Thursday, August 25, 2011

UFC on Versus 5: Dan Hardy won?t get punked again

MILWAUKEE -- Dan Hardy was in his happy place: a room full of fight fans who all had their eyes on him. At the UFC on Versus 5 open workouts Friday, the British, orange-mohawked fighter bantered with the crowd, taking requests for fighting styles.

"If Chris agrees to do the fight in slow motion, we can do Tai Chi!"

But he has learned his lesson on making fight agreements with opponents. Before his March loss to Anthony Johnson, Hardy and Johnson spoke often about the type of fight they wanted. Even before weigh-ins, as they watched a replay of the exciting bout between Leonard Garcia and the Korean Zombie, Johnson told Hardy, "That's going to be us."

Johnson then wrestled his way to a decision win. Afterwards, Hardy said that he was punked.

"I was annoyed, but I was annoyed with myself. The reason is a few years ago, when I fought on the Cage Warriors show, I did the same thing to someone else. So I guess it's karma. If he had been saying it to the media, and constantly said, "It's gonna be a war," but hadn't said anything to me, I wouldn't have bought into it. But, it was the private messages between us. It was a smart gameplan, and he outsmarted me. I only have myself to blame for that," Hardy said.

With that loss, Hardy fell to 0-3 in his last three fights. Getting the chance for a fourth loss doesn't happen for many fighters, so he knows that it is important to deliver on Sunday night against Chris Lytle.

"It's concerning, because I love my job and I love being part of the UFC. I love seeing the fans and stuff. I like that interaction, and seeing them have such an interest in the UFC and my career. On another note, there's not much I can do about it. I'm three losses down. I can't take those back. I only can learn from them. I'm going into this fight, remembering the mistakes that I've made in my last three fights and training camps, and give it everything I've got. I'm of the mindset now that as long as I give it everything I've got, what else can I do? For right now, I'm comfortable that Sunday is going to be a great day."

Hardy worked both in Las Vegas with Roy Nelson and with his home camp in England to prepare for the bout. He thinks his game will be better integrated because the training of the different MMA disciplines was more integrated. He complimented his opponent's style, but did say that he has more weapons.

"He's got experience, which is gonna make it harder to me to set him up for the easier techniques that will knock him out. Having said that, coming from a Muay Thai background, I feel like I have an extra three weapons that he doesn't have. Boxing is a huge thing, and I use my hands a lot and I like boxing, but when I use it with my hands and kicks and knees, and elbows, that's going to be the deciding factor of the fight."

Hardy asked for a bout with Lytle because he knew he was going to bring a fight. Lytle has six Fight of the Night bonuses under his belt, and knows he can count on Lytle to bring a fight.

"Just the vibe I get off of him, I know he's coming for a fight, and that's all I really want. A fight. A good fight."

He was in a jovial mood for most of the interview, but turned serious when discussing the rioting that has swept over his home country.

"I think it's opportunistic crime. There's some discrepancy over what happened with Mark Duggan, who was shot by the police. People are saying it was unfair that he got shot, other people are saying that he was a drug dealer with a gun. The protests that followed that turned a little bit violent, then it swept across the country, people started thinking, 'I want a new TV and a pair of Nikes.' "

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UFC 134: Predictions for Knockout, Submission and Fight of the Night

The UFC hits Rio for the first time since 1998 this Saturday, and they are bringing a stacked card headlined by pound-for-pound star and current UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva.

He takes on Yushin Okami in a rematch of a fight they had five years ago. Okami won the fight by disqualification after Silva used an illegal kick that knocked him out.

The co-main event will also be a rematch featuring former UFC light heavyweight champions Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Forrest Griffin.

Griffin defeated Rua at UFC 76 when he submitted the Brazilian fighter in the third round.

Other main card bouts include Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Brendan Schaub, Edson Barboza vs. Ross Pearson and Stanislav Nedkov vs. Luiz Cane.

Preliminary fights can be seen on Facebook and Spike TV.

The following are my predictions for knockout, submission and fight of the night.


Fight of the Night: Brendan Schaub vs. Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira

The lone heavyweight bout on the card brings a legend and an up-and-comer together to determine which one is worthy of being a top 10 heavyweight.

Former UFC interim heavyweight champion Nogueira hasn't fought in over 15 months since losing to Cain Velasquez at UFC 110.

Schaub is coming off four wins in a row, including victories over Mirko "Cro Cop" Flipovic and Gabriel Gonzaga.

Both like to finish their opponents and that often makes for a great fight if it goes the distance, which I think it will. Nogueira is susceptible to being knocked down and recovering fast enough to lock on a submission at any point in the fight.

Schaub could find himself on the receiving end of some exciting scrambles on the ground if he gets a little too over zealous for the finish.

Even if this fight doesn't go the distance, I think it goes long enough to win the fight of the night bonus.


Submission of the Night: Raphael Assuncao

Former WEC and UFC featherweight fighter Raphael Assuncao makes the move down to bantamweight to take on Johnny Eduardo in a preliminary bout.

Eduardo is a 15-year veteran of the sport and brings a 25-8 record to the Octagon. He has 13 submission victories to his credit, but he also has seven submission losses as well.

Assuncao is 16-4 with a 0-1 record inside the UFC. He was blasted away inside the first round of his UFC debut in March. It was his third loss out of his last four fights and warranted a move down to the 135 pound division.

As a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, Assuncao has claimed nine victories by submission, most of which came earlier in his career. He holds a win over Joe Lauzon by submission.

Assuncao knows he needs an impressive victory in this fight. If he comes out strong and gets his opponent to the mat, he should be able to wear him down for a submission victory in the second or third round.


Knockout of the Night: Anderson Silva

Most people know the story of the first fight. Okami won by disqualification after Silva used an illegal up-kick to knock him out. It happened quickly in the bout so it's hard to draw any conclusion as to how this fight will go down.

Okami is one of the more successful middleweights in the division and has been for a long time. He likes to counter-punch and use his wrestling to control the fight and win a decision.

Okami is probably one of the harder fighters to finish, but Vitor Belfort is also a very hard fighter to finish, and Silva put him away with one front-kick to the face.

It's that kind of unexpected ending that makes it hard to pick against Silva in a fight where all the breakdown in the world essentially cannot predict what is going to actually take place.

With Silva being in front of his hometown crowd, there shouldn't be any playing around this time. Sometimes, it's a worst case scenario for fans when Silva meets a counter-puncher, but "The Spider" knows what he has to do to get his opponent out of there.

It probably won't come early, but expect to see Silva get the knockout sometime within the five-round distance to successfully defend his title and continue to build his legacy.

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FOX and UFC announce official partnership; Four UFC fight cards on FOX and 32 live fight nights on FX each year

This was the day Dana White dreamed about from the beginning. The UFC president's brainchild has finally reached a big deal with network television.

Joined by FOX Sports Media Group Chairman David Hill and FOX Sports President Eric Shanks, White along with UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta announced a seven-year agreement between the fight promotion and the television network during a Los Angeles press conference.

Beginning on Nov. 12, FOX will air four major UFC fight cards each year. The UFC's reality show "The Ultimate Fighter" will be moving from Spike to FX. The format will change from a taped show to airing live fights each Friday night.

During the two seasons each year, FX will air every "Ultimate Fighter" fight live. There will also be six UFC Fight Nights each year on FX.

"We will own Friday nights," said Shanks. "There will be 32 total fight nights each year on FX.

Hill credited super agent Ari Emmanuel (the real life Ari Gold from HBO's "Entourage") with pushing the for the UFC on FOX behind the scenes and Fertitta/White convinced him over the years.

"There's no yesterday in TV. TV is about the next big thing. We first started talking 10 years ago. Lorenzo said something then. He said what boxing was to my generation is what UFC will be and is to the next generation," said Hill. "TV can't make a sport. The people have to speak. What Dana, Frank and Lorenzo have done is taken a little niche sport, and in 10 years have made it into a mainstream sport. The key was recognizing what the people wanted. It's the ultimate democratic thing."

Before the press conference, Spike, the home of the first 13 TUFs and the final season this fall, made this statement:

"'The Ultimate Fighter' Season 14 in September will be our last. We are increasing our commitment to distinctive, original series that we own such as "Auction Hunters" and "Bar Rescue" which are delivering on our goal to reach a broader audience,"� said Spike's VP of Communications David Schwarz. "Our 6-year partnership with the UFC has been incredibly beneficial in building both our brands, and we wish them all the best in the future."

The UFC will also have programming on FUEL. When asked about discussion for a UFC channel Fertitta it might be a little too soon for the fight promotion to run a network.

Fertitta, along with his brother Frank, bought the struggling promotion back in 2001 for just two million dollars. The company struggled through 2005 and was nearly put on the block for sale. Multiple reports claim the new deal with FOX is worth $90 million a year.

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