Category Archives: MMA

Singapore, why no support for Kawajiri and Imanari?

In this past Saturday’s ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC) event held in Singapore, DREAM standouts  Tatsuya Kawajiri and Masakau Imanari fought in Southeast Asia for the first time in both their careers. Both made quick work of their opponent, with both victories coming by first round submission, Kawajiri by Triangle Choke and Imanari by his signature leglock.

Despite being veterans of major promotions like Dream and Strikeforce, both Japanese veterans received surprisingly muted responses as they entered the cage. This is a strange roundabout from the vocal crowd who nearly tore the roof down when local fighters Nicole Chua and Quek Kim Hock won their respective fights. Even lesser known names like Zorobel Moreira and Eddie Ng received louder cheers.

I don’t get it. Here we have two of the best fighters not under the Zuffa umbrella fighting courtesy of a deal with Dream, and yet the crowd doesn’t seem overly excited. It is especially disappointing for Tatusya Kawajiri, who has fought in front of crowds triple the size of the Singapore audience in Pride and Strikeforce and headlined title fights in Dream.

It is expected for local fighters to get louder cheers, and Eddie Ng, Zorobel Moreira and several others train out of Singapore so are considered local favourites as well. It could also be that Tatsuya Kawajiri’s grinding ground and pound style is not the most exciting and crowd pleasing.  But their countrymen like Yuya Shirai and Yoshiyuki Nakanishi got louder cheers despite being less popular in Japan, and even Richie Whitson whose most notable for appearing on a reality television show got a louder pop.

Full credit goes to both of them, as that did not seem to deter them in their bouts. 

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10 most successful fighters from The Ultimate Fighter

 It’s been ten long seasons since The Ultimate Fighter(TUF) made its debut on Spike TV. It can safely be said that TUF is a roaring success. Not only has it helped the UFC discover a whole new legion of fighters, it can also be credited for helping UFC gain mainstream coverage and helping them move into the television sets of the general public. We look back at the ten best fighters to have emerged from the show.

Honourable mention:  Mike Swick

Mike ‘Quick’ Swick competed in the inagural season of the Ultimate Fighter, eventually losing to a larger Stephen Bonnar. Mike Swick’s record after the show was over is nothing short of amazing. 9 wins and only 2 losses, with the most recent being a decision against Dan Hardy. He’s also incredibly versatile, going from Light Heavyweight while in the Ultimate Fighter, eventually dropping down to Welterweight, a good 35 pounds lighter. His two losses has to be considered costly though, as on both occasions, he was on the cusp of getting a title shot.

10. Keith Jardine

Keith ‘The Mean’ Jardine has defeated top fighters in Chuck Liddell and Brandon Vera, but have also notched up losses against the likes of Stephen Bonnar (who despite reaching the final of TUF season 1, has never really been at the level of his opponent that night, Forrest Griffin), Houston Alexander (the guy Kimbo Slice defeated in his UFC debut) and Thiago Silva. He’s a decent Light Heavyweight but will probably never come close to the title.

9. Joe Stevenson

Winner of the Ultimate Fighter Season 2, Joe “Daddy” Stevenson has had a tumultous journey in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He’s come close to tasting gold in his fight against BJ Penn for the interm Lightweight title, but eventually fell short.

He’s has notable losses against fellow TUF alum Diego Sanchez and Kenny Florian which has put a blemish on his record.

8. Josh Koscheck

Josh Koscheck lost to eventual winner Diego Sanchez in the first season of the Ultimate Fighter, but he got his revenge when he received a unanimous decision victory over Sanchez in UFC 69. He’s defeated several notable names, including Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson, Frank Trigg, Yoshiyuki Yoshida and Chris Lytle.

He has been defeated 4 times in his UFC career though.

7. Gray Maynard

While on the Ultimate Fighter Fighter season 5, Gray ‘The Bully’ Maynard was not particularly impressive, losing in the semi-finals and drawing in controvesial fashion against Rob Emerson in the finale.

He’s been unstoppable ever since, notching up 6 consecutive victories, and is still the only person who has defeated Frank Edgar. His next fight is against Nate Diaz and a showdown against his TUF coach and current Lightweight champion, BJ Penn is on the horizon. Should he be able to do what Diego Sanchez, Kenny Florian and Joe Stevenson have failed and capture the title, he will surge right to the top of the rankings. Till then, he’ll have to be satisfied in this position.

6. Kenny Florian

Kenny ‘Kenflo’ Florian have beaten almost everyone there is to beat in the Lightweight division. His fallen opponents includes Clay Guida, Joe Stevenson, Roger Huerta, Joe Lauzon and Sam Stout.

He would have been ranked alot higher, if not for the fact that he could never beat the very best. He fought both Sean Sherk and BJ Penn for the Lightweight championship, and was not able to overcome that final hurdle on both occasions. His fight with BJ Penn was particularly embarassing, being completely dominated for four rounds before being locked in the rear naked choke and forced to tap out.

5. Diego Sanchez

For those who do not already know, Diego ‘Nightmare’ Sanchez was the winner of the first season, and looked unstoppable while on the show. He continued the impressive streak in the UFC, but has 3 losses to his name thus far. His first loss in the UFC came against Josh Koscheck. He revealed after the fight he had a severe staph infection. A staph infection weakens a fighter. His other loss came against a larger Jon Fitch, and the recent loss to BJ Penn, who is arguably the best fighter ever in the Lightweight division.

4. Michael Bisping

Michael Bisping entered the house with an unbeaten record, and he left the house with his record intact and a new contract to boot, becoming Season 3’s Light Heavyweight winner.

Since then, he has only lost twice, to Rashard Evans (who might still make an appearance in this ranking), and Ben Henderson. Perhaps his hardest test is to come in UFC 110 when he faces former Pride Light Heavyweight Champion, Wanderlei Silva.

3. Matt Serra

The top 3 fighters have all become champions in their respective division. Matt ‘The Terror’ Serra was the winner of Season 4 ‘The Comeback’, earning a shot at the UFC welterweight champion at that time, Georges St.Pierre. Nobody gave him a chance in that fight, and he posted what most consider the biggest upset of the new millemium by catching GSP and then pounded on him before the referee stopped the fight, making him the new Welterweight champion.

He eventually lost it back to GSP in the rematch.

2. Forrest Griffin

The match between Forrest Griffin and Stephen Bonnar to become the Ultimate Fighter is considered by many (myself included) as the best match of the decade in all of Mixed Martial Arts. Griffin eventually came out on top that night.

Here’s a rundown of who’s he defeated, and you’ll understand why he’s here. Stephen Bonnar in a rematch, submitted Mauricio Rua, defeated Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson to become Light Heavyweight champion, and a win against Tito Ortiz, who he lost to earlier in his career. He’s lost the title to the #1 ranked person on this list though, which explains why he’s second best.

1. Rashad Evans

The brash, arrogant jerk from The Ultimate FIghter Season 2 turns out to be quite the fighter after all. Since winning in Season 2, he’s only been defeated once, to current Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida. He’s been able to defeat the likes of Chuck Liddell, Michael Bisping, and Forrest Griffin for the Light Heavyweight title. His record stands at 8-1-1, with a draw coming against Tito Ortiz.

He has been entrenched in the upper echelon of the Light Heavyweight scene, and will be for several years to come.

 We shall see what the more recent fighters, like Ryan Bader, Efrain Escudero and Roy Nelson have to offer in a few years down the road.

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What’s next for BJ “The Prodigy” Penn?

Diego Sanchez questioned BJ Penn’s cardio in the pre-fight show. Conditioning was supposedly BJ Penn’s biggest downfall. After thorougly dissecting Diego Sanchez in UFC 107, and destroying Kenny Florian in equally devastating fashion, it’s safe to say that the perceived weakness in BJ’s game is eradicated. With 2 succesive title defenses in 2009, there is almost nobody left in the lightweight division who could pose a challenge. So what’s next for the Hawaii’s prodigial son in the year 2010?

1. Stay in the division and continuing dominating.

There’s really two lightweights left that are even close to a title shot, namely Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard. When the two crossed paths in 2008, Maynard walked away with a victory and have continued his undefeated streak since.  Edgar have bounced back from that setback to record three wins as well, and that remains the only time he has lost in the UFC.

Maynard is scheduled to fight Nate Diaz next on 11 January, while Edgar jus defeated Matt Veach. That leaves both of them free to face BJ Penn somewhere in the middle of next year.  Since Maynard is still undefeated, it would only make more sense for him to get the next shot, provided he gets past Nate Diaz first. He’s almost the same size as Penn, and have about the same reach. There’s a story to their relationship already. BJ Penn was his coach in TUF 5, where he volunteered to be on BJ’s team.

The one glaring weakness in his game is that he’s not had a knockout or submission in the past two years. With BJ Penn’s improved cardio and the likelihood of the fight going five rounds, the lack of a potential knockout punch might prove costly. He’s also not fought anybody close to BJ Penn’s level, the closest probably being his next fight against Diaz. He might need another match against a Clay Guida or a Kenny Florian as a gauge to see how well he does against quality top-10 opponents.

Other than that loss to Maynard, Frank Edgar have been outstanding, with 11 wins and only that one loss. However, as Joe Rogan pointed out in his fight with Matt Veach, his small frame makes it easy for his opponent to outwrestle him. He would be destroyed by Penn if there were put in the same ring. 

Neither contenders are main event quality like Sanchez or Florian, which makes it even more unlikely that Dana White would make it a main event fight.

2. Catchweight bout with Jose Aldo

If you don’t know who Jose Aldo is, shame on you. He’s the current featherweight champion in the WEC, UFC’s sister promotion. All 6 of his fights in the WEC so far have ended in TKO. He’s already beaten WEC stalwarts Mike Brown and Cub Swanson. Sooner or later, he will clean out the division just like how BJ Penn is doing.

There’s only so far he can go if he stays in the WEC. The casual viewer would still not be able to recognize him. He could bulk up and move to 155, and a potential fight with BJ Penn would make the hardcore fans salivate. The only question is, would the PPV buys drop if an unknown like Aldo is facing one of your champions?

3.  Move up to fight Georges St Pierre

BJ Penn’s arch nemesis, Georges St Pierre is tearing through his Welterweight contenders much like Aldo and Penn are in their respective divisions. GSP has an upcoming fight with Dan Hardy at UFC 11,  but after that, there is only a short line of welterweights left that can hold a torch with GSP.

This feud has been one of the most entertaining in recent memory. Many people thought Penn should have won the first fight, followed by the Grease-gate saga in the second. Penn wants another shot at GSP, the only question that remains is whether St Pierre feels the same. If he does, Dana will make this fight in a hearbeat.

If this fight were to happen, Penn has to once again, move up to Welterweight. There is no chance a catchweight fight happens for two reasons. The first is that rumor has it that GSP is looking to move up a division, and is putting on weight. If that is the case, it would be impossibly hard for him to go any lower than 170, the Welterweight weight limit. The second reason would be that if it was at a Catchweight, neither titles can be on the line, so what happens after the fight? They go back to tear through their opponents in their respective divisions?

It also gives the UFC to build more credible challengers in both divisions. This fight is the most likely to happen. All it needs is for GSP to say yes. Expect GSP vs Penn, UFC 120.

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