Posts tagged: Lightweight

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)

Inside The Guard, A Versatile Position

Usually the starting point of grappling action in MMA matches, the guard is often overlooked by fans and even fighters, but a fighter using proper technique can prove the position dangerous.

Ortiz inside the butterfly guard of Griffin

The goal of the top fighter in the guard is to utilize ground-and-pound striking while aiming to improve their position. The top fighter also has the option of opening the guard and going for submission attempts.

The goal of the bottom fighter in the guard is most commonly to attempt various submissions off of their back or to escape using sweep techniques to return the fight to their feet. However, there are a few effective strikes from the bottom as well.

There are two basic forms of the guard: the closed guard and the open guard. In the closed guard the bottom fighter has their legs wrapped around the top fighter’s back, as well as their arms in cases. The aim of the closed guard is for the bottom fighter to keep the top fighter’s body as close to theirs as possible, limiting range in order to prevent devastating strikes and set up submission attempts.

In the open guard the bottom fighter uses his legs to control the opponent with the goal being to keep the opponent further away rather than close, because the bottom fighter becomes more vulnerable to strikes. The open guard can be used by the bottom fighter to set up submissions, but is most commonly used to create a sweep in order to return the fight to the feet or transition to the top position.

Alan Belcher trapped in Jason Day's rubber guard at UFC 83. Day lands 10 elbow strikes and 17 unanswered punches

There are various forms of the open guard such as the butterfly guard, the rubber guard, the x-guard, the spider guard, De la Riva guard and 50-50 guard. Arguably the most common in MMA are the butterfly and rubber guard.

The butterfly guard is a position in which the bottom fighter’s legs are hooked with their ankles inside the top fighter’s thighs. This allows for good control of the top fighter’s movements and distancing and allows for effective sweeps.

The rubber guard, created by Eddie Bravo, is gaining popularity and becoming more common in the MMA world. The bottom fighter uses a leg to trap the top opponent in their guard, opening up possibilities for submissions, sweeps and even effective striking from the bottom. Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki has developed one of the most effective rubber guards in MMA along with UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn.

The main goal of the top fighter in the guard is to advance his position. However, striking can be effective. Tito Ortiz is among one of the most effective strikers from the guard in MMA, in great part due to his devastating elbows. Elbows, hammer fists, closed fist strikes, and even Royce Gracie style palm strikes can cause damage from the guard.

Mousasi KO's Jacare via up-kick

Fighters inside an opponents open guard also have the option of standing in the guard to attempt various leg locks, such as knee bars, heel hooks and achilles locks. However, this can make them vulnerable to commonly the most devastating strike from the bottom guard.

Up-kicks have proven to be extremely effective in MMA and are a good tool for fighters on their back. Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi knocked out Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in dramatic fashion with a single upkick in the final round of the Dream middleweight grand prix at Dream 6 on September 23, 2008.

The bottom fighter has a clear advantage in the submission game from the guard. The most common submissions pulled off from guard are the guillotine, arm bar, triangle choke and kimura. Other popular submissions are the omoplata and gogoplata, but these techniques are most often used as a sweep to simply transition to the top or a standing position. However, they can be very effective when used from the rubber guard.

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The top fighter must aim to improve his position above all else while in the guard. A ground-and-pound fighter must move out of harms way against a submission specialist rather than being contempt to strike from the guard. Mark Coleman learned this lesson not once, but twice when he was submitted from within WAMMA and former Pride heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko‘s guard during Pride FC competition in 2004 and then again in 2006.

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Fight Notes: Donald Cerrone vs. Ben Henderson

Donald Cerrone vs.  Ben Henderson

Ben Henderson – Extremely solid submission defense and submission awareness. Able to stack cerrone and keep his head high to deliver precise punches in Cerrone. Wrestling skills helped him dominate in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, but he lacks the wind for solid late round takedowns.Standup game was crisp, but too close to even with donald.

Cerrone – Crisp striking, and strong ground submission attempts gave henderson a lot to think about all night. While henderson managed to do more damange with effective ground striking in the 2nd and 3rd, Donald offered more submission attempts and probably the cleaner overall standing strikes, but takedowns carried the balence with the judges.

Henderson by 5th Round Decision

New fighter takes MMA by surprise

Every once in awhile, a new athlete bursts onto the sports scene that takes everyone by surprise.  There have been unexpected stories of overcoming adversities and achieving success that can’t help but make you smile and think, “Well, maybe if he could do it, then so can I!”

 

Plenty of fighters make their professional Mixed Martial Arts debut every year.  Not many of them do it with just one arm.

 

Fighter Nic Newell has had to overcome a physical disability that he was born with in order to achieve his dreams of fighting for the UFC.  Although his left arm ends after his elbow, he chooses not to wear a prosthetic.

 

Newell’s disability hasn’t deterred his will and determination to fight.

 

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Newell, 23, faced his first professional lightweight fight on June 20 and defeated Dan Ford in a Cagefighting Xtreme event in Plymouth, Mass.   Newell won by a technical knockout (TKO), three minutes into the first round.  Before going professional, Newell had a 2-1 amateur record and has been turning heads ever since.

 

Previously, Ford’s professional record was 1-2, according to mixedmartialarts.com.

 

Former National Amateur Fight League 155lb championship winner Newell may have a disadvantage when it comes to fighting, but he doesn’t think of it in that way.

 

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“Regardless of whether I have a disability or not, I always want to win and be the best,” Newell said in an interview with Fanhouse.  He attributes his success to determination, ability to adapt to adversity and perseverance to achieve his dreams.   

 

He also stated that throughout his career, he hopes to show that people with disabilities can be successful, and to not give up on your goals.

 

 

Before fighting in MMA events, Newell was an all-state high school wrestler and won over 150 matches.  Newell also captioned the team.  After high school, he went on to wrestle in college at Western New England College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communication. 

           

He became interested in MMA after he saw the sport on television and then went to witness it live.

 

Today, Newell splits his training between Fighting Arts Academy and the Ultimate MMA Training Center, in Massachusetts and Connecticut, respectively. 

 

Check out Nick Newell’s personal MySpace page here.

 

10 Things you should know about MMA

With the world of Mixed Martial Arts growing more popular by the day, there are many misconceptions about the sport.  Here’s setting the record straight.

 

10.  MMA has been around since the time of the ancient Greeks.

Around 600 BC, the Greeks started a new sport in their ancient Olympic Games.  This new sport, Pankration (meaning “all powers”) combined the elements of wrestling and boxing into one sport.  Similar to today, matches were fought in rings and were won by knocking your opponent unconscious or through submission by the opponent raising his hand.

 

9.  Many believe that fighters fast to lose weight in days before an event, but most chose to lose it in a healthy way.   Fighters often lose the weight inflatable tents through different ways.  Some use diet and exercise, while others go sweat it out in the sauna.  Seemingly, most fighters are dedicated to a healthy and natural diet all year, as to avoid the last minute weight loss.

 

8.  Some fighters say the biggest mistake you can make is not being humble.  In an interview with MMA frenzy, Cole Miller said that not being humble often leads to a humiliating loss, making a fighter want to rethink his career choice.

 

7.  MMA is a team sport– a fighter’s team, staff and trainers are the force behind the fighters.  They’re the people closest to the fighter; after spending hours a day in training, they’re often thought of as family.  Fighters and coaches often give their all to each other, which has been a winning combination in the world of MMA.

 

6.  UFC champs gets to keep the belt.  UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez supposedly tried to sell his belt on Ebay in 2008 to raise money for a local school.

 

5.  The first publicized “MMA” event was in China in 1909 between British boxer Hercules O’Brien and Chinese martial artist Huo Yuan Jia.  The fighters had a hard time agreeing to the rules of the match, but they decided that whoever could knock down the other would win. 

 

The 2006 movie Fearless, is loosely based off of this fight and focuses on Yuan Jia’s life, who is arguably one of the most famous Chinese martial artists of all times.

 

4.  Thought Cub Swanson got knocked out quickly in June 2009 by Jose Aldo?  His eight seconds before knockout is a century compared to the knockout of Lautaro Tucas by Chris Clements in three seconds back in 2006.

 

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3.  UFC continued to grow in popularity in the mid 90s, when they promoted their fights as “the bloodiest fighting you’ll ever see.”  Critics referred to it as “human cockfighting.”  Interestingly, the sport’s death rate is extremely low; its death count is currently being debated.  Some reports, for example associatedcontent.com state there are no deaths in the sport’s history, others, such as Grapplearts.com, say one death has occurred. 

 

2.  MMA is one of the most regulated sports in the world.  With numerous rules and judges, in addition to set time limits and amount of rounds, the league’s concern for the fighters’ safety is most important.  The regulation system is under the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts and includes over 30 rules.  Many of these rules are similar to those used in Olympic events.

 

More precautions are taken with fighters than with many athletes from other sports.  Medical teams are present at every fight, and fighters often receive MRIs both before and after fights.

 

1.  MMA fighters have been successful collegiate athletes and Olympic athletes; the first ever being Mark Schultz, who received a gold medal in wrestling during the 1984 Olympic Games.  Schultz fought one MMA fight before returning to coach wrestling at the collegiate level.

 

Other Olympic athletes and MMA fighters include Rulon Gardner, Kevin Jackson and Kenny Monday.  Most have only fought in several matches.

 

To learn about the misconceptions of the dangers of UFC, click here.

To read more about the quickest knockouts, click here.

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.

Styles Make Fights – TUF 9 Finale: Diaz vs. Stevenson (BJJ vs. Submission Wrestling)

In a matchup of former TUF lightweight winners and submission specialists, season two winner Joe Stevenson neutralized the submission threat of season five winner Nate Diaz to take a UD victory at the TUF 9 Finale.

Diaz almost clamped on a guillotine choke without guard right out of the gate, but Stevenson survived and turns the first round into a grappling clinic with Diaz. Stevenson had a tight guillotine of his own in the middle of the round, but Diaz rolled over and survived the choke.

Joe Stevenson avoided a third straight loss by UDing Nate Diaz

Joe Stevenson avoided a third straight loss by UD'ing Nate Diaz

Stevenson shot out of his corner in the second round and started to dominate on the ground, pressing Diaz against the fence and looking to ground-and-pound Diaz. Diaz was left to look for half-opportunities at submissions while Steveson continued to smother Diaz with superior wrestling.

Needing a stoppage of some sort to win the fight, Diaz still could not stop Stevenson’s takedowns in the final round, with Steveson using a rolling fireman’s carry to take Diaz down. Diaz scored a takedown of his own, but Stevenson scrambled quickly and put himself in dominant position again. With a minute left Diaz finally broke free of Stevenson and threw wild punches, but Stevenson latched onto Diaz’s leg and hung on to take the decision victory.

It was the perfect gameplan by Stevenson, who used his strength advantage to bully Diaz around the cage. Diaz, lacking the stand-up game of his older brother Nick, was unable to catch Stevenson in anything dangerous after the first round; like in his previous loss to Clay Guida, Diaz once again found the power advantage of his opponent too much to overcome.

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: Uno vs. Fisher (Freestyle vs. Muay Thai)

In a fight between two left-handed lightweights, Spencer Fisher somehow won a lackluster decision against the returning Caol Uno in their lightweight bout at UFC 99: The Comeback.

In a first round that left the fans restless, Fisher was content to sprawl out of Uno’s takedown attempts and clinch on the cage. For his part, Uno showed no desire to strike with Fisher, instead trying to ride into a takedown. Uno opened the second round with a takedown, but Fisher got back up and the war of attrition resumed, with Fisher sprawling and powering out of Uno’s takedowns but refusing to let his own hands go.

Caol Uno was robbed in Germany

Caol Uno was robbed in Germany

Fisher finally let fly in the third round with strikes, but Uno continued to press forward and wrestle with a tiring Fisher. Uno’s determination finally paid off at the end of the round by taking down Fisher and grabbing mount. Fisher desperately tried to get out but Uno threatened him with submissions and hammerfists to finish the fight in mount. In a decision that for some reason announced with no card score, the judges somehow saw fit to award Fisher the victory.

What was certain was that as far as styles making fights go, Uno’s submission wrestling style and Fisher’s stand-up skills refused to engage each other. One could only wonder why Fisher chose not to force Uno to strike with him until the third round; Uno has had no wins by KO since 2005.

The Ultimate Fighter 9 Big Board: Episode 11 – Winner vs. Dollar, Pearson vs. Dent

Andre Winner submitted Cameron Dollar

Andre Winner submitted Cameron Dollar

The lightweight finale for TUF was set this week as Andre Winner and Ross Pearson punched in their tickets to an all-UK affair at the expense of Cameron Dollar and Jason Dent respectively.

In the first fight of today’s episode, Winner disposed to Dollar in quick and unexpected fashion with a triangle choke in the first round.

It was a sloppy fight initially, with Dollar swinging for the fences from the start while Winner responded with precision counter strikes. The decisive factor was Dollar’s inability to suck Winner into the ground game, as Winner muscled off Dollar’s takedowns and was unnerved by Dollar’s looping go-for-broke punches. Winner then took advantage of a desperate lunging takedown by Dollar to sweep into full mount. The mount was high, so the striker Winner switched to a triangle choke which hung dangerously loose for awhile. However, Dollar didn’t muster the strength to pull out of the hold, and Winner eventually locked it up and coaxed the tap from Dollar.

In the second fight, the veteren Dent finally turned up the heat against British slugger Pearson, fighting Pearson at his own game of non-stop striking in the first round. Pearson was up to the test and refused to back up, throwing strikes of his own which found their mark. Overall in the round Pearson landed more clean shots, but Dent ended the round with a strong flurry, making it a round nearly too close to call.

It was more of the same at the start of the second round, with both men exchanging punches and kicks. Pearson scored the first takedown of the match to escape a Dent flurry, but Dent made it back to his feet and continued to apply the pressure from strikes. However, a takedown attempt by Dent went wrong and Pearson ended the round by raining down blows from guard, taking away all the momentum that Dent had built up.

Ross Pearson won a decision over Jason Dent

Ross Pearson won a UD over Jason Dent

Convinced that Dent was behind on the scorecards, USA coach Dan Henderson implored Dent to finish the fight in the third and final round. However, Pearson came out of his corner full of confidence and brought the fight right up to Dent, hitting him with punches before taking him down once more. Pearson went on to punish the tired Dent from guard before grabbing side-back control when Dent tried to squirm back to his feet. From there it was all Pearson, who showed enough awareness to avoid all of Dent’s last-ditch submission attempts while still actively delivering strikes on the ground.  The fight ended with Pearson in dominant position, and while Dent finally showed what he could do, it was indeed Ross Pearson who took the unanimous decision.

Though the non-fight segments of the episode were kept short, listening to the Team UK fighters talk about what Jason Pierce had told them about Cameron Dollar’s striking tendencies was a nice reminder that trustworthiness is a factor when deciding which fighters you want in your camp.

TUF Finale Big Board

With only one episode remaining before the finale, both final fights look to be highly entertaining matchups.

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/Frank Lester

No matter whoever wins the final fight next week, Johnson will enter the finale as a slight favorite against Wilks or a clear favorite against Lester. 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. Lester, although tough as nails, lacks the technique to compete with Johnson, and Wilks will have to bring some ruthless aggression and not let Johnson settle into any kind of game plan.

Quote of the Show:

“I never suck my thumb in the house… only at nights… and sometimes in the van.”

Andre Winner, on his tendency to sometimes suck on his own thumb.

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