Sunday, 27 June 2010

Destroying Bison won't bring Charlie back

It seems apt to write a piece on one of the greatest fighters in the brief history of the sport. Not as an epitaph as I still believe we'll see more from Fedor but to take stock of just how amazing his achievements truly are.

Fedor Emelianenko

It had to be about Fedor, there's no other way to start. A friend of mine and I were driving to the casino at 3am a while back and we began talking about Fedor. He said something interesting which, in the current light, seems incredibly apt.

"I don't think Fedor will care if he loses, you can
tell by his demeanour and his approach to the sport. He'll approach it with the same ice cold methodicism that he approaches everything else with."

Fedor has remained, and realistically still is, one of the last great enigmas in mixed martial arts. Dana may constantly talk about how he's not interested and doesn't respect Fedor but somehow it doesn't wash. He may as well be pulling at Fedor's pigtails and chasing him round the playground.

The UFC is in a much stronger position that is has ever been with heavyweights and the magnitude of the incoming Carwin vs. Lesnar fight surely is testament to this. You can't overlook just what Fedor has done in his career that has seen a winning streak that (officially) went for 10 years and 28 fights. People talk about the UFC now but, if you cast your mind back , it's not that long ago that the UFC were offering us Sylvia vs. Monson when Pride had already given us Fedor vs. Cro Cop.

Fedor has fought and beaten the best, that is simply fact. His situation with the UFC was an unfortunate one and I guess it's all speculation as to how close the deal was to being done. It would have generated some very interesting match ups but there are still battles for Fedor to take wherever in the world he chooses to go.

This is all the more amazing when you see the fact that Fedor could easily cut weight and fight at 185 pounds but he chooses to test himself against the biggest and the best fighters in the world. Some may be quick to mock some of the fighters that he has defeated but a true champion realises that his role is not to question his opponent, only to defeat them.

I've only read bits and pieces of the Internet response to Fedor's defeat as it didn't throw me up any surprises. A lot of people quick to point out the first submission loss of his career rather than focus on the 32 wins he has strung together and how it's unlikely that we'll ever see another streak of that magnitude for a very long time. He (realistically) didn't lose a fight in a 10 year career that spanned over 35 fights and he finally gets caught by the best BJJ heavyweight on the planet. If that had happened to any other fighter the reaction by the public would have been totally different.

If Fedor's loss should teach the mixed martial arts community anything it should be that everyone is human and that no one is invincible, especially in a sport that has a myriad of variables dictating victory. How far did Kazuyuki Fujita come to defeating Fedor that night? The truth is we'll never know. In short it's way too soon to be making predictions and pointing fingers of blame. The best voice to give logic to this situation is Fedor's and I think his words sum up why he will always be a legend, irrespective of which continent he makes his living on.

"The one who doesn't fall never stands up. It happened that people made me an idol. But everybody loses. I'm just a human being. And if it's God's will next fight, I'll win."

Fedor Emelianenko

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Pit Fighter

As promised here's the link to my review of Cage Control, an amazing evening that it was a joy to be a part of.

There also might be another piece coming out in the next few days, so if and when that appears I'll just tack it to the end of this section.

Just a quick nod to say thanks to everyone over the last few days. It's been hectic to say the least but now everything is much calmer.

Also, are you psyched for Lesnar vs. Carwin yet? If the answer is no then please watch the video listed below then proceed to run around like you're fighting for the last spot in an air raid shelter.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Cage Control - You can't teach heart

Any time I get to commentate a show I always feel blessed that I've had the chance to be a part of this great sport and this weekend was no different. A big thanks to all of the Cage Control team who put on an amazing debut event with a level of energy and intimacy that I was blown away by.

There'll be a few reviews coming up real soon, when I get the addresses of where they're going to be published I'll be sure to enlighten you good people so you can get involved. I was also given my first shot at live interviewing and I'd like to thank UFC fighters Ross Pointon and Paul Kelly for being easy to interview and giving the crowd what they wanted to hear. The fights were a great mix of technical striking, grappling and one of the most phenomenal displays of heart that I've ever seen. Thanks for all who were a part of it and made the day run so smoothly and keep an eye on here for the links to the write ups.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and take care of yourselves

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Gym of the Month - Spartan MMA

I thought it was about time I gave some space to the gyms up and down the country so you people can see just how much quality there is at the minute and how the sport is making these gyms evolve every single day. This month I'll be profiling Spartan MMA,, who have their first mma show this Saturday (19th June) in Shrewsbury as they bring us Cage Control 1 - The Beginning: I caught up with Gym co-founder Andy Molyneux for a chat about Spartan MMA.

What was your first involvement in mixed martial arts?

I first got involved with MMA about 9 years ago when I was helping to teach traditional Ju Jitsu at a club in Surrey. I had a small group of friends within the class who didn’t really want to learn the ‘deadly techniques’ that the Sensei said can’t really be tested but would definitely work???

We decided to hire a sports hall at the local leisure centre and it went from there, it was pretty crude and we didn’t know what we were doing, we would watch UFC videos and try and copy the techniques. We would also stand in the centre circle of the basketball court with 16oz gloves on and beat the shit our of each other for 5 minutes!

How did Spartan MMA start?

Spartan MMA started after Dougie Wildman and myself got selected to fight for the ISKA National MMA Team in the European Championships in Rome. We were both training a lot but we needed to do more sparring. We decided to hire a sports hall for a couple of hours 3 times a week. Our plan was to teach for the first hour to pay the hall hire and then pick some of the better ones to spar with for the second hour. We handed out some flyers to try and get people through the doors and were blown away by the response. When we turned up at the sports hall for our first session there were 40 + blokes waiting!

What is your vision for Spartan MMA?

To be a recognised camp that turns out high quality fighters at all levels. We have a huge amateur team with about 20 fighters and a good semi-pro team of about 10 fighters. We have some real prospects and are looking forward to the future!

Who are the coaches and what are their respective backgrounds?

We have 3 coaches at Spartan MMA. Dougie Wildman has a striking background with a black belt in Kickboxing and years of experience in thai boxing. I look after stuff when it goes to the ground, I have a black belt in ju jitsu (traditional) and nine years of competitive submission grappling. Both Doug and I are ISKA Team England fighters and students under Mario Sukata from Wolfslair for BJJ and. We also have Lee Youens who heads up our Junior MMA Program, Lee is a judo brown belt and the ISKA Amateur European Featherweight Champion.

What range of classes do you currently run?

The classes we currently run are: Preliminary Martial Arts Training, this if for 7yrs and under. Junior MMA for 8 – 14yrs, Ladies Only Box-Fit, Cardio Sessions, MMA, striking for mma fundamentals, grappling in mma fundamentals and sparring sessions. We are open 4 days a week to the public and 6 days a week for the fight team leading up to a fight. We also offer our fight team early morning sessions free of charge in preparation for a fight. These sessions are horrible; 5:30am – 7:00am These are just as much about mental strength as physical.

As more and more gyms open up what do you think is unique about the Spartan experience?

Most of the gyms that seem to be popping up here there and everywhere are an existing martial arts school that is jumping on the MMA band wagon. Our club is purely mma, every technique or drill we introduce is evaluated to see if it would be effective in an mma situation. Very soon we will also be one of the most kitted out gyms in the country too. Our New Sponsor BeaverFit is supplying us with a cross fit rig and all the gooidies that go along with it such as ropes, tyres & hoops. They are putting in cage walls that will run the length of our 2000sq ft gym, and a full cage to sit next to our existing boxing ring. We can’t wait!

What is the most gruelling session that you currently run?

We do a session called ‘The Beast’ we normally run it on a Friday evening once a month straight after the cardio session. Our warm up is a deck of cards; hearts = press ups, spades = sit ups, clubs = burpees, diamonds = 4 punches & sprawl. Basically we shuffle the pack, turn the top card over and whatever number is on the card that’s how many we do of that exercise – we do the whole pack! We then have 35 stations of 1 minute excrcises including tyre flips, clap press ups, defending takedowns against the wall & resistance band shoots.

How would you sum up Spartan MMA in one sentence?

A grassroots gym who are starting to make waves in Mixed Martial Arts in the UK.

What are your plans to develop the gym in the future?

To keep our fight team healthy, develop the junior mma programs and to promote mma in the local area.

Is there anyone that you'd like to thank or give a shout out to?

I'd like to give a quick thank you to Beaver fit @ & Fight easy @

Monday, 14 June 2010

Cold Fury Films and the Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin cataclysm

Good day all,

I've been a huge Mirko fan since as long as I can remember so, as you might imagine, I'm jubilant that he put away his most dangerous UFC foe with a submission of the night winning performance. I'll always be a huge fan and it makes me happy to see him doing well in the UFC at last. I respect the fact he continually steps up and only hope there's a piece of James Toney left after Randy beats him. Cro Cop vs. Toney would be a great contest in my humble opinion.

Cold Fury Films

Time to take this a tad more serious I think. Now I've got some legitimately good video editing software and some time to play with it I'm going to start making way more videos and maybe even try to make a bit of a sideline with it. It's so much fun and more importantly it's another way for me to be involved with this amazing sport. I'll keep the updates coming here so please watch out for them.

Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin

This fight is only a few weeks away and I can't put into words how excited I am by it all. It should be an awesome contest and MMA Hit Pit were good enough to publish my recent article previewing this titanic struggle. If you get chance to read it please let me know what you think as I do honestly think it's a fight that people will be talking about for a long time.

That puts the wraps on it all for today, I've got a boat load of stuff to write up which I'll do in the next few days. I've had a few people recently give me some really good feedback about this blog and I can't really put it into words how much that means. I write because I love trying to sum up what I feel when I watch mma. The idea that there are people out there who talk about what I say and take the time to read my opinions and articles is incredible.

Thanks for taking the time once again and I'll speak to you all very soon.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

MMA Hit Pit and still more updates to come

Good evening all.

I just wanted to drop a quick line to say that the blog is properly itemised now between articles and blogs. Each piece has a prefix so you can tell what's what. I guess I'm just quite OCD like that in some respects.

I also wanted to give a shout out to Del at MMA Hit Pit for publishing my round up of Night of the Gladiators 4, it was an amazing show and I was once again blessed to work there.

I'll have a lot more stuff for you over the next few weeks so be sure to keep checking in.
Thanks for taking the time and I shall no doubt write more very soon.

Take Care

The Ultimate Fighter and the Mixed Martial Arts Revolution Part 2

This article was featured in the June 2010 Issue of Fighters Magazine.

As the current season of The Ultimate Fighter draws closer to its explosive finale, it’s time to continue with the review of seasons past. The world had become much more acclimatized to The Ultimate Fighter in the wake of the explosion of interest in Mixed Martial Arts. The following seasons of the show would prove to be some of the most discussed for the events that took place both in, and outside the cage.

Season 5.
Coaches: BJ Penn & Jens Pulver
Winner: Lightweight – Nate Diaz
Quote of the Season: BJ Penn: “Does anyone see Gabe not giving 100%?”
Alan Berubie: “You just gotta stop giving 100% in the kitchen bro.”
Fight of the Season: Episode 3: Nate Diaz vs Robert Emerson

This season of TUF went out in April 2007 and saw all the participants fighting it out for just one contract. All of the fighters bought into the house were lightweights and the season was originally designed to bring some attention to the recently re-introduced 155lb bracket in the UFC. Who better to coach than two of the founding fathers of the division? Jens Pulver and BJ Penn had battled for the lightweight gold once before and Penn was hungry to avenge the loss and get his shot at Pulver. Also different was the fact that the coaches would fight in the live finale on Spike TV to add some more drawing power. The standard of fights in this series was very high, with the lighter framed fighters being able to push a faster pace in general.

Season 5 also bought together some very talented fighters, a few of whom had already tasted fighting for the UFC. Matt Wiman and Gabe Ruediger had both come up short inside the octagon but it was Joe Lauzon who came into the house with the biggest win. Lauzon had spectacularly upset Jens Pulver in his return to the UFC by knocking him out in just 47 seconds of the first round at UFC 63. Also in the field were Nate Diaz’s brother Nate and Karo Parisyan’s cousin Manvel Gamburyan.

It was clear that the fights inside the cage were going to be top quality but no one could have been prepared for the drama that was going to take place in the house. From the hot headed Gamburyan calling out the entire of BJ Penn’s team in the house, to the patio brawl that saw Alan Berubie, Marlon Sims and Noah Thomas all ejected. The single biggest incident that lives in infamy in the history of the show has to be Gabe Ruediger and his struggle to make weight.

Gabe had come in over twenty pounds too heavy and all his attempts to shift this weight, colonic irrigation and ice cream in bed, had not helped him out. Ruediger was picked to fight and the frantic battle to get him down 18 pounds in a day began. The subsequent montage of Gabe falling out of the sauna, sitting down moaning and passing out naked by the side of the swimming pool will always be linked to his career wherever he chooses to fight. He was ejected from the house by Dana White in customary fashion and will be inevitably remembered as the fat kid who ate too much cake even though it was, by his own admission, “just a small small piece.”
The finale would see Manvel Gamburyan dislocate his shoulder and lose to Nate Diaz and also BJ Penn choke out Jens Pulver in the main event. The UFC had set out to publicise the 155lb weight class with this series and with BJ Penn still sitting atop that mountain, it is clear that they were successful.

Season 6.
Coaches: Matt Hughes and Matt Serra
Winner: Welterweight – Mac Danzig
Quote of the Season: Matt Serra: “He’s trying to turn them all into Christians!!!”
Fight of the Season: TUF 6 Finale: Jared Rollins vs John Koppenhaver

Season 6 saw a return for Matt Hughes and gave TUF4 winner and newly crowned welterweight champion Matt “The Terror” Serra a chance to take the coaching role. Like the previous season, there was one weight category and one contract. The talent was arguably not as deep at the previous season but straight away favourites emerged. Mac Danzig had over twenty fights, was a King of the Cage champion and his last fight was for Pride FC. This experience was a far cry from the records of most TUF rookies. Amongst the rest of the fighters there were several promising contenders but it was clear that the experience and abilities of Danzig would give him a clear edge.

Once again this season pitted two coaches against each other who had a variety of personal issues. Serra laid his cards on the table really early and told Hughes that he had no intentions of being friends with him and that he was here to help the fighters. This was a very refreshing and professional attitude from Serra who, unlike Ken Shamrock had done previously, did not let his personal feelings and emotions get in the way of his responsibility to the fighters.
Outside of the fights there was far less drama this season than the previous offering.

Mac Danzig was perpetually grumpy and seemed to get more and more irritated as each day passed. He would have fought in the house with Team Serra’s Richie Hightower had it not been for the intervention of his team mates. The only real confrontation in the house came when Jared Rollins confronted Jon Koppenhaver over a toilet based prank that got out of hand. It took a swift double leg by Koppenhaver to stop Rollins from taking his head off but the two would have the chance to settle their differences at the end of the season.

The season finale was headlined by Clay Guida and Roger Huerta who put on a fight of the year performance in a phenomenal bout. This contest was far more exciting and unpredictable than the finale itself which saw Mac Danzig submit Tommy Speer in the first round. The Guida vs Huerta encounter proved to be a very good strategy for the UFC as they put a great fight as the headline of a free MMA card which drew them both viewers and new fans alike.

Season 7.
Coaches: Forrest Griffin vs Quinton Jackson
Winner: Middleweight – Amir Sadollah
Quote of the Season: Quinton Jackson “He netted me. I think Forrest found it very funny. Him and his chicken faced assistant coach. His ugly ass needs to be the one that gets netted!”
Fight of the Season: Episode 6. Dan Cramer vs Luke Zachrich

By the time the seventh season came along we all thought it was business as usual when the coaches were announced. Forrest Griffin was coming off his victory over Shogun Rua and the UFC were clearly happy that they had a legitimate title contender from their reality show. Although Matt Serra technically was the first TUF champion; Forrest was the first TUF champion with no prior UFC experience or exposure before he went into the house.

The formula had worked for the past couple of seasons so we were given two coaches who would fight after the finale, one contract at a set division but then came the real twist. 32 fighters showed up to the house that day. Dana White wanted to make sure he wouldn’t have another quitter on his hands so he made all the fighters win one fight before they were admitted. All the fighters looked somewhat taken aback by this, but of all the nervous reactions that were shown, the sharpest intake of breath was taken by Dan Simmler.

Dan Simmler is a nationally ranked grappler and had won several contests upon coming into this season. He unwittingly described his stand up as, “limited at best” during his pre fight interview. In what has easily become the most talked about knockout in TUF history, Simmler was put to sleep in the second round by a savage punch and two vicious hammer fists on the ground from wrestling powerhouse Matthew Riddle. Simmler was clearly unconscious but when he awoke he began wailing like a banshee and shortly afterwards could not remember anything about the incident. As Rampage went on to say he “broke his jaw a little bit” and picked up a serious concussion. This set the bar high for the rest of the season to follow.

One of the more enigmatic characters in the house was Matt Brown. Forrest called him an “unassuming gentleman” but after a ferocious win in his first fight it was clear that Brown meant business. It was Jeremy May, the joker of the season, who proceeded to try to rile Matt Brown by squeezing limes into his tobacco. This tactic worked and Matt Brown duly called out May and went on to knock him out with a first round head kick. In the words of Brown himself, “The only thing I hurt was my foot on his face.”

There were several characters in the house but early favourites CB Dolloway and Jesse Taylor looked set to meet in the final until CB was upset by the never say die attitude of Forrest Griffin-a-like Amir Sadollah. In a season seemingly defined by the twist at the start it was a colossal twist at the end that would have everyone talking. After the taping of the show Jesse Taylor went on a drunken rampage in downtown Vegas and Dana White was duly notified. Jesse was ejected from the show and CB Dolloway and Tim Credeur fought for the chance to meet Amir in the Final. CB was able to edge the fight out and made it to the final for a shot at revenge.

The Finale was another strong card of fights but this year there was not as many spots for the fighters coming out of the house. The battle for the contract saw a repeat of CB Dolloway vs Amir Sadollah and a repeat of the result and method as Sadollah was able to pull an arm bar victory out to win the season and the contract. The rest of the card saw the late Evan Tanner return and drop a decision to Kendall Grove and TUF1 winner Diego Sanchez finishing the always tough Luigi Fioravanti with strikes in the third round. Also worthy of a mention was the match between Josh Burkman vs Dustin Hazelett for one of the greatest submission victories of all time. Hazelett’s gravity defying armbar made it to hundreds of highlight reels around the world and it isn’t hard to see why.

In short TUF7 was all about shocks and, once again, although the depth in talent wasn’t necessarily the best that the show has offered; it was the entertainment value that kept the world watching.

Season 8.
Coaches: Frank Mir & Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Winners: Lightweight – Efrain Escudero
Light Heavyweight – Ryan Bader
Quote of the Season: Dana White: “This ain’t Survivor man. There’s no vote em off vote em off here. Vote em off... It’s more like beat em off. That didn’t sound good!”
Fight of the Season: Episode 12: Efrain Escudero vs Junie Browning

Same bat time, same bat channel. TUF 8 picked up just where the last season had left off; the fighters were expecting to have to fight to get into the house this time. Even so it was still a mystery why Jason Guida managed to come in overweight and was unable to make the limit. The prelim fights this season were a brutal affair and left several fighters unable to continue due to injuries.

In the house it was the antics of one particular character that was the focus of most of the attention. Junie Browning seemed to be reading a book written by Chris Leben many seasons back. Browning, however, was much more obnoxious and aggressive towards his fellow housemates and came very close to being ejected. Browning made the understatement of the season when he said, “There’s free alcohol in the house so that can’t be good.” Three times he was nearly thrown off the show for throwing items such as coffee cups and wine glasses at other fighters and jumping into the octagon making threats. Browning won his first fight in the house in unimpressive fashion only to be choked out by Efrain Escudero, who he had been verbally abusing for the whole season. It was just deserts to see Escudero get his revenge on Browning in the best way possible.

TUF 8 went back to having fighters across two weight categories and also clearly scouted around for more talent as we were treated to a much stronger line up. The two coaches, although competitive, seemed to have a good deal of respect for each other and as much as there was tension, it was one of the more professional coaching contests in the show’s history. I do wonder how fair it was, however, to make the coaches challenge a penalty shoot out. Brazil 10-6 USA.

The finale would be another interesting affair with BJJ ace Vinnie Magalhaes coming up short against juggernaut like Ryan Bader. In the lightweight final we saw Escudero continue what he had started against Browning in the house. Escudero out worked favourite Phillipe Nover through three rounds and went on to be crowned the TUF8 lightweight winner. As in previous seasons the card was bolstered by more well known UFC talent and the highlight of that was Anthony Johnson’s spectacular head kick finish of a very game Kevin Burns.

TUF 8 was, interestingly enough, the only season so far not to get a UK DVD release and a lot of critics were quick to point fingers at the UFC endlessly recycling the same television show again and again. What critics could not overlook was that of the depth of talent that came off that season. But what of Junie Browning I hear you ask? Junie won his fight in the finale and then went on to be submitted by Cole Miller at UFC Fight Night: Condit vs Kampmann. His next fight following this was against three nurses in a hospital in Nevada, one of whom was a female. Upon hearing this news Dana White immediately terminated Browning’s UFC contract and the rest of the world wondered how nobody else saw this coming.

Season 9.
Coaches: Michael Bisping & Dan Henderson
Winners: Lightweight – Ross Pearson
Welterweight –James Wilks
Quote of the Season: Michael Bisping: “England 1 USA NONE. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!”
Fight of the Season: Episode 10: Nick Osipczak vs. DeMarques Johnson

Season 9 of the Ultimate Fighter looked to pick up on the boom of MMA over in the UK and pitted Bisping’s Team UK against Dan Henderson’s Team USA. Once again fighters were required to win their way into the house and those preliminary fights told us a very different story to that of a few years ago. The British fighters came in phenomenal shape and were ready to go from the outset. All the UK fighters who made it onto the show put on some phenomenal performances and clearly impressed both the coaches and Dana White.

By contrast the American fighters were portrayed in an altogether different light. There were several fighters who needed replacing due to issues of not making weight and also due to an outbreak of herpes. The fighters who made it to the house were duly told by Dana White the intentions and desire that the UK fighters had shown in an attempt to motivate them.

When the teams were finally assembled, it was unclear who had the advantage in terms of fighters but it was never in doubt who had more team spirit. Bisping’s British bulldogs were a team from start to finish and worked hard to help each other out, irrespective of whether they had fights or not. The fights on the show were some of the more watchable contests in the last few seasons.

Perhaps the greatest irony that TUF has even seen took place in this season. Frank Leicester was picked to fight James Wilks and in typical brash American fashion, Team USA were seen offering Frank the sum of $100 per tooth that he knocked out of his opponent’s head. In a fantastic twist of fate Wilks was able to catch Leicester with a beautifully timed knee that not only knocked Frank’s four front teeth out, lodged them into his gum shield.

The finale was very nearly an all British affair and James Wilks put on a submission clinic to get a first round win over the only American in the final four, DeMarques Johnson. Elsewhere Ross Pearson was able to grind out a tough decision over Andre Winner at lightweight and the card was capped off by yet another Clay Guida fight of the year contender as he lost on points to Diego Sanchez.

With that we arrive at the present day. With the UFC raking in massive ratings with TUF10 it is only a matter of time before we see who the new face of the heavyweight division will be. The Ultimate Fighter was never meant to kick start the explosion we saw in the popularity of the UFC and the sport worldwide.

Dana White had frequently said that he hated reality television but the show had proved to be a master stroke. A new generation of MMA fans were introduced to the sport through the mainstream tool of reality television. The show allowed the fans to connect with the fighters and went a long way to dispel the myths that the general public had about the sport. The importance of The Ultimate Fighter can never be underestimated as it helped the sport expand in ways that were previously unthinkable.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Already seeking the next challenge, ceremony means nothing to him.

After an immense weekend I'd like to say thanks very much to all who were involved.
Night of the Gladiators 4 was the best show yet and I'd keep a look out on
for the videos as they're usually quite fast with sorting them out.

Also XFC3 was amazing and I'd like to thank all who were involved with it. A truly professional show which was capped off with some amazing fights. My review for the show is available to read at the following address.

That was pretty much the top and bottom of what I had to say in all honesty. It just remains for me to remind you to look out for Cage Control 1 as it's only a few weeks away on June 19th and if there's one thing the Spartan guys love it's a good fight. You can check the details of that out on:

Thanks once again for reading and if you've got anything you want to ask then be sure to drop me a line.

Take Care