In Signing Wrestling Champ Shawn Bunch, Bellator Listened to King Mo, Ben Askren

Shawn Bunch has never fought in MMA, but Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney jumped at the chance to sign the standout wrestler after hearing high praise from fellow Bellator competitors Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal and Ben Askren.
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Fedor vs. Rizzo Results

James Law, MMA Fighting

MMA Fighting has Fedor vs. Rizzo results for the M-1 Global fight card at the Ice Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Fedor Emelianenko has won two straight fights after a three-fight skid. He hasn’t fought since he knocked out Satoshi Ishi in the first round on Dec. 31, 2011. Pedro Rizzo, who is 19-9 in his career, hasn’t fought since July 18, 2010.

Check out the Fedor vs. Rizzo results below.

Fedor Emelianenko vs. Pedro Rizzo
Daniel Weichel vs. Musa Khamanaev
Guram Gugenishvili vs. Kenny Garner
Jeff Monson vs. Denis Komkin
Mairbek Taisumov vs. Marat Gafurov
Mikhail Malyutin vs. Bakhtiyar Arzumanov
Jerome Bouisson vs. Vugar Bakhshiev
Pavel Vitruk vs. Radoslaw Piechnik
Akhmed Sultanov vs. Denis Goltsov

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MMA Roundtable: UFC Lightweight Title Picture, Fedor’s Future, Sylvia’s Last Chance

Josh Hedges, Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

For those that choose to spend their money or their time watching fights in the coming days, all you can hope for is a few entertaining scraps. While most have been critical of the lineups offered, at least there is plenty to choose from. Were you aware that Fedor Emelianenko fights on Thursday? On Friday night alone, there are no less than three cards being televised, from Bellator 71 (on MTV2) to XFC 18 (on HDNet) to UFC on FX 4. And then on Saturday is UFC 147, the pay-per-view that few seem willing to pay to view.

Out of all of that action we’re bound to get something good, right? Clay Guida and Gray Maynard, for example, are likely to deliver some action, and Wanderlei Silva and Rich Franklin are rematching in a fight that was pretty fun the first time around. But what exactly are the stakes in those fights? And where does Fedor go after Thursday? In this week’s roundtable, Dave Doyle and I look at that, as well as examining MMA’s biggest burning question: does Tim Sylvia deserve one more shot in the UFC?

Come on, click it and read. You know you want to.

1. Who has the most to gain in Saturday’s UFC 147 main event between Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva?

Doyle: I’ll have to go with the “Axe Murderer” on this one.

If Franklin wins, it’s a feather in his cap simply because he took the fight on short notice after being out for more than a year, and will do so in hostile territory. But it would be a second win over a fighter he’s already beaten, and a win wouldn’t lead to any sort of next logical fight in his career path.

On the other hand, this is a big, big deal for Silva. Fans and media here in the United States have been so quick to trash UFC 147 that the fact the event is huge in Brazil has gotten lost in translation. Brazil is at the point where the UFC was in the U.S. in 2006-07, in the midst of a popularity explosion. Like other Brazilian legends who spent most of their prime fighting away from the mother country, Silva’s more popular in his homeland than ever, especially with the buzz from coaching on “TUF: Brazil.”

It’s no secret Silva is near the tail end of his career. Another knockout loss probably ends things for Silva as a headliner. But with a win in a big spotlight at home, Silva not only would set himself up for another high-profile main event, but also for some of the endorsement money going to the likes of Anderson Silva and Jose Aldo.

In the grand scheme of things, neither guy frankly has much to gain from this fight. First of all, it’s a catch weight bout, so it has no significance in any divisional rankings. Second of all, they’ve already fought before. That makes it a fight that Franklin should win, even if he’s coming off a 16-month layoff. On the other hand, what if Silva wins? Well, aside from the glory that comes with winning in front of a partisan home crowd, a victory over Franklin doesn’t carry nearly as much weight as one over his originally scheduled opponent Vitor Belfort would.

Because Belfort is an MMA icon in Brazil, and because Silva was thrashed by him in their first meeting 14 years ago, that matchup was quite meaningful, both personally and professionally. Facing Franklin is an opportunity to avenge a previous defeat, but offers little more than a pairing of two of the sport’s most respected names. In the end, that’s going to have to be enough.

2. Fedor Emelianenko is fighting Pedro Rizzo on Thursday. He’s recently entertained retirement, but assuming he continues, where does he go from here?

Chiappetta: If Emelianenko wins, it will be three victories in a row since his losing streak sent him out of Strikeforce and on to the international free agent world tour. Unfortunately, there are few money fights outside of Zuffa-owned UFC and Strikeforce for him. More specifically, there are none, unless the UFC decided to cut Alistair Overeem, a distinct unlikelihood.

I can’t see Emelianenko signing with Bellator and going through the tournament grind at this stage of his career, though he would certainly be favored to mow through any field and set up a title match with champ Cole Konrad. More likely, unless Zuffa CEO Lorenzo Fertitta decides to offer Fedor one last chance, he’s probably going to be relegated to fighting on overseas cards, destined to a life where if he wins, detractors will say he hasn’t fought anybody, and if he loses, they’ll say, “I told you so.”

Emelianenko’s best option might be to sign with the surging One FC promotion, which has money and is looking to spend it. M-1 Global’s Evgeni Kogan was recently spotted attending a show, and the organization runs events in locations that could likely capitalize on his name and resume. Hopefully, that’s enough for him to continue, because his days as a North American draw are unfortunately, likely over.

Doyle: The short answer: Fedor will go wherever M-1 can wring another dollar out of his name.

Since the folding of PRIDE, the main objective for Fedor’s management has been to milk the gravy train for every short-term buck they can get a hold of. In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with that, since this is the fight business and every fighter should make it their goal to get paid as much as they can while the ride lasts.

Whether that’s been beneficial for Fedor’s legacy is another matter. Overpaying for Emelianenko has led to a trail of tattered promotions, from BodogFight to Affliction to an independent Strikeforce. But that’s the concern of the promoter stuck with the bill, not M-1.

So the bottom line is the same it’s ever been. M-1 can hold out hope that one last money mark (One FC?) will come along to shower them with riches while simultaneously digging their own promotional grave. In the interim, the company seems to have found itself a niche in luring the Pedro Rizzos of the world to come over to Europe and be hand-fed to “The Last Emperor.” Their system isn’t broken, so why fix it?

3. Where should the winner of Friday night’s main event between Clay Guida and Gray Maynard stand in the pecking order for a lightweight title shot?

Doyle: Let me put it this way, I’m glad Joe Silva is the one who has to figure this out, and not me. In theory, Nate Diaz gets the winner of August’s Benson Henderson-Frankie Edgar title rematch. This assumes, of course, that nothing happens in that bout which necessitates an immediate trilogy fight. Either way, the top spots are currently locked up, especially if Diaz sticks to his guns about waiting for a shot at the belt.

In the most recent lightweight rankings, Maynard is slated fifth and Guida sixth. The four fighters ahead of them are Henderson, Gilbert Melendez, Edgar and Diaz. Melendez against the winner would seem a potentially great fight, but we know the politics involved in making that one.

So the best the winner can hope for here is to more or less stand their ground in the division. That’s a tough reality for a fighter like Maynard, whose only career loss is to Edgar. But it is what it is. My best guess is that the winner gets Anthony Pettis and the loser gets Jim Miller, with a chance for the winner to redeem themselves. Now let’s just hope we get through Bendo-Edgar II without some sort of scoring controversy that puts the division even further on hold.

Chiappetta: The only real answer here is, it doesn’t matter. Why? Because Henderson and Edgar are queued up as the title fight, and Diaz is in the on-deck circle. That will probably take us to the end of 2012. I’m thinking the UFC has learned their lesson about naming “No. 1 contender” fights when one already exists. It’s the same situation they faced with Johny Hendricks in the welterweight division. He became a “No. 1 contender” after beating Josh Koscheck, even though Carlos Condit is guaranteed a title fight with champ Georges St-Pierre when he returns.

As a result, UFC came to their senses and offered Hendricks a fight with surging Martin Kampmann. That’s the same type of scenario that will play out at lightweight. The loser is at least temporarily out of the title picture while the winner is simply treading water. He’ll have to fight again and win again, and wait for the logjam in front of him to clear out.

4. Since losing a disastrous knockout to Ray Mercer, Tim Sylvia has won seven of eight. Does he deserve one last chance in the UFC?

Chiappetta: This isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, but I would ask, Why not? And it’s not just because I’m tired of Sylvia blowing up my Twitter timeline with his relentless campaign for one more shot in the big show. The UFC’s heavyweight division — and the heavyweight division in general — isn’t exactly full of killers at its shallow end. I have a hard time believing Sylvia couldn’t be competitive against guys like Philip DeFries and Oli Thompson, for starters. What’s the harm in offering him a fight against one of those guys? After all, the UFC has given a second opportunity to a guy like Joey Beltran on the strength of one unanimous decision outside of the UFC. As Mark Hunt has shown with his unlikely run, some heavyweight careers can have a successful second act.

Sylvia may not be a heavyweight title contender any more, but why not give him a chance to prove it? At worst, he’s one and done, while at best, he’s a feel-good story. As long as he comes at a reasonable price, give him a chance and let him sink or swim on his own.

Doyle: I can’t lie, when I first heard this question, my first thought was “Oh God, please, anyone but Sylvia.” Unfortunately, Sylvia’s stay at the top, particularly his second title reign, symbolized everything people hated about the UFC’s heavyweight division back then: Lack of depth, lack of compelling matchups, lack of exciting fighters. Exacerbating matters was Sylvia’s open admission after snoozer title defenses, like the Andrei Arlovski trilogy fight and his win over Jeff Monson, that he didn’t care if he put on boring fights as long as he held on to the belt.

But Mike makes a solid enough point: Others with less impressive resumes have gotten multiple chances with the UFC. If they’re insistent on making him jump through hoops, maybe Zuffa can sign him to a short-term Strikeforce deal and see if he can make the 265-pound limit and otherwise not embarrass himself before potentially opening the door to the UFC. But either way, Sylvia seems serious about wanting another chance, so if his contract demands aren’t unreasonable there’s no good reason to keep him out.

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Holy Sh*t, Tito Ortiz’s New Training Compound is Off the Chain, Yo [VIDEO]

(Rule #1 Tito: ALWAYS check for an Adam’s apple before you make your move.) 

When we first heard that former UFC lightweight champion Tito Ortiz had purchased Oscar De La Hoya’s training compound, with only one fight left in his career, mind you, we just wrote it off as the kind of business decision that got him fired by Donald Trump. But if you know anything about “The People’s Champ,” you know that the guy more than makes up for his interview skills with business savvy. We may not be sure of the exact figure Tito dropped on this Big Bear Lake-side abode, but you only need to catch a glimpse of the place to realize it was worth it.

Fair warning: the euphoric feeling you will receive as the incredibly gorgeous, CagePotato-loving Corissa Furr leads you around this rustic villa on the latest episode of Ultimate Insider will immediately be followed by the crushing realization that you will NEVER live in a place so nice no matter how hard you try.

First off, was anyone aware that Ortiz and Jenna Jameson were back together? The last we remember, these two were going at it on Twitter like a pair of attention-whoring celebutants. Secondly, what in holy Hell has happened to Jenna Jameson’s face? It looks like some Tijuana back alley surgeon stretched a piece of bologna over Gwyneth Paltrow’s elbow for Christ’s sake. That is not the same woman that captured America’s penises hearts with her acting talents just under a decade ago.

As if the house wasn’t enough to make you turn green with envy, one look at Ortiz’s car collection might just make you curse the heavens above for giving you the body structure and fighting ability of a thirteen year old girl. Not that we could relate, because the CP staff is built like the O’Doyle family and treats the rest of the MMA world as such. But anyway, a Rolls Royce Phantom, which Ortiz describes as “like a house on wheels, literally, that’s how much it cost” and 2012 Porsche rest outside his training facility, along with a few vehicles Ortiz probably didn’t have the time to talk about — apparently he isn’t aware that bitches really give it up for a Ford Fiesta covered in Spice Girls stickers from the previous owner.

Around the three minute mark you will find that *spoiler* De La Hoya actually built two houses on the grounds, the second of which contains yet another billiards table, a monster-sized jacuzzi, and a double staircase straight out of Scarface. All I’m saying is, if I had a place like this, not even the hundred men or more described in Toto’s “Africa” could drag me away from it. Then again, if the old hag I am currently throwing it to ever has the common decency to croak already, I may just get that opportunity.

Ortiz, on the other hand, will get the opportunity to retire Forrest Griffin from life at UFC 148, which goes down from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on July 7th.

-J. Jones


Strikeforce Champ Says “Women Will Be In The UFC

Click here to view the embedded video.

Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey tells reporter Ariel Helwani that it’s only a matter of time before fans see females fighting inside the Octagon. “You can’t stop us, women will be in the UFC.” Rousey is set to defend her title versus former champ Sarah Kaufman later this summer.


UFC boss Lorenzo Fertitta: Don’t expect Alistair Overeem to fight in December

DALLAS TX - FEBRUARY 04:  Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem attends The Black Eyed Peas Super Bowl Party presented by Sports Illustrated and Bacardi at Music Hall At Fair Park on February 4 2011 in Dallas Texas.  (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Bacardi)

Hold your horses their, Mr. Overeem.

Yesterday, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC ) heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem made the bold statement via his official Twitter account that he would be fighting in December and would be getting the UFC title “sooner rather than later.”

That sounds fine and dandy and mixed martial arts (MMA) fans would love nothing more than to see “The Reem” finally vie for UFC gold, however, there is still a matter of serving his nine month suspension that was levied down by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) following his highly publicized elevated testosterone scandal.

Now, UFC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and co-owner, Lorenzo Fertitta, has put a halt to “The Reem’s” declaration saying that no way, no how, would the promotion even think about promoting a fight involving the Dutch striker until he has fulfilled his penalty and successfully reapplied for a license to fight with the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), or any other commission, for that matter.

ESPN has Fertitta’s comment on the matter, after the jump:

“That’s speculation. It’s in the NSAC’s hands. (The UFC) can’t be presumptuous.”

The UFC won’t promote a fight involving a fighter who isn’t licensed. Short, sweet and to the point.

Overeem is eligible to apply for licensing on December 27, 2012, which is when his suspension comes to an end. However, should he be approved, the chances of him competing in the promotions year-end event are about a billion to one.

Unless they can promote a fight with him in the span of two days.

Nevertheless, Alistair likely won’t return to the Octagon until early 2013 at best and upon his return, he will still be the number one contender to the 265-pound title and will face off against the winner of the upcoming rematch between current heavyweight kingpin Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez, which his tentatively scheduled to headline UFC 152 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on Sept., 22, 2012.

Either match-up is intriguing to the MMA world, but fans were eager to see “Cigano” and “The Reem” swing heavy leather at UFC 146 this past Memorial Day weekend to see who indeed possessed the better striking of the two. Of course, the dream match went up in smoke after Overeem’s testosterone levels tested through the roof.

Any of you Maniacs disappointed and/or surprised at the (not so) bombshell that the UFC’s boss man has dropped?

Yay or neigh?

Dan Hardy-Amir Sadollah, Jason Young-Robert Peralta Expected for UFC on Fuel 5

UFC officials Tuesday announced that hard-hitting British welterweight Dan Hardy will return home for his next in-cage performance, as “The Outlaw” will compete at UFC on Fuel TV 5 in Nottingham, England.
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Jose Aldo Targeting October Return

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Jose Aldo is looking to fight at least one more time this year.

According to Andre Pederneiras, Aldo’s manager and trainer at Nova Uniao in Brazil, the UFC featherweight champion is hoping to return to action in October following a left leg injury. Pederneiras recently told that Aldo will not require surgery on the left leg he injured in training, which forced him to pull out of his UFC 149 title fight against Erik Koch two weeks ago.

Aldo is currently undergoing physical therapy in Brazil and will meet with a doctor next week to reevaluate the leg.

Whenever he is ready to return, Aldo will fight Koch for the title, as the latter has decided to wait for the title shot he was promised by the UFC, according to his manager Mike Roberts.

This marks the third in less than two years that Aldo, 25, has had to delay a title fight due to various injuries.

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Countdown to UFC 147 (Full Episode)

It’s definitely a weekend of UFC fights, starting on Friday night with Clay Guida taking on Gray Maynard, but the real showdown is on Saturday, June 23rd at UFC 147, when Wanderlei Silva will try to avenge his loss against Rich Franklin. Also be sure to catch the co-main event as well, where Fabricio Werdum …

The post Countdown to UFC 147 (Full Episode) appeared first on Caged Insider.

Caged Insider

For the Great Fedor Emelianenko, the End Quietly Nears

M-1 Global

One day, the mixed martial arts world will move on without Fedor Emelianenko. That day, however, is not yet here, even if Emelianenko has teased retirement, even as his fights get more difficult to find for even his most ardent fans.

It was just about two years ago when Emelianenko’s magical unbeaten streak was snapped. Since then, he’s faced further professional disappointment before mounting an attempt at clawing his way back into the international conversation. To be sure, he has gone about it in the noble manner befitting his former status as the sport’s greatest heavyweight, possibly its greatest fighter.

The cruelty of prizefighting is that the spotlight often leaves you before you’re ready to leave it. And while Emelianenko is still a serviceable heavyweight — probably even above average — due to politics and the UFC-heavy worldview of most, his final days are taking place out of the limelight. On Thursday, he fights again, facing Pedro Rizzo at an M-1 Global event in St. Petersburg, Russia, but the fight has gained little traction among U.S. fans, and Emelianenko has indicated that it could be his last.

This week, he told MMA Fighting that his future remains undecided.

“I have a fight now,” he said. “When it’s over we will see. It’s all God’s will.”

That isn’t a definitive yes, but it isn’t a definitive no, either, which leads you to believe that he probably has given some legitimate consideration to hanging up his gloves for good. Yet at the same time, he’s not in a particularly wistful or nostalgic mood about his career and his legacy.

Asked about what he considers the fondest memory of his career, and whether he has any regrets, Emelianenko isn’t interested in looking back.

“I’m having a fight and it’s still early to sum up,” he said.

On the other hand, while he declines to look backward, looking forward is a different story. Remember those rumors that Emelianenko would consider a drop to light-heavyweight? Whatever happened to that? To him, the idea is a non-starter, even though it wouldn’t apply unless he continued competing.

“I’ve fought in this weight for a long time and I feel well,” he said. “There is no necessity to change anything.”

For almost his entire career, Emelianenko has fought as an undersized heavyweight, standing about 6 feet tall and weighing around 230 pounds. For years, his quickness, power and killer instinct were enough to rule that division. But it all ended on June 26, 2010, when Werdum trapped him in a triangle/armbar combination and Emelianenko tapped a single time, dignified yet clear.

In some ways, that loss could be explained away. Werdum was then, and remains now, a top 10 heavyweight. He also boasts one of the top jiu-jitsu games in MMA, with many saying he’s the best big man in the gentle art, better than Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. His resume certainly backs up the claim.

More difficult to rationalize was his loss to Antonio Silva, the massive Brazilian who it seems only came in with superior size, but left with with a TKO win after battering Emelianenko throughout the majority of their 10-minute fight.

It was in the aftermath of that fight when he first mentioned the possibility of walking away.

“Back then I said that in the heat of the moment,” he says now. “To the same I said, ‘Maybe I’ve got to retire.’ This was emotions. But after the fight [manager] Vadim [Finkelstein], trainers, my family, my friends and I decided that I will continue to fight in the ring.”

But then, a loss to Dan Henderson, the veteran star made it three in a row, sending Fedor out of Strikeforce and on his own. Given his past success, he couldn’t be blamed for any crisis in confidence that followed, but Emelianenko says there wasn’t any.

“This is sport and no one is insured against losses.” he said. “It’s all God’s will. Perhaps, losses are given to us to think and work through mistakes.”

Three months shy of his 36th birthday, Emelianenko faces an uncertain future. Even if he does continue to fight, which it appears is no given, options are limited due to nearly all of the world’s top heavyweights being signed to Zuffa, making them unavailable to him. He says he still feels good, and for this camp, put in time training in The Netherlands.

In terms of pure sporting interests, it’s a fight he must win. While Rizzo was once one of MMA’s biggest punchers, he’s now 38 and hasn’t fought in nearly two years. His last two wins have come against Ken Shamrock at a time when Shamrock had lost five of six, and Gary Goodridge when he was in the midst of an eight-fight losing streak that took him to retirement.

Emelianenko says he has a great respect for Rizzo, who was a perfect 9-0 by the time Emelianenko made his own pro debut, and in that way was a model for his early days.

“When I came to MMA, I learned from him since he already had a successful career in this sport,” he said. “So I will be very glad to meet him in the ring.”

Yet when Emelianenko looks across the cage at Rizzo, he may be staring at his own future. Rizzo has spent the last several years globetrotting, taking fights wherever he could. This M-1 fight with Fedor will mark his seventh promotion in his last seven fights, yet he hasn’t really built any kind of forward momentum. While Emelianenko will always have a home with M-1, the organization hasn’t quite given him an international platform as a standalone promotion.

A win will mark three in a row for a heavyweight whose career headstone had seemingly been engraved when he lost to Silva. Then what? Maybe he walks away with his head held high, maybe he comes back one more time. Or maybe he already knows the answer. Maybe he’s already determined ‘God’s will’ but he’s just not saying.

“We’ll see,” he said.

Even for one of the greatest of all time, the end must come. Maybe it’s on Thursday, maybe it’s not. Given his reputation as a soft-spoken gentleman, perhaps it is fitting that for him, it nears quietly.

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