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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

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

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

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

Brandon Vera

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

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

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

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

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

Vera vs. Fabiano Scherner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When All Else Fails… Evolve!

Is it destiny to grow up in a family of a certain trade? What about a family of fighters? The historic Hart family, hailing from Canada is one of the most famous amateur and professional wrestling families in organized fighting history. However, there is a more unique story…

Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Greg Jackson took a different route than your run-of-the-mill mixed martial artist. With a family of champion wrestlers, including his father, uncle and brother, Jackson learned to develop wrestling rather quickly, while growing up in a rough neighborhood.

What’s more, Jackson decided, at a young age, that wrestling wasn’t enough. Mixing in some Judo with his wrestling expertise, Jackson soon developed his own form of martial arts. And by 1992, he was ready to open up shop and begin teaching others what had become known as Gaidojutsu.

History was made in 1993, when Jackson saw his first Ultimate Fighting Championship, and took a page out of the Gracie family’s book, adding BJJ to his fighting form. He’s also added kickboxing to the form, learning from his mentor and five time world champion Michael Winkeljohn.

Jackson at UFC 96

What is known as The World’s Premiere Fight Team, Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts, located in his hometown of Albuquerque was officially named an MMA school in 2000, and since its birth, the school has developed ten world champions. It is even said that Jackson’s fighters have an 81-percent winning percentage, according to Sherdog.

As a guy that mainly taught himself, Jackson’s coaching tendencies are among the best, as seen by his repertoire of successful fighters, which include light heavyweight Jon Jones, Nate Marquardt, former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, and current UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre.

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The best thing about Jackson’s coaching? Passion.

“I like changing people’s lives for the better,” Jackson said in an interview with his school’s website.

“I think that’s definitely the part I’m addicted to. When I see somebody that you know is just a normal student and their life becomes better, they become a stronger person, they become a better person, that something that really exemplifies why I’m in this business.”

Jackson works alongside Winkeljohn, who coaches kickboxing at the academy, as well as strength and conditioning coach Chris Luttrell, and Chad Lemoine – each providing expertise in the areas that make Gaidojutsu the powerful form that it has become.

Jackson is currently filming a documentary on the genesis and development of Jackson’s MMA, and will see some of his fighters face off at UFC Live on March 21, 2010, including Jon Jones, Paul Buentello, Eliot Marshall, Clay Guida, and Brendan Shaub.

I like changing people’s lives for the better. I think that’s definitely the part I’m addicted to. When I see somebody that you know is just a normal student and their life becomes better, they become a stronger person, they become a better person, that something that really exemplifies why I’m in this business.

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)

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.

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.

San Diego's Finest

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The Arena: San Diego’s premium mixed-martial arts gym. Training fighters all over the nation in boxing, Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, wrestling and of course, MMA. The victorious fighter in the video above, Pat Speight, may look scrawny, but the Arena has taught him well. I mean, just look at how he man-handles Ishmael Gonzalez in just three minutes!

The Arena stays away from traditional classes such as cardio and strength training. Instead, the gym hones fighting skill, both mentally and physically. The result: a cardio-infused, strength-training based, no-holds barred selection of classes to not only keep fighters in shape, but to shape the fighters into warriors.

The Arena needs no publicity; the greatest fighters in the world know all about it. It was, however, given plenty of spotlight recently thanks to a little event called UFC 107: Penn vs. Sanchez. The Sanchez in that title is one of the Arena’s best known fighters, and as a result, the Countdown show for UFC 107 went to San Diego to go behind the scenes and learn more about Sanchez’s training and coaching. The traditional preview show will debut the second week of December, so keep an eye on Spike TV or good ol’ Youtube.

The gym is home to many famous Californians and MMA fighters, including Jiu Jitsu master Rani Yahya, 6x Jiu Jitsu World Champion Saulo Ribeiro, UFC 107 headliner Diego Sanchez, boxing phenom KJ Noons, and the submission-favoring Fabricio Camoes.

Of course, you probably won’t find one of San Diego’s most well-known residents, anchorman Ron Burgundy, working out there. He’s a little bit busy it seems…

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