Georges St. Pierre. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Later tonight in Las Vegas, Canadian star Georges St. Pierre will try to prevent UFC lightweight king B.J. Penn from making history when he defends his UFC welterweight title in one of the biggest and most important fights in the history of mixed martial arts.
Two weeks ago, St. Pierre was kind enough to grant MMA on Tap an interview before his highly-anticipated rematch with Penn, in which he discusses B.J.‘s portrayal on the UFC Primetime shows on Spike TV, his thoughts on their previous bout at UFC 58, and what he has done to prepare for this fight among other things.
Dan Lauzon. Photo courtesy of World Championship Fighting.
Disclaimer: Unfortunately, this interview was done prior to Chris Horodecki being found injured by the California State Athletic Commission. Lauzon’s answers regarding questions about Horodecki have been edited out, but hopefully this interview is enjoyable nonetheless.
After over two years out of the spotlight since becoming the youngest fighter to ever compete in the UFC, Dan Lauzon will jump back into the big time when he takes on Total Fighting Alliance veteran Bobby Green at Affliction Entertainment’s “Day of Reckoning” show this weekend in Anaheim, California.
Lauzon was gracious enough to grant MMA on Tap an interview before his first fight of the new year, in which he discusses his appearance on Tapout’s reality show, his fight against Spencer Fisher, and how he has improved as a fighter since then.
Vitor Ribeiro. Photo courtesy of Rumble World Entertainment.
After spending over a year recovering from a variety of injuries, former top-ranked lightweight Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro is ready to return to action, and is currently planning for his next bout to take place K-1’s Dynamite!! show on New Year’s Eve.
Ribeiro has four fights left on his current deal with Japan’s Fighting and Entertainment Group, the parent company of K-1, and will likely join DREAM’s budding stable of lightweights at some point next year. Until then, Ribeiro plans on training at his new school: Modern Martial Arts in New York City.
“Everything at my school is going good. There’s been a lot of work to do over the past two weeks but I love my facility,” Ribeiro told MMA on Tap during a recent interview session. “I have a lot of friends and training partners that live nearby and in New Jersey so I try to keep my body in shape by training with them. I also have some guys at my school with good skills in boxing and wrestling that I also train with.”
Josh Koscheck. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Sometimes things have a funny way of working themselves out. When the UFC decided to match Josh Koscheck up against rising Japanese welterweight sensation Yoshiyuki Yoshida, it was an awkward feeling for Koscheck. After all, the former collegiate standout wrestler had won two straight fights and was inching towards a title shot in a surprisingly contender-thin welterweight division.
On top of that, Koscheck had already defeated Diego Sanchez, who after going on a two-fight winning streak of his own, had been matched up against a streaking Thiago Alves in the co-main event of this weekend’s UFC 90, with the winner likely being granted a welterweight title shot at some point next year.
Then Sanchez was injured during a training session earlier this month, and Koscheck stepped up as a replacement opponent for Alves on short notice without even hesitating. According to Koscheck, it’s the way things should have been from the start, him facing Alves for the next shot at the title.
“You know, it felt like me and him… we should have been fighting in the first place, but I don’t make the decisions,” Koscheck said. “I’m always in the gym training all year round, so I don’t take any time off, and I’m ready to step up and the way I see it is this is a short-notice fight for [Alves] too, and you know he’s got a lot to prepare for…because I’m not Diego Sanchez.”
Travis Lutter. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
While it seems like an eternity ago, it’s only been three months since the UFC decided to release Travis Lutter following his disappointing loss to former middleweight champion Rich Franklin in Canada back in May. After a pair of short stints inside MMA’s biggest promotion, Lutter has hit a crossroads in his career.
He’s primarily stayed out of the limelight since his departure - spending time with his family and running his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academies in Forth Worth, Texas. However his fans will be happy to hear that Lutter has no intention of hanging up the gloves just yet.
“Right now I’ve just been spending my time running my schools and training, keeping in shape,” Lutter said during a recent interview with MMA on Tap. “The schools have been going great. We’ve been growing really well and really getting the sport out there. With more and more students coming in and learning, I’ve had more and more great guys to train with.”
Din Thomas throws a right hand at Josh Neer. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The fourth season of “The Ultimate Fighter” was created with the intention to give veterans of the Ultimate Fighting Championship another shot to climb back into the limelight and secure a second stint with the promotion.
Many of the contestants took advantage. Din Thomas was one of them.
After losing a decision to eventual runner-up Chris Lytle on the show, Thomas went on rack up three straight wins, including impressive performances against current lightweight contenders Clay Guida and Rich Clementi.
Seemingly on his way into title contention, Thomas was paired up against Kenny Florian, who was attempting to get back into the championship picture himself. Unfortunately for Thomas, a knee injury suffered during the bout gave him his first loss in over a year and a half. The American Top Team member fell again earlier this month, losing a close decision to Josh Neer.
While the fight may have looked a lot closer than the story the judge’s scorecards told, Thomas will be the first one to admit that he lost the fight.
“For me, I try to be realistic about a fight,” Thomas said during a recent interview session with MMA on Tap. “While I felt that it was close, I actually felt I was losing the fight. I was pretty comfortable on the bottom. My game has always been to look for the submission from the bottom and if they give me enough space, get up. But if they don’t give me enough space, I can stay on my back all day and hope to catch something.”
James Irvin weighs-in for UFC 79: Nemesis. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
To say that James Irvin has had a run of bad luck recently is putting it lightly.
After an impressive stoppage of Hector Ramirez allowed Irvin to continue his career with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Irvin was unable to ride a wave of momentum through his next fight, courtesy of a brutal knee injury suffered against Thiago Silva last May.
Months of rehab followed and Irvin recovered well-enough to score a showdown with Luis Cane in December to close out the year. The first minute and a half of the fight went exactly as expected with both fighters exchanging bombs on the feet. However Cane ended the fight when he knocked Irvin out cold with an illegal knee, handing Irvin the victory but once again leaving him unable to put the outcome of a fight in his own hands.
With last year now in the past, Irvin enters his clash with Houston Alexander on Wednesday in dire need of a win if he wants to stay with the UFC. However more important to Irvin at this point, is starting off the new year with a clean slate.
“Last year was a terrible year for me,” Irvin said during a recent interview session. “The win over Hector Ramirez was huge because it kept me in the UFC. Then I hurt my knee and that stung really bad. Being a striker, my knees are so important to have, and I thought that my career might have been cut short. Luckily I was able to recover and the UFC stuck by me and gave me another chance. Now I’m ready to turn the page and start this year fresh.”
Brock Larson weighs-in for WEC 28: Faber vs. Farrar. Photo property of World Extreme Cagefighting.
Six months after his shot at the World Extreme Cagefighting welterweight title was spoiled by champion Carlos Condit, Minnesota Martial Arts Academy product Brock Larson will now attempt to take advantage of an opportunity to get himself right back in the title picture with a showdown against fellow veteran John Alessio Wednesday night.
While the winner may not necessarily receive a shot at Condit’s belt just yet, it’s certain to say that the victor will at least be considered in the running to be Condit’s next opponent, or victim the way things have been going recently.
Regardless, the importance of this fight has reached Larson, who will be going into things with a different mindset than in the past.
“The biggest thing that I learned after losing to Carlos Condit in my last fight is that I have to be a little more patient,” Larson said during a recent interview session. “I don’t have to finish the fight right away like I’ve been trying to do in the past. If I stay patient, wait for an opening, and execute my gameplan, I should come out the winner anyway.”
When Larson says that he starts his fights like a bat out of hell, he couldn’t be more correct. His three fights inside of the WEC have lasted a combined total of just over six minutes. However Larson’s impatience proved to be fatal in his last bout against Condit, who was able to submit an over-aggressive Larson.
Photo courtesy of Phil Baroni/EliteXC.
The title of ICON Sport’s latest event tomorrow night couldn’t be more fitting. “To Hell and Back”. It takes on a great amount of meaning for Phil Baroni, who is attempting to piece his career back together after testing positive for steroids under the watch of the California State Athletic Commission last year.
To this day, Baroni maintains that he did not take steroids.
“It still bothers me to this day,” Baroni said during a recent interview session. “It doesn’t matter though anymore because the damage is done. Who knows what’s going to happen in the future when I go to fight in other places. Will New Jersey even take me or are they just going to toss me aside because I’m a guy who failed a test for steroids?”
“I’m frustrated. I can’t wait to get in there and fight,” Baroni continued. “My career literally stopped in it’s tracks. Now I want to get it going again.”
With the past behind him, Baroni now has his attention focused on his latest opponent, hard-hitting middleweight convert Kala Kolohe Hose, who has experienced his own fair share of frustration after previous chances at the now vacant ICON Sport middleweight title were spoiled by former champion Robbie Lawler’s continual injury problems.
With Hose, Baroni receives an opponent that will likely play right into what he usually loves to do in fights - stand and slug it out. That’s exactly what “The New York Bad Ass” intends to do.
“I’m going in and I’m knocking the kid out, it’s that simple,” Baroni said. “There’s really not that much to say. He’s not the brightest crayon in the box. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. He acts like a wise ass, probably because he’s been hanging out with Frank Shamrock these days. I hope he’s content with the new tricks that he’s learned. I’m still going to put him to sleep.”
Evan Tanner weighs-in for UFC 51: Super Saturday. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
It’s fitting that on a night where the middleweight titles of the UFC and PRIDE will be at the forefront of discussion, a former holder of one of those belts makes his long-awaited and anticipated return.
After taking a hiatus from active competition in order to get away from fighting and deal with some personal needs, it will be nearly two full years since the last time Evan Tanner stepped into the cage when he takes on Yushin Okami tomorrow night at UFC 82: Pride of a Champion.
“I was fighting for such a long time that I was worn out,” Tanner said during a recent interview session. “I just needed to get away from fighting for a little while, do my own thing. Life is so short and there are so many things that you can experience out there. I’ve always been an adventurer; I’ve always been one to be spontaneous. I wanted to experience life on the road again for a little bit.”
One has to assume that Okami is certainly going to provide a tough test in Tanner’s first fight back, especially since he’s been inactive for so long. With ring-rust out of the equation for Tanner, he’s prepared to return to his self-proclaimed home and do what he loves to do: have fun.
“I don’t see ring-rust being a factor in this fight,” Tanner said. “I’m coming back strong. Just because I may have sat on the sidelines for a little while doesn’t mean that I forgot how to fight. Everything for me is fresh. My training is fresh. My technique is fresh. I’m excited to get back in there and have fun again.”