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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

Wolfslair Academy, Growing Roster and Reputation

Quickly established as arguably the top facility and fight team in Europe, Wolfslair MMA Academy is now gaining a strong reputation as one of the leading gyms in the MMA world today.

Michael Bisping training at Wolfslair

Wolfslair Academy is a gym located in Widnes, United Kingdom, which has both produced and recently signed several UFC stars and other elite level fighters.

Co-owners and managers Anthony McGann and Lee Gwynn established the fight team as MMA fans with the goal of creating the top MMA facility in the U.K. They quickly achieved their goal and the facility continues to grow.

The gym gained notoriety primarily due to its signing of U.K. based UFC star Michael Bisping. Bisping’s appearance as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) created recognition for the gym, because several of its staff members were featured as trainers on the show.

With the recent signings of former UFC light-heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and heavyweight Cheick Kongo, the gym added two huge names and talented fighters to its roster. These signings have attracted new fighters to the gym for training purposes, as well as more publicity, and sponsorship and endorsement opportunities.

Rampage and Dave Jackson

The trainers at Wolfslair Academy are not internationally recognized MMA figures like the staff of many top-level gyms in the U.S. However, the team’s trainers are extremely experienced and have many achievements within their fields, making them very effective coaches and gaining them praise from fighters.

Wolfslair’s talented training staff, access to the public, and its appeal to traveling fighters and prospective fighters in Europe are its main strengths. These factors contribute greatly to the gym’s rapid growth and success as a business.

The head coach at Wolfslair is Brazilian jiu-jitsu and judo black belt Mario “Sukata” Neto. Neto, the gym”s jiu-jitsu coach, is a one-fight UFC veteran and holds a 10-5 professional MMA record against top-level opponents. Neto has many accomplishments in the world of martial arts, including winning the grand masters in BJJ, winning a Vale Tudo championship in Russia and earning a third-degree black belt in BJJ. He was featured as one of Bisping”s coaches on TUF.

Boxing coach Tony Quigley and his son Tony Quigley Jr. are an integral part of the gym”s coaching staff. Rampage was impressed by the instruction of online casino Quigley and his son upon coming to train at Wolfslair, and now spends a substantial amount of his time working with them. Junior Olympic gold medalist Tony Quigley Jr. is a professional boxer with a record of 13-2.

Rampage and Kongo with Tapout members in Wolfslair apparel

Thai boxing coach Dave Jackson is renowned within the muay thai community for his expertise as a coach and his uniquely effective style of muay thai. Jackson has worked extensively with Rampage and Kongo. Kongo was very impressed with Jackson”s style of muay thai and instruction while initially training at Wolfslair, and he has now refined his skills training under him. Jackson was featured as one of Bisping”s coaches on TUF.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and 3-1 professional MMA fighter Kazeka Muniz is Wolfslair”s wrestling coach. Gwynn is the gym”s strength and conditioning coach in addition to being a co-owner.

The gym currently holds a roster with several UFC veterans, including Michael Bisping, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Cheick Kongo, Paul Kelly, and Mario “Sukata” Neto. Other notable fighters include Alex Cook, Tom Blackledge, Lukasz Les, Henrique Nogueira, Curt Warburton and Abdul Mohamed. Many top-level fighters travel to Wolfslair for training purposes, including Andre Arlovski, Ian Freeman, Dean Lister, Tiki Ghosn and Ricco Rodriguez.

Rampage recently took a leave from the UFC to star in the upcoming film, “The A Team.” A dispute with UFC President Dana White also contributed to his decision. Rampage coached the most recent season of TUF along with Rashad Evans. The two light-heavyweights are scheduled to fight on May 29 at UFC 114 in Las Vegas, Nev.

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Paul Kelly is 1-1 since making the move to the UFC lightweight division. Kelly looks to improve his record when he faces Matt Veach on April 10 at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi.

After going 9-2 since his UFC debut, Cheick Kongo has lost his last two fights to top heavyweights Cain Velasquez and Frank Mir. Kongo hopes to avenge his losses and get back in the title picture with a win over Paul Buentello in the upcoming UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones on Mar. 23 in Broomfield, Colorado.

Cheick Kongo Training with Michael Bisping & Teammates @ Wolfslair (2008)

Silva Looks to Rebound at UFC 110

This Saturday Brazilian striker Wanderlei Silva will meet Michael Bisping (18-2) in the main card of UFC 110 in Sydney, Australia.  Silva hopes to rebound from his recent losses in UFC competition and reform himself as an elite middleweight fighter.

Wanderlei Silva

Silva, known as “The Axe Murderer,” “Cachorro Louco” and “Mad Dog,” will make his middleweight (185 lbs) debut this weekend.  Previously fighting in the light-heavyweight division (205 lbs), Silva is the former IVC light-heavyweight champion, the first even Pride middleweight champion (205 lbs) (2001-2007), the 2003 Pride middleweight grand prix tournament winner, and was named the 2004 fighter of the year by Sherdog.

Fighting out of Curitiba, Brazil, Silva developed his devastating muay tai striking at Chute Box Academy under Rudimar Fedrigo.  Upon moving to the United States in 2007 to compete in the UFC, he has trained with Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas.  Silva is currently training for his upcoming fight at his newly opened facility, Wand Fight Team Academy based in Las Vegas.

Silva holds a professional MMA record of 32-10-1, 1NC coming into his fight at UFC 110.  Despite his impressive record, against top-level opponents, he has lost five of his last six fights, including his last two inside the octagon.  However, Silva hopes to transform himself as a middleweight fighter.

With a strong background in muay tai as well as a black belt in brazilian jiu jitsu under Carlos Gracie Jr., Silva is a complete MMA fighter.  His muay tai skills have proven pivotal and at times devastating throughout his career.  Of his 32 career wins, 20 have come by way of knockout or TKO.

UFC 110 Open Workout

Former UFC light-heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson knocked out Silva in their third professional meeting on Dec 27, 2008 at UFC 92.  Jackson landed a quick left hook that sent Silva to the canvas, leaving him unconscious, in the first round (3:21) of the light-heavyweight battle.  Silva was victorious by way of knockout and TKO in their first two fights, which took place in Pride Fighting Championship.

His next fight proved more competitive as Silva lost a unanimous decision to former UFC middleweight champion RichFranklin on June 13 in the main event of UFC 99.  It was a back and forth battle featuring both fighters on their feet striking for the majority of the fight.  The contest, which won fight of the night honors, was fought at a catchweight of 195 lbs.

Despite his reputation as a distinguished striker, Silva’s striking defense has been his most noticeable weakness in recent fights.  In his last six fights he has faced three knockout losses.  Of his 44-fight career Silva had never been knocked out and had only ever been TKO’d twice before this point, one due to a cut.

Silva’s muay tai skills will be extremely relevant in his fight with Bisping and will likely be utilized as often as possible.  Bisping is a striker as well, and is known for keeping the fight standing.   Of Bisping’s 18 career wins, 11 have come by way of knockout or TKO.  The match will likely be a stand-up battle, featuring two talented strikers relatively new to the middleweight division.

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Live pay-per-view coverage of UFC 110 will begin at 10 p.m. EST

Countdown To UFC 110 Video

Bisping-Silva Should Impress

Michael Bisping (ufcmedia.com)

Australia is currently the hotspot for MMA action, as we get ready for UFC 110, which will occur in Sydney. Highlighting the Main Card is the much anticipated Nogueira vs. Velasquez. However, there is another fight that may draw more attention.

Only separated by three years of age, middleweights Wanderlei Silva (33) and Michael Bisping (30) are more dramatically separated by eight years of professional experience. With his first professional bout in 1996, Silva has risen to become not only a great fighter at 32-10-1 (1 NC), but also a great leader and teacher, starting his own fight team (Wand) in Las Vegas, Nev.

Bisping, on the other hand, began his professional career in 2004 at Pride & Glory 2: Battle of the Ages, in which he won the fight in 0:38 with an armbar over Steve Matthews (2-4-0). Since then, Bisping has generated an 18-2 record – his only losses occurring within the past two years. He was undefeated with a record of 14-0 until a loss to Rashad Evans (14-1-1) in 2007 at UFC 78 on a split decision.

More recently, Bisping, also known as “The Count,” added his only other loss against United States wrestling specialist Dan Henderson. Prior to the fight, which occurred at UFC 100 in Las Vegas, Nev., Bisping and Henderson squared off in a different venue: The Ultimate Fighter: United States vs. United Kingdom. Bisping coached the UK’s team, as he grew up in Clitheroe, Lancashire.

In a fight with implications of a shot at Anderson Silva for the Middleweight Championship Belt, Bisping looked to improve his record to 15-1 and contendership, but Henderson had other plans. In what seemed to be an evenly matched first round, both fighters exchanged blows using their hands and feet, which is not surprising, beings that Bisping’s style indicates a background in kickboxing, BJJ and Muay Thai.

By the end of the round, it was quite obvious that Wolfslair MMA Academy’s own, Bisping, was fatigued, and at 3:20 in the second round, after another match of punches and kicks from both fighters, Henderson landed two big punches to defeat Bisping via an absolutely ruthless knockout.

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Bisping would rebound nicely, as he ventured off to his homeland of England where he would face off against Canadian BJJ specialist Denis Kang at UFC 105 in Manchester.

The fight would win Fight of the Night honors, and featured a much different Bisping. Contrary to Bisping’s prior fight, his opponent gained complete control of the first round, mounting Bisping twice in the early-going.

Bisping followed with a statement kick to the head, which grazed Kang, and then followed up with two of his own takedowns. After a few jabs and another takedown, Bisping mounted Kang and finished him off with punches and knees. The referee stopped the fight at 4:24 of the second round, declaring Bisping the winner by TKO.

So, will Silva’s quick and aggressive Muay Thai and BJJ style, paired with the extra eight years of professional experience, bode well for the 18-2 Bisping? Bisping certainly thinks so, especially after tweaking his defensive posture, according to an interview on Bisping’s website.

Bisping vs Silva (mmafight.com)

“I’ve been working a lot of my defense, obviously since the Dan Henderson fight,” he commented. “I had no choice. I got knocked out there, and I’m not in a rush for that to happen again. I’ve been working on my defense, and I’ve got no qualms standing with Wanderlei.”

UFC 110 will air on February 21, 2010, and we will find out if Bisping has what it takes to handle a veteran and rank among the top middleweights in the world.

Another title shot for Nogueira reigns possible

As Ultimate Fighting Championship hits Australia for the first time viagra cheap at UFC 110 on Feb. 20, 2010, heavyweight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira looks to add his 33rd win in MMA competition.

Nogueira vs Velasquez will occur at UFC 110

Nogueira (32-5-1, 1 NC), 33, represents Brazil as he takes a trip to Sydney to highlight the main card at UFC 110 against undefeated heavyweight United States figher Cain Velasquez (7-0-0).

Despite Velasquez’ winning record and fierce wrestling style, Nogueira, also known as Minotauro, brings experience to the table with a black belt in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo.

Although Nogueira only has five losses, one of those losses came in one of his last two bouts, and was not pretty for the Vitoria da Conquista, Brazil native. UFC 92 (12-27-2008) in Las Vegas, Nev. marked the end of a reign for Minotauro. When 3-1 underdog Frank Mir took the octagon, he immediately took control of the fight, knocking down Nogueria twice with boxing moves. In the second round, Nogueria tried to establish his jabs, but Mir continued to land the big shots, finishing off with back-to-back left hands and the referee stopping the fight. With 1:54 in the second round, Nogueria lost the bout and the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship.

Nogueira would fare better in his next fight, which occurred Aug. 29, 2009 at UFC 102. The event would have taken place about one year earlier had Randy Couture not retired in Oct. 2007. In the meantime, Nogueira would win the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship and become the first fighter to ever hold both PRIDE and UFC belts.

Couture and Nogueira squared off in what would be known as the “loser’s bracket” of the UFC’s mini heavyweight tournament. However, the fight also highlighted the event, being named “Fight of the Night” when all was said and done.

Couture opened the fight strong with some great avoidance and defensive tactics to remain in the stand up game. Eventually, Nogueira’s fists took advantage, taking Couture to the ground and allowing him to get a tight brabo choke on Couture. The second round saw Couture in one of his weaker states, the half guard, for most of the round. Finally, things slow down as Nogueira slowed down his offensive attacks in round three. Despite Couture’s late round efforts with some ground blows, it was not enough. Nogueira took the fight with a unanimous decision: 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.

Looking towards UFC 110, Nogueira sees that a win will likely earn him the right for a future title bout – an honor that his undefeated opponent, Velasquez, will not let go easily. Velasquez has built a reputation to be one of the most talked about heavyweights in the mixed martial arts world, today.

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If Velasquez has any chance of winning this fight, it is with a technical and sound game. Nogueira on the other hand would be best suited to stick to his normal routine, where he has proven that he can win over 80-percent of the time.

History in the making, Couture-Coleman; Brazil sweeps the Main Card

One day before the New Orleans Saints wrote a new page in their franchise’s history, legendary fighter Mark Coleman, 45, indicated he would “probably” hang up the gloves after submitting to a rear-naked chokehold (1:09) from none other than Randy Couture, 46, in the second round of the Main Card Light Heavyweight bout at UFC 109.

The two were originally supposed to face off during the adolescent years of Ultimate Fighting Championship in 1998 at UFC 17, but were unable to because of a Couture injury.

After a ten-year hiatus from the Octagon, Coleman has lost two of three bouts. The latest bout featured an aggressive Couture, who was able to toss Coleman around the cage with little opposition in the first round. In the second, Couture continued the beating, eventually leading to the rear-naked choke that decided Coleman’s fate. The fight lasted just six minutes. Couture is now 18-10-0.

Also in the Main Card were two Middleweight fights and two Welterweight fights – three of which won bonuses. Fighters winning bonuses were granted $60,000.

In the Middleweight action, Brazilian Demian Maia faced off against the United States’ own, Dan Miller. After a devastating 21-second knockout was dished out by Nate Marquardt in August, Maia looked to rebound hard against Miller.

In the first round, Maia strategically used the stand-up game and his hands to send a message. Miller dropped his guard and ended up on his back, which gave Maia the upper hand early.

Throughout the rest of the match, it was a battle of martial arts tactics, and punches and kicks were landed on both sides. In the final frame, Maia tried for submissions against the cage on Miller, but was slightly unsuccessful. The final decision came unanimously in favor of Maia: 30-27, 29-28, 29-28.

Sonnen vs Marquardt

Chael Sonnen handling Nate Marquardt; Image courtesy of mmaweekly.com

In what was named the “Fight of the Night,” Nate Marquardt took on the outspoken Chael Sonnen. Sonnen, who had words for Marquardt before the middleweight title eliminator, used his natural wrestling maneuvers to control the upper-hand on Marquardt for the entire match.

Despite Marquardt’s efforts, which resulted in a deep forehead cut for Sonnen, and a late pummeling in the closing seconds, Sonnen was still able to get the unanimous victory: 30-27, 30-27, 30-27. Sonnen now looks towards the winner of the Silva-Vitor at April’s UFC 112, hoping that Silva wins for the sake of battling “the lower road.”

In a more fast-paced bout, and what would be named “Submission of the Night,” welterweights Paulo Thiago (Brazil) and Mike Swick squared off in the Octagon. Thiago, now 13-1, was able to put away Swick very easily at 1:54 in Round 2 with a quick right-hand counter, which resulted in a lights-out D’Arce choke.

Check out the Countdown to UFC 109 Preview video below of the Thiago-Swick fight.

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Finally, the Knockout of the Night was awarded to welterweight Matt Serra. Serra battled Frank Trigg in what would result in a quick and easy knockout at 2:23 in first round. After a nasty right-handed blow that would knock Trigg to the ground, Serra mounted his opponent and finished him off with punches, forcing the fight to be called due to a knockout.

Overall, Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Events Center drew a crowd of 10,687, with a gate of $2.27 million.

Coleman attempts to put Team Hammer House back on center stage

Mark “The Hammer” Coleman’s Team Hammer House has fallen on hard times as of late.  However, Coleman hopes to turn the trend around as he meets another MMA great and fellow UFC Hall of Famer Randy “The Natural” Couture this weekend at UFC 109 Relentless.

Team Hammer House is a MMA team operating out of Columbus, Ohio, focused on amateur wrestling, and made up of mostly former NCAA wrestlers.  The team has cross training deals with notable fighters and camps such as Matt Serra, Pat Miletich, and Xtreme Couture MMA.

The main strengths of Team Hammer House are its wrestling and ground-and-pound.  Coleman is credited with being one of the first American MMA fighters to successfully use the strategy of ground-and-pound, which has earned him the nickname of the “Godfather of Ground-and-Pound.”

Coleman, the founder of Team Hammer House, holds numerous accomplishments in the world of professional MMA.  He is a UFC Hall of Famer, the first ever UFC heavyweight champion, and the winner of the UFC 10 tournament, UFC 11 tournament, and 2000 Pride openweight GP tournament.  Coleman, like many of his teammates at Hammer House, is a former NCAA collegiate wrestler.

Team Hammer House holds a roster with several prominent fighters, including four UFC veterans: two of whom are former UFC champions. The team’s notable fighters include: Mark Coleman, Kevin Randleman, Wes Sims and Branden Lee Hinkle.  Phil Baroni, a UFC, Pride and Strikeforce veteran, is a former member of Team Hammer House.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman is a senior member of  Team Hammer House. Randleman, a former collegiate wrestler and two time Division I NCAA champion, was defeated by Mike Whitehead via unanimous decision in June of 2009 during his Strikeforce debut at Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields.  The fight marked his first fight in over a year due to a shoulder injury, as well as his first fight in America in nearly seven years.  In his most recent fight Randleman was defeated by Stanislav Nedkov via split decision at World Victory Road Presents: Sengoku 11.

Wes Sims, three-fight UFC veteran  and The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights cast member, recently fought Bobby Lashley on the main card of Strikeforce: Miami. Sims was stopped in the first round via technical knock out (2:06).

Branden Lee Hinkle, three-fight UFC veteran and NCAA Division II national wrestling champion, was stopped by Chris Tuchscherer in round 4 (4:43) of his most recent fight at SNMMA: Beatdown at Four Bears. Hinkle has lost four of his last five fights after going undefeated in his previous nine matches.

Coleman scored a unanimous decision victory over Stephan Bonner in his last fight at UFC 100 after falling to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua via technical knock out in the third round (4:36) at UFC93.  He is currently training with Team Hammer House in preparation for his match with Randy Couture this Saturday Feb. 6 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, NV.

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