Ultimate Fighting Championship

Ultimate Fighting Championship

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by FIGHT! contributor Larry Pepe

Anthony Johnson tipped the scales at a whopping 176 pounds at the weigh ins for UFC 104, six pounds over the limit and five full pounds over the one-pound non-title fight allowance. As a professional athlete it was his contracted responsibility to be on weight and the UFC, the fans and, most importantly, his opponent, Yoshiyuki Yoshida, all have a right to view his excess poundage as a sign of disrespect. And in the words of UFC announcer Joe Rogan, Johnson looked like he was two weight classes above Yoshida when he knocked him out just 41 seconds of the first round.

Unfortunately, we’ve heard this song before.

Fellow welterweight Thiago Alves showed up at UFC 85 for his main event fight with Matt Hughes at 174 pounds and looked utterly monstrous in the cage the next day when he brutally TKO’d the former champion in the second round. Six months later Alves’ teammate Wilson Gouveia came in four pounds over on his way to making Jason MacDonald submit to a barrage of elbows on the main card of the TUF Season 8 Finale. Paulo Filho was the same four pounds over for his fight with Chael Sonnen that turned the main event title fight into a non-title affair and deprived the Team Quest product of fulfilling his ultimate goal of becoming a world champion.

The penalty for coming in off weight is that 20% of your purse is taken away and given to your opponent. Some commissions, including California’s, take half of that 20%, leaving the fighter with 10% of his opponent’s purse. For less than three grand, Yoshida was put at an obvious competitive disadvantage in having to fight a much larger version of Johnson than he would have otherwise seen standing across the cage, just as Hughes and MacDonald did. Would it have made a difference? I don’t know and I suspect not, but that isn’t the point. Fights are contested at agreed weights as a matter of fundamental fairness and some extra dough in your paycheck doesn’t compensate for that.

Something has to be done to make sure that we don’t continue to see these incidents of poor weight management affecting main events and the fighters who busted their ass to fulfill their responsibilities. Money talks and apparently, the current 20% price tag isn’t speaking loudly enough to make sure some fighters get the message. When a fighter misses by a pound and has to come back to weigh in again, that’s one thing. Four to six pounds is another. In fact, I had the opportunity to speak to Nevada State Athletic Commission head, Keith Kizer, today who informed me that they will usually take a lesser percentage of 10% for missing weight by one or two pounds and escalate the percentage up to a maximum of 25% for more egregious situations, like repeat offenders or significant misses on the scale. (Keith will be coming on an episode of Pro MMA Radio in the coming weeks to discuss the issue.)

I believe that the promotions should put in their fighter contracts that if they miss weight they are not eligible for their win bonus and a percentage of that bonus should be paid over to their opponent, win or lose. Keeping in mind that the fight is starting with an unfair advantage to the heavier fighter, why should he be rewarded for winning? Gouveia was fined $9,200 at TUF 8 but made $18,400 on his win bonus so he actually gets rewarded $9,200 for having a competitive advantage. Doesn’t quite add up, does it? If you woke up the morning of the weigh-in with ten or twelve pounds for a critical fight that could move you up the ladder in your division and you could put yourself through hell to make it and potentially be wasted come fight time or take a fine of a couple grand and stand a better chance of winning, scoring your bonus and moving forward, might there be a temptation to take the fine? I don’t know of anyone who has intentionally made that decision, but it sure sounds tempting and that temptation shouldn’t exist within the rules.

Lastly, the fighter should not be eligible for Knockout or Submission of the Night bonuses. I was glad to hear Dana White state at the UFC 104 post-fight press conference that Anthony would have received the Knockout of the Night but was not eligible because he failed to make weight. If that’s a new rule, and I applaud it if it is, the rule wasn’t in place at UFC 85 when Thiago Alves got an extra 50 grand for his TKO of Matt Hughes. If the off-weight fighter is involved in the Fight of the Night, his share of the bonus should be given to his opponent. To deprive the fighter who made weight of a bonus they earned while fighting with a competitive disadvantage would just be pouring salt on the wound.

Larry Pepe is the host of Pro MMA Radio.

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(GSP cracks Hardy at UFC 111. Go here to check out the full gallery.)

Question: Which of the following two groups of fighters would you rather pay your money to watch GSP fight?

Group One: Anderson Silva, Chael Sonnen, Demian Maia, Nate Marquardt, Yushin Okami, Aaron Simpson, Wanderlei Silva.

Group Two: Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves, Dan Hardy, Matt Serra, Anthony Johnson, Paul Daley.

If you chose Group One, you’ve come to the conclusion that Welterweight phenom Georges St-Pierre has to move to the middleweight division for an appropriate challenge. After watching his complete domination of the incredibly tough Dan Hardy at UFC 111 on Saturday night, who could blame you? GSP used a familiar blueprint we’ve seen in his last few fights of using the best MMA wrestling in the game to take Hardy down early and often in every round of the fight. While GSP is as dominant as he’s ever been, he isn’t the dynamic fighter he used to be. He has chosen to use unstoppable takedowns to win fights, mostly by decision. In fact, the last time he finished a legit 170 pounder was when he recaptured the title from Matt Serra almost two years ago. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you listen to Dana White’s revelation that fans were letting him know their displeasure with the main event via Twitter, it’s not rocket science to say it’s a less fan-friendly approach. Very technical, very successful, just not as exciting to watch. Fortunately for GSP, he is such an amazing athlete and likeable persona that fans will probably tune it to watch him fight just about anybody, at least for now.

To his credit, Hardy displayed unbelievable toughness when he did his best Benson Henderson impersonation in refusing to tap to a deep armbar in the first round and a tough-to-watch kimura in the fourth. At the end of the day, however, the best that can be said for Hardy is the best that could be said for Thiago Alves and Jon Fitch. They were all able to last five rounds, take a lot of punishment and never mount any offense at all against the best 170-pound fighter to ever step foot in a cage. GSP said that he had to finish Hardy to be pleased with his performance. In that regard, he missed the mark. But the distance between him and the rest of the world’s 170’s is so cavernous that fans could ultimately become restless if he does not embrace new challenges, even on a “part-time” basis. At a minimum, he must do what Anderson Silva has done with several trips to 205. Take fights at 185 and defend at 170 as suitable challenges in that division that don’t involve rematches with guys he has already utterly dominated present themselves. GSP has said that he is fighting for his legacy. His legacy at welterweight is already established. He’s the best there has ever been at 170, end of story. If he is to achieve his goal of being recognized as the best pound for pound fighter in mixed martial arts history, he has to say, “Bring on the big boys.”

Shane Carwin, on the other hand, need only say “Bring on the big boy”, singular, as only one man stands between him and his goal of hanging the true, unified UFC Heavyweight Belt in the office when he goes to work as a water engineer. He stood face to face with that man, current champ Brock Lesnar, to hear his newly minted interim belt called a “fake belt”. One thing that is not fake is Carwin’s power. In the longest fight of his MMA career, the engineer KO’d Mir in 3:48, running his record to 12-0, all by first round stoppage. After a feeling out process between the two 265 pounders, Shane muscled Mir up against the fence but couldn’t take him down. When he was able to get Mir up against the fence a second time, he abandoned the idea of a takedown and landed a series of fast, powerful uppercuts that caused Mir to crumble to the ground. A series of punches later, Mir was flattened out, face down and unconscious, taking unnecessary punishment due to a late stoppage. For Mir, some will question if a self-admitted focus/obsession on Lesnar hurt his mental focus coming into this fight, but it matters little now. Carwin scored 65K for the Knockout of the Night, an impressive performance that earns him a trip to the Octagon to finally face Lesnar in early July to unify the heavyweight title. Here’s hoping that the UFC reinforces the cage!

Closing Shots

Jersey Sure

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Nope, not a reference to the hit reality show but to the success of the locals fighting at UFC 111. Kurt Pellegrino scored 65K for Submission of the Night in submitting BJJ specialist Fabricio Camoes after weathering a tough storm early in the first round. Jim Miller ran his UFC record to 6-1, squeaking out a decision over a very impressive Mark Bocek. I scored the fight a draw, with Miller taking round one, Bocek taking round two and the third a draw. I have a hard time buying either guy did more than the other to win the round. Ricardo Almeida had a great debut in the welterweight division, submitting tough Matt Brown in the second round. That runs the BJJ ace’s record to 4-1 since returning to the UFC.

Jersey Unsure

Yet another bad night for referee Dan Miragliotta. I’ve heard a lot of chatter over the years at how tough a job it is. Agreed. So is brain surgery and the difficulty of the job doesn’t excuse not doing it properly when fighter safety is on the line. Allowing a beast like Carwin to tee-off on Mir when he was clearly out is just not excusable. Let’s not even address the numerous times that UFC announcer Joe Rogan properly scolded Miragliotta for yielding to the crowd to stand fighters up or telling the fighters to fight when they were clearly fighting for position. And that’s all from UFC 111. I’m sorry, but don’t the fighters deserve better with their careers and health on the line?

Best of the Rest

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Nate Diaz had a strong middleweight debut against Rory Markham. Even though the former lightweight made the welterweight limit on the scale, Markham came in at 177. It didn’t matter to Diaz, who dominated Rory en route to a first round TKO. It was probably Diaz’ one and only fight at welterweight. It might make a good trivia question if the UFC ever releases a board game.

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Jon Fitch did what Jon Fitch does…grind out a three-round decision over Ben Saunders. That makes his last six wins all by decision for the high level grappler. Jon is a tough out for anybody at 170 not named St-Pierre, but can the UFC reasonably market a rematch between them given the how badly Fitch was dominated by GSP the first time and Jon’s failure to finish a fight in the last 33 months? Dana mentioned Fitch fighting Koscheck for a title shot, which Fitch declined. Dana’s response? “Must not want a title shot”. Will the UFC prez hold to that requirement? Time will tell.

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Matt Hughes and Renzo Gracie took opposite paths into mixed martial arts, but they both ended up with legendary status.

Hughes turned farm boy strength and Midwest wrestling a fighting style. The Illinois native’s workmanlike ground and pound earned him the billing of the most dominant welterweight in UFC history as a nine-time 170-pound king and the second member of the exclusive five-title defense club.

While Hughes built his legacy establishing a division, Gracie did so by defying them. The celebrated personality defended his storied family name and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu regardless of weight classes in vale tudo matches across the world. Despite never holding a notable title aside from his black belt, Gracie, a natural lightweight, holds wins over six different UFC champions all the way up to heavyweight.

The clash of legends happens at UFC 112 from Ferrari World in Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on April 10. UFC fans have had 22 opportunities to see Matt Hughes in the Octagon over the last 11 years with no sightings of Gracie. Entering the UFC for the first time at 43-years-old, here are five defining moments of Gracie’s famed career.

Renzo Gracie vs. Pat Miletich (2006)An admitted battle of old dogs, Renzo Gracie tapped out Matt Hughes mentor Pat Miletich in the first round of a 2006 International Fight League super fight with a jumping guillotine choke in front of the inaugural UFC Welterweight Champion’s home crowd.

Renzo Gracie vs. Eugenio Tadeu (1997)

The main event fight of super fight-oriented Brazilian promotion Pentagon Combat was stopped because of a full scale riot that erupted in the arena over the deeply rooted cultural rivalry of jiu-jitsu versus luta livre. Gunshots rang through the arena after Gracie struck an onlooker, who crowded the cage and kicked him through it as he failed to get hold of a greased up Tadeu. The bout resulted in a no contest.

Renzo Gracie vs. Oleg Taktarov (1996)

UFC 6 tournament winner Oleg Taktarov was looking to test his sambo against Renzo Gracie in the main event of a star studded no holds barred event Martial Arts Reality Superfighting. He failed. “The Russian Bear” stopped Gracie’s foot dead in its tracks with his face. Taktarov fell back slowly and Gracie scrambled to his feet, ran over to the Russian and slid into a bare-knuckled punch to seize victory.

Renzo Gracie vs. Maurice Smith (1999)

Renzo’s best representation of his family’s art lasted only 50 seconds. He took down and held former UFC Heavyweight Champion Maurice Smith on the mat—not even a task Olympic level wrestler Mark Coleman could accomplish—en route to an arm lock. It was an efficient demonstration of the tennets of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu: the smaller man defeating the larger man with technique, the submission fighter subduing the striker.

Renzo Gracie vs. Kazushi Sakuraba (2000)

It says everything about Renzo Gracie that the best performance of his career could be a loss. Considered the top fighter of the Gracie clan, Renzo was selected to defend his family’s honor against the man who became known as “The Gracie Hunter,” Kazushi Sakuraba. Deep into a great performance, Gracie was deceived into giving up a kimura against the catch wrestler. Gracie refused to submit, bracing himself and accepting a broken arm.

He honors Sakuraba with a photo in his New York academy to this day, paying respect to a fellow warrior. Gracie’s sense of honor and gameness in lends weight to his martial artist musings like seen in his Legacy documentary. Filmed over 10 years, one of the film’s most poignant moments comes when Gracie stares straight into the camera while driving and says, “I will die shitting in my pants like everyone else but knowing who I was.”

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(Beltran “Mexicutes” Rolles Gracie at UFC 109.)

Joey Beltran has a weekly ritual. On Thursday evenings, “The Mexicutioner” attends the local farmer’s market in Oceanside, California and gets his grub on. “I make it a point to come down here and sample some of the delicacies every week. Last week I had some soul food, so this week, I kept it real with some Mexican tacos,” he says with a chuckle. “They got tons of good food, and booths and crafts set up. I like it. I really like it.”

This coming Saturday Night, however, it’s all business as he is slated to battle “The Thrash Machine” Tim Hague at UFC 113: Machida Vs. Shogun II. While this marks his second fight inside the Octagon, it also serves as a reminder as to how quickly a fighter’s career can turn around.

Beltran, an aggressive striker with a boxing pedigree, wrestling background and a jiu-jitsu blue belt, began training at North County Fight Club in 2006. Six months later, he made his debut in a losing effort against Yohan Banks on the Strikeforce: Young Guns card. The 6’1”, 240-pound “Mexicutioner” bounced back with six victories and a loss to Tony Lopez, which ultimately earned an invitation with upstart Bellator FC.

Though Beltran was locked into a four-fight deal and punched out Sherman Pendergarst in a special attraction, he was granted his release. According to Beltran, CEO Bjorn Rebney wasn’t a fan.

“I really thought I was gonna grow with the Bellator brand and thought that was gonna be my home for a while, but Bjorn Rebney didn’t like my style,” Beltran recalls. “As he put it to my manager (Matt Stansell), I think the exact quote was, ‘He looks like an idiot, swinging his arms. He looks like a gangbanger, streetfighter,” and said I would never fight in a big promotion and was a waste of time. I was like, ‘Really? That’s funny to me,’ because the night of that fight, Bjorn came up to me and was like, ‘That’s exactly what we want. It was an exciting fight,’ so I guess he was completely blowing stuff up my ass.”

Bellator did not respond to FIGHT!’s request for comment.

Beltran continued his winning ways at smaller shows and even re-matched Tony Lopez for the King Of The Cage Heavyweight Championship in October 2009. Despite going the distance and losing via unanimous decision, he would start 2010 in explosive fashion.

This past January, the Cali native fought Houston Alexander, who had recently received his UFC walking papers after an uninspired performance against Kimbo Slice. Beltran knocked “The Assassin” out in the second round. Three weeks later, he was offered a fight in the UFC.

“I knew it was a matter of time,” Beltran says. “I felt it and I knew it, but I didn’t think it would be that quick. I honestly thought I was gonna have to fill in for someone on The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights Finale or something like that. But when opportunity knocks, you gotta go.” Despite Gracie being heavily hyped, Beltran weathered the storm and TKOed him in the second round at UFC 109: Relentless in February.

In just four weeks, Beltran went from defeating a one-time UFC Light Heavyweight contender at a local event to beating the next big Gracie on a UFC pay per view card. He has bragging rights, but he doesn’t use them. His ego remains in check.

“I’m lucky to have family and my friends around. They’ll make sure I keep my head on straight,” he says. “It’s like, ‘Yeah, I fought in the UFC and came home.’ The first thing I got welcomed [to] was my mom yelling at me to pay my parking tickets now because I had money. You know? That’s kinda the people I have around.”

Beltran was originally slated to fight fellow rising star Chad Corvin at UFC 113: Machida Vs. Shogun II, but Corvin was forced to pull out of the contest. Instead, he’ll face Tim Hague, who had been recently cut after a majority decision loss to Chris Tuchscherer.

Though the “Mexicutioner” is known as a brawler, he is looking to showcase a more advanced skill set … and physique. “I definitely wanna use my footwork and set up my strikes instead of just being bull in a china closet and running straight ‘cause Tim’s a big dude. His strikes are pretty slow, but that’s 280 pounds becoming behind those freakin’ hands that he’s got. So I gotta be aware of that,” Beltran explains. “I gotta show what I improved and worked on for the past few months. And also, I wanna look better on TV. I know the last time I was pretty chubby on camera.”

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Following each episode of The Ultimate Fighter Heavyweights, Team Rashad member Matt Mitrione will share his thoughts on what happened on camera and behind the scenes.

The pictures of Darrill drinking Jim and Coke were from the first two days, literally the first two days we were on set. The shots of him drinking all those beers were from later in the season. The conversation that the coaches had where Darrill and I were in the room, that happened probably the second day after they picked teams. They brought me in because I was sparring John Madsen – I was kicking the crap out of him and I was singing Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary.” They told me I was disrespecting him and told me to cut it out. So that was completely out of context.

Darrill is a drunk. He likes his alcohol. But he was so low-key that they had to create something to make him an interesting character. And as far as his tattoo – that is one of the creepiest tattoos I’ve seen in my life. That conversation happened in the first couple of days as well. Darrill is probably my best friend from the show, he’s the one I stay in contact with the most, but that’s a creepy tattoo.

From the get-go, Zak was picked on. From the get-go. Pretty much the entire house was aggressive personalities. Brendan Schaub isn’t really outspoken but he’s confident, so even if you didn’t act like an Alpha male you still had the mentality of one. I think that the casting staff is pretty good at what they do. I think they knew I was going to be an antagonist, I think they knew Zak was going to be a pushover and get bullied.

I don’t know what Rampage was like before the show but they are definitely not showing him in a very good light. Or maybe they are showing his true colors. I don’t know. The poster was funny but it’s like, why are you putting so much energy into pranks? Is it because you’re doing so poorly that you’ve just given up? They had some funny pranks but for the most part, all of us were like, let’s just finish this thing up.

He got punched in the face a lot. I think we were all surprised that he had stones like that. But when that triangle got set in, that was the slowest triangle on the planet. It was so telegraphed and Zak just let it sink in. I think by that time Zak was just done. He was just done. He would sit outside by the pool by himself and say out loud, “what did I get myself into?” I think he wanted to get out of the spotlight, be another face in the crowd and get all the pressure removed.

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One prized six-figure UFC contract is up for grabs at The Pearl at the Palms in Las Vegas, Nev. as the The Ultimate Fighter Season 11 comes to an end live on Spike TV Sat. night. The reality show’s alumni from current and past years dot the card, alongside a group of well-matched UFC mainstays and one rolling “A-Train.” Here are FIGHT!’s picks for Saturday night’s bouts with odds courtesy of bodog. We are 58-31 with our picks in 2010.


(We think on again, off again Keith Jardine will be on again on Saturday.)

Court McGee (-200) vs Kris McCray (+160)

Slotted for the main event over Matt Hamill and Keith Jardine, the UFC sees fireworks in Court McGee and Kris McCray’s middleweight bout for the title of Ultimate Fighter. In fourteen fights, only McGee has faced defeat, dropping a decision to MMA’s working class hero Jeremy “Gumby” Horn.

McCray is an aggressive and athletic striker, who parlays his whirlwinds into explosive slams when necessary. A vast experience gap spells trouble for McCray though. “Savage” has only fought less than two rounds worth of action at the professional level. It’s a testament to his natural ability; however, a legit veteran in McGee will exploit inexperience with his grit. “The Crusher” won’t be put away in the first round and that makes for a long night.

McGee spent his camp with Chuck Liddell at The Pit. Flanked by Olympic gold medalist boxer Howard Davis Jr., the Utah native’s powerful output standing and on the mat should wear and tear McCray in an exciting scrap.

FIGHT! Pick: McGee

Matt Hamill (-145) vs Keith Jardine (+115)

Matt Hamill and Keith Jardine both didn’t win their respective seasons of The Ultimate Fighter despite being tagged as favorites. Despite coming up short, they have proved to be two skillful and dangerous 205-pounders.

Jardine’s career has been marred by some of the ugliest inconsistency in the sport, while Hamill has progressed steadily without finding a signature win to boost him into the higher end of the division.

“The Dean of Mean” pops back up to his feet when taken down, which diminishes Hamill’s chance of success greatly. The Greg Jackson-trained fighter has power in his hands to punish “The Hammer” for lazy punches—something often seen from the Division III National Champion—and leg kicks to destroy Hamill’s flat-footed forward motion. While Hamill certainly has knockout potential of his own, Jardine only drops to especially vicious or seasoned strikers. Hamill is not quite either.

FIGHT! Pick: Jardine

Chris Leben vs. Aaron Simpson

Undefeated at 7-0, Aaron Simpson has only gone the distance once. Against devastating slugger Chris Leben, that is unlikely to change win or lose; however, “A-Train” is too tough and too explosive with his Arizona State University All-American wrestling to succumb to Leben’s dangerous yet predictable game.

FIGHT! Pick: Simpson

Spencer Fisher (-175) vs Dennis Siver (+145)

A tale of two strikers, Spencer Fisher and Dennis Siver promise a sure-fire stand-up war.

Siver favors a potent spinning back kick, but his last fight, a decision defeat at the hands of Ross Pearson, laid the blue print to best the German. Fisher has an affinity for punches and bunches. Being in Siver’s face early and often keeps Siver from finding his range and timing, which is crucial for his style. “The King” has well-rounded skills in his back pocket if needed too. The quality of his competition and strong rebounds throughout the course of his lengthy career tip the scales for the North Carolina native.

FIGHT! Pick: Fisher

RECAP
Court McGee (-200) vs Kris McCray (+160)
FIGHT! Pick: McGee

Matt Hamill (-145) vs Keith Jardine (+115)
FIGHT! Pick: Jardine

Chris Leben vs. Aaron Simpson
FIGHT! Pick: Simpson

Spencer Fisher (-175) vs Dennis Siver (+145)
FIGHT! Pick: Fisher

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According to Sam Caplan, Kenny Florian is one of the least intimidating fighters in MMA. No matter, because he finishes fights – enough of them to earn a shot at BJ Penn’s lightweight title at UFC 101: Declaration. In addition to his day job as a top-ranked UFC lightweight and instructor at Florian Martial Arts and his side gig as the co-host of ESPN’s MMA Live, Florian is a sometime-contributor to FIGHT! Magazine. Two of his columns have found their way online – one about his progression as a mixed martial artist and another about killer instinct. When you’re through with those, check out FIGHT!’s Florian photos here.

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(Nelson goes toe-to-two with Brad Imes. Props to ESPN.com.)
(Nelson goes toe-to-two with Brad Imes. Props to ESPN.com.)

You already recognize some of names and faces from the upcoming season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” but there’s a lot you probably still don’t know about this group of 16 heavyweight warriors. Each weekday between now and the Sept. 16 premiere of “The Ultimate Fighter Heavyweights,” FIGHT! will introduce two cast members leading up to the introduction of our TUF bloggers.

Roy Nelson
Age: 33
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 265 lbs
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nev.
Trains: Las Vegas, Nev. – Team Big Country
MMA record: 14-4-0

Roy “Big Country” Nelson wants you to take one look at him and underestimate him because of his physique. It makes it all the more sweet for him when the referee raises his arm at the end of the bout.

Born and raised in Las Vegas, Nelson has always been a gifted athlete. He wrestled and played football and baseball at Cimarron Memorial High School before graduating in 1994. He became a martial arts fan after seeing “The Karate Kid” at a young age and began training in karate and kung fu. He started watching the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 1994 and in 2000, began training in jiu-jitsu with John Lewis in Las Vegas.

Four years later, he made the transition from trainer to fighter, and made his pro debut. With a devastating mixture of striking, ground and pound, and submission skills, he has compiled a 14-4 record and hold the now-defunct International Fight League’s heavyweight title. “Big Country” has two recent losses to notable mixed martial arts heavyweights including a KO to former UFC champ Andrei Arlovski last October and lost a three-round decision to Jeff Monson in March.

Below is the vid of Nelson’s KO win over Brad Imes to win the IFL belt along with his official TUF promo video.

Learn more about the cast of “The Ultimate Fighter Heavyweights.”

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Saturday night in Montreal Lyoto Machida and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua headline UFC 113 in a battle for the Dragon’s light-heavyweight championship belt. This is a rematch of their tilt at UFC 104, a five-round war during which Shogun was the first UFC fighter to not only win a round from Machida, but perplex and hurt him to the extent that it was assumed he’d leave Los Angeles as the new king of the division.

But you know what happens when you assume, especially with the recent track record of MMA judges. Three pairs of eyes awarded Machida the win – one person later admitting he made a mistake. This wasn’t the first to send the MMA community into an uproar. It’s just one of our five most controversial judging decisions of recent MMA history.

Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio Rua: UFC 104

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Shogun was Machida’s first challenger since the Dragon blasted Rashad Evans to win the light-heavyweight strap. In a fight expected to be another Machida victory, Rua hurt the champion with enough kicks to leave a large welt on the left side of his midsection. Alas, Machida was awarded a unanimous decision victory, 48-47 from all three judges. Much of the 16,000-plus on hand at the Staples Center booed loudly. The majority of MMA writers and a handful of fighters expressed shock, thinking Rua had won the fight. Message boards were nearly short-circuited with protests.

Here’s the kicker: Judge Nelson “Doc” Hamilton told Yahoo! Sports that he made a mistake in giving Machida the fourth round after reviewing the tape, claiming that his line of sight was blocked and adding that the bout’s commentary may have persuaded viewers to believe Rua won handily.

Randy Couture vs. Brandon Vera: UFC 105

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In the second round of the main event at UFC 105, Brandon Vera stunned and knocked down Randy Couture with two kicks and a punch. In the final round, Couture, pressed against the cage, looked up at the clock wondering when it would end. Leave it to the three judges to give the Natural the unanimous decision win (29-28, 29-28, 29-28), one that had many including UFC fighter and WEC analyst Stephan Bonner wondering if the system needs to be changed.

“I have a problem with how fights are scored sometimes,” Bonnar said. “Randy held him up against the cage for two rounds and really didn’t do any damage. Then one round Brandon almost had him out of there, but Brandon loses the fight 2-1 because that’s how it’s scored. To me that’s not fair. Usually if it’s a close fight and one guy does the most damage, he deserves a little more credit. I would have at least given him a 10-8 round and it would have been a draw. I’d get the half-round scoring system going.”

Michael Bisping vs. Matt Hamill: UFC 75

The one good thing to come out of this scoring fiasco is that Bisping, one of England’s sports heroes, wasn’t the one to get screwed – there’s no telling how badly he would have reacted had taken the L on his record. Despite pushing the pace and taking Bisping down many times in the first two rounds, Matt Hamill was the one handed a raw deal. One sane judge awarded the Hammer the fight 30-27, while the two others scored it 29-28 for the Count. And despite cries about the bout being held in England led to some shady decisions, it was the British judge that gave the fight to Hamill.
Of course, Bisping defended the decision, but with the polar opposite of grace, telling off a reporter by asking, “Do you want to go three rounds? … Of course I won the decision. Get the (expletive) out of here. Get that smile off your face,” before ending the tirade with an obscene gesture.

Forrest Griffin vs. Tito Ortiz I: UFC 59

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Tito Ortiz was already an established MMA superstar. Forrest Griffin was the upstart Season 1 Ultimate Fighter winner and he took the Huntington Beach Bad Boy to the brink on April 15, 2006. These judges worked on neither fan sentiment nor common logic. Ortiz was awarded the bout via split decision, but Griffin avenged the defeat at UFC 106 with one of his own.

Leonard Garcia vs. Chan Sung Jung: WEC 48

Times are precious and cherished when we’re treated to such epics inside the Octagon. There was Griffin’s first fight against Stephan Bonnar, Diego Sanchez-Clay Guida, Ben Henderson-Donald Cerrone I and Gilbert Melendez -Josh Thompson II. At WEC 48, Leonard Garcia, himself one-half of a classic against Roger Huerta, went three furious and fabulous rounds with Chan Sung Jung in the second of two preliminary fights aired on Spike. The bout wasn’t a technical clinic but it was an absolute stunner, one that Jung took control of in the third, yet was awarded only one round to suffer a tough-luck loss. A rematch appears to be inevitable.

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