Tag Archive for Boy’

UFC Fighter Elias Theodorou to Serve as ‘Ring Boy’ at Invicta FC 28 on March 24

Elias Theodorou will attempt to redefine gender roles in the industry when he serves as a “ring boy” at Invicta Fighting Championships 28 on March 24.
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UFC Fighter Elias Theodorou to Serve as ‘Ring Boy’ at Invicta FC 28 on March 24

Elias Theodorou will attempt to redefine gender roles in the industry when he serves as a “ring boy” at Invicta Fighting Championships 28 on March 24.
Recent News on Sherdog.com

Bellator 186: Zach Freeman is the ‘Altar Boy’ who has a ferocious alter ego

Bellator 186 ‘Bader vs Vassell’ takes place Nov. 3, 2017 at Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Penn. Today MMA Mania talks to Zach Freeman about following up on his stunning MSG win in June in a fight with Saad Awad.

Bellator 186 “Bader vs. Vassell” comes to Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Penn. on Nov. 3, 2017. Light Heavyweight champion Ryan “Darth” Bader (23-5) makes his first title defense since beating Phil Davis at MSG in June against Linton “The Swarm” Vassell (18-5, 1 NC) Friday night.

Bader’s victory over Davis might have been predicted by some given their past history, but Zach Freeman’s win over Aaron Pico was very unexpected. Pico was hailed as “MMA’s greatest prospect” when he inked a contract, but it was “The Altar Boy” Freeman who notched his first Bellator win in June in 24 seconds, leaving Pico to start all over again.

Meanwhile Freeman’s stunning upset victory improved his pro record to 9-2 and earned him a return fight in Bellator. His reward is a Lightweight fight with Saad Awad, fresh off a win at Bellator 178, once known for being the only man to ever knock out “Ill” Will Brooks.

Today MMA Mania talks to Zach Freeman about his upcoming fight with Awad as well as what he accomplished in June in a bout nobody was picking him to win.

“Everybody was (favoring Pico) except people who knew me close, so I did get very excited (by the win). There’s a certain picture that kind of captured my raw emotion, and that’s just all the hard work that goes into getting to this point, and all the doubters — all those things can even make you question yourself. But at the end of the day I put in the hard work, I believe in myself, and it felt great.”

For Freeman HOW he got the win was almost as satisfying as the win itself.

“The biggest win for me was to do it in the fashion that I did it. If you asked me, I pretty much TKO’d him, submitted him, AND choked him unconscious. I kind of did all three so, to do that all in 24 seconds, I want to say I have the fastest submission record at Madison Square Garden now. It’s hard to beat that so it was a great feeling.”

MSG aside it was the fourth fastest submission in Bellator history and also Freeman’s sixth submission victory. Freeman was fighting long before he got into MMA though.

“In high school I ran into a pretty serious leg break my senior year, the summer in between junior and senior year. Unfortunately when that happened I had to get surgery on my leg and I had a plate and some screws put in my leg. In doing the surgery I came down with an infection and it took seven surgeries to figure out that I was misdiagnosed, the culture of the infection was misdiagnosed.”

It took a change of hospitals and almost a half dozen more surgeries to save his leg, at which point he had missed his entire senior year of wrestling, leaving him a competitive itch to scratch.

“I had a void in my life. I believe life is about fulfillment, personal fulfillment. Each of us have different things that will fulfill us, and mine was competition. What made me happy was being able to wrestle or compete one on one with someone. I started exploring my options of what I could do and I ran into jiu-jtsu, (which) in turn got me involved with boxing, (which) in turn got me involved with mixed martial arts. The rest is history from there.”

Now Freeman has a chance to make more history at Bellator 186 against Saad Awad, who coincidentally also had a broken bone repaired with a steel plate in his hand.

“Much respect (to Awad). I don’t think you’re going to see us get in each other’s face and build the hype up. It’s just not either of us. I think we’re both respectful fighters. I think we both have families and fans that expect more humility than the Conor McGregor (style) aggression and crap talking.”

The respect for Awad also extends to his track record of 29 fights with 15 finishes (eight knockouts, seven submissions), almost three times as many as Freeman has had in his career.

“I just expect a very durable fighter in Saad. He’s much more experienced than I am, and I know that he’s very gritty and durable. So I really focused in this camp on being relaxed, breathing, and just really knowing that I’m preparing for a 15 minute fight.”

Even though Freeman clearly thinks highly of Awad, he believes that Awad could have had a tougher test in his Bellator 178 fight.

“In looking at that record from Ryan Quinn, what I noticed is that his 7-0 Bellator record didn’t include any notable wins. I’m guessing they were more undercard fights. Not to take anything away from Ryan, but I just know that they weren’t really notable names, and that’s what kind of hurt his ability to stand out with a 7-0 record. I don’t know any other Lightweights that had seven straight wins in Bellator.”

One immediately comes to mind — former No. 1 contender Dave Jansen — who ran his streak from Bellator 39 to Bellator 130 before losing to “Ill” Will Brooks. Regardless “The Altar Boy” wants you to know his nickname has more than one meaning when you see him fight on Friday.

“It’s funny but at the same time if you spell it differently as in A-L-T-E-R, I represent that as well. I’m in business and I try to represent myself as a professional the best I can, and then when it comes time to go in the cage I go as an alter ego to my ‘Altar Boy’ image. Now I’m a whole different person that everyone else would have never guessed (me to be).”

At Bellator 186 he may “alter” the future of both his career and Saad Awad’s on Spike TV.

Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Bader vs. Vassell” resides here at MMAmania.com all week long.

To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.

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Bellator 140: ‘Irish Bad Boy’ Brennan Ward drops opponents … and F bombs

“Irish Bad Boy” wants to make good and win his second straight Welterweight fight, but if he’s not having fun and getting the job done, F**K IT, he’s outta there …

Brennan Ward was at one time on top of the world in Bellator MMA. “Irish Bad Boy” cruised his way to winning Season 9′s middleweight tournament in four straight fights that didn’t go past the second round.

Unfortunately for Ward, his hot streak suddenly ran cold when he challenged Alexander Shlemenko for the 185-pound title. Things went from bad to worse when he suffered a shocking first round loss to Tamdan McCrory in his next outing.

That back-to-back losses caused Ward to rethink his strategy and weight class. And after a quick switch to Welterweight, he traded quick hands with Curtis Millender at Bellator 134, dropping his foe and sinking in a rear-naked choke.

Ward recently spoke with MMAmania.com about his next challenge at 170 pounds, dropping an unprecedented plethora of “F” bombs in the process. Due to a late change to Bellator 140, which takes place this weekend (Fri., July 17, 2015) at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., his opponent is now Roger Carroll (not Gavin Sterritt).

Not that Ward cares!

“I have the same strategy I have for every single fight — I don’t give a fuck who my opponent is. I go out there, I set the pace, I get in his face, and that’s what it is. Man, I don’t give a shit what he does.”

Not giving a shit is pretty much Brennan Ward’s trademark. He’s deadly serious the moment that cage door shuts, but before and after the fight he doesn’t let anything about mixed martial arts (MMA) stress him out.

“I’m different from everybody else. I started doing this shit for fun, and it got serious real quick, and I’m fuckin’ like … every fighter I’ve ever met, almost every fighter I’ve met, they’re so like all like obsessed with being a fighter and they like define themselves as a fighter. ‘I’m a fighter!’ Nah man — fuck you dude!”

If you didn’t know “Irish Bad Boy” before, you realize by this point that it’s not a (fuckin’) gimmick. He makes absolutely no apologies for being incredibly casual in his attitude toward fighting.

“That’s just what I do to make some money. I’m not gonna pull no punches and try to be a fuckin’ professional right here. I’m doin’ what I’m doin’ — I just go out there I beat people up and I get fuckin’ paid. I don’t give a shit. That’s the only thing I care about. Fuckin’ pay me, I’m out!”

Bellator MMA has to either love or hate how bombastic Ward is. I’m leaning toward “love” because much like another notorious Irish bad boy Ward grabs your attention, but he thinks he may have missed his shot at super stardom.

“I think I already missed that boat. I think if I had beat (Alexander) Shlemenko and got the belt, I would have had that, you know what I mean? But, now I just don’t give a fuck. I could have had that if I beat Alex, yeah. That would have happened. That ship done sailed brah!

You can’t bring up Shlemenko without mentioning his recent three-year ban in North America, a harsh penalty from California State Athletic Commissions (CSAC) that doesn’t sit well with Ward.

“I think it sucks because I really like him. Back before I had any pro fights, my freshman year of college when I was wrestling out in Kansas, on my dorm room floor drinking beers on Thursday nights watching Bellator when it was on MTV2. It was him and Patricky Pitbull were on the same card. That was the first Bellator I ever saw.”

Bellator MMA has to like that Brennan Ward was a fight fan even then, though it may not be thrilled with his (unintentional) admission he was an underage drinker. As with everything else though Ward just doesn’t give a … you know.

“When you start worrying about that fuckin’ shit too much… I’m in this for the fun. Once it stops being fun, I’m out. Trust me, I’m out! The only reason I do this right now is for the money. I can get another fuckin’ job, trust me. Once it becomes not fun, dude I’m fuckin’ gone and I’ll leave it all behind.”

Let’s hope it doesn’t stop being fun any time soon. He believes he could be a handful for any of the other welterweights on the card, although he has a healthy respect for champion Douglas Lima.

“He’s the only dude in the welterweight division who I would be like nervous — not nervous but I would be like — alright, okay this is gonna be a real hard fight y’knowhatImean? Like, not to say you’re scared of the guy, but he is intimidating, y’knowhatImean? Lima’s tough dude, but I think I would dismantle Koreshkov. Actually, I know I would. I know I would fuck that kid up, but Lima, I would not fuck Lima up. That would be a hard ass fight.”

If he does to his next opponent what he did to Curtis Millender, “hard ass fights” are his future in Bellator.

The complete (NSFW) audio of our interview with Ward is below and complete Bellator 140 coverage is right here at MMAmania.com.

*****

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Bellator 140: ‘Irish Bad Boy’ Brennan Ward drops opponents … and F bombs

“Irish Bad Boy” wants to make good and win his second straight Welterweight fight, but if he’s not having fun and getting the job done, F**K IT, he’s outta there …

Brennan Ward was at one time on top of the world in Bellator MMA. “Irish Bad Boy” cruised his way to winning Season 9′s middleweight tournament in four straight fights that didn’t go past the second round.

Unfortunately for Ward, his hot streak suddenly ran cold when he challenged Alexander Shlemenko for the 185-pound title. Things went from bad to worse when he suffered a shocking first round loss to Tamdan McCrory in his next outing.

That back-to-back losses caused Ward to rethink his strategy and weight class. And after a quick switch to Welterweight, he traded quick hands with Curtis Millender at Bellator 134, dropping his foe and sinking in a rear-naked choke.

Ward recently spoke with MMAmania.com about his next challenge at 170 pounds, dropping an unprecedented plethora of “F” bombs in the process. Due to a late change to Bellator 140, which takes place this weekend (Fri., July 17, 2015) at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., his opponent is now Roger Carroll (not Gavin Sterritt).

Not that Ward cares!

“I have the same strategy I have for every single fight — I don’t give a fuck who my opponent is. I go out there, I set the pace, I get in his face, and that’s what it is. Man, I don’t give a shit what he does.”

Not giving a shit is pretty much Brennan Ward’s trademark. He’s deadly serious the moment that cage door shuts, but before and after the fight he doesn’t let anything about mixed martial arts (MMA) stress him out.

“I’m different from everybody else. I started doing this shit for fun, and it got serious real quick, and I’m fuckin’ like … every fighter I’ve ever met, almost every fighter I’ve met, they’re so like all like obsessed with being a fighter and they like define themselves as a fighter. ‘I’m a fighter!’ Nah man — fuck you dude!”

If you didn’t know “Irish Bad Boy” before, you realize by this point that it’s not a (fuckin’) gimmick. He makes absolutely no apologies for being incredibly casual in his attitude toward fighting.

“That’s just what I do to make some money. I’m not gonna pull no punches and try to be a fuckin’ professional right here. I’m doin’ what I’m doin’ — I just go out there I beat people up and I get fuckin’ paid. I don’t give a shit. That’s the only thing I care about. Fuckin’ pay me, I’m out!”

Bellator MMA has to either love or hate how bombastic Ward is. I’m leaning toward “love” because much like another notorious Irish bad boy Ward grabs your attention, but he thinks he may have missed his shot at super stardom.

“I think I already missed that boat. I think if I had beat (Alexander) Shlemenko and got the belt, I would have had that, you know what I mean? But, now I just don’t give a fuck. I could have had that if I beat Alex, yeah. That would have happened. That ship done sailed brah!

You can’t bring up Shlemenko without mentioning his recent three-year ban in North America, a harsh penalty from California State Athletic Commissions (CSAC) that doesn’t sit well with Ward.

“I think it sucks because I really like him. Back before I had any pro fights, my freshman year of college when I was wrestling out in Kansas, on my dorm room floor drinking beers on Thursday nights watching Bellator when it was on MTV2. It was him and Patricky Pitbull were on the same card. That was the first Bellator I ever saw.”

Bellator MMA has to like that Brennan Ward was a fight fan even then, though it may not be thrilled with his (unintentional) admission he was an underage drinker. As with everything else though Ward just doesn’t give a … you know.

“When you start worrying about that fuckin’ shit too much… I’m in this for the fun. Once it stops being fun, I’m out. Trust me, I’m out! The only reason I do this right now is for the money. I can get another fuckin’ job, trust me. Once it becomes not fun, dude I’m fuckin’ gone and I’ll leave it all behind.”

Let’s hope it doesn’t stop being fun any time soon. He believes he could be a handful for any of the other welterweights on the card, although he has a healthy respect for champion Douglas Lima.

“He’s the only dude in the welterweight division who I would be like nervous — not nervous but I would be like — alright, okay this is gonna be a real hard fight y’knowhatImean? Like, not to say you’re scared of the guy, but he is intimidating, y’knowhatImean? Lima’s tough dude, but I think I would dismantle Koreshkov. Actually, I know I would. I know I would fuck that kid up, but Lima, I would not fuck Lima up. That would be a hard ass fight.”

If he does to his next opponent what he did to Curtis Millender, “hard ass fights” are his future in Bellator.

The complete (NSFW) audio of our interview with Ward is below and complete Bellator 140 coverage is right here at MMAmania.com.

*****

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Video: Floyd Mayweather calls out Oscar De La Hoya, ‘Golden Boy’ responds

Will boxing fans see a rematch between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya, who went to war for the WBC light middleweight title back in 2007?

Of course not, but Floyd gonna Floyd.

“I see Oscar talking that he’s coming back,” Mayweather told Kel Dansby. “If he wants to, we can rock-and-roll in September. We can do it at ’54, he knows that. He said he wanted a rematch, so if Oscar wants it, he can get it.”

Floyd Mayweather says He Will Fight Oscar De La Hoya in September @blacksportsonline

A video posted by Kel Dansby (@keldansby) on

It didn’t take long for De La Hoya to respond.

“So I hear Floyd wants to give me a rematch now. Our first fight had a rematch clause, it had to take place within the year. He retired in a year and one day. Look, I’m happy. I’m content. I’m never coming back. I’m going to continue growing Golden Boy.”

Split decision…

A video posted by Oscar De La Hoya (@oscardelahoya) on

So, about that Pacquiao rematch

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Uriah Hall Loses Another Opponent, Now Fighting Some Dude Called “The Choir Boy” at Fight Night 59


(Who’s got two shaka brahs and a trip to the emergency room scheduled for this weekend? THIS GUY!)

When the UFC made it’s long-awaited return to Boston in August of 2013, it booked TUF 17 runner-up Uriah Hall against Nick Ring in a pivotal middleweight matchup. Ring pulled out almost immediately (there’s probably a joke to be made there) due to injury, and was replaced by fellow TUF 17 alum Josh Samman. Less than a month out from their fight, Samman was forced out of the bout and replaced by John Howard, who went on to defeat Hall via split decision.

And unfortunately, the second time around seems like more of the same for Hall. Minus that whole “losing by split decision” thing. Probably.

Hall was originally scheduled to face Costa Philippou on the main card of this weekend’s Fight Night 59 — that was, until Philippou pulled out of the bout on New Year’s Day with a rib injury. Hall was then paired against the 11-3 Louis “Handgunz” Taylor in what promised to be a fight that would be broadcast on television, but wouldn’t you know it, Taylor has now pulled out of the bout with a back injury. The UFC was not pleased with this development.

But you’re probably wondering: Did the UFC manage to scrounge up some poor sap to face Hall on a week’s notice? And does this poor sap’s nickname make me yearn for the days of Louis “Handgunz” Taylor?

Well it turns out, the answer to both those questions is yes! The poor sap’s name: Ron Stallings. The poor sap’s nickname: “The Choir Boy”.

Currently 12-6 in professional competition, Stallings holds victories over UFC veteran Mike Massenzio, Bellator vet Herbet Goodman, and *the* Randy Rowe, with most of his losses coming to slightly more known commodities like Adlan Amagov (in his only Strikeforce appearance), Dante Rivera, and Phillipe Nover. Stallings last fought in November, where he dropped a five round decision to Tim Williams.

So yeah, it’s not exactly a “compelling” matchup in any way, shape, or form, but likely the best the UFC could do on such short notice. And at the very least, this tremendous mismatch will hopefully result in a knockout that is equal parts terrific and terrifying. It’s a low bar, but someone’s gotta set it.

-J. Jones

Cagepotato

UFC cut Dashon Johnson because ‘Fly Boy’ violated terms of ZUFFA contract

Dashon Johnson was once a promising MMA fighter from Escondido who was 9-0 as a pro. Two straight losses seemed to be reason enough for UFC to cut him and have him rebuild his career on the regional circuit, but new reasons for his release have emerged.

He’s not the most famous Johnson that UFC ever had under contract.

Not Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, or even “Big” Lavar Johnson, but Dashon Johnson was once a promising mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter from Escondido, California, who was 9-0 as a pro.

Two straight losses seemed to be reason enough for UFC to cut him and have him rebuild his career on the regional circuit, but new reasons for his release have emerged. Johnson was originally on the outs following a first-round submission to Godofredo Pepey in Brazil, but it appears Johnson’s boxing career was the real problem.

While under contract to ZUFFA, Johnson took a boxing match in Tacoma, Washington, as a late replacement, ultimately losing a 10-round decision to Louis Rose. While his MMA record is still fairly impressive, even with the two losses, his pro boxing record of 15-17-3 doesn’t return the same curb appeal.

More importantly, UFC says it violated the terms of his deal.

“UFC athletes are permitted to take part in grappling competitions so long as they provide notice to our matchmakers. We do not permit our athletes to take part in striking competitions while under contract.”

If Johnson works his way back to UFC for a second stint, he’ll have to rethink whether or not he wants to take any more boxing matches on short notice, particularly since his lackluster record in the “sweet science” won’t advance his MMA career.

Sound familiar?

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Troy “Rude Boy” Mandaloniz Reports That War Machine “Found” By Bail Bondsman

As reported yesterday, Bellator MMA fighter War Machine, aka Jon Koppenhaver, has been on the run from Las Vegas police since a violent altercation last week. His ex-girlfriend Christy Mack described a brutal attack, and included pictures of harrowing injuries. (Please be aware of unsettling pictures and descriptions of domestic violence at that link.) Today, […]

The post Troy “Rude Boy” Mandaloniz Reports That War Machine “Found” By Bail Bondsman appeared first on Caged Insider.

Caged Insider

Fightweets: Junior dos Santos and ‘The Fat Boy’

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Even a fighter as good as UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos can fall for the stereotypes about Roy “Big Country” Nelson.

Dos Santos knows that underneath Nelson’s girth lies a freak athlete, capable of doing things in the Octagon that a person who simply looked at him without knowing his history wouldn’t think possible.

And yet, leading up to their UFC 117 fight, dos Santos almost fell for it.

Recalling an interview with a Brazilian reporter at the open workouts leading up to the Aug. 2010 event, dos Santos said, “He asked, ‘You’re going to fight the fat boy. Do you think you’re going to lose to fat guy?’ I was like, ‘Why are you saying that?’ I gave my answer, and later I started to think about it. If I lost to ‘the fat boy,’ people who don’t know fighting, they think because he’s fat he’s going to be weaker. It’s not true, people who know MMA know Roy is a serious fighter, but people think like that. I started to get worried.”

Dos Santos pushed the thoughts aside for the rest of the week, but they came roaring back in the heat of battle.

“During the fight, I started to think about that,” dos Santos said. “I gave a good uppercut on him, and then he comes back and I started to think, ‘here the fat boy comes again, why won’t he stay down?’ That stuck in my mind and after I won, I was like, ‘phew.’”

Dos Santos beat Nelson via unanimous decision that night, but the fight marked the first time the future champion was taken the distance in his MMA career. When the dos Santos interview was conducted last month, Nelson was scheduled to face Shane Carwin (A fight dos Santos had predicted Nelson would win). But whether Nelson is fighting Carwin or Matt Mitrione, regardless of the opponent, you’ll never hear Junior dos Santos underestimate “Big Country” again.

“I really like Roy,” dos Santos said. “Roy Nelson is a really good person, I like him, he’s a fighter. I have a good relationship with him. If you don’t respect Roy Nelson, you make a mistake.”

There’s a busy weekend on tap, with Nelson vs. Mitrione part of a Friday/Saturday UFC doubleheader and the final Bellator event of the year. So let’s get to another edition of Fightweets. But not before a plug: My friend Elias Cepeda has been writing an interesting series over on Cage Potato called “The Travel Chronicles.” It’s a look back at a journey which started at home in Chicago; continued to Saskatchewan, where he went up a weight class and fought the local promotion’s champion; then went straight from there to Los Angeles and Las Vegas to train with at the likes of Antoni Hardonk, Randy Couture and Wanderlei Silva’s gyms. His latest edition is up and it’s worth a look.

To be a part of a future Fightweets, go to my Twitter page and drop me a line.

UFC 158

@GiglioTrey: Where does Condit/MacDonald land? PPV, CoMain, Fox Main, or FX/Fuel Main? I think recent exposure gets them main for free.

UFC has announced that Carlos Condit vs. Rory MacDonald will be the co-main event of what’s expected to be UFC 158 in Montreal on March 16, underneath the planned-but-not-yet-official Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz bout.

What happened with MacDonald at UFC on FOX 5 was the ideal circumstance the UFC had in mind when they first started putting these network television shows together: Take a young, up-and-coming fighter with a future, put him on free TV where he manhandles a legend, have him issue a challenge for a rematch with a fighter who is in the rare “raised his profile in a losing battle” position in Condit, and presto … you’ve got a newly minted co-main eventer people will pay money to see. Condit-MacDonald is the sort of fight which will move the needle and help make what’s already a popular main event in Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz into a blockbuster seller of a card. Things don’t come together any better than that.

@Auggie85: With GSP, Diaz, MacDonald & Condit all tentatively booked for UFC 158, what does the UFC do with Hendricks?

The UFC should pay Johny Hendricks a generous retainer and tell him to get in fighting shape and be ready to go when something inevitably goes wrong with Diaz leading up to the fight.

Who is Fighter of the Year?

@chadimoglou: Why is a UFC belt a req for [FOTY]? What about other fighters who’ve had a dominant year?

A UFC belt isn’t a prerequisite for Fighter of the Year. But it more often than not means you’ve had a hell of a year against best competition in your weight class.

If that’s not a good enough answer, let me ask you this: Which fighter not holding a UFC title would you consider for 2012 FOTY? Matt Brown had a commendable year, going 4-0. He deserves more attention than he’s gotten. But Mike Swick was by far his highest-caliber opponent during that stretch, and quality of competition matters. Ronda Rousey? Maybe. She made quick work of the two other best fighters in her weight class, Miesha Tate and Sarah Kaufmann. But she only fought twice. Daniel Cormier only fought once. Nate Diaz was a contender up until last Saturday. If Johny Hendricks had fought Jon Fitch three days later than Dec. 30 of last year, he would have had three fights this year and been exactly the sort of case of a fighter on the rise, knocking on the door. But this is only for 2012 fights, so his last two are the only ones under consideration.

So yeah. Being a UFC champ isn’t a prerequisite, but it’s more difficult to build your case without one.

First up for Strikeforce champs?

@ElCujorino: Who welcomes top talent @LukeRockhold & @GilbertMelendez to the UFC? Why is Rockhold not getting the recognition he deserves?

Let’s start with “El Nino.” There’s actually a potential path for him to get a title shot in his UFC debut, depending on what happens between Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone at UFC on FOX 6. If Pettis wins that one, then a rematch with Benson Henderson would be pretty hard to deny. If Cerrone wins, though, a title shot isn’t quite so clear-cut, since Cerrone has already lost twice to Henderson. That’s where Melendez could step in. If Pettis does win, though, I sure wouldn’t complain about a Melendez-Cerrone fight.

As for Rockhold, here’s where he and Melendez differ: Melendez had the advantage of being a marquee player during Strikeforce’s heyday. He beat Clay Guida in 2006 to win his first Strikeforce lightweight title. Scott Coker went out of his way to bring in top-flight Japanese talent like Shinya Aoki when he could. Melendez also showed himself to be the sort of fighter with the smarts to correct his mistakes, as he avenged his two career losses, to Josh Thomson and Mitsuhiro Ishida.

Those are the fights in which Melendez made his reputation. Rockhold, meanwhile, is a fine young talent, but his rise coincided with Strikeforce’s downfall. It’s not like “Jacare” Souza, whom Rockhold beat for the middleweight belt, is any slouch. But all in all, Rockhold simply didn’t have the opportunities Melendez had. I’d expect Rockhold to get a top-10 fighter in his debut, but he’s nowhere near as close to a title shot in his division as is Melendez.

Middleweight madness

@CastanedaSammy: With all the talk of super fights, and contenders…why is Anderson silva ducking @ChrisWeidmanUFC?

Ducking him? Unless the exalted Sensei Segal taught Silva some sort of mystical mind trick which enabled the “Spider” to injure Weidman’s elbow from a continent away, I’m not sure how it’s Silva’s fault Weidman is out of action. Look, I’ve said over and over that Chris Weidman looks like a future champion. I stand by it. But he’s still a fighter with exactly one win of note at this point in his career, and he’s not yet a clearcut choice for a title shot ahead of other top contenders at 185.

@llogan219: Do you think Alan Belcher will fight for the belt in 2013?

If Belcher scores an impressive win over Yushin Okami at UFC 155, then he belongs in the conversation. Such a performance would give him five straight victories and seven out of eight, with the only loss the questionable split decision against Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 100. But the questions from there would be: 1. Can he hold up physically? The Okami bout marks just his fifth fight in the past three-and-a-half years. 2. What about Michael Bisping? If Bisping can pull off a win in Brazil over Vitor Belfort, Silva vs. Bisping becomes a huge-money fight in Brazil. 3. How long will Weidman be out? And none of this takes any superfight speculation into account, which could keep Silva from defending his title at all.

All in all, I wouldn’t rule out a Belcher title shot, but right now he’s sort of like that football team in the running for a wild card which has to win and then see how everything else plays out before knowing if they’re going to the playoffs.

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