Posts tagged: Clinch

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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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UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones will air live on Versus at 9 p.m. EST

Vera To Play The Role of Gatekeeper at UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones

Brandon “The Truth” Vera (11-4) broke onto the scene five years ago as a young, up-and-coming heavyweight prospect with intentions of proving himself by beating the best competition that the UFC had to offer.

Vera ran through opponents in the two years that followed, but was denied his title intentions due to defeats from more experience UFC veterans.

Brandon Vera

On Sunday, for the first time, Vera will play the role of “the gatekeeper” when he faces young, up-and-coming light-heavyweight prospect Jon “Bones” Jones (9-1) in the main event of UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, Colo.

Fighting out of San Diego, Calif., Vera is a former WEC heavyweight champion. Vera, a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, currently trains with both Team Lloyd Irvin and Alliance MMA in San Diego. He has also trained at Linxx Academy and Hybrid Academy.

Vera gained experience wrestling in high school and continued wrestling at Old Dominion University, and then with the United States Air Force. However, he is best known in the MMA world for his effective muay thai skills.

Through the first four years of his MMA career Vera went a perfect 8-0, with seven of his wins coming by way of stoppage and four earned in UFC competition. Arguably his most impressive performance came at UFC 65 when he stopped Frank Mir at just 1:09 into the first round via TKO (punches).

In his next two matches Vera saw a step up in competition, losing a decision to Tim Sylvia and a TKO to Fabricio Werdum. These back-to-back losses, to much larger opponents, prompted Vera’s move to light-heavyweight competition. Vera now holds a 3-2 record as a light-heavyweight. His two losses came via close and controversial decisions.

Vera vs. Fabiano Scherner

MMA veteran, TUF cast-member and UFC newcomer Krzysztof Soszynski (19-9-1) went the distance with Vera at UFC 102. Vera won a unanimous decision by controlling the fight, avoiding the takedown and dominating on the feet with strong kicks and combinations.

Vera saw a step up in competition in his next fight as he went the distance with UFC Hall of Famer and five-time UFC champion Randy “The Natural” Couture in the main event of UFC 105. Couture controlled the fight from the clinch utilizing dirty boxing while Vera dominated the striking from the feet, hurting Couture badly with kicks and combinations in each round.

Vera was caught in Couture’s clinch, fighting off the takedown, for the majority of the competition. However, Vera landed very effective strikes from the feet. He dropped Couture in the second round, but was unable to finish him. After bearing an assault from the clinch Vera landed a series of body kicks that hurt Couture in the third round and followed up by taking him down and transitioning to full mount. The fight ended with an intense exchange.

All three judges scored the bout 29-28 in favor of Couture. The ruling surprised Vera and was very controversial.

Jon Jones is a young (22 year old) prospect with impressive striking and wrestling skills. Vera’s muay thai skills will be much more relevant in his upcoming fight than in his last two, which saw him trapped in his opponent’s clinch for the majority of the fight. However, Vera, a BJJ brown belt, will likely have an advantage in the unlikely case that the fight goes to the ground.

Vera has been in Jones’ situation a number of times early in his UFC career. Jones will face the toughest test in his young MMA career at UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones. For Vera, a victory will likely put him back in the title-mix.

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The event will air live on Versus at 9 p.m. EST

Styles Make Fights – TUF 9 Finale: Sanchez vs. Guida (Freestyle vs. Freestyle)

In the main event of the TUF 9 finale, the matchup between Diego Sanchez and Clay Guida turned into a fantastic battle of wills, with Sanchez coming out on top by a hair and moving on to a potential title shot at 155.

Diego Sanchez won a great split over Clay Guida

Diego Sanchez won a great split over Clay Guida

Both men exploded out of the gate with punches, with Sanchez rocking Guida and throwing furious strikes until Guida finally stopped the punishment with a takedown. Sanchez switches to rubber guard and Guida stood up, but Sanchez throws a huge headkick that drops Guida. A flying knee by Sanchez connects but Guida incredibly does not go down. A short clinch leads to Sanchez getting the trip takedown, but Guida amazingly gets up as the round ends.

Guida executes a takedown at the start of round two, and Sanchez responds with elbows from bottom. A kimura attempt from bottom fails, and the crowd chants his name. Sanchez uses elbows from bottom to set up rubber guard again, but then continues to throw big elbows from guard. Guida, however, is relentless and grinds Sanchez into the ground as round two ends.

With all to fight for in round three, Guida continued to push forward and both men land punches on each other. A failed takedown by Guida leads to back control by Sanchez, but he slips off while trying to lock in an arm triangle. Guida lands on top and defends a Sanchez kimura attempt. Sanchez transitions to armbar but loses it as the round ends. At the end of the fight, the score is truly too close to call, but a split decision victory is awarded to Diego Sanchez.

Guida showed once again that he had a chin of steel, but skill-wise, Sanchez just outclassed him on this night, using his reach advantage to club Guida with strikes while delivering as much punishment with elbows from bottom as Guida did to him from top. Guida’s standup never really threatened Sanchez, however, and with Sanchez’s berserker elbows from bottom, that made all the difference.

Styles Make Fights – TUF 9 Finale: Burns vs. Lytle (BJJ vs. Freestyle)

Vetern Chris Lytle once again proved to be no pushover, defeating Kevin Burns via an entertaining UD at the TUF 9 Finale.

Despite being a submission specialist who was knocked out by a head kick in his last fight, Burns showed no fear against Lytle and stood right in front of his opponent to strike, with Lytle throwing to KO with every swing. Burns used his size advantage to get the better of Lytle on the feet, and at the end of the round, Burns opened things up with an uppercut which felled Lytle. Burns laid it on with big strikes, but Lytle clinched against his opponent to survive the onslaught as the round ended.

Lytle threw nonstop punches against Burns

Lytle threw nonstop punches against Burns

Lytle sufficiently recovered by the time round two started and rocked Burns with a punch of his own, finally coaxing a takedown out of Burns. Lytle, no BJJ slouch in his own right, stood up again and resumed the stand-up war, forcing Burns to backpedal around the cage with relentless striking. Burns tried to low kick, but caught Lytle with groin shots more than once.

Lytle started round three by cutting Burns open with a punch, but Burns was game and continued to trade strikes with Lytle. Lytle continued to throw punches that would occasionally stagger Burns, but Burns refused to go down, and left Lytle unable to finish the fight by picking up the victory via UD.

Stylistically, Burns seemed to be suffering from “Jorge Gurgel” syndrome, where a BJJ black belt shuns both logic and submissions in favor to strike for the entire fight. Burns never tried to go to his bread-and-butter BJJ, and even though he was able to hang with Lytle, the iron-chinned striker sent Burns to his second consecutive loss.

Styles Make Fights – TUF 9 Finale: Winner vs. Pearson (Freestyle vs. Freestyle)

In the TUF 9 lightweight finale, Ross Pearson upset Andre Winner to win the all-UK lightweight final.

The first round was a tentative and somewhat tedious affair, as both fighters pawed at each other before clinching against the cage for most of the round. It seemed that both fighters respected each striking too much, and neither tried to throw until the final minute of the round, where a low blow time-out was followed by a brief flurry from both men, with Winner edging slightly ahead as the round ended.

Ross Pearson bested Andre Winner to capture the TUF 9 lightweight title

Ross Pearson bested Andre Winner to capture the TUF 9 lightweight title

Pearson turned up the aggression in round two, but the match then halted back into the clinch again, with Pearson still trying to push the pace. Winner, however, kept Pearson pinned against the cage until the final minute again, where Pearson was able to separate and throw some good strikes as the round ended.

The fight finally opened up in the third round, where Pearson again was able to break through Winner’s clinch and throw strikes. Winner was able to survive and throw some big hits of his own, but as the round wound down Pearson refused to stop, throwing punches and knees which had Winner on the back foot and taking the UD victory.

Pearson did exactly what he needed to take the fight away from the favorite Winner. He pushed the pace of the striking and shrugged off Winner’s attempts to control the tempo through clinching. Ultimately, Winner’s reluctance to strike with Pearson or go for a takedown led to his downfall, as the all-action Pearson outstruck him at every opportunity.

A King Regains His Crown

Boxing is a sport of controversy and drama, and Miguel Cotto’s showdown with Joshua Clottey last Saturday at Madison Square Garden did not disappoint. Cotto took the win with a decisive yet controversial unanimous decision , and being that the Garden is as close as it gets to a “home game” for Cotto, many believe that he was handed a gift in a fight that could have easily gone the other way.

Both men boxed cautiously at the center of the ring in round 1, establishing their jab. While Clottey’s jab was a bit more powerful and had a 3-inch reach advantage,  Cotto was the aggressor. To everyone’s surprise however, in the last five seconds of the round, Cotto scored a flash knockdown with a jab flush on Clottey’s chin. The crowd of 17,734, — largely Puerto Rican, and there to chant for their country’s fighting pride, on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade – erupted in a roar not even comparable to a full Beaver Stadium. It was a moment that would set the tone for the rest of the bout: controversial, loud, and full of excitement.

Rounds 2 and 3 picked up the pace a little bit. As both fighters continued to get the feel for one another, they became more aggressive, following up their jabs with combinations. Clottey was the aggressor in round 2, demonstrating his incredible ability to fight defensively, which against a fighter like Cotto who attacks the body and creates a lot of open shots is hard to do.  Not only did he prove to fans that he was on the same level as Cotto, but that he actually could beat Cotto. In round 3, Cotto must have realized these things himself, because he turned up the flame, and came out as the aggressor. The action was toe-to-toe and blow- for- blow for all of the round. With 20 seconds to go in the round, they clashed heads, leaving Cotto with a severe cut over his left eye, causing a flow of blood into his eyes, which would persist for the remainder of the 12 round fight.

Cotto’s bad cut changed the tempo for the rest of the fight. In the 4th round, realizing Cotto’s cut could have the fight stopped at any minute Clottey tried to take advantage, aiming for it and trying to open it up, and each tried even harder now to take the other out. The fans realized this too, and as the 4th round begun, every shot that Cotto landed triggered a roaring response from the crowd. Despite his cut and blood in his eyes, Cotto began to establish a rhythm, landing some very thudding body shots, and then pivoting to avoid Clottey’s offensive barrage.

Round 5 fed off the energy of a great 4th round, and both men quickly got back to work. Cotto continued to viciously attack the body, as he is notorious for doing. However, Clottey’s faster hands became apparent, as he began to nail Cotto with counter- punching. The round continued at this pace until there was a minute left to go, and both men clinched up in the corner. As Cotto managed to slip out the clinch, body weights shifted and Cotto got leverage, slamming Clottey  to the floor face first, in what seemed to be an unintentional body slam. Even though it was clearly not a punch that sent Clottey down, the crowd erupted at the sight of their hero standing over his opponent face- first on the canvas. He laid flat for a few seconds, and it became clear that Clottey had hurt his knee, as he grabbed it with his glove and got up limping. After given an ample amount of time to walk it off, the rest of the round proceeded as normal.

As round 6 began, both men came out with a new fire in their hearts. Clottey, irritated from the body slam, and Cotto, fearful of having points deducted from him, and bleeding now more profusely than before, turned up the action to the next level. About a minute into the round, Cotto got the better of an exchange, slamming Clottey with a series of hooks that sent him into the corner. Once Cotto knew he had him vulnerable in the corner, he poured on the offense, landing punches in bunches to the body, then to the head, and then back down to the body. Clottey could do little to retaliate besides hold up a strong guard, and have a big heart.

For the remainder of most of the fight, Cotto danced around the ring, keeping distance, throwing  a few combinations, and keeping it moving. Clottey was clearly the aggressor in these rounds, but did not do enough to take advantage of the situation. Clottey was landing shots on a defensive Cotto, but not enough and certainly not hard enough to take the fight from Cotto. Rallied on by the very vibrant crowd, Cotto executed the rest of the fight to a T, keeping distance from Clottey’s shots and his now open flesh wound, the source of a constant stream of blood down his face, but landing enough shots to win rounds.

As the fight came to a close in the final round, both fighters knew it was going to be a close one, and each knew they needed to take the 12th round to seal their win. Clottey, continuing to be the aggressor, became almost too aggressive and too anxious as he began to get nailed with well timed Cotto counters. Two minutes into the round, Cotto hit Clottey hard in the back of the head with a hook, again an unintentional mistake, in which Cotto’s points came into question. As the round came to a close, in the final minute both men rallied, and once again cheered on by the crowd, Cotto got the best of their exchange, sealing the victory.

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Both men fought with exceptional heart and unstoppable will. Both are true champions by any measure and both have bright futures. While, Clottey’s future is uncertain for now, he surely will not be forgotten about, as he fought one of his career defining fights. There are definitely big fights on the horizon for him. Cotto how ever, can look forward to a showdown with a superstar. There is talk of a bout between Cotto and pound for pound king Manny Pacquiao, or perhaps a rematch with Shane Mosley, which would be a huge fan pleaser. One thing is for sure, Cotto has put any ghosts from the Margarito loss behind him, and if anything, was made stronger because of it.

The Ultimate Fighter 9 Big Board: Episode 12 – Wilks vs. Lester II

In the last episode of The Ultimate Fighter 9: US vs. UK, foes-turned-friends James Wilks and Frank Lester once again faced off, this time with a spot in the welterweight finale on the line. In the end, Team UK’s Wilks once again put Team USA’s Lester away to advance to the finale and face Demarques Johnson for TUF 9′s welterweight title. In the country-versus-country tally, Team UK enters the finale with a 3 fighters as opposed to USA’s single one.

TUF: Season 9 UK vs USA

TUF: Season 9 UK vs USA

The first round was a slow and tentative affair where Wilks used his reach advantage to pick away at Lester. The clinches against the fence provided nothing of note, while Wilks seemed fine with dropping his hands and inviting Lester to try and take a swing at him.

An accidental low blow started off the second round, but after that, Wilk’s straight jab continued to hurt Lester. Lester’s hands couldn’t match Wilk’s reach, and Wilks’ strikes continued to get through Lester’s defense. Lester managed to keep the fight standing and defended the takedown well enough, but Wilks was content to initiate and let the jabs add up on Lester as the round ended.

Lester came out swinging in round three, but Wilks caught him early and once again pushed Lester up against the fence. In a case of deja vu, Wilks made Lester feel his knees once again, until Lester could take no more punishment and was saved by the ref.

It was a well-executed game plan by Team UK and Wilks, who exploited Lester’s obvious lack of technique and fatigue from his previous fights. Wilks never tried too hard for the takedown, but was instead confident enough in his striking to finish Lester without taking much damage.

TUF Finale – With both finale matchups now set, who will walk out with the UFC contracts?

Lightweight

The Favorite – Andre Winner

The Underdog – Ross Pearson

Winner will enter the TUF 9 ligthweight finale as the slight favorite due to his size and experience advantage. In a battle between two strikers who can also finish with submissions, Winner will need to impose his will on the smaller man both standing and on the ground. For Pearson, the key will be to once again push the pace and try to harass Winner into losing his composure.

Welterweight

The Favorite – Demarques Johnson

The Underdog – James Wilks

Johnson will enter the finale as a slight favorite against Wilks. Johnson seems to have a complete game, but as his semi-final fight showed, he can be rattled by strikes that come fast and early. Wilks will have to bring some ruthless aggression and not let Johnson settle into any kind of game plan. Both men are good on the ground, so stand-up prowess might make all the difference in this matchup.

Styles Make Fights – UFC 99: Velasquez vs. Kongo (G'N'P vs. Muay Thai)

In a matchup of immediate heavyweight contenders, the Cain Velasquez hype train continued to roar towards a UFC title shot as Velasquez shook off the challenge of Cheick Kongo to win a decision at UFC 99: The Comeback.

Cain Velasquez ran over Cheick Kongo for the UD win.

Cain Velasquez ran over Cheick Kongo for the UD win.

Velasquez felt the heavy hands of Kongo almost immediately in the first round, eating two quick punches by Kongo. However, Velasquez saved himself with a takedown and proceeded to run all over Kongo on the ground, almost finishing with a rear naked choke and slamming Kongo down hard whenever the French striker tried to stand up. In round two, Kongo swung for the fences and staggered Velasquez with a great hook, but Kongo then foolishly decided to clinch, and Velasquez rolled him into another takedown. Velasquez proceeded to pound on the gassed Kongo on the ground, riding out round two with knees to the body from back control.

In round three Kongo actually got a takedown to start the round, but it was more of the same on the ground as Velasquez swept Kongo and rained down more punishment. Kongo, however, was not done yet, getting up and then again getting the better of Velasquez on the feet until Velasquez snuffed out the comeback with a takedown, and rode out the round with ground strikes for the UD win.

It was a great display of heart from Kongo, which refused to give up and kept trying to punch back even when being dominated. But his ground game still needs a lot of work if he ever wants to contend for the title. Meanwhile, Velasquez gets his first signature win and dominated the stylistic matchup, but questions about his stand-up now arise after Kongo’s hands found their way through Velasquez’s defense more than once.

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