Posts tagged: UFC 99

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

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Velasquez, Rising Up the Ranks

Cain Ramirez Velasquez, one of  the UFC’s rising stars in the now stacked heavyweight division, looks to prove himself as a top contender for the title with a win this Saturday at UFC 110.

Cain Velasquez

The main event of UFC 110 will feature Velasquez, 27, facing off against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (32-5-1, 1 NC) in Sydney, Australia.  Velasquez holds a perfect professional MMA record of 7-0, with six of his wins coming by way of knockout or TKO.  He holds a 5-0 record in UFC competition.

Velasquez first developed his strong wrestling base at Kofa High School, located in Yuma, AZ, where he became a two-time 5A state champion.  He went on to become a two-time All American collegiate wrestler at Arizona State and a Junior College National Champ at Iowa Central Community College.

As an American MMA fighter based out of California, Velasquez strongly embraces and takes pride in his Mexican descent.  He is currently fighting out of American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, CA.

Velasquez’s lone decision victory came in his fight against French kickboxing ace Cheick Kongo (14-6-1) on June 13 at UFC 99. Velasquez dominated the fight on the ground scoring a unanimous decision: 30-26, 30-27, 30-25.

Despite the one-sided nature of the judges’ scores, the fight did reveal weaknesses in Velasquez’s game and was perhaps his only professional MMA fight to do so.  He was caught with big shots, which seemingly hurt him and forced him to go for the takedown at the beginning of each round.

This demonstrated a weakness of Velasquez leaving himself too open to strikes while looking for the takedown, or poor striking defense in the stand-up in general.  However Velasquez weathered Kongo’s devastating blows and took the upper hand, which demonstrated a phenomenal chin.

In his next fight Velasquez ran through a top-level opponent and showed unquestionable progression as a complete MMA fighter.  Velasquez took down Ben Rothwell (30-7) with seemingly little effort and battered him on the the ground  for a TKO victory on October 24 at UFC 104.

Velasquez controlled Rothwell on the ground and in the clinch, reigning down blows until the fight was stopped in the second round (0:58).  Rothwell had very little response or defense to Velasquez’s game plan.

Velasquez’s strong wrestling skills were undoubtedly the most pivotal part of his game in his last two octagon appearances.  However, his takedown offense and strong ground game may not be as relevant in his upcoming fight, as they may present dangerous situations for him against submission specialist Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

Nogueira holds a black belt in both brazilian jiu jitsu and judo.  Velasquez holds just a purple belt in brazilian jiu jitsu.  Nogueira’s technical ground game and particularly his strong submission skills will pose a challenge to Velasquez’s wrestling game.

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Of Nogueira’s 31 career wins, 20 have come by way of submission.  Velasquez will likely break away from his normal game plan and possibly even change his training regiment in order to counter this threat.  It would not be out of the ordinary to see a stand up battle between two ground experts.

From UFC 1 to 100: Evolution of the UFC

To see athletes of different or similar fighting practices challenge each other – that has always been the goal behind the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

That goal has come a long way since the UFC’s conceptual development in 1991. The original concept was a single event tournament to discover the world’s best fighting style. The tournament aired in 1993, and was a mini-success, with nearly 90,000 Pay Per View buys. At the time the tournament aired, the entire concept of “mixed martial arts,” as we know it today, did not really exist. The tournament placed athletes of only one fighting art against each another, pitting boxers against Karate, and wrestlers against jiu jitsu and everything in between. Most times, fighters did not know what to do to handle the other opponent as they had never faced someone of that particular art, and the matches were often lacking in entertainment value. Another problem also existed. There were no weight classes, usually setting opponents together with huge size differentials. While this proved to be entertaining at times, this was not practical, especially if the UFC had any desire to be a legitimate organization.

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Due to its success, the UFC became a recurring tournament, but many aspects of the tournament needed to be addressed. With a tag-line that read “there are no rules!” and “fighting techniques” such as hair pulling, groin strikes and head butting allowed; the UFC had to revamp it’s entire concept if there was any hope in becoming a permanent fixture in the sporting community.

The tournament had aired five times but in 1995, it started to gain negative popularity, attracting wide press coverage from all over the nation, most of it very unfavorable. Political action was quickly taken against the UFC, and Senator John McCain led the campaign, calling the UFC “human cock fighting.” It was dropped shortly after by major cable and pay per view providers, and in 1997, 36 states had banned no-holds-barred fighting. The UFC was launched into the abyss of sports, thought by many to never be seen again.

However, in response to all the criticism, and much to the surprise of many, the UFC began to cooperate with state athletic commissions. The transformation of the UFC into a legitimate sporting event began to take place. The rules were revamped, eliminating the “dirty” aspects of the tournament like hair pulling, groin shots, and head butting, as well as putting an emphasis on the core elements of the UFC as we know it today; striking, grappling, and punching. With UFC 12 came the introduction of weight classes, UFC 14 mandatory gloves, UFC 15 the banning of strikes to the back of the head and neck, and UFC 21 the introduction of 5 minute rounds. By 1999, the UFC had evolved into a full-fledged sport, almost ready to be accepted by both politicians, and the sporting community. With UFC 28 in 2000, the final step was taken in legitimizing the UFC as an athletic organization, and the New Jersey State Athletic Commission sanctioned the event.

In 2001 the UFC was sold to Zuffa LLC and Dana White. With UFC 33 in September of that year, came it’s returned to main stream cable television and PPV. With effective advertisement and a partnership with the Spike TV network in 2005 for the development of the currently running show, The Ultimate Fighter, now in season 9, the UFC quickly gained mainstream popularity.

On July 11th, UFC 100 is scheduled to take place, and will mark a very important milestone for the UFC. Sixteen years and 100 events since its creation in 1993; from a no-holds-barred tournament with sumo wrestlers and kick boxers to what it is known as today. The card will be headlined by Frank Mir vs. Brock Lesnar. Ten other fights are on both combined main, and undercard, for an event that is sure to out do the last; something the UFC seems to accomplish with all their recent events.

Despite much adversity, the UFC is the quickest growing sport in American and a far cry from its early no-holds-barred days. It is no longer just a tournament but a multimillion dollar organization and mainstream sporting event. The fighters that participate in the UFC are no longer athletes of two very different fighting arts. This current generation of fighters has a very mixed array of skills, and study everything from wrestling to Jiu Jitsu. The UFC is beginning to reach global audiences, and recently held its first event, UFC 99 early this month, in mainland Europe. With good fights, smart advertising, and entertaining television, the UFC’s future is very bright.

Styles Make Fights – UFC 99: Franklin vs. Silva (Freestyle vs. Striker)

In the 195 pound catchweight main event of UFC 99: The Comeback, Rich Franklin gutted out a big decision victory over Wanderlei Silva to keep himself at the forefront as one of the UFC’s elite fighters.

The start of the fight was tentative, with Franklin pawing his jab and using his reach to keep Silva at bay. Silva then caught a Franklin kick and slammed Franklin down, setting up the rare sight of Silva trying to work the ground game. Franklin stood up and on a missed Silva guillotine grabs front mount, but Silva escaped to end the round.

Rich Franklin was victorious via UD at UFC 99

Rich Franklin was victorious via UD at UFC 99

Franklin continued the technical counter-striking in the second round, scoring a soft knockdown early while dancing and circling out of Silva’s lunging strikes. However, Silva landed a hard 1-2 punch combo which wobbled Franklin, and the round ended with both fighters swinging and connecting.

In round three, Franklin took the advice of his corner and didn’t slug with Silva, who was gassing quickly but still pressing forward. A big flurry by Silva had Franklin in trouble, but a takedown by Franklin set up a frantic finish where Franklin had standing back control and both men were still throwing strikes.

In the end, Franklin’s smart game plan paid off as his precision and caution gave him the “W” over Silva. For Silva, it was another reminder that his all-out-brawl style, while everlastingly exciting, won’t cut it against the top tier of modern-day UFC elites.

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.

Styles Make Fights – UFC 99: Filipović vs. Al-turk (Striker vs. Submission Wrestling)

Mirko “Crocop” Filipović did exactly what he was expected to do in his UFC return, disposing of Mostapha Al-turk in the first round of their heavyweight fight at UFC 99: The Comeback.

Crocop wins, but not in convincing fashion

Crocop wins, but not in convincing fashion

Al-turk’s game plan was to push the pace against Crocop, starting the bout by throwing wild strikes, including weird-looking taekwondo kick. Crocop strided forward and eventually landed a punch that staggered Al-turk. Unable to finish Al-turk on the ground, Crocop let him back up to the feet, where Al-turk once again tried to swing for the fences. An accidental eye poke made Al-turk turtle up, but since nobody noticed initially, Crocop just pounded on Al-turk until the stoppage.

One can only wonder what Al-turk expected out of the fight; he never went for takedowns or tried to exploit the ground game of Crocop, instead choosing to throw strikes with one of the top HW strikers in the world. Not a dominant performance by Crocop, and one that adds more reservation to Crocop’s quest to be a UFC champion.

Styles Make Fights – UFC 99: Swick vs. Saunders (Freestyle vs. Freestyle)

In a welterweight fight which featured audible trash-talking between the fighters, Mike Swick continued his ascent up the ranks of 170 pounds with a KO of Ben Saunders at UFC 99: The Comeback

The fight was started off by Swick taking down Saunders against the cage. At one point on the ground, Swick asked Saunders …”are you going to hold on me all day?”, to which Saunders replied, “then lets stand up, bitch.”

Mike Swick doesnt like being called a bitch.

Mike Swick doesn't like being called a bitch.

That exchange was more exciting than any of the action in the cage, where Swick was content to take Saunders down until the referee would stand the fights up again. However, near the end of the second round, Swick suddenly exploded with quick hands, countering a Saunders kick attempt with a flurry of fists to the head which ended the fight.

It was a matchup between two lanky and similarly-sized fighters, but Swick’s hand speed and power made the difference against the TUF alum Saunders, who was unable to showcase much of his skills against his first quality UFC opponent.

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.

Styles Make Fights – UFC 99: Davis vs. Hardy (Striker vs. Striker)

In a fight billed and hyped as a “grudge match”, Dan Hardy landed the biggest shots en route to outpointing Marcus Davis at at UFC 99: The Comeback.

It was a fight between two notable strikers, but Davis decided to change up his gameplan by taking down Hardy and ground-and-pounding through most of the opening round. However, Hardy stood up at the end and delivered a huge standing elbow followed up by punches, dazing Davis as the round ended.

Hardy wins a split decision

Hardy wins a split decision

On the advice of his corner, Davis tried to turn up the leg kicks in the second round, but Hardy’s counterstriking opened Davis up to eat a big knee which floored Davis. Davis, however, is known for being able to take big shots and almost caught Hardy in an armbar from guard. In round three, Davis again took Hardy down and almost scored a heel hook, but Hardy scored a takedown of his own and cut Davis open with an elbow strike. In a close bout, Hardy scored a split decision to pick up the win.

On paper, it was a good game plan for Davis to try and exploit Hardy’s ground game instead of just slugging with him, but Hardy was equal to the task and showed his power at every opportunity. On this occasion, Davis was simply out-muscled and out-lasted by the young Briton.

Cain Velasquez vs. Cheick Kongo: The Age Old Test

 

The increasingly expanding fan base of the fastest growing sport of the last decade, is about to make another major expansion. The UFC’s next event, UFC 99 The Comeback, is scheduled to take place in Germany, making this UFC event the first ever to take place in mainland Europe. With one of the UFC’s most promising events, comes an exciting fight card filled with UFC superstar hopefuls and jam-packed with talent and excitement. Among the most exciting fights on the main card is the heavy weight bout between Cain Velasquez of San Jose, California, and Cheick Kongo of Paris, France. In a card packed with exciting bouts, the heavyweight fight between Velasquez and Kongo is a stand out. 

Many eyes of the mixed martial arts world are focused on Cain Velasquez.  Velasquez, a 26 year old Mexican-American who is undefeated in the UFC with five wins all by way of knock out, has a heralded high school and collegiate wrestling background. A two-time state wrestling champion from Kofa High School in Arizona, he also was a junior college national wrestling champ at Iowa Central Community College, and a two-time All-American at Arizona State University. Velasquez is young, exciting, and full of potential.

Cheick Kongo is a 34 year-old Frenchman and a longtime established legitimate contender in the heavyweight division. He was brought in as a replacement for Heath Herring who had to withdraw from the fight due to illness. Kongo was a former kick boxer who went 19-2 before he entered the UFC in 2006 at UFC 61, and was already 7-2-1 in MMA bouts. He has since proven to be a legitimate force in the heavyweight division, having amassed a career UFC record of 14-4-1.

Kongo will be Velasquez’s biggest challenge yet, and one of Velasquez’s major stepping stones in becoming a UFC sensation. Velasquez knows this and has prepared himself for a war. In a recent interview with popular sports blog and news site, FANHOUSE, Velasquez made it clear that he was aware of the challenge ahead. In response to the question of Kongo being his toughest test yet, Velasquez let us know his feelings on the matchup, “Yes. I think with every fight it’s gotten tougher for me, and Kongo is on a winning streak and is my toughest fight to date, for sure.”

All eyes will be watching on June 13th when UFC 99 makes history at Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany, and those eyes will be particularly focused on Velasquez – Kongo. Velasquez being a wrestler, naturally looks for take down and submission opportunities. He has a large gas tank and prefers to wrestle it out on the ground, forcing his opponents into submission and then pounding them with punches. Kongo prefers to keep the fight off the ground until he can make a finishing move.  Having a large kickboxing background, Kongo trades punches with most of his opponents until they go down, at which point he smothers them on the ground with punches, elbows, and hammer fists. It will be very interesting to see which style has the upper hand in this fight: the punch and distance approach or the ground game. 

Although they are not headlining the event, their fight is sure to be one of the most exciting of the night on a main card and undercard with six scheduled fights. Their fight is the classic test of age and experience against youth and vigor. Velasquez will either persevere and prove to all UFC fans that he is the real deal, or Kongo will show that he still has what it takes to be a major contender in the sport.

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When they meet this Saturday, June 13th, order the fight on Pay Per View, or watch the round by round coverage on ESPN.

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