The Juggernaut MMA News Report 06.21.12: Mega Weekend Preview
Posted by Jonathan Solomon on 06.21.2012
News and thoughts on Alistair Overeem's plans to fight by the end of the year, Rafael Cavalcante testing positive for steroids and more! Plus previews for this weekend's UFC 147 and UFC on F/X 4 cards!
Quick UFC 147 Preview
Wanderlei Silva vs. Rich Franklin
This show has been battered like it owes someone money because of injury after injury (not to mention forces outside the UFC's control) including this main event. Originally scheduled to be between the two coaches of Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort, we saw Rich Franklin step up for Vitor because of an injury. Now, we get to "look forward" to a rematch of their 2009 UFC 99 fight which saw Franklin take the unanimous decision.
Since then, Silva is 2-1 at middleweight (this fight is set for 190-pounds) including wins over Michael Bisping and Cung Le and a vicious knockout loss against Chris Leben. Ace Franklin is 1-2 since that win including the one knockout over Chuck Liddell and a pair of losses to Vitor Belfort and Forrest Griffin. In fact, he has not fought since last February due to injuries. Believe it or not, Franklin will turn 38-years old in the fall but appears to be willing to keep fighting as long as the UFC will have him. I wonder if fighting at this point is more enticing than a potential return to the classroom, but what do I know?
I have to admit, I'm not amped to see this fight no more than I was three years ago when they fought in Germany. Rich always goes 100% in the cage, as does Wanderlei, but as a main event, you want to see fighters in some semblance of the title picture (or at least, an intriguing match-up).
Much like the 2009 fight, expect these two to brawl and Franklin may just be a bad match-up for Wanderlei. Ironically, since 2006 in each of Wanderlei's losses, only Liddell and Franklin have been unable to knock out the Axe Murder (Cro Cop, Dan Henderson, Rampage and Chris Leben did).
Silve does not have that explosive knockout power (I don't care that he ripped Cung Le to shreds last year) and Franklin is a very safe fighter in that he doesn't take too many risks. And even though Franklin's four knockout losses in his career each came at the hands of a Brazilian (Belfort, Anderson Silva x2 and Lyoto Machida), it's suffice to say that none of those men were smaller than Franklin. Wanderlei is and he will have a tough time finding that power to hurt Franklin.
Assuming Rich does not experience any rust from his very long time away from the cage, expect another decision win.
Cezar Ferreira vs. Sergio Moraes
The first of the Ultimate Fighter: Brazil finales will determine the middleweight champion and the receiver of the long-term UFC contract. 27-year old Cezar Ferreira (4-2) is a BJJ black belt who fights out of Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas. He is 6'1 with a 79" reach and started out his career being mentored and trained by Vitor Belfort. He debuted in 2007 and has three knockouts to his credit along with a brabo choke victory. He came to America over a year ago and in his last fight before starting with TUF, he was knocked out last summer by midwest fighter Elvis Mutapcic.
Sergio Moraes is 29-years old and also holds a BJJ black belt. He used to compete as a welterweight but jumped up in weight to compete on TUF: Brazil. A multiple time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion, he is now a teacher at the California Black House gym. He debuted in MMA in 2006 and won his first five fights including one at Bellator 12 in 2009. He lost his first fight at Jungle Fight 15 by knockout against Bret Cooper but bounced back months later to submit Etoube Manuelo with a Kimura. He did not fight in 2011 before joining TUF.
In the tournament, Cezar defeated Gustavo Sampaio by second round submission, Leonardo Macarro with another submission before knocking out Thiago Bodao. Sergio submitted Thiago Rela, Delson Pe de Chumbo before losing to Daniel Sarafian by first round knockout. Moraes is taking his spot because of an injury and gets a second chance.
As far as where they were picked, Cezar was Vitor Belfort's first pick (second overall) while Sergio was his seventh choice (fourteen overall).
Rony Mariano Bezerra vs. Godofredo Pepey
Here we have the Ultimate Fighter: Brazil featherweight final between a pair of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts (go figure). The 5'6 Rony Bezerra has a 72" reach opposite the 5'11 Godofredo Pepey and his 73" reach.
Pepey is 8-0 with six submission wins plus two knockouts, and all but one of those contests ended inside the first round. In the TUF tournament, he defeated Johnny Goncalves (first round submission), Wagner Galeto (unanimous decision) and Marcos Vina (second round submission) to reach this weekend's ultimate fight.
As for Bezerra, he is 10-3 and riding a five fight win streak preparing for his UFC debut. Two of his losses came against Renan Barao (in 2006) and Genair da Silva (doctor stoppage in 2009). Of his 10 career wins, three have come by knockout with seven by submission. These men do not like spending 15 minutes or more in the cage! To earn his spot in this weekend's bout, Bezerra knocked out Dileno Lopes, submitted Anistavio Gasparzinho and bested Hugo Wolverine in a unanimous decision.
Interestingly enough, Rony was the first overall selection made by Wanderlei Silva and Pepey was picked 12 overall by Vitor Belfort (only four fighters were taken after him).
Fabricio Werdum vs. Mike Russow
Werdum is back and looking to make a statement in his home country, where he has not fought since 2004 in his fifth professional fight. There were likely opportunities for him to compete in May at the all-heavyweight UFC 146 show in Las Vegas, but apparently, he declined so he could fight on full-rest in Brazil.
Mike Russow ironically has not lost since 2007 at Pride 33 when he was submitted by Sergei Kharitonov, a man who also defeated Fabricio Werdum in Pride. Russow is 11-0 since then including four consecutive wins in the UFC. We last saw him in January when he earned a decision win over John-Olav Einemo. He's a 6'1, 253-pound heavyweight a 73" reach and a wrestling base.
Werdum made his triumphant UFC return in February when he absolutely dominated Roy Nelson from pillar to post to earn a unanimous decision victory. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert will turn 35-years old at the end of next month and will have plenty of advantages heading into this fight. He is three inches taller and has a four-inch reach advantage over Russow, not to mention that submission background in which nobody wants to go to the ground with him. Effecitvely, Russow must keep the fight standing and use his power to hurt Werdum. However, Fabricio should be the faster of the two and with better length and overall more effective attack arsenal. I still say if he was fighting anyone besides Roy Nelson, the odds are great that he wins by knockout. It just so happens that Big Country's skull is made out of some impenetrable substance.
Russow would instantly pick up a huge ball of momentum if he can score the upset against an opponent unanimously considered one of the best in the world. For Werdum, while the top of the division is pretty busy at the moment (JDS vs. Velasquez with Daniel Cormier waiting in the wings), it's possible he could find himself in a title fight next year of things go his way.
Gray Maynard vs. Clay Guida Preview
In just over 24 hours (depending on when you're reading this), two of the UFC's perennial top contending lightweights will clash with so much at stake. The main event of the UFC on FX 4 card sees Clay Guida (29-12 MMA, 9-6 UFC) take on Gray Maynard (10-1-1-1 MMA, 8-1-1-1 UFC) with both men facing the possibility of a two-fight losing streak and all that goes with it.
The Carpenter Guida was riding high heading into November on a four-fight win streak including wins over the likes of Takanori Gomi and Anthony Pettis. A fight with Ben Henderson on the first Fox show was to decide the next title contender for Frankie Edgar and the wild-haired brawler was overmatched by the former WEC champion. It was the second time in his career in the UFC that a streak of at least three wins ended (the first, in 2009 ended in the awesome fight with Diego Sanchez). The word on Guida throughout his run has been that of a fun fighter to watch because of his incessant motor. When you look at the majority of his losses, against Roger Huerta, Sanchez, Kenny Florian and Henderson, they were all against fighters who could match that motor. All four went toe-to-toe with Guida, could match his physicality, were not overpowered (as Anthony Pettis turned out to be) and walked out of the octagon victorious. Clearly, you would have to agree that Gray Maynard fits into that mold.
The Bully Maynard never knew what a loss in MMA felt like until 2011 although I'm sure he would suggest he suffered two last year because of the outcome of the draw in the January title fight with Frankie Edgar. Heading into their rematch in October, there was a lot on Maynard's mind and different signals reaching the public from his dying relationship with Xtreme Couture. Was he banged up? Did he not work hard enough for the rematch? Were there anterior issues weighing on his mind? Probably affirmative on all accounts which led to Maynard joining American Kickboxing Academy in California and spending time in Brazil with Nova Uniao.
Maynard's nickname is not for marketing purposes only, it's exactly what his fighting style has been throughout his career. Time and again, he overpowered opponents with his wrestling, mixed in his potentially poignant boxing and he'd take decisions wins. When he ran into the improved Frankie Edgar last year, a mix of an unexplainable chin and improved striking, his 'ol style failed to get him the championship. Now, for this fight, will he alter what got him to the show? Probably not, at least not against Guida.
Maynard should be able to control the fight because there still has not been a man in the UFC who could push him around. Guida may try, but if history tells us anything, he'll find himself overmatched and at the mercy of Maynard in a close decision.
If that is how things fall, Guida will find himself back on the undercard unless he decides to drop down in weight. Depending on what happens later this year and on the attitude of the UFC officials, could we see a fourth fight between Maynard and Edgar without the title in the picture?
Bellator 71 Preview
Bellator is back for their second annual summer series which features the first of three shows this summer. A light heavyweight tournament is on tap tomorrow night in West Virginia with the opening round starting us off. As is the case until they jump to Spike TV in January, you can check out Bellator at 8 p.m. eastern on MTV 2 this Friday.
Summer Series 2012 Light Heavyweight Tournament Quarterfinal Attila Vegh vs. Zelg Galesic
The first of these first round bouts features Zelg Galesic (11-6) against Attila Vegh (25-4-2). Galesic, a Croatian born fighter is 33-years old with a background in Taekwondo and Muay Thai. He's most famous for his stint in Dream from 2008-09 when he went 2-2 including a pair of submission losses to Jacare Souza and Kazushi Sakuraba. He debuted in Bellator in September in the middleweight tournament and was choked out by eventual tournament champion Alexander Shlemenko. He returned to action last month in India and knocked out former WEC light heavyweight champion Doug Marshall with a flying knee (a middleweight fight, too).
Vegh is a 26-year old Slovakian fighter who has fought 31 times since 2008. He is riding a five fight win streak including his Bellatr debut in April when he defeated Dan Spohn by decision. His most recent "big" win was on June 23, 2011 when he choked out then undefeated 19-year old German prospect, Jonas Billstein.
Summer Series 2012 Light Heavyweight Tournament Quarterfinal Chris Davis vs. Travis Wiuff
This match-up features the proverbial #1 ranked fighter among this field in Travis Wiuff, taking on Chris Davis.
Wiuff is famous in MMA for having fought a billion times, or so it seems. The 34-year old Minnesota native is 66-14 (with one no contest) and made the Bellator tournament format appear foolish when he defeated reigning champion Christian M'Pumbu in October in a non-title bout. The win earned Wiuff the opportunity to fight three more times before he can earn a title shot against the Frenchman. He has experience in a tournament, albeit a single-night format. Remember, he was the victor in the first and only YAMMA Pit Fighting event in 2008 when he beat Marcelo Pereira, Ricco Rodriguez and Chris Tuchscherer in the same night. Ironically, despite his stout record, he has been finished 12 times in his career including three times since 2008 (King Mo, Stanislav Nedkov and Tim Hague all knocked him out). He's a strong wrestler with 44 combined knockouts or submissions of his own.
To Chris Davis, the 29-year old Alabama native, he's 10-3 and has not fought since suffering a quarterfinal knockout loss to M'Pumbu in the season four tournament. Prior to that, he was on a three fight win streak, which I guess gives him enough to earn a spot in this tournament. Funny Bellator needed a spot filled, I'll assume.
Wiuff grinds out a decision win against Champion M'Pumbu in 2011
Summer Series 2012 Light Heavyweight Tournament Quarterfinal Roy Boughton vs. Emanuel Newton
A pair of California light heavyweights will fight when Roy Boughton steps in the cage opposite Emanuel Newton.
Boughton is just 23-years old, trains with Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and boasts an 8-2 professional record. His two losses were decisions against Lee Sang-Soo and Sokoudjou. He's on a three fight win streak since the latter loss including an impressive knockout win at Shark Fights 18 last spring when he knocked out Adriano Camolese. He earned a win against Ninja Rua in the Brazilians penultimate fight in 2010, albeit Boughton missed weight by over five pounds.
Newton is 28-years old with a 17-6 record (three of those losses cam win his first five fights). He last fought in November when he choked out James McSweeney to give him a five fight win streak.
Summer Series 2012 Light Heavyweight Tournament Quarterfinal Richard Hale vs. Beau Tribolet
Bellator veteran Rich Hale is back for his second attempt at a tournament championship. He made it to the finals of the season four competition but was knocked out by Christian M'Pumbu. He knocked out Josh Burns last month to earn a spot in this field. His record stands at 19-4-1 and he gained some fame for winning a fight last year against Nik Fekete with the patented standing inverted triangle choke.
He will fight Phoenix's Beau Tribolet, a 7-1 fighter who has felt victory every time out after being knocked out in his first fight in 2008. He has finished each of his fights since then including a knockout of former UFC heavyweight Chase Gormley last summer.
Hale has the enormous 80.5" reach advantage but we shall see whether his chin can be touched by Tribolet.
JUGGERNAUT NEWS BRIEFS
- Alistair Overeem wrote this week on Twitter that he will fight before the end of 2012. Unfortunately for him, his suspension with the Nevada State Athletic Commission does not end until December 27 and Lorenzo Fertitta has said the UFC will not book him until his issues with the NSAC are a thing of the past. What this means for Overeem is if he desperately wants to fight before the end of 2012, it won't be inside the octagon.
- Bellator announced the signing of a pair of prospects this week. Russian lightweight Alexander Sarnavsky signed a multi-fight deal and will participate in the upcoming season seven tournament to begin in September. His pro MMA record stands at a perfect 20-0. Besides him, they signed American bantamweight Shawn Bunch who has never competed in MMA to date, since jumping over from amateur wrestling. Bunch attempted to make the 2012 U.S. Olympic wrestling team but failed to qualify and is now planning to debut in MMA this fall in a Bellator cage.
- UFC on Fox 5 will air on December 8 at a yet to be disclosed location.
- Strikeforce light heavyweight Rafael 'Feijao' Cavalcante tested positive for stanozolol, a banned anabolic steroid, after his win over Mike Kyle last month in California. Their State Athletic Commission announced this week he has been fined $2500 and suspended for one year. Plus, the win over Kyle will be overturned to a no contest. Feijao's representatives have denied he purposefully took a banned substance and have filed an official appeal. This comes at a crushing point in his career because he was expected to fight Gegard Mousasi for the vacant Strikeforce light heavyweight title in the future. If his suspension sticks, it's worth questioning whether the UFC would want to sign Mousasi since aside from the two, Strikeforce does not have much of a 205-pound division to speak of.
- Taking Luiz Cane's spot at UFC 150 in August is Rousimar Palhares as he will fight Yushin Okami in Denver.
- UFC featherweight Robert Peralta will fight Jason Young at UFC on Fuel 5 in September. The main event of the card features Stefan Struve against Stipe Miocic in a battle of heavyweights. Plus, MMAFighting.com reports Dan Hardy will fight Amir Sadollah on the Nottingham, England card.
- Ariel Helwani told viewers on Fuel's UFC Tonight that reigning bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz may not regain his old form until anywhere from nine months to as many as 18 months after undergoing surgery earlier this month. The surgery repaired his left leg's ACL and MCL and Cruz is said to be feeling well.
JUGGERNAUT VIDEO(S) OF THE WEEK
A short offering this week as the UFC continues to slowly hype next month's epic championship rematch between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen.