Maia renews emphasis on submissions
Like so many fighters before and after him, Maia failed to do a thing against the iconic middleweight champion. Splitting four fights over the next two years, including a lopsided decision loss to Chris Weidman in January 2010, Maia was propelled to shed 15 pounds and begin anew at welterweight.
“I needed to be reborn,” Maia said over the phone from his hotel room at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, where he’ll meet Jon Fitch on Saturday during the pay-per-view portion of UFC 156. “I felt when I was hitting guys or going for a takedown at 185, sometimes it was like hitting a wall. Now in this weight division, it’s more fair for me.”
Competing at his natural weight (around 185 pounds on fight night) also has helped, as has a renewed emphasis on submissions.
“Now that I learned I’m able to do well with boxing, I was able to train more jiu-jitsu again,” he said. “I’ve come back to my grappling.”
A Demian Maia that is more interested in taking his opponents down and submitting rather than striking is a dangerous threat to any fighter at 170 lbs. He has looked fantastic so far at welterweight, and a decisive win over Jon Fitch this Saturday will only further launch him back into title contention.
All 20 fighters, including the eight-man lightweight tournament field successfully made weight for tomorrow night's Bellator 87 event, which is slated for the Soaring Eagle Resort & Casino in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.
The show features a new main event of David Rickels vs. Lloyd Woodard after Patricky Friere suffered a knee injury during a final sparring session yesterday and was forced out of his meeting with Guillaume DeLorenzi. Friere is replaced by Saad Awad, who moves up from the show's preliminary card.
Complete weigh-in results are after the jump.
Another pair of bouts have been booked for UFC 159, which takes place on April 27 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.
A pivotal middleweight matchup between recently defeated contenders Michael Bisping and Alan Belcher will serve as the show's co-main event. In addition, durable lightweight Jim Miller will welcome Strikeforce contender Pat Healy back to the UFC.
The UFC confirmed the bouts as official this afternoon.
Shinya Aoki to challenge for lightweight title against Kotetsu Boku at ONE FC 8
Former DREAM champion Shinya Aoki (32-6, 1 NC) is slated to challenge Kotetsu Boku (20-7-2) for the ONE FC lightweight title at ONE FC: Kings and Champions, which takes place on April 5, 2013 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore. ONE FC officials announced the long-rumored bout on Wednesday.
Aoki, 29, needed just 85 seconds to coax a tapout from French submission specialist Arnaud Lepont via triangle choke in his ONE FC debut last October. Since then Aoki picked up an additional victory, defeating Antonio McKee via punches on DREAM’s year-end supercard.
Likewise, Boku, 35, rides his own two-fight win streak into the bout, having knocked out Shin Kochiwa in 67 seconds before upsetting Aoki’s Evolve MMA teammate, Zorobabel Moreira, to claim the inaugural ONE FC lightweight belt.
It looks like Aoki will remain on the Asian MMA circuit regardless of whether or not DREAM continues operations this year. While it's bittersweet for those international fans that want to see him compete live, it's likely the best career move for Aoki, who remains one of Japan's biggest draws.
Patricky Pitbull out of lightweight tournament with an injury
Patricky Pitbull has suffered a knee injury in his final sparring session and is out of the tournament. .Replacing him against Guillaume DeLorenzi will be Saad Awad.
Awad was already scheduled to be on the Bellator fight card tomorrow night and he was set to face Jason Fischer on the preliminary card.
Replacing Awad against Fisher will be Sevak Magakian, who will be making his Bellator debut and is currently on a six fight winning streak.
HT to MMA Junkie for the find.
Bellator 87 was already lacking in star power and now loses its most notable fighter on the card due to injury, and at the very last minute. The injury bug isn't just hitting the UFC these days.
If the 39-year-old has any regrets in his octagon career, it’s that he wasn’t able to move up to middleweight to fight for a title. He said he would have fought Evan Tanner for the belt if Tanner had beaten his longtime friend Rich Franklin at UFC 53, but Franklin won, and told the UFC he wouldn’t face Franklin at the conclusion of “The Ultimate Fighter 2.”
“Anderson Silva,” Hughes said of the fighter he most wanted to face. “I always wanted to go up to 185 to put the belts together.”
Instead, Hughes settled in at welterweight. He said his first rematch with Penn, which saw him earn a third-round TKO, and a first-round TKO of Royce Gracie remain among his favorite memories in the UFC.
The potential Hughes-Tanner bout has been a good MMA trivia question for a long time. It's also interesting to think about what would have been if Frank Trigg had finished what he started in the first round against Hughes at UFC 52. It would have been him as a coach on "TUF 2" against Franklin.
Ever since Chael Sonnen secured a shot at Jon Jones' UFC light heavyweight title, it has become a topic of conversation.
Sonnen again used his trash talk to earn himself a shot at a UFC title. He did so before with a barrage of harsh criticism and veiled threats leading up to his rematch with Anderson Silva. Granted, Sonnen did win a pair of fights against top middleweight competition prior to the loss, but it was his verbal bravado that really set the second meeting between the two in motion.
In a sport that is starting to mix in entertainment to go along with its skill and toughness, is the easy way to a title shot to now talk your way towards it rather than climbing up the ladder through winning fights? The stars of UFC 156's main card don't think so.
Check out the full replay of "Countdown to UFC 156", which premiered last night on Fuel TV. The program previews the main card of Saturday night's event, profiling Jose Aldo's UFC featherweight title defense against former lightweight king Frankie Edgar and Alistair Overeem's return to action against Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva.
Also detailed is former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans meeting Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Jon Fitch taking on jiu-jitsu wizard Demian Maia.
A heavyweight bout between longtime veterans Roy Nelson and Cheick Kongo as well as a heated clash pitting Phil Davis against Vinny Magalhaes have both been added to UFC 159, which takes place at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ on April 27.
The matchups were officially announced on tonight's edition of "UFC Tonight" on Fuel TV.
The show is headlined by a UFC light heavyweight title fight between current "The Ultimate Fighter 17" coaches, reigning champion Jon Jones and challenger Chael Sonnen.
Benavidez in no rush for second title shot
Benavidez says he’s in no rush to get back to the title, although a win over McCall might solidify his spot as the No. 1 contender, despite his loss to Johnson was just four months ago.
Actually, if given the option, he might even prefer getting at least two fights in before taking another shot at the belt, but he’ll leave that decision to the UFC. Right now, he’s focused on improving and reminding himself to enjoy it. If he does that, there’s still hope everything he had imagined would happen in September isn’t dead yet.
“Talent-wise, he’s right there at the top,” Gifford said. “All the everyday things I see him do—I know he’s the best. I said to him in the gym the other day after his workout, ‘You were only off by one year, bro. You said 2012, you’ll get the belt in 2013.’
It's tough to be in Benavidez's spot, who like his teammate Urijah Faber, is now one of the toughest and most talented fighters in a division in the UFC to not hold a title.
Benavidez was dug in as the number two bantamweight in the world while he was at 135 lbs and with a win over Ian McCall on Saturday night, he'll be right back in the same spot at flyweight. I'm confident though that one day his talent will overcome his shortcomings and have him holding UFC gold. I'm just not sure when that will be.