Carwin Continues Momentum with KO, GSP wins decisively at UFC 111

Fans flooded the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., on Saturday for the UFC’s first title fights of 2010 at UFC 111.

The main event between welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and challenger Dan Hardy, built up by the return of UFC Primetime on Spike TV, was not as competitive as expected. St. Pierre performed to his strength, taking Hardy down with ease every chance he got, improving his position and landing ground-and-pound.

St. Pierre vs. Hardy

St. Pierre took away Hardy’s greatest chance of winning the fight by eliminating the stand up, and his gameplan worked effectively as Hardy was unable to do much damage over the five-round contest. St. Pierre was successful on all nine of his takedown attempts and attempted eight submissions throughout the fight according to compustrike.com, including a deep armbar and then a kimura, which were both close to ending the fight.

St. Pierre outstriked Hardy 130-22 and executed his gameplan to perfection. He retained his title via a unanimous decision victory: 50-45, 50-44, 50-43.

In the co-main event, undefeated heavyweight phenom Shane Carwin continued his domination of the UFC heavyweight roster by running through Frank Mir and earning the interim heavyweight championship. Carwin shot in on Mir and drove him to the fence, off of the opening exchange, where he landed strong knees and punches.

After a separation by the referee, Carwin pinned Mir back to the fence, where he landed a flurry of hooks and uppercuts, which dropped Mir. Carwin took his back and pounded him unconscious, ending the fight at 3:48 into the first round. Carwin outstriked Mir 68-3 in the contest and won “Knockout of the Night” honors.

New Jersey native and crowd favorite Kurt Pellegrino earned “Submission of the Night” honors by beating second-degree BJJ black belt Fabricio Camoes at his own game. Pellegrino defended the takedown successfully and outstriked the Brazilian 59-15 in the bout. He locked in a rear-naked choke and got the tap from Camoes at 4:20 into the second round.

Carwin vs. Mir

After a failed CT scan due to a brain irregularity, just 2 days prior to the event, Thiago Alves was forced out of a scheduled rematch with Jon Fitch. Ben Saunder’s match with Jake Ellenberger was scratched from the card and Saunders was rescheduled to face Fitch in the second main card fight.

Fitch wanted nothing to do with the standup of the muay thai expert, and rather worked to take down Saunders from the clinch through most of the fight. Fitch took Saunders down several times, controlled the fight, and landed some good ground-and-pound in the final two minutes. After three rounds, all three judges scored the bout 30-27 in favor of Fitch.

In the first match of the evening New Jersey native Jim Miller faced Mark Bocek in a back and forth battle. Bocek continuously went for the takedown and succeeded in getting the fight to the ground four times. However, Miller landed effective strikes from his back and attempted submissions, including a guillotine and then a kimura, which almost ended the fight in the first round.

Bocek controlled the second round and even mounted Miller. The fighters exchanged on the feet for most of the third round and Miller ended the fight by taking Bocek’s back. Miller outstriked Bocek 53-36 and won a close unanimous decision, with all three judges scoring the contest 29-28.

Miller vs. Bocek

A light-heavyweight bout between Rodney Wallace and Jared Hamman earned “Fight of the Night” honors. Hamman won the fight via unanimous decision and it was featured last on the pay-per-view broadcast. All fighters earning bonus honors received $65,000.

Rousimar Palhares received a disciplinary suspension of 90 days after winning a preliminary card fight against Tomasz Drwal. Palhares ended the fight 0:45 into the first round via heel hook, but failed to release the submission until being forced off of Drwal by the referee.

UFC 111 marked the first time that a UFC pay-per-view was aired live in HD on the big screen. The event was available in 300 select movie theaters across the country. Two preliminary fights were broadcast live on Spike and drew 1.2 million viewers, according to MMApayout.com

Overall, the Prudential Center had an attendance of 17,000 and a total gate of $4 million. The next UFC event, Ultimate Fight Night 21, will feature a main event between Kenny Florian and UFC newcomer Takanori Gomi. The event will be held at the Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, N.C., and will air live on Spike Wednesday, March 31, at 8 p.m. EST. The event will be followed by the premier of the eleventh season of “The Ultimate Fighter” on Spike at 10 p.m. EST.

UFC 111 – Spike TV Prelim Fights

UFC 111 PPV Pt. 1

UFC 111 PPV Pt. 2

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Florian looks to begin win streak

The Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, N.C. will be the home of UFC Fight Night 21, tonight, as Peruvian-American lightweight Kenny Florian (12-4) and Japanese lightweight Takanori Gomi (31-5) headline the event.

Hailing from Brookline, Mass., Florian has a blackbelt in BJJ and Genjitsu, and also specializes in Muay Thai, and is ranked by multiple MMA publications as the third best lightweight in the world. Tonight’s fight could set the foundation for his status in mixed martial arts with another win.

“Ken-Flo” split his last two fights, both occurring in 2009. In August of 2008, he faced off against B.J. Penn for the Lightweight Championship at UFC 101 in Philadelphia, Penn.

This wasn’t his first title shot, as he formerly had an opportunity in 2006 at UFC 64 in Las Vegas, Nev. against former champion Shawn Sherk.

Florian vs. Penn, Image Courtesy of MMA Weekly

Penn, who was labeled the most dominant fighter in mixed martial arts, was pushed to four rounds by Florian, but was still able to hang on and force Ken-Flo into submission with a rear naked chokehold at 3:54 in the fourth round.

So, Florian got back on his feet and prepared for his next fight against American Clay Guida at UFC 107, where Penn headlined that event, defeating Diego Sanchez to once again retain his title.

Memphis, Tenn. was the home of this event, and Florian didn’t take much time to prove the critics wrong. This time around, it was Florian who won the bout with a rear naked chokehold at 2:19 in the second round.

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Florian, who owns and fights out of his own gym (Florian Martial Arts Center), with his brother Keith, will headline tonight’s event, which also includes Ross Pearson vs. Dennis Silver, Roy Nelson vs. Stefan Struve, and Nate Quarry vs. Jorge Rivera.

While Gomi has been criticized for his career’s decline over the last few years, Florian has said that he is not a believer in Gomi’s lack of talent at this stage in his career, according to MMA Weekly. The big concern for Gomi will most likely be falling to submission, as he has lost three of his five bouts this way. Florian can back that up, as he has made eight of his professional opponents submit.

UFC Fight Night 21’s doors open at 4:00 p.m. eastern time, and the first bout begins at 5:00 p.m. eastern time. It will air tonight on Spike TV at 8:00 p.m. eastern time.

Hardy loses Welterweight Championship Bout

A long career in mixed martial arts was about to pay off for welterweight Dan Hardy. After signing with the UFC in 2008, it didn’t take Hardy very long to become a contender for the UFC Welterweight Title. He would compete for this against reigning champion Georges St-Pierre at UFC 111 this past Saturday, March 27, 2010 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

However, Hardy (23-7) couldn’t advance to the next milestone in his career, as St-Pierre came out on top, winning the match in five rounds. The decision was unanimous in St-Pierre’s favor, 50-43, 50-44, 50-45.

Hardy vs St-Pierre, Image Courtesy of the LA Times

It wasn’t an easy one for the English fighter, Hardy, also known as “The Outlaw.” At 6’0”, 170 pounds, Hardy shows versatility and quickness, and his Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai, Jui-Jitsu and boxing experience all helped in keeping him in the fight against the 20-2 Canadian Welterweight Champion.

In the first round, Hardy couldn’t stay on his feet, as St-Pierre controlled this portion of the fight. It would’ve been over much quicker, but Hardy’s toughness and durability prevented him from submitting to a fierce armbar. As the clock winded down, Hardy was able to escape the hold, and prepared for the second round.

The trend continued, as St-Pierre kept Hardy on his back again for most of the second and third rounds. Another armbar in the fourth almost drove Hardy into submission, but he toughed it out until the bell rung for the final time in the fifth.

Prior to this past weekend’s bout, Hardy was on a role – 7-0 since his last loss via disqualification at GCM: Cage Force 5 against Yoshiyuku Yoshida in 2007. In his most recent fight, Hardy defeated American Mike Swick (14-4) at UFC 105 to become the contender for the Welterweight Championship.

The fight went three rounds, and it was a close one. Hardy was able to gain control of the first round late with a few light right swings, and a knee to the midsection of Swick.

In the second round, Swick controlled the ring, as he was able to ward off most of Hardy’s strike attempts, and was able to counter with plenty of his own.

Hardy was able to gain slight control of the final round, as he nabbed Swick with some good strikes. Hardy won unanimously, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.

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Hardy will now return to his hometown of Nottingham, England to continue training, with hopes of getting another shot someday. Hardy trains with Team Rough House, which is located in East Midlands, England, and features other fighters, including Paul Daley and Ross Pearson.

Mir Focused on Carwin, but Lesnar rematch is Big Picture

It is no secret that UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and contender Frank Mir have a bitter relationship, to say the least. However, Mir will have to get through heavyweight powerhouse Shane Carwin (11-0) at UFC 111 before he can enact his dream of regaining the undisputed heavyweight title from Lesnar.

Frank Mir

On Saturday, Mir will have the chance to guarantee himself the next shot at Lesnar with a win over Carwin in a bout, scheduled for five rounds, for the interim heavyweight championship. The fight is scheduled as the co-main event of the evening at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

Fighting out of Las Vegas, Nev., Mir is a former UFC heavyweight and interim heavyweight champion. Mir, a black belt in kenpo karate and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, currently trains with Team Sityodtong in Boston, Massa., under owner and head trainer Mark DellaGrotte. He earned his black belt in BJJ under Ricardo Pires after only five years of training.

Currently holding a professional MMA record of 13-4, Mir is an accomplished grappler and renowned submission artist whose standup has drastically improved with each appearance in the octagon. He is the 2007 NAGA absolute division champion. Of his 13 victories, eight have come by way of submission.

After winning the UFC championship in a match with Tim Sylvia at UFC 48 in 2004, at the age of 25, Mir faced a potentially career ending injury. He was left with a broken femur and torn ligaments in his knee after a motorcycle accident, and was told that he may never walk again, let alone fight. Mir was stripped of his title after 14 months.

In 2006, nearly 2 years later, Mir returned to the octagon. In 2008, Mir shocked the world by submitting rising star Brock Lesnar in the first round at UFC 81, in a match in which he was clearly outsized and not favored to win.

Mir vs. Lesnar I - UFC 81

After running through Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for the interim heavyweight championship at UFC 92, Mir faced Lesnar in a rematch for the undisputed heavyweight championship in the main event of UFC 100.

Lesnar, a NCAA national champion wrestler, took Mir down with ease in the first round and smothered him, landing effective ground-and-pound. In the second round Mir landed a left elbow followed by a flying knee that rocked Lesnar, but he gave up the takedown in doing so. Lesnar continued to land brutal ground-and-pound from the top position until the match was stopped at 1:48 into the second round via TKO.

In the co-main event of UFC 107, Mir faced off with muay thai and kickboxing ace Cheick Kongo. Mir beat Kongo at his own game, dropping him with a lead left hook less than a minute into the fight. Mir then locked in a guillotine and choked Kongo unconscious, ending the fight at just 1:12 into the first round.

Carwin, a NCAA division II national champion wrestler and boxer with incredible knockout power, presents a huge challenge to Mir. In Carwin’s 11-fight MMA career, he has earned six victories via knockout or TKO and 11 first round stoppages.

With all of his losses coming by way of TKO, Mir is not known for his ability to take a punch, especially while fighting off of his back. Carwin’s wrestling background and powerful punches could prove dangerous to Mir. However, Mir’s submission game will present a threat to Carwin should the fight go to the ground, and Mir is perhaps the more technically sound striker. Mir recently stated that he believes that Carwin is a more dangerous version of Lesnar.

Carwin showed a good chin in his last fight against Gabriel Gonzaga and was able to get off of his back in a matter of seconds. With his 11 career fights lasting just over 12 minutes, it will be difficult for Mir to study Carwin for weaknesses, so he will likely stick to his normal training regimen.

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Live pay-per-view coverage of UFC 111 will begin at 10 p.m. EST

Frank Mir on ESPN – 3/25

Countdown to UFC 111

UFC on Versus 1: Jones still technically undefeated

Photo Courtesy of Dave Mandel of Sherdog.com

Broomfield, Colo. was the very first home of UFC on Versus, as the series capped off an incredible event of knockouts, long bouts and, of best college essays course, bone-crunching submissions.

As expected, the headliner, Vera vs. Jones was an interesting one, in which the young light heavyweight, Jon Jones took care of the experienced kickboxer, Brandon Vera within the first round. From the start, Jones took control with a leg-trip takedown, which was followed by some heavy punches. Vera’s efforts to keep Jones away were futile, as Jones succeeded in another takedown.

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While Jones was throwing elbows in Vera’s guard, Vera hit an illegal upkick to the jaw, which lost him a point. That point wouldn’t matter; however, as Jones delivered a vicious elbow to Vera, and ended that match via TKO with punches at 3:19 in the first round. Jones was awarded one of three Knockouts of the Night, and an extra $50,000. Jones still has never been technically beaten, as he was disqualified in his last fight for an illegal elbow shot.

The other two Knockouts of the Night were given to Junior dos Santos in his defeat over Gabriel Gonzaga at 3:53 of Round 1, and to a Preliminary Card matchup between United States fighter John Howard, who took on fellow American Daniel Roberts in welterweight action. The fight was originally scheduled to be Howard vs. Anthony Johnson. Johnson could not compete due to a training injury.

Roberts took Howard on in his UFC debut, but his inexperience proved to be his weakness, as Howard threw the knockout punch at 2:01 of the first round. This fight was Roberts’ first recorded MMA loss, putting him at 9-1. Howard moves on to a 4-0 UFC record, and a 14-4 MMA record.

Clay Guida, Courtesy of MMAWeekly

Another Preliminary Card matchup that won honors was Clay Guida (26-11) vs. Shannon Gugerty (12-5), which won Submission of the Night. This puts Gugerty at a small slump since his submission loss to Terry Etim at UFC 105. Lightweights Gugerty and Guida lasted two rounds before Guida locked on an arm-triangle choke at 3:40 and got the tap from Gugerty.

The Fight of the Night honor was not rewarded at this event.

The final two Main Card bouts were between Italian middleweight Alessio Sakara (8-1) and American James Irvin (14-6), and France heavyweight Cheick Kongo (22-6) and American Paul Buentello (27-11).

A sloppy beginning led to a sloppy end for Irvin, as Sakara took advantage of the new middleweight’s mistakes. After what appeared to be a shot to the eye, the fight was paused to allow Irvin to recover. After a few minutes of review, it was determined that the punch involved no poking, and Irvin could not continue. Sakara was named victorious due to TKO at 3:01 of the first round.

Kongo-Buentello was quite the different style matchup, as it went three rounds until a victor was named. In the first round, not a lot of damage was done to either fighter, although Kongo had much of the control. After what looked to be a pinky injury to Buentello, the fight is paused and then resumes, allowing Kongo to take out his frustrations with a hard takedown and furious punches. Kongo wins the first round.

Much of the same in the second round, as Buentello got destroyed in all facets of the game. Finally, Kongo gets the tap from Buentello in the third round (1:16) after a quick takedown, headlock and elbows to the knee.

Overall, the 1st Bank Center had an attendance of 6,443 and a total gate of $568,125. The next UFC event will be headlined by Georges St. Pierre and Dan Hardy at UFC 111 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. That will be this Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 10:00 p.m., eastern time on Pay-Per-View.

GSP Looks To Prove He is The More Complete Fighter at UFC 111

In the first episode of UFC Primetime: St. Pierre vs. Hardy, UFC welterweight champion Georges “Rush St. Pierre says, “I’m a martial artist, he’s not. He probably doesn’t understand the meaning of this, but after the fight I guarantee he will,” in regard to his opponent, Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy (23-6-1).

St. Pierre

This statement may be a stretch, but at UFC 111 St. Pierre will no doubt attempt to prove that his game is on another level, like he has against so many opponents in the past.

Two-time UFC welterweight champion and former TKO Canadian welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre will make his fourth title defense, since winning the undisputed championship in 2008, this Saturday in the main event of UFC 111 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

Currently training out of Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts and Zahabi MMA, St. Pierre has trained with various gyms, coaches and fighters throughout his MMA career. St. Pierre’s head trainer is Firas Zahabi and his muay thai coach is Phil Nurse.

Considered by many as one of the most well rounded fighters in MMA today, St. Pierre holds a third-degree black belt in Kyokushin-kaikan karate and a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. St. Pierre is known for his wrestling skills and strong takedown defense.

Fighting out of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, St. Pierre holds a professional MMA record of 19-2. St. Pierre has avenged both of his losses, to Matt Hughes and Matt Serra, and looks to continue his six-fight win streak. He has defeated one current and three former UFC champions in his career.

In the main event of UFC 94, St. Pierre defended his welterweight championship against lightweight champion B.J. Penn in a rematch of their UFC 58 meeting, in which St. Pierre was the victor via split decision. The fighters traded exchanges from the feet and the clinch for the first round, with Penn successfully fending off takedown attempts.

St. Pierre vs. Alves

In the second round St. Pierre was finally able to take Penn down and execute his game plan. St. Pierre took Penn down and passed his guard with ease for the majority of the remainder of the fight, landing vicious ground-and-pound. St. Pierre outlanded Penn 234-67 in total strikes, according to compustrke.com. The fight was stopped by Penn’s corner at the end of the fourth round and St. Pierre earned the victory via TKO.

In his last fight, in the co-main event of UFC 100, St. Pierre defended his welterweight championship against Brazilian muay thai expert Thiago Alves. St. Pierre both exchanged punches with and took down Alves with ease in the five round competition.

St. Pierre outlanded Alves 135-83 in total strikes and earned 11 takedowns. He attempted submissions and even dropped Alves in the third round, but was unable to finish him. St. Pierre dominated the fight, scoring a unanimous decision victory: 50-45, 50-44, 50-45.

In his last 13 fights St. Pierre has just one loss, which came to Matt Serra at UFC 69. His opponent at UFC 111 will present the same threat that helped Serra overcome the odds three years ago: knockout power.

Fighting out of Nottingham, England, Hardy holds a black belt in tae kwon do and a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Hardy is a powerful standup fighter with a perfect 4-0 record in UFC competition. Of his 23 wins, 11 have come by way of knockout or TKO.

St. Pierre learned from his loss to Serra and improved his game. In their second meeting he was more reluctant to stand with Serra and rather took him to the ground from the start of the match and landed devastating ground-and-pound. Expect St. Pierre’s game plan to be much similar when he faces Hardy.

Many people are ruling Hardy out of the fight, and it’s hard not to question his chances considering St. Pierre’s impressive track record. However, Hardy embraces his underdog role and will at the least have a puncher’s chance at UFC 111.

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Live pay-per-view coverage of UFC 111 will begin at 10 p.m. EST.

Watch UFC Primetime: St. Pierre vs. Hardy on Spike.com

Dos Santos continues streak at UFC on Versus

Dos Santos vs. Gonzaga

In the midst of a five-bout winning streak that spanned all the way back to March of 2008, BJJ and boxing specialist Junior dos Santos added to his streak at the very first UFC on Versus. He now holds an 11-1 record, professionally.

The heavyweight faced off against Brazilian Gabriel Gonzaga (11-5), who he was supposed to face at UFC 108 in January of 2010 in Las Vegas, Nev., but could not compete due to a staph infection.

The two finally got the opportunity to fight this past Sunday, March 21, in Broomfield, Colo., where after a few moments of feeling each other out, dos Santos was able to gain control through jabs and a vicious left hook. Dos Santos finished the match off with a ground and pound on top to knock Gonzaga unconscious. The fight was ruled in dos Santos’ favor via TKO at 3:53 in the first round. Dos Santos won the bonus of Knockout of the Night.

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In his previous fight at UFC 108, where Netherlands competitor Gilbert Yvel (36-14) replaced Gonzaga, dos Santos, also known as “Cigano” (or “Gypsy”), put his opponent away in an even more aggressive manner, which has been a staple in the fighting style of dos Santos for his entire career, winning all but two of his bouts in the first round.

Cigano had no remorse for Yvel, as he immediately delivered some blows to the chin and body, and followed up soon after with a left hook counter punch to an attempted head kick. The fight was stopped at 2:07 in the first round after dos Santos mounted his opponent and pummeled him with hammer fists.

Hailing out of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, dos Santos holds a brown belt in BJJ. He trains with Team Blackhouse, located in both Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Los Angeles, Calif. Cigano trains among the elite in mixed martial arts, including Anderson Silva and Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera.

Dos Santos has not yet been scheduled for his next fight, but certainly looks to continue using an aggressive-knockout style, which has won him nine of his eleven bouts via knockout.

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Alvan, Preparing Gonzaga for UFC Live

World-class trainer and manager Marco Alvan has helped develop some of the MMA world’s most talented fighters.  Alvan, the head instructor for Team Link BJJ in Ludlow, Massa., is currently training heavyweight Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga (11-4) for his upcoming fight at UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones.

Gonzaga and Alvan

A successful MMA fighter and grappler in his own right, Alvan began training in Judo in 1981 at just eight years old.  At the age of 15, he began training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Master Jorge Pina Barbosa.  Barbosa brought Alvan to the original Gracie Barra school in Alvan’s hometown of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Alvan began training under Master Carlos Gracie Jr. at Barra Gracie, where he shared the mat with Renzo, Ryan and Ralph Gracie at the same time as they were developing their BJJ skills.  He ended his training at Gracie Barra, after receiving his blue belt, and joined the Brazilian army at the age of 19.

Master Carlos Augusto, a fourth-degree BJJ black belt under Master Reylson Gracie, soon opened up a gym in the town that Alvan had relocated to.  Alvan began training at the gym and earned his black belt under Augusto. Alvan taught BJJ in the Brazilian army for seven years.

In 2001, Alvan came to America to help Augusto at his affiliate in California, but he soon decided to relocate to Massachusetts, where he had family.  He had trouble finding a job as a BJJ instructor at first due to location and language barriers, but eventually established a large enough student base to found his own academy and fight team, Marco Alvan BJJ.

Alvan at the NY International BJJ Open

The team changed its name to Link BJJ with the addition of Gonzaga in 2006.  Team Link is now host to many notable MMA fighters and grapplers, including Gonzaga, UFC welterweight Ricardo Funch (7-1), former WEC middleweight champion Paulo Filho (19-1), World Fighting League and XCFL light-heavyweight champion Alexandre Moreno (10-2), heavyweight Brian Olsen (9-1) and many other developing fighters.  UFC light-heavyweight Thiago Silva was formerly managed by Alvan and trained at Team Link.

In addition to being a distinguished MMA team, Link BJJ holds many achievements in grappling competition.  Team Link has won the title of North American Grappling Association (NAGA) New England overall team champion for six consecutive years.  Alvan holds many individual accomplishments in grappling as well.

On Feb. 4, 2006, Alvan was named Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor of the year (2005), and inducted into the U.S.A. Martial Arts Hall of Fame.  In 2009, he placed first in the black belt division of the New York International Open Championship hosted by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF).  Alvan also holds a purple belt in Judo.

Alvan was scheduled to meet UFC veteran and TUF season four contestant Jorge Rivera in a 10-minute NAGA no-gi superfight on Feb. 6, but the grappling match was postponed due to Rivera’s upcoming fight with Nate Quarry at UFC Fight Night 21.  Alvan has a background competing in MMA as well, going 3-1 in professional competitions in both Brazil and America before retiring.

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Paulo Filho is expected to meet Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard in a non-title fight at Bellator Fighting Championships 19 on May 20.

Ricardo Funch was scheduled to face Matt Riddle at UFC 111, but was forced out of the fight due to a foot laceration.

Gabriel Gonzaga will meet Junior Dos Santos in the co-main event of UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones Sunday night. The event will air live on Versus at 9 p.m. EST.

Video: Marco Alvan at NY International BJJ Open (2009) and Team Link instructional videos

Gonzaga, Ready for War Against dos Santos

Since his epic knockout of Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga Nogueira has faced very stiff competition, winning only three of his last six fights, and Junior dos Santos (10-1) will be no exception to this trend come UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones.

Gabriel Gonzaga

On Sunday, Gonzaga, 30, will have the chance to once again put himself atop the heavyweight division with a win over dos Santos in a fight that no one expects to go to a decision. The fight is scheduled as the co-main event of the evening at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, Colo.

Gonzaga is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Wander Braga, and holds championships in ADCC, CBJJO, Mundials and World Jiu-Jitsu Championship tournaments. In addition to being an accomplished grappler, Gonzaga is an elite muay thai practitioner: making him a very versatile fighter.

Currently holding a professional MMA record of 11-4, Gonzaga has won five fights by knockout or TKO, and the remaining six by way of submission. He has never had a bout reach a decision in his MMA career.

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Gonzaga developed his MMA skills training at the Chute Boxe Academy and Macaco Gold Team. He now trains under Marco Alvan at Team Link in Ludlow, Mass. Formerly Macro Alvan BJJ, Team Link changed its name with the addition of Gonzaga in 2006.

In the co-main event of UFC 96, Shane Carwin (11-0) handed Gonzaga the first knockout defeat of his career. Gonzaga started the fight out strong, landing an overhand right and two right crosses that rocked Carwin, breaking his nose and forcing him to clinch. Gonzaga quickly took down Carwin and landed some ground and pound.

Gonzaga vs. Couture

Carwin got back to his feet in about 20 seconds and quickly landed a jab-cross combo that left Gonzaga out cold at just 1:09 into the first round. The knockout loss, although his first, revealed a weakness in the chin and standup game of Gonzaga. This factor could come into play in his next fight, especially considering that eight of dos Santos’ 10 fights have ended by knockout or TKO, including all four of his fights in UFC competition.

In his next fight, on the undercard of UFC 102, Gonzaga made quick work of UFC newcomer Chris Tuchscherer (18-2). After a stoppage due to a low kick to Tuchscherer, Gonzaga quickly landed a head kick, which dropped his opponent. He swarmed the downed fighter with ground-and-pound until the referee called for a TKO stoppage at 2:27 into the first round.

Gonzaga’s devastating kicks proved pivotal in his last fight, as they have in the past, and this technical advantage from the standup could prove extremely effective in his fight with dos Santos. However, dos Santos’ heavy hands are just as much of a threat if not greater from the standup. Dos Santos has also never been to a decision in his MMA career.

Dos Santos, a brown belt in BJJ, has yet to be tested on the ground in his UFC career. Gonzaga, the more experienced grappler, should have a clear advantage in the ground game should the fight turn into a grappling match. Gonzaga will likely force the fight to the ground if he gets rocked early on.

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