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At approximately 12:30 a.m. EST on Fri., Dec. 17, FIGHT! Magazine will present live streaming video of the WEC 53: Henderson vs Pettis post-fight press conference live from Jobbing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz. The card features the final WEC Lightweight Championship bout between current champion Benson Henderson (#7 Lightweight) and challenger Anthony Pettis (#25) and the final WEC Bantamweight Championship bout between current champion Dominic Cruz (#1 Bantamweight) and challenger Scott Jorgensen (#6). The winner of Henderson vs. Pettis will immediately challenge the winner of Edgar vs. Maynard for the UFC Lightweight Championship while the winner of Cruz vs. Jorgensen will be installed as the first-ever UFC Bantamweight Champion. Immediately following the weigh in, TUF winner, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and fan favorite Forrest Griffin will participate in a fan Q&A session. The main card of WEC 53 will air live on Versus at 9 p.m. on Thurs., Dec. 16. Check back on Fri., Dec. 17 for full results and analysis of how WEC 53 affected FIGHT!’s rankings.

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Beloved among fighters and MMA fans alike, Charles “Mask” Lewis was the inspirational leader and ingenious business mind behind TapouT, the most successful lifestyle brand in MMA. On March 11, 2009, Mask was on his way home from a late-night training session when his Ferrari was hit by a drunk driver. Mask died instantly, and his death was felt in every corner of the MMA community. In Part 2 of this FIGHT! Life series, Skrape and Punkass recall the many talents of their former partner.

Directed and produced by Matthew Ross. Shot by Rick Lee, Ian Smith, and Anthony Williams. Edited by Ashley Cahill and Ryan Jackson-Healy. Music by Jacques Brautbar.

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FIGHT! photog Paul Thatcher caught up with former Ultimate Fighting Championship title holder Forrest Griffin before a workout at Xtreme Couture. Griffin is preparing to face Tito Ortiz for the second time at UFC 106 and says that Ortiz’s name recognition makes it easier to field questions while at Starbucks and Albertson’s.

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Jamie Varner tells FIGHT!’s Danny Acosta after his WEC 46 title bout loss that he wants to beat Ben Henderson and Donald Cerrone and then “get out” of the WEC and take fights in the UFC. Shot and edited by Rick Lee.

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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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FIGHT! Magazine editor in chief Donovan Craig traveled to Mosul, Iraq in Sept. to cover the first sanctioned mixed martial arts fight held in an active combat zone. Documentary filmmakers were also on hand – this is the trailer.

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FIGHT! photographer Paul Thatcher caught up with Paul Daley after his win over Martin Kampmann at UFC 103. Go here to learn more about the explosive British striker.

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(Chandler tops Scott Stapp at Bellator 31.)

This week Bellator Fighting Championships confirmed the addition of Michael Chandler (#54 Welterweight), Lloyd “Cupcake” Woodard, and Ferrid Kheder (#123 Lightweight) to its upcoming Season 4 Lightweight Tournament.

Chandler is a former Division I grappler but he said, “I never want to be known as the typical ‘lay and pray’ wrestler.” Joining Chandler will be Lloyd “Cupcake” Woodard. A native of Missoula, Montana, Woodard has racked up a record of 10-0 on regional cards on the High Plains and in the Pacific Northwest. “It doesn’t matter who I fight in the first round of this tournament,” Woodard was quoted in a press release. “I’m pretty sure they’re going to be a really tough fighter, so that’s what I’m preparing for.” Kheder was scheduled to compete in Bellator’s Season 2 Lightweight Tournament when he suffered an appendicitis and had to undergo surgery. After competing extensively in Central America, the French-Tunisian Olympic Judoka is ready to make a name for himself in the United States, where he lives and trains.

Chandler, Lloyd, and Kheder join “Razor” Rob McCullough (#70 Lightweight) and Carey Vanier (#95) in Bellator’s Season 4 Lightweight Tournament. The tournament winner will take home $100,000 and the right to challenge Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez (#11 Lightweight) for the title.

Bellator Season 4 kicks off live on MTV2 at on Sat., March 5, 2011 at 9 p.m. EST from Tachi Palace Resort & Casino in Lemoore, Calif. Bellator previously announced its upcoming Featherweight and Welterweight Tournaments. The Featherweight bracket features unheralded Nazareno Melagarie, Patricio Freire (#21 Featherweight), Wilson Reis (#23), Daniel Straus (#20), Georgi Karakhanyan (#29), Kenny Foster, Zac George and Eric Larkin in the Featherweight Tournament field. The tournament winner will take home $100,000 and a shot at Bellator Featherweight Champion Joe Warren (#2)

The Welterweight Tournament features Jay Hieron (#19 Welterweight), Steve Carl (#43), “Judo” Jimmy Wallhead, former Bellator Welterweight Champion Lyman Good (#38), Dan Hornbuckle (#57), Brent Weedman (#84), Chris Lozano, and former Olympic judoka Rick Hawn as they compete for $100,000 and a shot at Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren (#16). Both Lozano and Hawn will enter our rankings after their first tournament fight.

The promotion’s inaugural Light-Heavyweight Tournament is the other officially-announced component of Bellator’s upcoming fourth season, which will air on MTV2. In the coming weeks, Bellator will announce the rest of its season four tournament participants. To date, the other announced fighters for season four are Joe Riggs, Daniel Gracie and Ron Sparks.

The promotion currently boasts champions in all men’s divisions but Flyweight and Light Heavyweight. Those champions are Zach Makovsky (#11 Bantamweight), Joe Warren (#2 Featherweight), Eddie Alvarez (#11 Lightweight), Ben Askren (#15 Welterweight), Hector Lombard (#7 Middleweight), Cole Konrad (#25 Heavyweight), and Zoila Frausto, who will likely be at the top of the heap when FIGHT! unveils its Women’s Flyweight Rankings.

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(We agree, Trevor.)

Fourth of July weekend kicks off with fireworks of a different kind as UFC 116 rolls into Las Vegas, Nev. and beams out to the world on Spike TV and pay-per-view live this Saturday night. The MGM Grand Garden Arena hosts literally the biggest fight in UFC history when enormous former collegiate wrestling All-Americans Shane Carwin and Brock Lesnar clash to unify the UFC Heavyweight Championship. Here are FIGHT!’s picks for Saturday night’s bouts with odds courtesy of bodog. We are 67-38 with our picks in 2010.

Brock Lesnar (-140) vs. Shane Carwin (+110)

A true battle of behemoths, Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin have come to represent new generation heavyweights: high level, agile wrestlers with rapidly increasing skills in all other areas of their game. In their last outings, both bludgeoned Frank Mir. Lesnar defended his belt for the first time, while Carwin took the interim strap in wake of Lesnar riding the bench due to intestinal illness.

Facing opponents of equal size and power is new for each fighter. Lesnar has the better wrestling credentials, capturing the NCAA Heavyweight Championship compared to Carwin’s division two title. Each combatant isn’t interested in staying on their back and the takedown challenge might be too taxing over five rounds, so look for the superior stand-up fighter to emerge undisputed.
FIGHT! Pick: Carwin

Yoshihiro Akiyama (-205) vs. Chris Leben (+165)

Chris Leben accepted the monumental task of fighting Yoshihiro Akiyama on less than two weeks notice just days after upsetting undefeated All-American wrestler Aaron Simpson with a second round technical knockout. Akiyama has had a year to train for his second UFC outing; however, the Japanese star of Korean descent is reportedly unenthusiastic about facing off with “Crippler.”

That will be kryptonite since the Hawaii-based fighter has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Fresh off a camp focused on takedown defense, Leben’s heavy-handed, iron-chinned attack should teach Akiyama slugfests aren’t always fun.
FIGHT! Pick: Leben

Chris Lytle (-215) vs. Matt Brown (+175)

Matt Brown searches for retribution against Chris “Lights Out” Lytle in welterweight action. Brown tapped out to Chris Lytle in 2007, and since entered the UFC to post a 4-2 record. The gritty Ohioan is savvy enough to match Lytle and vows to be the first to stop or submit the firefighter. The former professional boxer has a submission edge on Brown, but since a slugfest is in the works, Lytle’s combinations likely earn Lytle the judges nod.
FIGHT! Pick: Lytle

Stephan Bonnar (+190) vs. Krzysztof Soszynski (-250)

Krzysztof Soszynski technically won his first meeting with Stephan Bonnar at UFC 110 in Australia via cut (head butt) although both were eager for take two. They have a chance to settle the score definitely in Las Vegas.

A war is Bonnar’s kind of fight. Soszynski’s clinch work and wrestling are the decisive weapons though as both struggle to put away a sturdy, charging challenger.
FIGHT! Pick: Soszynski

George Sotiropoulos (-180) vs. Kurt Pellegrino (+150)

A lightweight tilt between Kurt Pellegrino and George Sotiropoulos is a early favorite for Fight of the Night honors. Pellegrino transitions well between boxing and wrestling, employing his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt to threaten in scrambles and open up ground and pound. Sotiropoulos is the more polished grappler, but Pellegrino’s wrestling in a contest with guaranteed rough spots should make the difference.
FIGHT! Pick: Pellegrino

RECAP
Brock Lesnar (-140) vs. Shane Carwin (+110)
FIGHT! Pick: Carwin Resulting Outcome:  INCORRECT

Yoshihiro Akiyama (-205) vs. Chris Leben (+165)
FIGHT! Pick: Leben Resulting Outcome:  CORRECT

Chris Lytle (-215) vs. Matt Brown (+175)
FIGHT! Pick: Lytle Resulting Outcome:  CORRECT

Stephan Bonnar (+190) vs. Krzysztof Soszynski (-250)
FIGHT! Pick: Soszynski Resulting Outcome:  INCORRECT

George Sotiropoulos (-180) vs. Kurt Pellegrino (+150)
FIGHT! Pick: Pellegrino Resulting Outcome:  INCORRECT

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Tune in live today at 3 p.m. EST on FIGHT! for the UFC 125: Resolution Fight Club Q&A with UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez (#1 Heavyweight) in Las Vegas, Nev. Weigh ins for UFC 125 will begin at 5 p.m. EST.

UFC 125 is headlined by a Lightweight Championship bout between reigning champ Frank Edgar (#1 Lightweight) and the only man to defeat him in MMA, Gray Maynard (#5 Lightweight) and will air live on pay per view alongside the following bouts; Chris Leben (#8 Middleweight) and Brian Stann (#55), Thiago Silva (#15 Light Heavyweight) vs. Brandon Vera (#35), Nate Diaz (#10 Welterweight) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (#19), and Clay Guida (#7 Lightweight) vs. Takanori Gomi (#18).

Three fights from the stacked undercard will air live on ION Television. The full card can be viewed here. Follow FIGHT! on Twitter to talk with Danny Acosta about UFC 125 as it happens and check back on Sunday for Paul Thatcher’s best pictures from the MGM Grand Garden Arena as well as full results and analysis of how the fights affected our rankings.

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