Hector Lombard shook off his sleepy performance in his UFC debut and brought the heat against Rousimar Palhares on Friday night.
Lombard rediscovered the aggressive, stalking style fans came to love, and it paid off in this massive knockout of Rousimar Palhares.
by Matt Lo Cascio
Chicago’s Ric Lamas will fight Erik Koch at the United Center when the UFC on FOX comes back to town on January 26. He’ll be fighting on national TV in his hometown, and the winner of the fight should get a shot at the UFC 145 lb. title.
That seems like an inordinate amount of pressure, but Lamas actually welcomes all those challenges.
“The more support and familiar faces I have around me, the more comfortable I feel. I can’t wait to fight at home in front of all my family and friends,” Lamas said.
Having friends and family around being a comfort makes sense, but what about the title implications of the bout, and being on national TV for the first time?
“I don’t feel any more or any less pressure because in this business EVERY fight is the most important fight of your life,” Lamas said.
Most fighters will say things like this, but you actually believe it when Lamas says it. If you’ve seen him fight, you know Lamas is one of the coolest cats in MMA. Watch him as he enters the cage and he’ll likely have the same expression that he would have going to get the morning paper.
Lamas was an All-American wrestler at Division III Elmhurst College, and he’s worked his way up from fighting locally at Ironheart Crown to the WEC and now the UFC, where he has yet to lose in three fights.
He’s made big statements in all three of those fights. He stopped Matt Grice via TKO in the first round, followed that up by choking out Cub Swanson and then beat heralded contender Hatsu Hioki by unanimous decision in June.
Next up is Duke Roufus-trained Erik Koch, a lanky, sensational striker that has been defeated just once. That ought to give Lamas cause for concern, right?
“There is nothing that I would say concerns me about Erik Koch,” Lamas said. “He’s just another tough opponent. At this level everyone is a tough opponent. All I can do is prepare the best I can and perform well on fight night.”
Fellow Chicagoan Clay Guida will fight Hatsu Hioki on the same card in January. Having just defeated Hioki, Lamas was asked what advice he would give to Guida, who will be making his featherweight debut.
“I would tell him not to hesitate or give Hioki too much respect,” Lamas said.
You don’t get to the top of your division without being well-rounded, but Lamas is best known for his wrestling pedigree. The main criticism of fighters in MMA these days is that “blanket wrestlers” are boring and that they simply try to win on points. Lamas has a message for fans and fighters that don’t like that style.
“There are some wrestlers who are really exciting fighters to watch. There are also some wrestlers who use their wrestling to win fights, or lay and pray as people call it,” Lamas said. “I don’t hold anything against any fighter who has to do what they have to do to win. If you don’t want someone laying on you for three rounds then learn how to GET UP! Or learn how to defend a takedown. People are quick to blame the wrestler but if the other guy trained like he should then he should be able to stop a takedown.”
We’ll likely find out if Koch can stop a Lamas takedown early in their fight. Expect Lamas to get inside and try to get Koch to the ground. Chad Mendes used that style in Koch’s only defeat, and Koch would love to stay on the outside and use his range and striking to keep Lamas at bay.
The UFC on FOX card will also feature several other Chicago-area fighters. Chicago police officer Mike Russow will fight Shawn Jordan, and Team Curran’s Mike Stumpf will take on Pascal Krauss.
Demetrious Johnson will defend his flyweight title against John Dodson, and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson will fight Glover Texiera, in what could be Rampage’s last UFC fight.
In an interview with Ray Flores for ESPN Chicago, Clay Guida talks about his drop to the featherweight division, how things stand with Dana White and him and how he thinks he picked apart Gray Maynard during their fight last June.
Chris Tickle talks with Chicago’s MMA about why the TUF house is worse than jail, the nickname they came up with for Dominick Cruz on the show, how he plans to beat Chase Beebe on December 15th and more.
In anticipation of the Georges St. Pierre vs. Carlos Condit UFC 154 title fight, the UFC has released the UFC 79 fight between GSP and Hughes, which was the third battle between the two.
by Matt Lo Cascio
FOX Sports and the UFC released their 2013 broadcast schedule, and Chicago will be one of their first stops.
The first UFC on FOX event of the new year will take place January 26 at the United Center in Chicago. No fight announcements have been made for the event.
The UFC was in Chicago just once in 2012, also for a UFC on FOX broadcast. The main card of that event featured three fights that all went the distance. Chael Sonnen defeated Michael Bisping, Chris Weidman easily bested Demian Maia and Rashad Evans beat Phil Davis, all by unanimous decision.
Evans was happy with the win, but not how he got it. “I wanted to do better. I wanted to put on a more spectacular win for the Chicago fans and the FOX fans,” Evans said after the fight. “I didn’t do it like I wanted to or how I envisioned it, but at the same time I got the job done.”
Chicago police office Mike Russow also fought on the card, and he beat Norway’s Jon Olav Einemo via unanimous decision.
“2013 is shaping up to be a huge year for the UFC and we can’t wait to bring more great fights to FOX!” said UFC President Dana White. “We’re going to continue to take the UFC all over the world putting on the biggest and best fights. FOX is an amazing broadcast partner and we’re going to do some big things next year.”
Georges St. Pierre finally returns from injury to defend his UFC welterweight title against interim champion Carlos Condit at UFC 154 on November 17. Here’s an extended preview from the UFC.
Fight fans will finally get to see Georges St. Pierre in the Octagon again on November 17 when he takes on Carlos Condit for the UFC welterweight title.
More than a year away from the cage hasn’t hurt GSP with oddsmakers. GSP sits at -375 with Condit at +285 according to MMA betting at Top Bet. The welterweight champion hasn’t lost in over five years, but that number still seems a bit high to me.
GSP said he appreciates Condit’s ability to adapt to any fighter he faces, but says he’s not afraid of him. Condit said he’s rediscovered his fire and is more motivated than ever. Does that mean he’ll be looking to knockout GSP after criticism of his gameplan for Nick Diaz? We’ll see.
Here’s what GSP had to say in anticipation of the bout.
UFC president Dana White and new TUF coaches Chael Sonnen and Jon Jones met the press via conference call yesterday to discuss the bout and why this makes sense for the light heavyweight division. Here are some highlights from the call.
“Basically Jon Jones is out until April. He’s going to be sitting around for months anyway unable to fight. So it made sense for him to do The Ultimate Fighter. And everyone has been talking about this fight with Chael so it made sense for them to do TUF and then fight.
“We’re not clogging up the light heavyweight division, the champion is hurt and we are keeping the division rolling along. The division will keep right on moving, Machida will fight Henderson, Shogun will fight Gustafsson and by the time Jon comes back, the contenders will be ready: one, two, three.
“All the contenders who are pissed off they didn’t get the title shot are the same guys who I called, offered them the fight with Jon Jones in September, and they turned it down. I don’t want to hear any bitching from them. Chael was the only guy who stepped up and wants to fight Jon Jones. Chael wants this fight, the fans want this fight and we give the fans the fights they want to see. Chael Sonnen is the only guy who stepped up and wanted to fight.
“This is going to be a great season of The Ultimate Fighter.”
“My position on fighting Chael changed because I want to get over this chapter of my career. The UFC 151 cancellation was a tough moment in my career and beating Chael Sonnen will help me get closure. That’s what this is about – putting closure to the Chael Sonnen invasion of my career.
“I’m really confident going into this fight. My skill set and my youth will be too much for him. I’m a champion; Chael doesn’t know how to win championships.
“Now people are asking why fight Chael? Well, they have jumped on the “Chael didn’t deserve” train too late. They should have said that a month ago when I said it. But, now, I’m going to deal with this guy and put the Chael Sonnen chapter behind me.
“This has nothing to do with the belt in my mind. He’s not even getting close to the belt. This is about me taking care of Chael Sonnen. I respect some of the things he does for the sport, but he’s not a championship level athlete. I’m doing the sport a favor – and I’m doing Chael a favor – beating him and sending him to his true calling as a commentator doing TV shows. His ground and pound is very weak, he’s got no submission and he gets submitted all the time. When it comes to his wrestling, if he gets me down I don’t see any way for him to beat me. But I will train like a madman because losing to Chael Sonnen is not an option.
“On TUF, as a coach, I hope my passion for martial arts will inspire my fighters. The other thing I have to back up my passion is work ethic. I am in the middle (on whether this enhances reign as champion). I want to defend my belt against the No.1 contender but the fans want this fight with Chael, and just one month ago even people in my hometown were asking me why I didn’t want to fight Chael Sonnen.”
“This show is the single biggest, toughest elimination tournament in all of sport. I keep seeing people refer to TUF as ‘a reality show’ but this is tougher than the Olympic Games, this is tougher than an NFL season, it is a 16-man tournament of fighting taped over six weeks. This is so tough, guys like Forrest Griffin and Rashad Evans come out of it and win world titles.
“Write this down – the toughest tournament in MMA is coming to FX. This isn’t four fights over 12 months, it is all over a very short period of time and I am excited to coach this show.
“I’m going to take half of these guys and teach them to be fighters, Jon is going to take the other half and teach them to be selfish.
“People are upset I’m fighting Jon? Welcome to life. You get what you get, not what you deserve. And I have to deal with this all the time, people who are jealous of what I’ve gotten in the sport. But I am No.1 because I say I am – and no one has been able to look me in the eye and say otherwise.
“(Light Heavyweight contenders) are blowing up their Twitter accounts bitching and moaning – but they won’t step up to fight me and they won’t step up and fight Jon Jones.
“Jon Jones is the best fighter I’ve ever seen. I would put Randy Couture above him, but he’s fantastic. He’s got techniques, which I don’t even know the names of. But he’s fought a lot of guys who are timid and afraid to fight. I will admit, he’s better skill-for-skill, but I am in better shape.
“He hasn’t beaten anybody until he beats me. He’s beaten a broken down guy with no knees in Shogun, a Hollywood extra in Rampage, and a has-been in Vitor Belfort. Who was next? Scott Ferrozzo? I would rather fight in the main event, I would rather fight for the title but, really, I just want to fight that brat Jon Jones.
“He continues to act like he’s done something special. He hasn’t. He uses that stupid word ‘disrespectful’ but I couldn’t care less about that – and he will find that out when I see him in Las Vegas.”
Don’t miss this season of The Ultimate Fighter® Fridays, which continues on FX at 10 p.m. ET/PT with episode 6: “One Mission”. While Team Nelson has doubts about Roy’s leadership, Shane Carwin puts his squad through an unusual training session away from the gym. A prank at the house ignites heated smack talk between fighters. Then two more welterweights face off in the fifth preliminary fight.
by Elias Cepeda
UFC light heavyweight Stephan Bonnar was happily retired a few weeks ago, but on Saturday he will take on the world’s best fighter on short notice in Brazil. The Northern Indiana-born fighter began his career in nearby Hammond in 2001, and was content to hang up his gloves earlier this year after helping the sport of MMA and the UFC grow while finishing with a three-fight win streak.
He still had a functioning brain, a burgeoning broadcasting career and an expecting wife. Bonnar says that he didn’t need to fight any longer.
Then the call came. Bonnar was in Florida helping former WWE star Dave Bautista prepare for his MMA debut when his agent asked him if he would come out of retirement fight Anderson Silva, the UFC’s middleweight champion and the world’s best, pound for pound.
The retired brawler was amused.
“I laughed and said, ‘sure, if you can get Anderson Silva I’ll do it,’ like that was ever going to happen,” he says.
The scenario was no joke, however. The UFC was heading back down to Brazil for a mega pay per view card but the originally scheduled main and co-main events were cancelled because of injuries to fighters. Silva, a star in Brazil where he endorses Burger King and Nike and has been a Rolling Stone cover boy, volunteered to fight at light heavyweight to save the event.
The UFC needed someone crazy enough to fight the world’s most feared fighter on short notice. “The American Psycho,” accepted without hesitation. “I’d been tired of fighting the best fighters in the world before they were recognized as that,” Bonnar says.
Over the years, Bonnar had fought future UFC champions Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida and Jon Jones. “I told myself that I only wanted huge names from here on out, and since I wasn’t getting them I retired. I was fine with that decision. I am not rich off of fighting by any means but I have always been pretty good about doing things outside of fighting to make a living,” he explains.
Fighting Silva in his home country in a pay per view event is as “huge” as it can get in MMA, though, and Bonnar knows this. “I was comfortable with the way I went out but this would be an even better way to go out. I’ve never fought for the title and now I get to fight the baddest man on the planet on his turf. I couldn’t write a better story than that,” he says.
Taking opportunities as they come is nothing new to Bonnar. He began fighting MMA just to whip himself into shape after local promoter Eric Moon walked into the Carlson Gracie Sr. Jiu Jitsu academy where he trained back in 2001 looking for someone to fight in a one night MMA tournament in Hammond, IN.
“After graduating from college (Purdue) I moved to Chicago and was having fun going out all the time, seeing girls, but I had also started doing boxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and I wanted to get better at those things,” the sports medicine degree holder remembers of his twenties.
“When Eric Moon walked into the gym looking for fighters for an event in Hammond, where I was born, I had to do it. What better motivation is there to get your act together and train hard than to not want to get embarrassed in front of your family and friends in your hometown?”
Bonnar hardly embarrassed himself as he went on to beat two men in a single night, both by submission, at the tournament. After that the offers continued to roll in and his coach, the legendary Carlson Gracie Sr. pushed his protégé to continue fighting.
Gracie guided Bonnar to the UFC and through his first few fights in the organization before passing away in early 2006. The loss hit Bonnar hard and he soon moved to Las Vegas, where he’s lived and trained since.
As the American finds himself in his mentor’s home nation of Brazil this week for the biggest fight of his life on Saturday, however, he feels the old warrior’s spirit with him. “I know he’d believe in me if he was here,” Bonnar says.
“And you know what, he will be here with me. [Rio] is his home town. He’d want me to go in there and get in Anderson’s face, push the pace and fight that style that he always did as a fighter and that he taught us. That’s exactly what I’m going to do.”