Archive for February, 2009

UFC cuts Mandaloniz, Ebanez/Kawajiri

February 26th, 2009

The fight between Troy Mandaloniz and Paul Kelly at UFC 95 last weekend was good enough to get on TV, but not enough to save Manaloniz’s UFC career.

The company cut Mandaloniz yesterday, informing him of the news by e-mail.

“I thought I showed them what I was made of, but I guess not,” Mandaloniz said in a press release. “I don’t think I see too many other fighters out there fighting with the same passion and intensity that I bring.”

 Mandaloniz is 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the UFC after taking a unanimous decision loss to Kelly Saturday.

Also, Hilo’s Ross Ebanez will fight Tatsuya Kawajiri at DREAM 7 on March 8 at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan. The fight can be seen the following Friday on HDNET. Ebanez’s biggest fight to date is a TKO loss to Eddie Alvarez on a ShoXC card, but a win over Kawajiri, who hovers right around 10th in world lightweight rankings, would immediately thrust Ebanez into big-time status on the world stage. HUGE opportunity for Da Boss.

X-1: New Beginnings on Maui

February 26th, 2009

Maui MMA fans are in for a treat tomorrow night as X-1 presents New Beginnings at War Memorial Stadium, featuring Niko Vitale and a matchup of arguably the two best heavyweight fighters in Hawaii.

UFC veteran Scott Junk will face Maui boy Lolohea Mahe in a huge heavyweight fight that will not only earn the winner a shot at heavyweight champion Ron Waterman in X-1, but will open the door to some big fights in big-time organizations in the future.

Junk, who lost in his only UFC fight against Christian Wellisch, is fully healed from a torn ACL that he suffered two days before being asked to fight in the UFC. According to Junk, he took the fight anyway, but his knee gave him problems when he couldn’t tape it for the fight.

“Just before the fight, the commission said we couldn’t use tape, so they gave me this rubber brace that didn’t do anything,” Junk said. “You can see on the tape my knee blow out after I caught him against the fence and he was able to get me in a heel hook.”

Mahe will be on the fast track toward getting his opportunity in the UFC with a win, while Junk is looking to get back there and be healthy for a fight to show just what he can do.

In the main event, Niko Vitale is putting his X-1 middleweight title on the line against Jon Kirk of Houston, Tex. Vitale, who recently restructured his contratct with StrikeForce, is looking to get a win to setup some big opportunities with the company that recently purchased EliteXC.

Vitale had some interesting things to say. From what he’s heard, StrikeForce plans to keep the StrikeForce and EliteXC organizations separate. He reiterated what I’ve always been told, that StrikeForce does want to do a fight in Hawaii. When asked about possible opponents he’d like to fight, he mentioned wanting to avenge some of the loses in his career. First on that list? Jason “Mayhem” Miller.

The undercard to tomorrow night’s fight is full of great matchups. Michael Brightmon will drop down to 155 to fight for the state title against Dominic Ahnee, and Justin Mercado will face Bandon Visher for the 145-pound state title. Rounding out the bouts is a 135 state title fight between Brysen Hansen and Mike Pedro, and Koa Ramos gets back in the ring against Jason Daquel.

Lucky you live Maui Friday night.

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Who watched UFC 95?

February 22nd, 2009

I have to be honest, I was out covering the UH baseball doubleheader today and my DVR didn’t record UFC 95 for some reason. Bummed to see Troy Mandaloniz drop a decision to Paul Kelly. I assume it wasn’t shown on the SPIKE telecast.

For those that did catch the fight, I’m curious to what people thought of the main event between Diego Sanchez and Joe Stevenson. Most of the stuff I’ve read say Diego looked like a man that could compete with B.J. for the lightweight title. Like I said, I didn’t see it but if Diego couldn’t stop Stevenson within three rounds while Penn tore through the same fighter 13 months ago, is Diego really a serious threat? How did he look at 155?

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Rude Boy in UFC tomorrow

February 20th, 2009

Hilo’s Troy Mandaloniz is back in the Octagon for the first time since Dec. 2007 as he’ll open UFC 95 tomorrow in the United Kingdom in the first prelim match against Paul Kelly. Tough spot for Mandaloniz to fly all the way over to Kelly’s side of the world. He’s already dealing with being inactive for 14 months, but has been training at his gym on Maui with Kendall Grove as well as in Hilo with B.J. Penn.

UFC 95 is being shown tomorrow night for free on SPIKE on a tape delayed basis. Mandaloniz’s fight is one of the prelim fights, so there’s a chance it may not be shown. Both guys can be exciting fighters however, so you never know. Tune in and you might see it after all.

This is one of those UFC fight cards that lacks compared to the crazy ones it has put on recently. However, it’s a very intriguing main event for B.J. Penn fans. Diego Sanchez is moving down to 155 and faces Joe Stevenson, the man Penn beat for the lightweight title some 13 months ago. If Sanchez runs through Stevenson like Penn did, then he might immediately be the guy in line to fight the winner of Penn/Florian this summer. With Stevenson as a common opponent, we’ll find out how legit Sanchez is at 155.

UFC 95
Joe Stevenson (34-9) vs. Diego Sanchez (21-2)
Dan Hardy (20-6-1) vs. Rory Markham (16-4)
Nate Marquardt (30-8-2) vs. Wilson Gouveia (12-5)
Damian Maia (10-0) vs. Chael Sonnen (23-9-1)
Josh Koscheck (14-3) vs. Paulo Thiago (10-0)
Terry Etim (11-2) vs. Brian Cobb (15-4)
Junior Dos Santos (7-1) vs. Stefan Struve (20-2)
Mike Ciesnolevicz (17-3-1) vs. Neil Grove (7-1)
Per Eklund (15-3-1) vs. Evan Dunham (7-0)
Paul Kelly (8-1) vs. Troy Mandaloniz (3-1)

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Let’s talk StrikeForce

February 18th, 2009

With the focus around here being on B.J. Penn the last few weeks, I haven’t had a chance to address the big news that StrikeForce purchased EliteXC.

As a mixed martial arts fan, it’s huge news for the continued growth of the sport. Scott Coker, the man in charge of StrikeForce, has been around combat sports for a long time, and his StrikeForce business model over the last few years has been the best of any promotion out there. Unlike EliteXC and Affliction spending top dollars to try and compete with the UFC, Coker has done what has been successful. Stay small, don’t go overboard on things, and run solid, exciting events based in California that generate huge draws. He knew how big Cung Le and Frank Shamrock are in Southern California, and the fight they put on last year was huge, and looked great on Showtime.

Now, with the EliteXC roster in his control and TV deals with Showtime and CBS, he can do big things with what he’s got, and I think he will. Like I’ve said before, because of the time he spent in Hawaii with Icon, I have become a big fan of Robbie Lawler, and the chance to see him face Shamrock and Cung Le is exciting. I know KJ Noons wants to focus on his boxing career, but eventually he will fight in MMA again and exciting matchups with Josh Thomson, Gilbert Melendez, Eddie Alvarez and some of the Japanese guys are out there.

Almost every women’s MMA fight I’ve ever watched has been exciting, and seeing Christine Cyborg Santos against Gina Carano could be the greatest one ever.

And maybe we’ll see Falaniko Vitale back in a StrikeForce event. Coker has mentioned to me the couple of times I’ve talked to him how he’d love a Vitale vs. Melvin Manhoef fight. Can you imagine the first 60 seconds of that one?

The first show with the revamped roster is April 11. Frank Shamrock against Nick Diaz is the main event and I’ve read that Jake Shields will fight Joe Riggs. Good start to what I think, unlike most other MMA organizations, will be a great future for StrikeForce.