UFC president Dana White wants Cung Le to fight in China, and what White wants, he usually gets. Within hours of winning at UFC 148, Le had already heard from White that he wanted him to compete at UFC on FUEL 6, and even though Le is still recovering from injury, that’s still the plan.
As long as Le properly heals up from his recent three-round win over Patrick Cote, he’ll be facing Rich Franklin at UFC on FUEL 6, White said in a Thursday press interview in Calgary.
According to him, Le has a bone bruise and is in a walking cast, but the promotion is keeping tabs on his recovery in hopes that he’ll take a major slot on the card, which will emanate from Macau, the Chinese gambling and entertainment destination.
“I’m very confident that Cung Le is going to be in China,” he said.
Le and Franklin were originally scheduled to fight at UFC 148, but Franklin was pulled from the fight and moved up to UFC 147 headlining status opposite Wanderlei Silva after Silva’s original opponent Vitor Belfort was injured.
Franklin (29-6, 1 no contest) went on to win by unanimous decision.
Meanwhile, Le’s victory over Cote was his first in the UFC after losing to Silva in his octagon debut in 2011.
The original pairing between veteran middleweights is apparently one that the UFC still has an interest in, and as long as Le can soon be cleared, he should have no issues making the November 10 date.
“If he fights in China, he will fight Rich Franklin,” White said.
The question of who is next for middleweight champion Anderson Silva may be answered after Wednesday night’s UFC on FUEL 4 main event. Mark Munoz clearly has the deeper resume; he’s fought for the promotion for over three years, has won seven of his last eight, and is coming off an impressive TKO over Chris Leben. Chris Weidman, meanwhile, entered the UFC with the tag of promise, and has largely delivered, boasting an unbeaten record and a fast-evolving game.
Both are authentic talents within the division, yet there is no clamoring among the masses for either man as Silva’s next challenge. That could change with a decisive, exciting performance on Wednesday, and that’s probably what it will take to vault into that coveted spot.
It’s a bit surprising that with much less experience, Weidman was installed as a slight favorite by oddsmakers, and bet up even further by gamblers.
He’s coming off a UFC on FOX 2 unanimous decision win over Demian Maia. While the victory was solid if unspectacular, it showcased a few underrated aspects of his game. For example, he was able to pass Maia’s guard twice, no small feat against a highly decorated submission expert.
It’s a skill that could play into the Munoz fight. Of the two, Weidman has a far superior takedown accuracy percentage. Despite much being made of Munoz’s collegiate wrestling credentials, according to FightMetric, he’s successfully landed only a dismal 23 percent of his takedown attempts. While Munoz has looked much better in the category in recent fights — he’s a combined 8 for 16 in his last two fights — he’s shown himself to be vulnerable in that department against other decorated wrestlers. Against CB Dollaway, Munoz didn’t attempt any takedowns, but Dollaway was successful in his only try; against Aaron Simpson, he gave up five takedowns while he could only put Simpson on the mat once.
Now, it certainly bears noting that those stats notwithstanding, Munoz won both of those fights, so he’s not a one-trick pony by any means. If anything, he’s focused far more heavily on improving his striking than anything else, turning a former weakness into a strength. As a result, he lands 50 percent of his strikes, a strong number.
Munoz has flashed plenty of power in his striking, both in standup and on the mat, where his ground and pound can be overwhelming.
Anyway, even if Munoz’s takedowns don’t work, he often uses his positioning to drive his opponent against the cage where he can use his strength in the clinch to dirty box and wear down his opponent. That’s a tactic he’s used in multiple fights, notably against Simpson.
Given Weidman’s size and strength as a big middleweight, that’ll be no easy task against him. Weidman is well schooled in all aspects of the fight game. While he’s no striking technician, he’s serviceable and getting better. When it comes to wrestling, his timing and execution are outstanding, as he’s completed 69 percent of his takedowns and never been taken down himself. And on the mat he’s fast becoming a terror. Maia could do little with him there in extended time.
In that fight, Weidman was seen running out of gas, an issue that would project into the Munoz matchup since it’s scheduled for five rounds, two more than the Maia fight. But it must be remembered that Weidman took that fight on short notice, with just 11 days to cut weight and prepare.
This time around, he had nearly three months to get into proper shape and prepare, and he’s looked good with full camps — just ask Tom Lawlor and Jesse Bongfeldt.
So how does the battle of collegiate wrestling All-Americans with good hands play out? Closely, for at least some time. Munoz is coming back from an injury layoff, but it wasn’t terribly long, so he shouldn’t have developed any major cage rust. Because of that, he should be in prime condition.
The edge in striking goes to Munoz, who has shown more variety and demonstrated more power, but Weidman has a 7-inch reach advantage that should assist him in keeping things even. Weidman gets the edge in wrestling and ground work. If Weidman takes what’s available, he’ll find some success. Going punch-for-punch with Munoz isn’t it. Weidman is an athlete who has exhibited a strong fight IQ, so I expect him to make the quicker adjustments, and mix things up. He won’t hesitate to trade with Munoz, but he’ll also duck under some punches and muscle him to the ground. And I think on the ground, he’ll have a solid advantage with his dynamic abilities there. He’s simply figured out MMA wrestling better than Munoz so far, and that should shine through here.
Weidman is in some ways a newer and more promising version of Munoz. That doesn’t mean the original can’t win, but aside from landing a fight-changing right hand, I think Weidman will out-class him and announce himself as a contender. Weidman via third-round submission.
To fully understand the context of what Chael Sonnen was able to do against Anderson Silva in their first fight, you have to compare the performance to that of every other fighter who has faced Silva in the UFC. Aside from Sonnen, Silva has had 13 fights in the octagon that have lasted a total of 107 minutes and 18 seconds. During that collective time, those 13 opponents have hit Silva a total of 199 times, less than twice per minute.
At UFC 117, Sonnen hit him 320 times — 121 more times than Silva’s other 13 opponents combined — in 23 minutes, 10 seconds, an average of nearly 13 times per minute. And incredibly, he lost.
This is one of the trickiest parts of examining the rematch. On one hand, Sonnen was dominant for nearly the entire fight. On the other, he probably he fought the match of his life and still lost.
The first fight between them will forever be an all-time classic, an unpredictably developing match that saw both men out-dueled in their favorite discipline in the beginning seconds. Within two minutes of the opening horn, Sonnen had staggered Silva with a straight left hand, and Silva had responded by taking him down and putting him on his back. The rest of the fight would be just as surprising, largely due to Sonnen’s ability to control long stretches against the previously dominant champion.
Since then, Sonnen (27-11-1) has won twice, submitting Brian Stann with an arm triangle choke, and winning a unanimous decision over Michael Bisping. Meanwhile, Silva has earned two straight knockout wins, against Vitor Belfort and Yushin Okami, respectively.
Those victories have taken his overall win streak to 15 overall, and 14 straight in the UFC.
To most, the question now is whether Sonnen can utilize the same strategy he did in the first fight while staying out of a fight-ending submission.
One of the reasons Sonnen was so effective against Silva was because he offensively engaged him throughout. From beginning to end, Sonnen was hyper-aggressive, engaging him not only on the ground but in the standup portion of the bout as well. In many of other Silva’s fights, we’ve seen his opponents defer to him, letting him control distance before shooting from so far out that he has no problem stopping them.
Sonnen believed in his striking and that paid dividends in every facet of the match. Why? Because Silva had to respect what he was doing, he had to be on-guard against Sonnen’s ability to change levels from low to high, from punching to kicking and takedowns. Sonnen caught him clean with more standup strikes than any fighter ever because Silva was never too certain about what was coming next. A jab? A straight left hand? A feint into a double-leg takedown? Sonnen was capable of anything, and he mixed it up enough that guessing against him wouldn’t work.
Sonnen also showed remarkable courage in tight quarters, where Silva has done some of his best work. While many fighters abandon some of the takedown attempts that don’t seem promising against Silva, Sonnen stayed with them and was rewarded for his tenacity.
His ground game was similarly varied. He jabbed the body, attacked the head, basically hit any available target. This was important for a number of reasons. First, it scores points with the judges. Second, it is physically and mentally taxing on an opponent on the bottom to defend an onslaught. And third, Silva doesn’t mind fighting from his back, but let’s face it, Sonnen was more likely to win a fight against Silva one round at a time grinding from the top rather than standing in the center of the cage against him.
Sonnen’s top game is predicated on control. It’s not about landing the knockout blow or trying to slash his opponent with an elbow. It’s first and foremost about the positioning. Unlike others who simply blanket their opponent, Sonnen is active with his strikes, but only from the context of keeping his control.
He can do the same thing against Silva again. I’m more interested in whether he can dominate the wrestling. One thing worth noting in the first fight is that Silva adjusted and did better in the later rounds. Sonnen was 0-for-3 in the last two rounds of the fight, but was able to get Silva on his back with a reversal and a slip.
As we know now, Silva was not near 100 percent health-wise, suffering from a broken rib, yet he did fairly respectably with his takedown defense, stopping four of seven tries. And Sonnen was fighting with an elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio. So in some ways, the playing field was tilted in Sonnen’s favor.
In a recent interview with MMA Fighting’s Luke Thomas, Randy Couture had an interesting observation about this fight, saying that in a rematch, usually the loser of the fight gains more knowledge about adjustments than the winner, yet in this case, Sonnen was the loser who did everything right up until the end.
Silva knows the adjustments he needs to make when it comes to squaring up his stance and threatening with more frequent submissions when the fight goes to the ground. He learned things about Sonnen, but Sonnen’s greatest takeaways are probably about himself.
Sonnen has the tools to beat Silva. In 2010 we weren’t sure, but we know it now. So do Sonnen and Silva. Many things point to Sonnen ending Silva’s run at the top, but I think the champion is the one who has the more helpful adjustments to make. Sonnen fought the fight of his life and still couldn’t win, making it hard to bet that he could do one better the second time around. Silva has the better striking, but his ground game is far more dangerous, too. That gets forgotten because of what he can do with his fists, but in fights against vaunted wrestlers Sonnen and Dan Henderson, it was his black belt that took him to the finish line. Armed with the knowledge of the first fight, I expect Silva to do much a better job staying on his feet this time around. He’ll hurt Sonnen with a flurry en route to a third-round submission win.
Press Release – Beijing, China – The Ultimate Fighting Championship® organization continued its foray into new territories today, officially announcing its first-ever event in the People’s Republic of China, and its second event in Asia this year. Macau, a Special Administrative Region of China located off the mainland’s southern coast, will host a UFC event on November 10, 2012.
The event will take place at The Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel’s CotaiArena, a 15,000-seat venue which has established itself as the top live-entertainment location in southern China. The fight will be broadcast by FUEL TV in the US market, and by numerous UFC television partners around Asia and globally.
“Breaking into a market with a population of over 1.3 billion is both a testament to the growth of our sport and a long-term challenge we are excited to undertake,” said Lorenzo Fertitta, UFC Chairman and CEO. “This is just the first of many world-class fights we plan to hold over the coming years in China, one of the birthplaces of martial arts. The world-class CotaiArena in Macau is an ideal place to start this journey.”
“Sands China is thrilled to introduce UFC to Macau forthe first time,” said Edward Tracy, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sands China Ltd. “Our continuing mission is to bring the best entertainment events to the region, cementing Macau’s place as Asia’s entertainment hub. It’s our pleasure to be working with the UFC organization to bring such a major sporting event for the enjoyment of Macau’s visitors andlocals alike.”
Over the last several years, the UFC has built its broadcast reach in China to more than 450 million television viewers via a dozen provincial broadcasters, and more than 500 million unique viewers through the nation’s leading internet portals. UFC fighter Zhang Tiequan leads a growing group of professional MMA fighters in mainland China, several of whom are candidates to make their UFC debut in Macau.
“This event is a major step in the development of the UFC brand in this region of the world, and China in particular,” noted Mark Fischer, UFC Managing Director of Asia. “We are delighted by this opportunity to build on the media growth and attention we have received and to finally bring a live event in prime time to the millions of fans in this area, and especially to those lucky enough to come and experience all the excitement of the UFC in person.”
Ticket information and fight card announcements to be made at a later date. For more information or current fight news, visit http://ufc.cn/.
Photo credit: The Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel
About the Ultimate Fighting Championship®
Universally recognized for its action-packed, can’t-miss events that have sold out some of the biggest arenas and stadiums across the globe, the UFC® is the world’s premier mixed martial arts (MMA) organization. Owned and operated by Zuffa, LLC, headquartered in Las Vegas and with offices in London, Toronto and Beijing, UFC produces more than 30 live events annually and is the largest Pay-Per-View event provider in the world. In 2011, the UFC burst into the mainstream with a landmark seven-year broadcast agreement with FOX Sports Media Group. The agreement includes four live events broadcast on the FOX network annually, with additional fight cards and thousands of hours of programming broadcast on FOX properties FX and FUEL TV. This also includes the longest-running sports reality show on television, The Ultimate Fighter®, which now airs on FX.
In addition to its reach on FOX, UFC programming is broadcast in over 149 countries and territories, tonearly one billion homes worldwide, in 20 different languages. UFC content is also distributed commercially in the United States to bars and restaurants through Joe Hand Promotions, in English throughout Canada via Premium Sports Broadcasting Inc. and in French throughout Quebec via Interbox. The UFC also connects with tens of millions of fans through its website, UFC.com, as well as social media sites Facebook and Twitter. UFC President Dana White is considered one of the most accessible and followed executives in sports, with over twomillion followers on Twitter. Ancillary UFC businesses include best-sellingDVDs, an internationally distributed magazine, UFC.TV offering live event broadcasts and video on demand around the world, the best-selling UFC Undisputed® video game franchise distributed by THQ and a new franchise in development with EA, UFC GYM®, UFC Fight Club affinity program, UFC Fan Expo® festivals, branded apparel and trading cards.
About the CotaiArena™
Since opening in 2007, the 15,000-seat CotaiArena has established itself as the top live-entertainmentvenue in southern China. It is the only venue in Asia ranked in Pollstar’s Top 100 Worldwide Arena Venues based on ticket sales. It hosts the world’s and the region’s biggest names in music, sports and awards shows. Superstars frequently choose the venue as the starting point of their Asian tours.
Former Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion Miesha ‘Takedown’ Tate (12-3) has her next fight when she faces Jackson’s MMA fighter Julie ‘Fireball’ Kedzie (16-9) this August at the upcoming Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman event.
Strikeforce officials confirmed the news on Twitter (@strikeforce) on Monday evening.
- Just announced: former bantamweight champ @MieshaTate will return to action Aug. 18 against @julesk_fighter in San Diego!
Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman is expected to take place on August 18, 2012 at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California. The main card should air on SHOWTIME with the prelim card airing on SHOWTIME Extreme.
Tate has her first fight since losing the title to Ronda Rousey last March. ‘Takedown’ suffered a dislocated elbow in that fight and has since been recovering from that injury. Before the loss, Tate had won six straight matches including winning a four woman bantamweight tournament to determine the next contender. Tate then went on to defeat former champ Marloes Coenen for the title one year ago at the Fedor vs. Henderson event.
Kedzie made her last appearance at the same July event last year making her Strikeforce debut. She would lose that fight to Alexis Davis by unanimous decision ending a four fight win streak for the Jackson’s MMA Series women’s bantamweight champion. Kedzie had been scheduled to face Germaine de Randamie on a Challengers card in September but was forced out with an injury.
Celebrate the UFC over the Fourth of July in Las Vegas! Fans from across the globe will enjoy free concerts, exclusive pool parties hosted by Octagon Girls, open workouts, pub crawls, UFC Fan Expo, weigh-ins and amazing access to UFC fighters around the city. This all leads up to the ultimate rematch between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen at UFC 148 live at the MGM Grand Garden Arena! If you love the UFC, there is no better way to experience it than in Las Vegas.
A bantamweight bout between Canadian fighter Roland Delorme (8-1) and Francisco Rivera (8-2) has been confirmed by UFC officials recently for the upcoming UFC 149 event next month.
UFC 149 is expected to take place on July 21, 2012 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Delorme, who was a cast member of season fourteen of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, has won two straight since debuting in the Octagon last December. The Canadian fighter most recently won a first round submission victory versus Nick Denis at the UFC on FOX 3 event after stepping in for an injured Johnny Bedford. The Canadian won his debut at the TUF 14 Finale by submitting Josh Ferguson at the Las Vegas event.
Rivera, a former TUF 13 cast member, recently returned to the UFC last month as a replacement for Azamat Gashimov at the UFC on FUEL TV 3. At the Virginia event, he won a unanimous decision over Alex Soto. Rivera then accepted a fight with Ken Stone at UFC on FX 4, replacing an injured Edwin Figueroa but was forced off the card too with an injury. He is currently on a three fight win streak.