Webb’s Pick: Most Influential Fighter of 2009

This was a tough one. So many great fighters this year..so many great bouts. Before I reveal my pick for best all-around fighter of 2009, I will amuse you with this ridiculous video I found. If you’re anything like me (read: love watching someone get walloped right in the face), you will truly enjoy this.

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Ahh. That went down as well as an ice cold glass of lemonade on an August day. Here’s one more, just for fun.

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Alright enough distractions. After taking into account what was an incredible year for him, Anderson “The Spider” Silva is without a doubt the most influential fighter of 2009.A� Let me show you one of the reasons.

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A nominee for the 2009 ESPYS “Best Fighter” and Sherdog‘sA� #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Silva has earned a seat next to Couture and Liddell as a pioneer and one of the greats in the sport of mixed-martial arts.A� The Brazilian phenom is currently the UFC Middleweight Champion (reigning strong since 2006) and dominated the UFC twice this year. He beat the leviathan Thales Leites in UFC 97 to retain his crown and put the monstrous Forrest Griffin in his place in UFC 101.

Here’s a rundown of his greatest accomplishments:

  • Shooto Middleweight Champion
  • Current UFC Middleweight Champion
  • Unified UFC Middleweight and Pride FC Welterweight Championships
  • Record for most consecutive UFC wins (Ten)
  • Tied for the record of most consecutive title defenses (Five)

Possibly the most dominant fighter of the last decade, Silva remains one of the best. Despite rumors of retirement in 2010, he has been on a lusus naturae-ish tear and, with a 25-4 record, looks to stay on this path for a while. What will be next for the most influential fighter of 2009? Who knows..but there’s bound to be plenty more fights. Hopefully they’ll be like these.

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Cornermen III: The Man Behind the Huntington Beach Bad Boy

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Tito Ortiz is a monster. If you watch the video above, this isn’t news to you. Not only did he send Wes Albritton packing in 31 seconds in Ortiz’s first UFC fight, he did it with punches, not submission. Whoever taught this guy must be the greatest MMA fighter to ever say the word “Octagon,” right?

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The Pan American, MMA King of Kage, No-Gi Pan Am, 6x Brazilian, Mundials, and Black Belt Challenge champion, not to mention Jiu-Jitsu master (whew) is Cleber Luciano, Tito Ortiz’s mentor and a helluva fighter in his own right. The video says it all, but wow. This guy can kick butt and then some. Ortiz began training with Luciano when his MMA career was in it’s infancy in 1997. Ortiz was still in college, but he had been wrestling since high school. That was the problem: he needed to expand his horizons beyond wrestling to comepete seriously in MMA. That’s where Luciano came in; he taught Ortiz his trademark styles of Jiu-Jitsu and Judo.

Flash forward a few months to UFC 13, a.k.a the video at the start of this blog. Looks like someone learned from someone else who’s pretty damn good at this whole fighting thing, doesn’t it? Over the next decade, Luciano watched his star shoot to the top of the MMA world, but his career wasn’t completely over. He fought a few fights, split wins and losses, but his attention was much more focused on something he realized he was great at: training fighters. Including Ortiz, Luciano trained fighters with his new Cleber Jiu-Jitsu Rio-Brasil organization, specializing in training fighters in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Those who love to do, eventually teach others how to do just as well, if not better. Cleber Luciano taught Ortiz how to fight, and the latter could probably hold his own now against any fighter/NFL lineman out there. Luciano’s a great trainer and coach, and that’s why he’s highlighted here as on of the great cornermen.

Enjoy this little video of Ortiz training at Cleber Jiu-Jitsu Rio-Brasil. The Rocky music adds a nice air of, ‘i-wanna-go-kick-some-butt-too.’ Although I’m probably just gonna keep sitting at the computer, not training to beat Tito Ortiz.

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Twitter Recap

Ah, Twitter.

I, like many people (I hope), still don’t know everything about it and am treating it with the same mixed amount of faux interest and curiosity as I do the H1N1 virus. People tell me it’s addicting and fun, so I listen to how they ‘tweeted’ about how good their Thanksgiving dinner was and all the silence the family endured at their dinner table because everyone was looking down at their laps texting.

It was a very…interesting story.

Although it may be a long time before I sign up for an account with which I can ‘tweet’ all day, UFC has a great web page dedicated to Twitter that keeps fans in the know with up-coming events.A� With Thanksgiving, the goings-on in the MMA world were limited, but still alive. UFC 107 preparations, Thanksgiving plans and UFC 106 recaps were most prevalent, but don’t take my word for it; check it out here.

Again, not a whole lot of news for this week, but it’s worth checking out the link above to see Jenna Jameson sitting Octagon-side at UFC 106. Pique your interest yet? No? Oh well…what do I know? I’m still a non-tweeter.

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San Diego’s Finest

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The Arena: San Diego’s premium mixed-martial arts gym. Training fighters all over the nation in boxing, Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, wrestling and of course, MMA. The victorious fighter in the video above, Pat Speight, may look scrawny, but the Arena has taught him well. I mean, just look at how he man-handles Ishmael Gonzalez in just three minutes!

The Arena stays away from traditional classes such as cardio and strength training. Instead, the gym hones fighting skill, both mentally and physically. The result: a cardio-infused, strength-training based, no-holds barred selection of classes to not only keep fighters in shape, but to shape the fighters into warriors.

The Arena needs no publicity; the greatest fighters in the world know all about it. It was, however, given plenty of spotlight recently thanks to a little event called UFC 107: Penn vs. Sanchez. The Sanchez in that title is one of the Arena’s best known fighters, and as a result, the Countdown show for UFC 107 went to San Diego to go behind the scenes and learn more about Sanchez’s training and coaching. The traditional preview show will debut the second week of December, so keep an eye on Spike TV or good ol’ Youtube.

The gym is home to many famous Californians and MMA fighters, including Jiu Jitsu master Rani Yahya, 6x Jiu Jitsu World Champion Saulo Ribeiro, UFC 107 headliner Diego Sanchez, boxing phenom KJ Noons, and the submission-favoring Fabricio Camoes.

Of course, you probably won’t find one of San Diego’s most well-known residents, anchorman Ron Burgundy, working out there. He’s a little bit busy it seems…

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Webb’s Pick: Submission of the Year

Arm bar. Guillotine. Kimura. Crucifix Neck Crank.

If you’re a fan of mixed-martial arts, these words are music to your ears; for these are among the greatest submission holds that a viewer can view and a fighter can perform. Not all submissions receive acclaim, however. Thus, I present my pick for submission of the year. I have taken into account the fighters, the stages and the circumstances of the fight. And the winner is…(drum roll)…

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Rear naked choke. UFC 101. A fight for the Lightweight belt. Bad news for Kenny Florian, great news for you. Let me tell you why.

B.J. Penn had it all. That also meant he had it all to lose. Born in Hawaii, Penn trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Ralph Gracie, the Brazilian martial artist known not so affectionately as “Pitbull,” and only gained ground from there. In 2000, he became the first American-born winner of the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship in the black-belt category. Penn received his first MMA championship in 2004 at UFC 46. Penn jumped up in weight classes to challenge the five-time defending UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes to fill a title contention slot.A� Heavily favored to win,A� Hughes lost the fight four minutes into the first round by what would become one of Penn’s signature moves, the rear naked choke.

Penn lost the title in 2006 when Georges St. Pierre defeated him by unanimous decision for the welterweight title. By 2008, Penn had thought his career as an MMA fighter was coming to an end. He had plenty of wins under his belt, but the losses were starting to mount. A stint on The Ultimate Fighter 5 as a coach helped boost public appearance, but Penn missed his fighting days. Determined to prove to himself and the world that his reign wasn’t over, Penn stayed at lightweight to challenge Joe Stevenson at UFC 80 for UFC Lightweight Champion. And guess what? Penn won. He became only the second person to win a title in two different weight classes (the other being the immaculate Randy Couture).

Kenny Florian only had seven fights under his belt prior to his fight at UFC 101. Penn had thirty-three. Penn had everything to lose in this fight. It was a crucial part of his comeback: defending the title. Being what Sherdog and MMAWeekly calls the best lightweight fighter in the world, Penn deserved this win after four long rounds.A� Winning two titles in two different weight classes is one thing. Defending that title and defending it successfully, well, that’s something that I deem worthy of submission of the year.

Cornermen II: Mike Pyle’s Legacy

Anyone watch UFC 105: Couture vs. Vera? The titular fight pit legendary heavyweight Randy Couture against UFC regular Brandon Vera. It was a three-round slugfest that concluded with a Couture victory via unanimous decision. How, at what the sports world would consider a grandfatherly age of 46, did Couture pull off a UFC victory and stand tall as a heavyweight contender? It might have something to do with his cornerman.

Mike Pyle wasn’t a champion from the get-go. His first mixed-martial arts fight was a loss to soon-to-be-great Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.

He worked hard, though, and came up big, smacking around guys like Jon Fitch, Brett Bergmark and Shonie Carter. The losses came just as the wins did. Pyle realized he was a good fighter who had potential, but knew his skills could be utilized elsewhere as well. Training was calling his name.

Pyle joined fellow fighter Couture’s training organization, Xtreme Couture, and the rest, as they say, is history. Providing training, encouragement and a few water bottles to fighters like Couture, Pyle has distinguished himself from the pack as an elite cornerman.

It is pretty sweet to see “Quicksand” Pyle beat up on some fighters, so here’s a video from his heyday.

http://myspacetv.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=333998

Too lazy to watch and just want a summary of that fight? Shonie Carter gets a beatdown. The end. That, my friends, is the awesomeness of Mike “Quicksand” Pyle and reflects his nearly-insuperable skills as a trainer.

Cornermen: The Legend of Pat Miletich

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Some called him The Croatian Sensation. Most knew him as a UFC regular. Still others know him as…a trainer?? AND he’s trained fighting greats such as former UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia and former UFC Lightweight Champion Jens Pulver?! Who is this guy?

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Pat Miletich was born in Davenport, Iowa. He grew up wrestling (greatness scouted him early: he shared the high school wrestling mat with future MMA phenom Mark Kerr) and playing football. After a few years, Miletich began MMA training at age 26. He brought his knowledge of wrestling with him, but took up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Miletich won his first 15 fights as an MMA fighter, then in 1998 lit his UFC torch and, with a handful of TKOs and submissions, introduced the world to “The Croatian Sensation.”

Miletich ended his career in the UFC with a loss, and after two comebacks (a 2006 loss and a 2008 win, bringing his record to 29-7-2), he decided to indefinitley hang up his gloves. Miletich was far from being on the outskirs of MMA Land, however; he had a little idea back in 1997 that had grown into one of the most successful training programs in the world by the time he was done fighting.

Miletich Fighting Systems had grown from an idea to a wildly popular training organization that Miletich founded around the time he began his UFC career. The training is specialized from person to person, and there are ten locations scattered all over North America. So, it seems our dear friend Pat is still very much involved in the world of mixed-martial arts and intends to be for a while. He is known anywhere there is an MMA fight as either a brilliant fighter or a brilliant coach. Training an almost endless list of fighters with MFS who have gone on to become champions is certainly something to be proud of.

Miletich went from being a great fighter to a great cornerman who created a world-renowned training org.A� And about his future in the UFC? Will there will be another comeback? Well, you’ll just have to watch the video below to see.

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10/23 Central Pennsylvania Warrior Challenge III

It’s Fall, and that means it’s MMA season. New UFCs on Pay-Per-View, new episodes of The Ultimate Fighter and new regional tournaments. OK, I guess you could argue that every season is MMA season. But that’s no excuse for not checking out Lancaster, Pennsylvania for the latest talent showcasing: The Central Pennsylvania Warrior Challenge III.

The Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square will play host to a 16-bout fight card featuring local amateur and professional fighters duking it out in what has become a standard MMA battleground, a 20-foot hexagon cage. The action doesn’t stop at just plain old amateurs and local professionals though; the headlining fight marquees a rematch between Braden Bice and Randy Smith.

Bice, a 22-year-old from Mercer, PA took the first match between the two over two years ago, when they met for Battle Cage Xtreme II. A two-minute TKO/referee stoppage gave Bice the glory he yearned for. Life for Bice wasn’t all potatoes and gravy after that, however. A mixture of wins and losses over the next two years gives him a 8-9-0 record, and he knows he’s got something to prove Saturday against Smith.

Smith, a 35-year-old out of New York, has found success after his loss on September 15, 2007 to Bice. He is 8-5-0, with six of those wins coming after the Battle Cage Xtreme II defeat. His wins mostly end in TKOs on strikes, and his plans for this rematch are sure to be similar to his recent past success.

Amateurs are fun to watch as well, and fighting-hopefuls can always pick up tips from peers and their duels. So come on out, enjoy a few fights and support your local fighters Saturday. I’ll even buy you a beer if I see you out. Maybe.

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When Old Moves Start To Take Their Toll, It’s Time To Learn the Gator Roll

Mark Kerr, star of UFC 14 and 15, perfected it. It’s a move that sneaks up on you, grabs you and leaves you panting for breath as you watch your hand tap the mat through blurry, unfocused eyes. Now, it’s time that you learn it: the gator roll choke.

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Pretty intense, huh? The gator roll choke is really more like a dynamic arm triangle choke; you wait until your opponent makes a move to take you down, you avoid actually being taken down, and flip him over like you’re wrestling an alligator. Once his arm has been secured against his throat and your hands are clasped, you tighten your hold and cut off his blood flow. It takes an average person four seconds to pass out from having the blood flow to his or her brain cut off. Your opponent will be tapping out faster than the Pittsburgh Pirates getting eliminated from playoff contention (about 10 seconds after the season begins).

You might think that the gator roll cuts off air flow, but that is not the case. The average person can survive without air for 40 seconds. If this submission technique cut off air flow, it would be a long battle and the opponent would probably be able to escape. Cutting off blood flow, on the other hand, makes it so that the opponent loses key senses and thinking power, effectively putting your body into a ‘sleep mode.’A� MMA fighters can withstand the gator roll choke for longer than four seconds of course, but if they don’t tap out soon after they WILL pass out.

This move is directly related to other arm triangle chokes such as the D’Arce choke, where your opponent is in a arm triangle choke from the front headlock position and the choking arm is thread under the near arm, in front of the opponent’s neck, and on top of the far arm; and my personal favorite, the Anaconda choke, which is essentially the same as a D’Arce but the choking arm is thread under the opponent’s neck and through the armpit as you grasp his biceps.

Don’t try this move on your dog or an unsuspecting friend, as you may cause some serious damage as well as get strange looks from pedestrians. If you want a sweet new submission move to end your fights and gain serious respect, try the gator roll.

Who You Callin’ A Welterweight?

Ever since its advent in 1993, The Ultimate Fighting Championship has been the paramount battle ground for mixed martial artists. It has been and still is the event fighters participate in to prove their prowess and skill not just to themselves, but to the world. Greats such as Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture passed through this system and gained international fame by beating opponents into submission there.

So here we are, at UFC 104. Wow. One hundred and four contests. The proving grounds are no longer graced by the likes of Liddell and Couture however; the grounds of UFC 104 belong to Anthony Johnson and Yoshiyuki Yoshida…at least in the welterweight category.

Johnson, an American fighter known for his kickboxing style, owns an impressive 7-2-0 record, with both losses happening to have been in UFC events. His last fight was against American Luigi Fioravanti at UFC Fight Night 17 (taking place between UFC 94 and UFC 95) on February 7th, and the result was memorable: a four-and-a-half minute technical knockout of Fioravanti on punches. Watch the fight, and as you watch you’ll see Johnson’s a pretty intense fighter.

Yoshida is a Japanese fighter known for his Judo style and a solid 11-3-0 record. His last fight was in the welterweight division of UFC 98 on May 23rd against former Navy SEAL American Brandon Wolff. And guess what? Yoshida put the ex-military man in a Guillotine choke that would make even Dana White cringe. Don’t take my word for it though; check out the video and see for yourself. Anthony Johnson might want to make those last minute changes to his will sometime soon.

UFC 104 looks to be a great match-up, especially in the welterweight class. A battle between two fighters in their prime always makes for great TV, and you don’t want to miss it. UFC 104 airs live on Pay-Per-View Saturday, October 24th at 10 p.m. Get excited with the preview video below and be sure not to miss what your buddies will be talking about for weeks afterward. YouTube Preview Image

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