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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

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

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)

Asylum Fight League, Gaining Success and Recognition

Asylum Fight League (AFL), the premier amateur MMA promotion on the East Coast, is quickly gaining fans and a growing reputation in the MMA world with each event. The promotion’s success is largely credited to martial arts school owner turned promoter Carl Mascarenhas.

AFL Fight Action

Following New Jersey’s decision to sanction MMA competition, Mascarenhas opened his first promotional company named New Breed Fighters. In 2008, Mascarenhas had a falling out with his business partner in New Breed and decided to go in a new direction with his promotional efforts, thus spawning Asylum Fight League.

Asylum Fight League was established as a promotion “created by fighters, for fighters.” Mascarenhas is the president and promoter of AFL, as well as a retired MMA fighter and former World Champion Kickboxer. He participated in three World Cups with the U.S. World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO) team, winning gold in 1995.

Mascarenhas created AFL as a training ground for amateur fighters of the Northeast region to build their records and gain recognition as potential professional-level athletes while getting the respect and understanding of businessmen who have been in their shoes.

AFL has promoted events since April of 2008 and has gained considerable popularity, routinely drawing sell-out crowds in major venues, such as the Trump Marina Casino. AFL promotes events in the New Jersey and Philadelphia areas. Of the promotion’s last six fights, three were held in Atlantic City along with the last event, which took place at the Trump Mariana on Feb. 27.

Carl Mascarenhas

The legalization of MMA competition in Pennsylvania, which took effect on Feb. 27, 2009, proved extremely favorable for AFL in exposure, recruitment of fighters, buildup of fan base, and expansion of venues and sponsorship. AFL held its first event in Pa. on Oct. 17, 2009 at The Arena in Philadelphia. Its next event, Asylum Fight League XXVII, will take place at The Legendary Blue Horizon in Philadelphia on Sat, Mar. 13 at 7 p.m.

In addition to putting on displays of MMA competition to an audience at venues, the AFL also provides a live online stream of its events at www.asylumfightleague.com or gofightlive.tv.

AFL has been very effective in marketing itself to sponsors and advertisers. The promotion has a detailed sponsorship plan, which has attracted numerous sponsors, including Everlast, The National Guard, Sirius Satellite Radio, Ring of Combat, Knockout Athletics and others.

The league promotes events featuring a variety of different weight classes (13) ranging from super featherweight (126-129.9 pounds) to absolute (250 pounds and above). Of the 13 weight classes, there are six titleholders. The other weight classes currently have vacant titles.

The success and gained notoriety of the league have had effects on its talent and led to changes in the promotion. Due to the number of its fighters turning professional, AFL has recently decided to promote cards featuring both amateur and professional bouts. At AFL XXI, the promotion’s debut in Philadelphia, the card featured four amateur fights and four professional fights.

Asylum Fight League Promo Videos

AFL’s next events are scheduled for Mar. 13 in Philadelphia and Mar. 20 at Club Abyss in Amboy, N.J.

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

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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Live pay-per-view coverage of UFC 109 will begin at 10 p.m. EST.

Fighters Shine at Strikeforce, Team Continues to Gain Credibility

Strikeforce: Miami saw a nice reception in the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla. The Showtime spectacular featured many up-and-coming fighters, but one team, and one particular fighter, is standing out.

Rated as the number one grappling competition team in Florida since 2000, and, according to UFC commentator Joe Rogan, “the best MMA camp in the country,” American Top Team (ATT) continues to grow.

American Top Team Facilities. Image Courtesy of ATTAltitude.com

American Top Team Facilities

With a headquarters in Coconut Creek, Fla., ATT has over 1,000 members, including names like Jorge Santiago, Hector Lombard, Kimbo Slice, Mike Brown and former professional wrestler, Bobby Lashley. To top it all off, the team is built around a core group of instructors with impressive resumes – a defining factor in the notoriety and credibility of ATT.

Founded by former Brazilian Top Team members Ricardo Liborio and Marcus Silveira, and financed/oversaw by Dan Lambert (a hotel executive), ATT built a 20,000-foot headquarters, and has expanded to 20 franchises and affiliate gyms. Liborio, a NAGA Grappling hall-of-famer, remains the Head Instructor. He is backed by 1976 Olympic Gold Medal boxer, Howard Davis Jr. (Head Boxing Coach), Strength and Conditioning coach Stefane Davis, who has a masters degree in Strength and Conditioning Preparation of Elite Athletes, and BJJ instructors Jonatas Gurgel and Marcos Da Matta.

Da Matta, along with Lashley and two other competitors were recently sent to Strikeforce: Miami to compete.

In the undercard, two welterweights from ATT competed, splitting 1-1. Sabah Homasi (2-1-0) was defeated for the first time by John Kelly via submission on a rear naked choke in the second round (2:48).

Also in welterweight action was Hayder Hassan (3-1-0), who handed Ryan Keenan his first professional loss with a technical knockout in the second round (2:42). All three of Hassan’s victories have come by technical knockout, showing his fine ability to pummel his opponents with his hands.

In featherweight action, Da Matta, who was undefeated prior to the event, fell to Pablo Alfonso, submitting to a straight armbar in the first round (1:47). Da Matta was able to bring the fight to the ground, but was quickly put in the defensive, where Alfonso moved from a guillotine choke to the armbar that decided Da Matta’s fate.

Finally, and most notably, Bobby Lashley competed in the heavyweight main card event, squaring off against Wes Sims, who was most recently featured on the television series The Ultimate Fighter. Lashley (5-0) remains undefeated after taking Sims out with a technical knockout in the first round (2:06). The fight was stopped after Lashley put Sims in the defensive and delivered a round of blows.YouTube Preview Image

U of Combat will surely be following ATT competitors very closely in the coming months, as they are proving to be among some of the elite in the nation. You can visit their website by clicking here.

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