Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rock Concert + Fights = ROKO

It used to be that if you wanted to catch some live music mixed with fighting, you had to go to CBGBs on a Sunday afternoon and watch the skinheads kill each other.  But Saturday's Rock Out Knock Out (ROKO) promotion will make it easy for you, providing live music acts inter-cut with sanctioned MMA bouts, all in the relative safety of Asbury Park's Convention Hall.  This isn't the first time something like this has been done - one of Brian Cimins' Sportfighting events had a live band, one of Affliction's ill-fated shows had Megadeth perform, and I once saw Ice-T open up for John Lewis' WFA in Las Vegas.  However, this is the first time the entertainment will repeatedly go back and forth between the cage and the stage, and that sounds like a pretty interesting experience if you ask me.  As for who's on the short five-bout card, CFFC veterans Ryan Peterson and Anthony Craparo are on tap, although top billing most certainly belongs to Ryan Vaccaro and Brian Kelleher - two quality fighters and solid contenders who've more than made their mark on the Garden State circuit.  First fight is slated for 3:30pm, and the night will be capped off by some band named "Fuel" (who I'm unfamiliar with - do they do gangster rap?).  Follow me on Twitter for live results (, and come to this blog for a post-fight wrap-up.  Or don't.  Either way, you know where I'm going to be on Saturday.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Definitive Al Iaquinta Profile

If you've been paying attention to the current season of the Ultimate Fighter, then you've gotten a taste of the knowledge that we here in the Northeast have been chewing on for years: Al Iaquinta will straight-up kill dudes in the cage if you let him.  Thus far on TUF 15, we've seen him surgically remove the consciousness of one cat, outlast an alleged badass, and chip away at a dude until there was nothing left but a soulless shell of a man when time expired.  And now, on Friday night's TUF Live Finale on the FX channel, we'll all get to see him beat a fellow finalist into an actual living death, complete with zombification.  But there's more insight to be had when it comes to Iaquinta, like that he eats spaghetti with chopsticks, and the nickname given to him by his family and friends is "Al Iaquinta".  (Note: I may have made those facts up.)  So!  Here's what I know about him.  After this, we'll all be in on the same page and can be considered equals.  Ha!  Not!

-Iaquinta trains under Matt Serra and Ray Longo on Long Island (and before that, wrestled in high school and trained MMA under Dave Martucci).  He has always been an extremely well-rounded fighter capable of overwhelming foes on the ground and wrecking 'em on the feet. 

-Taking full advantage of New Jersey's amateur MMA circuit, Iaquinta spent about two years amassing a spotless record with over a dozen fights.  The dude even did Muay Thai bouts, plus a sanda match (kickboxing with throws) at a small event in Gleason's Gym.  Add to that some grappling tournaments, and you got one bad mamma-jamma.

-What makes Iaquinta so dangerous, however, is that he's the king of having long, brutal battles and he never withers from punishment.  He had an absolute war with a tough Brazilian named Gabe Miglioli in ROC, and the fight went everywhere, with both men taking hits and keeping going.  But it was Iaquinta who eventually got the nod - mostly because he just would not stop beating Miglioli down.  (And in their subsequent rematch, Iaquinta got the TKO win in just 26 seconds.)  Bottom line: the man is like iron.

-The lone loss on Iaquinta's record came at ROC 38 last November, at the hands of UFC vet Pat Audinwood.  The story of the fight: both guys blasted and rocked each other on the feet, with Iaquinta reflexively taking Audinwood down and soon finding himself stuck in a tight armbar from the guard.  That's it.  Shit happens, and the Serra/Longo fighter got caught.

-Iaquinta was long considered one of the Northeast's best 155-pound fighters before he got the call for TUF - he was a ROC champ, after all.  Coincidentally, he was supposed to appear on an earlier season of the show, but got sidelined with a shoulder injury that was sustained when HE FOUGHT AN ACTUAL FUCKING RHINOCEROS.  Seriously, google it.  It was in Newsday.  Escaped from the Long Island Game Farm.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Kneel Before Your New Media Personality of the Year

Hey, guess what?  There's a newly-formed New Jersey State Martial Arts Hall of Fame, and yours truly has been named "Media Personality of the Year" for the inaugural class.  According to the event's website (, the awards dinner will be held at the Crowne Plaza hotel complex in the Meadowlands on December 7.  I am both flattered and honored to have been considered, but now that I've won, I have this to say to my fellow journalists: KNEEL BEFORE ME.  KNEEL BEFORE YOUR NEW GOD.  Ahem.  The other categories and their winners include a lifetime achievement award for Lou Neglia, MMA Fighter of the Year for Frankie Edgar, MMA Trainer of the Year for Mike Constantino, MMA Referee of the Year for Dan Miragliotta - all told, there's actually twenty categories and winners. 

Here's a sweet quote from the organization's website: "This truly is a historical moment in our State's combat sports history as our intent is to have the New Jersey State Martial Arts Hall of Fame continue for many years and serve as a record for those outstanding individuals involved in martial arts in our State."


Monday, May 28, 2012

Observations from My Couch: Bellator/UFC 146 Mash-Up

-I've given Cole Konrad a ton of crap for being boring, but he got the job done fast and easy.  Props to him.  Now if only Bellator had a worthy challenger...

-Rick Hawn was clearly the best fighter in the Season Six lightweight tournament.  How will he do against champ Mike Chandler?  Hard to say, but it should be fun to watch.

-Finally we got to see Glover Teixeira strut his stuff in the Octagon.  Finally.  Was it worth the wait?  I'll let you know after he repeats that feat against someone a level higher than Kyle Kingsbury on the food chain.

-I'm still not convinced Dan Hardy is capable of stopping takedowns and getting man-blanketed, but at least we got to see him score another knockout.

-I was shocked that Mayhem Miller went out like that against CB Dollaway.  Seems like Father Time has claimed another.

-I don't hate TUF, but the vehicle is played out like crazy, so seeing a TUF winner get handled in the Octagon always gives me a modicum of pleasure I normally don't get when a particular fighter loses.  That said, boy did Diego Brandao whiff on that softball!

-Stefan Struve did what he needed to do to get the "W".  However, slugging it out with Lavar Johnson would've been all kinds of awesome.

-Sad to see Shane del Rosario completely forget all that grappling he used when he defeated Johnson back in Strikeforce.  Sad to see.

-I'm asking this in all seriousness: is Roy Nelson homeless?

-Yeah, Cain Velasquez is a killer.  I thought I was watching a Friday the 13th movie in there.

-Frank Mir may have lost, but he still got an impressive collection of dismembered limbs hanging in his den.

-One of the best, most satisfying things about MMA is when you're proven wrong.  Jamie Varner proved me (and most of the world) wrong.  By coming back from obscurity, seizing his big chance in the Octagon and taking out Edson Barboza in impressive fashion, the dude is a stone-cold hero.  And with that win, Varner has fueled the hopes and dreams of countless minor league players dying for their own shot.

Friday, May 25, 2012

UFC 146 Preview - The Main Card

Once upon a time, UFC events had no weight classes, so everyone was either big or dead.  Then the little guys began to dilute the product, so all the heavyweight fighters worth their salt migrated to Japan to fight in freak show fights, or they gorged themselves unto death at the nearest Sizzler buffet.  Strikeforce promoter Scott Coker saw the lack of titans clashing in the cage and briefly remedied the situation with his organization's heavyweight grand prix.  But that was about ten years ago, so here we are with UFC 146, an all-heavyweight main card lineup that features just about everyone under contract with Zuffa who weighs in excess of 206 pounds.  Champ Junior dos Santos will be there, defending his belt against someone not Alistair Overeem, while a bunch of other dudes will be swinging for the fences for the first two minutes and then cuddling and breathing hard for the next thirteen.  Don't believe me?  Well, watch what happens when all these big guys battle it out in one night, one right after the other like some perverse science experiment.  Statistically, we should see 1.5 exciting fights, two "meh" fights, and two fights that will make us miss the days when John Hess came out eye-gouging and Scott Ferrozzo wore a cape.  Preview time.

-Junior dos Santos vs. Frank Mir - Up to and including the bout where he won the belt, dos Santos has been knocking fools into a realm of foolishness that far exceeds the normal levels of foolishness human beings can legitimately function at.  In some alternate universe where no one cares about performance-enhancing drugs, the Brazilian will be facing the behemoth Dutchman Overeem on Saturday night.  But alas, in this world, dos Santos gets to take on former champ and eternal stud Mir, who, in his last trip to the cage ripped Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira's arm off and threw it into the audience.  Can dos Santos KO Mir on the feet?  Fo sheezy.  However, if that scrap goes to the ground, someone is going to need surgery to get a limb reattached - and it won't be Mir.

-Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva - Velasquez was recently champ but got murked with a quickness and now the UFC title belongs to someone else.  Silva mashed Fedor in the Strikeforce grand prix thingy, then met Daniel Cormier and got his dome dented in.  Where does that leave us?  With two giants who don't want to lose, who will never be king, and who can still retain some of their scariness if they perform.  If he's not dealing with any nagging injuries, I see Velasquez outworking Silva and pecking away until the Brazilian crumbles.  If there are injuries in the equation, hugfest.

-Roy Nelson vs. Dave Herman - At some point between winning TUF and when dos Santos used him as a punching bag, success for Nelson was no longer measured in wins but in the amount of punishment he could endure.  Like, "Wow, that Nelson, he looked great in there getting beaten retarded."  Okay, that's fine, the world needs resilient gatekeepers, but that kind of career does not lend itself toward longevity.  Thankfully, Nelson isn't facing anyone who will rip off his head on Saturday night.  In fact, he's only facing Herman, who thus far has yet to perform up to expectations in two trips into the Octagon.  I can see Nelson getting the decision here, or even scoring a TKO.

-Shane del Rosario vs. Stipe Miocic - Del Rosario was the hottest heavyweight prospect coming out of Strikeforce Challengers, but a drunk driver and back injury put him on ice for a year, so now he gets a comeback fight against a tough boxer/wrestler hybrid in Miocic.  Based on how easily del Rosario handled Lavar Johnson last year, I'm picking him to handle Miocic as well.  Unfortunately, with back injuries, you never know.  There's a very real chance del Rosario will take two steps, tumble to the canvas wincing in pain, and demand to go on workman's compensation.

-Lavar Johnson vs. Stefan Struve - Johnson.  KO.  All fucking day.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

UFC 146 Preview - The Undercard

There's a UFC this weekend.  A big one, in fact.  Literally, by sheer poundage alone, it's freakin' massive.  You see, the main card features five heavyweight bouts, which is a matchmaking ploy we haven't seen since, well, since Strikeforce started their tournament thingy last year.  Anyway, big fighters, big fun, yips.  But now isn't the time for an examination of all that.  No, now is the time for a look at the undercard, which will air on Facebook and FX and feature normal-sized humans in the cage.  Now, given that my wife will be in Amsterdam and I'll be tasked with watching my daughter, that means I'll only get to pay half attention to the following bouts.  So here's a "half attention to" preview.

-Diego Brandao vs. Darren Elkins - Brandao hits hard, submits hard, won TUF and presumably bought his mom a house or dishwasher or new ironing board or something with his winnings.  Elkins is - HEY!  EMMY!  PUT DOWN THAT DAMN MEAT CLEAVER - IT IS NOT A TOY!

-Edson Barboza vs. Jamie Varner - Barboza entered the UFC an ace striker and has evolved further into some sort of homo superior with the ability to fight like Neo from the "Matrix".  Varner... Varner was a WEC champ ages ago, but has fallen so far off the cliff of dangerousness he'd be a greater threat to Barboza if he was simply his masseuse.  Seriously, does Joe Silva want Varner to die?

-"Mayhem" Miller vs. CB Dolloway - Mayhem shit the bed hard against Michael Bisping, so here's a softball in the form of TUF almost-was Dolloway, who couldn't fight his way out - NO, EMMY, YOU CANNOT TRY CIGARETTES.  YOU ARE ONLY FOUR-YEARS OLD FOR CHRIST'S SAKE.

-Dan Hardy vs. Duane Ludwig - Wow, these guys are still employed?  Actually, I can see how Ludwig still has a job, because he's been an improbable ass-kicker of late.  But Hardy sucks harder than a Dyson Vacuum. 

-Jacob Volkmann vs. Paul Sass - This fight isn't happening.  The Secret Service is going to gank Volkmann long before he makes it to the cage.  EM, GUESS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU THREATEN THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES?  THAT'S RIGHT, YOU GET A TIMEOUT.

-Glover Teixeira vs. Kyle Kingsbury - Man, I've been wanting to see Teixeira fight in the Octagon for quite a few years.  Unfortunately, the feeling passed about two years ago, so him finally getting a visa and coming in to face Kingsbury thrills me about as much as the prospect of sitting through my daughter's chaotic Sunday morning T-ball lesson where the kids run wild and the adults look like fools.

-Mike Brown vs. Daniel Pineda - Former WEC champ Mike Brown, eh?  EM, NEVER MIND.  BRING ME THOSE CIGARETTES.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Oy, Check Out This Blog

Let's Do The Time Warp Again

On Saturday night, New York State hosted its first sanctioned MMA event in ten years.  Granted, the event was amateur, took place in the outer reaches of the known universe (i.e., a town outside of Buffalo), and took advantage of the part of the combative sports law that allows for outside sanctioning bodies to do the athletic commission's dirty work (instead of the "amateur loophole", which is what the UCL uses), but it's something.  Here's intrepid reporter Pete Lampasona and Mac's MMA with their reportage - and

So does this mean MMA in New York is now on like Donkey Kong?  Not quite.  But what it does mean is that the athletic commission has reverted back to the passive, laissez-faire stance it took from 1997 to 2002.  In those years, you could go to a Lou Neglia event at a nightclub on Long Island or in a hotel ballroom in Times Square, or a Gene Fabrikant event in a nightclub out in Brighton Beach, and see some awesome MMA fights go down while sipping a brewski.  The commission didn't care back then - and when it did start caring, they used the Alcohol Beverage Control law banning booze at all MMA events to shut them down.  And guess what?  The TNT event this past weekend in Tonawanda served booze.  What more evidence do you need that we've entered a time warp?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Old School Northeast MMAer Battling Cancer

Sherman Pendergarst, an old school veteran of the Northeast MMA scene responsible for some real thrillers (his KO win over Glen Sandull at Sportfighting and his KO loss to Jon Murphy at an Extreme Challenge both come to mind) is currently battling cancer.  From Facebook:

"I wanted to write this for all of my friends, family and fans. This is to give you an update of what has been going in my life. First, I want to thank EVERYONE that has written to me, stopped to see me in the hospital, called me or given me their prayers. Without all of your support I don't know if some days I would... make it through. Your continued encouragement makes every day brighter for me.

After receiving chemo and radiation last year for the rectal cancer it has returned, and quite frankly did not go away. I also now have colon cancer. I have spent quite a bit of time at the University of Iowa of late and they have taken very good care of me. I can tell you that I am now back home and so happy to be here. I am receiving chemo again and am on the road to recovery! There are wonderful nurses that come in weekly to my house to help me with a number of things. I am grateful for their help and attention!

I will be coming to the gym periodically to work out and also to get out of the house!  Ha, Ha.  Please contact me anytime by email or FB, I love hearing from you.

I have a very strong faith in God and all the good that comes from my life and I believe I will beat this thing. Thank you to all of you always.

I never got a chance to interview Sherman when he was fighting locally, but he was definitely a banger that gave it all in the cage.  He eventually moved on to fight in the UFC and even Bellator - a testament to his ability and the excitement he brought.  I hope he wins this battle.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Observations from My Couch: Bellator/TUF/Strikeforce Mash-Up

-Megumi Fujii got screwed yet again.  I'm really starting to feel sorry for the poor woman.

-I like Karl Amoussou and find his style exciting, but his bout against David Rickels will forever be "the one where that dude had to get his cup changed in the cage".

-Al Iaquinta was simply a straight-up predator against Andy Ogle.  It was almost as if Iaquinta was toying with him before he killed him.

-It's been a long time since a fighter won me over by getting his ass kicked, but Virgil Zwicker did it.  The dude was getting murdered, yet simply would not stop coming, and managed to get a few good licks in to boot.  Pure awesomeness.

-When Rafael Cavalcante wants you to lose, you lose with a quickness.

-Gilbert Melendez vs. Josh Thomson III was astoundingly good and entertaining, and really, that decision could've gone either way.  That said, please, don't let these guys fight each other again.  They are literally killing themselves in there, shaving years off their life from all the punishment, and I think it would be cool to see them turn those energies towards fresh opponents.

-Josh Barnett will forever be the man.  Daniel Cormier, however, is the one shining gem produced by the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.  I can't wait to see him destroy in the UFC.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Weekend Menu: Bellator Appetizer, Strikeforce Entree, Plus Hors D'Oeuvres

The weekend is upon us, and with it comes a solid meal of combat sports packed with eleven essential vitamins and minerals.  What does the menu entail?  There's an appetizer course featuring some expertly-prepared Bellator bouts, followed by a hearty serving of Strikeforce bouts as a main course, and if you're not easily sated (read: fat), there's a tray of hors d'oeuvres floating about.  Take a gander at what's in store!

-TakeOn Muay Thai - Tonight.  In Flushing, Queens.  These fights are some of the aforementioned hors d'oeuvres, and the intimate venue plus up-close-and-personal action makes for definite good time.

-Maiquel Falcao vs. Andreas Spang, Bellator - Tonight.  Bellator 69's main event.  It's the final of the Season Six middleweight tournament, and given that these two are noted ass-kickers, there should be fireworks.

-Megumi Fujii vs. Jessica Aguilar, Bellator - Despite getting out-pointed by Zoila Frausto-Gurgel, Fujii is still one of the best 115-pound female fighters around, and she's get skill and experience for days.  Aguilar ain't no slouch, either, so hold onto your salad fork for this one.

-Karl Amoussou vs. David Rickels, Bellator - I like Amoussou's fighting style as of late, and I'm figuring that he's going to deliver a beating in a pretty exciting fight for this welterweight tournament semifinal match.

-Al Iaquinta vs. Andy Ogle, TUF Live - Tonight.  Iaquinta was for the longest time one of the best lightweights in the Northeast circuit, and during his tenure as resident killer got battle-tested and burnished into hardened steel.  We all saw him win earlier in the season; now watch him win again.

-Gian Villante vs. Derrick Mehmen, Strikeforce - Saturday night.  The preliminary card for Strikeforce's latest, which you can catch on Showtime Extreme.  Villante was a beast in ROC, and while it's taken some time for him to transition successfully to the big stage, he should be back to being beastly.

-Nah-Shon Burrell vs. Chris Spang, Strikeforce - When Burrell went from fighting in CFFC to Strikeforce undercards, he definitely made the most of the opportunity, racking up exciting wins like a man on a mission.  Now the hard-hitting and dynamic fighter is on the main card.  Yeah, that's what's up!

-Gilbert Melendez vs. Josh Thomson, Strikeforce - It may be a rubber match, but that doesn't mean it won't be fast-paced and thrilling.  Melendez has been top dog in Strikeforce's 155-pound division for some time now, and since he's cleaned out the division, why not give Thomson - who went the distance with him last time - another shot?  Plus, there's always a chance Melendez is going to hit Thomson just right, and Thomson will come apart like man made of Legos.

-Josh Barnett vs. Daniel Cormier, Strikeforce - Can you believe it's been ten years since the Strikeforce heavyweight tournament began?  Crazy, right?  Anyway, here are the two finalist, who are literally the last two Strikeforce heavyweights left on Earth, ready to scrap.  Barnett's got the experience and the sub skills, Cormier's got the Olympic wrestling and fists of fury.  It should be fun.  Or something.  It will be closure, at least.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Observations from My Couch: UFC on Fuel TV 3 - "When Zombies Attack"

-Alex Soto's performance has me convinced that being one of the guys fighting on the first Facebook-broadcast fight of a long night of UFC fights requires not skill or ability, but perhaps just a lot of Facebook "likes".  Seriously, that kid did not belong in there.

-Jeff Curran should have started eye-gouging a lot earlier.  It was his most effective technique.

-Congrats Kamal Shalorus!  Your long and prosperous career in Bellator/Strikeforce/Legacy Fighting Championship/Rage in the Cage awaits!

-I'm not 100% sure, but I think Carlo Prater really identifies with his Brazilian heritage.

-Is it me or does Cody McKenzie look exactly like one of the Three Musketeers? 

-If Dongi Yang was robbed, it was by himself.  Dude needs to work on his cardio, as he could have taken Brad Tavares to school.

-Someone please make Jason MacDonald stop.  He's reaching Chuck Liddell-levels of effectiveness in the cage - and I'm talking Liddell circa his fight with Rich Franklin.

-If Fabio Maldonado had just slightly better takedown defense he would've won that decision.

-Re: Jeff Hougland, see Alex Soto above. 

-Don Cerrone is the man.  Jeremy Stephens is clearly the man the man beats on to look good.

-I'm very confident we haven't seen the best of Amir Sadollah yet.  Also, I'm very confident we never will.

-Dustin Poirier has absolutely nothing to be ashamed about.  It takes two fighters to make an awesome fight, and that fight was awesome and then some.  Kid will be back.

-The Korean Zombie rules.  That's all I have to say on the matter.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Most Uninspired UFC on Fuel TV 3 Preview Ever

The UFC returns to Fuel TV tomorrow night for another installment of... zzzzzz...zzzzz...  Hnh?  Oh, yeah, ahem.  Another fight show that looks like the matchmaking was done by an intern while Joe Silva was off getting burritos for the staff.  You know, when I was writing for MMAConvert I had to at least feign some level of interest in these things, but now that it's just me and my blog, I no longer have to pretend.  Seriously, this UFC on Fuel TV 3 card makes me wonder if getting Fuel TV added to my cable package was worth it, and maybe I shouldn't make decisions while drunk on hand sanitizer?  I dunno.  Anyway, since the lineup is uninspiring by a factor of about ten, here's a preview indicative of my interest level.  At the top of the list are the things that will be occupying my mind tomorrow; the further down the list, the less the number of fucks given.
  1. Dustin Poirier vs. the Korean Zombie - If you saw "Fightville", you got to see Poirier up close, and the kid is likable as hell.  Skilled, too.  The Korean Zombie, however, that's my man right there, and he's got skill and charisma for days.  This is a tough one to predict and a tough one to pick who to root for, so I'm just going to say that it should be fun and well worth the price of admission.
  2. Don Cerrone vs. Jeremy Stephens - After the way Nate Diaz handled Jim Miller, I don't really hold it against Cerrone for getting badly beaten Diaz as well.  And for a while there, Cerrone was kicking ass and taking names something fierce.  Stephens has always impressed me, but "Cowboy" was a top WEC dude and is way more of a killer.  I'm picking Cerrone to hack Stephens to bits. 
  3. How does Amir Sadollah still have a job? - I mean, really, when has he looked impressive?  And at this stage, it's starting to get annoying that he keeps getting tossed softballs after losing to top-flight competition.
  4. Should I box tomorrow or work my chest? - I worked triceps today, so maybe I should box for the cardio.  Besides, Tyler Durden would probably suggest I do cardio...
  5. Rafael dos Anjos vs. Kamal Shalorus - It's probably unfair to these guys that their most memorable moments in the cage were when they got crushed by Jeremy Stephens and Jim Miller, respectively.  But at least they're memorable, right?  I mean, I've seen Yves Jabouin fight a few times now and I couldn't tell you a damn thing about how his fights went.
  6. Wait, there's a Strikeforce this weekend? - Man did Scott Coker fall off the face of the Earth.  You'd think the dude was in witness protection or something.
  7. You know, we still haven't seen a "Dongbar" from Dongi Yang yet - I feel cheated.
  8. Leftover meatloaf makes for a solid lunch - I'm talking in a sandwich, with the bread some kind of eight-grain pocket thingy, and maybe some mayo.  Yeah, baby, that's the stuff.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Observations from My Couch: Bellator 68

-Color me shocked at Anthony Leone beating Claudio Ledesma.  For a while now Leone hasn't been living up to potential, while Ledesma has been kicking ass and taking names.  But damn did Leone out-work and out-fight him.

-Aung La Nsang has always seemed like he had the potential to deliver a beating, and boy was that a beating delivered to Jesus Martinez.  Martinez is without question a tough cat - which makes Nsang's win all the more impressive.

-Jacob Kirwan is deadly with his guillotine.  Everything else, not so much.

-Tough break for Waachim Spiritwolf on that cut-stoppage, as he was wrecking Marius Zaromskis.  However, in no way, shape or form do I question that stoppage.  Dr. Sherry Wulkan was the one who waved the bout off, and she's been a ringside physician for more MMA bouts than 99.9% of the world has even read about on the Internet.

-Marcin Held is so adorable going for those knee-destroying heelhooks.  He's like a koala bear, only with more jiu-jitsu.

-Marcos Galvao, it is your time.  Make the most of it.

-Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, eh Marlon Sandro?  On the flip side, whoo-wee is Daniel Straus a seasoned ass-kicker now.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Upcoming Northeast MMA Bouts That Will Make Your Eyes Bleed

There's still a few weeks left in May, but when June comes to the Northeast MMA scene, whoa mama, hide yo' women.  There is literally an event going down every weekend, from the UFC to ROC to CFFC to the UCC to newcomer Rockout Knockout, which means there are a ton of bouts that promise so much awesomeness, your eyes will bleed when you watch them (uh, in a good way).  Which ones look great and have me so excited that I ate my pet hamster?  Glad you asked!

-Gregor Gracie vs. Ryan Machan, Rockout Knockout, 6/2/12 - Allegedly, RoKo will be some sort of rock concert/MMA show hybrid, with the fights going on between sets.  Okay, sure, whatever.  What matters to me is that Gracie is returning to the cage, because seriously, the dude has been killing it lately.  His recent wins have come in One FC in Singapore and at some event in Brazil, and before that he was dominant at the Brick City Fighting Championship in Newark - all of which tells me that Gracie has really started to put it all together and come into his own.  Machan is an ultra-experienced MFC vet and should be a solid test, but people are going to show up to this Asbury Park event for Gracie, and I doubt the Brazilian will disappoint.

-Brian Kelleher vs. Ryan Vaccaro, Rockout Knockout, 6/2/12 - After a brief derailment it seems the Kelleher train is back on track, and why not?  The kid is tougher than a two-dollar steak.  Vaccaro is back on the winning track as well, so this contest should be hotly contested, with Kelleher trying to pound Vaccaro to bits and Vaccaro trying to grind him into putty.

-Rene Nazare vs. Jean Silva, UCC, 6/8/12 - Nazare may have met with defeat in his Bellator run, but he's still an accomplished ass-kicker.  Silva, meanwhile, was the boss in the UK promotion Cage Rage, so what we'll get for sure is some high-level MMA on display.  God bless the resurrected UCC for making this match-up.

-James Jenkins vs. Marlon Moraes, ROC, 6/15/12 - Jenkins has been on a steady climb up the rankings since he transitioned from a fruitful amateur career to turn pro, and now comes his toughest test yet: Armory fighter (and Edson Barboza training partner) Moraes.  Moraes is an animal when it comes to Muay Thai and jiu-jitsu, and was totally kicking WEC vet Deividas Taurosevicius' ass before DT caught him in a choke.  Can Jenkins pull it off?  Dunno, but from what I understand there's some sort of belt on the line, so the stakes are high.  Either way, it's going to be exciting.

-Ed Gordon vs. Carlos Brooks, ROC, 6/15/12 - Serra/Longo rising star Gordon (a.k.a. "Truck") has been racking up wins lately, and now we get to see how he'll do against the extremely dangerous striker Brooks.  Both men are coming off KO victories at the last ROC, so this one might be a case study in who lands first.

-Julio Arce vs. Carl Deaton, ROC, 6/15/12 - There are a few stars-in-waiting percolating in the amateur leagues, but none are as ready and eagerly-anticipated as Arce, who has amassed a spotless 11-0 ammy record as well as a championship belt in Muay Thai.  Deaton is some dude out of Michigan with solid submission skills, and he probably has no idea what's in store for him when he steps into the cage against the TSMMA fighter.  But I do.  I saw this before when killer amateur Al Iaquinta turned pro (the same Iaquinta now kicking ass on TUF).  Deaton is in for a fight.

-Dan Miller vs. Ricardo Funch, UFC on Fox 4, 6/22/12 - The older Miller brother ventures down into welterweight territory to face Brazilian Funch, who has yet to find glory in the Octagon but who did well in the New England circuit.  But come on, we all know the New Jersey circuit is tougher than the New England circuit, and Miller ruled the Garden State like a benevolent King Joffrey from the Game of Thrones.  Miller is going to behead Funch, and have Funch's head displayed on a pike on the castle walls.  But in a nice way.

-Jimy Hettes vs. Steven Siler, UFC on Fox 4, 6/22/12 - Hettes made jiu-jitsu black belt Nam Phan look like a white belt in his last UFC outing, while Siler has been wrecking people with the last name Miller (the Florida-based Millers, not the New Jersey-based ones).  Can Hettes throw Siler down and work him over, or will Siler beat the judoka up on the feet?  I'm banking on the former, but either permutation will likely provide thrills.

-Brad Desir vs. Emmanuel Walo, CFFC, 6/30/12 - Desir has been through the fire and emerged TKOing all those who stood before him - a fact that makes him exciting as fuck and dangerous as hell.  I don't know much about Walo except that he's got some wins as an amateur and a win as a pro, but I don't think that's going to help him once the referee says "Go!".  Desir is a killer and a star in the making; he's going to blast Walo until Walo has fallen and can't get up.

Underground Bonus: UCL champ Kenny Rivera should be defending his belt against an as-yet-to-be-named opponent.  Sorry, can't tell you when.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Note from Assemblyman Joseph Morelle

Assemblyman Joseph Morelle is the man in charge of getting the MMA bill through the Assembly, and although the bill was killed for this year's session, there's still next year - which means he's still our man.  Anywho, I sent him a copy of RAW COMBAT with a letter saying I'm willing to help any way I can.  Here's his response:

"I support the regulation of MMA in New York and the safety that will come with sanctioning the sport in our state.  Your work is further evidence of the need for this legislation - and my staff and I are using it as an important reference tool in our efforts.  Thanks again for your kindness and your good work."

So there you go.  And if in the future anyone harshes on the underground scene to you, saying that it hurt the sanctioning process, just kick them in the stomach, point them to this post, and tell them that it actually helped.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bellator 68 Preview - The Bouts That Matter To Me

This Friday Bellator returns to Atlantic City for its sixty-eighth installment, and while I won't be there (best friend's daughter is getting baptized, gotta be there, yadda-yadda), I will most definitely be watching the action on both the SpikeTV website and MTV2.  So.  A lot of fights on the card.  Which ones matter the most to me?  Glad you asked...

-Marlon Sandro vs. Daniel Straus - If not for the pact Pat Curran made with the Devil and the superpowers Curran was then granted, Sandro would be a Bellator champ now.  And why not?  The dude is a monster when it comes to jiu-jitsu and a beast when it comes to Muay Thai.  On the other side of this featherweight tournament final is Straus, who's scarier than a Baseball Fury and about as dangerous as a Gramercy Riff.  I like this match-up because it pits two bad sonofabitches against each other, and there's a good chance for highlight-reel carnage.  If I had to pick I'd say Sandro takes the decision, but who knows.

-Marcos Galvao vs. Travis Marx - When not getting screwed over by the athletic commission in Arizona, Galvao is using jiu-jitsu and decent standup to beat the fuck out of people.  Marx, meanwhile, made it to this bantamweight semifinal bout by making former Shooto stud Masakatsu Ueda lay a gigantic egg in the cage.  The jury's still out on Marx, though, so I'm picking the truly battle-tested Galvao to slap a saddle on Marx's back and ride him around like a pony.  No homo.

-Seth Petruzelli vs. Carmelo Marrero - Petruzelli KO'd Kimbo Slice and was directly responsible for the death of EliteXC, and not many fighters can boast that they totally ended an MMA promotion, so he'll always be a fascinating cat in my book.  Marrero peaked at UFC 64 when he used his wrestling to decision Cheick Kongo, but maybe he's got some ground and pound left in him, maybe not.  Regardless, this is an interesting match-up because Petruzelli and Marrero are somewhat historic dudes, and we need to keep in touch with our history lest we repeat it.  Or something.

-Marius Zaromskis vs. Waachiim Spiritwolf - Lithuanian striker extraordinaire Zaromskis is an ace at kicking ass and Spiritwolf excels at taking punishment, and when these guys fought before (at a Strikeforce event) Spiritwolf suffered an accidental poke to the eye that rendered the bout a "no contest" - an outcome I seriously doubt will happen again.  Instead, we're going to get a re-enactment of the opening scene of "Saving Private Ryan", except instead of machine gun nests and Nazis we're going to have acrobatic kicking and no-nonsense punching.  Also, heads exploding.

-Claudio Ledesma vs. Anthony Leone - Behind Aljamain Sterling, Ledesma is the best bantamweight in the Northeast - an honor he earned through the judicious employment of his jiu-jitsu and punching prowess.  Leone has fought in everything from the UCL to Strikeforce, but he hasn't shined in a while, so I see Ledesma notching up another win after an exciting scrap.

-Eddie Fyvie vs. Jeff Lentz - Technically, Lentz should be fighting for a ROC belt, but I guess a rematch with the perennial badass Fyvie comes first.  When first they met, Lentz put Fyvie away with a knee to the dome.  I don't think it'll play out in the same way, as both men have aged like fine wines (plus, Lentz doesn't seem to be KOing people much anymore).  What we should get is a nice, technical donnybrook.

-Aung La Nsang vs. Jesus Martinez - Martinez fell to Karl Amoussou, but prior to that he beat a bunch of tough guys, and notched a sweet win via head-kick KO over Chris Wing.  La Nsang is a rangy Muay Thai dude with a moderately-dangerous ground game, so this one is intriguing to me the same way pitting two mid-level Marvel superheroes against each other would be intriguing.  You know, like Ant-Man versus Cypher from the New Mutants.

-Marcin Held vs. Derrick Kennington - I still think Held should have lost the decision in his fight against Phillipe Nover, but whatevs, and anyway, his submission attempts are crazy Genki Sudo-esque numbers that make you say, "Huh? What?  Okay, I see now."  I know nothing about Kennington; however, Held makes it interesting.

Monday, May 7, 2012

NYS Says No Sanctioned MMA in 2012 - So What!

For about half an hour today the Twitterverse was a-twitter (heh) over the sudden and unexpected Democratic pow-wow called in Albany to discuss the future of the 2012 MMA bill.  And then, as usual, hopes were dashed.  Here's the New York Daily News and the Albany Times-Union rapping about how Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver called for an informal vote, and after 25 said "nay" and 60 said "yay", declared that the bill didn't have enough support.  Okay, whatever.  There may not be any UFCs or ROCs or Strikeforces or Bellators coming to NYC anytime soon, but there's a freakin' buttload of MMA going down anyway.  For example, there was a UCL the weekend before last, and they've been coming at a rate of about one every two to three months.  There's also a ManupStandup coming in August (if you like your unsanctioned fights with a heavy kung fu flavor), plus there's sanctioned amateur MMA upstate - and it's only a matter of time until that trickles down here.  Sure, a huge event in Madison Square Garden or at the Beacon Theater or at the Barclay's Center would be nice, but if you ask me, the best MMA shows are the kind where you are no more than six inches from the combatants, and that pretty much describes the standard fare at a UCL.  Albany not keen on sanctioned MMA this year?  I say, so what!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Anil Melwani Revamps His Site

Longtime New York City-based MMA photographer Anil Melwani has revamped his site - check it out here:  Melwani's been to just about every UCL, and his work has appeared in the New York Times, the Observer, ESPN, FIGHT! magazine, Gawker, and a million other places.

Observations from My Couch: UFC on Fox 3 - "Ultimate Krush Groovin"

-Mike Massenzio's performance can best be summed up by the word "meh".
-Roland Delorme and Nick Denis had probably the best, most exciting bout ever broadcast on Facebook.
-The way Dennis Bermudez was tossing Pablo Garza around, you'd think Garza is made of feathers.
-Going in I thought John Cholish could do it, but Danny Castillo totally shut him down.  Oh well.  Next time.
-THAT is the Louis Gaudinot I know.  Dude is without question a top flyweight.
-John Hathaway is still not the man, Tim Elliott did a lot better than he should've, and boy did Tony Ferguson shit the bed.
-Lavar Johnson vs. Pat Barry went just as expected.  Count on Johnson to be the "exciting element" added to any future card that lacks in potential.
-Holy moley did Alan Belcher exceed expectations.  To beat Toquinho at his own game and then pound him the fuck out... pure awesomeness.
-We're nearing the end of Josh Koscheck's tenure as a top-level, exciting fighter.  I'm just saying.
-It broke my heart to see Jim Miller get beat up like that, but damn is Nate Diaz a badass.  He just made the lightweight division about four times more compelling.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

UFC on Fox 3 Preview - The Main Card

The classic animated Beatles film "Yellow Submarine" is being shown at the Ziegfeld Theater in digitally mastered form on Saturday night, at the same time the UFC on Fox 3 main card begins.  I'm just sayin'...  Anyway, I previewed the undercard, so now here's the main card. 

-Jim Miller vs. Nate Diaz - Prior to his UFC debut, I had been cageside for all but one of Miller's fights (I missed his 2005 debut - maybe I was incarcerated or something).  Think I'm partial towards him kicking Diaz's ass?  Um, yeah.  So!  If the same Diaz that outclassed Don Cerrone shows up, Miller's in for an uphill climb, as Diaz should be on par with him on the ground and dangerous as fuck on the feet.  However, if the same Miller that snapped off Charles Oliveira's leg and put a dent in Kamal Shalorus' dome shows up, we'll likely witness the first atomic explosion to ever occur in the Octagon.  I'd say there's about zero chance this one is boring.

-Josh Koscheck vs. Johny Hendricks - Speaking of boring, did anyone see Koscheck's bout against Mike Pierce?  If so, I'm sorry.  Word is even Bellator champ Ben Askren turned his TV off in disgust.  On the flipside, Hendricks totally killed Jon Fitch with his heavy hands in his last time at bat, so at least we know he's capable of delivering some excitement, right?  Unfortunately, when faced with danger, Koscheck enters "huggy" mode, and since Hendricks exudes danger, we'll likely be privy to another Koscheck vs. Pierce-esque performance.

-Rousimar Palhares vs. Alan Belcher - Belcher has been doing a great job knocking the low-hanging fruit off the branches of the UFC's middleweight tree, but OH MY GOD PALHARES IS FUCKING CRAZY!  RUN!  HE'LL KILL US ALL!

-Pat Barry vs. Lavar Johnson - As the most likable heavyweight out there, Barry would make a great addition to a reality-based TV show on fighters who sing old The Mamas & The Papas songs whilst driving around in cars.  Too bad he loses about half the time he steps into the Octagon.  Johnson, meanwhile, only loses when he gets taken down and submitted; the rest of the time, he uses his fists to knock people retarded.  I don't see this one going to well for Barry, for although Barry has got great kickboxing skills, he's still Pat Barry.  Dude is going to the postfight press conference counting to "potato".

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

UFC on Fox 3 Preview - The Prelims

The UFC returns to Fox for the third time on Saturday, and returns to New Jersey for the first time in about 1,100 years.  Am I going?  Fuck no, they don't credential me.  I've been on Dana White's shitlist ever since I they caught me sleeping in the hedges at his house in Las Vegas (I swear I thought it was a Kampgrounds of America).  Anyway, the prelims are on Facebook and Fuel TV, and since I have both, here's a breakdown of the bouts I plan on watching from the comfort of my couch, with a glass of ice tea in hand and the book "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" queued up on my Kindle Fire whenever the action gets dull.  Woot.

-Tony Ferguson vs. Michael Johnson - Somewhere around the thirtieth season of TUF on SpikeTV my interest turned to resentment (too many scenes of jizz on food?  Too much homo-innuendo?), and ever since, I've taken to counting the days when a TUF winner or runner-up meets his doom in the Octagon.  For Ferguson, who was TUF 13, we're up to Day 335, although we came awfully close to seeing that sweet "L" when he fought Yves Edwards in December.  For TUF 12er Johnson, well, he's crapped the bed twice already in the Octagon, so the clock is no longer ticking for him.  Anyway, Ferguson = hard-hitting boxer with strong sprawl, while Johnson = wrestler and Chris Tucker lookalike.  Ferguson will win this won via decision simply because Johnson doesn't have enough takedown ability to negate Ferguson's striking, and blah, blah, blah.

-John Dodson vs. Tim Elliott - Dodson is a talented and entertaining fighter with a ton of upside.  Someone in the UFC agrees, because he's being fed a no-name wrestler whose greatest accomplishment thus far is knocking out Jens Pulver (and currently, a strong wind can knock out Jens Pulver).

-John Hathaway vs. Pascal Krauss - Weep not for what could have been, for the high hopes Brit fans had for Hathaway and the title "Next Big Brit Star" that once rested upon Hathaway's shoulders.  Those days are gone now - dashed upon the rocks of UK-Guys-Still-Can't-Grapple Falls - gone thanks to Mike Pyle, so what's left is just some tall, lanky dude who once made Diego Sanchez and Rick Story carry his book bag home from school.  But hey, that's something, right?  Sure it is, and surely it's more than enough to deal with top German fighter Krauss, whose best technique is something called the "Atomic Bratwurst" and whose career has been spent beating guys with names none of us can pronounce.

-Louis Gaudinot vs. John Lineker - It's somewhat ironic that, for the lightest season of TUF ever (lightest in terms of weight class), Gaudinot was still too small.  But that's how it goes for the former ROC champ, and thanks to some gutsy performances against bigger opponents, he now gets a crack at the UFC's brand-spanking new flyweight division.  His opponent, Lineker, is a hard-hitting Jungle Fight champ from Brazil, which means that once Lineker is handed his per diem coupons by Zuffa and is exposed to the USA's abundance of food, the kid will probably never want to go back to his idyllic, albeit Lord of the Flies-like, section of the world.  Prediction: Gaudinot via decision because Lineker spent the week eating hamburgers made out of cow and not wild tapir.

-Danny Castillo vs. John Cholish - WEC vet Castillo has racked up wins over Dustin Poirier and Joe Stevenson (not that that's a big deal), but has never really established himself as someone noteworthy in the Octagon.  All that will change on Saturday night when he faces top prospect Cholish, because once Cholish out-strikes him, out-wrestles him, and out-jiu-jitsu's him, Castillo is going to be THE guy fighters refer to when they talk about "getting your ass kicked" and "looking like a total noob".

-Dennis Bermudez vs. Pablo Garza - Garza won over a lot of fans when he iced Fredson Paixao with a flying knee, and he looked beastly when he took out Yves Jabouin with a flying triangle.  However, Poirier absolutely tooled him at the last UFC on Fox, and the kid is now tasked with taking on TUF 14 runner-up Bermudez.  I envision this one going like this: Bermudez knocks him on his ass with a cross, stands over him, and beats him into a living death.  This one is ending via Walking Dead, folks.

-Roland Delorme vs. Nick Denis - Who the hell are these guys and why should I care?

-Mike Massenzio vs. Karlos Vemola - Massenzio looked like a killer when he took out former WEC champ Steve Cantwell; Vemola used to wrestle in the Czech Republic and lift things up and put them down.  If the same Massenzio that beat Cantwell shows up, Vemola is toast.  Otherwise, Vemola is just going to be something along the lines of an English muffin and lose a decision.