MMAWeekly and Sherdog both now have articles up which are reporting that Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic has signed in the UFC. The announcement will be made this Saturday at UFC 66: Liddell vs. Ortiz II. Cro Cop’s first fight is expected to come at UFC 67 against Eddie Sanchez.
Along with the signing of Mirko Cro Cop, it has been announced and PRIDE and K-1 veteran Heath Herring has signed a five-fight deal with the UFC which will see him make his debut January 25th against Jake O’Brien. Herring was one of the many contracts acquired when the UFC bought out the WFA.
InsideFighting is reporting that Hermes Franca will make his return to the octagon against Spencer Fisher on January 25th at the UFC Fight Night in Miami, Florida. Nothing has been confirmed but it is expected that the winner will become the number one contender in the lightweight division. Franca’s manager, Joe Mullings said, ““Nothing is guaranteed but the direction of conversation has been that either Fisher or Franca will likely be in line for a shot at (UFC lightweight champion) Sean (Sherk).”
Things are starting to come together with the UFC and HBO, as I posted yesterday, Larry Merchant confirmed that the UFC would appear on the network when he said “People look at it (UFC) as real wrestling. And next year HBO and Showtime, they both will test the waters and see if this works. I don’t know what Showtime is doing, but we’ll do four and see how it goes.”
MMAWeekly is reporting that various independent sources have confirmed that WEC will no renew their deal with HDNet but rather they will sign a deal with Versus. The deal calls for six shows to be televised next year including three live shows and three on tape delay. The first Zuffa-owned WEC event will take place January 20th as Kit Cope and Rob McCullough will be headlining the card. It is still unknown whether or not this event will be included in the television deal. Both McCullough and Cope’s contracts were acquired when the UFC purchased the WFA.
Here is our preview for UFC 63: Penn vs. Hughes.
Matt Hughes 41-4-0 vs BJ Penn 10-3-1
Mike Swick 11-1-0 vs David Loiseau 15-5-0
Jason Lambert 22-5-0 vs Rashad Evans 9-0-0
Joe Lauzon 12-3-0 vs Jens Pulver 21-6-1
Gabe Ruediger vs Melvin Guillard 38-6-3
Roger Huerta 16-1-1 vs Jason Dent 12-6-0
Mario Neto 9-3-0 vs Eddie Sanchez 7-0-0
Danny Abbadi 2-2-0 vs Jorge Gurgel 12-1-0
David Lee 5-1-0 vs Tyson Griffin 7-0-0
B.J. Penn vs. Matt Hughes
Welterweight superstars B.J. Penn and Matt Hughes will renew acquaintances come Saturday night when the duo enters the octagon for the second time against one another.
These two fighters last entered the octagon together on January 31st, 2001 at UFC 46 Supernatural. B.J. Penn was coming into the fight as a lightweight fighter jumping up in weight to challenge Hughes for the title. Penn knew it was no easy fight as he was moving into a new weight class and immediately facing the best it had to offer but he’d have it no other way.
Coming into the fight Matt Hughes was heavily favored by the fans to take the fight. With everything going on around him Hughes took the fight lightly with Penn and he didn’t train the way he should have and it showed.
Early in the fight Penn being the dominant striker worked his stand-up game until Hughes decided to shoot in for the takedown. Luckily for Penn he was able to stuff it and gain top position.
From the top Penn was able to land a fight right hand which dazed Hughes and left Penn with a broken hand. From there he took his helpless opponents back and eventually sunk in a tight rear naked choke and forced Hughes to tap out at 4:39 of the first round.
Being crowned the new UFC welterweight champion Penn quickly hopped up off the canvas and kissed his opponent who was on his knees after being choked out. Penn’s victory proved to be one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.
That win ended up spelling the end of B.J. Penn in the UFC for a while as he decided that during his downtime between fights he’d take a fight in K-1 while still being under contract with the UFC. Signing with K-1 proved to be a breach of his contract so Dana White and Zuffa quickly took action stripping Penn of his newly earned welterweight title.
Things were really beginning to look bad between the Penn camp and the UFC. Both sides tried their luck by taking legal action but nothing came of it.
Things all took sudden chance on the evening of November 19, 2005 at UFC 56: Full Force. In what was turning out to be a rather uneventful show, UFC president Dana White entered the octagon to make a few announcements for the crowd at hand.
First Dana made it clear that Frank Mir felt he was ready to return and he’d eventually be fighting Andrei Arlovski who was the UFC heavyweight champion at the time. Next Dana White called Ken Shamrock to the octagon and announced that he would be coaching ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ season 3 and his counterpart would be arch rival Tito Ortiz. Finally White ended his announcement spree off by saying “look at this stud I just signed”. B.J. Penn then walked down the runway accompanied by a shirt that said “World Champion” all while he was hearing his welterweight title he was stripped of at UFC 46.
While Penn was going from the UFC, Matt Hughes worked hard to get his belt back and he eventually regained it at UFC 50: The War of ‘04 against Georges St. Pierre as he submitted him late in the first round.
With all of the drama behind them, both fighters should come in fairly focused and ready for a war.
Here is a little background information on each of the fighters.
UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes sports a mixed martial arts record of 39-4-0 with 13 wins coming by TKO and 18 by submission.
Hughes is an incredibly strong wrestler with a wealth of both wrestling and MMA experience. Hughes has a slew of excellent wins to his name as he has defeated the likes of Frank Trigg, Royce Gracie, Georges St. Pierre, Carlos Newton, Sean Sherk and many more. In his last 19 fights he is 18-1 with his only loss coming to the hands of his opponent Saturday night Mr. B.J. Penn.
Matt Hughes is a constantly evolving fighter who trains with the highly respect Miletich Fighting Systems which is arguably one of the best camps in the world right now. Hughes is surrounded by many former and current champions who know what it takes to be successful. You know that Hughes will be working everything with Team Miletich but his best assets are his brutal ground and pound, excellent takedowns and his ever improving submissions.
Hughes is on a roll right now and you can bet he’ll give Penn one hell of a fight.
Former UFC welterweight champion B.J. “The Prodigy” Penn sports a mixed martial arts record of 10-3-1. His last fight was at UFC 58: Canada vs. USA in which Penn lost a tough decision to Georges St. Pierre.
Penn’s three losses have come to Jens Pulver, Ryoto Machida, and Georges St. Pierre. That right there shows you that Penn is no slouch as all of those fighters are the best of the best. Penn holds victories over Matt Hughes, Caol Uno, Takanori Gomi, Renzo Gracie and more. Penn is always looking for the toughest test possibly and he will have that Saturday.
Penn began training at the age of 17 and by 2000 he earn his blackbelt in BJJ under Andre Pederveiras. Penn has excellent striking skills and knockout power in both hands. Penn is dangerous wherever the fight goes as his striking his exceptional as are his submissions are his is an extremely flexible individual. At times cardio is a question for Penn but coming into this fight he is said to be in excellent shape as he is walking around at about 167 lbs.
When it comes down to picking this fight my heart says Penn and my head says Hughes. I am going to go with my heart and pick B.J. Penn to defeat Hughes for a second time.
Penn and Hughes are both coming into this fight with something to prove. Penn wants to prove that the first fight was the real deal and Hughes is looking to prove it was a fluke and he wants his revenge.
I feel that B.J. Penn is the better striker and grappler. The only department I see Hughes being better is in the wrestling but technique can overcome power.
I feel Penn will come into this fight very focused and he’ll hurt Hughes early and earn either a first or second round stoppage. They longer the fight goes the better it’ll be for Hughes.
If Penn’s cardio is bad Hughes may be able to pull off a sub in the late moments of the fight but otherwise I don’t honestly see Hughes stopping him. The only way I see Hughes winning is by decision.
Also note the neither Jeremy Horn or Pat Miletich will be there to corner/prepare Matt Hughes like they usually do. Miletich will be fighting Gracie at the upcoming IFL event and Horn will be there with him. Whenever Penn is focused he succeeds and I feel he is focused and he’ll pull out the victory.
David Loiseau vs. Mike Swick
The co-main event of the evening will feature UFC middleweight contenders David Loiseau and Mike Swick.
David Loiseau sports a mixed martial arts record of 14-5-0 with 9 of his victories coming by TKO/KO. Loiseau has a UFC record of 4-2 with victories over Evan Tanner, Charles McCarthy, Mark Weir, and Gideon Ray. His two losses were to Jorge Rivera and of course to Rich Franklin in what was a five round war.
Loiseau has very dangerous elbows, punches, and kicks. His hands are extremely quick and coming into this fight he has worked on his ground game training with Dean Lister along with Georges St. Pierre.
Loiseau stays very calm and composed when he is in trouble and he also posesses a huge heart. A perfect example of his heart would be his fight against Rich Franklin.
Coming into this fight Loiseau is coming off of a devastating loss to the hands of UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin. Loiseau has tons of octagon experience so he should be fine and he is always dangerous with those vicious elbows of his.
Mike Swick sports a mixed martial arts record of 9-1-0 with 5 victories coming by TKO. Swick’s only loss was to the hands of fellow middleweight contender Chris “The Cripple” Leben. Leben was able to drop Swick with a hard left hand back in 2004. Swick is 4-0 in the UFC with his victories coming over Alex Schoenauer, Gideon Ray, Joe Riggs and Steve Vigneault.
Swick trains with the American Kickboxing Academy and in his UFC appearances he has shown that he has good strikes and submissions. His first two fights saw him knock his opponents senseless with quick combos and his last two fights have been impressive submission wins via his patented guillotine choke.
I feel Loiseau is the better striker and Swick is the better grappler. Either way this is going to be one hell of a fight.
Jason Lambert vs. Rashad Evans
Rashad Evans sports a mixed martial arts record of 8-0 and a UFC record of 3-0. Evans’s three UFC victories have come against Brad Imes, Sam Hoger, and Stephan Bonner. All three of the fights went to decision and two of them ended up being spilt decisions in Rashad’s favor.
Evans has a background in wrestling and boxing. He has been spending the majority of his time down in Albuquerque, New Mexico training with Greg Jackson and his crew.
Evans has good strikes but wrestling is really his strong point. He has the ability to dominate and wear his opponents down my slamming them to the canvas time after time. The one problem with Rashad is once the fight hits the canvas he just lays there and prays. So far during his time in the UFC I’d say Rashad has really lacked the killer instinct needed.
Rashad’s opponent Jason Lambert will prove to be his toughest test yet.
Jason Lambert sports a mixed martial arts record of 22-5-0. Fighting out of Apple Valley, California this former heavyweight is 3-0 in the UFC and he is currently on a 8 fight winning streak. Lambert has the tools needed to be successful in the division and contend for a title. Lambert’s three UFC victories have been over Brendan Lee Hinkle, Rob MacDonald and Terry Martin.
Lambert brings alot of experience to the cage and his five losses are to the best the sport has to offer. While fighting at heavyweight Lambert lost to Ruas, Sylvia, Cabbage and most recently Chael Sonnen. None of those guys are pushovers by any means.
Lambert brings good wrestling, ground and pound and submissions into this fight. I feel Lambert my have what it takes to break Rashad’s undefeated streak. If Lambert can overcome Rashad’s dominant wrestling and work his game he should have a good night. Both fighters have loads of heart so it should be interesting.
Jens Pulver vs. Joe Lauzon
Jens “Little Evil” Pulver will make his return to the UFC lightweight division for the first time in nearly 4 years. Pulver left the UFC back in January of 2002 after he successfully defended his lightweight title against B.J. Penn. Pulver and the UFC were having trouble negotiating a new contract so Pulver decided to leave for Japan.
During his time away from the UFC Pulver stayed busy fighting for Pride, Shooto and the IFL. Pulver’s first fight in Pride was against Japanese superstar Takanori Gomi. The fight turned out to be a slugfest and Pulver was eventually dropped. Pulver finished his time is Pride going 2-2.
Pulver returned to the States earlier this year for the first time since leaving the UFC. Pulver was featured in one of the IFL’s superfights where fans saw Pulver make easy work of Cole Escovedo knocking him out in under one minute.
Finally the UFC’s only ever lightweight champion has returned!
Jens Pulver sports a mixed martial arts record of 21-6-1 with 13 of his wins coming by KO. Pulver is 7-0-1 in the UFC and he has beaten the likes of B.J. Penn, Caol Uno, John Lewis and more.
Before leaving the UFC Pulver totally dominated the UFC lightweight division. This lightning fast lightweight is known for his boxing and submission wrestling skills. Pulver is a southpaw who posesses a lethal left hand. Lauzon will have to watch out for Pulver’s vicious liver shots and his knock-out power.
Jens has had some professional boxing experience and when it comes to lightweights you won’t find many fighters better then him. Pulver currently trains with Spencer Fisher, Matt Hughes and all the other guys down at Miletich Fighting Systems.
I don’t know a whole lot of Pulver’s opponent Joe Lauzon. Joe Lauzon sports a mixed martial arts record 13-3-0. Of his 13 wins 11 have come by submission.
The UFC has set this fight up to showcase Jens Pulver to all the new fans seeing as he is the former lightweight champion and he’ll be coaching on ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ season 5.
Melvin Guillard vs. Gabe Ruediger
Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard sports a mixed martial arts record of 20-5-2 and a UFC record of 2-1. Guillard’s two UFC victories game against Marcus Davis and of course his devastating knockout of Rick Davis. Guillard’s only UFC loss came to the hands of the very tough Josh Neer.
Guillard has a background in muay thai and wrestling. Melvin is a very exciting fighter at lightweight and almost reminds me of a mini Kevin Randleman. Whether he wins or loses you can expect to get your moneys worth.
“The Young Assassin” also stared on season two of ‘The Ulimate Fighter’. Fans got to see his extremely cocky attitude which was clearly an attention grabber. After all of his talking Guillard was sent packing in the second week of the show has Josh Burkman beat him in their fight.
Coming into this fight Guillard has been spending his time training with Team Punishment up in Big Bear.
Gabe “Godzilla” Ruediger sports a mixed martial arts record of 10-2-0 with 6 of his victories coming by submission. Ruediger trains at Millenia Jiu-Jitsu with the likes of John Alessio and Javier Vasquez.
Coming into this fight Ruediger has wins over the likes of Olaf Alfonso, Jason Maxwell, and Sam Wells. Ruediger hasn’t really faced any big names and when he did he ended up losing to Hermes Franca early in the first round.
I’ve heard “Godzilla’s” name mention alot so I’m excited to see what he can do in the UFC. Guillard has been talking alot of trash leading into this fight so hopefully things get heated at the weigh-ins.
Roger Huerta vs. Jason Dent
Roger Huerta sports a mixed martial arts record of 14-1-1 with 7 wins coming by knockout. Huerta is currently on a 10 fight winning streak. Huerta’s only loss came to the hands of IFL veteran Ryan Schultz. Huerta holds victories over the likes of Harris Sarmiento, Jake Short and more.
Huerta has a background in wrestling and boxing and he is a student of former UFC middleweight champion Dave “The Warrior” Menne.
Huerta was scheduled to face Hermes Franca at UFC 61 but he was forced to pull out of the fight due to an injury.
Huerta’s opponent Jason Dent sports a mixed martial arts record of 12-6-0. Of his 12 victories 9 have been by submission. Huerta was orginally slated to fight Jason Reinhardt but he was forced to pull out leaving Dent as the late replacement.
Dent has a muay thai background and he is currently on a four fight winning streak with his last fight taking place in Icon Sport.
Mario Neto vs. Eddie Sanchez
Mario Neto sports a mixed martial arts record of 9-3-0 with 6 of his victories coming by submission. Neto is on a seven fight winning streak and he has victories over UFC veterans Gary Goodridge and Seth Petruzelli.
Neto is a BJJ blackbelt who trains at the Wolfslair Academy with the likes of Ian Freeman and Michael Bisping.
Neto’s opponent Eddie Sanchez is 5-0 and he is coming into this fight as a late replacement for Gabriel Gonzaga.
David Lee vs. Tyson Griffin
Tyson Griffin sports a mixed martial arts record of 7-0 with 5 of his wins coming by TKO. Griffin usually fights at 145 lbs but he will be jumping up to 155 lbs so he can compete in the UFC.
Griffin trains with David Terrell at the Nor-Cal Fighting Alliance. Griffin holds victories over Urijah Faber and UFC veteran Duane Ludwig. Griffin is currently one of the best lightweights in the world and the UFC made a smart move picking him up.
Griffin’s opponent David Lee sports a mixed martial arts record of 5-1 with all of his victories coming by submission. Lee is a purple belt in BJJ but Griffin should be able to handle him on the ground to earn himself his eighth win.
Jorge Gurgle vs. Danny Abaddi
Jorge Gurgle sports a mixed martial arts record of 9-2 and all of his wins have come by submission. Gurgle is a blackbelt in BJJ and he is part of Team Extreme. Gurgle has spent alot of time preparing for this fight with both Jeremy Horn and Rich Franklin.
When ask his thoughts on his opponent Gurgle said it “It sucks, people ask me who I am fighting and I tell them Danny Abaddi and they start laughing at me.” Gurgle loss his last fight in the UFC to Mark Hominick at UFC Fight Night 5.
Gurgle should make easy work of Danny Abbadi come Saturday nght. Danny Abaddi has a mixed martial arts record of 0-1. Abaddi has good striking skills but he is outclass in this fight.
Gabriel Gonzaga has been forced to withdraw from his fight against Mario Neto which was set to take place September 23rd on the UFC 63: Hughes vs. Penn II card. Gonzaga’s replacement will be Eddie Sanchez who is very eager to prove himself in the octagon.
ADCC: For someone who has never seen you fight, what can someone expect when they see Eddie Sanchez in the Octagon?
EDDIE: You can expect to see one of the most athletic heavyweights you’ve ever seen. I have heavyweight power with welterweight speed. Fists will be flying and bodies will be dropping. I am a jiu-jitsu fighter but I love to strike.