Friday MMA Blog

May 1, 2009

Blog: Alvarez Victorious in BFC; Masvidal Falls
By Brian Knapp ([email protected])
Friday, 11:59 p.m. ET: Eddie Alvarez cruised into the Bellator Fighting Championships lightweight tournament final. Jorge Masvidal was not as fortunate.

The world-ranked Alvarez (17-2) submitted Eric Reynolds with a third-round rear-naked choke at BFC 4 on Friday at the Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio. The electrifying 24-year-old coaxed the tapout 90 seconds into round three.

Alvarez -- who has rattled of back-to-back submission wins since his defeat to Shinya Aoki on New Year’s Eve -- mounted Reynolds (10-2) multiple times in the first two rounds and built a substantial lead on the scorecards. He latched himself onto his opponent’s back in the third round, flattened him out and cinched the choke. Alvarez has now delivered 15 of his 17 career wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission.

Toby Imada awaits Alvarez in the final.

Seemingly behind in his semi-final matchup, Imada stunned the favored Masvidal (17-4) with a third-round triangle choke that rendered the American Top Team ace unconscious 3:22 into round three. An 11-year veteran of the sport, Imada (22-12) has won his last eight fights, all of them finishes.

Dave Herman, Dan Evensen and Matt Jaggers were all victorious in non-tournament action. An EliteXC veteran, the eccentric Herman (14-1) bounced back nicely from his TKO loss to Mu Bae Choi at Sengoku “No Ran 2009” in January, as he stopped Josh Barnes on first-round strikes.

Bellator returns on May 8 at the Central Pavilion Arena in Robstown, Texas. That show will feature the featherweight tournament semi-finals, pairing Wilson Reis with Joe Soto and Yahir Reyes with Estevan Payan.

The Cutting Edge: Jason Vorhees Trains MMA
By Jake Rossen ([email protected])
Friday, 6:50 p.m. ET: Horror films rank around the level of professional wrestling for me: There may be some artistry involved, some kind of creative spark working on a level I can’t access, but I fear the majority of observers just want to see someone get bashed over the head with a plate-glass window. Or in the case of serial killer franchises, beheaded with a band saw.

Enthusiasts for the genre might be amused to know that Derek Mears, who occupies Jason Voorhees’ hockey mask and sanitation jumper in the recent “Friday the 13th” remake, trains in mixed martial arts with “Big” John McCarthy. If Voorhees busts out rubber guard in the inevitable sequel, or attains takedown-to-mount-to-machete, I will purchase a ticket.

White and Hackleman Disagree to Disagree Over Liddell
By Jake Rossen ([email protected])
Friday, 6:45 p.m. ET: Is he or isn’t he? Weeks after suffering his third KO loss in five fights, Chuck Liddell was announced as being retired by UFC President Dana White. That was news to both Liddell and trainer John Hackleman, who both voiced a noncommittal attitude to the question.

Speaking to FightHype Friday, Hackleman reiterated that “no decision” has been made by Liddell regarding his future.

White, meanwhile, was busy asserting that we have absolutely, positively seen the last of Liddell.

“He has nothing left to prove,” White said. “He went out with a bang.”

A prediction you shouldn’t place any amount of money on? White will relent if Liddell insists on competing as a heavyweight, which would be a proper career reboot along the lines of Randy Couture. (Couture went up in weight after Liddell knocked him out twice. That might be irony. Not sure.)

I just don’t see Liddell bolting for another organization, in small part due to the legal pillow-smothering Zuffa is capable of and in large part attributable to his loyalty to White.

If the boss says it’s over, then it’s probably over.

Sengoku 8 Sneak: Kanehara/Sung Jung
By Jake Rossen ([email protected])
Friday, 6:40 p.m. ET: The bottom half of the Sengoku featherweight tournament bracket (HDNet, 3 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET Saturday) has an audience-pleasing Japanese vs. Korea angle with Masanori Kanehara facing Chan Sung Jung.

A kickboxer, Sung Jung was a featured contestant on a Korean reality series -- think “The Ultimate Fighter” with less alcohol poisoning. Kanehara is a refugee from ZST, an oddity of a promotion that prohibits strikes on the ground. That kind of limited experience has created a middling 3-3 record outside of the group, but it’s probably not going to be a factor here -- Sung Jung will want to stand up and put Kanehara down.

He’ll succeed: Sung Jung by decision.

Sengoku 8 Sneak: Denis/Sandro
By Jake Rossen ([email protected])
Friday, 6:35 p.m. ET: The remaining Sengoku quarterfinal (HDNet, 3 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET Saturday) has a fairly easy narrative to follow. Both Nick Denis and Marlon Sandro have undefeated records. Denis favors striking and boasts excellent kicks; Sandro is a jiu-jitsu black belt and wants the fight on the ground. Will he drag it down there, or will Denis hand him his head on a platter with a side of Advil?

The former: Sandro by absorbing Denis, Blob-style, and chewing off a limb.

Sengoku 8 Sneak: The Rest
By Jake Rossen ([email protected])
Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET: Ridiculously experienced Travis Wiuff (54-12) tackles Bulgarian Stanislav Nedkov in a battle of 205-pound bulldogs. Nedkov is like a reincarnated Igor Vovchanchyn, but Wiuff can take the fight down and set his own pace…world-class jiu-jitsu stylist Alexandre Ribeiro takes on Kei Yamamiya in a battle of grappling superiority vs. tenure; Ribeiro has one pro fight to Yamamiya’s 60-plus…Kazunori Yokota and Leonardo Santos will vie for Sengoku’s No. 1 lightweight contender’s slot. The winner is expected to face champion Satoru Kitaoka.

MMA Movie Moonlighting: Part 5 (of 5)
By Jake Rossen ([email protected])
Friday, 5:30 p.m. ET: The fifth in a series of heavily researched retrospectives on modern screen classics. Check Turner Classic Movies for airdates, or consult the Criterion Collection schedule for deluxe Blu-ray packages.

See It: Rickson Gracie in “The Incredible Hulk” (2008)

As mediocre as it is, this “Hulk” retread is probably the best movie ever to feature a mixed martial artist -- albeit a retired one.

Rickson Gracie -- widely revered as the best jiu-jitsu academic in the world -- appears briefly in the film’s opening moments to consult Bruce Banner on proper Zen relaxation principles. (So he doesn’t, you know, smash a hole in the moon or something.) Rickson even demonstrates his famous breathing technique, which consists of manipulating his abdominal wall like a Thalidomide-bred circus freak.

It steals the show. Not an overly complicated task when your action-hero lead is Ed Norton, but there you go.

Miss It: The Machado Brothers in “Brazilian Brawl” (2003)

“TOTAL CRAP WORST MOVIE EVER MADE,” is how one user delicately describes his viewing experience of “Brazilian Brawl.” It is too kind by half.

No less than 200 Machado brothers star in this faux-Western, which casts them as nephews to a genial old ranch hand who comes under duress when a corrupt land baron earmarks his property for a hostile takeover. And by “duress,” I mean he is blown up.

The plot -- loosely sketched out on the nearest napkin minutes before shooting -- is just a clothesline to hang some jiu-jitsu demonstrations by the brothers, which they perform admirably, if not with any degree of sportsmanship. One thug’s ear is bitten off; a Machado brother arms himself with automatic weapons and asserts that “Everything is under control.”

If “everything” excludes the lighting, sound recording, editing, dialogue, pacing, coverage, narrative, continuity and catering, then yes, everything is going swimmingly. Running around shirtless and wielding an Uzi tends to sway the day in your favor.

A disc best used as a coaster.

Sengoku 8 Sneak: Hioki/Mann
By Jake Rossen ([email protected])
Friday, 5:20 p.m. ET: In addition to the Hioki/Mann headliner, Sengoku’s featherweight tournament -- airing Saturday at 3 a.m. ET live and at 9 p.m. ET on HDNet -- is also playing host to a crucial quarterfinal between favored entrant Nam Phan and Michihiro Omigawa.

A judoka who trains under Hidehiko Yoshida, Omigawa likes to tie up and toss; Phan may not prove to be a willing projectile, having held his own in the clinch (for a little while) against the considerably larger Josh Thomson during his stay at 155 pounds.

Omigawa pulled off an upset in the tournament’s first round against LC Davis, but he’s unlikely to repeat. The more versatile Phan by decision.

Live Chat with Jordan Breen
By Jordan Breen ([email protected])
Friday, 3:00 p.m. ET: In order to atone for the trifling bureaucracy which kept me from conducting a radio show on Thursday, I will be hosting yet another live chat on the Sherdog forums.

As always, there is no set length of time for the live chat; we'll roll as long as people are in the thread discussing grown MMA material. Come with all your thought-provoking questions and cutting-edge commentaries. Think of it like a Sengoku tailgate party, but with less grilled meat and more arguments about Leonardo Santos fighting Kazunori Yokota.

Also, depending on how raucous and fanatic the live chat gets, I may stage an impromptu trivia contest. The grand prize? A life-sized Danny Lafever plush doll.

Sengoku Profitability in ‘Fight-Lanthropy’
By Tony Loiseleur ([email protected])
Friday, 2:45 p.m. ET: After Sengoku “Seventh Battle” wrapped in March,’s Jordan Breen wrote an article painting the promotion’s featherweight tournament as a kind of charitable contribution toward the mixed martial arts community. Breen dubbed it “fight-lanthropy.”

During my interview with World Victory Road Public Relations Director Takahiro Kokuho, I found Breen’s assessment about Sengoku’s charity to be dead-on. However, according to Kokuho, the promotion’s magnanimity need not be a losing venture. Luckily, it looks like international MMA fans will be able to enjoy Sengoku’s sportive matchmaking for some time to come.

In more of his exclusive interview with, Kokuho discusses Sengoku’s beginnings, its backers and the shrinking Japanese MMA market.

Continue Reading » Sengoku Profitability in ‘Fight-Lanthropy’

5 Nerds
By Mike Fridley ([email protected])
Crave Online
Friday, 2:35 p.m. ET: At CraveOnline, Danny Acosta lists five nerds you don’t want to mess with. Jordan Breen doesn’t make the cut. See who does.

Sengoku 8 Sneak: Hioki/Mann
By Jake Rossen ([email protected])
Friday, 2:20 p.m. ET: Quality Japanese card Sengoku 8 takes place in the insomniac’s slot of 3 a.m. ET Saturday morning, with HDNet also showing a more mercifully timed replay at 9 p.m. ET. The presumed headliner will be a featherweight (145-pound) grand prix semifinal contest between tournament favorite Hatsu Hioki and U.K. prospect Ronnie Mann.

What can you expect? Both men are accomplished grapplers, but Hioki has logged wins over the name-brand competition (WEC’s Jeff Curran, Mark Hominick, Rumina Sato). This is a severe escalation in competition for Mann, who spent the majority of his career in the U.K. and mustered only a decision over a green Tetsuya Yamada in the opening round.

Debate continues over whether a British career grooming is the equivalent of a stretch in Japan or stateside; Mann could pour some lighter fluid on the issue with a win here.

Unlikely, though. Hioki wins -- perhaps after getting a little too cute in the stand-up and taking a few stingers.

UFC 98: Musical Chairs, Part Two
By Jake Rossen ([email protected])
Friday, 2:15 p.m. ET: Recall that rumor about Ed Herman taking over for a hobbled Yushin Okami against Dan Miller? So eight hours ago. It’s now believed that professional heel Chael Sonnen will take the slot on May 23.

Sonnen has a peculiar ability to win the majority of fights he accepts outside of the UFC, but lose the majority he contests inside the Octagon (1-3). Even middling results, though, are enough to make him easily the toughest real estate agent in Oregon. Only five percent down? What, you want to get punched or something?

Mother Knows Best
By Greg Savage ([email protected])
Photo by

Rashad Evans isn't above
a scolding from his mother.
Friday, 3:15 a.m. ET: Rashad Evans’ mother was not very pleased with her baby boy’s antics in the cage with Quinton Jackson. The two met in the Octagon after Jackson’s win over Keith Jardine at UFC 96 in what, at the time, appeared to be a face off for Evans’ next title defense.

Lyoto Machida ended up sliding into Jackson’s slot for a UFC light heavyweight title shot, but that did not diminish the heat that was generated in the Columbus face-to-face fracas.

And for that Mr. Evans got a call from his mom.

“She got mad at me after the ‘Rampage’ thing,” said the UFC light heavyweight champ. “She was watching on TV and she’s like, ‘Rashad, I don’t like all that cussing and s---. Rashad, you don’t get on TV cussing like that now, shoot.’ And I’m like ma, he made me mad. ‘Rashad, still, you don’t do that. People don’t want to see that s---.’”

Evans burst out laughing as he recounted the irony of the situation.

“I’m like, looking at the phone, saying, ‘Mom, you’re cussing right now.’”

That wasn’t the only time Evans has received a scolding for his actions in the cage. After he kicked Sean Salmon in the head, scoring one of the most brutal knockouts in UFC history, Evans got another call from his mom. She was none to pleased with his follow-up punches to his stunned opponent.

“I didn’t even know if he was out,” recalled the former Michigan State wrestling standout. “I thought he was dazed, but I didn’t know if he was out or not when I threw the kick. My mom saw it differently. ‘Rashad you knew damn well he was out when you hit him. I don’t like you going on top of him, hitting him. That’s just dirty.’ I’m like, ‘Ma?’”

It appears all moms have the upper hand when dealing with their sons, even if the sons happen to be among the baddest men on the planet.

Japanese Tabloids Changing MMA Tune
By Tony Loiseleur ([email protected])
Friday, 3:13 a.m. ET: Fans that have followed Japanese mixed martial arts since the Pride Fighting Championships days know the news found in the country’s weekly tabloids is taken more seriously than even its own newspapers. If a political or celebrity exposé breaks in a tabloid, odds are the story is spot-on, and everyone will buy into it. This is the reason why accusations of Pride being connected to organized crime by Shukan Gendai resulted in Fuji TV dropping the promotion from a lucrative television deal to avoid negative backlash.

Couple that with Gendai’s accusations last year that Norifumi Yamamoto -- arguably Dream’s biggest star -- fancied herb and “pot parties,” and we all naturally began to think the tabloids had an agenda to kill the sport in Japan.

Surprisingly, that may not be the case. During an interview with World Victory Road’s Public Relations Director, Takahiro Kokuho, I learned there is such a thing as good press from Japan’s weekly tabloids.

Continue Reading » Japanese Tabloids Changing MMA Tune

Catching Up With Tapout
By Mike Fridley ([email protected])

Tapout exclusive interview.
Friday, 3:11 a.m. ET: recently caught up with Tapout's Dan “Punkass” Caldwell and Tim “Skyscrape” Katz to discuss viewing their first UFC without Charles “Mask” Lewis Jr.

Radio ace TJ De Santis spoke with the candid pair, who shared their emotions for their lost friend and the future of the popular brand.

Alvarez, Masvidal Bouts Set for Friday
By Mike Fridley ([email protected])
File Photo

Alvarez will headline the card.
Friday, 3:00 a.m. ET: Known as the birthplace of aviation and Ohio State-gridiron legends Dan “Big Daddy” Wilkinson and Keith Byars, Dayton on Friday will play host to knockout artists Eddie Alvarez and Jorge Masvidal at Bellator.

Alvarez (16-2) took to the scale and the negotiating table on Friday, where both he and his opponent, upstart 10-1 fighter Eric Reynolds, agreed to meet at 157.5 pounds.

No such bargaining was needed for Jorge Masvidal (17-3) and Toby Imada (21-12). Masvidal exited the scale at 156 pounds and Imada followed at 154.5.

Bellator will take place at the Hara Arena. The event will air via tape delay on ESPN Deportes Saturday evening.

Weights courtesy of Joe Doran/Bellator.

Bellator Weigh-in Results:
Waylon Lowe (155) vs. Frank Carabello (154.5)
John Troyer (171) vs. Justin Edwards (169.5)
Jessica Pene (117) vs. Tammie Schneider (117.5)
Matt Jaggers (145) vs. Peter Dominguez (145)
Raoul Romero (222) vs. Dan Evensen (252.5)
Joey Beltran (233) vs. Sherman Pendergarst (229)
Dave Herman (238) Josh Barnes (263)
Jorge Masvidal (156) vs. Toby Imada (154.5)
Eddie Alvarez (157.5) vs. Eric Reynolds (157.5)

Check the blog all day for more entries.

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