Thursday, May 31, 2012

The MMA Show Podcast: Cung Le, Patrick Cote, Jake Ellenberger, Shannon Knapp, Loretta Hunt

Photo courtesy

The MMA Show Podcast with Mauro Ranallo is back at it again with the latest and greatest in the world of mixed martial arts.
Today Ranallo will be joined by Cung Le, who will give his take on the switch of opponents from Rich Franklin to Patrick Cote at UFC 148.
Cote will then come on to give his take on the fight.
Also joining us is Jake Ellenberger, who fights Jake Martin Kampmann this Friday at The Ultimate Fighter: Live Finale.
Loretta Hunt will describe in detail the latest happenings with Jon Jones.
And Shannon Knapp of Invicta FC will stop by to give us the latest on the all-female MMA promotion.
NOTE: Mauro is out of town so this is a radio-only show today.
Click Here to LISTEN LIVE to The MMA Show Podcast at 2 – 3 pm EST
Click Here to download any previous episodes of The MMA Show Podcast with Mauro Ranallo

Sofie Bagherdai signs with XFC!

Sofia BagherdaiIt's true - female MMA fighter, Sofia Bagherdai, recently signed a long term deal to fight with Xtreme Fighting Championships (XFC). According to all reports, this is a move that will give the Wand Fight Team member a steady schedule of fights and an opportunity to face some of the best talent in Women’s MMA.

“I’m really excited to have added Sophia to our women’s division. We have been doing at least 1 female fight on our cards for a while now, and with our new additions, we will be able to start doing 2 women’s fights on some of our cards,” said XFC President, John Prisco. “Sophia had a tough fight in April, but I saw a lot of things to be excited about. She’s an aggressive striker, and she has a solid ground game as well. She is going to put on some great fights inside our XFC cage.”

It's obvious Prisco is a promoter who thinks outside of the box. In a time when most promoters where just thinking about presenting female MMA fights, the XFC was promoting them:

Bagherdai is now the second women’s competitor to sign with the promotion for a long term deal, this year. Heather Jo Clark, the other female fighter signed by XFC this year, will be fighting Bagherdai in her first fight with XFC. Clark is a fighter out of Jackson-Winklejohn’s gym. The two fighters have matching (4-2) records and will fight at XFC 18 at a catch weight of 120lb. on June 22nd in Nashville, TN.

“I’m excited for the national exposure, but most of all I’m excited on how much XFC focuses on their fighters,” said Bagherdai. “I know Heather Clark is a tough opponent, but I also know that everyone that steps in this promotions cage is a tough opponent. I train hard for every opponent, I am sure that Heather and I will put on a great fight for the fans.”

If you're a female MMA fighter who's looking to fight for a top promotion, XFC is actively seeking out top prospects in each weight class. For more information go to Official XFC. You can follow the promotion for daily updates on Facebook & Twitter (@OfficialXFC). XFC 18 is sponsored by ICRealTime Security Solutions, with the event shown live on HDNet from the Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee June 22, 2012.

Wombat Sports: Munah Holland versus Avery Vilche Goes Down June 30


Avery Vilche has an opportunity to crack into the top ten flyweights as she takes on #6 unified ranked Munah Holland at Cage Fury Fighting Championships in Atlantic City, NJ June 30.
Vilche (4-6) is a five year veteran who has wins over Sarah Maloy and Michelle Ould. She is coming off a submission win over Maria Andaverde, and looks to build her way back up the ladder.
Holland (4-1) is on a three fight win streak, coming off a massive KO win over top flyweight prospect Marianna Kheyfets at Bellator this past March. The New Jersey native will hope to make it four in a row.
CFFC will take place at Resorts Atlantic City June 30.

Healy-Hirota, Mein-Stinson, High-Moore Added to Strikeforce ‘Rockhold vs. Kennedy’ Card

Three new undercard contests have joined the fight bill for Strikeforce’s July 14 return to the Pacific Northwest.

Strikeforce “Rockhold vs. Kennedy” now features veteran Pat Healy, who faces Deep lightweight champion Mizuto Hirota. Canadian welterweight talent Jordan Mein will lock horns with Bellator vet Tyler Stinson, while onetime UFC competitor Jason High takes on American Kickboxing Academy representative Nate Moore.

The event takes place at the Rose Garden arena in Portland, Ore., and will be headlined by a titular middleweight title confrontation between Luke Rockhold and Tim Kennedy. The evening’s co-main event features a welterweight championship showdown between Tyron Woodley and Nate Marquardt and airs on Showtime immediately following the preliminary card broadcast on Showtime Extreme.

Healy, 28, rides a four-fight winning streak into his booking with Hirota. After submitting to a Josh Thomson rear-naked choke in 2010, “Bam Bam” posted consecutive decision victories over Lyle Beerbohm and Eric Wisely before closing out 2011 with a submission win over Venezuelan talent Maximo Blanco. Most recently, the Oregonian was victorious in his meeting with AMC Pankration product Caros Fodor, submitting “The Future” with an arm-triangle choke on March 3.

Hirota is perhaps best known for his match with Dream titlist Shinya Aoki on New Year’s Eve 2009, the result of which was a broken arm for the former Sengoku champ courtesy of an Aoki hammerlock. The 31-year-old returned to competition in August of last year, capturing the Deep lightweight title from Katsunori Kikuno before defending the belt successfully on Feb. 18 against Seichi Ikemoto.

One of Canada’s most promising talents, Mein had a six-fight winning streak derailed by Woodley in his most recent outing on Jan.7, falling to the former NCAA Division I wrestling All-American via unanimous decision. “Young Gun” owns 20 of his 24 career wins by either knockout or submission and holds notable wins over Evangelista Santos, Marius Zaromskis and Josh Burkman, among others.

Like his foe, Stinson also had a winning streak snapped in his last outing, as “The Evolution” dropped a split decision to Team Quest rep Tarec Saffiedine in January. Prior to that loss, the 26-year-old had won four straight fights, including a 15-second knockout of Eduardo Pamplona in his Strikeforce debut this past July.

Known as “The Kansas City Bandit,” High has racked up six consecutive wins since his one-fight UFC stint ended in a unanimous decision defeat to Charlie Brenneman. The 30-year-old competed thrice in 2011, topping Quinn Mulhern in June before outpointing Todd Moore in his last in-cage appearance this past September at Challengers 19.

Moore has won eight of his 10 pro outings but has not competed since knocking out Nathan Coy in January 2011. Prior to that win, Moore had split his first two trips to the Strikeforce cage, finishing Louis Taylor in his 2009 debut before falling by knockout to Saffiedine the following year.

Ben Fowlkes: The Life and Times of Drew Fickett

Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
May 30, 2012 - "I’ve made a lot of mistakes," Drew Fickett says of his 13-year career as a professional fighter. "I mean, a lot."

Coming from the man who once showed up to a fight drunk, who went to jail instead of to the landmark first season of The Ultimate Fighter reality TV series, who left the UFC on a win following a drunken incident at the Palms Casino, somehow even this feels like an understatement.

In a career that’s seen cage fights in both seedy bars and the Mandalay Bay, Fickett hasn’t just made the normal fighter mistakes -- he’s invented brand new ones. He’s proved to be as talented with self-sabotage as he is with rear-naked chokes. He’s beaten guys he had no business beating and lost to others who seemed hardly worth training for. He's been great and he’s been terrible, sometimes all in the same night. He’s done more damage to his own body and his own career than anyone else ever could, and he knows it. Truly, he does. But at 32 years old and with nearly 60 pro fights to his credit, what he doesn’t know is whether there’s still time to be great again, maybe make it last this time, maybe finally get out of his own way and find out how high he can climb if only he’d stop pulling himself back down at the most critical moments.
"I said this before and I still believe it now: a motivated Drew Fickett, training with the right camp and the right people around him, can be a world champion," says former manager Bryan Hamper. "He has some of the most raw talent in the sport of MMA. It’s just getting all of that to line up in the right way."

"Drew’s one of those guys who, when he’s in a good gym and he’s focused, he gives everybody a hard time," says longtime friend and current manager Jason Chambers. "When he’s not on the ball, he’s a completely different fighter."

It’s a description that Fickett doesn’t argue with. He’s the first to admit that he’s been "inconsistent" over the course of his career. Then again, he never expected this to turn into a career in the first place. He was just a kid who fell in love with the martial arts in the strip mall karate schools of Tucson, Ariz., then carried that same passion onto the high school wrestling mats as soon as he was old enough.

"I loved Steven Seagal movies, loved Van Damme movies. I was just a complete nerd about it," Fickett says. "I would do katas in my room by myself. While most kids were going to parties and doing normal stuff, I was pretending to be a samurai warrior. I didn’t have a girlfriend. I got good grades, but only because my parents told me that if I didn’t I couldn’t do karate and wrestling."

In high school, Fickett developed a reputation for his intensity and single-minded focus. He woke up early and ran to school so he could lift weights before class. He freaked out teammates and opponents alike by standing on the edge of the mats before matches, screaming and slapping his own face.

"I was kind of like Clay Guida, if Clay Guida took PCP," he says. "I didn’t have a girlfriend in high school, didn’t drink, didn’t do anything like that. I just lived, ate, and breathed wrestling and karate."

Of course, in the late ‘90s there was only so much a young man could do with that skill set. The UFC was still in its infancy, and the local MMA fights in Arizona’s Rage in the Cage circuit seemed more like a fun distraction than a viable career move.

"It wasn’t really a sport then. I mean, we got a couple bucks for it, but people would clown us for doing MMA. Like, you’re doing what? Cage fighting? What are you, Patrick Swayze from Roadhouse?"


The first time it occurred to Fickett that he might actually have a future in fighting was when he won a split decision over Dennis Hallman in 2003. It’s the win he still regards as his "greatest victory," mostly because he knows now, just as he knew then, that Hallman was, at least technically, the better fighter. Fickett had been watching him on grainy VHS videos for years by that point, and was awestruck by the opportunity to face him.

"I trained so hard for that fight, and then I met him and he was this great dude," Fickett says. "For three days before we fought, we were just all hanging out. We sat around the pool, drinking, picking up girls, and then we fought. It was great."

But Fickett has never been one to do anything halfway. Once he started drinking, he did it with the same extreme intensity that he did everything else. He drank between fights. He drank in the days leading up to them. He still racked up an impressive record in his first few years of competition, and he told himself that he had everything together.

In July of 2004, UFC president Dana White came to scout Fickett for an upcoming reality TV show that the organization was putting together. At a small event in Revere, Mass., Fickett fought and beat an inexperienced local kid by the name of Kenny Florian, and it looked like he was a lock for the new show.
But no, things can never be that easy. Not for Fickett.

"While they were filming the show, I was sitting in jail like an idiot. Kenny Florian and Diego [Sanchez] and Chris Leben got the good road. I got to go to jail for a couple months."

Bizarrely enough, it started over a free pizza. Or rather, it started over what was supposed to be a free pizza, according to a coupon that Fickett and a friend had, but which escalated into a silly and pointless argument over the phone when they called in to redeem it. You can imagine how this goes. Fickett calls and asks for his free pizza, but the guy on the other end isn’t so excited about delivering it. He gives Fickett some attitude. He feels pretty tough over the phone. The next thing he knows, Fickett is promising to come down there and hold the guy accountable for his words.

"I drove down there and kicked the door in, threw a computer on the ground, then I drove off in my truck," says Fickett. "They ended up arresting me for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for throwing the computer."

The charge got knocked down to a misdemeanor, but the ensuing legal trouble was enough to keep Fickett off the first season of the reality show, which former manager Hamper thinks might have been the perfect avenue for showcasing his personality to the world.

"He’s perfect for reality TV," Hamper says. "You don’t get a more real person than Drew. He tells you exactly what he’s thinking."

Even without the show to funnel him into the UFC, Fickett would make his Octagon debut in 2005, taking on Nick Diaz at UFC 51. By this point, Fickett had been a pro fighter for nearly six years. He had an impressive record of 24-2, and had all the makings of a future UFC star. Yet on the morning of the fight, Fickett woke in absolute terror.

"I was scared s---less, more of the UFC than Nick Diaz. When you have your first big fight and you walk into the Mandalay Bay and see ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley and Oscar de la Hoya on the rafters, you realize that you’re not fighting in Rage in the Cage in some cowboy bar anymore. I cried the entire day of the fight. I was completely mortified, completely scared."

Fickett lost a first-round TKO that night, but bounced back to win his next four fights, including a rear-naked choke finish of future welterweight contender Josh Koscheck at Ultimate Fight Night 2. He had his ups and downs in the UFC, but the last straw came after a win over Keita Nakamura in 2007, when he parted ways with the UFC following rumors of a drunken confrontation with a bouncer at the Palms. It wouldn’t be the last time alcohol abuse altered the direction of his career. Two years later Fickett showed up drunk for a Rage in the Cage fight with Shannon Ritch, leading to a last-minute cancellation that only furthered the damage to Fickett's reputation as the story spread on blogs and messageboards.

"Every problem I ever had was because of drinking," Fickett says now. "I’ve always had a problem with drinking. I’ve always had a problem with taking everything to the extreme."


If you want to know what Fickett’s capable of at his best, all you have to do is look at September 10, 2010. That’s when he entered the Shine Fights Lightweight Grand Prix -- a one-night, eight-man tournament with a $50,000 grand prize.

At the time, Fickett had just one win in his last six fights. He’d been knocked out four times in eight months during the worst losing streak of his career. If ever there was a fighter who seemed washed-up -- a victim of his own vices and self-destructive urges -- it was Fickett. The MMA world had written him off and left him for dead. What it didn’t realize was the Fickett still had some life left in him. All he needed was a reason to resurrect his own career, and the chance to make fifty grand in one night was that reason.

But really, it wasn’t the money Fickett was after. It was what the money could get him. If he had that much cash, Fickett thought, he might be able to gain custody of his daughter, who was then in the sole care of her mother.

"I thought, wow, I can go get my daughter back," Fickett says. "I didn’t think about anything else. I did nothing but train and live mixed martial arts. I didn’t know I was going to win the Shine tournament. I didn’t even think I was that good."

Three straight fights, three straight wins via choke. Fickett spent a combined eight-and-a-half minutes in the ring that night, beating fighters like Dennis Bermudez and Carlo Prater, both of whom would find their way into the UFC shortly thereafter. Fickett took the tournament title and the grand prize, declaring to the MMA world that he was officially "back." What he didn’t know was that, when it came to getting custody of his daughter, a little bit of money and one good night in the ring didn’t mean much to the courts.

"When I realized I could make all that money and still not get my daughter back, it crushed me," he says. Fickett would one more fight after that -- a quick armbar win over Matt Veach in which he admits he "kind of got lucky" -- and then lost his next four in a row.

When he talks about those losses now, including a TKO defeat against Jamie Varner earlier this year, the enthusiasm drains from his voice. He trained "pretty hard" for that fight he says. He had a "decent" fight camp. What he didn’t have was the same focus and drive he had when he thought that winning might reunite him with his daughter. What he didn’t appreciate right away was that his daughter didn’t need his $50,000 as much as she needed the same thing that he needed from himself.

"It’s not about the money, it’s about being a good, consistent person," Fickett says. "I thought, put that money in front of me and that’s it. I can get my life back. But it’s not about the money. I realized that. I think I’m ready for that now."


These days you can find Fickett in Florida, training with American Top Team and seeking treatment for alcoholism at an outpatient rehab center. He’s been sober for roughly four weeks now, according to Chambers, his current manager, who says Ficket needed "a come-to-Jesus moment."

"I think that’s what happened here a couple weeks ago," Chambers says. "Drew’s one of those guys that left the UFC on a win, which is very rare. Usually when that happens it’s a red flag that something happened. Usually it’s either you had some problems with Dana or you said something you shouldn’t have. In Drew’s case, it was that his drinking got out of control. He looks back on that now and realizes, this is a situation he needs to address in his life. We had a long talk about it a couple weeks ago. He’s at a point in his career where, he’s 32, he’s on a win now, and he needs to put together a nice streak and show some maturity, not only in his training, but also in his life."

He’s taken the first steps. He left Tucson, left his family and friends, and is trying to make a new start. After submitting Kevin Knabjian in March, he’s slated to fight Brazilian lightweight Jonata Noveas at a ShoFight event on June 16. If he can win that one, Chambers says, then maybe one or two more after that, who knows?

"I think he will get back in the UFC if he gets his life together and he stays the course," Chambers says. "If he stays sober and he’s focused like he’s really working hard to do now...absolutely, 100 percent I think he can do it."

Fickett refuses to spout off the cliche line about how he wouldn’t be in this sport if he didn’t think he could be a UFC champion. At the same time, he admits, he does want back in the UFC. He wants another shot against the best fighters in the world, and one more chance to see what he’s capable of when he’s not his own worst enemy.

"As long as I go out there and give it my best, and as long as I don’t lose because of some vice or some excuse or some failure of my soul, I’m golden," he says. "I can be happy with that."

Those who know him best don’t doubt it. Though Hamper hasn’t managed him for years, he still says he "thinks the world of Drew," and wants to see him get his life back together just as much as anyone.

"I truly believe he can [get back in the UFC], and with the right opportunity he will. That’s just the motivation a guy like Drew needs. You look at some of the big opportunities he’s had, like that Shine tournament and some of the other big fights he’s had, he rises to the occasion every time. I think for him it’s hard to get excited about fighting a journeyman on the small circuit, because there’s really no upside there. That’s hurt him sometimes. But when he gets a chance at something big, he rises to it."

The way Chambers sees it, those around Fickett have done everything they can. At some point it has to be his decision and his effort that gets him the rest of the way.

"He’s in a really good place in his life right now. You know, we’ve led this horse to water."

And Fickett? The guy who’s trained in top gyms and warehouses and backyards alike over the course of 13 years in this sport? Yes, he knows he’s made mistakes. More than his share, even. Maybe more than any pro fighter ought to be able to make and still haul himself back from the brink. But now that he’s likely closer to the end of his career than the beginning, what Fickett hopes is that those mistakes weren’t all for nothing, and that there’s still time to put his hard lessons to some good use.

"I’m not proud of the mistakes I’ve made, but I’m happy for them," he says. "I’ve learned so much from them, and I think I learned more even than some of the fighters who are at the top, all because of those mistakes. I can do this, man. I know I can."

Damon Martin: Rich Franklin vs. Damon Martin: Wanderlei Silva 2 Now Set as UFC 147 Main Event

Their first battle got Fight of the Night honors, so why not do it again?
With Vitor Belfort out of UFC 147 with a broken hand, Rich Franklin has agreed to step in and face Wanderlei Silva in the UFC 147 main event in Brazil on June 23.
The bout will be contested at a catchweight of 190 pounds according to UFC officials, who announced the new headliner on Wednesday. The fight will still be a five round main event.
Franklin and Silva first met at UFC 99 back in June 2009 with Franklin coming out on top by way of unanimous decision.
The compelling bout was awarded Fight of the Night honors, and both Franklin and Silva came to put on a show. They will try to duplicate that at UFC 147 in June.
Franklin has been out of action since last February, when he lost a decision to former UFC titleholder Forrest Griffin. He has since decided to make the move back down to 185 pounds, where he was once champion.
He was scheduled to face former Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le at UFC 148, but will opt instead to bump his fight date up a couple of weeks and face Silva at UFC 147.
The move for his fight two weeks earlier is likely what determined the 190-pound catchweight fight to prevent Franklin from having to cut a severe amount of weight outside of his training schedule that was originally geared towards July 7.
The UFC has yet to announced who will step in to face Cung Le on the UFC 148 card in July.
Silva vs. Franklin 2 now headlines the UFC 147 card taking place in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on June 23.

Follow @DamonMartin on Twitter or e-mail Damon Martin.
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UFC News and UFC Rumors, follow on Twitter and Facebook.

Damon Martin: Patrick Cote vs. Cung Le Now Set at UFC 148

Patrick Cote Drew McFedries UFC Fight Night 12
The Predator will hunt in the UFC once again.
Former middleweight contender Patrick Cote will be back in the UFC as he steps in to face Cung Le at UFC 148.
Several sources confirmed the bout to on Thursday. initially reported the switch.
Cote comes back to the UFC on a four-fight win streak and a serious determination to get back in the Octagon.
Following three consecutive losses in the UFC, Cote was released from the promotion and immediately the Canadian slugger started to work his way back to the Octagon.
Since that time he’s picked up four wins in a row including stoppages in his last two fights, and he’s made it very clear that he was looking for any opportunity to get back in the UFC and now he’s got it.
Cote will step in on just over one month’s notice to face Cung Le, who needed an opponent after Rich Franklin was yanked to go fight at UFC 147 in the main event against Wanderlei Silva.

Follow @DamonMartin on Twitter or e-mail Damon Martin.
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UFC News and UFC Rumors, follow on Twitter and Facebook.

From Casual to Unbreakable - Jake Ellenberger's Rise to the Top

"The guy is tough and I have a lot of respect for him, but when we fight on June 1, I’m not going to fight him with any respect." - Jake Ellenberger

UFC welterweight Jake Ellenberger
UFC welterweight Jake Ellenberger
Jake Ellenberger
is a top welterweight contender on the cusp of an extraordinary career. He’s evolved from good to great, and a chance at elite arrives on June 1 when he headlines his second consecutive UFC event against Martin Kampmann at The Palms in Las Vegas. A win may earn Ellenberger a shot at the title, and he knows he has it within him to be a champion. All he needed was reassurance from a champion in the game of life.

Jake and his twin brother Joe grew up like any ordinary kids in the suburbs of Omaha, Nebraska. As children they were a lot alike in addition to looking alike; Jake laughed when telling a story of how the brothers hated it when their mother dressed them exactly the same. The adolescent years brought divergent paths. Joe turned to wrestling and Jake to the park to showcase his skills on a skateboard. Watching Joe succeed – he went on to become a two-time Division II All-American wrestler at the University of Nebraska Kearney -- motivated Jake to keep up with the Joneses, or in this case the other Ellenberger.

“He was competing in wrestling when I started MMA and going to school at the same time; that’s when I walked on to the University of Nebraska at Omaha to wrestle,” Jake said. “My brother saw a lot more potential in me than I did. He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.”

Jake made the wrestling team at the college where he eventually became an assistant coach until the wrestling program was discontinued in 2011. But it was the United States Marine Corps that transformed Ellenberger from a freewheeling street kid to a man of mental toughness and discipline that, without him knowing, would lead him to his biggest of breakthroughs.

“When I first started fighting it was more of a hobby and I enjoyed it,” said Ellenberger, recalling a casual interest in a sport at the time not close to gaining traction in the mainstream.

Joe had bigger visions in mind. Seven years ago, Joe told Jake he’s the best welterweight in the world and he will be a champion. Jake considered it a pipe dream, but over time he learned it was possible, that he could actually do it. The notion was reinforced not far from where the brothers were born and raised. Ellenberger had dominated Diego Sanchez in the main event of the UFC’s debut on FUEL TV. But as Joe reminded Jake, the fight was three rounds, not two, so he pulled out a classic motivational speech, “You’ve got five minutes for the rest of your life.”

A right hand from Sanchez midway through round three that bloodied Ellenberger’s nose and a flurry of punches that came flying in his direction served as harsh reminders that success could be fleeting. What Ellenberger learned that night were certain X-factors the most brutal of training sessions cannot teach. Fighting is truly a game of mind over matter, and on June 1 in Las Vegas, Ellenberger has his showdown with Kampmann to be decided in five rounds or less. He saw “The Hitman” drop a close decision to Sanchez while sitting ringside. On the tube, he watched Kampmann do what Sanchez nearly did to him, as the Denmark native locked in a guillotine choke with 48 seconds left in the fight to shock Thiago Alves two months ago.

“He’s always dangerous,” Ellenberger said. “The guy is tough and I have a lot of respect for him, but when we fight on June 1, I’m not going to fight him with any respect. I’m looking forward to introducing myself.”

The winner may end up being introduced as the next No. 1 contender at 170 pounds. Awaiting battle is champion Georges St-Pierre, unbeaten in the last four-and-a-half years but rehabbing a torn ACL, and interim champ Carlos Condit. If St-Pierre is fit, the two are expected to meet late this year. If not, Condit will need an opponent, and Ellenberger could be in position to stake his claim. In his career, Ellenberger holds wins over Sanchez, Jake Shields, John Howard and Mike Pyle. A high caliber level of competition boosted the credentials of Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson to where it led both to a title reign. The scuttlebutt among fans and media has suggested that Ellenberger will be the rightful top contender if he gets past Kampmann. Normally loquacious and outgoing, Ellenberger is refusing to engage.

“I don’t really care, to be honest,” Ellenberger said. “Right now it doesn’t matter. I haven’t been thinking about anything other than Martin Kampmann. The only thing that matters is this fight. I have to prove again that I’m a contender for this title. I can only control what I can control, but I haven’t looked past Kampmann at all. I can’t get complacent. He’s always dangerous and a skilled fighter. I can’t take him lightly.”

The last time Ellenberger lost a fight was three years ago, when an injury to Chris Lytle created his debut UFC bout against Condit, a former WEC champion brought into the parent promotion once Zuffa dissolved the WEC welterweight division. The fight went the distance and Condit was awarded the second and third rounds to escape with a split decision win. Six consecutive victories later, Ellenberger has dramatically improved, and that’s a scary thought. He’s more mature mentally, refined technically and smarter in training, all of which is derived from working with top middleweight contender Mark Munoz, a former NCAA champion, Reign Training Center teammate and one of the top wrestlers on the planet.

Most of all, Ellenberger is hungry for another chance at Condit, who ironically five months before squeaking by Ellenberger lost a razor-thin split decision to Kampmann. But Ellenberger’s recent run has validated his nickname “The Juggernaut.” His brother Joe has forged a heart and mind fit for a fighter, leaving no doubt about what he can accomplish, whether it’s Condit or anyone standing opposite him inside the Octagon.

It’s just that loss, that one damning, gut-wrenching loss to Condit, which still cuts deep.

“I can beat that guy. I can beat him. I know I can beat him,” Ellenberger said. “It’s very motivating. It makes me more hungry. [Winning the Kampmann] fight gets me one step closer to that title shot and becoming a world champion, which is really the only reason why I’m in this sport.”

It wasn’t only genetics that got Ellenberger to this point. Joe Ellenberger’s influence and inspiration has made Jake believe in himself and his potential. Joe’s battle with Paroxysmol Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria (PNH) is well documented. Joe receives blood transfusions every two weeks to manage his condition. He not only copes, he lives. Joe won his last MMA fight with a rear-naked choke in the third round to move to 13-1. He will again corner his twin for the Kampmann fight. He’s feeling good, just bought a house and expecting his first child in September.

“It’s hard to put into words,” Jake said. “How he’s dealing with it, it’s changed my life. Fighting has become more than a passion, kind of a fuel to the fire of becoming a world champ. He’s always believed in me, telling me ‘I told you so.’ When you have a twin brother you always have a friend around.

“It’s not so much what happens to you, but how you deal with it. When he first got diagnosed it was obviously hard for us, but just to see the way he deals with that … he loves his life and wouldn’t change a thing for anything. He’s always like, ‘I can beat this.’ He’s probably, mentally, the toughest guy I’ve ever met and ever seen. To see how he deals with a lot of things has put a stamp on that claim.”

Jake was quick to add that if given the choice to trade places he’d do it in “a blink.” Joe, though, insists that Jake be comfortable in his own skin. His flesh is one win from a possible chance at gold. His spirit is centered to where confidence is unshakeable and resolve is unbreakable.

“Fighting is a small part of your life,” Jake said. “Right now it’s obviously consumed a lot of my life, but in the big scheme of things it’s really not. Everybody is going to have fights in their life. When character comes out in adversity, you can handle anything in life.”

Jordan Newmark: Kampmann Motivated to Finish Ellenberger Friday

"They're not going to see a judges’ decision because I'm going to finish this fight." - Martin Kampmann

UFC welterweight Martin Kampmann
UFC welterweight Martin Kampmann
Long live the five round main event.

From a UFC fan’s perspective, the only tangible difference between a title fight and a non-title fight is a possible 10 more minutes of top-tier talent tussling. Thankfully, last year a new edict was enacted: all headlining bouts could be of the 25 minute variety, allowing elite level fighters to compete in those “championship rounds” regardless of whether any gold is on the line. Even with the current quagmire circling the welterweight belt, the UFC faithful are not left in the lurch waiting to see the best battle the best in these extended contests.

While 170 pound diehards must wait for UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre to heal up for UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit, two equally impressive divisional duelists - Martin “The Hitman” Kampmann and Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger - prepare for a potential five round war at The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale that should satisfy those ravenous masses.

“I've been working hard on my cardio to get ready for five rounds,” tells Kampmann. “Five rounds is a lot more than three rounds. It's 10 more minutes to go at it, to get more bruised up and banged up, and two more rounds I have to get in shape for. I've been working hard and working my ass off to get ready to go in there and beat up Jake Ellenberger.”

For the Danish striker turned all-around threat, the additional two rounds are as much a boon for Kampmann as they are for the frenzied fans in attendance. In back-to-back bouts, he saw the judges turn in scorecards in favor of his opponent (Jake Shields, Diego Sanchez) much to the dismay of Kampmann as well as many Octagon spectators. Giving an accomplished finisher (14 of his 19 wins) like him ten more minutes to work his fight ending magic will almost ensure a night without a judge’s intervention. Regardless of the amount of rounds or checkered decisions, Kampmann is working to end fights with time still on the clock in the first round or the last.

“When I was going into the last fight I was only thinking about Thiago Alves,” tells Kampmann. “That was my concern. That being said, I'm going in there to finish fights. I'm tired of going to judges decisions because judges don't seem to see things my way. That's the past. I come in to finish fights. I'm not there to go to a judges’ decision. I wanted to finish Thiago Alves and I did. I want to finish Jake Ellenberger as well.”

At 30 years old, the veteran of 14 tangles inside the Octagon scored arguably the biggest victory of his career in Kampmann’s Submission of the Night win over Thiago Alves at UFC on FX in March. In front of an absolutely crazy Australian audience, Kampmann went back and forth with Alves for nearly three full rounds of closely contested action. Much to the delight of the fans, the two known strikers felt comfortable trading fists and feet for the majority of the fight. But it was the underrated ground game of Kampmann that secured the bout-stopping guillotine choke with less than a minute left in the final round.

“I'll be honest, I felt like I was behind a little bit,” divulges Kampmann. “I couldn't find my rhythm in the second round. In the first round, I felt good. He got a takedown on me, but I took him down twice too and hurt him with a front kick. The second round, I couldn't really find my rhythm and he was getting the better of some of the exchanges. I felt I was probably behind and I needed to go for the finish. He shot in earlier in the third round where I could have gone for a guillotine as well, but I didn't go for it. At the end of the round, I had the opportunity again and I went for it because I wanted to finish it. I saw the opportunity was right there, so I took it.”

The bonus earning win increased Kampmann’s powerful professional record to 19-5, but the Denmark native is far from satisfied. “I was a little disappointed with my performance actually because I thought I could have fought better,” admits Kampmann who is on a two fight winning streak for the fourth time in his nearly six years within the UFC. “But I was happy I got the win. It made me even hungrier to come back and work even harder and get my focus back, so I could fight even better because the UFC has done nothing but the best for me. I want to come back in this next fight and show them that that was only the tip of the iceberg.”

The next opportunity for Kampmann to wow the ever expanding UFC community is against burgeoning knockout artist Ellenberger at the TUF 15 Finale. The Nebraskan stormed the welterweight ranks with a hotly disputed split decision loss against now interim champ Condit in September of 2009. Since, Ellenberger has enjoyed a six fight winning streak, including back-to-back bonus winning performances in his last two Octagon outings: Fight of the Night with Sanchez and Knockout of the Night over Shields. Ellenberger is a tough test, but the outcome is clear to Kampmann: “He's got heavy hands and good wrestling, but he's definitely beatable and I'm going to beat him June 1st.”

A 25 minute bout being new ground for both fighters isn’t the only thing Kampmann and Ellenberger have in common: four former opponents. “Of course, I've watched his fights and I've got losses against some guys he has wins on, and he's got losses from guys I have wins on,” states Kampmann, about his wins over Condit and Rick Story and his losses to Shields and Sanchez. Ellenberger’s record is vice versa. “Those past fights are in the past, so it doesn't really matter. I've improved since those fights and I'm sure he's improved since them too. I'm focused on beating Ellenberger.”

To get ready, Kampmann is busy preparing in his adopted home of Las Vegas, Nevada. Since nearly Day One in the US, he has trained and continues to train at Xtreme Couture with Jay Hieron, Mike Pyle, and the rest of the highly-regarded pros in Randy Couture’s gym. Like everyone on the roster, Kampmann’s goals in the UFC are a title shot and to be dangerous in all aspects of MMA. He has always been known as a deadly striker with slick submissions, but Kampmann has put the work into shoring up the one hole in his game: wrestling.

“When I first got to the US, I felt like my wrestling was lacking,” tells Kampmann. “What a lot of the European fighters are lacking are their wrestling. It's something I've really worked on and it's paid off because I feel like my wrestling has gotten a lot better. I feel very confident in my wrestling skills. When you're in a division with a lot of wrestlers, you have to be able to wrestle. It's a change I've made. In some of my past fights, I've fought wrestlers and I've taken them down. I feel like the hard work has paid off, but it's still a work in progress. I feel like if you stop improving then you get left behind, so every day I try to improve and get better.”

As he enters the cage for his fourth UFC main event fight, it’s incredible to think that Kampmann got his start inside the Octagon almost by chance in the Summer of 2006. Back then, Kampmann was an engineering student in Denmark with an 8-1 pro record who took a trip to “Sin City” to visit Xtreme Couture teammate Pyle with the hope of fighting in a local MMA show in the US. He got a bout with the World Fighting Alliance, won via TKO in the first, and received a surprising call from the UFC to fight Crafton Wallace the next month at UFC Fight Night 6. All these years later, the Dane is a proud member of the steadily growing international framework of the UFC and is excited to see where it goes next.

“I love the evolution,” says Kampmann. “I love that the sport is only getting bigger and bigger. I love that it is international and giving us the opportunities to fight in a lot of places I wouldn't have gone before. I love to travel and see other places. It's helping the sport grow back home. They just had a show in Sweden, which is close to my home in Denmark. Hopefully, they will have a show in Denmark eventually too. I would love to see the sport grow in Denmark and get bigger. I'm not just a fighter and competitor; I'm a fan of the sport as well.”

On June 1st at The Palms in Las Vegas, “The Hitman” looks to literally stop “The Juggernaut”. “They're not going to see a judges’ decision because I'm going to finish this fight,” affirms Kampmann, who is looking to end fights on his terms. “They're going to see Jake Ellenberger get beat up and get finished. I'm beating up Jake Ellenberger and I'm fighting for the title because that's my goal.”

Belt or no belt, the five round main event affords fighters more chances for a fantastic finish, which is the best news for fight fans. 

Tito Ortiz Cooking Up a Storm Before Farewell Fight

Read on for the latest installment in's weekly series of articles on proper nutrition from the biggest names in mixed martial arts...this week, former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz
A UFC headliner for much of his career, Tito Ortiz typically fights between the hours of 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. at night, making him notoriously and necessarily a nocturnal creature. The Huntington Beach, Calif., native goes to bed around 3 a.m. most nights and rises the following afternoon. So a midnight interview about his diet is pretty much child’s play to the Huntington Beach, Calif., native. Fresh off a 3-mile run in Big Bear, Calif., and a late-night dinner, the 15-year vet graciously shared his views on nutrition and talked briefly about his looming retirement bout against Forrest Griffin at UFC 148.

Curreri: A day in the eating life of the Tito Ortiz … what is that look like?
Ortiz: I wake up and have a protein shake about 9:30 in the morning. I’ll also have a little small meal with carbs. Then I go back to sleep and wake up about 12 O’clock and start my training. Then after training I’ll have another meal with high carbs and protein. I don’t eat fried foods, I don’t drink sodas, no fast food at all, no ice cream. I eat a lot of greens. I do a lot of juicing – about three times a day.

I don’t eat as much as I want, I don’t stuff myself, but I eat until I’m full. I eat whenever I’m hungry. My problem is that sometimes I don’t feel hungry and I won’t eat. So I have to force myself because I’m burning so many calories a day. I have to eat at least 4,000 a calories just to keep my weight on. Especially up here at Big Bear, which is 7,000 feet altitude. You can dehydrate really quick, when you’re at altitude you burn calories really fast, so I have to make sure I drink a lot of water.

If I want dessert I’ll eat a protein shake and throw some peanut butter in there. My company, Punishment Athletics, has a supplement line so I use that protein since it has virtually no sugar at all.

(Side note: Ortiz said that for this particular camp he practices wrestling five days a week; a lot more than usual).

Curreri: You’ve been in the game a long time. When did eating clean become a big deal to you?

Ortiz: It started when I was a high school wrestler cutting weight. My mom would make rice, cheese and beans … so I started making my own food: White rice, brown rice, broiled chicken … nothing fried at all. My mom was like, ‘What are you doing weirdo.’ I’m like, ‘I gotta cut weight.’

It’s just been a lot of trial and error to find out what your body burns and what works for you. I’ve read books, watched television, during college and researched it on the Internet. To me, sushi is the best energy food on the market. I also learned that a lot of good energy comes from juicing. I use the Jack Lalanne juicer and mix spinach, carrots, celery, garlic, ginger, apple and lemon. I drink 32 ounces, three times a day. It burns all of the fat out of my body and I lean out really quick. I think people will notice a difference in this fight, versus my last three fights, as to how lean I will be. That’s because I haven’t trained at Big Bear (during the prior) 18 months … I was training at home. But here in Big Bear I’m a lot more focused. I live what I’m doing. I get up, I train, I eat and I rest. Train, eat, rest. Train, eat, rest. That’s all I do.

Curreri: Does it matter to you whether your food is organic or not?

Ortiz: No. Some people are worried about that and they can’t handle some of the pesticides on the vegetables. But my immune system is very strong and I’ve built a tolerance to a lot of things. As long as I’m using the juicer, I don’t get sick. The last time I was sick was 14 months ago. I just eat so clean and the juicing really cleans your system.

I’ve watched a lot of cooking shows on television, how they would cook things. I learned from Jack Lalanne the importance of juicing and, why overcook foods and not put the nutrients in your body that it needs? My metabolism doesn’t work as fast as it used to, being 37 years old, so I’ve made sure to watch what I eat.

It really comes to America: In America we live on fast food. Now, you can go to fast food restaurants but you have to eat clean. Don’t eat fried foods. Don’t eat cheese or white bread. Don’t drink sodas. Instead of sodas or lemonade, drink water. After 8 p.m. I don’t eat any carbs. My philosophy is, ‘The greener the food, the better.’ And I don’t overcook my food.

Even with my kids – candy for them is fruit. I’ll give them mango, strawberry, pineapple. That’s candy to them.

Curreri: What weight do you normally walk at?
Ortiz: Normally 236. But last year I got up to 247 and that’s the heaviest I’d ever been. Maybe it was a mixture of being a little lazy, having surgeries and not doing all the road work I normally do. I used to run four miles a day. But now I’m eating very clean and running three miles a day. This fight against Forrest is very serious to me. So I’m doing the road work again, training at Big Bear, and I walk around right now at 225. I’m strong – my abs are back! I’ll be shredded. I might even be 205 on the scales, which is a little light for me. When I fought (Antonio Rogerio “Little Nog”) Nogueira, I dropped from 232 to 206 in two days and I thought I was going to die. I was unprepared for the fight and I won’t let that happen again. I just got too comfortable at home with my family and my kids. But when I keep my mind focused like I’m doing now, it shows when I fight. That’s why I came back to Big Bear for this fight. All I do is watch Forrest’s (fight) tapes, watch every little move he makes. I eat the right things and I train. I want to make sure that after 15 years I get my hand raised and walk away a winner.

Curreri: Do you cook much?
Ortiz: I prepare my meals myself. I’m big into cooking. I grew up cooking for myself. When I was 18 I got put out on my own. My stepfather gave me $800 and said, ‘Here, it’s time to be a man.’ I lived on Top Ramen and water for the first three years, I think. But I learned how to cook. Watching “The Cooking Channel” helped out a lot. I still watch it all the time and I love it. Chef Gordon Ramsey – I’m a huge, huge fan of his. He’s an amazing cook. I’ve met him on a couple of occasions and he’s a great guy and a really, really good cook. I pay attention (to his recipes) for pastas, spaghettis, enchiladas, which are really clean and flavorful. My girlfriend, Jenna (Jameson), she loves when I cook. Just reach into the refrigerator and give me four things and I’ll make something out of it.

Curreri: What is your go-to meal?

Ortiz: If I’m in training, I’ll probably go with some cod with brown rice, asparagus and I use light salt. I will use real butter, a little garlic salt, a little lime and cayenne pepper.

If I’m not training, I also make the most amazing root beer barbeque chicken … I have a recipe for that but I’m not going to tell you because then everyone will know.

Curreri: So we might look on grocery shelves some day and next to the Paul Newman line … see Tito Ortiz’s secret barbeque sauce?
Ortiz: Listen, this retirement for me, I’m just graduating with a masters in marketing, a masters in promotion and a masters in kicking a--. Now it’s time to move onto something new. I’ve always been big into charity and I’ve worked with the Wounded Warriors Foundation … so I plan on giving back. I’ve been to Iraq a number of times and I plan on visiting a bunch of Army bases, too.

Curreri: Last question: What will be the last supper of Tito Ortiz’s UFC career on Saturday, July 7?
Ortiz: It will be the same as it always is: I’m going to hit my favorite sushi spot and eat as much salmon and sushi and white rice as I possibly can. White rice just because it’s high in starch and energy and my body burns it really fast. 

Thomas Gerbasi: Is Max Holloway Hawaii's Next Big Thing?

"The big difference is that I know what to expect now." - Max Holloway

UFC featherweight Max Holloway
UFC featherweight Max Holloway
At 20 years old, Max Holloway isn’t just the youngest fighter currently competing in the UFC; he’s also a father and husband. So you’ve got to excuse him if he didn’t know too much about Dustin Poirier when he got a call from his manager, informing him that he was going to be facing the featherweight contender in his UFC debut in February.

“I thought my manager was lying to me,” recalled Holloway. “He said ‘hey bud, we got an offer.’ I said where? ‘The UFC.’ No way.”

But there was a catch.

“‘The catch is that it’s at ’45 and it’s against Poirier,’” the manager told Holloway, who had previously competed at lightweight. But he didn’t care. This was the UFC, and he was going to fight this Poirier guy, no matter who he was.

“At the time, no disrespect to Poirier, but I didn’t really know who he was at the time just because I wasn’t really following the featherweights in the UFC or even the WEC,” he said. “The only guys I knew were the ones fighting for the title, like Jose Aldo.”

Then he investigated his new opponent and found out that Poirier wasn’t a prospect on the way up like he was. The Louisianan was a seasoned vet on his way to a title shot. It still didn’t matter to Holloway.

“I didn’t once question myself. I instantly thought, ‘wow, I could be in the top ten after this fight.’”

With an attitude like that, you can probably guess where Max Holloway calls home. Yes, he’s from Hawaii, and if you’ve ever dealt with someone from the island, you’ll know that there are fighters and there are Hawaiian fighters.

“The mindset of a lot of the Hawaiian guys, and my mindset, is that we just want to be the best, and the saying is to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best, and that’s just what I plan on doing,” said Holloway, who didn’t beat Poirier at UFC 143 in Las Vegas, getting submitted in the first round, but he did come to fight, earning a measure of respect and a call back for a main card fight this Friday against Pat Schilling.

“My confidence is still high after that fight,” said Holloway, now 4-1. “I think I proved that I could stand with a pretty high ranked guy in the striking area, and now we’ve got to just touch up my ground. The big difference is that I know what to expect now. The first fight, going against a guy like Poirier, who was ranked four or five in the world at the time, my eyes went big and I got that fight. I was like ‘oh man, I’m in the UFC,’ and everything was ‘let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.’ Even when I fought him, you could probably see that my gas pedal was down and I was going like 120 in there. This time, I’m feeling more relaxed, I know how the energy’s gonna feel now, so hopefully there will be a better outcome.”

That’s not the maturity you expect from a typical 20-year old, but Holloway sets the bar high when it comes to that department. And while marriage and fatherhood will undoubtedly speed up the maturing process, he also looks to his faith to keep him grounded.

“I believe in the man above, and he won’t put anything on your table that you won’t be able to handle, so I feel like with him leading the way that everything is possible,” said Holloway. “It (his faith) keeps me leveled. Some people hit fame and they just go crazy with it. They lose control and they lose their mind and they can’t focus anymore. I like to think I’m just another guy pursuing his dream.”

Holloway didn’t even participate in what was apparently the recreational sport of the majority of Hawaiian fighters, a little scrapping on the side while growing up.

“The side I’m from in Oahu, the Westside, we’re kinda looked down on by the community because every day there’s a fight in school and all that kind of stuff, but to be honest, I wasn’t really a fighter growing up,” he said. “I was the shy kid. My younger brother was the fighter; he was always fighting in school and stuff. I only got into one fight, in eighth grade, and after that I kinda had a clean slate.”

His extended family didn’t even believe him when he said he had started fighting, assuming it was his younger brother who had put on the gloves. But don’t mistake Holloway’s calm demeanor outside the Octagon for weakness inside it. He’s a fighter, and he sees his UFC career as a way to make a better life for his young family.

“You gotta grow up fast where I’m from,” he said. “You see things at a young age that most young people don’t see. I didn’t have a rough life growing up, but I saw what certain things did to certain people, and I always wanted to better myself.”

Now he’s in the UFC, and he knows what’s on the line this Friday.

“I’m 20 and I want to keep my job,” said Holloway. “I’m here to make fights happen and I’m here to make a big statement against Pat Schilling. I’m not taking nothing away from him, but I know that if I can beat him in a good fashion, it would be good for my career.”

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Babes of MMA: Jessamyn Duke's Latest Sexy Photo Shoot

Fighter Jessamyn "The Gun" Duke is back with another sexy photo shoot captured by Paul Goodman Photography. It was also recently announced that Jessamyn will also be making her professional MMA debut against Suzie Montero at Invicta FC 2 on July 28th in Kansas City, KS. For the latest on Jessamyn check out her Facebook and Twitter pages. 

Blugrass MMA: Jessamyn Duke to make Pro Debut at Invicta FC 2

Kentucky’s own MMA superstar Jessamyn Duke announced today on her Facebook page that it was official, she is going pro. Not only going pro but doing it on the stage that proved that women’s MMA could be a success.
Duke (5-2 Amateur, 0-0 Pro) will debut as part of the preliminary card of Invicta FC 2 on July 28th in Kansas City, Kansas at Memorial Hall. Duke stays in the bantamweight division as a pro and will face Suzie Montero (1-0 Pro) according to MMARising.Com.
Check out the tentative lineup for Invicta FC 2 after the break.

Invicta FC 2 Lineup – July 28th, 2012 Memorial Hall Kansas City, KS

- Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler (14-6-0) vs Sara McMann (5-0-0) [135 pounds]
- Alexis Davis (11-5-0) vs Hitomi “Girlfight Monster” Akano (18-9-0) [135 pounds]
- Liz “Girl-Rilla” Carmouche (6-2-0) vs Kaitlin Young (7-5-1) [135 pounds]
- Amanda “Lioness of the Ring” Nunes (6-2-0) vs Milana Dudieva (8-1-0) [135 pounds]
- Kelly “Blood Red” Kobold (18-3-1) vs Vanessa Porto (14-4-0) [135 pounds]
- Barb “Little Warrior” Honchak (5-2-0) vs Bethany Marshall (4-0-0) [125 pounds]
- Julia “The Jewel” Budd (2-2-0) vs Elina Nilsson (2-2-0) [145 pounds]
- Carla Esparza (6-2-0) vs Sarah “White Tiger” Schneider (6-5-0) [115 pounds]
- “South Valley’s Own” Angelica Chavez (4-1-0) vs Kikuyo Ishikawa (7-3-0) [105 pounds]
- Sarah “Cheesecake” Moras (2-0-0) vs Raquel “Rocky” Pennington (1-0-0) [135 pounds]
- Jessamyn “The Gun” Duke (5-2-0 AM) vs Suzie Montero (1-0-0) [135 pounds]
- Jocelyn “Lights Out” Lybarger (4-2-0 AM) vs Cheryl Chan (6-2-0 AM) [125 pounds]
- Jessica Philippus (7-1-0 AM) vs “Lightning” Liz McCarthy (6-0-0 AM) [105 pounds]

Tony Reid: Rattling the Cage: An Interview with Greg Jackson

Tony Reid-So how did you go from the “kicking tree” in your backyard to building one of, if not the, most elite, successful gyms in all of MMA?

Greg Jackson-That is a very good question. I guess a lot of luck. I was very lucky to be able to work with a number of amazing fighters from the bare knuckle era, the early Grapplers Quest days, the King of the Cage and of course the UFC. I was surrounded by a number of great athletes and coaches and I was in the right place at the right time.Tony Reid-So how did you go from the “kicking tree” in your backyard to building one of, if not the, most elite, successful gyms in all of MMA?

Tony Reid-You began studying martial arts while growing up in a tough neighborhood in Albuquerque, NM. What disciplines did you study early on?

Greg Jackson-Martial Arts for me were always a tool to survive. I always say that I didn’t watch a Bruce Lee movie and get inspired; I just didn’t want to get beat up. That was my motivation to begin training. I got good at defending myself and other people wanted to know how I was doing what I was doing. I opened my first school at 17 to teach my friends and other people that were interested in defending thems
elves the way I was and it just snowballed from there.
Tony Reid-What were your thoughts when you watched UFC 1 and Royce Gracie/Gracie Jiu Jitsu? How did that event inspire you?
Greg Jackson-The members of the Gracie Family are just true innovators. They are amazing people. They were PhDs and I was in kindergarten. I had to work to catch up. It has been one of the great treats of my life to be able to meet some of my heroes like Renzo and Royce and other great guys that helped shape an art that we all do now.
Tony Reid-You have developed 10 plus world champions on the biggest stages of the sport, your gym and name are known around the world, so what is your proudest moment as a coach/trainer?
Greg Jackson-There have been so many thousands and thousands of moments it’s too hard to pick one. I think that I’m just proud to be associated with them (the fighters). I’m proud I get to do what I love and help my friends out.
Tony Reid-With all the success comes scrutiny, whether it comes from fans, fighters or even the UFC brass. How do you handle the negativity thrown your way and being under a microscope all the time? It seems like every action, every word gets international attention.
Greg Jackson-The whole thing is just kind of silly to me. The people that say those things don’t know me. Fame is a weird thing, not that I’m famous at all really but it’s an odd thing because what you have are people that are experts on you that don’t really know you. I never take it too personally unless its one of my friends, when it was Rashad (Evans) that was very hard. Overall most of the stuff they say isn’t true so it doesn’t really bother me. With any kind of success you are going to get that stuff. It has its job, it entertains people. If you are entertained by hating me every morning, more power to you, get entertained.
Tony Reid-With many MMA gyms considering themselves a family, Jackson’s included, what was the most difficult aspect of the fallout between Jon Jones and Rashad Evans? Do you see a similar issue on the horizon with Carlos Condit and GSP? With what you have learned from that experience (Jones/Evans) that will help you avoid that type of situation in the future?
Greg Jackson-A lot of that situation was my fault. I didn’t have the proper protocols in place. In all the years I have been doing it, almost 20 years now, it had never happened. I should have had more foresight and put something together beforehand. It happened, we got through it and I still love Rashad to death. There is going to be no drama with Condit and GSP. They will fight and they will be friends afterward. We have put protocols in place so that situation will not happen again.
Tony Reid-When was the last time you were called GREGORY THOMAS JACKSON!
Greg Jackson-That would be my mother if I got in trouble as a kid. Its funny you say that because a lot of my cornering comes from my parents. My dad would never yell at me. My mom would yell and me and whack me. My dad would never yell. He would just treat you like you were a dumbass. “Here is what you did, here are the consequences…”I would rather he hit me (Laughs). I was lucky to have my parents and a lot of my cornering comes from them.
Tony Reid-You quote many historically significant leaders and influential people on a regular basis. What is your favorite quote?
Greg Jackson-There are so many great ones from so many people much smarter than me, to pick one it would be kind of a disservice to the others. I try to live by the motto of relentless improvement. I want to relentlessly try to improve myself every day.
Tony Reid-I read that you have said that MMA in general and the Octagon specifically are laboratories to you. Can you elaborate on that? What is working now and what s not working in the lab?
Greg Jackson-In the spirit of the arms race in which we all live, I can’t say exactly (laughs). That’s what’s fun about this. We have empirical data in the form of immediate feedback. We don’t have to wait or imagine what works and what doesn’t. In one on one combat we have this immediate feedback that makes it such an exciting time to be alive and be a martial artist. We have this huge arms race and all these brilliant minds working on this problem trying to figure out how we can get to be the absolute best in one on one combat. It’s just an amazing time to be alive
Tony Reid-What does being an artist mean to you?
Greg Jackson-There is a fighting art, there is a coaching art, and there is an art in everything you do if you do it well enough. The artist is to understand that what you are doing is part of a bigger picture of creativity, meaning that there are these ubiquitous principles that you see in music, dance, and architecture in everything. These principles govern all creativity, martial arts and combat included. I use Bach as an great example with the structures that Bach puts in his cannons the way he inverts them and flips them we do exactly that stuff in the martial arts. It’s not an analogy, where it’s this esoteric “be like water” thing; it’s exactly the same thing. I think that’s what makes art cool.
Tony Reid-You have so many interesting ideas, thoughts and beliefs that we would be hard pressed to cover 1% of them here but lets finish with your thoughts on “Ritualized Combat”.
Greg Jackson-There is inter and intra species combat. The culture gives us certain parameters or the environment gives us certain parameters. You have tools available and a problem to solve. With gladiatorial combat it’s a one on one ritualized combat. It’s like snakes wrestling. It’s non lethal. There are so many positive things to it. It makes you grow as a person, it gives you focus. It has all this intrinsic social value. It’s a part of what the martial arts is as long as you get the whole picture, as long as you aren’t just training to slug it out and you are on a path to something bigger. That is very important. So that ritualized combat has to encompass all those things that make competition great like being a good sport, pushing your body’s limits, all these things. It should also have some kind of social value to it. Because it’s ritualized, because all of these people come to see it. In Rome the gladiators used to fight to the death, sometimes. One of the aspects of that is that a Roman could learn to be brave by watching a person accept death and be brave about it. So Romans actually were learning how to be brave in the face of death by watching these gladiators accept death and be brave about it. Today, you get to watch how to be courageous, how to kick that gear in. That’s why people get so excited by exciting fights. They get inspired by it. So it has that social value and then the outside of the Octagon the training is keeping respect for the traditional martial arts alive, keeping all of these things alive is very important as well. So the ritualization of it is kind of a safe way to fight. As long as it brings this social value to the combat I think it’s a positive, effective social outlet and really helps society out in general. 

WMMA Today: Invicta FC 2 Lineup Complete with 13 Bouts

All 13-bouts for Invicta FC 2 have now been announced. Invicta’s second event takes place on July 28 at the Memorial Hall in Kansas City, KS and features a Bantamweight showdown between Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann (5-0) and seasoned submission ace Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler (14-6). The co-main event announced today also takes place in the Bantamweight division as Alexis Davis (11-5) faces off with Hitomi “Girlfight Monster” Akano (18-9).
Invicta FC 2 Full Fight Card
Bantamweight – Sara McMann (5-0) vs Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler (14-6)
Bantamweight – Alexis Davis (11-5) vs Hitomi “Girlfight Monster” Akano (18-9)
Bantamweight – Liz “Girl-Rilla” Carmouche (6-2) vs Kaitlin Young (7-5-1)
Bantamweight – Amanda “Lioness of the Ring” Nunes (6-2) vs Milana Dudieva (8-1)
Bantamweight – Kelly “Blood Red” Kobold (18-3-1) vs Vanessa Porto (14-4)
Flyweight – Barb “Little Warrior” Honchak (5-2) vs Bethany Marshall (4-0)
Featherweight – Julia “The Jewel” Budd (2-2) vs Elina Nilsson (2-2)
Strawweight – Carla Esparza (6-2) vs Sarah “White Tiger” Schneider (6-5)
Atomweight – “South Valley’s Own” Angelica Chavez (4-1) vs Kikuyo Ishikawa (7-3)
Bantamweight – Sarah “Cheesecake” Moras (2-0) vs Raquel “Rocky” Pennington (1-0)
Bantamweight – Jessamyn “The Gun” Duke (0-0) vs Suzie Montero (1-0)
Flyweight – Jocelyn “Lights Out” Lybarger (0-0) vs Cheryl Chan (0-0)
Atomweight – Jessica Philippus (0-0) vs “Lightning” Liz McCarthy (0-0)
*Rankings supplied by the Unified Women’s MMA Rankings.
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WMMA Today: Women’s Pro MMA Results for May

Jessica Aguilar defeats Megumi Fujii at Bellator 69

5-5 Kinberly Novaes defeats Jessica “Batstaka” Andrade via TKO at 4:42 of round 2 at Nitrix 11
5-6 Joanne Calderwood defeats Lena Ovchynnikova via Unanimous Decision at SFL 3
5-6 Melissa Steele defeats Katie Casimir via Unanimous Decision at LBFN 14
5-12 Sarah Alpar defeats Monica Lovato via Split Decision at KOTC: Nightmare
5-12 Women’s Fighting Championship 1
Stephanie Frausto defeats (Atom-10)Diana Rael via Armbar at 3:26 of round 1
Darla Harris defeats Stephanie Skinner via Unanimous Decision
5-12 Marta Chojnoska defeats Paulina Suska via Scarf Hold Armlock at :42 of round 1 at KSW 19
5-17 Fallon Fox defeats Elisha Helsper via TKO in round 1 at KOTC: Wild Card
5-18 (Stw-2)Jessica Aguilar defeats (Stw-1)Megumi Fujii via Unanimous Decision at Bellator 69
5-18 Meg Gallagher defeats Erin Nota via Unanimous Decision at King of the Cage 2
5-19 Joanna Jędrzejczyk defeats Sylwia Juśkiewicz via Unanimous Decision at MMA Fight Night Diva SPA
5-20 Pancrase Progress Tour 6
(Atom-3)Kikuyo Ishikawa defeats Shino VanHoose via Unanimous Decision
(Fea-5)Rin Nakai defeats Kyoko Kimura via Armbar at 4:32 of round 1
5-26 Julia Berezikova defeats Karla Benitez via Split Decision at Khabarovsk Mayor’s Cup
5-26 Jewels: 19th Ring
(Stw-3)Ayaka Hamasaki defeats (Stw-9)Yuka Tsuji via Kimura at 3:41 of round 1
(Atom-1)Naho Sugiyama defeats Yasuko Tamada via Majority Decision
Sadae “Manhoef” Suzumura defeats (Atom-9)Sachiko Yamamoto via Unanimous Decision
(Atom-8)Yukiko Seki defeats Yuko Kawabata via Unanimous Decision
Mika Nagano defeats Anna Saito via Armbar at 1:50 of round 1
Mayumi “Super Benkei” Aoki defeats Keiko Tomita via Armbar at 2:06 of round 1
(Atom)Atomweight, (Stw)Strawweight, (Fly)Flyweight, (Ban)Bantamweight, (Fea)Featherweight
**Rankings info supplied by the Unified Women’s MMA Rankings.

Wombat Sports: Fighters Talk Rosi Sexton vs. Ash “The Bash” Daly

What is a fight we have been wanting for years, two of Europe’s best flyweights will finally go at it live in Dublin, Ireland.
England’s best female fighter Rosi Sexton will take on Ireland’s Ash “The Bash” Daly in the semi-finals of the Cage Warriors flyweight tournament Saturday, which will stream live on
Sexton (12-2) has just celebrated her 10th year in MMA, only losing to Zoila Gurgel and Gina Carano during that time. She has inspired a generation of fighters both in Europe and across the world.
Daly (13-2) just celebrated her 5th year in MMA, and also only has two losses; to Lisa Ellis and Cage Warrior’s tournament finalist Sheila Gaff. Daly is looking to avenge one of those losses in the finals. Daly is the current reigning NAAFS flyweight champion.
With such an epic battle ahead, we asked some fighters for their take on the fight.
Scottish fighter Jo-Anne Calderwood, who also fights this weekend, looks forward to the war of top flyweights.

“This is a massive fight. Both girls are excellent. I’m a little biased, as I have trained with Rosi many of times as she is a friend of the DNFT and visits regularly.”
“I love training with her cause she doesn’t do anything below 100% and is such an intelligent fighter. She has done loads for WMMA and she stuck with it and has got my respect for that. So, I’m with Rosi on this one. She can get the “W”, but Ais will be one of her toughest fights to date.”
“She is from a great camp at SBG and John Kavannagh is one of the best coaches in the game. If it wasn’t the same night as I was fighting, I would have made the trip to Dublin to watch it. I hope its fight of the night on Cagewarriors and another highlight for WMMA.”
Top flyweight contender Jessica Eye also is leaning towards Sexton.
“I like Rosi. Maybe it’s a little bit personal, but I do think Rosi is a better fighter. I have seen a lot of Aisling fights after we fought. She is one dimensional. I think she wants to stand and strike but as soon as she gets hit, she goes in to what I call the ’10 yard spring’. She rushes she opponent to he fence. I guess that’s how she fights and everyone entitled to that . At some point it will be stop and I think Rosi can do that.”
The winner of the fight will take on Sheila Gaff, who told Ground and Pound Germany
“I think that Rosi is the favourite in this one. She is the ‘Grande Dame’ of UK MMA. Sexton fought against more top ranked opponents and has the experience edge. She even fought when MMA was NHB. Nevertheless you can never count Daly out.”
The fight will be pivotal in the history of the women’s flyweight division and will shake up the rankings. Can the underdog Daly win in her hometown, or will the experience of Rosi Sexton prevail?
You can watch this epic battle at Saturday morning. The main-card free stream begins at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT on

How's Taste My Tweet Tweet? MMA On Twitter - Fedor In Mercedes Ad, Rich Franklin And Jorge Gurgel Bromance

A few updates on what's been going on in the MMA & UFC Twitterverse
"Fedor straight ballin in Russian Mercedes-Benz ad" -Smoogy

There's a ton of tweets after the jump, but first, don't forget to follow me on twitter: @antontabuena
Oh, and these guys are probably worth following as well: The Official BloodyElbow Twitter Account, Luke Thomas, Kid Nate, Brent Brookhouse, Richard Wade, Chris Barton, Damon O, Scott Broussard, Tim Burke, Matt Bishop, Fraser Coffeen, Dallas Winston, KJ Gould, Ben Thapa, Josh Nason, T.P. Grant.
" back immediately, man! I don't like this.growing a Fu man Chu n losing mind. Plus I think I'm going straight without u here.." -Jorge Gurgel, misses Rich Franklin, who is in Singapore training.
" hahahaha. I saw that, whatever you call it. I told Zoila i would fix that as soon as I got back :)" -Rich Franklin
" I miss your musk... I think when you get back we should get an apartment together..." -Jorge Gurgel
" it's only bc my musk is made from bits of real panther...thats how you know it works" -Rich Franklin
" to be honest with you, you smell like straight up gasoline... hey, officer Rabbit, do you smell anything?...." -Jorge Gurgel
" I'm freaking out Man!" -Rich Franklin
"check out , sometimes he says some pretty dumb stuff :)" -Rich Franklin
" one more to get ;)" -Daniel Cormier, there might be something wrong with his phone though.
"My man CB.. Big ups.. Say what you want DOMINATING wrestling.. Last time I checked it's a huge part of MMA.." -Mike Miller of the Miami Heat congratulating CB Dollaway after his win over Mayhem.
"I hope I never get beatup by a guy wearing crocs" -Forrest Griffin

"Hey, I wear Crocs proudly, hahaha..." -Benson Henderson ‏
"Whats the best part about having a treadmill in my garage? Probably being able to run in my underwear" -Cub Swanson ‏
"not really fair to make fun of my typos. have you see the size of these hands?" -Shane Carwin ‏
"@TJDillashaw hacked my account.He jus recycled the tweets I used on him cuzz he has no sense of humor. ITS ON SON! DONT CRY THIS TIME THO!!" -Danny Castillo ‏
"Hows my disguise? :-)" -Dan Hardy, after winning big at UFC 146.
"Consolation prize:) thank you for all the support , I will be back" -Frank Mir
"Big Brock front row" -UFC

"Happy Hump Day!! Last min pic b4 I left for work, been slackin on the hump pics.. hope you all have a rad day!" -Natasha Wicks
"": yeah!!!!!!" bahahaha my pic is in asian heaven!" -Natasha Wicks, being violated by Team Alpha Male.

" 🍸👄" -Logan Stanton
"Going for a new look :)" -Brad Pickett ‏
"How awesome/weird would it be if BJJ & MMA followed how Muay Thai guys in Thailand change their last names to the name of their gyms?" -Anton Tabuena
"You'd have named as Rashad Jacksons then Rashad Blackzillians. Georges TriStar, & Roy BurgerKing " -Anton Tabuena
"Anderson Black House, Alliance, Fedor Backyard. " -Anton Tabuena



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