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It’s the Return of the Gangsta, Diaz silences Shamrock

By Nicolas Bauer

With the collapse of Elite XC, Strikeforce has become a major promotion in Mixed Martial Arts. Partnering up with Showtime in order to televise free, aside from cable fees, fights featuring relatively big names in the sport. Sandwiched between WEC 40 last weekend and UFC 97 next weekend, two Zuffa engagements, Strikeforce needed to establish itself on Saturday. An action packed card filled with finishes was a good start.

The main event showcased two of the sport’s most noticeable personalities, Frank Shamrock and Nick Diaz. As the fighters walked to the cage it was clear that although Shamrock was fighting in home town of San Jose, plenty of Diaz supporters had made the short trip from Stockton. As the first round got under way, Diaz began to paw away at Shamrock with his lead hand, as he has done so often in the past, and targeting volume punches.  Diaz clearly controlled the cage with his reach advantage and limited Shamrock to kick attempts from the outside and lunging punches. Diaz managed to take Shamrock down after catching a kick attempt and showed his prowess as a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter managing to pass Shamrock’s guard and gain side control more than once. Shamrock managed to escape back to standing before falling down while attempting another kick. Diaz took control on top and then capitalized on another mistake in Shamrock’s mount defense, taking the position with less than a minute to go in the opening round. Diaz threw a good amount of punches from that position, but Shamrock was saved by the bell.

In the second round Diaz went right back to work pawing away and taunting Shamrock the whole way. Shamrock looked tired and puzzled by Diaz’s offense, and Frank’s face began to show the signs of the Diaz volume punching attack. A little after a minute into the round Diaz landed a series of powerful hooks to the body as Shamrock leaned away with his head to avoid the presumed counter-punch. Shamrock immediately created space and got on his bike for as long as he could before Diaz closed the distance. Diaz eventually put Shamrock against the fence and started to throw unanswered combinations, although not all the punches landed cleanly. Shamrock tried to circle out one last time but Diaz cut him off and trapped him against the cage and unloaded a devastating right hand to the body immediately dropping Shamrock to the canvas. From there Diaz unloaded punches to the head Shamrock who was helplessly pinned against the cage. Big John stepped in and called the fight at 3:57 of the second round. After the fight, the normally abrasive Diaz, exhibited a great deal of class and respect for his opponent, helping Shamrock back to his feet and raising his arm in reverence. Diaz has a lot of options now, depending on what weight class he is going to fight at, perhaps a rematch with K.J. Noons at a future Strikeforce event.

As impressive as the Diaz victory is, the fight of the night belonged to Scott Smith and Benji Radach. Benji Radach came out aggressive in round one and established his range with the jab. However it didn’t take long for Smith to get inside that range and land a shot that dropped Radach. Benji quickly recovered and tried to grab a leg in the. He managed to get back to his feet and landed a left hook while circling away that rocked Smith. Radach got control on top and ended the first frame impressively. The second round was even better for Radach as he continued to land numerous combinations on the feet throughout the round and even manage to get a standing guillotine choke that almost finished the fight. In the third round things were continuing to to go Radach’s way as he tagged Smith repeatedly and even escaped from a Smith guillotine attempt. After some inactivity Herb Dean stood the fighters back up and Smith leaned into a right hand that put Radach face down on the mat. Herb Dean jumped in to stop the fight giving Smith the knockout victory.

Gilbert Melendez made short work of Rodrigo Damm who took the fight on a week’s notice. Melendez was originally slated for a rematch with Josh Thompson, who took Melendez’s lightweight title, but Thompson had to pull out due to a broken ankle. Damm was on the defensive the entire fight as Melendez stalked him looking to set up take downs with strikes. He eventually got that takedown and rode out the first round landing punches from the top but never threatening to end the fight. The second looked like it would be more of the same as Melendez got another take down, Damm scrambled and managed to get up but ate a vicious combo that put him down for good. Melendez claimed the interim light-weight title with the victory but it was bitter sweet as he will look forward to fighting Thompson for the title.

Cristiane “Cyborg” dispatched of Hitomi Akano, but it wasn’t as quick as it should have been. Cyborg was landing repeatedly with power for the entirety of the fight. She repeatedly shrugged off takedown and clinch attempts from Akano and blasted away. Akano displayed a chin and will of iron as she managed to withstand the onslaught, at least until the third round. Cyborg is still looking forward to her showdown with Gina Carano in the future, and that will be very entertaining.

In the opening bout of the night Brett Rogers hammered away at Ron Humphrey, who withstood quite a lot of punishment. Rogers was landing almsot at will but Humphrey kept on coming. That is until a couple of knees and a few big rights put Humphrey away for good. Rogers stays perfect at 10-0 and continues to climb the heavyweight ladder.

All in all it was a good night for Strikeforce, if they can continue to produce shows with quality fights and quality fighters then the future loks promising.

Strikeforce: Shamrock Vs. Diaz: Recap



WEC 40 Review

April 6, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Torres Earns Decision, and Respect

By Nicolas Bauer

Miguel Torres was originally slated to fight Brian Bowles, but found himself in the toughest fight of his career against Takeyo Mizugaki. Mizugaki was making his WEC debut, but showed little signs of nervousness as he pushed the bantam-weight champ until the final bell. Torres did a great job of out striking Mizugaki early in the fight, but Mizugaki managed to withstand numerous onslaughts from the champion and managed to land a number of good quality body-shots, knees and power punches. Things seemed to be going well for Torres until a cut was opened on his forehead midway through the fight and gave Mizugaki the confidence he needed to continue. Torres showed the resolve and determination of a true champion as he persevered through the blood and continued to throw everything at the challenger to his throne. In the end Torres was awarded the unanimous decision victory, 49-46, 49-46, and 48-47. Mizugaki cried after the scores were announced but he has nothing to be ashamed of. He managed to take one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport to a very close 5-round decision and if you didn’t know about him before, you definitely will be watching him again in the future.

In the co-main event, and possible number one contender match in the bantam-weight division, Joseph Benavidez took the unanimous decision win over former feather-weight contender and WEC veteran Jeff Curran. Benavidez managed to out strike Curran along with mixing up some take downs and a good amount of top-position control. Curran appeared to have won the first round with his clean technical striking. As the fight wore on at a torrid pace, Benavidez applied continuous pressure and didn’t let Curran find his rhythm on the feet after the first round. It appeared that Curran was landing clean with relative frequency but was frustrated by the constant attack of Benavidez. Once Benavidez managed to land a power punch that stunned Curran, the fight seemed to change. Curran wanted to answer with a power shot of his own and seemed to stray from what was working for him. Two judges had it 30-27 for Benavidez while the remaining judge saw it 29-28. Not to say that Benavidez didn’t win the fight, but it was much closer than 30-27.

In light-weight action, Ben Henderson improved to 9-1 with a first-round TKO victory over Shane Roller. Roller had control early and landed a big counter-right that dropped Henderson against the cage. Roller quickly moved in for the kill and went for his guillotine choke that had ended two previous fights in the WEC, but Henderson miraculously recovered fast and locked up and inside single-leg to reverse position. Roller battled back to the feet and the two exchanged again. Henderson showed no ill effects of the knockdown and displayed poise and patience to land a well timed combo that dropped roller. Henderson jumped on top and swung for the fences. Roller attempted to gain control of Henderson’s body but couldn’t lock up his hands and the ref was forced to stop the bout due to unanswered punches.

Feather-weight Rafael Assuncao proved that he is worth the hype as he earned a unanimous decision victory over Jameel Massouh. Assuncao controlled the action throughout the fight and landed a nice right hand that dropped his opponent to the canvas. Massouh proved that he has a good chin as he recovered and even managed to almost secure a heel hook. Assuncao never let that position happen again and earned the nod from the judges.

In preliminary action light-weight Anthony Njokuani defeated IFL veteran Bart Palaszewski by TKO stoppage in the second round. Njokuani used his reach advantage via the jab to space Palaszewski who needed to get inside. A straight right hand from Njokuani dropped Palaszewski in the opening frame but the crafty veteran gutted it out and got back to his feet. The second round brought more of the same as Njokuani floored Palaszewski again. Palaszewski did his best to cover up but in the end did little in the way of intelligent defense forcing the ref to stop the bout.

Feather-weight Wagnney Fabiano showed that he is more than capable of fighting on his feet as he earned a unanimous decision over Fredson Paixao, 30-27 across the board. Rani Yahya did what he does best, make short work of those not equipped to deal with his submission skills. That is what Eddie Wineland found out the hard way at 1:07 of the first round. Yahya took Wineland’s back off a scramble and sunk in the rear naked choke. And Akitoshi Tamura won a hard-fought victory over Manny Tapia.

The WEC continues to deliver a quality product, for a price that can’t be beat, and showcase some of the most talented fighters in the world.

WEC 40 Review



UFC 96 Predictions

February 25, 2009 | Leave a Comment

By: James Denly

After coming off the heels of a very successful event aired for free on Spike, the UFC will host another event in just 10 days with UFC 96 live from the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH.  This star-studded card features 10 great bouts including Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Shane Carwin, Gray Maynard vs. Jim Miller, and in the main event, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson takes on Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine.  These are my predictions for all 10 bouts.

Quinton Jackson over Keith Jardine

Jardine maybe a very awkward fighter and be tough for his opponents to figure out, but his chin has been very suspect in the past.  His last three losses inside the octagon have all been by way of knockout.  Rampage is known for being a devastating puncher and has a few knockout wins on his resume.  If Rampage cannot let Jardine’s unique style confuse him and can get close enough to land that solid right hand of his, he should be able to get the knockout.

Gabriel Gonzaga over Shane Carwin

Gabriel Gonzaga suffered a minor setback in his career with back to back losses to Randy Couture and Fabricio Werdum, but has bounced back with back to back wins over Justin McCully and Josh Hendricks.  Shane Carwin is undefeated and a real threat in the Heavyweight division, but he hasn’t fought anyone nearly as talented a Gonzaga.  Gabriel has awesome striking and excellent jiu-jitsu and I think he’s going to be a little too much for Carwin to handle.  I got Gonzaga by submission.

Pete Sell over Matt Brown

Matt Brown is tough opponent for anyone. He’s got good striking, a good ground game, and a ton of heart.  However, Pete Sell has awesome punching power. He trains with Matt Serra, so we know he has a solid submission game and he has shown that in the past.  Sell has definitely fought tougher opponents than Brown has and I believe that that experience factor will come into place.  I’m taking Pete Sell via unanimous decision.

Matt Hamill over Mark Munoz

Matt Hamill is a very explosive fighter.  He’s very big and very strong for a Light Heavyweight.  His wrestling is excellent and his striking is greatly improved.  Munoz is a good wrestler with very good muy-thai skills.  He may be the better striker, but Hamill’s wrestling is far more superior.  Hamill should be able to take Munoz to the ground and finish him from there.  I’m going with Matt Hamill via TKO.

Gray Maynard over Jim Miller

Maynard is going to be the bully in this fight.  He’s going to try to push Jim Miller around and put him bad situations.  Miller has really good cardio and a solid submission game, but Maynard has great wrestling and solid striking.  Either way this one goes it is sure to be full of fireworks.  With that said, I got Gray Maynard winning a split decision.

Tamdan McCrory over Ryan Madigan

Ryan Madigan will be making his UFC debut that night.  Fighters making their first appearance in the UFC often get a case of what Joe Rogan calls the “octagon jitters”.  Fighters are usually so nervous their first time in the cage that they usually don’t perform to the best of their ability.  Ryan Madigan will most likely have the octagon jitters that night and Tamdan McCrory will take advantage of that.  McCrory has been in there enough to feel comfortable and he is very well rounded.  I see McCrory finishing this in the first round with a submission.

Kendall Grove over Jason Day

Both Kendall Grove and Jason Day are explosive fighters.  Both are well rounded and have good conditioning.  However, Kendall is 5 inches taller than Day.  That reach advantage should play a big factor in this fight.  If Grove can keep Day on the outside, then he should be able to pick him apart.  I’m going with Kendall Grove via knockout.

Tim Boetsch over Jason Brilz

Tim Boetsch is a very tough guy.  He has good wrestling and his striking is very solid.  Jason Brilz is also a solid fighter with good wrestling and solid striking.  The only real difference that I see is that Boetsch has a little more experience in the octagon and his striking is tough to handle.  I think it will be a close fight, but I’m going with Tim Boetsch winning a unanimous decision.

Brandon Vera over Michael Patt

Brandon Vera is in serious need of a win.  He has the skill set to be a world champion, but his head hasn’t seemed to be in the right place recently.  I think this is the fight where we will see the old Brandon Vera who finished his opponents in an exciting fashion.  Michael Patt is coming off a tough TKO loss to Tim Boetsch and it will be interesting to see how he bounces back.  I don’t think Patt has much of a chance in this one and I’m going with Brandon Vera via knockout.

Shane Nelson over Aaron Riley

Shane Nelson is a protégé of BJ Penn, so we know that he has a solid ground game.  He is also heavy handed.  Aaron Riley has a ton of experience and a chin made of granite.  However, I think that Nelson is going to be better standing up and better on the ground.  I just don’t see any particular area where Riley is going to be the better of the two.  Shane Nelson should be able to win a unanimous decision in this one.


UFC 96 Predictions



UFC 92 Predictions

December 26, 2008 | Leave a Comment

By James Denly

It’s the time of the year again when families come together celebrate the holidays.  Most people think of traveling, exchanging gifts, and sharing precious moments with friends and family when it comes to the month of December.  However, for MMA fans, it’s time for the biggest UFC fight card of the year.  This card is no exception as UFC 92 will feature three of the year’s biggest fights including two title bouts.  In the main event, UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Forrest Griffin will defend his crown against undefeated contender “Sugar” Rashad Evans.  In the other title bout, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir will finally get a shot at the belt he never lost as he takes on current interim champion Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira.  The final blockbuster bout on this card will between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson as he takes on Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva for the third time.  These are my predictions for the entire card.

Forrest Griffin over Rashad Evans

No one has ever been able to force Rashad to fight a fast paced fight like Forrest will.  I think cardio will come into play and we don’t know if Rashad has enough in his gas tank to keep up a furious pace.  Forrest seems to shine in big fights and has fought the best of the best in the division. I think Forrest wins a unanimous decision.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira over Frank Mir

This bout features arguably the two best heavyweight ground fighters in the history of MMA.  Mir will definitely have the strength and speed advantage, but his cardio has been questionable in the past.  Minotauro has solid striking and his ground game is top notch.  His ability to recover is like no other.  I think that Mir will gas out by the third round and Minotauro will be able to finish the fight. I’m going with Nogueira via submission.

Wanderlei Silva over Quinton Jackson

I don’t think that this is a good fight for Jackson to take right after a loss to Forrest Griffin.  Wanderlei has beaten Rampage twice in Pride and both fights ended with brutal knockouts.  Wanderlei just seems to have Rampage’s number.  He’s going to come out fast and put furious pace on Jackson.  I just don’t see Rampage being able to weather the storm.  I am going to predict Wanderlei via knockout.

Cheick Kongo over Mostapha Al Turk

Kongo’s superior striking is going to be the key to this fight.  I don’t know much about Al Turk, but I hope he has a solid stand up game.  If he doesn’t, this fight won’t make it past the first round. Kongo via knockout in the first round.

Yushin Okami over Dean Lister

Okami is extremely strong and very well rounded.  Lister is an amazing ground fighter and his only chance at winning is to get this fight to the mat.  Okami is a good wrestler and will be able to keep this fight standing.  Okami should be able to finish Lister on their feet.  I’m going with Okami via knockout.

Antoni Hardonk over Mike Wessel

Hardonk is a great striker and is getting better on the ground training with Rickson Gracie.  I think that if Hardonk can keep this fight on the feet, he will be able to win a technical bout over Wessel.  I say Hardonk via unanimous decision.

Matt Hamill over Reese Andy

Reese Andy is a good wrestler, but his wrestling is no nearly as strong as Matt Hamill’s. Hamill’s striking has improved by leaps and bounds and continues to get better every time he steps into the octagon.  Hamill is also ridiculously strong.  I believe that he will be able to overpower Andy and control the fight wherever it goes. I’m going with Hamill in a unanimous decision.

Ryo Chonan over Brad Blackburn

Chonan has fought some of the best fighters in the game today. He also has that big over Anderson Silva. I believe that his experience will play a huge factor in this fight.  I’m going with Chonan via split decision.

Dan Evensen over Pat Barry

Both of these fighters have won most of if not all of their fights by knockout.  Evensen is four inches taller than the 5’11” tall Barry.  Evensen will clearly have the reach advantage in this fight and it if he can keep Barry on the outside, he should win this fight.  I say Evensen via TKO.

The UFC always saves their biggest fight card for the end of the year and this is no exception.  This should truly be an exciting night of fights.  A lot of questions should be answered by the end of the night.  Will Forrest be able to successfully defend his crown, or is he just a transitional champion?  Who will win the Heavyweight crown and go on to face Brock Lesnar to unify the titles?  Can Rampage end this tough year on a good note, or will Wanderlei go 3 for 3?  Whatever way these answers turn out, it should be fun to watch unfold.  Hope everyone had a good holiday and has an even better New Years.

UFC 92 Predictions



WEC 36

November 6, 2008 | Leave a Comment


By Nicolas Bauer

Urijah Faber Vs Mike Brown
In what is probably the biggest upset of the year, Mike Brown crushed feather-weight king Urijah Faber to capture the 145-pound championship. Brown countered a back elbow attempt by Faber with a perfect right hand that sent the California Kid to the canvas. Brown pounced on the wounded former-champ and simply overwhelmed Faber with jack-hammer right hands until the ref was forced to stop the bout at 2:23 of the very first round.

Faber started the fight strong showing good movement and quickness and set a quick pace. Brown proved he was ready for Faber, and patiently looked for his openings. After an exchange of knees in the clinch Brown displayed his strength advantage by showing Faber to the canvas. Faber seemed strangely frustrated and may have let his ego get the better of him as he engaged boastfully. This may have led to his ultimate demise as a misjudged elbow attempt gave Brown the opening he was looking for.

After such a colossal upset, Faber will have to regroup and rededicate himself in order to regain his title. Mike Brown, on the other hand, apparently suffered a rib injury as he left the cage holding his chest and wincing. Luckily for Brown he can heal up while polishing his new championship belt.

Paulo Filho Vs Chael Sonnen
In what would have been the first of two scheduled title fights, if not for Paul Filho missing weight, Chael Sonnen proved that his brief moments of dominance in their first meeting were no joke. Although it would be difficult to call Sonnen’s win in the second bout a dominant one, he clearly won a unanimous decision.

Sonnen easily controlled the standup action throughout all 3 rounds, and briefly toyed with engaging Filho on the ground. After a few unsuccessful attempts to execute some effective ground and pound attacks, Sonnen did the smart thing and forced Filho to stand against him for the rest of the contest.

The final round did not provide much in the way of offense from either fighter, but Sonned did exactly what he had to in order to preserve the win, and ensure that next time he faces Filho, it will be for the middle-weight championship.

Jens Pulver Vs Leonard Garcia
In another highly anticipated bout, Leonard Garcia pulled an upset of his own. I got the feeling this fight would go down this way, but I figured Pulver would have given Garcia more trouble. From the opening bell Garcia seemed to be the quicker of the two. Coupled with his height and reach advantage, Pulver was facing an uphill battle. Garcia put together a nice combination that wobbled Pulver and dropped him against the fence. Once Garcia smelled blood, he went in for the kill throwing vicious hooks to the downed Pulver forcing the referee to call the bout at 1:12 of the first round.

Rob McCullough Vs Donald Cerrone
In another upset I expected, Donald Cerrone used all of his advantages to earn a unanimous decision victory. Similar to the Pulver/Garcia fight, McCullough had to use all of his experience to defeat the physically larger and technically sound Cerrone. Unfortunately for Razor, he stepped into the cage with a fighter who was well prepared and ready to fight.

Cerrone came out with a lot of energy and waited out McCullough early looking for where he could effectively counter. Whatever confidence Razor Rob had was erased in the first as Cerrone managed to drop McCullough twice in the first frame and almost ended the fight. Cerrone began the 2nd round with even more confidence and dropped McCullough again before taking his back while looking for a choke. Razor managed to get Cerrone off of his back but wound up having to reverse a deep arm-bar to survive the 2nd. Cerrone clinched his victory with a couple of solid takedowns and effective striking in the 3rd. All 3 judges scored the bout for the Cowboy, leaving Razor Rob with a lot of questions that need to be answered.

Rounding out the card…
Ronny Yahya overcame a deep guillotine attempt from Yoshiro Maeda in the first round before reversing position and ending the fight with a guillotine choke of his own. Yahya showed his submission prowess yet again and forced Maeda to tap out at 3:30 of the first round.

Aaron Simpson brutally knocked out David Avellan with a devastating overhand right at the :18 mark of the very first round.

Jake Roshalt showed off his ground skills by defeating Nissen Osterneck. With effective position control and powerful punches from the mount, Roshalt forced the ref to stop the fight at 3:48 of the 2nd round.

Jose Aldo won a close fight against Jonathan Brookins via TKO at the very end of the third. Brookins was hurt but still in the fight which will lead many people to question the ref’s decision. Although Brookins was aware, he was simply eating too much punishment for the ref to sit idly by.

Rafael Dias appeared to be the better striker than Danny Castillo early on, but a Castillo uppercut that sent Dias to the mat changed the momentum of the entire fight. Dias and Castillo exchanged punches and scrambles before a missed takedown from Dias put Castillo on top where he landed some powerful shots that halted the bout at 2:54 of the 2nd.

Carmelo Marrero managed to squeeze out a split decision win over Steve Steinbeiss. Marrero’s combination of control and damage were just enough in the judges eyes to earn him the victory.

WEC 36



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