Fedor Emelianenko Signs with Strikeforce

August 4, 2009

by Brian Oswald… After a week of intense negotiations and speculation, the hottest topic of discussion in the professional fight world has come to a head as the world’s No. 1 heavyweight and most sought after mixed martial arts (MMA) champion Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko has signed a historic, multi-fight agreement that will see him headline mega events co-promoted by world championship promotions STRIKEFORCE and M-1 Global.

Emelianenko, known globally as Fedor, will make his premium television debut this Fall when his first fight under the new agreement airs live on Showtime.  Up until now, Emelianenko’s live fights have aired exclusively on pay-per-view in the United States.

“I am looking forward to going back to work and fighting at the highest level,” said the 33-year-old Emelianenko.  During his nine year professional fight career, which included a four and a half year stay with the world’s former top MMA promotion, the now defunct PRIDE Fighting Championship, the Russian native has faced and defeated all comers.

In his last effort, the 6′0″, 235-pound Emelianenko decimated the number two ranked heavyweight at the time Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski with a single punch in the first round (3:14) of the main event of Affliction: “Day of Reckoning” at Anaheim, California’s Honda Center on Jan. 24.

“STRIKEFORCE is a top fight promotion that houses some of the greatest fighters in the world,” continued Emelianenko.  “I am prepared to fight any of them.”

“We are extremely excited to have the opportunity to work with M-1 Global and Fedor,” said STRIKEFORCE Founder and CEO Scott Coker, a martial arts fight promoter of over 25 years.  “Fedor has been the reigning king of MMA’s heavyweight division for quite some time now so being able to work with M-1 and Fedor will substantially increase the level of competition amongst the athletes in this weight class.”

“With the addition of Fedor and STRIKEFORCE’s new relationship with M-1 Global, Showtime is now the home of the best pound-for-pound male and female fighters in the world,” said Ken Hershman, Senior VP and General Manager of Showtime Sports.

“The Aug. 15 Carano-Cyborg matchup on Showtime will clearly determine the best female mixed martial artist on the planet.  Then, come this Fall, our subscribers again will witness history when the universally recognized best male fighter—Fedor Emelianenko—joins the already long list of world-class athletes on the STRIKEFORCE roster, and for the first time ever plies his skills live on Showtime.”

Hershman continued: “We are better positioned now than ever before to deliver on our promise to televise the top fighters in mixed martial arts today.”

“I am very happy and excited about the upcoming collaboration with Strikeforce,” said Vadim Finkelchtein, President of M-1 Global. “We are very pleased that we found a reliable partner and I feel that Strikeforce and M-1 can support each other on many things. This will create big opportunities for both parties to test their fighters against worthy opponents.”

Though his official professional record is 30-1, Emelianenko is considered undefeated.  The only blemish on his record is a Dec. 22, 2000 fight that was stopped after 17 seconds and declared a TKO in favor of his opponent, Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, due to a cut Emelianenko sustained in the opening seconds of the matchup in Osaka, Japan.

Amongst those on Emelianenko’s list of impressive conquests are former PRIDE Heavyweight Champions Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mark “The Hammer” Coleman, and Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic as well as former UFC Heavyweight Champions Kevin “The Monster” Randleman and Tim Sylvia, whom Emelianenko submitted with a rear naked choke only 36 seconds into their main event showdown at Affliction:  “Banned” on July 19, 2008.

Despite his extensive experience, Emelianenko’s debut under the new STRIKEFORCE-M-1 venture will, interestingly enough, mark his first start in a cage.  To date, all of his bouts have taken place in a ring.

The Real Reason Fedor Emelianenko Won’t Sign with the UFC…with a Twist

July 29, 2009

by Brian Oswald… So just what is the real reason Fedor Emelianenko won’t sign with the UFC?

Aleksander Emelianenko—Fedor’s brother—has his own opinion on the matter and offered it up to the Russian website sports.ru.

“You can deal with UFC. I know that they have flexible contract system. All these talks about ’strict’ contract terms with signing with UFC come ONLY from Vadim Finkelstein, who wants to push his own business projects through Fedor’s fights.”

So why is Aleksander calling out Finkelstein?

Perhaps he is simply looking out for his brother’s best interests, or maybe he and Vadim have a strained relationship. Could it be he is posturing to get himself a UFC contract (not likely)?

The whole Fedor-to-the-UFC saga will always leave us with more questions than answers. Aleksander’s comments lead one to believe there is more to all of this than meets the eye—as if that should come as a surprise.

So will Fedor ever fight in the UFC?

If you put any stock in “brotherly love,” the answer to that question just might be, “if Vadim Finkelstein lets him.”

Four UFC 100 Standouts Ensure the Hits Will Keep On Coming

July 17, 2009

by Brian Oswald… With the historic show now a part of history, it is time to take stock.

Four fighters emerged from the fight card as clear-cut winners going forward. Two current champions, a former two-time champion, and one young phenom will look to take their momentum from UFC 100 and use it to move onward and upward in their respective careers. Let’s look at where they are headed.

Brock Lesnar

Forget the hoopla surrounding Brock Lesnar and his post-fight speech. Lesnar cemented his status as a legitimate mixed martial artist, and with each subsequent win, the doubters can remove from their minds the fact that he is just five fights removed from a pro wrestling career. Well, sort of.

The treacherous trifecta of Lesnar’s physical tools, lofty learning curve, and dogmatic desire to be the best are brewing the belief of an insurmountable predicament—that Brock Lesnar can’t be beaten.

Suspending the Fedor Emelianenko talk for a moment, Lesnar has four potential opponents who will look to prove that notion premature. The list will be divided in half when two winners emerge respectively from the Randy Couture-Antonio Nogueira and Shane Carwin-Cain Velasquez fights.

From a marketing standpoint, Couture would appear the obvious choice. Their fight at UFC 91 was one of the most anticipated and watched fights in UFC history. A win over Nogueira would be just enough for Couture to get a rematch title shot, but would anyone give Couture a chance to surface a winner?

While purists would love for Couture to remove the immovable object from the heavyweight throne, they may be more inclined to put their faith in larger, stronger, and younger men in Carwin or Velasquez.

Both fighters have certified the resilience of their respective chins by absorbing punishing punches from their previous hard-hitting opponents. Add to that their great wrestling base and ability to deliver their own heavy punches, and you have the needed ingredients for a potential stand-up war with Lesnar.

UFC matchmaker Joe Silva will ultimately determine who Lesnar’s next antagonist is, but signs point to the Couture-Nogueira winner getting the next title shot. If things go according to plan, that fight would serve as the main event of the year, ending the Ultimate 2009 show.

Georges St. Pierre

Anyone who thought that George St. Pierre would dominate Thiago Alves to the extent he did was the exception, not the rule. The UFC brass never considered St. Pierre would walk through his Brazilian “counterpart” with such ease. The lopsided loss by Alves creates a vacuum in the division.

The Mike Swick-Martin Kampmann winner at UFC 103 would have been the next No. 1 contender, but the UFC can no longer build a credible case for putting together that title fight. No lack of respect intended; there’s just no need to shuffle guys in there who carry little perception of winning the fight.

It would be analogous to when Anderson Silva was put into title with Patrick Cote and Thales Leites. It is not fair to the champion or the challenger in question. What would be much more reasonable to put together is the buzzed-about superfight between two imposing champions.

Talk of a fight between St. Pierre and Silva started prior to UFC 100, and the topic should reach a fever pitch over the coming months. One could argue that St. Pierre has surpassed even Silva in terms of divisional dominance, and the UFC will be forced to take a hard look at a “meeting of the minds.”

St. Pierre has been vocal that he fights for the biggest challenges and for his legacy. Silva would without question offer St. Pierre the biggest challenge of his career, and a win over another Brazilian would catapult his legacy into the stratosphere.

With St. Pierre injuring his groin, the UFC will have time to consider all their options. Silva has to do his part and beat Forrest Griffin at UFC 101 to keep momentum going for the superfight. But don’t be surprised if a St. Pierre-Silva fight serves a co-main event to another Lesnar main event at the Ultimate 2009 show.

Dan Henderson

While legends of the sport like Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes are on the decline, Dan Henderson appears better then ever. Henderson can now move past the distraction of Michael Bisping and concentrate on convincing Dana White to give him a rematch with Anderson Silva.

It will be a tall order, though. Dana offered little indication for a rematch in the post-fight press conference. Henderson wavered by saying that a trip back to the light heavyweight division was an option. It is the option Dana will likely concur with for now. Despite that, Dan’s stock remains high.

Henderson’s next fight should come against a fighter in the top 10 of the light heavyweight division. If White isn’t going to give Henderson another crack at Silva’s title, he will certainly acquiesce to letting the future Hall of Famer make a run at the 205-pound title.

If Silva beats Forrest Griffin at UFC 101 in four weeks, Griffin would be the most marketable fight at light heavyweight for Henderson. Perhaps a more viable option would be the winner of the UFC 102 fight between Keith Jardine and Thiago Silva.

Circling back to the middleweight division, Henderson’s best bet would be a fight with Nate Marquardt if Marquardt beats Demian Maia at UFC 102. Marquardt, like Henderson, has a loss to Silva and has been pining for a rematch. The winner of that fight would get his rematch by attrition.

Jon Jones

“Bones” Jones cut through right Jake O’Brien en route to this third octagon win, all before the ripe old age of 22. Jones has been touted as the future of the light heavyweight division, and it will be interesting to see what the UFC does with one of their hottest new commodities.

They can continue to bring Jones along by putting him up against tier two fighters—Jones has said he is “learning to fight as he goes” inside the octagon—or they can give him a shot against a top 10 fighter. Jones is fine with either option and has no desire to call out a specific opponent.

There are a slew of possibilities for the young phenom, so speculating on a future opponent would be just that. Just for fun, some possible opponents are the Matt Hamill-Brandon Vera loser, the Keith Jardine-Thiago Silva loser, or someone like Krzysztof Soszynski (who Jones shares an opponent with).

Regardless of who Jones fights next, fans will continue to speculate on whether or not he is the real deal and why he has the confidence to proclaim that one day he will beat guys like Lyoto Machida.

TEAM USA West Finds Seoul in M-1 Challenge

July 2, 2009

By Brian Oswald… M-1 Global, the mixed martial arts promotion based in Russia, is back in action this weekend with its “Sixth Edition” of the “M-1 Challenge Presented by Affliction.” The “Sixth Edition” is being held in Seoul, South Korea.

While friends and family will be back home celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks and BBQ, Team USA West will find itself amerced in a best-of-five series with Team Russia Imperial.

After beginning its 2009 campaign with two team losses, Fedor Emelianenko’s Imperial team has made across-the-board changes as it looks to unearth its next generation of superstars looking to follow in the footsteps of Emelianenko, Roman Zentsov, and Kirill Sidelnikov.

Group B leading USA West will face an Imperial team that will not feature a single member from its 2008 M-1 Challenge Championship team. With a win this weekend the USA West team with its sights set on clinching a semifinal berth in the ‘09 M-1 Challenge post-season along with its first-ever Group title.

Not looking to coast into the playoffs, four of five fighters that helped USA West to its 4-1 win over South Korea in Japan this past April will be back.

In addition, USA West went out and recruited “King of the Cage” light heavyweight champion Tony Lopez (12-2) to step up as a replacement against Imperial’s Nemkov, who has compiled a 4-0 record since competing in M-1 Challenge.

Rising lightweight prospect David Jansen will be returning at lightweight for USA West. Jansen improved to 11-0 following his decision victory over Yui Chul Nam during April’s M-1 Challenge event in Japan. This Team Quest member has already fought three times this year capturing notable wins having over Matt Lee and Flavio Alvaro.

Representing USA West at welterweight will be Fabio “Negao” Nascimento. “Negao”, a decorated jiu-jitsu black belt, improved to 9-4 following his decision victory over Myeon Ho Bae in his M-1 Challenge debut this past April in Japan.

Negao will look to move his M-1 Challenge record to 2-0 when he faces Ilaev, who was promoted to Imperial’s Challenge roster following last month’s first round submission over Havazh Beldurov.

USA West’s middleweight slot will once again be manned by Giva “The Arm Collector” Santana (12-1), who recorded an astonishing eleventh career victory via arm bar during his M-1 Challenge debut this past April against South Korea’s Min Suk Heo.

The former member of the Brazilian Armed Forces, Santana will take on Gabdulin, a 4-1 fighter who has recorded all of his wins via submission despite his reputation for possessing outstanding Muay Thai skills.

Former EliteXC veteran Shane Del Rosario will once again compete for USA West as its designated heavyweight despite having dual contract with Strikeforce and M-1. The professional Muay Thai fighter improved to 6-0 in his MMA career following his first round knockout over Dool Hee Lee in Japan this past April.

To visit the M-1 Global website click here.

Frank Mir’s Advice to Brock Lesnar at UFC 100: “Come After Me. Take a Chance”

July 1, 2009

By Brian Oswald… Following a grueling workout at Striking Unlimited last Friday, UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir sat down with the sports media in Las Vegas to talk UFC 100.

Mir gave advice to UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar, stating the strategy he used against him the first time around might just work the second.

“If Brock really comes out and tries to abandon the running at me, heads over heels and just trying to knock, bull rush me over, I honestly think that’s his best approach,” said Mir, with a black shine circling his eye.

“I would just come after me; take a chance, ’cause to sit there and play the cat and mouse game with me, and jab and slip and move around, I think that’s a slow death for him that he can’t possibly win.”

Frank Mir continues to talk about his upcoming heavyweight title match with Brock Lesnar at UFC 100 on Jul. 11.

Both fighters are masters at building up a fight, which makes it all the more fun for the fans who get to sit back and watch it all unfold.

Before UFC 100: The Modern Welterweight Era was Born at UFC 46

June 30, 2009

By Brian Oswald… Much hype has been bestowed upon UFC 100 and the title fights which will anchor the most seismic fight card in MMA history—and rightly so.

The co-main event will showcase Georges St. Pierre defending his welterweight title against a very dangerous Thiago Alves. For St. Pierre, it will likely be his toughest test to date as he looks to bolster his MMA legacy while potentially securing a super fight with middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

If St. Pierre looks past Alves though, he could be looking at the canvas floor.

To get a full a sense of the current era of the welterweight division, one must step into their MMA time machine and travel back to Jan. 31, 2004. UFC 46 was a fight card of great significance to the modern welterweight division.

Matt Hughes stepped into the octagon that night having successfully defended his belt five times. On the night in question though, Hughes would not be as opportune as he succumbed to a rear naked choke at the behest of B.J. Penn at 4:39 of round one.

For Penn, who stepped up a weight class for the first time in his career, he delivered one of the biggest upsets in the UFC welterweight history at that time.

Also of significance that night was the UFC debut of current welterweight champion George St. Pierre. St. Pierre rushed through his first opponent to secure a decision win over Karo Parisyan.

With Hughes, Penn and St. Pierre all in place the welterweight stage would bet set in some form or fashion for the next four years plus.

Penn would go on to be stripped of the UFC welterweight title in February after cutting ties with the organization while Matt Hughes would go on to regain his title in October at UFC 50 by defeating the young phenom George St. Pierre.

Matt Hughes would successfully defend his welterweight belt another two times—at UFC 52 against Frank Trigg and UFC 63 against B.J. Penn respectively. In the process, Hughes secured his hall-of-fame status and also his place as the best welterweight in the UFC history…for now.

It is worth noting that the title fight did not originally include Penn, rather George St. Pierre. B.J. Penn had lost in his UFC return agaisnt St. Pierre at UFC 58 which earned St. Pierre his second title shot agaisnt Matt Hughes.

But a groin injury pulled St. Pierre out of his long-awaited rematch with Hughes, allowing Penn capitalize—only to be beaten in the process.

St Pierre was finally able to position himself as the kingpin of the welterweight division on November 18, 2006 when he defeated Matt Hughes at UFC 65, becoming UFC champion by TKO at 1:25 of round two.

While the welterweight division was turned on its head, with Hughes losing his belt for a second time, the sense of a new era felt firmly in place.

That notion was quickly evaporated when Matt Serra turned the entire MMA community on its head with the biggest upset in UFC history.

On April 7, 2007, at UFC 69, TUF 4 finale winner Matt “The Terror” Serra rocked Georges St Pierre by technical knockout at 3:25 of the first round to become the latest UFC welterweight champion.

In loss, St. Pierre was forced to take a fight with Josh Koscheck at UFC 74 while Serra got to bask in the glory, albeit momentarily.

Matt Serra was supposed to defend his title against Matt Hughes at UFC 79 but injuries prevented him from doing so. In stepped St-Pierre, fresh off his win over  Koscheck.

St. Pierre would defeat Hughes for a second time to claim the interim welterweight title on Dec. 29, 2007 and

While a second win over Hughes was rewarding, the only thing Georges St-Pierre had on his mind was beating Serra to unify the two belts and once again be crowned undisputed welterweight champion.

He got that chance April 19, 2008 at UFC 83 which took place in his hometown of Montreal, Quebec. The rematch looked nothing like their first fight.

In an effort to avoid Serra’s knockout power, St. Pierre took Serra down at will and pounded him on the ground. The referee finally intervened at 4:45 of Round Two to stop the barrage of knees St. Pierre was delivering to the body of Serra.

St. Pierre has had defended his belt twice since. The first defense came against Jon Fitch at UFC 87. Fitch was gritty in defeat but was completely outworked by St. Pierre in route to a lopsided decision loss.

In one of the most hyped fights in UFC history, B.J Penn moved up to welterweight to exact revenge upon St. Pierre at UFC 94. It didn’t happen, not in the least. St. Pierre trounced Penn through four rounds until Penn was forced to throw in the towel and sit dejected on his stool.

That brings us to UFC 100 where St. Pierre will look to defend his belt for a third time. While many feel that St. Pierre has already surpassed Matt Hughes as the best welterweight in UFC history, St. Pierre must still live up to the Matt Hughes’s record of defending the belt seven times.

2.8 Million Viewers Tune In To See Deigo Sanchez Vs. Clay Guida

June 25, 2009

By Brian Oswald… 

THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER: UNITED STATES VS UNITED KINGDOM” LIVE FINALE DELIVERS MORE YOUNG MEN THAN MLB ON FOX AND US OPEN GOLF ON NBC COMBINED ON SATURDAY, JUNE 20

NEW YORK, NY, June 23, 2009 – This past Saturday, June 20, the UFC was once again the undisputed champion in sports on television among young men.  The live finale of the ninth season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” airing Saturday June 20 (9:00pm-12:00am), drew more men in the advertiser-coveted demographic of Men 18-34 (663,000) than MLB baseball on FOX (184,000) and coverage of U.S. Open golf on NBC (384,000), which ran earlier that day.

The live UFC fight card, which peaked at 2.8 million viewers for the main event featuring Diego Sanchez and Clay Guida, was the most watched-program in all of television in Men 18-34 and Men 18-49.

Also, bucking the trend of most reality series, “The Ultimate Fighter” finale ratings for season nine were the highest since season six and the full season of 13 episodes were the highest in Men 18-34 since season five, illustrating the growing popularity in the sport of mixed martial arts and the UFC brand on Spike.

Overall, the “The Ultimate Fighter: US vs. Team UK” delivered a 1.5 household rating, a 2.1 in Men 18-49 (1.2 million), a 2.3 in M18-34 (663,000), a 2.8 in M25-34 (468,000) and 2.2 million total viewers.

Many had hyped Guida vs. Sanchez as a possible “Fight of the Year” candidate, and the two warriors more than lived up to the hype in a three round war that left the sold out crowd at The Palms Casino Resort clamoring for more, as Sanchez won via split decision in a fifteen minute instant UFC® classic.  The fight drew an impressive 3.1 rating in Men 18-34 and 3.3 in Men 25-34.

Post UFC 99 Welterweight Rankings

June 18, 2009

By Brian Oswald… These rankings are based on the fallout from UFC 99. Records indicate UFC records, not full MMA records.

1. George St. Pierre, 12-2

Given that St. Pierre is the champion, the number one spot is a given. But there is more to St. Pierre then just being the champion. He has gone 5-0 since being on the losing end of one of the biggest upsets in UFC history, courtesy of Matt Serra.

Since that fight St. Pierre has dominated Josh Koscheck, Matt Hughes, Matt Serra, Jon Fitch and B.J. Penn. None of those wins matter now though as St. Pierre is set to face his toughest test to date in a very dangerous Thiago Alves at UFC 100.

If St. Pierre defeats Avles, he has cleared out most of the competition at 170 pounds with Mike Swick and Martin Kampmann taking exception. While those fights would be fun, the UFC may advance St. Pierre into a super fight with current middleweight champion Anderson Silva. The fight would be a perfect addition to The Ultimate 2009 fight card.

2. Thiago Alves, 9-2

Alves established himself as one of the more legitimate number one contenders on UFC record by knocking out Karo Parisyan and Matt Hughes before going on to outwork Josh Koscheck for a decision win. Alves was the first fighter to knock Parisyan out in a fight.

Many people believe that Alves has the size and stand up game to take the belt away from St. Pierre at UFC 100. If he is able to do so, Mike Swick and Jon Fitch would be waiting in the wings. Fitch actually holds a win over Alves (three years ago) so a rematch would definitely be in order.

3. Jon Fitch, 9-1

The only blemish on the UFC record of Jon Fitch is to current champion George St. Pierre. Fitch has wins over Thiago Alves, Diego Sanchez and, most recently, Akihiro Gono.

Fitch will need to avoid a letdown against young gun Paulo Thiago at UFC 100. Thiago bring just one octagon win into their fight, but it came against Fitch’s teammate, Josh Koscheck. While Fitch will remain focused, a little bit of revenge has to be on his mind.

If Fitch wins, it will come down to the UFC choosing between him and Mike Swick to fight the St. Pierre-Alves winner. Fitch already got his crack at St. Pierre and lost, so it seems like the UFC would give the 9-1 Mike Swick his opportunity.

4. Mike Swick, 9-1

Swick is coming off an impressive win at UFC 99 against Ben Saunders. His UFC record is quite impressive, especially given the fact that he started his UFC career going 5-1 in the middleweight division.

The only thing people may question with Swick is his level of welterweight competition he has faced so far.

While his T(KO) wins over Saunders and Goulet were enjoyable, neither of those foes are anywhere near top 10 of the division. Swick’s best resume win was a decision victory over Marcus Davis, but Davis wasn’t 100 percent in that fight. Also, Davis losing to Dan Hardy at UFC 99 doesn’t help Swick’s strength of schedule.

Despite that, Swick should have the momentum leading up to the St. Pierre-Alves. Some of his fate may rest on how impressive Fitch is in his fight with Paulo Thiago, but even if Fitch manages to T(KO) his opponent, is that enough for him to justify a second title shot within a year period?

5. Matt Hughes, 16-5

Finding the perfect spot for Hughes is a bit precarious. If Josh Koscheck had not lost his last fight he would hold the five spot.

Hughes stopped his recent slide by eking out a win over Matt Serra at UFC 98. Before that, Hughes had lost three of four fights. Granted, two of those losses were to St. Pierre and the other against Alves.

Despite his recent struggles, Hughes is a future Hall of Famer and his record is imposing. It’s now decision time. Does he ride off into the sunset with a win against his biggest grudge or does he make one last run at the title and see what he has left in the gas tank?

While many fans may want him to see what’s behind door number one, Hughes has that maverick streak in him and curiosity will either kill the cat or he may in fact rack up another win or two before closing the books on his storied career.

6. Martin Kampmann, 6-1

Martin Kampmann could be the future of the welterweight division. He looked quite impressive at middleweight until running into a much more physically imposing Nate Marquardt.

Kampmann made the smart move to drop down to 170 where he is more much physically imposing himself.

A razor thin yet impressive win over Carlos Condit publicized his place in the division. How good you think Condit is determines how notable you think the win is. Kampmann recently turned down a fight against T.J. Grant because he only wants to fight the best in the division.

His next fight could come against Swick, Fitch, or the St. Pierre-Alves winner depending on how everything shakes out.

Is Kampmann ready for the welterweight primetime?

7. Josh Koscheck, 10-4

It’s hard to believe Koscheck has fought fourteen fights in the octagon. Koschek’s career peaked after beating Diego Sanchez, which earned him a fight with George St. Pierre (not a title fight). He fought valiantly only to come away with a decision loss.

Koscheck went on to beat Dustin Hazelett and Chris Lytle before running into Thiago Alves at UFC 90. After that loss, Koscheck got back on track by rocking Yoshiyuki Yoshida only to get rocked himself by Paulo Thiago in his most recent fight.

Now Koscheck looks set to welcome Frank Trigg back to the octagon at UFC 103. It seems a bit hard to figure out where Koscheck’s career is headed. He’s expressed his desire to fight anyone at any time, and while that has earned brownie points with Dana White, the resulting impression is that winning a title is secondary for Koscheck.

Koscheck is a small welterweight compared to guys like St. Pierre, Alves and Fitch. If Koscheck continues to vacillate between winning and losing he may want to follow Diego Sanchez down to the lightweight division and make a title run there.

8. Karo Parisyan, 8-3

Like Matt Hughes, Karo Parisyan gets a higher ranking then he may deserve based on past accomplishments. Past this point in the rankings, the division is teeming with young talent who would be more then willing to take this spot.

Parisyan has beat guys like Matt Serra, Chris Lytle and Ryo Chonan, but lost to guys like George St. Pierre, Diego Sanchez and Thiago Alves, making him the proverbial gatekeeper in the welterweight division.

In Karo’s last fight, he took a split decision over Dong Hyun Kim—although many people felt Kim won the split decision. His next fight, coming back from a steroid suspension, will be the most critical of his career and set the tone for his future in the UFC.

9. Carlos Condit, 0-1

Ranking Condit in the top 10 may seem off to some when you have guys like Dustin Hazelett and Anthony Johnson holding more impressive UFC records. But you have to give Condit credit for both his dominance in the WEC and also his gritty performance against Martin Kampmann in his first UFC bout. Some felt Condit actually one that fight.

Condit’s next fight will help determine exactly where he fits into this division. Being that there are a lot of moving parts in the welterweight division, there are lots of options.

10. Dustin Hazelett/Anthony Johnson, 5-2/4-2

What is more impressive: Johnson’s two T(KO) wins over Luigi Fioravanti and Ken Burns coupled with a loss to Rich Clementi or Hazelett’s two submission wins over Tamdan McCrory and Josh Burkman coupled with a loss to Josh Koscheck?

Both fighters have a lot of potential moving forward and unfortunately are sitting on the sidelines with injuries. Look for both to rebound and continue to work their way up the ladder of the welterweight division.

Tier two fighters

Dan Hardy (3-0)
Marcus Davis (8-3)
Matt Serra (6-6)
Brock Larson (2-1)
Matt Brown (3-1)
Paulo Thiago (1-0)
Dong Hyum Kim (2-0)
Ben Saunders (3-1)
Frank Trigg (2-3)
Chris Lytle (5-9)

Fedor Emelianeko, Josh Barnett Verbally Agree to Match

May 22, 2009

By Brian Oswald… Affliction’s third event, featuring a main event of Fedor Emelianeko vs Josh Barnett and taking place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, on Aug. 1, should be officially announced within days, according to MMA FanHouse.

Though neither Emelianenko or Barnett has signed official bout agreements, they have both verbally accepted the matchup, according to their source.

Earlier this week, Affliction President Tom Atencio told FanHouse he would not be able to confirm any details until contracts were officially signed.For most MMA fans, seeing will be believing when it comes to this long anticipated heavyweight match between the two long time friends. If this match does in fact go down, it would be the perfect match for the struggling Affliction to go down with.

Will Urijah Faber Throw Mike Brown A Curveball in Their WEC Rematch?

May 12, 2009

By Brian Oswald… Former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Stockton Ports-Rancho Cucamonga Quakes game on Friday, May 8. For all you baseball/mma fans, the Ports hit a walk-off home-run to down the Quakes 8-7.

Having already tuned up his fastball, “The California Kid” now turns his attention to throwing out the first pitch at the Oakland A’s game on May 26.

Faber will look to replace the term “former champion” with the more marketable  “two time champion” when he rematches current champion Mike Brown on June 7 in Sacramento.

The event is appropriately being called WEC 41: Brown vs. Faber 2.

Many people considered Faber unbeatable at featherweight and he was a fixture in all the top 10 pound-for-pound lists, which rank the best fighters the sport had to offer.

Apparently Mike Brown, an American Top Team trained fighter, didn’t get the “unbeatable” memo prior to their fight. Or he did, and wanted Faber’s spot on the pound-for pound list.

He walked into their WEC 36 fight, a man on a mission and a man on fire.

That mission was completed when Brown turned Faber’s errant backspin elbow strike into the opportunity he needed to finish the fight.The finish came with Brown grounding and pounding Faber out of commission, taking WEC Gold in the process.

Since their last fight, both men have fought one time.

Brown’s first title defense came against Leonard Garcia at WEC 39.

Garcia came out aggressively, but blundered by circling in the wrong direction. Brown capitalized, knocking Garcia down with a big right hand. That big right culminated in Brown securing an arm triangle choke from full mount.

Brown said that he didn’t really feel like the champion after the Faber fight, but he was happy he established himself as the champion with his victory over Garcia.

Faber took a rematch with former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver. The two had fought for Faber’s title back at WEC 34. Faber and Pulver went toe-to-toe for all five rounds, with Faber getting the better of Pulver throughout.The judges scored the bout a unanimous decision for Faber, 50-45, 50-44 and 50-44.

In their rematch, Faber was not in the mood for another impressive decision win. He submitted Pulver via guillotine choke a minute and a half into the fight.While many considered the fight a “puff fight,” the win put Faber back in the title picture.

With Pulver out of the equation, and Garcia on the sidelines, Faber and Brown can get back to what feels like unsettled business. While their first fight was exciting, in no way did it feel like a finished fight - despite the ground-and-pounding Faber took.

Brown knows Faber is better than that performance. That is why he didn’t feel like the champion after that fight.

A few questions form in the mind as this fight grows closer.

Will Faber tighten up his game and be less free spirited or will he ’stick to his guns?’ Will Brown solidify himself as the real featherweight sheriff or will he be forced out of town by Faber’s ‘guns-a- blazing.’

This wild-west “shoot out in Sacramento” is just a month away. The only question left to ask is: which featherweight are you saddling horse to?

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