Archive for March, 2010

Gomi makes UFC debut

March 31st, 2010
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Photo courtesy of The Ultimate Fighting Championship

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In the UFC, B.J. Penn’s first marquee win came against Matt Hughes at UFC 46, when Penn jumped up in weight to defeat Hughes and win the UFC welterweight title.

But for those who followed his career, his first eye-popping win that made people think, ‘Wow, this guy could become one of the all-time greats,’ came three months earlier. In the main event of Rumble on the Rock 6 at the Blaisdell Arena, Penn dominated Japan’s Takanori Gomi before submitting him with a rear-naked choke in the third round of a bloody beatdown.

After that loss, Gomi, now 31-5, went to PRIDE and began one of the most dominant runs of any fighter at any weight class, cleaning out the 155-pound division. Jens Pulver, Kawajiri, Sakurai, Ralph Gracie were four of 10 straight Gomi victories over a 2-year span.

Now, roughly 6 1/2 years after that Penn fight in Hawaii, Gomi finally will make his debut in the UFC, and it won’t be easy. Gomi headlines tonight’s Ultimate Fight Night card on SPIKETV against former No. 1 contender Kenny Florian in a fight with real title implications. A victory by Gomi would immediately put pressure on UFC President Dana White to make a rematch with Penn in a fight very few people have seen.

At least, until YouTube:

The question now facing Gomi is if his time has passed or if he’s ready to get back to being one of MMA’s elite 155-pound fighters. He looked completely out of shape in his fight against Nick Diaz in PRIDE’s second-to-last card. Diaz submitted Gomi in the second round, but the result was overturned to a No Contest after Diaz tested positive for drugs. He lost two fights back-to-back in a Japanese promotion called Sengoku, but bounced back with two wins in 2009 to get on the winning track.

Which Gomi shows up tonight could determine not only if he’ll have staying power in the UFC for years to come, but if he is able to get that rematch against Penn for the UFC title.

Tonight’s UFC Fight Night card:
TELEVISED BOUTS
Takanori Gomi vs. Kenny Florian
Stefan Struve vs. Roy Nelson
Nate Quarry vs. Jorge Rivera
Dennis Siver vs. Ross Pearson
PRELIMS
Andre Winner vs. Rafaello Oliveira
Jacob Volkmann vs. Ronys Torres
Rob Emerson vs. Nik Lentz
Caol Uno vs. Gleison Tibau
Lucio Linhares vs. Yushin Okami
Gerald Harris vs. Mario Miranda
Charlie Brenneman vs. Jason High

I will be watching live beginning at 2 p.m. Hawaii time and will post updates on Twitter under @billyhull

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Breaking down GSP

March 29th, 2010
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If he hasn’t already, Georges St-Pierre is on the brink of becoming the greatest UFC welterweight champion of all time. St-Pierre is 14-2 in the UFC and both of his loses (Matt Hughes, Matt Serra) he came back to avenge in a big way.

On Saturday night, St-Pierre made it five straight title defenses with a unanimous decision victory over Dan Hardy. It’s the second straight title defense St-Pierre has dominated, but been unable to finish his opponent, using his trademark wrestling skills to takedown Hardy at will and then control him on the mat.

The big question coming out of the fight is whether his inability to stop opponents hurts his legacy or his standing as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.

While there’s no doubt he’s one of the all-time greats the UFC has ever seen, I couldn’t help feeling let down after watching St-Pierre methodically break down Hardy for 25 minutes without being able to finish the fight. Even against B.J. Penn, St-Pierre didn’t have the satisfaction of that memorable finish to stop Penn. Instead, it was anti-climactic with the referee waving his arms in the air during the middle of rounds 4 and 5 as Penn’s corner decided it wasn’t worth it to send him out there for a final round.

Since he was knocked out by Serra, St-Pierre has won seven consecutive fights, but four of them have gone the distance. Since St-Pierre’s and Penn’s careers are so interlocked, I again, bring up the fact that since the St-Pierre loss, Penn has dominated and taped out Kenny Florian and then TKO’d Diego Sanchez with one of the nastiest cuts I’ve seen thanks to a high kick.

Theres no question that heads up, St-Pierre is a better fighter than Penn, thanks mostly to the difference in size. However, Penn’s also won his last seven fights at 155 pounds and the results read like this: Tap out (rear-naked choke), Tap out (arm-triangle choke), Tap out (rear-naked choke), Tap out (rear-naked choke), TKO (strikes), Tap out (rear-naked choke), TKO (Doctor’s stoppage).

If all that matters to St-Pierre is winning, then he is doing the right thing. However, in the sport of mixed martial arts, how you look plays a big part in how you are rememberd. Would Anderson Silva be looked at the same way if he was winning fights by decisions? Just remember the backlash he got following WINS over Patrick Cote and Thales Leites.

St-Pierre is the best 170-pound fighter in the world (Please no Jake Shields arguements). But if St-Pierre wants to be legendary, he had better learn to start finishing fights, or else when the next great 170-pound fighter that comes along can, St-Pierre’s memory will fade from view about as quickly as that of Matt Hughes, who was St-Pierre before St-Pierre.

Mahe TKO’d in main event

March 27th, 2010
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Photo: Esther Lin, StrikeForce

Lavar Johnson vs Lolohea Mahe

Maui heavyweight Lolohea Mahe battled Lavar Johnson tooth and nail for a round and a half before falling via TKO for his first professional loss in the main event of StrikeForce’s Challenger series last night on Showtime.

Mahe (6-1-1) just didn’t have the gas tank to go a full 3 rounds with Johnson (14-3) who took advantage of his superior stamina to defeat the Maui native.

The full press release from StrikeForce is below. And don’t forget to check out UFC 111 tonight on PPV!

FRESNO, CALIF. (March 26, 2010) – Hometown favorite Lavar “Big” Johnson scored a second round TKO over previously unbeaten Lolohea Mahe at 3:28 in the main event of the SHOWTIME televised STRIKEFORCE Challengers event on Friday night at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif.
 
After a good exchange in the first, Johnson (14-3), a heavyweight from Fresno, Calif., who was fighting for the first time since a near-death assault last summer, came out swinging in the second round, landing punch after punch and choking Mahe.  
 
Clearly gassed, Mahe (6-1-1), who had cut weight from 320 pounds for the bout, stood defenseless to Johnson’s attack as the round wore on. Johnson’s repeated right hooks sent him to the canvas where he continued unleashing power shots while Mahe was on his knees, forcing the referee to come in and call the fight. 
 
“I’m glad to be back,” said Johnson, who was recently medically cleared to return to the cage following extensive rehab from the bullet wounds that left him hospitalized for over a month.  “The guy hits hard.  That’s probably the toughest fight I’ve ever had. 
 
“He was strong, he took a lot out of me when he was grabbing onto me.  I don’t t think I’ve been hit that hard yet.  It gives me a lot of confidence about where I am right now as a fighter.  It’s just good to be back.”
 
Tired and wounded, Mahe was visibly disappointed with his conditioning and performance. 
 
“I just gassed out,” Mahe said.  “I just got winded in the second and didn’t have enough left in me.  I cut a lot of weight in such a short time.  He had power, but I’ve been hit harder.  He was just in better shape.” 
 
In the quickest fight of the evening, Abongo Humphrey submitted (guillotine) George Bush III at 1:44 of the first round. 
 
Humphrey (6-1), a talented kickboxer who was fighting as a light heavyweight for the first time, looked comfortable taking the fight to the ground as he quickly got Bush (5-2) into a submission less than two minutes into the contest. 
 
“It feels great at 205 (pounds),” Humphrey said.  “This was my first submission win, so I’m ecstatic.  I felt really good in there, but I did feel a little ring rust.
 
“He tried to throw me off my game a little bit with those leg kicks, but I adjusted.  When he tried to take me to the ground I felt really comfortable.  My ground game has really improved, and it was nice to prove that I’m not just a striker.  I’m just happy that it happened this way.”
 
In the third televised fight of the night, Andre Galvao won a close split-decision victory over Luke Stewart, scored 30-27 Stewart, 30-27 Galvao, 29-28 Galvao. 
 
In a fight that seesawed from standup to the mat, both Galvao (4-1) and Stewart (6-3) failed to gain much momentum or control.  But, in the end, Galvao was able to do more damage and squeak out a close victory. 
 
“Luke is pretty tough,” Galvao said.  “He definitely surprised me on the ground.  I got a little tired in the middle rounds, but I’ve been waiting for this shot.  I think I over-trained because I’ve had a few fights cancelled, but I’m so happy.  I got more experience in there and next time I’ll look for a KO or submission.”
 
Stewart was disappointed he left the fight to the judges and wasn’t able to finish it himself. 
 
“It was a really tough fight,” Stewart said.  “I shouldn’t have let it be that close, but I know I did more damage. Maybe he controlled more, but I felt I did enough to win. 
 
“I’m really disappointed. I should have pushed it more and not left it in the judges’ hands. I had four sweeps that were difficult so I thought I should have gotten more points for those.”
 
In the only female fight of the evening, Miesha “Takedown”’ Tate shocked the crowd and submitted (armbar) hometown favorite Zoila “Warrior Princess” Frausto at 4:09 of the second round. 
 
A talented wrestler, Tate (9-2) was able to take the fight to the ground, and Frausto surprisingly seemed willing to stray from her gameplan.  A more experienced ground specialist, Tate maneuvered Frausto (5-1) in an armbar, forcing the previously unbeaten fighter to tap out in front of her hometown fans. 
 
“She came to fight, she’s a tough girl,” Tate said.  “I don’t think she was willing to go to the ground with me, but I made her.  She kept moving around very well, but I had her winded.  She wouldn’t give up in that armbar, but she had to after a while.”
 
After the fight, Frausto realized it was a mistake to stay on the ground against an opponent whose nickname is “Takedown.”
 
 “I left myself open too much on the ground,” Frausto said.  “I tried to find a way out, but she was too tough.  I tried to keep it standing up, but I was a little too stubborn.  I wanted to test my ground game against her and I should have stuck to standing up.  I guess that’s how you learn.” 
 
In the opening fight of the telecast, Justin Wilcox improved his record to 9-3 with a dominating unanimous decision victory over previously once-beaten Shamar Bailey (13-2). 
 
A talented kickboxer, Wilcox came out swinging in the first and bloodied Bailey’s face, forcing the referee to call in the doctor to check on him.  Things didn’t get much better for Bailey after that, as the two continued to trade punches and kicks with Wilcox landing the majority of the damaging blows. 
 
“My shin hurts and my right hand hurts, so he’s definitely got a good chin,” Wilcox said.  “I’m definitely getting better each time, but I need to improve if I want that title.    I’m always looking for the finish, but I just need to be more patient.  They’ll come.” 
 
STRIKEFORCE Challengers is a proving ground for up-and-coming MMA fighters. The series is designed to provide today’s top prospects with the opportunity to step-up their level of competition and demonstrate their ability in a nationally televised event.
 
Friday’s fights will re-air on Tuesday, March 30 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME 2.  The telecast will also be available On Demand beginning Monday, March 29 and running through Sunday, April 11. 
 
Tomorrow, Saturday, on SHOWTIME, Super Six World Boxing Classic standings leader “King” Arthur Abraham and will take on Andre “The Matrix” Dirrell in the first fight of Group Stage 2 of the tournament from the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Mich., live on SHOWTIME at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast).
 
The Armenian Abraham (31-0, 25 KOs) currently leads the Super Six point standings with three points by way of his last-second knockout against American Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor Oct. 17 in Berlin, Germany. The former middleweight bronze medalist at the 2004 Summer Olympics from Flint, Mich., Dirrell (18-1, 13 KOs) dropped a close 12-round decision to Carl Froch for the World Boxing Council (WBC) World Championship the same night in Nottingham, England.
 
This fight will be available to a record 54.4 million households as part of the SHOWTIME ALL ACCESS Free Preview Weekend on SHOWTIME, SHOWTIME HD™ and SHOWTIME On Demand.  From Thursday, March 25 through Sunday, March 28, viewers across the country will have the opportunity to sample the premium network’s award-winning programming via linear service, On Demand and in HD, including two live events from SHOWTIME Sports. 
 
Complete STRIKEFORCE Challengers Results:
 
Main Card:
Lavar Johnson def. Lolohea Mahe – TKO (Punches) – Round 2 (3:28)
Abongo Humphrey def. George Bush III – Submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1 (1:44)
Andre Galvao def. Luke Stewart – Split Decision (30-27 Stewart, 30-27 Galvao, 29-28 Galvao). 
Miesha Tate def. Zoila Frausto – Submission (armbar) – Round 2 (4:09) 
Justin Wilcox def Shamar Bailey – Unanimous Decision (3 Rounds) (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
 
Preliminary Card:
Daniel Cormier def. John Devine – KO (Punches) – 1st Round (1:09)
Paul Ruiz def John Chacon – Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
Avery Kakeo def. Chris Buron – Split Decision (3 Rounds) (29-28 Buron, 29-28, 29-28 Kakeo)
Ricky Jackson def. Trinidad Valdez   – KO (Punches) – 1st Round (1:59)

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Mahe opens big weekend of MMA

March 26th, 2010
By



Photos: Esther Lin, StrikeForce

Lolohea Mahe

Undefeated Maui heavyweight prospect Lolohea Mahe (6-0-1) fights under the bright lights for the first time in his career tonight when he main events the StrikeForce: Challengers card on Showtime against Lavar Johnson (13-3). The card will be shown in Hawaii on a 3-hour delay on Showtime beginning at 8:45 p.m.

Lolohea Mahe vs Lavar Johnson

Mahe’s opponent, Lavar Johnson, is fighting for the first time since he was nearly killed in a local shooting at a family BBQ near his home in Madera, Calif., last summer.

Mahe will try to follow in the footsteps of Yancy Medeiros, who won his StrikeForce debut just a couple of weeks ago. The two represent a new crop of fighters coming through the ranks that are trying to make it on the big stage.

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Bad news coming from Niko Vitale. The X-1 middleweight champion told me yesterday that he was having surgery on his knee today and would be out 2-4 weeks with an MCL injury. He didn’t know the specifics of the injury yet, but did say he would have to postpone his scheduled fight with Murilo “Ninja” Rua in May.

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Thiago Alves is out of his UFC 111 fight against Jon Fitch, who will now go up against Ben Saunders as a late-minute replacement. Saturday night’s event, beginning at 4 p.m. on PPV, features two big headlining fights. Georges St-Pierre vs. Dan Hardy and Shane Carwin vs. Frank Mir.

The GSP title fight is one of three incredibly one-sided title fights coming up in the UFC (along with Anderson Silva vs. Demian Maia and Frank Edgar vs. B.J. Penn). I haven’t seen any of the UFC Primetime episodes counting down to the fight. I was kind of hoping they would save those for the really intriguing, grudge match type fights (Think Shogun/Machida II or Rampage/Evans) instead of just using it to build St-Pierre, who has officially become the Golden Boy of the UFC. I don’t expect St-Pierre to have a tough time with Hardy, who has the same punchers chance as Matt Serra.

The fight I am looking forward to is Mir/Carwin. Carwin is 11-0 with all 11 wins coming by KO or TKO IN THE FIRST THREE MINUTES. He’s 3-0 in the UFC and his longest fight was 91 seconds.

I don’t expect that to continue against the experienced Mir, who is incredibly motivated to win this fight and get a shot at Brock Lesnar, who will be ringside for the fight. As long as it’s standing, give Carwin the advantage, but if Mir ever gets on top of Carwin in this fight, it could be the end of Carwin’s undefeated streak.

GalaxyMMA, Noons, UFC

March 22nd, 2010
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After one organization made its return to the Blaisdell Arena in nearly two years, another has set its sights on bringing MMA back to the big time.

An organization called GalaxyMMA is scheduled to put on its first mixed martial arts card at the Blaisdell Arena on May 1. The headliner is a heavyweight showdown between UFC veterans Scott Junk and Fabiano Scherner. It also has a co-main event matchup of Tyson Nam against Keola Silva as well as a 155-pound lightweight tournament scheduled for the show.

Its Web site is scheduled for launch today and can be viewed HERE.

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Former Big Island resident K.J. Noons made a succesful return to MMA tonight/this morning with a victory at DREAM 13 in Japan. Noons defeated Andre Dida by unanimous decision in a 15-minute standup fight that saw Dida spent most of the time moving backward. Noons looked solid, working a nice job and vicious body shots, but he left himself open at times to eat a few too many shots on the chin. His defense will need work, but a win is a win, especially against a tough guy like Dida.

Commentators for the show, which was aired on HDNet, said Noons and Tatsuya Kawajiri could meet on an upcoming DREAM show.

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In case you didn’t hear the news that broke last week, DIRECTV and the VERSUS network settled their differences, allowing me to see the UFC event on Sunday. Big win for Jon Jones over Brandon Vera, but once again, I’ll make the point that we don’t need elbows in the UFC. 1) They are vicious and can really cause serious injury and 2) They can cause cheap cuts that can force a fight to be stopped and give somebody who doesn’t deserve it a cheap victory.

I’m trying to stay up for the DREAM main event between Joachim Hansen and Bibiano Fernandez, but it has been a crazy 24 hours of MMA, and it only gets better this Saturday as UFC 111 goes down, featuring fights between Georges St-Pierre and Dan Hardy and Frank Mir and Shane Carwin.

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