Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Main card set for MFC 33 Main card set for MFC 33

Maromo vs. Lynn plus two more bouts added to Collision Course on May 4

The Maximum Fighting Championship has completed its lineup of the main card for MFC 33: Collision Course slated for Friday, May 4 in Edmonton, Alberta.
The main card, highlighted by the MFC welterweight title tilt between Ryan “The Kid” McGillivray and Nathan “Soulforce” Coy, will air live on HDNet Fights from the Mayfield Conference Centre beginning at 10 p.m. ET/8 p.m. MT/7 p.m. PT (check local listings for channel designation).
For the first time in organization history, back-to-back winners of the Knockout of the Night will clash as home-town favorite “The African Assassin” Mukai Maromo tangles with Adam Lynn in a lightweight matchup. Maromo (6-2) captured the KO of the Night honor at MFC 30 as he felled Scott Cleve in just 36 seconds. Maromo ran his winning streak to three straight when he captured a convincing unanimous decision verdict over Sabah Fadai at MFC 31.
At MFC 31, it was Lynn’s turn to take home the KO of the Night award when he blasted Curtis Demarce with a vicious elbow only 1:38 into their encounter. Lynn, who fights out of Laguna Hills, California, would later get the nod for the MFC’s 2011 Knockout of the Year. Lynn (17-8) is on a real tear having won six straight with the demolition of Demarce being the sixth knockout victory of his 10-year career.
Another home-town fighter has a spot on the MFC 33 roster as Cody “Genghis” Krahn meets up with MFC newcomer Mike Kent in a middleweight bout. Krahn (11-4), who has won eight of his last 10 outings and has eight submission wins under his belt, finally earned his long-awaited first win under the MFC banner when he scored a hard-fought, first-round submission of Ryan Chiappe at MFC 31.
But Krahn doesn’t have an easy task ahead of him in the unbeaten Kent (8-0), who hails from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Kent has finished all but one of his fights, and has stopped his opposition four times inside the first round.
Chiappe (8-7) will get a chance to redeem himself at MFC 33 as he meets the rejuvenated Jamie “The Ghost” Toney (15-7) in a welterweight showdown. Chiappe, a native of Prince George, British Columbia, has won four of his last six outings, and boasts six knockouts on his resume.
Toney, the Bas Rutten-trained talent from Los Angeles, California, was stopped by Dhiego Lima in his organizational debut at MFC 30, but rebounded with a clear-cut decision victory over Kyle Jackson at MFC 32 in January – a battle that is an early contender for the MFC’s 2012 Fight of the Year. A well-rounded battler, Toney has six knockouts and seven submission victories to his credit.
MFC 33: Collision Course Main Card
Nathan Coy vs. Ryan McGillivray – MFC welterweight title
Adam Lynn vs. Mukai Maromo – lightweight
Aron Lofton vs. Dwayne Lewis – light-heavyweight
Jamie Toney vs. Ryan Chiappe – welterweight
Mike Kent vs. Cody Krahn – middleweight
Diego Bautista vs. Sabah Fadai – lightweight
Tickets for MFC 33: Collision Course are on sale now and available exclusively through the MFC Ticket Hotline at (780) 504-2024.
For more information and interview requests, please contact:
Scott Zerr, Director of Media and Fighter Relations
Maximum Fighting Championship
(780) 914-5813
Follow the MFC on Twitter @maximumfighting
Follow me on Twitter @scottmaxfight

Jason Kelly: Sara McMann wonders “What’s this girl doing?” after Ronda Rousey ducked her

Sara McMann (R) punches Hitomi Akano (L) at Pro Elite: “Grove vs. Minowa”
Though, she may not be the talk of Twitter like some other combatants in WMMA, Sara McMann does her speaking through a different venue to garner attention.
McMann (Twitter: @sara_mcmann) accomplished an outstanding wrestling career that amounted to dozens of medals and trophies. She made the crossover to MMA in May 2011, where she defeated Christina Marks via rear-naked choke in her first professional MMA bout. She has since compiled a record of 5-0, most recently defeating Hitomi Akano at Pro Elite: “Grove vs. Minowa” on Jan. 21 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
With an undefeated win streak as a bargaining chip, McMann is finally able to lock down a bout without the hindrances she encountered in the beginning.
“I was frustrated at the days when fighters used to pull out and not having people step up to the challenge, but they’re behind me now,” McMann explained to Hector Castro and Mike Steczkowski on Darce Side Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. “One of the limitations I had when I first started fighting was that I couldn’t fight some of the better girls because the commission wouldn’t allow it when I was 0-0. That kind of gave people a little bit more of an out and an excuse to say, ‘Yeah, I would take a fight against her,’ but they know that they’d have 13 to 18 fights and no commission was going to approve that. That allowed them to accept fights, but not actually have to fulfill and step up to the plate and take the fight because they just wouldn’t be allowed. But, now that I’m 5-0, I’m pretty much ready to fight any girl that is in my weight class and we’ve been making a lot of calls.”
McMann is looking for bigger fights, but not necessarily the bigger show.
The 2004 Summer Olympics senior women’s freestyle silver medalist has competed in less popular organizations such as Pro Elite and Titan Fighting Championships thus far in her MMA career. Strikeforce is arguably the most significant promotion to include female mixed martial arts bouts. They have produced the most prevalent competitors in WMMA and McMann intends to enjoy a career in the organization when the time is right.
“I could actually sign with Strikeforce at any point that I wanted because they are definitely interested,” McMann admitted. “They were really happy with my management because we want to gain more experience. I’m not just somebody who wants to come in and only have, predominantly, one skill-set and passable on jiu-jitsu and the striking. I really want the experience because by the time that I go to Strikeforce, I want to be dominating and I want to be putting on unbelievable shows while dominating in all areas.”
While McMann is competing for her chance on the big stage, she has noticed some of her counterparts taking a different route.
Ronda Rousey has been verbally sparring with Strikeforce female bantamweight champion Miesha Tate since her victory over Julia Budd and it got the Judo Olympian a title match. McMann is aware of Rousey’s antics and she is not bothered by them, but as a former Olympian herself, she feels there is a more humble way to get to the top.
“I definitely have a pedigree that I could have gone the same exact route and I could have said the same things and I would have gotten the same attention,” McMann said. “I just don’t have a lot of respect for it. I’m perfectly willing to work my way up the ladder because I don’t want to skip over girls. I don’t want to take away from the girls that have put years into this. I want to fight them and say, ‘Don’t take my word for it that I deserve to be here, fight me and I’ll show you.’ I could have gone that route, but it’s not an option for me, it’s not who I am.”
McMann said that Rousey will most likely earn more money than her until she acquires a title shot, but she would rather get the experience from climbing the divisional ladder, as opposed to the payday. She said Pro Elite pays her really good money, plus she has the luxury of competing in other promotions due to her non-exclusive contract. If the opportunity rose for her to face a Strikeforce top competitor in a one fight deal, McMann could accept it if she chose.
The marketability of two former Olympians doing battle would be an easy promotion for the Zuffa-owned Strikeforce. McMann agrees her and Rousey would be a highly marketable bout, but if history repeats itself she is unsure if the Judoka would consent to the match up.
“My first pro fight, we were searching everywhere and I was offered a fight against Ronda at a catch-weight of 140 (pounds),” McMann said. “Monte (Cox) called me and I said I would take it because I really couldn’t find an opponent. I thought, ‘Another Olympic medalist, she’s going to step up to the plate.’ Then he called me back and said, ‘They’re really trying to talk her into it, her managers and her trainers, and she just keeps refusing the fight.’ I was really shocked by that because I’ve even seen video of her calling out Cyborg (Santos) and calling out Gina Carano and saying she wasn’t impressed woman’s MMA. I was like, ‘What’s this girl doing?’”
Nonetheless, McMann did find a first fight, plus four more and she continuously wins.
McMann is not about to take to social media and call out her next opponent. Instead, she will wait patiently for her opposition to be named and then say what she has to say on the canvas.
“I like my fighting speak for itself,” McMann said. “I don’t have to talk about how great I am and all these wonderful things about me for days and days. I’ll show up to the fight and I’m going to come in there and do exactly what I said I was going to do.”
Enough said.

USA Today Sergio Non: Alexis Davis hopes to outmaneuver Strikeforce's Kaufman

Alexis Davis might have the lowest profile of the four women fighting this weekend for Strikeforce, but she figures a victory will shed some light on her.
"I just don't think I'm as well known," says Davis, who will face 135-pound ex-champion Sarah Kaufman on Saturday in Columbus, Ohio. "I think maybe after this fight, it's not going to be the case any more."
In Kaufman and Davis, the bout features the Nos. 3 and 4 bantamweights in the Unified Women's MMA Rankings. Strikeforce officials expect a title shot for the winner.
While Davis-Kaufman won't be the main card on Showtime, it will cap off the preliminary broadcast on Sho Extreme (8 p.m. ET, Saturday). USA TODAY spoke to Davis last week about her upcoming fight. Excerpts from the conversation:
Q: How's training going?
Davis: Oh, awesome. I've been out in Florida for most of my camp. I've been training my jiu-jitsu with Master Dave Dayboll, where I usually do, with going down to Ft.Lauderdale and training with the guys over at Team Popovitch's.
New this time around is that I'm going to the Armory (in Jupiter, Fla.) to practice my standup.
That's quite a change. You're known more for your ground game.
Yeah. Got to throw some curveballs in there.
It's been great. There's great fighters that come out of that camp. … I want to train with the guys that train those guys like Edson Barboza, to have those huge fighters.
I'm also working on my ground game too, as well. Like you said, a huge part of my game a lot of times is to get it to the ground.
You came out of the Canadian regional scene. How'd you end up down in Florida?
My coach, Dave Dayboll, he relocated down by Stuart, Jensen Beach area. I just kind of followed him down through here and made a lot of good connections.
I still get to train back home with the guys in Canada. We have three clubs out there, and they come down here and train with the guys here, so it's good. You get all sorts of different styles and different body types. I think that's always good when you have a big fight coming up.
One of the concerns that advocates of women's fighting have had is that there just aren't that opportunities at the higher levels of MMA. Do you get any sense that might change?
It has changed already. Strikeforce having Tate-Rousey for the main event, that's huge, not just for fighters, but other promoters to see that. It's slowly been growing, but within the last year or so, it's really come along.
You're having more and more events that really putting women, not just on the card, but on the main card.
You started your MMA career with a loss to Sarah in 2007. How have both of you changed as fighters since then?
I don't even consider myself the same fighter since then.
Even just having more confidence. In your first fight -- everybody knows if you've competed in any sport -- that you (have) that nervousness, and you don't know quite know when you can use your reaction time to capitalize on somebody else. … I'm almost more clear-headed now when I come into the fight, (compared to) where everything is just like a big rush when you first start.
What was going through your head for that first pro fight?
I'd competed in a lot of jiu-jitsu tournaments in the local area where I was, so I kind of had that competitive buzz. Being able to compete in MMA was just something that was my the next step. We had guys training out in our club back home in Canada and it was something that I wanted to do automatically.
Being that I was from Canada, it took a long time to find a fight. It took me a year, year and a half to get a fight. Then to fight Sarah Kaufman, at the time, nobody really knew that name.
I think right then and there, even coming off of a loss, you find out if this is something you want to do for the rest of your life or not. I loved it anyway.
Given that it was a loss, what did you find so attractive about the experience?
I think it was just the competitiveness, the adrenaline rush when you come in there.
You do have great coaches that are on the sidelines helping you out, but when it comes down to it, it's just you and somebody else in there. The rawness of the sport.
Other fighters have found Sarah hard to take down. What makes her counterwrestling so effective?
Even just using her hands to create space and to make sure that she's timing that -- usually you don't get in close to her unless she wants you to. She's got an incredible base. Even when you watch her footwork in there, she's got a really solid base.
That, and her being able to pummel and get control a lot of the time, has been working very well for her.
Your last fight, against Amanda Nunes, was spent largely against the fence before you put her away. But Sarah doesn't mind working on the cage either; often she'll almost bully someone up against it. Where do you want Saturday's fight to take place, near the cage or in the center?
I want the fence, as well, so I don't have a problem going there.
I think it's just kind of like cornering your opponent. You want to stop them from moving, creating space. Especially me, the way that I fight, I like to get in close. I find other fighters out there, they have longer range than me, so every fight, I'm pushing forward.
Sarah seems to be one of the more physically strong women in the division. How concerned are you about her power and her ability to muscle people around?
I do agree that she does seem like she's very strong in there. But it's all going to be about how to maneuver.
It's not just trying to maneuver your opponent. You've got to maneuver yourself. It's something that I've been working a lot on for this upcoming fight.
It seemed like Amanda landed quite a few good shots on you. You seem to be willing to take punches to get your clinch. Do your coaches ever get on your case about defense, head movement, that sort of thing?
Oh, yeah. All the time. (laughing) It's something that is ongoing with me. I'm trying to work on that. I was actually laughing with the guys this time, like, "I'm going to try not to get punched in the head so much this time."
What's been the hardest thing to pick up about that aspect of the game?
For me, it's that I always move forward. It's something that I've been trying to change a lot. My game is timing: When to move forward and when it's time to create space instead of just driving, driving, driving.
Because that's the type of person that I am, that I always like to try to push forward, so it's been a little bit challenging. Hopefully I'll not go back to my bad habits.
Why do you think you're the underdog so often in your fights?
I just don't think I'm as well known. I kind of find it's a little bit, maybe, good luck for me, so I don't mind. It seems to be working pretty well for me so far.
I think maybe after this fight, it's not going to be the case any more.
Like with Sarah, she's been in a lot of these high-level bouts and she's been in Strikeforce for awhile, so her name is known. Even with Amanda, that huge knockout win; she knocks out opponents left, right and center.
So I just think I'm just not as well-known yet.
Sarah occasionally has won fights by sitting behind her jab and outpointing opponents. How do you keep her from doing that to you?
Once again, it's something I've been working on. Movement in there, not to kind of walk right into that jab, and to pick my punches, being able to know when to react.
Other than each other, your common opponent is Shayna Baszler. Have you had a chance to see Sarah's fight with her?
Well, I did when it first came on, but I always find that when you get to the fights, you get less and less videos of your opponent that come up.
But Shayna, she's a tough opponent and I'd love to see her coming back into the mix, as well.
Anything that stands out about the way Sarah handled her, compared to the way you fought Shayna?
It's different from when I fought Shayna. I was taking that fight a little bit shorter notice, and I was way out of shape.
But you know what? Sarah's fantastic at handling all of her opponents. Especially having Shayna with such a world-renowned ground game.
It seems like Sarah has spent almost as much time talking about Ronda Rousey as you and can't get the title-fight situation out of her head. Do you think Sarah is overlooking you?
It kind of seems like that, but you don't know what anyone's doing behind the scenes.
But yeah, it kind of seems she's kind of (looked) past our fight and looking forward to upcoming things. That's great for me, because the more focus that she has on the Ronda Rousey situation, the less that she's focused on me. Hopefully I can catch her off-guard.
Do you have any sympathy for what Sarah has expressed? She believes she should be fighting in Saturday's main event.
You know what? I agree with her. I totally do.
They talked to me too about fighting for the title before Ronda came along. But in my head still, I always thought Sarah first and then me second type of thing.
I do give her a lot of sympathy because I think she was kind of pushed aside. There's nothing really we can do about it now. We just have to fight this fight and see what happens next.
You've talked about not being as well-known as other prominent female fighters. Ronda promotes herself aggressively. What do you think about that approach to career advancement?
As women's MMA becomes more and more popular, you are going to get more fighters out there like Ronda. Good for her, because she got what was she was after; she got that title fight.
But it must be a Canadian side of me and Sarah, where we're kind of not like that, as much self-promoting.
Sometimes, we really should. Trying to get better and better at it. Not going to quite go the same route as Ronda went, but you really do. It's not just the sport -- it's that you've got to be able to sell yourself (so) that fans out there know who you are and they want to come see your fights, because it's business, as well, and I see that side of it.
It's all in how you're going to be able to play the game. I think more and more fighters are going to be more and more active in their self-promotion. Hopefully they go the right way about it.
Quite a few prominent female fighters do not like Ronda for the things she has said. How much do you share their view of her as an interloper?
I don't care for a lot of the things that she said either, but there's a lot of other fighters, male and female both, that I (feel) don't have high expectations for when they are being vocalized out there.
But everybody's got to play the game differently. If that's what you think is going to get you attention for your fighting, then that's what you have to do.
No doubt you expect to win on Saturday. Who do you think you will end up facing after that?
I find that's kind of a hard question to answer, only because we haven't seen what Ronda Rousey can do in those second and third rounds, even fourth and fifth. That's something that we've seen a lot from Miesha.
I think if it gets into those high rounds, even into the end of the second into the third, I think that's the more opportunity that Tate has to win. I could see her definitely pulling out the win if it gets into those rounds.
But do you think it will get to those rounds?
You know what? I think it will, because Miesha's been in the game long enough. If she can stay focused and not worry about all the mind games and everything that goes on in the background, I think she definitely has a chance to win.
I read an interview in which you cited Jon Fitch and Vitor Belfort as idols. What do you admire in them?
I love how when the UFC does the Countdowns in there. That's where, really, for Belfort I was like, watching his training camp in there and his determination that really kind of stood out for me.
For Fitch, it's how outside the cage and inside the cage, he's just like his humble guy and he just wants to go there and do his thing. He wants to win and he's not worried about all the drama and the smack talk or anything really much behind it.
That's really what it is to me.
The criticism of Fitch has been that some fans find him uninteresting? How valid is that view?
"Uninteresting," that says to me he's not out there like a Josh Koscheck or something.
He's not like a Ronda Rousey type of thing out there and trying to aggressively verbalize and sell yourself. I always think some of the stuff comes out like the WWE, how they're out there and they're smack talking, they're this and that. It's a constant battle back and forth.
He's just out there and he just wants to fight.

Josh Burkman Back in the Win Column at Showdown Fights: Breakout

UFC veteran Josh Burkman returned to the winner’s circle at Friday night’s Showdown Fights: Breakout at the UCCU Center in Orem, Utah.
Showdown Fights: Breakout Results:
-Josh Burkman def. Koffi Adzitso by Decision
-Sean O’Connell def. Trevor Carlson by Decision
-Steve Sharp def. Mario Espinoza by Submission (Guillotine Choke)
-Jordan Clements def. Dave Castillo by Decision
-Jan Jorgensen def. Aaron Magro by TKO
-George Lockhart def. Jarome Hatch by Decision
-Jason South def. Tim Ruberg by Submission (Guillotine Choke)

Tatsuya Kawajiri to Fight at ONE FC 3 on March 31

Dan Herbertson, MMA Fighting
Dan Herbertson, MMA Fighting
ONE FC recently announced his participation on the card. Kawajiri's last appearance outside of Japan was a loss to Gilbert Melendez at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley in April 2011.

The 33-year-old Kawajiri (30-7-2) has won his last three fights against Drew Fickett, Joachim Hansen and Kazuyuki Miyata. He made the drop to featherweight in September and is twice unbeaten in the division. Kawajiri appears on the ONE FC card courtesy of a talent exchange program between ONE FC and DREAM.
The two confirmed matchups on the ONE FC 3 card so far are Masakazu Imanari vs. Kevin Belingon and Eduard Folayang vs. Ole Laursen. Confirmed participants on the card include Ray Elbe, Eddie Ng, Zorobabel Moreira and Nicole Chua.
The previously slated main event with Renato "Babalu" Sobral vs. Melvin Manhoef is unlikely to happen. Sobral has since signed to fight Steve Bosse for Canada's Instinct promotion in May.

Mike Chiappetta: Upstart Super Fight League Signs Todd Duffee, Trevor Prangley

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
By Mike Chiappetta - Senior Writer

Feb 27, 2012 - India's Super Fight League, the first mixed martial arts organization in the country, on Monday morning announced a trio of signings as the company prepares for its debut event.
Among those inked to four-fight deals are a pair of former UFC fighters, hulking heavyweight Todd Duffee and veteran light-heavyweight Trevor Prangley.

Duffee is perhaps best known for his short and rocky tenure with the UFC, in which he was a part of two memorable knockouts. He debuted at UFC 102 with a flourish, knocking out Tim Hague in just seven seconds, one of the fastest KO's in promotional history. At his next bout, he fought Mike Russow and seemed to be cruising his way to victory after battering Russow through the first two rounds, only to be spectacularly KO'd in the third.
Most recently, he fought Alistair Overeem at Dynamite!! 2010 and suffered a first-round knockout loss. When Duffee (6-2) debuts, it will be his first fight in over one year.
Prangley (23-9-1) has been far more active, fighting Bellator champion Hector Lombard in a 195-pound catch weight fight in November. Prangley lost via second-round TKO. During his lengthy career, the 39-year-old UFC and Strikeforce vet holds notable wins over Keith Jardine, Chael Sonnen and Travis Lutter.
SFL also signed 26-year-old Baga Agaev, a 26-year-old Russian who has won seven of his last eight fights.
Debut fights were not announced for any of the new signees.
SFL holds its inaugural event on March 11 from the Andheri Sports Complex in Mumbai. That card will be headlined by Bob Sapp vs. James Thompson.

Bellator's Blagoi Ivanov Reportedly Stabbed in Heart, Clinging to Life Support

Feb 27, 2012 - Blagoi Ivanov, an undefeated Bellator heavyweight, is reportedly clinging to life at Pirogov Hospital in Sofia, Bulgaria after being stabbed in the heart in a Sunday morning barroom brawl.
According to Bulgaria's Sofia News Agency, the fighter remains in critical condition on artificial life support.
Ivanov and two friends were allegedly attacked by eight individuals armed with bats and knives immediately after arriving to a bar on Graf Ignatiev Street. Police arrived at 5:10 a.m. to discover the assailants missing and a deep stab wound under Ivanov's armpit that was later found to have pierced his heart.

The three victims were rushed to Pirogov Hospital, where surgeons reportedly carried out a life-saving operation on Ivanov. Despite the procedure, doctors maintain that the 25-year-old's life is still "under a real threat."
Ivanov's two friends were treated for light wounds and bruises and have since been released from the hospital.
Police are currently investigating the attack. According to reports, the same bar was also the scene of a recent shooting.
Ivanov (6-0, 1 NC) is perhaps best known for being the man to dethrone Fedor Emelianenko in the 2008 Combat Sambo World Championships finals. After rolling to a 3-0 record to kick off his professional mixed martial arts career, "Baga" inked a deal with Bellator Fighting Championships, where he promptly finished William Penn and Zak Jensen to advance to the semi-finals of Season 5's heavyweight tournament.
However, Ivanov would ultimately withdraw from a Bellator 56 bout against Thiago Santos due to an injury sustained in training. He then fought against former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez, earning a third-round TKO victory last December.

Jordan Newmark: Hidden No Longer, Davis is Smashing Her Way to The Top

"I think my good luck charm in there is being the underdog. But after this fight, I'm definitely going to come more into the spotlight." - Alexis Davis
Strikeforce bantamweight Alexis Davis
Strikeforce bantamweight Alexis Davis

Since the beginning of 2012, fight fans have been nearly frothing at the mouth for arguably the most anticipated throwdown in women’s MMA history: “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha “Takedown” Tate for the Strikeforce women’s bantamweight championship. It feels like this titanic twosome’s tussle for the title is about all the MMA media can talk about, but waiting in the wings on March 3rd’s undercard are a highly talented Canadian duo who are preparing to derail this hype-train with a show-stealing rematch to determine the next number one contender: Sarah Kaufman and Alexis Davis.

The title elimination bout will pit the first and former Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion Kaufman against the highly-ranked in the 135-pound division Davis. If there’s truly a forgotten face on this Columbus, Ohio fight card, it would be Davis, as some believe Kaufman should be in the main event scrapping over the belt with Tate. But with a possible third win in Strikeforce in just as many fights, Davis could rewrite a loss on her record, claim a shot at bantamweight gold, teach a lesson to any overlooking her, and accomplish it all in well under a year’s time. Not too bad for the juggernaut from Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada.

“I always feel like I'm constantly underestimated,” asserts Davis. “I think with every fight in Strikeforce I've been the underdog. I think my good luck charm in there is being the underdog. But after this fight, I'm definitely going to come more into the spotlight. Everyone is focused on the Tate-Rousey fight, but I think Sarah and I will put on a show that will represent women's MMA well regardless of what happens in their fight. I'm sure I'll be coming up a lot more in the future.”

At 27 years old, Davis has proven she’s a strong-jawed grappler who certainly doesn’t shy away from contact, doesn’t wilt under pressure, and is getting used to getting her hand raised inside the Strikeforce cage. In 2011, Davis scored back-to-back victories in Strikeforce, starting with her debut unanimous decision grinder over veteran Julie Kedzie in July. Less than two months later, Davis squared off in an action packed slugfest with the then 6-1 (all wins by knockout), power punching “Lioness of the Ring,” Amanda Nunes.

“I knew she was going to try and finish it earlier,” says Davis. “She's notorious for first round knockouts. I knew she was going to come in guns blazing, looking for that one shot knockout. That was my whole gameplan going in there to close the distance because I didn't want to be on the end of those punches and to kind of keep the pressure on. Things didn't go as planned. She's also a brown belt in judo as well. She's tall. She's taller than me and with a longer reach. I wanted to make sure to keep the pressure on her and keep the cage control and work her legs more to kill that power. She's tough.”

The first five minutes were nearly all back and forth striking, with neither fighter giving the other an inch of breathing room. That may not have been what Davis’ coach and mentor Dave Dayboll wanted from his four stripe Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, but it sent a message to her counterparts that Davis can more than hold her own with a feared knockout artist. The second round was more standup fisticuffs, but with a minute remaining it was Nunes who pulled the trigger and tried to bring the fight to the floor. After the well-executed throw from Nunes, Davis immediately reversed positions and took control for the eventual win.

“I have a great, positive coach in there and he was telling me that I have to push the pace more and try to practice slipping punches more in there,” tells Davis. “I'm kind of hard headed and I like to just drive forward in there. It's a constant progress there, trying to work my way in there with striking. I'm kind of stubborn. If you watch my fights you can kind of tell that. I figured if it went to the ground that that was something for my strong point in there. I was fortunate enough in the second round that she went for that judo throw and it's something in jiu-jitsu that we always try to work on: hips and capitalizing and reversing off of that.”

Once in top position and knowing there was only a short time remaining, Davis rained down punches any which way she could to get the fight stopped at 4:53 of round two. “I did hear the ‘knock knocks’ and I just thought I can't stop moving,” remembers Davis of her second TKO victory. “I tried to muster up all the energy I had and I was going to keep swinging until the ref pulled me off or the time was called. In the past, I've tried to pick my punches more, but watching a lot of UFC fights, some of the guys in there just can't stop swinging, so that was going through my head.”

Davis’ final thoughts on her September stoppage of Nunes are precisely why she will be a fan favorite and a tough test for Kaufman. “I like fighters that are aggressive; those are my favorite fighters to fight,” admits Davis, who knows from experience she won’t have to worry about Kaufman not coming forward swinging. “I like them to come out, like me, and you just want to strike and just want to smash each other. It makes it exciting for the fans and it makes it exciting for me as a fighter. I think that's what makes me better as a fighter is having someone who is pushing me constantly.”

At the Nationwide Arena, Davis will get a chance for some nearly five years in the making revenge against Kaufman, who served Davis her first loss in her first professional fight. The 26-year old KO queen from Victoria, British Colombia, Canada is an impressive 14-1, with her lone loss coming in her second Strikeforce title defense via third round armbar to Marloes Coenen. This bout will double as the biggest opportunity in Davis’ career, with a belt looming as well as competing in a perfect litmus test for her evolved abilities as a cagefighter against her first opponent, who just so happens to be one of the pound-for-pound best female fighters on the planet.

“She's a great fighter in there, obviously, anyone can tell that,” affirms Davis. “She's got incredible boxing standup and she's adding more and more kicks into her game. She's one of those fighters who is constantly pushing forward too. It is going to be who can manipulate their game more or change the angles, so they will be able to capitalize on that with their strengths. Being that she was a past title holder, it is going to see how far I am up those rankings. Personally for me, it will be good to see how much I have progressed as a fighter. Not even that we're just fighting for number 1 contendership, but I'm almost more excited to see how I have progressed technique wise.”

To prepare for the rematch, Davis has been splitting time between the Great White North and a couple very reputable establishments in the Sunshine State. Davis’ main gym is in her home Port Colborne with Master Dayboll, who is a highly decorated martial artist and a BJJ black belt under Royler Gracie. For her past few camps, Davis has been in Florida training her ground with world renowned BJJ black belt Pablo Popovitch, as well as her standup with the pro fighters at The Armory, including UFC lightweight star Edson Barboza. It’s an illustrious cast and crew of trainers that in every way are making Davis a top contender at bantamweight.

“It’s been great, especially when you have such strong opponents coming up with great standup,” says Davis. “A lot of these guys from Brazil have incredible kickboxing, Muay Thai and have incredible cage control. It's so funny how they can fine tune you out there. You don't realize, maybe I can shift my weight this way or step a little more to the outside - I love it. I even try to work my wrestling out there. I’m working a lot off my back. You want to be on top doing ground and pound, but we are constantly working on transitioning and working on my positioning. With these guys they can put you in those positions that you don't want to be in, but working on those bad positions is how you get better. It's always been a main focus for me, my Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and I think I will be stronger in that area. It's something I'm definitely going to try and exploit.”

This Saturday, a number one contender will emerge from a battle between two bantamweight bulls: Kaufman and Davis. “I see this fight ending by ground and pound,” estimates Davis, who wouldn't get overshadowed in 2012 again with a ferocious finish over a former foe. “Maybe that's because that's how I want to win because that's how she got me. She got me in mount position with ground and pound, so that's how I want to be in the top control position - and just smash.”

Rob Sargent: Women's MMA Report: New promotion Invicta focuses on growing women's game

Invicta Fighting Championships, a new all-female MMA promotion led by former Strikeforce matchmaker and talent relations manager Shannon Knapp, announced its first event this past week and aims to provide a platform to create depth among the women's ranks.

The debut Invicta FC card, set for April 28 in Kansas City, Kan., features matchups in each of the five major women's divisions ranging from 105 to 145 pounds and is headlined by a rematch between former Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion Marloes "Rumina" Coenen (19-5) and France's Romy Ruyssen (5-1).

In launching her new project, Knapp is focused on overcoming the biggest challenge in promoting female fights, which is presently a lack of depth at each weight. While the 115- and 135-pound divisions have long been regarded as the premier women's weight classes, there is still a considerable amount of room for improvement. Knapp agrees with UFC president Dana White's belief that more time and effort must be devoted to promoting female fights and fighters in order to establish credible divisions with multiple title contenders at any given time.

The process, which Knapp admits will be challenging, begins with the promotion's first event. In addition to the Coenen-Ruyssen rematch, the card is highlighted by a 105-pound showdown between Bellator veterans Jessica Penne (8-1) and Lisa Ellis-Ward (14-7). Notables Kaitlin Young (7-5), Liz "Girl-Rilla" Carmouche (5-2) and Sarah "The Monster" D'Alelio (4-2) will also be in action on the main card. The preliminary card features the long-awaited MMA debut of 2008 Olympic bronze medalist in women's wrestling, Randi Miller.

Invicta FC plans to hold two more events in 2012 and intends to establish a champion in at least one weight class before the end of this year, with more champions to be crowned in 2013.

Jessica Eye victorious in Ohio, returns to Bellator in April

Popular 125-pound prospect Jessica "Evil" Eye (6-1) won for the third straight time on Feb. 18 at "NAAFS: Caged Vengeance 10" in Cleveland, Ohio. Eye outstruck former NAAFS title challenger Kelly Warren (3-2) through three rounds to earn a unanimous decision victory. Scores were 30-27 across the board for Eye, who addressed the hometown crowd following the fight.

Warren was aggressive throughout much of the first round and found success with leg kicks in the opening two minutes. Eye stayed on the outside and began to establish her jab, which she used to set up quick combinations of punches.

Eye continued to score repeatedly with her jab in the second stanza and she began to land a variety of kicks that prompted Warren to pick up the pace with punching combinations. Eye maintained an edge by chaining her strikes together as the round progressed.

In the final round, Warren countered early jabs and leg kicks from Eye by taking the Ohio native down to the mat. It was Eye who was most active, however, and she worked for an armbar and a triangle choke until the referee called for a break. Back on the feet, Eye took Warren down and bloodied her with elbows to put a stamp on a well-earned decision victory.

At the conclusion of the bout, Eye spoke to the crowd about a possible rematch with NAAFS women's champion Aisling "Ais The Bash" Daly, who handed Eye her lone professional setback this past June. The bout could take place later this year if both fighters are free.

"I've got to be upfront and honest here. Aisling Daly beat me fair and square," Eye said. "I'll never take anything away from that because she beat me, but ... that's the past and I've got a bright future."

Eye's next fight appears to already be in the works, as Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney confirmed that she has a spot on the promotion's April 20 card.

Fury MMA 4 bout marred by weight issues, post-fight altercation

British striker Stacy "The Hammer" Hayes (1-1) picked up the first victory of her pro MMA career Sunday night at "Fury MMA 4" in London, England, but the win did not come without a considerable amount of controversy. Hayes defeated Chloe Hinchliffe (0-1) by TKO (punches) at the 1:02 mark of round one.

Problems began the day before the fight when both fighters weighed in. Hinchliffe came in at 64.7 kilograms (142.3 pounds) for the 65 kilogram fight and was informed that Hayes had tipped the scales at 70.5 kilograms (155.1 pounds). She reluctantly agreed to take the fight anyway and was awarded a percentage of Hayes' purse. Hayes rehydrated overnight and the size difference between the two fighters was immediately evident once the fight began.

After an early exchange of punches, Hayes took her smaller opponent to the mat and moved straight to mount. She landed a series of strikes from the top until the bout was stopped, but the controversy did not end there. The fighters exchanged words in the center of the cage and Hayes shoved Hinchliffe backwards with considerable force. Hayes was physically restrained by two cornermen and continued to motion towards Hinchliffe before eventually calming down.

Under the unified rules in North America, bouts with significant weight discrepancies may be deemed to be exhibition matches that do not count towards either fighter's professional or amateur record. Regulation differs in the U.K. and is at times not present at all. Fury MMA director Stephen Doran confirmed to MMAjunkie.com that Hayes' victory will stand pending a review of the post-fight incident. Hayes previously came in well overweight for a bout with Danielle West in June that was scrapped entirely due to the weight discrepancy.

Nelson misses weight, destroys Eklund in one

Weight issues were also present at Cage Fighting Xtreme and Crowbar MMA's co-promoted "Winter Brawl" event on Feb. 18 in Fargo, N.D. In what was intended to be her bantamweight debut, Strikeforce veteran Shana "Rock Solid" Nelson (5-2) weighed in at 140 pounds for her bout with an undersized and vastly outmatched Lina "Lynx" Eklund (1-1).

Nelson put Eklund on the defensive immediately with a barrage of punches that backed the Swedish fighter up to the cage. Nelson appeared to hold a tremendous strength advantage over her opponent and she scored at will with knees and uppercuts. Eklund tried to circle away to escape, but Nelson chased her down and dropped her with a left-right combo.

Eklund managed to hold on and fought back to her feet, but Nelson landed punch after punch until Eklund collapsed to the mat. Nelson dove in with hammerfist strikes until the lopsided bout was mercifully stopped at the 4:45 mark of the opening round.

Nelson previously weighed in heavy for a December 2009 catchweight bout with Kaitlin Young and has yet to come in below the 140-pound mark. She will be required to make the bantamweight limit of 135 pounds at the debut Invicta FC show in April when she faces fellow Strikeforce veteran Sarah D'Alelio.

Women headline Saturday's Strikeforce return to Ohio

For the first time since August 2009, women will headline a major Strikeforce card this Saturday night at "Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey" in Columbus, Ohio. Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion Miesha "Takedown" Tate (12-2 MMA, 5-1 SF) defends her title against unbeaten judoka "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey (4-0 MMA, 2-0 SF) in the main event.

Both fighters have engaged in a war of words leading up to the title bout, which has arguably attracted more attention from fans and media alike than the 2009 showdown between Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos and Gina "Conviction" Carano. Tate has made her feelings known that she does not believe that Rousey, who has yet to compete at 135 pounds, deserves a shot at her championship. Rousey believes that she is deserving of the fight and hopes to lead a charge that will keep female fights at the forefront of Strikeforce this year. The main card airs live on Showtime in the U.S. and Super Channel in Canada.

The preliminary portion of Saturday's card will also be headlined by a women's bantamweight bout. Former champion Sarah Kaufman (14-1 MMA, 5-1 SF) faces fellow Canadian Alexis Davis (11-4 MMA, 2-0 SF) in a rematch from Davis' pro debut in 2007. Kaufman defeated Davis in the pair's first meeting and a title shot looks to be up for grabs in the rematch. Kaufman believes that she was overlooked by Strikeforce management and should have received the first shot at Tate's title. She must first get past Davis, who has won three straight fights. Preliminary bouts air live on Showtime Extreme in the U.S. and Super Channel in Canada.

Jewels, Pink Fight MMA cards take shape for March

Six bouts are official for "Jewels: 18th Ring" on March 3 in Tokyo. The all-female card is expected to be headlined by a bout between promotional poster girl Mika "Future Princess" Nagano (8-6) and one-time Valkyrie contender Emi "Kamikaze Angel" Fujino (10-5). Former Strikeforce title challengers Roxanne "The Happy Warrior" Modafferi (15-9) and ex-teammate Takayo Hashi (13-4) will also face off on the card.

One of Japan's top female prospects, Mizuki Inoue (2-1), returns to Jewels to face unbeaten Australian Alexandra Chambers (2-0) in a featured matchup. Inoue has been inactive in MMA since a competitive decision loss to Jewels champion Ayaka Hamasaki in September, but scored a big victory in a non-title Shoot Boxing match against Ai Takahashi earlier this month. Chambers is a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and makes her Jewels debut in the fight.

In other announced fights for 18th Ring, Yuko "Amiba" Oya (6-2) faces fellow grappler Emi Tomimatsu (4-4) and Ayame "Iris" Miura (4-0) makes her Jewels debut against Norway's Celine Haga (1-10). Two-division champion Yui Takada faces Satoko Ozawa in a kickboxing match. The remainder of the card will be confirmed this week.

On March 10 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's first all-female promotion, Pink Fight MMA, will stage its second event. The card is headlined by a Pink Fight title bout at 60 kilograms (132 pounds) between long-time Brazilian standout Vanessa Porto (13-4) and top prospect Jennifer Maia (5-1-1). Porto handed Maia her first professional setback via technical submission in October.

Other bouts on the card include Kalindra Carvalho Faria (3-3-1) vs. Aline Serio (2-2), Michele Dayana (0-0) vs. Jenifer Araujo (0-3) and Rayane "Fortinha" (0-0) vs. "Ataide Girls" (0-0). More fights will be announced in the coming week.

Quick results

Larissa Tyler (2-0) defeated Lizzie Dorsett (0-1) by submission (punches) at the 2:54 mark of round one at "Alaska Fighting Championship 89: Date Night" on Feb. 15 in Anchorage. Tyler earned her second stoppage victory after winning her pro debut in October.

Jessica "Jag" Aguilar (13-4) defeated "Little" Patricia Vidonic (6-2) by unanimous decision at "Fight Time Promotions 8: It's Fight Time" on Feb. 17 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Aguilar was able to outstrike her opponent with punches on the feet and on the ground throughout much of the three-round bout. She prevented Vidonic from getting back to her feet by kicking at her legs for prolonged stretches. Vidonic was active from her back in the opening round and tried for an armbar, but Aguilar easily escaped and took control as the bout progressed. Aguilar is expected to face Megumi "Mega Megu" Fujii at an upcoming Bellator event. Vidonic next battles Felice "Lil' Bulldog" Herrig at XFC 17 on April 13 in Jackson, Tenn.

Amanda "Powerhouse" Lucas (4-1) defeated MMA pioneer Yumiko Hotta (5-4) by submission (keylock) at the 2:16 mark of round three at "DEEP: 57 Impact" on Feb. 18 in Tokyo. Lucas controlled much of the bout with takedowns and ground and pound, but Hotta surprised many with a game performance in her first MMA bout since 2000. Hotta countered a takedown with a guillotine choke in the third round, but Lucas managed to free herself and passed Hotta's guard before setting up the fight-ending keylock. The victory earned Lucas the vacant DEEP women's open-weight championship. She has won four straight fights, with three of those wins coming under the DEEP banner, and has become a fan favorite among the Japanese audience.

"Rowdy" Bec Hyatt (1-1) defeated Sarah Morrison (0-1) by submission (armbar) at the 1:30 mark of round two at Brace For War 14 on Feb. 18 in Canberra, Australia. Hyatt achieved her first win as a pro after she was on the receiving end of a head-kick knockout in her October debut.

Stephanie "The Scrapper" Skinner (1-3) defeated Brittany Nipper (0-5) by TKO (punches) at the 4:36 mark of round two. The bout took place on the all-female "Universal Fight Alliance 8: Women of MMA" card on Feb. 18 in Casper, Wyo. Nipper looked to hold an edge during the first round of the action-packed bout, but Skinner landed a head kick late in round two and took her opponent down before finishing the fight with punches from mount.

Charmaine "Not So Sweet" Tweet (1-2) defeated Marshelle Weinberger (0-1) by submission (guillotine choke) at the 1:19 mark of round one at "HKFC: School of Hard Knocks 20" on Feb. 24 in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. Tweet used her improving ground skills to secure her first pro win after a pair of quick defeats this past year.

DeAnna Bennett (1-0) defeated Andrea "Killer" Miller (3-7) by TKO (punches) at the 2:41 mark of round one at "Showdown Fights: Breakout" on Feb. 24 in Orem, Utah. Bennett followed up on her 2-0 amateur career by overwhelming Miller with strikes en route to the first-round victory.

Emily Green (1-0) defeated Gina "Jitsu" Gallea (0-2) by TKO (retirement) at the end of round one for FightForce on Feb. 24 in Helena, Mont. Green impressed in her pro debut after picking up an amateur win for FightForce this past year. Gallea suffered her second defeat in six weeks after falling to Michelle Ould in January.

Joanne "JoJo" Calderwood (1-0) defeated Noelia Molina (0-1) by TKO (punches) in round one at On Top 4 on Feb. 25 in Glasgow, Scotland. The bout was the first professional women's MMA fight in the country's history.

Jeet Toshi (1-0) defeated Pooja Mehra (0-1) by unanimous decision at Full Contact Championship 5 on Feb. 25 in Mumbai, India. Toshi will make a quick return to action to face Nicole Chua at "ONE Fighting Championship 3: War of the Lions" on March 31 in Singapore.

Upcoming fights

Yana "Foxy" Kunitskaya (6-1) faces Anna Melikhova (0-0) at "Lion's Fights 1: The Beginning" on March 3 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Kunitskaya has been very active in recent months and has won four straight fights by first-round TKO. She expects to give up nearly 50 pounds to Melikhova in the open-weight bout next month.

Carla Esparza (6-2) faces Angela Magana (11-4) at "MEZ Sports: Pandemonium 6" on March 3 in Riverside, Calif. Esparza competes in a five-round title fight for the first time in her MMA career and is coming off of an impressive decision victory over Felice Herrig in December. Magana drops down to 115 for a shot at capturing the Pandemonium women's title. She has won five of her past six fights. This event streams live on Sherdog.com.

Maiju "Mai" Kujala (6-3) faces Juliana "Thai" Carneiro Lima (3-0) on March 9 in Beirut, Lebanon. Kujala earned back-to-back first-round TKO victories this past year and is already scheduled to face unbeaten Ukrainian prospect Lena "Hunter" Ovchynnikova in April. She must first get past Carneiro Lima, who has yet to taste defeat and fights outside of Brazil for the first time.

Rachel "The Riot" Kemker (0-1) faces Jenna "Harley SoCal" Bernick (0-1) at "SteelFist Fight Night 6" on March 9 in Salt Lake City, Utah. This bout is the first women's fight in the promotion's history and will be contested in the heavyweight division.

Darla Harris (1-0) faces Lisa Jeanson (1-1) at "The Beatdown 9: Army vs. Marines 3" on March 10 in Denver, Colo. Harris surprised many by upsetting Jennifer "Lil' Ice" Berg in October and looks for her second pro win. Jeanson was defeated by Berg in her pro debut, but rebounded with a quick submission victory this past March.

"Windy" Tomomi Sunaba (17-13-1) faces Saori "Shooting Star" Ishioka (11-7) at "Pancrase Progress Tour 3" on March 11 in Tokyo. This bout will be Sunaba's retirement fight after a 13-year career in kickboxing and MMA. She has won five of her past six fights and is one of the most skilled female strikers in Japanese MMA history. Ishioka remains one of the top stars in Jewels, but she has suffered consecutive losses for the first time in her career and looks to end the losing streak at Sunaba's expense.

On the same Pancrase card, 16-year-old grappler Shino VanHoose (2-0) faces former Valkyrie competitor Kimie "Sakura" Okada (0-5-1). VanHoose made her MMA debut for Pancrase in October and needed just 51 seconds to choke out Nana Ichikawa with a rarely-seen Ezekiel choke. In December, she defeated Asami Higa under the Jewels banner. Okada remains in search of her first pro win and will be an underdog to the teen prospect next month.

Monday, February 27, 2012


CMG to handle media relations duties for Ranallo
San Jose, California (USA): Crossfire Media Group (CMG) Owner/Publicist Phil Lanides announced today that his company has reached an agreement to represent renowned mixed martial arts commentator Mauro Ranallo as his public relations representative. Ranallo was the play-by-play broadcaster for Pride Fighting Championships and EliteXC, and currently works in the same role for Showtime’s Strikeforce programming.

CMG will provide PR and media relations services for Ranallo in order to expand his presence within the mainstream and combat sports worlds, while also developing media strategies to further his brand.

“Mauro possesses one of the most recognizable voices in MMA today, and it’s an honor to work with him,” stated Lanides. “From Pride to EliteXC to Strikeforce, Mauro’s voice is synonymous with many of the signature calls in MMA history. I’m excited to help further elevate his status as the best commentator in combat sports today.”

“Phil Lanides has built up a solid reputation in MMA, and I feel comfortable and confident placing my PR needs in his hands,” says Ranallo. “I look forward to a long and mutually-beneficial business relationship with CMG.”

Mauro Ranallo was born in Abbotsford, British Columbia on December 21st, 1969. The son of Italian immigrants, Ranallo grew up a huge pro wrestling fan. He played various sports, but always found himself being drawn to the role of an announcer. At the tender age of 16, he was offered the role of color commentator/“bad guy” manager with All-Star Wrestling, a nationally-televised show throughout Canada.

After a successful stint with the company, Ranallo utilized his distinct voice and energetic delivery to move into the mainstream sports world. After working for the Fraser Valley Radio Network, he bounced back and forth between wrestling and combat sports. In 2003, Ranallo received the opportunity of a lifetime when MMA legend and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Bas Rutten, who he had met in 2001 on the set of a movie, called the young broadcaster and offered him the position of play-by-play commentator for Pride Fighting Championships.

During his three year stint with the company, Ranallo called some of the biggest fights in MMA history. Ranallo left Pride FC shortly before the promotion was purchased by Zuffa. Ranallo then joined the fledgling Fight Network, the first 24-hour combat sports channel in North America. He also signed with Showtime Sports to serves a as the play-by-play man for its MMA telecasts, which led to him landing the same role for the first mixed martial arts cards on CBS. In addition to his commentating duties, he also currently hosts “The MMA Show with Mauro Ranallo,” Canada's first and most comprehensive weekly television program dedicated to MMA, and a daily podcast featuring the biggest names in MMA as his guests.

Ranallo joins the CMG stable of clients, which also includes Canadian fight promotion Aggression MMA, former world champion pro wrestler Diamond Dallas Page’s workout brand, DDPYOGA, Bay Area-based combat sports promotion Elite Combat Sports, top MMA fight team Roufusport, and top-ranked Strikeforce welterweight Tyron Woodley.

For more information on Mauro Ranallo, please visit
http://www.mauroranallo.com/. Mauro can also be found on Twitter @MauroRanallo.

Contact: Phil Lanides
Publicist/Owner, Crossfire Media Group
(408) 439-3245

About Crossfire Media GroupFounded in late 2008, Crossfire Media Group (formerly known as Fight of Your Life Communications) helped blaze a trail for freelance publicists in the world of MMA. The company has since expanded into the mainstream sports, literature, and videogame industries. CMG has worked with a virtual “who’s who” in MMA, including UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans, MMA legend Frank Shamrock, former WEC Lightweight Champion Ben Henderson, UFC fighter Brian Stann, UFC fighter Carlos Condit, Revgear, and Strikeforce. Clients of CMG have been also been featured on media outlets such as “The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon,” ESPN, CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Sun-Times, Sherdog, MMAWeekly, MMAJunkie, Yahoo! Sports, amongst others.

Jordan Newmark: Sarah Kaufman - One Win Away

"Fans need to make sure they are watching Showtime Extreme so they are watching this fight live because it is a fight they are not going to want to miss live." - Sarah Kaufman

Strikeforce bantamweight Sarah Kaufman
Strikeforce bantamweight Sarah Kaufman

In the fight game, no phrase has been quoted more often and spoken more truth than “everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” For the past six years in MMA, arguably, no woman has proven more that the aforementioned quote is as applicable to female fighters as it is to males than Sarah Kaufman. This should be (and is) an ever present concern for all active Strikeforce women’s bantamweight fighters because, simply put, Kaufman hits hard and hits a lot. Multiply that by time, practice, and past results, and it equates to this Canadian KO machine only getting better at what she does best, and she wants her title back.

“I think my confidence has gotten better as it has happened,” admits Kaufman when asked about her knockout power. “Going into my first fight I didn't know what to think. I didn't know if I could knock anyone out, I didn't know if I could submit anyone, I didn't have any idea what I was capable of. In my first fight, I got a clean knockout and she was out for quite a while. As soon as I landed the punch, I was like, 'oh, Adam's [Zugec, Kaufman’s coach] right. I can do this.' The next fight when I got the TKO in the first, it was like this is getting better. With every fight it has kind of kept growing. Now, I do have some sort of knowledge that it is a part of me and I'm capable of doing that, but for me, it's hard to kind of really grasp that knowledge that I can knock people out.”

From 2006 to 2009, Kaufman fought eight times with eight eerily similar KO/TKO finishes, and was granted the chance to beat up a new crop of female fighters in Strikeforce. In her following four fights, Kaufman continued to overwhelm her opponents with her staggering output of strikes, and won the first Strikeforce women’s bantamweight championship against Takayo Hashi. The numbers surrounding Kaufman’s relentless onslaught standing are almost difficult to understand. In her debut decision win over current champion Miesha Tate, Kaufman threw over 160 significant strikes back when Strikeforce’s female fighters competed at three 3 minute rounds. That’s utterly insane.

“When we are at ZUMA, we are doing a lot of pad work and the pad work isn't about throwing single jabs or single crosses,” tells Kaufman. “It is about getting that mindset ingrained in you to throw 3,4,5,6, 7, 8 punch combinations to get your hands moving. Adam has always said, ‘if you can hit 4 or 8 punch combinations on the pads then in sparring or in a fight you might hit 1 or 2.’ Sometimes when you are getting in there you tighten up and you think too much and you don't let your hands go. Partly, it is a matter of sheer repetitions, but I also like to push forward and when you push forward you might as well do something. The best way for them to not hit you, is for you to hit them faster and more often - that's kind of the philosophy that's taken over.”

In the fight fans’ world where strikers rule, Kaufman is queen.

At 14-1, the product of Zugec Ultimate Martial Arts (ZUMA) in her hometown of Victoria, British Colombia, Canada is gearing up for another title run this year. Originally, Kaufman won the coveted gold strap at 135 pounds in February 2010 and successfully defended the belt with her knockout slam of Roxanne Modaferri that July. Three months later, Kaufman suffered her lone defeat to submission ace Marloes Coenen via an armbar in the third round. In 2011, Kaufman rebounded from losing the Strikeforce title with two wins: a TKO over the well-traveled Megumi Yabushita in a smaller promotion and, in Kaufman’s return to Strikeforce, an impressive decision win over former title challenger Liz Carmouche in July.

“I was really excited to get off the shelf because I had been on the shelf for a while,” explains Kaufman. “I wanted to get another win back in Strikeforce, after my only loss and losing the title to Marloes. To be back under the banner, it was an important fight because Liz had done really well against Marloes when she stepped up to fight her. I wanted to make a really strong impression with a dominating good fight that was crowd pleasing. You want to make sure you can get a win outside the organization and that's great, but ultimately you want to be on the winning track inside the company you have fought for for so long and have held their title. There were a lot of things going on in that fight and I think I dealt with them well. I try not to let anything get to me too much. A fight is a fight whether there are five people watching or a million people watching. I always fight the same way and really try to make sure I can get that win and keep it entertaining and have fun while I'm doing it.”

The bout itself was really a tale of two stories, in which the first ended at the start of the second round. The initial five minutes were competitive, with the bigger, seemingly more powerful, former United States Marine Carmouche trying to push the action against the fence, where Kaufman can’t work her never-ending punch combinations as well. For Kaufman, the opening period was part of a feeling out process to test how she could handle Carmouche’s strength and both she and her heralded coaches liked that answer. Once the second round began, Kaufman raised the intensity, poured on her characteristic standup barrage, and clearly won the later rounds.

“I think my coach Adam Zugec and Greg Jackson were saying to me in the corner that this is really the time that I can let loose,” remembers Kaufman. “Knowing that I have the conditioning and cardio to push that pace and knowing how the first round went and how she wasn't overpowering me and knowing that I was able to open up more and land harder shots and not be as concerned about getting stalled on the cage. I'm always happy with a win. I always want a knockout or a submission if it is there. Preferably, I would rather punch into submission than go for something else. I would have liked to have had a finish. I would have liked to have opened up even more than I did. Sometimes in my head, I'm opening up more than I am, so I have been really working on that. I really don't think I've hit someone with my full power yet. That's something I want to do in this upcoming fight.”

Up next for Kaufman is a chance to return to title contention in a number one contender matchup against Alexis Davis. On the undercard of the highly anticipated championship bout between challenger “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey and current belt owner Miesha “Takedown” Tate, the top ranked Canadian duo of Kaufman and Davis will square off to decide who will get first crack at the winner of the main event. The well-rounded 11-4 Davis is far from unfamiliar to Kaufman, as the two fought roughly five years prior and Kaufman walked away the victor via ground and pound in the third. There is great potential for fireworks from these two because of their history, the opportunity this win will bring, and their desire to come forward looking to scrap.

“In the first fight with Alexis, I had only a couple fights and that was her first fight, and she's game and she's been game since our first fight,” says Kaufman. “When you look at her last fight with Amanda Nunes, she took some really hard shots and she'll keep coming forward. That's exciting to me. I'm looking at this fight like she's going to come to fight, and I'll be upset if she doesn't. I'm looking at this fight like Alexis is tough, she is willing to throw strikes to get to where she wants to be, and I just want to keep striking on the feet or on the ground - I don't care where it is. I like the thought of having a fight like that and having a fight that fans will hopefully be able to say that was awesome, explosive, and exciting, and that these are the girls that should be fighting for the title. The title fight could be great or it could be a grinder, with Ronda in question and not a lot of technical striking between the two of them. I am interested in seeing what happens in that fight, but I would love for our fight to overshadow them.”

In preparation for Davis, the 26-year old is busy training at the previously mentioned ZUMA gym under the tutelage of the owner and head instructor Zugec. It is probably easier to mention what martial arts Zugec hasn’t studied, as he has traveled and trained under the legendary likes of many, including Erik Paulson and the Machado brothers. Kaufman has been a fixture at ZUMA since its inception when she was 17 and she currently works there as an instructor. Kaufman is also a member of Team Jackson, and she often trains with Julie Kedzie, who fought Davis last July. So if one strategic MMA mind wasn’t enough, Kaufman has both Zugec and Jackson working together in her corner, but, naturally, the presiding voice is that of her longtime mentor.

“Adam doesn't have to yell as much as some other coaches do because we understand each other,” asserts Kaufman. “I understand what he wants from me and he understands what I'm trying to do. If he sees something in particular that I need to throw because she's open for it, then he'll call that out and I'll try to do it right away because that's the time to do it. I am thinking about what I'm throwing, but I always want to keep that pace up as long as I'm feeling good. I like to throw combinations and I like to let loose, and in doing that I like getting hit. It's fun getting hit and hitting people back, seeing how they react. I love seeing people start to break and start to get mentally tired because I know that I can keep going and I know that they can't. That's what really fuels me to really let loose and really open up. I want to go back to those earlier fights like against Alexis, where I threw something like 27 punches without her really throwing anything in return. I need to get back to that. I need to put even more pressure on. I think I may have some surprises coming into this fight in how I'm going to be fighting. I think the big difference in this fight is that I know Alexis is going to come to trade some strikes. That in itself will give me the opportunity to showcase what I'm really good at and what has gotten me this far.”

On March 3rd in Columbus, Ohio, the former champ will come forward throwing strikes with her sights set on the surging Davis and another shot at the bantamweight crown. “Fans need to make sure they are watching Showtime Extreme so they are watching this fight live because it is a fight they are not going to want to miss live,” declares Kaufman, who wants to emphatically end Davis’ Strikeforce winning streak and, once again, earn herself that spot at the top of the mountain. “It's going to have a lot of back and forth action, and I will be looking for that knockout - on the feet or on the ground. That's what I want to give the fans, that's what I want to say about this title shot, and I want it to make a statement.”

If on Saturday night, Kaufman goes 15-1 with 11 TKOs, then whoever wins between Rousey and Tate better start working on a real solid plan because Kaufman's punches are coming for their mouth next. 

32 Competitors Announced For The Ultimate Fighter Live

First of Two 13-Week Seasons This Year on FX
Special Premiere Event to Showcase 16 LIVE Fights
Dominick Cruz, Urijah Faber Named Coaches

LOS ANGELES (Feb. 27, 2012) – A talented international field of 32 confident, dedicated and determined fighters has been set for THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER® LIVE on FX that begins on Friday, March 9, with a special two-and-a-half-hour LIVE premiere airing at 9 PM ET/8 PM CT, and tape delayed on the Pacific and Mountain time zones at 9 PM PT/10 PM MT.

The list of finalists was trimmed from more than 500 prospective entrants from around the world.Those seeking to cash in on the opportunity of a lifetime include fighters in the lightweight (155
pounds) division from the United States, England, Northern Ireland and Brazil.

The inaugural season of THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER LIVE on FX will run for 13 consecutive weeks, featuring live fights every episode, and culminate with a championship fight on June 1, in a three-hour finale. Following the eagerly anticipated premiere on its new home, the series will remain on Fridays but move to 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) for 12 weeks. (Telecasts of TUF Live will air live nationally on DirecTV ch. 248 and DISH-Channel ch. 136.)

As part of The Ultimate Fighting Championship®’s landmark deal with FOX Sports Media Group, FX will also televise a second 13-week season of THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER LIVE this summer. There will be two 13-week seasons of THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER LIVE on FX annually for the next seven years. The eventual winner of each season receives a six-figure contract from the UFC. The 13 weeks of taping are more than twice as long as previous TUF seasons (six).

Unlike past editions when each season was taped months in advance of its broadcast, new episodes with live fights will now air each week.

There will be 16 live fights on March 9. The competitors are:

Akbarh Arreloa, Chula Vista, Calif.
Al Iaquinta, Wantagh, N.Y.
Ali Maclean, Belfast, North Ireland
Andy Ogle, Tynemouth, England
Austin Lyons, Cordova, Tenn.
Brendan Weafer, New York, N.Y.
Chris Tickle, Bloomington, Ill.
Cody Pfister, Amarillo, Texas
Cristiano Marcello, Curitiba, Brazil
Chase Hackett, Littleton, Colo.
Chris Saunders, Long Beach, Calif.
Dakota Cochrane, Omaha, Neb.
Daron Cruickshank, Wayne, Mich.
Drew Dober, Omaha, Neb.
Erin Beach, San Diego, Calif.
James Krause, Blue Springs, MO
James Vick, Fort Worth, Texas
Jared Carlsten, Los Angeles, Calif.
Jeff Smith, Mechanicsburg, Penn.
Jeremy Larsen, Phoenix, Ariz.
Joe Proctor, Pembroke, Mass.
John Cofer, Hull, Ga.
Johnavan Vistante, Pearl City, Hawaii
Jon Tuck, Hagtna, Guam
Jordan Rinaldi, Matthews, N.C.
Justin Lawrence, Villa Ridge, Mo.
Mark Glover, Liverpool, England
Michael Chiesa, Spokane Valley, Wash.
Myles Jury, San Diego, Calif.
Mike Rio, Miami, Fla.
Sam Sicilia, Spokane Valley, Wash.
Vinc Pichel, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

The previously announced coaches for the two teams will be current UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and former WEC featherweight champion and current top contender, Urijah Faber. Cruz and Faber are no strangers to each other. The popular UFC superstars and rivals have split two previous fights and will clash for a third time at UFC 148 on July 7 in Las Vegas.

Following the live fights during the series premiere episode, or “Fight In,” the field will be halved. The 16 survivors will then be broken up into two teams of eight. Each team will train with each other and reside in a house together in Las Vegas for the duration of the season. One fighter from each team will be selected by their coach to fight at the end of each weekly installment on FX for the right to advance in the competition and, ultimately, perhaps, be crowned THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER LIVE Champion and earn the life-changing contract with the UFC.

Said UFC President Dana White, “We’re producing ground-breaking television with THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER LIVE and we can’t wait to kick this season off with FX. It’s going to be can’t-miss TV. Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber are two amazing guys who also happen to be two of the best fighters in the world. They genuinely dislike each other and I expect this to make for the best season yet.”

“We believe that Dana, (UFC Chairman) Lorenzo Fertitta and (Executive Producer) Craig Piligian have come up with exciting new changes to the format of THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER LIVE that will expand and grow the series,” said Chuck Saftler, Executive Vice President, FX Networks. “The fact that the fight at the end of every episode will now be televised live is certain to create a sense of urgency for UFC fans and will make the series even more compelling.”

Many of today’s most recognizable names in Mixed Martial Arts have emerged from the series’
previous incarnation, The Ultimate Fighter, including, among many others, Rashad Evans, Kenny Florian, Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar.

So who will be the first champion on THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER LIVE on FX? Stay tuned.

For more show information, bios, videos and photos, visit ultimatefighter.com.

Check out the ground-breaking Evolution spot
Watch the Heartbeat promo with Dana White
Watch the Miles Jury promo
Check out the Sam Sicilia spot



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