavyweight), Mo Lawal (#11 Light Heavyweight) as well as Fabricio Werdum, Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion, DREAM Heavyweight Champion, and K-1 Grand Prix Champion Alistair Overeem, Antonio Silva, and Fedor Emelianenko – #2, #3, #4, and #9 respectively in FIGHT!’s Heavyweight Rankings – can be made on UFC cards and seen by millions world wide. Soon enough, there won’t be discussions about whether or not Melendez or Overeem can hang in the Octagon, because the proof will be in the pudding.

Zuffa’s purchase of Strikeforce probably left a number of fighters, managers, and fight promoters with a queasy feeling. MMA’s monolithic entity just got bigger by subtraction, removing it’s largest competitor from the field for the second time in the last five years. But if White’s statements about how his personal problems with M-1 Global and Showtime won’t prevent Zuffa from having healthy relationships with them is any indication, we might be witnessing the start of an era in which the UFC President picks his public battles more judiciously. With guys like Lorenzo Fertitta, former WEC exec Reed Harris and Strikeforce honcho Scott Coker playing diplomat to White’s gunslinger, the Baldfather will be free to act as the charismatic, fan-friendly face of the organization and Zuffa will be able to make deals with anyone, regardless of prior history or personal animosity. Agents, managers, and fighters will lose a lot of leverage when negotiating deals, but fans are always of two minds about fighter pay; every fan wants a fighter get his or her due, but only a small number of us get behind fighters when their contract disputes keep us from getting the fights we want to see.

Of course this is all speculation and only time will tell how the deal will shake out and what effect it will have on the sport. But based on the UFC’s recent history and current trajectory, it’s safe to assume that we’ll be seeing more fights in more places (both geographically and in terms of video delivery). We may see a further homogenization of the sport but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Excepting Major League Baseball’s outfield walls and the trapezoidal international basketball lane, all of the major sports are played in spaces with identical dimensions. Consistent rules, venues and branding are essential for the sport’s continued rapid growth and the continued disintegration of Japanese MMA and Zuffa’s purchase of Strikeforce set the stage for that.

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ufc-live-sanchez-vs-kampmann-poster
(You think Falcao kept one as a kitschy keepsake?)

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.

UFC Live: Sanchez vs. Kampmann is in the books – let’s take a look at how the fights effected FIGHT!’s computerized rankings.

Coming into Thursday night’s event, Martin Kampmann (a former middleweight) and Diego Sanchez (a welterweight turned lightweight turned welterweight) were both looking to find their way in the division. The two turned in classic performances with many scoring the fight for Kampmann but Sanchez took it on the judges cards, climbing from #24 to #8 in the Welterweight Rankings, while Kampmann falls from #8 to #25. This could set Sanchez up for a run at the welterweight title should his teammate, UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre (#1 Welterweight), defend his belt at UFC 129 against Jake Shields (#?), vacate his title and move up to Middleweight.

In a marquee middleweight bout, Mark Munoz finished CB Dollaway quickly with strikes and jumped into the top 10 with the win, moving from #20 to #9 in the Middleweight Rankings, while Dollaway falls from #9 to #22. Also at 185 pounds, unranked Chris Weidman soundley defeated veteran slugger Alessio Sakara; Weidman enters our rankings at #53, while Sakara falls from #15 to #40. Also at middleweight, previously unranked Dongi Yang enters the polls at #47 after finishing Rob Kimmons, who falls from #112 to #124 with the loss. In the night’s final middleweight match, Rousimar Palhares climbed back into the thick of things with yet another kneebar victory, this time over Dave Branch. Palhares jumps from #21 to #11 while Branch falls from #30 to #44

Former WEC Bantamweight Champion Brian Bowles dispatched an outmatched Damacio Page in the first round, holding steady at #6 in FIGHT!’s Bantamweight Rankings – Page stays put at #31. Also at 135, Takeya Mizugaki slips from #18 to #23 following his split decision win over unranked Reuben Duran.

Joe Stevenson is always game but he continues to falter against weaker and weaker competition, losing this time to Danny Castillo and falling from #59 to #92 in the Lightweight Rankings. Castillo jumps from #67 to #40 following the win. In the night’s other lightweight fight, Shane Roller KO’d Thiago Tavares but only gained one spot – #21 to #20 – due to Tavares’ relatively low value. The Brazilian falls from #78 to #84.

At Light Heavyweight, Cyrille Diabate gains ground following his win over WEC vet Steve Cantwell, moving from #42 to #30, while Cantwell falls from #45 to #61. In the night’s only other ranked action, Igor Pokrajak leapt from #49 to #39 with his win over unranked Todd Brown.

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The UFC makes its first visit to Kentucky this week as UFC Live: Sanchez vs. Kampmann pops off on Thurs., March 3 at the KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville. The event is headlined by a welterweight bout between former lightweight challenger Diego Sanchez (Welterweight #24) and former middleweight Martin Kampmann (Welterweight #8) and will air live in 3D on Versus at 9 p.m. EST / 6 p.m. PST. Two undercard fights will stream live on Facebook.com/UFC.

The telecast will also include a separate announce team, as veteran play-by-play voice Todd Harris will team up with UFC featherweight star Kenny Florian to call all of the night’s action. Multiple 3D cameras will offer new camera angles not usually seen during previous UFC 2D telecasts. The 3D telecast will be made available live to those with 3D-capable television sets through dedicated 3D channels on affiliates across the country, including Comcast’s 24-hour, Next Generation Xfinity 3D channel.

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The UFC makes its first visit to Kentucky this week as UFC Live: Sanchez vs. Kampmann pops off on Thurs., March 3 at the KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville. Today the fighters will step on the scale at the International Convention Center and the UFC will provide live streaming video of the Fight Club Q&A and Weigh Ins. The Q&A will start at 2 p.m. EST/11 a.m. PST and the Weigh Ins will start at 4 p.m. EST/1 p.m. PST.

The event is headlined by a welterweight bout between former lightweight challenger Diego Sanchez (Welterweight #24) and former middleweight Martin Kampmann (Welterweight #8) and will air live in 3D on Versus at 9 p.m. EST / 6 p.m. PST. Two undercard fights will stream live on Facebook.com/UFC.

The telecast will also include a separate announce team, as veteran play-by-play voice Todd Harris will team up with UFC featherweight star Kenny Florian to call all of the night’s action.

Multiple 3D cameras will offer new camera angles not usually seen during previous UFC 2D telecasts. The 3D telecast will be made available live to those with 3D-capable television sets through dedicated 3D channels on affiliates across the country, including Comcast’s 24-hour, Next Generation Xfinity 3D channel.

Tickets for UFC Life: Sanchez vs. Kampmann are on sale now at the KFC Yum! Center, Kentucky Exposition Center, Kentucky International Convention Center Box Offices or at any Ticketmaster outlet.

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