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What happens when Japanese journalists ask questions in English to a Lithuanian man who speaks it as a second language? Not much, as you’ll see above. Marius Zaromskis will fight in DREAM.10’s welterweight grand prix seminfinal. The card will be broadcast live on HDNet at midnight, July 19 PST and 3 a.m. ET, July 20. The show will be replayed at 10 p.m. ET on Fri., July 24. To get a better sense of the fighter, watch the videos below for Zaromskis’ cosplay at DREAM.8 and the London Shootfighter’s highlight reel, which includes some gnarly spinning axe kicks and flying knees.

Zaromskis as Akuma.

The insanity starts at the 2:00 mark.

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Approximately 70 percent of all serious knee ligament injuries (ACL/MCL) occur during non-contact situations, such as plyometric exercises, landing from a jump, or twisting/ turning movements that cause a sudden imbalance in your lower extremities. However, these non-contact injuries are more preventable than injuries that occur during competition and sparring.

Dominick Cruz, Georges St-Pierre, and Conor McGregor are just a few fighters who have torn their ACLs while training and competing. And, as all three fighters will tell you, ACL surgery and rehab is no picnic.

While many knee injuries aren’t preventable, there are ways to reduce your chance of injury: (1) Increase the strength of your thigh muscles (2) Improve your flexibily (3) Maintain a proper “Power Position” when you perform exercises that involve jumping, including box jumps and burpees.

Begin In The “Power Position”

• Keep your knees and feet directed forward and in alignment with your hips.
• Keep you back straight with your chest open, shoulders back, and head and eyes forward.

// PHOTO BY PAUL THATCHER
// PHOTO BY PAUL THATCHER

Taking Off and Landing

• Take off and land without excessive side-to-side or forward-backward movements of your upper or lower body.
• Maintain a soft landing throughout your entire foot to reduce ground reaction forces (the force the ground exerts on your body).

// PHOTO BY PAUL THATCHER
// PHOTO BY PAUL THATCHER

3 Bad Landings To Avoid

Landing in any of these three positions puts added stress on your knees, making you susceptible to ACL/MCL damage. Avoid these landing positions and focus on landing in the “Power Position.”

// PHOTO BY PAUL THATCHER
// PHOTO BY PAUL THATCHER

• Valgus Collapse: knock kneed position as you sink down into a squat or landing position.
• Imbalance: unequal stress to one side of your lower extremities.
• Shearing Force: decreased knee flexion with forward body lean (knees extend in front of toes).

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Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal and Karl “Psycho” Amoussou are finally fighting stateside. M-1 Global announced “M-1 Global Presents Breakthrough” today, which will be headlined by Don “The Predator” Frye vs. Lawal and Amoussou vs. Nick “The Goat” Thompson.

According to M-1 Global V.P. of Talent Relations Apy Echteld, the series will bridge the gap between major shows like “M-1 Global Presents Affliction” and the company’s developmental series the M-1 Challenge by pairing two to four ‘name’ fighters on a card and filling it out with the best fighters from the M-1 Challenge. The card represents an important next step in M-1’s global plan and will air on HDNet.

The event, the first in a new series called “M-1 Breakthrough,” has been scheduled for Friday, Aug. 28 and will be held in conjunction with the International Mixed Martial Arts Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

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By FIGHT! columnist Larry Pepe

Fedor Emelianenko, “The Last Emperor”, the best heavyweight mixed martial artist in the world and for many not named Dana White, the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. There is no question that you should admire his lofty 30-1 record and the dominance he has displayed in the ring throughout his stellar nine year career. But should you have the same respect for him after his failure to agree to fight a blown-up middleweight Vitor Belfort at the now defunct “Affliction: Trilogy”? Absolutely not.

Now before you faint from the notion that I’m not worshipping at the altar of Fedor, know that I am just as hopeful as you are that the UFC and Russia’s favorite armbar specialist will come to terms. I really am. But let’s not lose sight of what Fedor did when he allowed his designated mouthpiece, Vadim Finkelchtein, to issue a statement that the fans don’t want to see Fedor fight Vitor Belfort.

He refused to fight a middleweight on a two fight win streak at 185 over Terry Martin, (2-5 in his last seven), and a Matt Lindland who was clearly past his prime. In the last seven years, Vitor has compiled a 6-6 record when fighting at light heavyweight and heavyweight. Quality of competition? His wins are against gentlemen named Zikic, Serati, Takahishi, Rea, Eastman and Couture with a combined 62% win percentage, largely against second and third tier fighters. His losses came at the hands of Chuck, Tito, Randy, Hendo and Overeem (twice) who have won 73% of the time against the best fighters in the world. Hmmm…which group do you think Fedor belongs in? Exactly. Maybe that’s why the odds on the fight were already set at minus $700 for Fedor.

I’m not knocking the one fighter in this fiasco who agreed to the fight less than an hour after it was offered to him. He looks like a dangerous, world-class middleweight and I can’t wait to see him in the UFC. He was willing to eat his way up to 206 in the last ten days before the fight to get it sanctioned. Even then, he’d be giving up 27 pounds to the world’s best heavyweight. Respect him.

MMA fighters fight, boxers pick and choose. That’s one of the reasons we see the fights we want to see now, not five years after they pass their prime. Would Lesnar, Machida, GSP, Anderson Silva or BJ refuse a fight on short notice with someone who competes two weight divisions below them? I’d be shocked. And we would rightfully take them to task.

And so we must with Fedor.

What about Josh Barnett, you ask? After all, he’s the one who failed the drug test. Agreed. And if he had gotten injured, we’d be having the exact same conversation.

This is about Fedor.

Fedor’s refusal to take this fight deprived his fellow “Trilogy” mixed martial artists of the opportunity to get paid for months of hard training and sacrifice. He cheated the fans who wanted to see this card and he displayed a lack of the “anytime, anywhere” spirit that lives in the heart of our favorite MMA superstars.

Fedor has one chance, and only one chance, to cement his legacy and put this embarrassing choice behind him. Sign on the UFC’s dotted line and fight whoever they put in front of him. If not, it will be time for me and scores of MMA fans to just say no…just as Fedor did last week.

FIGHT! Magazine’s newest columnist, Larry Pepe, is the host of Pro MMA Radio. The show airs every Monday at 6 p.m. PST / 9 p.m. EST with every episode available on-demand at ProMMARadio.com.

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Seldom can the name Forrest Griffin be uttered without subconscious synapses followed up with whispers of Stephan Bonnar. But can you blame ’em? In what can be regarded as possibly the longest 15-minute stretch in fighting history, these two men acted to cooperatively stitch up and repair the sinking ship that was the UFC while simultaneously trying to destroy each other with the same exact passion and energy.

Go here to read the rest of FIGHT! contributor Matt Burosh’s profile of Stephan Bonnar, who is set to face UFC legend Mark “The Hammer” Coleman at UFC 100 on July 11. Go here to see more photos of Bonnar.

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Read about Thiago Alves’ home gym American Top Team here. The the welterweight phenom who will challenge GSP for the welterweight title at UFC 100 on July 11.

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JOSH THOMSON // PHOTO BY PAUL THATCHER
Josh Thomson // PHOTO BY PAUL THATCHER

Somewhere around the 30-minute mark of his interview, UFC lightweight contender Josh “The Punk” Thomson is still going strong on a series of big-picture topics he claims he’s no longer as invested in as he was around the 2008 election. With little prompting, he riffs on politics, government, personal responsibility, religion, and education. If this is his version of apathy, you wonder what activism looks like.

At the moment, the federal government is shut down, so there’s a lot to talk about for a self-identified Libertarian. The 35-year-old says there’s too much reliance on our elected leaders and too little incentive for people to control their own destinies; too much focus on other countries and not enough on America; too many closed minds and not enough willing to consider other points of view.

“I know where I stand,” Thomson says. “I stand on the belief that we should be supportive of people here in our country and take care of our country first. If we’re a strong nation, we can be strong with other people. And I feel like we’re getting weaker and weaker as time goes on.”

His thoughts move at a fast clip and flow together in a series of arguments and counter-arguments it seems he’s prepared in case of dissent. He explains that he’s not only used to that, but welcomes it. Mostly.

Google the veteran lightweight, and your results will be dominated by two things: his upcoming title shot against UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis, which comes December 14 at UFC on FOX 9, and the controversy he sparked by sharing his thoughts on gay marriage. The former is, of course, the pinnacle of a 12-year career in MMA, which started in an Idaho gym and took him on a tour of virtually every major fight promotion before his triumphant return to the UFC in April. The latter is a look at how he walks through the world. Taken on its face value, you might get the wrong impression about him.

Above all else, Thomson is a world-class 155-pound fighter, who was groomed by the UFC for a title shot before the promotion shuttered the lightweight division in 2004. He largely fought in the shadows of the MMA boom brought by The Ultimate Fighter, despite winning the Strikeforce Lightweight Title from Gilbert Melendez in 2008. After returning to the Octagon in April with a head-kick knockout of Nate Diaz, Thomson is ready to prove he’s the best in the world.

Posting on Facebook about same-sex marriage, his credentials hardly mattered. He came off as the kind of conservative hysteric who’s guaranteed an Internet flogging, and indeed, he took his lumps, not only from fans and the media, but also UFC president Dana White, who said he should get a hobby, like finger painting.

If, however, you were able to put aside the defensibility of his logic, which linked same-sex couples to deviant behavior, as well as its relative lack of nuance, his expression revealed a defining characteristic. You would have missed it reading words on a screen. But spend any significant amount time listening to Thomson—and you will with the UFC’s promotional machine kicking into high gear—and one thing is unmistakable: the guy likes to engage.

“I bring up conversations, not because I believe anything, but I just like to hear people’s opinions,” he says.

Thomson is not a policy wonk—he said he prefers not to scour the Internet for facts and figures, but read links sent to him by friends and others. He simply likes to debate, and he likes getting a reaction. He wants to find out where you’re at, where he’s at, and whether both of you believe what you’re saying. He’ll have an opinion one way or another, and he won’t be shy about sharing it.

“That’s how you get knowledge about things,” he says. “If you just continue to deny talking about it, you’re going to find that you’re never going to open your mind. There are times when you’ll learn something from somebody when they speak up, and that educates you. That’s a big thing to me.”

He will say there’s no link between his confrontational approach to conversation and his style in the cage, although the mischievous smile he wears during combat suggests otherwise. His expression can be an unnerving presence for opponents, who throw heavy hooks and are greeted by a grin. But for those closest to him, it’s a reassurance.

“I spent years trying to knock the smile of his face—unsuccessfully,” says American Kickboxing Academy head trainer Bob Cook with a laugh.

Suddenly, Cook is interrupted by another Josh, this one with the last name Koscheck. The scruffy-haired two-time UFC welterweight title challenger is riding shotgun with the trainer, and he’s managed to sniff out the topic of conversation when Cook says Thomson is mellowing with age.

“I’m going to say 30 is when Thomson started maturing a little bit,” says Cook.

“Uhhh, 34,” counters Koscheck, a real stranger to provocation.

Asked what Thomson was like before he matured, Koscheck blurts, “An asshole. In every aspect, he’s just a prick. That’s his nickname.”

Josh Thomson punches down on Nate Diaz on his way to a TKO victory at UFC on Fox; Henderson vs. Melendez on April 20, 2013 // PHOTO BY KYLE TERADA-USA TODAY SPORTS
Josh Thomson punches down on Nate Diaz on his way to a TKO victory at UFC on Fox; Henderson vs. Meelendez on April 20, 2013 // PHOTO BY KYLE TERADA – USA TODAY SPORTS

“I’m going to go out there and get the win, go home, get a good night’s sleep, and get ready to start training for the next fight.”

Then, almost as quickly: “Let’s be real. Josh does have a huge heart. He’s an asshole and a punk, but man, he’s got a big heart. I remember when I fought my first fight when I started with AKA, and me and him drove all the way to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, overnight. He drove the whole time. He’ll go out of his way for his friends and teammates. He’ll take your back on any stance.”

Cook lived with Thomson for a half-decade. He remembers a cocky 17-year-old who walked into AKA with more bark than bite, but he came back despite getting armbarred a half-dozen times.

Thomson, he says, is a pain-in-the-ass little brother, but a brother nonetheless.

“I think there’s been a lot of time where he hasn’t gotten his due,” Cook says. “I think he’s got as much skill as anybody, but because he wasn’t always necessarily in the UFC, I think he got somewhat overlooked.”

After the recent controversy, which he said brought death threats, Thomson says he’s tempered his public voice. He now knows he can come off the wrong way when delving into subjects that interest him.

“I’ve noticed that when you bring up topics like that, people don’t even talk about it,” he says. “The first thing they do is start calling you names, and that’s when you know they’re not really educated on what the topic is about.”

But with his teammates, nothing has changed. Thomson calls it “hooking,” like goading an opponent into a bad position, which, as it turns out, is exactly what he tries to do when he discovers an opinion.

“I’ll get them to bring up a subject,” he says. “Javier Mendez [AKA trainer] brought up, ‘Miguel Cotto is a better boxer than Antonio Margarito.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but Margarito whooped his ass the first time they fought.’ I hook you in. ‘You think Cotto is a better boxer? I’ll bet you Margarito is going to win.’ I was hooking him into making a bet. Daniel Cormier is getting better at it. He knows how to hook me. If I’m putting it on somebody, he’s telling that guy, ‘You going to let Josh do that to you?’ Then I look over and say, ‘You might want to be quiet before this kid gets it worse, because you’re pissing me off.’”

Thomson will certainly need to impose himself on the unpredictable Pettis, who’s made a career of bending the rules of combat to his favor.

“Honestly, I’m impressed with him,” Thomson says of Pettis, who submitted Benson Henderson to capture the belt in August. “The thing that makes him the most dangerous is he’s the guy who shows up to the gym every day to think up new moves that he can do off the cage or in the middle of the ring. Those are things that you only do when you enjoy doing what you do. He spends time thinking about how he can run off the wall and kick you in the face. Now, that could also be his downfall with me, because I’m no normal fighter. I’m someone who knows how to capitalize and put people in bad positions. If he tries too much and ends up in a bad position, you can bet your ass I’m going to finish him.”

With the UFC’s lightweight division in relative flux—Pettis the new champ, and contender T.J. Grant being forced to pass on a title shot due to the lingering effects of a concussion—the time is now for Thomson. If successful against Pettis, he’ll become the first American Kickboxing Academy fighter to win a UFC Lightweight Title.
That might render him speechless, but just for a moment.

“I’m going to go out there and get the win, go home, get a good night’s sleep, and get ready to start training for the next fight,” he says. “That’s all there is to it. This is a job. I enjoy doing this job, and for me, it’s just another fight.”

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(Riggs makes a point. Photo by Paul Thatcher)
(Riggs makes a point. Photo by Paul Thatcher)

By FIGHT! contributor Matt Burosh

Joe [Riggs] is young,” said Phil Baroni, “I’m a man now and I think he’s a boy. Someday I’ll probably commenate for Joe when he’s fighting for a world title. This is my time.”

Every pre-fight back-and-forth has a theme and Riggs’ youth is the focus leading up to this bout. Baroni, 33, is set to face Riggs, 25, on June 6 at Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Riggs in St. Louiss, Mo. The elder Baroni feels that his wealth of experience more than makes up for Riggs youthful vigor but the reality is that the younger fighter is not only more experienced than Baroni but Riggs’ experience and the injuries he has accumulated have artificially aged him.

Baroni proclaimed that it’s his time but Riggs exuded quiet confidence earned through experience. “I was bred for this,” he said, “My Dad grew me to be [a fighter] since I was a kid.”

Joe “Diesel” Riggs began competing professionally at 17 as a heavyweight and boasts a record of 29-10, including, interestingly enough, a win over high-profile MMA referee Herb Dean. In fact, Riggs has 16 more pro fights under his belt than Baroni, whose record is just 13-10. Unlike Baroni, Riggs has stayed active throughout his career, fighting as often as nine times in a single year. But injuries, possibly exacerbated by his frenetic pace, slowed Riggs down in recent years.

Besides the typical fighter’s litany of lacerations, bumps, bruises and the occasional broken hands, Riggs also persevered through a back injury severe enough to require surgery and kicked an addiction to painkillers. Younger than Baroni by a full seven years, Riggs looks older, the toll of a fighter’s life carved permanently into his features.

But Riggs credits modern medicine and his wife’s support for helping him get into peak form leading up to June 6. “I’ve been training for the past three months and I’m in the absolute best shape of my life,” said Riggs, “I’ve never been in better shape.”

If that’s true, then Baroni’s supposed advantages are moot and come June 6, “Diesel” could make his older opponent simply look old.

Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields will be televised live on Showtime at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).

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FIGHT! Magazine’s #2 ranked welterweight Hayato “Mach” Sakurai gives clipped answers at the DREAM.10 press conference yesterday. The card will be broadcast live on HDNet at midnight, July 20 PST and 3 a.m. ET, July 21. The show will be replayed at 10 p.m. ET on Fri., July 24. The interview is conducted in Japanese with English subtitles. If you don’t see the subtitles, click the button on the bottom right of the YouTube frame and turn the Closed Captioning on.

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(Junior Dos Santos celebrates his win over Cro Cop.)

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira discussed his protege, Junior Dos Santos, with FIGHT! photographer Paul Thatcher after Dos Santos’ win at UFC 103.

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