Bellator play by play announcer Sean Wheelock joins us for an interview to preview season 10 of Bellator. Topics discussed include:
- Calling fights with Jimmy Smith, who agreed to a contract extension recently
- Gilbert Melendez’s decision to stay in the UFC
- Alexander Shlemenko: Most underrated fighter in MMA?
- Pat Curran: Perfect example of the Bellator model
- His off-season side career as a boxing referee and much more.
A Pan Am and Brazilian national champion, Rey Diogo is a black belt under Carlson Gracie. He’ll be teaching a seminar at Vianna Brothers BJJ on Saturday, March 8 from 11am to 1:30pm. Cost is $55 for non-members.
Team Curran’s Bart Palaszewski, a veteran of the XFO, IFL, WEC and UFC, announced his retirement from MMA via Twitter.
— Bart Palaszewski (@Bartimus7) February 21, 2014
Palaszewski (36-17) was an exciting fighter who had a remarkable finish rate, ending 28 of his 36 career wins by either KO or submission.
One of his most exciting finishes came in his UFC debut at UFC 137, when Palaszewski wrecked Tyson Griffin with an onslaught of punches, earning himself $75k and “Knockout of the Night” honors.
In 2004 he fought in the first XFO event, winning by armbar over Tim Newland. Last summer at the XFO’s annual “Outdoor War,” Palaszewski was named one of the “XFO Legends,” along with Clay Guida, Jeff Curran and Pat Curran.
Palaszewski also had a notable run in the IFL, winning his first six fights in the organization, and holds wins over Anthony Pettis, Ivan Menjivar and Kyle Watson.
Newport Beach, Calif. (February 24, 2014) – When reigning Bellator Middleweight Champion Alexander Shlemenko steps into the cage on March 28th, the 29-year-old Russian finisher will not only be looking for his incredible 50th win, but will also be fighting with a new contract in hand as Bellator has announced a long term extension for the man known simply as “Storm”.
“Bellator has been my home for many years, and it’s where I want to be,” Shlemenko said. “Bjorn made me a promise and he lived up to that promise to provide me with a new deal. I have made a home here at Bellator, and I will continue to represent Russia in my efforts in the cage. I have gained millions of new fans both in the US and in Russia and around the world during my time with Bellator, and I will enjoy being Bellator’s longest running champion. I will continue wearing that belt with honor during my time with Bellator, which will now be at the peak of my career.”
Currently riding a twelve-fight win streak that includes victories over Brett Cooper, Maiquel Falcao, Doug Marshall and Vitor Vianna, Shlemenko will defend his crown against Season 9 Tournament winner Brennan Ward on March 28th live on Spike. As one of the true Russian ambassadors for the sport, Shlemenko is set to reign over the Bellator Middleweight division for years thanks to his extension.
“Alexander Shlemenko has been with this organization since its infancy, and has grown into one of the most dominant champions in MMA,” Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “I can say without hesitation Alexander has been a large part of the success we have enjoyed over the last five years and as the biggest name in Russian MMA, he’s been the catalyst to the largest TV deal in the history of MMA in Russia. It’s an honor to have him fight in this organization. I look forward to watching his career continue inside the Bellator cage for years to come.”
Meet Bad Brad Hefton at the Black Dragon Karate Tournament at Combat-Do, presented by Lassiter Martial Arts.
by Matt Lo Cascio
Miguel Torres had just finished his first fight at the Hammond Civic Center in seven years — and he was ready for more.
“Who wants to see me fight here again?” Torres asked the crowd during his post-fight interview.
Torres soundly defeated Team Top Notch’s Giovanni Moljo in his first United Combat League fight, using speed and crisp striking as his main weapons. All three judges scored it 30-27 for Torres, who earned his first win in over two years.
Torres took control of the cage from the start of the fight and never relinquished it. He commanded the pace of the fight and backed down Moljo repeatedly, landing solid combinations throughout each of the three rounds. The well-known Torres ground game did not make an appearance, as the fight never made it to the ground. There were no takedown attempts by either fighter.
Moljo struggled with Torres’ speed from the first bell, and at times seemed more occupied with the hecklers in the crowd than he did with his opponent. He acknowledged them several times throughout the bout, including one instance where he replied to an audible taunt with both middle fingers raised high for the whole crowd to see. Moljo also tried to walk over to Torres’ corner after the end of a round but was stopped.
While Torres was free and fluid with his hands throughout all three rounds, Moljo’s corner was left to continually plead with their fighter to throw anything, especially in round three when Moljo was clearly behind on the scorecards. He was unable and perhaps unwilling to get in a firefight with the former WEC bantamweight champion. He never found a good rhythm, mostly due to Torres’ speed and constant pressure.
If this was to be a tune-up fight for Torres, consider the spark plugs changed and gapped and the tank filled with gas. Torres never labored with his breathing and looked fresh after 15 minutes of fighting. He easily could have have went five rounds, and that was after pushing the pace for all three rounds against Moljo. His hands looked fast and his stance resembled the one employed during his WEC championship reign. Torres worked with long-time striking coach Gene Calderon for this fight, and that seemed to have made a difference.
Rumor has it that next up for Torres is a showdown with a much bigger name, one you’ve all heard of and seen fight many times. But nothing has been signed or officially determined just yet. Until then, Torres will savor a solid win in front of his hometown fans. Just like old times.
Miguel Torres (Torres Martial Arts) def. Giovanni Moljo (Team Top Notch) – UD< 30-27 on all cards.
Joe Benoit (Gilbert Grappling) def. Jason Graves (Spider Gym MMA) - submission - RNC, 2:08 of rd. 1
Manny Vazquez (Patriot Grappling) def. Miguel Garza (Uflacker Academy) submission - armbar, 2:41 of rd. 1
UCL Middleweight Championship
Nick Garcia def. Josh Weddington (Team Undeground) submission – RNC, 2:10 of rd. 3, retains UCL Middleweight title.
Joe Mahy (Gilbert Grappling) def. Michael Shofroth (Team Underground) submission – guillotine, :45 of rd. 1
Jim Peterson, Sr. (Top Level MMA) def. Glenn Evans, submission – standing guillotine, 1:59 of rd. 1
Matt Giancarlo (Gilbert Grappling) def. Michael Dombrowski – submission – keylock, 1:52 of rd. 1
Anthony Lanovic (Top Level MMA) def. Mike Young (Team Underground) via unanimous decision
Daniel McGing (Team Underground) def. Bryan Titus (4th Street Hooligans) – Tap due to strikes, 1:39 of rd. 1
Jacob Morales (Duneland Vale Tudo) def. Neko Durant (Team Underground) – Submission – D’Arce choke, 2:14 rd. 2
Dean Neely (Team Underground) def. Phillip Garreau (Elite Performance) – Split Decision
by Matt Lo Cascio
One of the more colorful personalities in local MMA belongs to Matt Giancarlo. The Gilbert Grappling bantamweight is a renaissance man of sorts. Besides fighting, he’s also a guitarist, photographer and punk-rock aficionado. The kicker? He likes comic books too. Giancarlo will return to the cage for his first fight in almost two years when he fights Michael Dombrowski, February 15 at United Combat League’s “Havoc in Hammond.”
There’s no doubt he tired of all the questions from friends and fans about when he was coming back. If you’re a fighter, you’re incessantly asked “When’s your next fight?” It’s everyone’s go to question. For someone that wasn’t ready and actually didn’t want to fight, all those people turned into a legion of Judge Smails-like goads echoing the half-taunt, half-question: “Well…we’re waiting!”
He fell out of love with the sport. The euphoria of winning was nice, but hardly worth the mental and physical grind of training. I interviewed Giancarlo before his last fight in 2012, and he gave not-so-subtle hints about his growing distaste for the sport. To wit: he hoped MMA would die and go under.
But that was then and this is now. Giancarlo is back to fighting. Still, inquiring minds want to know — why come back now?
“Six, no — two months ago, I would’ve told you that I’m retired from MMA. Things change so much, so often that it’s crazy,” Giancarlo told Chicago’s MMA.
“It’s been such a layoff for me that I started to miss being on the mat so much, and lifting weights at LA Fitness just wasn’t doing it for me. A little while after my last fight (March 2012), I suffered a an injury in practice, that I still feel to this day, to be honest. At the time, it was painful driving, let alone me thinking I could get back into training any time soon. So all I was really able to do was sit at home playing and writing music. That lead to me starting a band called Ghost Sector.
“Since then, it kind of became my main focus, and we’ve been on the road and released an EP. As for future plans, I learned I need to just go with the flow. Right now all I’m focused on is the 15th, where I get to step back in the cage, and play with my band at my own after party. It’s hard to have fun with this sport, but I’m finally finding out how.”
That plan — playing a set with your band at an after party following your own MMA fight — shows that Giancarlo still has all the confidence in his game and thinks he will come out of the match unscathed. It might seem a bit arrogant, but it’s all part of his new goal in MMA: make it fun.
“It’s not that I don’t respect who my opponent is, in regard to me playing the same night. MMA is grueling, it’s difficult to train for, and the training itself really sucks. It’s not just about how hard it is physically, but mentally it’s even worse. You can’t have fun at all. So that’s what I’m trying to do, I’m trying to have as much fun possible during this training camp — and on fight night.”
Ghost Sector will be playing at The Mutiny after “Havoc in Hammond.” The set will be more fun after a win than a loss, but either way, Giancarlo plans to just go with the flow from here on out.
For tickets to United Combat League’s “Havoc in Hammond,” visit the United Combat League website.
Special to Chicago’s MMA
Saturday, February 22nd in Las Vegas will mark the biggest and best event of 2014 so far for MMA fans, with UFC 170 set to take place and boasting an appealing card. Rafael dos Anjos takes on Rustam Khabilov and Robert Whittaker will flight Stephen Thompson to kick off the main card, but it’s the three fights at the top that will have fans and analysts alike buzzing in the coming weeks. So without further ado, here’s a preview of these top three bouts, complete with betting odds and predictions for each fight.
Rory MacDonald vs. Demian Maia
The MacDonald-Maia fight actually has a chance to steal the show at UFC 170, because it features two fighters who are in dire need of a big win. Both MacDonald and Maia lost their last fights, which will make both fighters that much more determined to show up on the big stage in Las Vegas. As of now, sports betting/news platform Betfair has big hitter MacDonald listed as the favorite, with 2/5 odds to win the fight, while Maia is listed with 1/2 odds. This is far from a decisive betting margin, and further indicates that this could be a very tight and interesting fight. Prediction: Rory MacDonald takes the fight.
Rashad Evans vs. Daniel Cormier
Rashad Evans may be the better-known fighter, but he’ll have his hands full with former heavyweight Daniel Cormier, who’s a flat out physical beast. In fact, as of now the odds favor Cormier rather heavily. Cormier has 4/11 odds, as compared to 11/5 for Evans. This seems like too wide a betting margin, frankly, because Evans has the speed to give Cormier fits and can fight with the best of them on a good day. In fact, if you’re inclined to place a bet on UFC 170, the odds on Evans ought to look pretty appealing. Prediction: Cormier is a justifiable favorite, and Bleacher Report has a fairly convincing breakdown settling on him as the likely winner. But we’ll take Evans to pull off the upset.
Ronda Rousey vs. Sara McMann
Ronda Rousey will need to bring her A-game for the headline main card event, not necessarily because of her opponent but because UFC is looking to her to jump to a new level of superstardom in 2014. As for the fight itself, Rousey is a fairly heavy favorite, with 1/5 odds to win next to McMann’s 4/1 shot. That said, however, McMann shouldn’t be a pushover. She’s a former Olympic wrestler, the first American woman to ever receive a silver medal in wrestling. She’s also medaled at ADCC. No doubt the best thing for UFC would be for McMann to hang in there long enough to make it interesting before Rousey ultimately earns her victory. Prediction: No disrespect to McMann, but Rousey wins.
by Greg Harrison & Matt Lo Cascio
Evolution MMA’s Tom Shoaff and Austin Tweedy put on a fight for the ages Saturday night at HFC 19, with promoter Paul Vale calling it the best fight in Hoosier Fight Club history. The lightweight battle might have given new meaning to ‘main event.’
Tweedy was aggressive early and got a takedown, but Shoaff weathered the early storm and picked apart Tweedy with a series of kicks and devastating shots, knocking Tweedy against the cage. Tweedy appeared hurt by Shoaff’s explosive punches, but was able to survive the round.
The second round was a huge back and forth battle both standing and on the ground, a round that two judges gave to Tweedy and one gave to Shoaff.
Shoaff went off in the final round, displaying a relentless attack of speed and power. He started by cutting Tweedy’s nose open with devastating knees and continued to punish him throughout the round. Tweedy showed a huge amount of heart, but Shoaff dominated. The final horn sounded with Tweedy appearing to have a broken nose and the cage canvas splattered with blood. Shoaff won via unanimous decision, 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
After the fight ended, Paul Vale made an announcement proclaiming it the best fight in the history of Hoosier Fight Club.
“It was an honor fighting Austin and receiving greatest fight in HFC history. I’ll remember last night for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t change a thing. We put on a beautiful show and I was able to walk away, barely, victorious,” Shoaff told Chicago’s MMA.
The card at the Porter County Expo Center featured a total of eight professional fights and five amateur bouts, including the first-ever women’s atomweight title fight.
Lightweights kicked off the professional portion of the card with James Mogollon facing John Dutton. Mogollon landed a flush right kick that floored Dutton in the first round, and he would make quick work after the knockdown getting submission by guillotine choke at 1:02 of the first round.
Gilbert Grappling fighter Justin Hughes made his pro debut against Michael Jordan in a bantamweight battle. Hughes managed to floor Jordan early with a strong overhand right. As Hughes went in for a finish, Jordan recovered and seemed to be active on the top position. Hughes looked to escape and got a reverse. Hughes tried to get busy on top but was caught in triangle choke by Jordan, forced to tap at the 4:08 mark of the opening round.
In other fights:
- Dustin Pape scored a unanimous decision victory over Yousef Al-Ghoul.
- Booby Moffat survived an early slam from Terry House to win by D’Arce choke in round one.
- Gilbert Grappling’s Rob Caulfield won via unanimous decision over Erick Lozano.
- Matt Henry proved to be too fast for Zach Harvey, stunning him early then sinking in a fight-ending guillotine choke at 2:45 of the first round
- Veterans Kevin Nowaczyk and Shamar Bailey fought to the final horn, with Nowaczyk’s wrestling and cage control the difference in a unanimous decision win.
HFC 19 Quick Results
Tom Shoaff defeated Austin Tweedy by unanimous decision
Kevin Nowaczyk defeated Shamar Bailey by unanimous decision
Matt Henry defeated Zach Harvey – submission by guillotine choke at 2:45 of round 1
Rob Caulfield defeated Erick Lozano by unanimous decision
Bobby Moffatt defeated Terry House - submission by D’Arce choke at 3:25 of round 1
Michael Jordan defeated Justin Hughes – submission by guillotine choke 4:08 of round 1
James Mogollon defeated John Dutton – submission by guillotine choke at 1:02 of round 1
Dustin Pape defeated Yousef Al-Ghoul by unanimous decision