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May 23, 2009

Lyoto Machida-Rashad Evans: A New Breed of Fighting in the UFC

There's been no lack of opinions concerning the Lyoto Machida-Rashad Evans UFC 98 main event.

It's the MMA equivalent to Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao, Peyton Manning vs. Brett Favre, Sir Alex Ferguson vs. Rafael Benitez.

It's going to shape the way fighters train and fight from May 23 forward.

But why? How could two fighters who flew well under the radar alter the way fighters approach fighting?

In one corner, there's Rashad Evans, who is (for all intents and purposes) the best career fluke in MMA history. The last choice to win The Ultimate Fighter 2 Tournament, the underdog in every match since then, and an underdog today, Evans didn't begin turning heads until he knocked out Chuck Liddell.

A grinding fighter with a decision-heavy record, Evans lacked the glaze that UFC light heavyweight champions traditionally have.

Ortiz has unmatched ground-and-pound. Couture has dirty boxing and indomitable wrestling. Liddell has punishing right and left hooks shot from the hip. Jackson has raw power. Griffin has work-ethic, intelligence, and a solid chin.

So what special trait does Evans bring to the title?

Adaptability in the face of adversity.

If anything, Evans should be known for his ring awareness and adjustments. Against fighters with readily exploitable weaknesses, Evans pounces.

Although Jackson was the first in a long list of challengers to exploit Liddell's long-winded yet devastating hook, Evans capitalized on the same error, smashing his right hand into Liddell's jaw with a left ready to follow basically knocking him out of his shoes.

Prior to his match with Liddell, Evans's kick to Sean Salmon's unsuspecting cranium displayed his fighting tact. After going one-dimensional and boxing for the majority of a round, Evans lands a KO wrestling kicks reeking of premeditation.

It's a fact that Evans' ability to adapt led to a majority of his wins. His style of fighting coupled with Greg Jackson's ideals in fighting has made fighters and fight fans aware of the importance, and benefits, of adapting properly to adversity.

The wave of the brawler is ebbing.

But the question on analysts' and writers' minds is how will Evans adapt to Machida, an evasive, calculating fighter who consistently stays one step ahead of his opponent?

Could it be a fact that Machida, cut-and-dry, is a more advanced fighter than Evans?

Shifting focus to the opposite corner, there's Lyoto Machida with a pristine record supported by enviable stats (highest strikes-landed percentage in UFC; shares prestige with Fedor Emelianenko for least amount of time spent on his back).

Although most writers, fans, and fighters like to emphasize Machida's effective application of karate techniques to MMA and his "elusive style," the most amazing and dangerous aspect of Machida is his mentality.

The fight-to-win mentality, by which Machida abides, was exemplified best by Anderson Silva. A lethal, precise striker who tends to smother his opponents with attacks (barring his latest performance), Silva changed the stand-up game in UFC overnight.

May 20, 2009

UFC 99 Card: Does An Ace Beat an Axe

If looks could kill, then UFC middleweight fighter Rich Franklin would be very scared.

But it’s a good thing for Rich that the UFC fights involve a little more than facial features.

At UFC 99 in Koln, Germany, Franklin will look to rebound off a split decision loss at the hands of Dan Henderson at UFC 93. In the same respect his opponent, Wanderlei Silva, will be looking to show doubters that they are wrong in saying that his career may be over at the ripe age of 33.

News Break: Look for my upcoming article about how the UFC may be requiring all fighters to begin wearing wrestling shoes to protect their currently bare feet.

Silva's last bout was very important; with a win over bitter rival Quinton "Rampage" Jackson Silva would have been thrust into a possible title shot with Rashad Evans.

Now, he looks to get back on track, and prove that the "Axe Murderer" still has it.

Franklin is at a very awkward point in his MMA career as well.

Constantly fighting at 185 for most of his career, his last fight saw him jump back into the 205 lb division against former-Amateur wrestling star Dan Henderson, only to be bested on two of three judges scorecards.

The loss now put Franklin into that tough point in a fighter's career, where losses aren't something to be taken lightly.

There are pros and cons for both fighters, mainly cons for both, but that should make for a very good fight for fans, as neither fighter can afford to lose.

For Franklin, a loss digs him into deeper obscurity, and indecision.

For Silva, a loss could mean a change of scenery, or worse, a serious look at young retirement.

Though relatively the same could be said for Franklin, it would appear Silva's reputation for being a totally dominant fighter could dissolve with another devastating loss.

Regardless of the outcome, fans will not want to blink during this fight.

December 13, 2008

UFC 92 Fight Card

UFC 92 Main card

* Light Heavyweight Championship bout: Flag of the United States Forrest Griffin vs. Flag of the United States Rashad Evans
* Interim Heavyweight Championship bout: Flag of Brazil Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Flag of the United States Frank Mir
* Light Heavyweight bout: Flag of the United States Quinton Jackson vs. Flag of Brazil Wanderlei Silva
* Middleweight bout: Flag of the United States C.B. Dollaway vs. Flag of the United States Mike Massenzio
* Heavyweight bout: Flag of France Cheick Kongo vs. Flag of the United Kingdom Mustafa Al Turk

Preliminary card

* Middleweight bout: Flag of Japan Yushin Okami vs. Flag of the United States Dean Lister
* Heavyweight bout: Flag of the Netherlands Antoni Hardonk vs. Flag of the United States Mark Burch
* Light Heavyweight bout: Flag of the United States Matt Hamill vs. Flag of the United States Reese Andy
* Welterweight bout: Flag of the United States Brad Blackburn vs. Flag of Japan Ryo Chonan
* Heavyweight bout: Flag of Norway Dan Evensen vs. Flag of the United States Patrick Barry

UFC 92

UFC 92: The Ultimate 2008 is an upcoming mixed martial arts event to be held by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

The main event will feature UFC Light Heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin taking on #1 contender Rashad Evans.

The co-main event will feature UFC interim Heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and the #1 heavyweight contender and former UFC Heavyweight champion Frank Mir. The winner will face UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar for a unification bout in early 2009. The third main event will feature former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton Jackson against former PRIDE Champion Wanderlei Silva.

December 8, 2008

Nate Diaz Vs. Clay Guida Added To UFC 94: GSP Vs. Penn 2

Nathan Diaz will be fighting Clay Guida on January 31st, 2009 at UFC 94 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 2 were to have fought earlier this year but a foot injury sidelined Guida, pushing the bout to the new year.

The card will be headlined by the highly anticipated rematch between GSP and BJ Penn. It will be the most advertised show in UFC history and Diaz VS Guida could be one of the best fights of the night.

Coming Soon, UFC 92.

November 26, 2008

USA GRAPPLING ROUNDUP: OTM becomes sponsor and what is a guillotine choke

What’s new at USA Grappling?

OnTheMat (OTM) will sponsor the 2008 USA Grappling World Team going to Lucerne, Switzerland for the World Championships in less than a month. OTM will provide the U.S. World Team with competition board shorts, rashguards and kimonos that will be worn during the two-day competition. USA Grappling would like to thank OTM for their support! Visit: www.onthemat.com

Grappling Around the Globe:

The World Championships are less than a month away and teams continue to register. There are currently 30 countries represented with the largest teams coming from Brazil, Congo, Shoes, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Nigeria, Poland, Switzerland, and the United States. 70 and 80 KG are nearing 50 competitors and will become a test of tournament endurance for the athletes in the hunt for the GOLD.

Who’s News at USA Grappling?

Chris Carlino, Grappling Director for California USA Wrestling and one of the top referees within the FILA World Grappling Committee has been named the Head Official for the upcoming Grappling World Championships. Chris has been one of the pioneers in Grappling’s development and he has worked tirelessly in his service throughout the years. Chris will belt instructions to an officials training course and will manage the officials during the competition in Switzerland on December 20-21.

What is the Guillotine Choke?

The name says it all, having borrowed the name from bags of the most gruesome killing devices of modern times. The Guillotine choke has earned its’ reputation as a fight ender. The Guillotine choke is the “headlock? of Grappling and MMA, referring to the maneuvers ability to end the match quickly and decisively, often leaving the victims saying, “I got caught,? much like getting head-locked out of your shoes in wrestling.

The Guillotine choke utilizes the arms as the proverbial “noose? around the neck or wrist, while the legs are used to secure the opponents body, which will undoubtedly move frantically in an attempt to find air or an escape.

The Guillotine choke is not to be mistaken with wrestling’s Guillotine which in Grappling is called “The Twister? and has been made popular by 10th Planet Jiu-jitsu’s Eddie Bravo.

November 19, 2008

Randy Couture: Will he retire or return?

Randy Couture has had his storied MMA career. No matter what happens from here on out, he is still a hall-of-famer and one of the most beloved fighters to ever step into the octagon.

This time though, his underdog status couldn’t overcome its biggest test to date. The bigger, stronger, younger fighter won and Couture will likely never wear the heavyweight belt again.

While Randy lost, he looked good against Lesnar prior to the punch that dropped him. He clinched, got Brock against the cage, and landed some clean shots. His wrestling looked sharp and he escaped Brock’s guard. Couture was crisp and game to fight. And he will fight again.

Lesnar is a different kind of animal though. Nothing fazed him en route to grounding and seriously pounding out the living legend. While everyone said Brock didn’t deserve the title shot, that is a moot point now. He now awaits the winner of Nog vs. Mir, who fight at UFC 92.

But this article isn’t about Brock Lesnar; there will be a plethora of those to come. This is about what Randy Couture will do with the rest of his MMA career. More specifically, what he should do with the two fights remaining on his UFC contract. Perhaps history will provide an answer.

The last time Couture lost a heavyweight title was March 22, 2002 at UFC 36. Couture lost his title to Josh Barnett. Barnett was later disqualified and stripped of the belt after testing positive for steroids in the post-fight test.

Read More...

November 18, 2008

UFC 92: Will Silva be added?

by Brian Oswald

How do you make Ultimate 2008 “over the top? Ultimate? Try adding Anderson Silva to the fight card. After his recent performance against Patrick Cote, at UFC 90, fans were let down to say the least.

UFC President Dana White acknowledged disappointment in the way the fight turned out, adding, "The crowd was flat at the end. ... I felt like I was in a f---ing alternate universe."

Dana White told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Silva wanted to get right back on the horse:

"He's flipping out. He wants to fight again, like, on Nov 15. He's upset about his performance and he wants to fight again immediately."

In a previous article it was reported that Silva could fight as early as UFC 91 but that’s obviously not happening. A free fight for the fans on Spike’s “Fight for the Troops? seemed like a great idea, but with the fight card recently solidified, and the event a month out, that looks doubtful.

So what has happened to all the Anderson Silva talk? What is ironic is that even before the UFC 90 misfortune there was talk of Silva fighting at UFC 92.

"If Silva finishes Cote in the way he normally finishes opponents, he could fight again in two months," UFC president Dana White told The Sun.

UFC 93: Better than ever?

by Brian Oswald

Is it just me or do the UFC fight cards keep getting better and better? America was built on competition and it seems that competition is forging a higher quality product for UFC.

UFC 91 was spurned by the meddling of Affliction and we now have the historic match up of Randy Couture vs. Brock Lesnar. Although many would rather see Couture fight Fedor, how can one complain about the mini-tournament we have in front of us.?

For some reason I feel the need to point out that Tim Sylvia lost to three of the four heavyweights in the current tournament. Take it for what its worth.

Also on UFC 91 we have a Silva vs. Jackson III, the first two taking fights place in Pirde and being dominated by Silva. This fight could shape up as a classic and the winner will probably fight the winner of Forrest Griffin vs. Rashad Evans, who will fight at UFC 92.

The other half of the heavyweight tournament will take place at UFC 92 as Frank Mir takes on one of the greats in Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira. You must be great with that many names!

Also at UFC 91 will be Kenny Florian vs. Joe Stevenson which will be a great lightweight war. Look for UFC to appropriately round out the fight card for UFC 92 with a good middleweight through light heavyweight battle (Lyoto Machida vs. Shogun Rua?)

So that leaves the question, “What fights will they come up with for UFC 93 to make it the greatest fight card ever?"

UFC is peaking at the right time and during Super Bowl weekend they have the opportunity to put their product on full display to the attention of not only the sports fan, but EVERYONE.

They have gotten off to a superb start with the “super fight? between Penn and St. Pierre. But they will need much more to make it a fight card for the ages.

It doesn’t look like there will be a big heavyweight war as round one of the mini tournament will be finished up and the “winner vs. winner? fight to unify the division probably wont take place until at least May or June. Also, the next lightweight title fight won't happen until around that time as the winner of Silva/Jackson vs. Griffin/Evans will need time to heal up.

Perhaps their will be a huge lightweight fight between the winner of Florian/Stevenson and Sherk/Griffin although it will probably be too soon to pit the winners against each other (2 ½ months removed from UFC 91). I like the idea of Roger Huerta fighting Nate Diaz or Frankie Edgar, but that won’t solidify epic fight card.

So the UFC will have to rely on their light heavyweight through welterweight division and some of their other superstars.

Some potential fights in the middleweight are:

1. Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami (If his injury is healed. A rematch with Dan Henderson would be a bigger draw but Hendo probably needs another fight).

2. Dan Henderson vs. Nate Marquardt (This may be exciting to couple these fights as we will know after that night who will be fighting next for the Middleweight title).

* Don’t be surprised if they fit Michael Bisping into the card if possible.

Some potential fights in the welterweight are:

1. Matt Hughes vs. Matt Serra (Hopefully these two wounded warriors can heal in time to be on this card. Everyone is familiar with their grudge match and it will be a furious fight).

Other then that *Diego Sanchez vs. Thiago Alves is the biggest welterweight fight (behind Penn/Pierre) and that is happening at UFC 90. The winners of those two will likely meet. Josh Koscheck looks to be fighting Dec. 10 for the troops so will probably be out. And John Fitch is still injured but could be ready to fight against a mysteriously injured Karo Parisyan.

Some potential fights in the light heavyweight are:

Since a lot of the fireworks at light heavyweight diivision will be taking place at UFC 91 and 92 UFC may have to rely on Chuck Liddell. Some potential fights for him are:

Liddell vs. Rick Franklin (A super fight of former champions and a stand up war! They both need a credible opponent so it could make sense).

Liddell vs. Shogun Rua (Depends on when he heals up. Rua could be fighting Lyoto Machida at UFC 92 or 93 if it makes more sense).

Can anyone think of any other fights that would make UFC 93 the greatest fight card ever? After looking at it I am not sure it’s possible…perhaps if all injuries are cleared up. Maybe instead of worrying about loading up UFC 93 with bloated fights they will focus on showcasing exciting fights with young up-and-comers they want to introduce to the world. Especially since people will pay to see Penn vs St. Pierre II by itself.

June 27, 2008

Chas Thompson to coach at Fort Hayes

Fort Hays State University announced on Thursday, June 26, 2008, the hiring of Chas Thompson as Head Wrestling Coach. Thompson becomes the 13th coach in the wrestling program's history.

Thompson comes to Fort Hays State from Pratt Community College, where he served as head coach for two years from 2006-2008. In his time at PCC, Thompson led the Beavers to 10th and 21st place finishes at the NJCAA National Tournament and coached two NJCAA All-Americans. He also coached 11 Academic All-Americans. His 2006-07 team was ranked as high as 6th in the nation and his dash 2007-08 team was ranked as high as 10th in the nation.

Thompson is no stranger to the Fort Hays State program, where he served as an assistant coach for three years prior to becoming the head coach at Pratt Community College. Thompson was a graduate assistant coach for two years at FHSU from 2003-2005. He was a student assistant coach during the 2002-03 season. Thompson had the privilege of helping coach five NCAA Division II All-Americans as an assistant at FHSU.

Outside his collegiate coaching experience, Thompson has also served in several other coaching roles. He was a coach for the Cadet National Team in Fargo, N.D., the past three years and a coach for the Southern Plains Wrestling Team the past four years. Thompson also served as a summer wrestling coach from 1999-2008 in the Freestyle, Folkstyle, and Greco Roman disciplines.

Thompson wrestled for Fort Hays State University from 1999-2002. He was a national qualifier during his junior season (1999-2000) after winning his weight class at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference
Championships/NCAA Division II West Regional.

Prior to competing at FHSU, Thompson wrestled for two seasons at Labette Community College under his father Jody Thompson. His father is a member of the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame, NJCAA Coaches Hall of Fame, Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Hall of Fame, and National Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Thompson earned NJCAA All-American honors as a sophomore and was a two-time national qualifi er for LCC.

A native of Parsons, Kan., Thompson compiled a record of 133-14 in his prep career at Parsons High School. He was named the Kansas Class 4A Wrestler of the Year after winning the state championship as a senior. He was a four-time state placer at PHS.

Thompson earned a bachelor's degree in Physical Education from Fort Hays State in 2003, and is currently working towards completion of his master's degree in Sports Administration at FHSU.

June 15, 2008

Wrestling and Fighters with a Ton of Videos

John Smith

Aleks Emelianenko

James Thompson

Dustin Schlatter

Cael Sanderson

Dan Gable

Tom Brands

Jayson Ness

Charlie Falck

David Taylor

Zack Esposito

Buvaisar Saitiev

Saitiev

murtazaliev

Adam Saitiev

Ketoev

Gatsalov

Muradov

flowrestling

Mike Zadick

Brent Metcalf

Bubba Jenkins

Eric Tannenbaum

Saytiev

Mike Houck

Dennis Hall

Steve Fraser

Joe Warren

Kudukhov

Farniev

Kimbo Slice

Brett Rogers

Frank Shamrock

College Football

April 27, 2008

New Features at TheWrestlingTalk

TheWrestlingTalk released major update to its community about 2 weeks ago. I waited to detail the update until most of the finishing touches were completed. Check out how TWT is revolutionizing how wrestlers communicate:

Personal Profiles: (Here's Mine) This isn't just a wrestler's Facebook/MySpace. Complete your recruiting profile and get noticed by college coaches, add your highlight video from TWT Videos. If you put yourself on YouTube, you can add those videos to your profile as well.

Social Groups / Free Team Sites: Create your own team site with a forum, ability to add photos, videos, and more. Use the social groups feature to promote a cause (Save X's Wrestling Team, Donate to X's recovery fund) or connect with people who have a niche interest you share.

Free Wrestling Blog: Keep track of your daily workout regimen or keep your fan base up to date on your latest wrestling tournament.

Photo Albums: Wrestling is not your only interest, show off what else you enjoy. An excellent way to get to know your forum mates!

April 15, 2008

UFC 83 this weekend

UFC 83 : Serra walks into about the most hostile environment imaginable. Rich v. Lutter. The Vegan Warrior gets into the cage again, and Cain Velasquez makes his debut

Main Card
Matt Serra v. Georges St. Pierre
Rich Franklin v. Travis Lutter
Nate Quarry v. Kalib Starnes
Michael Bisping v. Charles McCarthy
Mac Danzig v. Mark Bocek

Undercard
Joe Doerkson v. Jason MacDonald
Rich Clementi v. Sam Stout
Alan Belcher v. Jason Day
Jonathan Goulet v. Kuniyoshi Hironaka
Ed Herman v. Demian Maia
Brad Morris v. Cain Velasquez

Kimbo Slice vs James Thompson is coming soon, too!

February 27, 2008

UFC 84 and UFC 85 Coming Soon

The UFC has officially announced its UFC 84 event for Las Vegas, and its UFC 85 event for London, England — and the ticket on-sale dates for both upcoming shows.

The two events had been rumored for the past month or two.

“UFC 84: Ill Will? takes place May 24 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. UFC lightweight champ B.J. Penn meets former champ Sean Sherk in the night’s main event. The show will air on pay-per-view.

UFC 84 tickets are already on sale to the UFC’s $75-a-year fan club. Newsletter subscribers can purchase tickets on March 1 at 1 p.m. ET (with the password “MALICE?), and the general public can then order tickets on March 2 at 1 p.m. ET.

“UFC 85: London? takes place June 7 at the O2 Arena in London, England. Chuck Liddell is expected to meet Mauricio “Shogun? Rua in the night’s main event.

The UFC hasn’t announced broadcast plans for the event, but MMAjunkie was told by a source close to the organization that UFC 85 had been pitched as a possible Spike TV broadcast. The cable station’s executives are expected to make a decision as to whether they’ll carry the event soon.

UFC 85 tickets are on sale to the UFC’s fan club on March 2 at 5 a.m. ET. Newsletter subscribers can purchase tickets on March 5 at 5 a.m. ET (with the password “ICEMAN?), and the general public can then order tickets on March 7 at 5 a.m. ET.

Videos from the event will come shortly after.

November 19, 2007

Frank Edgar wins Bout in UFC: Validation

Frank "The Answer" Edgar stepped into the ring on Saturday with the support of a near-capacity crowd at the Prudential Center. Of course, hometown advantage can't do much for an Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter once he steps into the Octagon.

Thankfully for the Toms River native, all he needed was his ability to seemingly take down his opponent at will.

Edgar (8-0) won a unanimous decision over veteran Spencer "The King" Fisher in one of the main card bouts at UFC 78: Validation — the first mixed martial arts card at The Rock.

"Not bad for a Jersey Shore kid, eh?" Edgar asked the crowd during the postfight interview.

The crowd roared its approval as it had done since his picture was first shown on the big screen introducing a prefight video package. Throughout the fight, the New Jersey audience chanted "Frankie" and "Let's Go Frankie" and one fan in the mezzanine brought a banner that said, "It's All Good When U Got THE ANSWER."

It didn't take long for Edgar to establish his superior grappling skills. The former state high school wrestling standout at Toms River High School East and All-American at Clarion University scored his first double-leg takedown 30 seconds into the fight. It was a sign of things to come as he dropped Fisher 60 seconds later. Fisher tried to keep the fight vertical, looking for a roundhouse kick 3:30 in, but Edgar dodged it and Fisher fell to his back, where Edgar kept him until time expired.

The second round was much of the same, although this time Edgar's pounding on the ground drew blood. The first takedown came 15 seconds into the round and "The King" only regained his feet for 15 seconds before Edgar used a leg sweep to down him again.

Edgar was dominant again in the third and final round as Fisher stayed vertical for only five seconds before tasting another Edgar takedown. The Rutgers University assistant wrestling coach almost ended it with a rear naked choke, but never secured it all the way. There were two more Edgar takedowns and the crowd rose to its feet as time expired with Edgar landing hammer fists on Fisher.

Judges scored it 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26 all for Edgar.

"It's a huge win," Edgar said. "Spencer is a hell of a tough guy."

On Saturday, Edgar was tougher.

A potential "Fight of the Night" was stopped early as Thiago Alves earned a technical knockout after the ringside doctor advised the official to stop the fight because a deep cut over Chris Lytle's brow. It happened early in the first round when an overhand right caught Lytle hard. Still there was not an excessive amount of blood and the fighter put forward an entertaining two rounds before the stoppage after the second.

Alves improved to 19-4 with the win, while Lytle, who received a huge ovation after the fight from a disappointed but appreciative crowd, fell to 32-15-4.

The crowd was into Joe Lauzon from the moment he stepped into the building and the fiery 5-10 fighter out of Bridgewater, Mass., didn't make them wait long for some excitement. After a few seconds of striking, Lauzon (14-3) took down Jason Reinhardt and secured side control. Reinhardt slipped out, but as he was trying to regain his feet, "The Ultimate Fighter" alum slid behind him and locked in the rear naked choke. Reinhardt (17-1) tapped within seconds and the fight was stopped at 1:14 of the first round.

Marcus "Maximus" Aurelio also brought the crowd to its feet with a strong technical knockout of Luke Caudillo at 4:29 of the first round. Aurelio tried some clinching and striking before scoring the takedown. He quickly moved into side control and pounded Caudillo (15-8) with hammer fists until the referee stepped in to stop the fight.

After the fight, Aurelio told announcer Joe Rogan that he was much more comfortable in the process of scoring his first UFC win.

"Now UFC is my house," said Aurelio, who improved to 15-4. "Maximus is back."

The evening began with a spirited fight between former PRIDE fighter Akihiro Gono, who drew applause from the crowd by dancing to the Octagon in a wig and all-white suit, and New Yorker Tamdan "The Barn Cat" McCrory.

Gono caught McCrory with a left early in the second and after some groundwork, eventually maneuvered him into a deep armbar and forced the tapout. It was McCrory's first loss after nine wins to open his career, while Gono improved to (28-12-7) with the victory.

November 17, 2007

UFC 79: Validation

Event: UFC 78: Validation
Date: November 17, 2007
Location: Newark, New Jersey (Prudential Center)

In what many are calling a rare lame UFC card with few big-name fighters, tonight's mixed martial card still has some very intriguing matchups to solve.

One of the most interesting fights on the card is unbeaten and four-time Clarion NCAA qualifier Frankie "The Answer" EDGAR (7-0) taking on the hard-hitting and very experienced Spencer "The King" FISHER (20-3). Spencer has 11 KOs out of his 20 wins and may be the hardest puncher in the welterweight ranks. But Edgar has been perfect and is the only fighter to have defeated Tyson Griffin, and he will be fighting in front of hometown folks tonight in New Jersey.

Despite being favored by 81% of UFC website voters, Fisher opened as only a –115 pick against Edgar. And strangely, the betting public has pounded Edgar and he is now the –145 favorite. I had hoped for underdog odds on "the Answer", but still will take my chances with Edgar's skills. Fisher should push the pace and stalk Frank around the cage in his stand-up game, but I see the wrestling skills of Edgar controlling Fisher's body on the ground, which will lead to a narrow decision over the more-seasoned veteran. Nobody has been able to submit Fisher. Maybe tonight? Take EDGAR –145 over Fisher by narrow decision.

Ed "Short Fuse" HERMAN (13-5) is a product of the Ultimate Fighter show. He takes on journeyman, Canadian fighter Joe DOERKSEN (39-10), who has been fighting MMA for almost a decade. Doerksen's losses have been to studs like Matt Hughes, Matt Lindland, Eugene Jackson, David Loiseau, Nate Marquardt, and Paulo Filho. Not bad, huh? Herman's has been vulnerable to getting caught by submission, and this is where Doerksen shines. An amazing 31 of his 39 victories is by submission. And, tonight he is an underdog at +120! I'll take the bait. I like DOERKSEN by 2nd round submission with rear-naked choke.

Karo "the Heat" PARISYAN (17-5) is known for his relentless aggression on the mat , tumbling from one move to another using his judo and ground skills to become a truly entertaining fighter. His sights are on the elterweight crown as he fights to survive against Ryo "Piranha" CHONAN (14-7). Chonan's whole career has been spent fighting some of the best of Pride in Japan, while Parisyan's mark includes wins over UFC fighters like reigning champ Matt Serra, Chris Lytle, Nick Thompson, Josh Burkman, Drew Fickett, and Nick Diaz. That's pretty impressive. Yet Karo has never had a KO win. Will tonight be the night? I doubt it. But, I see an easy victory for the heavily favored Parisyan (who ranges from –345 to –450). Take PARISYAN and lay the juice. He wins by 1st round armbar submission.

Mixed Martial Arts

Houston ALEXANDER (8-1) has come stomping onto the UFC with back-to-back demolishing TKO wins over Alessio Sakara and Keith Jardine, who recently beat legendary Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell. His opponent is unbeaten Thiago SILVA (11-0), who has 9 KOs out of his 11 wins. Somebody's gonna get knocked senseless tonight in this fight. These two aggressive sluggers will go toe-to-toe from the "get-go" in this one! It should be electrifying and over in a heartbeat. When the dust settles, I hope my man is still standing. Ride the hot horse, take ALEXANDER –155 by 1st round KO.

In the featured match, former Michigan State wrestler Rashad EVANS (10-0-1) takes on undefeated British light-heavyweight Michael "The Count" BISPING (14-0). Despite both being undefeated, they are both coming off "losses of sort". Evans got the daylights kicked out of him by a much larger and more experienced Tito Ortiz, yet managed to get a draw out of the contest thanks to Tito losing a penalty point. Bisping was schooled by a better Matt Hamill, who got screwed by British judges who gave the split decision to the hometown boy. Dana White should be ashamed.

Evans looks small for his weight class, but his wrestling skills are impeccable and he is faster than most he faces. Bisping will be going for a KO and would prefer to stand and fight. That won't happen. When Evans gets Bisping to his back, you will see some impressive ground-and-pound that will pick up where Tito left off. Take EVANS –305 to stay unbeaten.

On the undercard:

Thiago "Pitbull" ALVES (12-3) -170 beats Chris "lights out" LYTLE (24-14-5) by split decision. Both fighters are capable of a win here.

Joe "J-Lau" LAUSON (15-3) –550 beats undefeated Jason REINHARDT (18-0) by 1st round triangle choke submission. Lauson is a psycho freak with cage experience going against a fighter who hasn't lost, but also hasn't fought at this level of competition.

Marcus "Maximus" AURELLO (14-5) –450 beats Luke CAUDILLO (13-8) by 2nd round armbar submission. Why is this fight on the card?

…….and veteran MMA fighter, Akihiro GONO (27-12-7) -225 wins a decision over the undefeated youngster, Tamden "the barn cat" McCRORY (8-0). Gono's been fighting for over 13 years, while McCrory has been at it for just over a year! How does a fighter get 7 "draws" on his record? I'll take the experience here.

That's it for now. Enjoy the fights.
I'll see you at the winner's window!

November 6, 2007

Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir Set for UFC 81

In just three months, Brock Lesnar (1-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will make his UFC debut against the organization’s former heavyweight champion: Frank Mir (10-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC).

Thomas Gerbasi of UFC.com today reported the fight. Additionally, MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) has learned that the fight was first presented to Mir late last week and that he dropped off the bout agreement to Zuffa LLC’s Las Vegas offices this afternoon.

The fight is set for UFC 81, which takes place Feb. 2 (SuperBowl weekend) at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The heavyweight bout will likely earn co-main-event status.

Lesnar, a former World Wrestling Entertainment performer who also had a short stint with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, was one of the sport’s top free agents after a 69-second submission victory over Min Soo Kim in a K-1 HERO’S Dynamite!! USA event this past June. The UFC officially announced that the 6-foot-3, 265-pounder had joined the organization last month during a UFC 77 pay-per-view broadcast.

Although stuck with the label of a “professional wrestler,? Lesnar own an impressive resume in “real? wresting. After posting a perfect 33-0 record during his senior year of high school in his native North Dakota, Lesnar went on to become a four-time All-American, a two-time Big Ten champion, and a 2000 NCAA national heavyweight wrestling champion with the University of Minnesota.

The 30-year-old will now face Mir, who won the UFC’s vacant heavyweight title in 2004. The legendary UFC fight was stopped in less than a minute when referee Herb Dean noticed that Mir had snapped opponent Tim Sylvia’s forearm while working an arm-bar submission.

Mir’s reign as champ would be short-lived, though.

Just three months after winning the title, Mir was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. The Las Vegas native flew approximately 25 yards from his bike, and bystanders initially thought he was dead. He was taken to a hospital, where doctors determined he had snapped his femur bone in two places and tore numerous tendons in and around his knee.

Mir didn’t fight for 16 months while he nursed his injuries, and the UFC stripped him of the title.

The 28-year-old’s return to the UFC thus far has been a mixed bag. His 2-2 record includes a lopsided first-round TKO loss to Brandon Vera, but back in August, Mir bounced back for a quick and impressive submission victory (via kimura) over Antoni Hardonk at UFC 74.

With a victory, he could find himself back in the UFC’s title picture.

UFC 81, after all, could be one of the most-viewed and best-promoted events in UFC history. UFC officials have already confirmed that the organization will pump additional dollars into specifically marketing Lesnar’s UFC debut — especially to professionally wrestling fans who no doubt will be interested in the performer’s octagon debut.

UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture, who suffered a broken arm in his UFC 74 victory over Gabriel Gonzaga, was expected to headline UFC 81. However, the UFC hall-of-famer resigned from the organization last month over what he perceived to be a lack of respect from UFC executives. Nonetheless, during a media conference call last week, UFC President Dana White said he plans to offer Couture a UFC 81 main-event fight with top contender Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

October 10, 2007

Joe Heskett is a Class Act

One of the most rewarding parts of the 2007 season was having the opportunity to get to know Joe Heskett on a personal level.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to tell his inspirational story when I wrote a feature about Joe for our magazine, USA Wrestler, earlier this year.

Joe was raised in Ohio by his grandmother, Evelyn Nye, and they have developed a very close relationship. She had an excellent influence on a kid who could have easily followed the wrong path with his parents not around to raise him.

But Joe Heskett became a model young man. He excelled in school, he never missed curfew, he didn’t smoke and he didn’t drink. He poured himself into athletics and academics, and became one of the top young wrestlers in the country. He was a three-time Ohio state champion, a four-time NCAA All-American at Iowa State and placed fifth at his first World Championships a couple weeks ago in Baku, Azerbaijan.

That’s why the phone call I received Tuesday afternoon seemed so unfair. It was Joe Heskett on the other end of the line. At first, it seemed like a typical conversation where he was upbeat and friendly as we made small talk. But then he gave me the stunning and jolting news that his wrestling career was over because of a heart condition that almost took his life. How could this happen to someone just 29 years old who was in peak physical condition?

Joe called to talk with me about helping with the release that Danielle Warner of the Ohio State sports information office was putting together. Joe is an assistant coach for the Buckeyes. He was preparing to have surgery later that day, and amazingly, he was trying to make sure the story of what was happening with him would clearly explain what had transpired. It did as Danielle did a great job detailing what happened in her story.

As Joe was talking to me Tuesday about nearly losing his life, he asked me how I was doing and how my trip home from Baku went. He told me he had great respect for my ability as a writer. That’s the kind of person he is. Very selfless. It was unbelievable how well he was handling a very difficult and very scary situation.

I told Joe just to focus on getting better and not worry about anything else. But Joe’s a person who does everything the right way and he laughed as he said he wanted his “wrestling eulogy? done the right way.

As an Iowa native and a wrestling journalist, I followed Joe’s career closely at Iowa State. He became one of the best Cyclones in history by finishing third, second, second and first at the NCAA Championships from 1999-2002. Joe’s great accomplishments often were overshadowed by the best wrestler in NCAA history. Joe competed at ISU during the same four years Cael Sanderson made history by winning four NCAA titles and compiling a 159-0 record. The dynamic duo of Sanderson and Heskett was a joy for fans to watch. Both wrestlers conducted themselves with class.

I also saw Joe continually wrestle well when he started to compete internationally, but he was stuck behind a very good wrestler at 74 kg/163 lbs. in two-time World bronze medalist Joe Williams.

Joe Heskett kept working, and finally this year, he broke through. He won the U.S. Nationals for the first time and followed by winning the U.S. World Team Trials to earn his first trip to the World Championships. It was a memorable and emotional scene this past June in Las Vegas when Joe walked over to hug his family after he filled a big void in his career by making a World Team.

I started to get to know Joe as we worked together on stories after he won U.S. Nationals this year. I marveled at how well he conducted himself, and how smooth, polished and articulate he was with the media. And I remember having to Google some of the big words he used from his vast vocabulary to make sure I had quoted him correctly. The words always fit perfectly in the context he was using them.

Whenever I would run into Joe at practice at the U.S. Olympic Training Center or anywhere else, he was quick to come over, flash a smile, say hello and shake my hand. Being around people like that makes my job enjoyable. Joe is a very bright, intelligent, charismatic, driven young man with an outgoing, infectious personality.

One of my funnier stories from this year’s Pan American Games came after the event when we were sitting around in the airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and waiting to catch our flight. Joe and Tommy Rowlands came up to me and asked me if I had any Brazilian currency – called Real – left on me because they were hungry and they ran out of Brazilian money. I was out of Real as well, and we shared a good laugh about that. They eventually figured out a way to get something to eat. Hungry wrestlers are not much fun to be around.

Joe also was quick to shake his head and give me a hard time about wearing an Iowa Hawkeyes polo shirt on the way home from Rio. I guess you have to expect that from a Cyclone.

Joe introduced me to his wife, Tara, following the Pan American Games when I ran into them at a restaurant near Copacabana Beach. I met Joe’s grandmother when I ran into her and Joe’s wife in the lobby of our hotel at the World Championships. It’s easy to see that family means everything to them and they are a very close-knit group. And they’re very proud of Joe.

I have no doubt that Joe will continue to succeed in life as his competitive wrestling career ends. He has his master’s degree in educational leadership with an emphasis in athletic administration. He was a four-time Academic All-American at Iowa State. That’s something his grandmother is quick to point out - she is more proud of his work in the classroom than what he did on the mat during his Cyclone career.

One of the most impressive moments I’ve ever seen in nearly 20 years as a journalist came at the end of an interview I did with Joe after he placed fifth at the World Championships last month in Azerbaijan.

Joe had the lead late in the third period of his semifinal match against eventual World champion Makhach Murtazaliev of Russia. Joe was 20 seconds away from a spot in the finals before he was unable to hold off Murtazaliev and lost the match.

Joe followed by dropping his bronze-medal match to place fifth, and simply did not look like himself. He looked uncharacteristically sluggish and now it is easy to see why with his medical issues. Joe gave it everything he had, like he always did. Nobody could fault his effort.

What impressed me most about Joe was when we were wrapping up an interview a few minutes after he lost his final match. He was very upfront and candid about his performance, and made no excuses. I told him he was a class act for the way he handled a tough finish to the biggest tournament of his life.

Joe then called to me as I was walking away and said, “I didn’t win a gold medal here, but I have two gold medals waiting for me at home.?

Joe was referring to his two young daughters, Olivia and Ava, who were back in Columbus, Ohio, waiting for their daddy to come home.

With the surgical procedure Joe had done Tuesday, it appears that he will be able to go on and live a normal life and watch his daughters grow up. He’s done wrestling, but he has so much more to live for and so much to offer. And knowing Joe, he will continue to make a big impact in numerous other areas and facets of his life. He wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s a man of great character - a model for how our athletes should carry themselves and represent our country.

It is unfortunate that Joe won’t have a chance to compete at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. He had the inside track on making the U.S. team after the strong season he just put together. But he did fill a big void in his career by making a U.S. World Team. He also qualified the U.S. for the Olympics in freestyle at 74 kilos with his top-five performance at the Worlds. By qualifying the weight class, Joe paved the way for a guy like Casey Cunningham, Ramico Blackmon or Donny Pritzlaff to win an Olympic medal for the U.S. next year at 74 kilos.

Joe didn’t win the gold medal he had worked so hard for. But Joe Heskett definitely is a champion in my book.

Joe Heskett is a Class Act

One of the most rewarding parts of the 2007 season was having the opportunity to get to know Joe Heskett on a personal level.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to tell his inspirational story when I wrote a feature about Joe for our magazine, USA Wrestler, earlier this year.

Joe was raised in Ohio by his grandmother, Evelyn Nye, and they have developed a very close relationship. She had an excellent influence on a kid who could have easily followed the wrong path with his parents not around to raise him.

But Joe Heskett became a model young man. He excelled in school, he never missed curfew, he didn’t smoke and he didn’t drink. He poured himself into athletics and academics, and became one of the top young wrestlers in the country. He was a three-time Ohio state champion, a four-time NCAA All-American at Iowa State and placed fifth at his first World Championships a couple weeks ago in Baku, Azerbaijan.

That’s why the phone call I received Tuesday afternoon seemed so unfair. It was Joe Heskett on the other end of the line. At first, it seemed like a typical conversation where he was upbeat and friendly as we made small talk. But then he gave me the stunning and jolting news that his wrestling career was over because of a heart condition that almost took his life. How could this happen to someone just 29 years old who was in peak physical condition?

Joe called to talk with me about helping with the release that Danielle Warner of the Ohio State sports information office was putting together. Joe is an assistant coach for the Buckeyes. He was preparing to have surgery later that day, and amazingly, he was trying to make sure the story of what was happening with him would clearly explain what had transpired. It did as Danielle did a great job detailing what happened in her story.

As Joe was talking to me Tuesday about nearly losing his life, he asked me how I was doing and how my trip home from Baku went. He told me he had great respect for my ability as a writer. That’s the kind of person he is. Very selfless. It was unbelievable how well he was handling a very difficult and very scary situation.

I told Joe just to focus on getting better and not worry about anything else. But Joe’s a person who does everything the right way and he laughed as he said he wanted his “wrestling eulogy? done the right way.

As an Iowa native and a wrestling journalist, I followed Joe’s career closely at Iowa State. He became one of the best Cyclones in history by finishing third, second, second and first at the NCAA Championships from 1999-2002. Joe’s great accomplishments often were overshadowed by the best wrestler in NCAA history. Joe competed at ISU during the same four years Cael Sanderson made history by winning four NCAA titles and compiling a 159-0 record. The dynamic duo of Sanderson and Heskett was a joy for fans to watch. Both wrestlers conducted themselves with class.

I also saw Joe continually wrestle well when he started to compete internationally, but he was stuck behind a very good wrestler at 74 kg/163 lbs. in two-time World bronze medalist Joe Williams.

Joe Heskett kept working, and finally this year, he broke through. He won the U.S. Nationals for the first time and followed by winning the U.S. World Team Trials to earn his first trip to the World Championships. It was a memorable and emotional scene this past June in Las Vegas when Joe walked over to hug his family after he filled a big void in his career by making a World Team.

I started to get to know Joe as we worked together on stories after he won U.S. Nationals this year. I marveled at how well he conducted himself, and how smooth, polished and articulate he was with the media. And I remember having to Google some of the big words he used from his vast vocabulary to make sure I had quoted him correctly. The words always fit perfectly in the context he was using them.

Whenever I would run into Joe at practice at the U.S. Olympic Training Center or anywhere else, he was quick to come over, flash a smile, say hello and shake my hand. Being around people like that makes my job enjoyable. Joe is a very bright, intelligent, charismatic, driven young man with an outgoing, infectious personality.

One of my funnier stories from this year’s Pan American Games came after the event when we were sitting around in the airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and waiting to catch our flight. Joe and Tommy Rowlands came up to me and asked me if I had any Brazilian currency – called Real – left on me because they were hungry and they ran out of Brazilian money. I was out of Real as well, and we shared a good laugh about that. They eventually figured out a way to get something to eat. Hungry wrestlers are not much fun to be around.

Joe also was quick to shake his head and give me a hard time about wearing an Iowa Hawkeyes polo shirt on the way home from Rio. I guess you have to expect that from a Cyclone.

Joe introduced me to his wife, Tara, following the Pan American Games when I ran into them at a restaurant near Copacabana Beach. I met Joe’s grandmother when I ran into her and Joe’s wife in the lobby of our hotel at the World Championships. It’s easy to see that family means everything to them and they are a very close-knit group. And they’re very proud of Joe.

I have no doubt that Joe will continue to succeed in life as his competitive wrestling career ends. He has his master’s degree in educational leadership with an emphasis in athletic administration. He was a four-time Academic All-American at Iowa State. That’s something his grandmother is quick to point out - she is more proud of his work in the classroom than what he did on the mat during his Cyclone career.

One of the most impressive moments I’ve ever seen in nearly 20 years as a journalist came at the end of an interview I did with Joe after he placed fifth at the World Championships last month in Azerbaijan.

Joe had the lead late in the third period of his semifinal match against eventual World champion Makhach Murtazaliev of Russia. Joe was 20 seconds away from a spot in the finals before he was unable to hold off Murtazaliev and lost the match.

Joe followed by dropping his bronze-medal match to place fifth, and simply did not look like himself. He looked uncharacteristically sluggish and now it is easy to see why with his medical issues. Joe gave it everything he had, like he always did. Nobody could fault his effort.

What impressed me most about Joe was when we were wrapping up an interview a few minutes after he lost his final match. He was very upfront and candid about his performance, and made no excuses. I told him he was a class act for the way he handled a tough finish to the biggest tournament of his life.

Joe then called to me as I was walking away and said, “I didn’t win a gold medal here, but I have two gold medals waiting for me at home.?

Joe was referring to his two young daughters, Olivia and Ava, who were back in Columbus, Ohio, waiting for their daddy to come home.

With the surgical procedure Joe had done Tuesday, it appears that he will be able to go on and live a normal life and watch his daughters grow up. He’s done wrestling, but he has so much more to live for and so much to offer. And knowing Joe, he will continue to make a big impact in numerous other areas and facets of his life. He wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s a man of great character - a model for how our athletes should carry themselves and represent our country.

It is unfortunate that Joe won’t have a chance to compete at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. He had the inside track on making the U.S. team after the strong season he just put together. But he did fill a big void in his career by making a U.S. World Team. He also qualified the U.S. for the Olympics in freestyle at 74 kilos with his top-five performance at the Worlds. By qualifying the weight class, Joe paved the way for a guy like Casey Cunningham, Ramico Blackmon or Donny Pritzlaff to win an Olympic medal for the U.S. next year at 74 kilos.

Joe didn’t win the gold medal he had worked so hard for. But Joe Heskett definitely is a champion in my book.

Wrestling gold by U.S. a stunner

When Rulon Gardner pulled off one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history at the 2000 Sydney Games, Greco-Roman wrestling was thrust into the spotlight for a few heady days before slipping back into its usual niche as a small sport with a passionate following.

And when the U.S. Greco-Roman team won a gold medal in the team competition at the world championships two weeks ago, hardly anyone else noticed. But within the Greco-Roman scene, the unprecedented feat was considered even bigger than Gardner's historic victory over Alexander Karelin, which ended the Russian's 13-year unbeaten streak.

"This is the greatest day in the history of U.S. Greco-Roman wrestling," USA Wrestling executive director Rich Bender said of the gold medal his Greco team won Sept. 19 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Heavyweight Dremiel Byers of Colorado Springs clinched the team gold with a bronze medal. Other U.S. medalists included Brad Vering, also based at the Olympic Training Center, who took silver in the 84-kilogram weight class and Harry Lester of Akron, Ohio, who took bronze in the 120-kilogram class.

The U.S. also won four medals in freestyle at worlds, three by women. The Greco-Roman team gold was the first for the U.S. The team finished third in 2001 and 2006.

"I was ecstatic," said Gardner, a former training partner of Byers' who retired after winning a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics. "I received a text from Byers that he took third, and I was so happy for him. It just shows the hard work and dedication of the Greco national team, and how they continue to strive to be the best in the world."

Head coach Steve Fraser, who won the first U.S. Olympic gold medal in Greco-Roman at the 1984 Olympics, has built the U.S. into a force since taking the job 12 years ago this month.

"It's been a struggle, but it means so much to us," Fraser said. "I've gotten hundreds and hundreds of phone calls and e-mails from people congratulating us. It's a great, great feeling for us."

The U.S. program had a long way to go when Fraser took over, but much like U.S. Skiing chief executive Bill Marolt setting a "Best in the World" goal, or former University of Colorado football coach Bill McCartney circling Nebraska on the schedule, Fraser declared his goal was nothing less than world championships.

"I wanted to get people believing we could do this," Fraser said. "The way we did it, we just started talking about it. We started putting that out there and being public about our goals. Once you become public, and you start putting it out there, now you've got to put your money where your mouth is."

In the U.S., freestyle wrestling attracts greater numbers because Greco-Roman requires a more difficult adjustment from the "folkstyle" practiced at the high school and collegiate level. Fraser made his wrestlers believe.

"He's had this vision, 'We're going to do this someday, we're going to win the worlds as a team,"' Vering said. "A lot of people were like, 'We're too far behind because the folkstyle competition, it's just so different from Greco-Roman.' These (international opponents) grow up wrestling Greco their whole life."

Byers spent much of his career in the shadow of Gardner, although he won a world championships gold medal in 2002 when Gardner was recovering from the frostbite he suffered when stranded in the Wyoming wilderness.

Byers wasn't satisfied with his bronze medal in Azerbaijan, even if it did clinch the team title.

"It's like getting a small plate at a feast that you've been waiting for all day, just a small plate," Byers said. "It's not as sweet as it should be. Maybe a Splenda. Sweet tea with Splenda, that's what it is."

October 9, 2007

Team Takedown Readies for MMA Wars

Team Takedown, an Arlington, Texas-based management company, has announced the official signing of former Oklahoma State University NCAA wrestling champions Jake Rosholt and Johny Hendricks to long-term Mixed-Martial Arts (MMA) performance contracts.

Both athletes are relocating to Las Vegas, Nevada where they will train with Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) world heavyweight champion Randy Couture at his facility Xtreme Couture MMA.

Ted Ehrhardt, managing partner of Team Takedown said, “We wanted to sign the very best college wrestlers we could. Jake and Johny were it, no question,? he stated, adding, “we want to win MMA world titles so we’re starting with the best athletes anywhere.?

Echoing Ehrhardt’s sentiments was industry expert Dave Meltzer, publisher of Wrestling Observer. In regard to Jake Rosholt Meltzer stated, “Rosholt is a class above both Brock Lesnar and Josh Koscheck, who would be considered the best-credentialed wrestlers on the current U.S. MMA scene.?

And Jason Bryant, editor-in-chief of InterMatWrestle.com, said this about Hendricks: “College wrestling fans are well aware of Johny and his on-the-mat persona. He’s either revered or reviled, but the guy is a warrior. He’s got that cocky confidence that’s going to translate well into the MMA realm and I don’t doubt that his desire to win and his ability and predator-like sense of attack will give him a solid base.?

ABOUT THE FIGHTERS
Jake Rosholt was born on September 2, 1982. In high school, he won three state championship wrestling titles as a member of the Sandpoint (Idaho) High School Bulldogs. He also won the 189-pound junior national freestyle title. Jake’s national championship run was nothing short of fantastic. He scored a record 11 straight technical falls on his way to that victory.

Rosholt won the 184-pound Division I wrestling championship in 2003, placed third at 184 in 2004, and then won back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006 at 197 pounds. He is only the 15th three-time NCAA Champion in Oklahoma State history and the college’s tenth four-time All-American. His hobbies include hunting and fishing.

Johny Hendricks was born on September 12, 1983. Hendricks won three state titles for his team at Edmond (OK) Memorial High School. He also won the 160-pound high school national championship. Competing for Oklahoma State University, Johny was a four-time All-American, placing fifth as a feshman in the NCAA championships, then winning the 2005 and 2006 165-pound NCAA titles. Hendricks came in a heartbreaking second place in the 2007 NCAA National championships, narrowly losing a controversial decision to Iowa’s Mark Perry, whom Hendricks had beaten seven times previously. Johny’s hobbies include archery, hunting and fishing.

ABOUT TEAM TAKEDOWN
True to their motto, “Turning great wrestlers into ultimate fighters,? Team Takedown differentiates itself from other management groups by finding the very best NCAA-champion wrestlers, signing them to multi-year performance contracts, and providing them with everything they need to be successful. This includes salaries and extensive world-class MMA training.

Team Takedown then goes much farther: the company has assembled an elite group of marketing, publicity and design professionals so that each athlete will have their own media coverage, major appearances and events, clothing line and fan club. No other MMA management company offers its fighters this type of complete support package.

According to Scott Casber, host of the nationally-syndicated radio show, “Takedown Wrestling Radio? and a leading MMA promoter and authority, "What Team Takedown is doing makes great sense. I believe they will be very successful."

To learn more about Team Takedown, visit www.teamtakedownfighters.com. To schedule an interview, please contact Ted Ehrhardt at mon1000@aol.com or 817-821-1790, or John Rizzuti at john@rizzuti.com or 214-476-1324.

September 15, 2007

Augsburg Wrestling LeVesseur in MMA

The basement brawlers have graduated to the main stage at Target Center, which tonight hosts the largest mixed martial arts championship card ever held in Minnesota.

MMA fuses boxing, wrestling, kickboxing and jujitsu disciplines in steel cage fights unparalleled in their primitiveness and soaring in popularity among young males.

Fueled by testosterone and disposable income among the coveted 18-to-34-year-old demographic, revenues for pay-per-view bouts of Ultimate Fighting Championship, MMA's flagship venture, dwarf those of professional boxing and wrestling.

The glittery UFC produces a reality television show on Spike TV, stages marquee cards in Las Vegas and Great Britain and promotes its star fighters with million-dollar contracts.

By contrast, tonight's 12-bout card in Minneapolis, dubbed the "Downtown Throwdown," is being staged under the banner of Twin Cities-based World Fighting Championship.

The grass-roots enterprise is among hundreds of fledgling farm leagues around the country where wrestling champions, martial arts amateurs and street fighters flock to earn a UFC contract and hope to become the next Chuck Liddell or Randy Couture, UFC's reigning icons.

"Their goal is to get to the UFC, and this is where it all starts," WFC promoter Carey Thul said Friday.

Headlining this homegrown card is wrestling dynamo Marcus LeVesseur, 25, of Minneapolis. The four-time Minnesota high school wrestling and four-time NCAA Division III champion with Augsburg College is undefeated in seven matches in the Octagon.

LeVesseur will fight in the 155-pound lightweight class against Justin Wilcox, a professional bodybuilder and former collegiate wrestler from Pennsylvania.

Thul said this is a key bout for LeVesseur in his pursuit of a UFC contract.

His credentials include a 155-0 college wrestling record and a 46-0 mark as a senior at Bloomington Kennedy High School. With his unblemished MMA record, LeVesseur has not lost a competitive wrestling or fighting match since his junior year in high school in 1999-2000.

"Every sport that I attempt, I have a goal to master it so I can be untouchable," LeVesseur said. "I want to be the best and hold a UFC belt one day. I know it can't last forever, but I want to know how many more years I can last undefeated."

LeVesseur started training in mixed martial arts in 2003 to stay in shape while he transferred from the University of Minnesota to Augsburg. Brushes with the law, coupled with rehabilitation stints for alcohol and drug abuse, almost derailed his wrestling career in 2005, when he dropped out of school.

But he turned around his troubled personal life and rebounded on the mat. In March, he became the first four-time Division III national champion and joined Iowa State legend Cael Sanderson as the only wrestlers to finish their careers undefeated.

LeVesseur started fighting competitively before his senior year at Augsburg, where he plans to complete his health and physical education degree next year. His goal to wrestle in the 2008 Olympics also is shelved while he pursues a UFC career.

Typical of most wrestlers, LeVesseur possesses a potent ground attack aimed at putting and keeping opponents on their back. He also used to spar in junior high. But he had to learn how to kick box and master the martial art of Muay Thai.

"I feel comfortable on my feet. I can kick hard," LeVesseur said. "The biggest problem for a wrestler is you don't know how to throw punches and be open to taking hits. Your instinct is to grab."

Low-level fighters like LeVesseur typically earn about $3,000 per fight. Thul, who managed smaller MMA fight cards at the Myth nightclub in Maplewood, said tonight's purse totals $50,000. He said about 2,000 tickets had been sold as of Friday morning.

MMA broke the mainstream media seal in May when Sports Illustrated published a 4,500-word cover story that pictured fighter Roger Huerta, who trains in Maple Grove. It detailed the sport's evolution in the past decade from an unregulated barnyard freak show to a violent, fully sanctioned cash cow.

According to the magazine, UFC's pay-per-view revenues last year totaled $223 million, compared with boxing on HBO ($177 million) and WWE wrestling ($200 million).

The Target Center card is the largest of several sanctioned this year by the Minnesota Boxing Commission, which started regulating MMA fighting in July.

The commission is responsible for enforcing UFC rules, hiring referees, conducting physical examinations of fighters and arranging for on-site medical professionals. Rochester is hosting an MMA card tonight and Brainerd, Minn., has one scheduled Sept. 29.

Scott LeDoux, the commission's executive director, hopes state oversight will convince cities such as Red Wing and Willmar, which have banned MMA fighting, to reconsider hosting events.

"There were about 40 shows last year with no oversight, and several people from the state were talking about closing it down," LeDoux said. "I wanted a level playing field. MMA is a very exciting sport that has zoomed past boxing in the United States. I think they've done a great job of marketing to young people in their 20s."