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Credentialed: Bellator 163

On November 4, Bellator brought their traveling carnival of MMA into the Mohegan Sun Arena, in Uncasville, CT. It was a night where my fledgling journalistic journey would be embraced (for the first time) by big-league mixed martial arts. And the likes of Phil Davis, Liam McGeary and a host of other talents would make it a night to remember for the devotees in attendance.

Friday night was my first foray into being a credentialed press member for a major MMA show. So my excitement was palpable. It was subdued though, as I admired the massive splendor of the Mohegan Sun casino. Its impressive looking and mirrors any notable casino in the country—including that smell of cigarettes and senior citizen perfume wafting over from the slot machines.

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Fighters and Trainers Answer: Is Phil ‘CM Punk’ Brooks Ready for His UFC Debut?

Former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstar Phil “CM Punk” Brooks makes his professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) debut on Saturday, at UFC 203. Now almost 21 months removed from this surprising career change, and with almost as much time spent training, finding an answer to the question; “Is Phil Brooks ready for his debut?” is readily available.

After his signing with the UFC, Brooks quickly chose to do his training with Duke Roufus, at his well-respected Roufusport gym in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is the home of MMA stars like former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and ONE Championship welterweight kingpin Ben Askren.

Recently, cable network Fox Sports 1 debuted a four-part series—The Evolution of Punk—chronicling his journey towards fight readiness. With that footage available, along with the knowledge we have of Brooks before training, we felt it was a good time to get thoughts from personalities within the industry. And see if he has had enough time to prepare for his bout on Sep. 10.

MMASucka: CM Punk has been training towards an MMA debut for the better part of 19 months (he missed two months due to shoulder surgery). In your opinion, is that enough time for his coaches at Roufusport to get him prepared for UFC-level competition? It should be noted Punk has had zero amateur bouts and has no notable ranking in a base martial art.

Colin Oyama (Owner and head coach at Team Oyama gym. He has over 18 years of MMA coaching experience): There is an entertainment value that the UFC wants, so that re-defines what “UFC-level” competition means. For example, in pro boxing any promoter can go out and find a “pro” to fight against any level of entry opponent. The UFC can probably do the same. But would he stand a chance against an average level fighter that’s competitive in the UFC circuit? I don’t believe so, not in 19 months.

Anthony “2 Ton Tony” Ciampa (3-0 Amateur heavyweight, fighting out of American Top Team): Honestly speaking, even though he was a physical-performance athlete, I think that it takes more than 19 months to be ready for a shot at the big leagues.

Leonardo “Danger” Perez (Featherweight fighter based out of Bonebreaker Gym, with 14 amateur/professional bouts): I don’t think he has had enough time to be competitive in the UFC. He just hasn’t had the experience in the cage. Training and fighting are two different things and he is jumping straight into the big leagues.

To read the full article, head over to MMASucka.com.

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Featherweight Has Become the UFC’s Best Division

For as long as there have been professional combat sports, lighter weight-classes often don’t draw as much attention as the heavier ones. That isn’t from a lack of talent. While seeing two large men slug it out is fun, for purists, the lighter divisions are often the place to go for the most skillful action. Even in the Ultimate Fight Championship’s (UFC) short history, the lightweight division has consistently been a hub for fast paced and tactical combat. Now the 155 pound division hasn’t lost its place as shark tank. However, the much maligned UFC featherweight division is starting to make a play for consideration as the most dependable, and best, division in the company.

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Cheap Seats and The Stickman Podcast: McGregor/Diaz II, ATT Coach Paul Gavoni and Hollywood Beat

On this episode of the show we talk about the main event of UFC 202–Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz–with renowned American Top Team striking coach Dr. Paul “Paulie Gloves” Gavoni. Paulie has been a striking coach in the industry for almost two decades, having coached fighters like Brad Pickett, Jeff Monson and Melvin Guillard. We ask him his thoughts on CM Punks upcoming debut, a possible fighters union and of course about McGregor/Diaz II.

Also on the show we speak about some recent Hollywood news. The topics include Ghostbusters, Suicide Squad and a new show with Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg!

You can download the show on Google Play and iTunes by searching “Cheap Seats and The Stickman” on either format.

You can follow Paulie on twitter @PaulieGloves, on facebook at Paulie Gloves and at his website pauliegloves.com.

You can follow Jason on twitter @cheapseatschat and Jose @stickmancinema

The song used in the opening is Simon Panrucker’s “Treasure Hunt (Instrumental)”

Roy Jones Jr. on a Possible Amir Khan/Conor McGregor Clash

“What’s he losing? He could land a bomb too,” are the thoughts of one of the greatest fighters of all-time on a possible Amir Khan and Conor McGregor bout. In the last few years Roy Jones Jr. has transitioned to a role as one of the voices of HBO Boxing broadcasts. And he is just as talented in the arena of giving thoughtful analysis as he was in a boxing ring.

Comments like these are what make Jones Jr. so unique and enjoyable to listen to. Because he breaks it down to the brass tacks. The man will give you an open and honest opinion on the fight game. And it must be respected, since he is one of the grand masters of it.

The idea of a boxing vs. MMA clash is always fodder for interesting conversation. Now, a bout between a star of MMA and star of pro boxing has occurred (see: James Toney vs. Randy Couture), but that was a match-up between two aging names well passed their primes. However, a scrap between the pay-per-view box office draw McGregor, and multi-time world champion–and name fighter–Khan, would be much more significant. Since it would pit two pugilists in their prime against each other.

Khan seems very interested in the idea, judging from recent comments. The real questions is, would McGregor be keen on it as well? He seemed up for a possible bout with retired boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather. And that would have been under boxing rules. Khan is actually willing to step in the cage with the current UFC featherweight champion. If Toney was able to secure a one fight deal with the UFC then Khan stepping inside the famed octagon seems almost likely. If the money is right that is.

But watch the video and let Jones Jr. further galvanize your interest in this dream-fight.

Video courtesy of Fight Hub TV:

Would Another Division Change Make Daniel Cormier One of the Best Ever?

In just under seven years Daniel Cormier has made his mark as one of the very best fighters of the last decade. However, there is a feeling among fans, analysts and even Cormier himself, that a win over Jon Jones would forever solidify his legacy in the sport. Yet with Jones now possibly being absent  for up to two years after a doping violation, where does the UFC light heavyweight champion go to lay claim to being one of the best fighters of all-time? Would a super-fight championship win at heavyweight be the landmark moment needed for Cormier to achieve his goal?

“DC” has a record of 5-1 during his stint as a light heavyweight in the UFC. His lone loss in the division, and in his career, came in January of 2015 to the former champion and erstwhile pound-for-pound kingpin Jon Jones. With that victory Jones maintained his place at the top of the sport. Cormier looked to be in a position where he would have to work his way back up. And at 36-years-old, the opportunities to strengthen his case as an all-time great were disappearing.

To read the rest of my piece, head on over to lastwordonsports.com

Fight Video: UFC 196 – McGregor vs. Diaz I

Here is the memorable first match-up in its entirety. The rematch takes place on August 20 in Las Vegas, Nevada at UFC 202. Only on pay-per-view.

Brock Lesnar’s MMA Career: Reviewing the Fights – Part II

In part I of this article, we went over the furious first four fights of Brock Lesnar’s MMA career. In the second half of this world wind tale, discussion turns to the final four fights (before he makes his main event return on Saturday) of Lesnar’s original UFC tenure. And how the baddest man on the planet was weakened by an enemy from within.

Going into his fifth professional fight Brock Lesnar was at the top of the heavyweight heap. He was viewed as one of the scariest fighters in the world because of his uncanny agility for a man of his size, and his hulking power. But before he could claim total supremacy of the division, he first had to settle some unfinished business.

Opponent Five: Frank Mir

Frank Mir was the man that welcomed Lesnar to the UFC. And also handed the behemoth champion his first loss. Making for the perfect back story to their rematch. Furthering the intrigue, was that both men were better fighters than when they first fought. Lesnar won two fights in a row, including unseating former UFC Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture from his thrown. While Mir followed up his Lesnar win with a massive submission victory over heavyweight legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, in an interim title fight. In its simplest form, the fight was a 2009 MMA version of the unstoppable force versus the immovable object.

The fight strongly resembled the first. With Lesnar securing takedowns and controlling Mir. The main difference was Lesnar had grown in his all-around ground game and made sure to place himself in safe positions away from the danger of Mir’s BJJ skills. This intense rivalry showed in Lesnar’s punishing ground-and-pound that mangled Mir’s handsome face. Lesnar made a resounding statement, literally and figuratively, that he was now without a doubt the top heavyweight in the UFC.

Continue reading at lastwordonsports.com

Brock Lesnar’s MMA Career: A Fight-by-Fight Review – Part I

Brock Lesnar’s MMA career is one of the more fascinating and unpredictable eight fight tenures in the sport you may ever see. In just eight fights he secured his status as one of the biggest draws the industry has had to date. In just eight fights he changed the opinions of fans and analysts on what a performer from the realm of pro-wrestling can do, when outcomes of fights weren’t predetermined. In just eight fights Lesnar showed that, while his amateur wrestling credentials gave him a base to build off of, his freakish athleticism propelled him to the top of his division faster than any pundit of MMA ever imagined.

On Saturday night Lesnar makes his return to the octagon against Mark Hunt, in his ninth fight. But first, let’s look at four of his previous eight fights, and the uncanny start this man had to his career.

Opponent One: Min Soo Kim

When looking at this fight, two industry terms from professional wrestling come to mind: “squash match” and “jobber.” A squash match is a bout where one of the performers is meant to look completely out-classed against his far superior opponent. Which perfectly segues into what a jobber is. A jobber is the aforementioned out-classed individual, who is out there to make his opponent look like a million bucks. This is not meant to demoralize Kim and his career. But with a record of 3-7 in his four years in the sport, he was a fighter that was often there to elevate his opponent.

Continue reading the full article at lastwordonsports.com

Who Could be Next for Rampage

On Friday night Quinton “Rampage” Jackson continued his odyssey in the sport of MMA. Along with it being his return to the cage after more than a year away, it marked his return to Bellator MMA after a bout of unhappiness with how the company was satisfying his contract. While not a fight of the year (or night) candidate, Jackson earned a closely fought split decision win over Satoshi Ishii, in the main event of the company’s newest edition in their Dynamite series of events. With Jackson notching his fifth win in a row; his longest winning streak since 2007 — the obvious question is, who could be next for “Rampage?”

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