Title Shot Within His Grasp, Brandon Vera No Longer Considers Jon Jones a “Punk”

by MMAWeekly

UFC president Dana White recently stated that Saturday’s UFC on Fox 4 in Los Angeles would determine the next light heavyweight contender, but on Monday, he narrowed the field down to just Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and, somewhat surprisingly, Brandon Vera.

Rua and Vera are the headliners of Saturday’s event at the Staples Center.

Initially, co-main event fighters Lyoto Machida and Ryan Bader were part of the equation, but that is no longer the case.

“The winner of Vera and Rua gets the shot,” White stated on Monday’s UFC on Fox 4 conference call with the media.

With Rua, Machida and Bader all entrenched amongst the Top 10 light heavyweights in the world, none would be a surprise when considering who gets the winner of Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson at UFC 151 in September, but Vera’s name came as a tremendous surprise to fans and pundits alike.

Vera is coming off of a victory over Eliot Marshall at UFC 137, but prior to that, he has one no contest that followed back-to-back defeats, albeit the losses were to Randy Couture and Jon Jones.

“Shogun Rua just came off a fight of the year and he’s probably one of the greatest fighters in the last decade,” White explained. “It’s all about opportunities. Brandon is a guy who burst onto the scene, was gonna be a 205 pound champion, a heavyweight champion, was running through guys left and right. I don’t know what happened, but it’s about opportunities. He accepted this opportunity to fight one of the greatest fighters of this decade and we’ll see what he does with it.”

Vera is aware of the opportunity before him, however, knowing that being a late replacement for Rua’s original opponent, Thiago Silva, comes with a fringe benefit he never dreamt it would… a possible title shot.

“This is already a blessing in disguise,” said Vera. “By Dana throwing that out there, this is almost like winning the lottery twice.”

He doesn’t dare look past Rua, who, as White stated, is one of the top fighters over the past decade, but should he complete the Cinderella story, Vera says he is in a much different position than two years ago, when he lost to Jones.

If he beats Rua and Jones defeats Henderson, Vera believes he now has the proper mindset to be successful against the champ.

“The very first time I fought Jon Jones, I thought he was just some young punk and I didn’t respect him at all. I got what I deserved,” recounted Vera. “If and when I do get a chance to fight Mr. Jones again, I promise he’ll have my full and undivided attention.”

Of course, all the talk about title shots and winning the lottery are for not if Vera doesn’t take advantage of the opportunity laid at his feet.

“This opportunity, it’s a dream come true and makes everything okay, and I’m taking full advantage of it. I’ve never been so confident, so sure ever in my life.”

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Dana: Winner of Shogun vs Vera gets title shot

by Fighters Only

www.FightersOnly.com

Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and Brandon Vera are in line for title shots.

UFC
president Dana White said on today’s conference call to promote this coming
weekend’s fight that the winner will get a crack at the light-heavyweight belt.
The belt is being contested first by champion Jon Jones and challenger Dan
Henderson at UFC 151.

White explained the thinking behind the
prospective title shots.

“Well, ‘Shogun’ Rua came off a Fight of the
Year last year and he’s probably one of the greatest fighters of the last
decade,” he said.

“If you think about it – he knocked out ‘Rampage’
[Jackson], knocked out Chuck Liddell, knocked out Mark Coleman, knocked out
Lyoto Machida, knocked out Forrest Griffin, knocked out Alistair Overeem –
twice! – submitted Kevin Randleman… a win puts this guy right back in position,
and he’s probably the No. 2 guy in the world.”

He didn’t have a similar
list to offer on Vera’s behalf, probably because that would be a monumental task
given that he is 1-2 with one No Contest in his last four fights and had
actually been cut from the UFC in January last year after losing to Thiago
Silva, until the loss was overturned when Silva was caught cheating his drug
test post-fight.

But of course, Vera isn’t expected to win. Rua is the
favourite by miles for good reason and so if Vera can pull off the win then he
has a half-decent case to get a title shot just because it will be a pretty
monumental achievement in itself. Vera is, in the parlance of the game,
‘stepping up’ for the UFC.

“Its all about opportunities. Brandon is a guy
who burst onto the scene, he was going to be [champion], he was running through
guys and then … I don’t know what happened. But he accepted this opportunity to
face one of the greatest fighters of the decade and we will see what he does
with it,” he said when Vera’s right to a title shot was considered.

The
fight takes place this Saturday and airs live on the FOX network in the US.

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Price vs Harrison Confirmed for October 13th

by Danny Richardson

www.SplitDecisionBoxingNews.com

Earlier today, it was confirmed that unbeaten British heavyweight hope David Price, will tackle the most delusional fighter to ever grace the ring, Audley Harrison, on October 13th in Liverpool. Price, who many see as the rising star of the heavyweight division, will make the first defence of his British and Commonwealth titles against the Olympic gold medallist Harrison, who knocked out Ali Adams in his last contest on May 26th.
Price of course, is coming off an impressive victory over Sam Sexton, also in May, and seems to be developing hugely in each fight he has. His boxing ability and extreme power has seen him shoot up to the top of the British heavyweight scene, and he looks ready to step up another level. Although Harrison will provide a small step up in class, Price should wipe the floor with ‘A Force’, and I for one can’t wait to see him end the freak show.
I should make it clear that I can’t stand Audley Harrison, but I’ll try to judge this fight fairly. Let’s look at Harrison’s ‘qualities’. He’s a big heavyweight, he can sometimes land a lucky shot (his left hand) and he has a big mouth, so the promotion of the fight is pretty much sorted. He’s above the likes of Ali Adams and John McDermott, but in terms of boxing ability, I wouldn’t place him much higher than Sam Sexton.
After all, Sexton beat part time taxi driver Martin Rogan twice, whilst Rogan beat Harrison in their bout back in 2008. He is of a decent domestic level – he fits in with the likes of Danny Williams, Matt Skelton and Michael Sprott. He’s nothing special, but would beat a lot of the fighters in Britain without being able to take a step up, but could also lose against opposition he should be beating (like Rogan).
But, the reason this is a small step up in class for Price, is because Harrison has mixed it at a higher level, he has some attributes to match those of Price in terms of size, and he carries a name. Most boxing fans and even none boxing fans will know who Harrison is, so if Price can do a job on him, he will add a name to his CV. Harrison is a big heavyweight, so we’ll see if Price’s power can take him out. But when I say that, Harrison has been taken out before, so if Price is the real deal, he should get Harrison out of there.
I’m clutching at straws here. I’m trying to find reasons why this is going to be a competative fight. If I’m being totally honest though, it will be brutally one sided. Price is superior in ALL departments, he picks some lovely shots, has a terrific jab and his power is phenomenal. If he doesn’t do a job on Harrison, then he’s not as good as we’ve been making him out to be. But I don’t see anything other than a convincing Price win.
If Price can get Harrison out of there earlier than David Haye did back in November 2010, then he will send out a message, and fans will call for a Tyson Fury fight even more than they already are. Fury isn’t fighting the best opposition at the moment, in fact, his last fight with Vinny Maddalone was a shocking match up, despite how much Channel 5 wanted to build Maddalone up as a ‘C’ level world class fighter. The fight we all want to see is Price vs Fury, so hopefully, a convincing win over Harrison will push that fight one step closer. If Fury wants to take it that is.
As I said, Harrison will provide a test Price hasn’t faced before, but Price will have too much, and hopefully end Harrison’s career in the process. Harrison will end up as a journeyman if he carries on thinking he can win a world title (which he still believes he can), so let’s hope he retires after this fight.
The one question is Price’s chin, and Harrison has showed a degree of power on the past with the left hand he landed against Michael Sprott to win the European title. But, as far as I’m concerned, that was a once in a lifetime shot, after all, Harrison promised us he would knock David Haye out with the very same shot, and he failed miserably, by throwing it once in the fight against the Hayemaker and completely missing with it. You never know, but I can’t see Harrison landing his left hand decisively.
So the question is, how quickly will Price get Harrison out of there? As early as possible hopefully, so we don’t have to put up with ‘Fraudley’ any longer than we have to. As long as Price retires Harrison and looks good in the process, there will be some extremely happy boxing fans come October 13th.

Image courtesy of http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/boxing/article-2177711/David-Price-fight-Audley-Harrison-Liverpool-October-13.html

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Perfect Olympic boxing starts for Brits, Irish, US

By GREG BEACHAM (AP Sports Writer) | The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — The U.S. boxing team stood and cheered for Errol Spence throughout the welterweight’s bout, the sweatsuited fighters’ shouts echoing across the sold-out arena. Their camaraderie is standing out at the Olympics – and not just because they’re so darn loud.

After the previous U.S. team squabbled on the way to its worst Olympic showing ever, these Americans are sticking together. They’re already off to a fine start in London, and they’ve joined Britain and Ireland with a perfect games so far.

Jose Ramirez and Spence won their opening bouts Sunday night to improve the Americans to 4-0, while Freddie Evans and Josh Taylor rode the home crowd’s raucous cheers to a 3-0 start for Britain. Welterweight Adam Nolan then added a win in the late session, pushing Ireland’s record to 3-0.

The young Americans fought nearly back-to-back, and both produced impressive wins over seasoned amateur veterans for a formerly powerful boxing nation that won just six total fights and one medal in Beijing.

This tight-knit American team doesn’t plan to go out that way.

“I’m not surprised, because we worked very hard in training camp,” Spence said of the American team, which didn’t have a coaching staff until four weeks before the Olympics began. “Everybody has a certain plan, and we’re all following that plan. We’re all relaxed and focusing on the task at hand.”

Ramirez, a 19-year-old business major at Fresno State and a former Starbucks barista, pressed the action and fought out of trouble throughout a 21-20 win over France’s Rachid Azzedine. Ramirez got a last-minute pep talk from his family on Skype, saying, “I’m glad this place has WiFi.”

“There’s always a lot of nerves when you have a lot of intensity when you go in there with a lot of motivation,” said Ramirez, who sported neon-yellow boots. “I feel like I shook those nerves out. … I didn’t really feel a strong hit from him. I just stayed smart, fought hard and continued to work.”

Spence had an easier time in a rougher fight, persevering through questionable tactics by three-time Brazilian Olympian Myke Ribeiro de Carvalho for a 16-10 victory. The national champion welterweight has a tough second-round matchup against third-seeded Krishan Vikus of India.

“The first one is always the toughest one, because you’ve got the butterflies, and I haven’t fought since, like, March,” Spence said.

The Brits are on a roll, too.

After Evans posted an 18-10 victory over Algerian welterweight Ilyas Abbadi in the final bout of the afternoon session, Taylor upset Brazilian lightweight Robson Conceicao 13-9 in the opening bout of the evening session, delighting two sold-out crowds waving dozens of Union Jacks and giving repeated standing ovations.

The crowd support clearly is buoying Britain, which has thoroughly revitalized its amateur ranks in the eight years since teenager Amir Khan won a silver medal in Athens as the team’s lone fighter. This strong start at home suggests podium finishes in the Brits’ future.

“It was unbelievable, like nothing I’ve ever experienced before,” Evans said of the crowd support after he peppered Abbadi with quick punches. “It just builds you up and gives you a great positive feeling.”

Taylor jumped to a lead in the first two rounds and fought defensively in the third, barely hanging on for the win against the promising Conceicao, who nearly upset top-ranked Vasyl Lomachenko in last year’s world championships.

Taylor and Conceicao sparred in the British training camp during the weeks leading up to the Olympics.

“But I was just covering up, because I didn’t want to show him too much just in case I drew him,” Taylor said. “I never expected to draw him, though. … It’s the best I’ve ever felt in my life.”

Welterweight Custio Clayton also notched Canada’s first Olympic win in eight years on an eventful day at ExCel.

Clayton earned a 12-8 decision over Mexico’s Oscar Molina, and France’s Alexis Vastine beat German welterweight Patrick Wojcicki 16-12 in the most entertaining early fights.

Dominican lightweight Wellington Arias was impressive in a 17-8 victory over Colombia’s Eduar Marriaga, but earned the dubious honor of facing Ukraine’s Lomachenko on Thursday.

Clayton, a 24-year-old welterweight from Nova Scotia, used elusive movement and timely punching to avenge a loss at the 2010 Pan-American championships to Molina, the brother of 2008 U.S. Olympian Javier Molina.

“I think I did amazing,” said Clayton, who hoped his daughter, Cheyla, was watching at home. “All the hard work has paid off. I had a tough draw, I thought, but I’ve fought him before. It was all a learning experience. I sat down and saw what I did, and then what I should do.”

Canada hasn’t won an Olympic boxing medal since 1996, and no golds since Lennox Lewis’ super heavyweight win in Seoul in 1988.

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Ryan Bader: Two losses in 2011 forced me to change my approach for the better

by Ryan Bader

Defeat can send you one of two ways. It can either send you on a downwards spiral of despair, or it can force you to improve and rise to the top. Unfortunately, I lost two fights in a row in 2011 and, as a result, had to change a lot of things. I changed those things and now, in a way, losses to Jon Jones and Tito Ortiz were good for my career, as they forced me to go away, evolve and work on clear weaknesses I had in my game.

Ryan Bader

 

Losing two in a row definitely sucked, though. The Jones loss hurt badly at the time, just because it was defeat number one. Obviously, we now know just how good Jon is, and that cushions the blow somewhat. He’s gone on to destroy pretty much everybody else at 205 lbs. But the Tito loss was the one that really made me stop and re-evaluate what I was doing with my career. That one really hurt.

I was thinking about that Tito defeat constantly for about a month, and it was a tough setback to shake. In the end, though, I decided to use it as the impetus to change the way I prepared for fights and, to be honest, I haven’t looked back since. I handed over the reins in training camp and used a lot of new coaches with a lot of new ideas.

My improvements have been clear to see in my last two fights. I knocked out Jason Brilz inside a minute and a half at UFC 139, and then felt as good as I’ve ever felt in beating Rampage Jackson at UFC 144. I stuck to the game plan my coaches came up with, and it seemed to work. That then gave me even more confidence and faith in what my coaches were telling me. Now I just follow exactly what they tell me to do, whether in training or in a fight, and have complete belief in what they say. I know I’m going to be in shape and know I’m going to be the best possible version I can be on fight night. As a top fighter, that’s all you can really hope for.

I felt comfortable in there against Rampage, simply because I had evolved to the point where I now possessed many more tools than he did. Some opponents may go and watch old tapes of me and assume I’m going to be one-dimensional, an easy touch, but that’s no longer the case. Back then I was just a wrestler with an overhand right, but I’ve added many more skills to my game now. Fights against Rampage and Brilz have shown my stand-up is a lot more technical and smooth than it once was, and I’m now looking for more than just the big right hand. I’m able to set stuff up and think outside the box a bit more.

The losses to Tito and Jones were real turning points for me, but the win over Rampage felt like the start of a new chapter. That marked a new me. Because until you go out there and put it all together, you really just never know how your potential matches up to the best in the world. I was waiting to find out whether I was heading in the right direction, and the way in which I was able to dominate Rampage provided the evidence. After that my confidence went through the roof and I’m now more than happy to face anybody in the light-heavyweight division. In fact, I’ve already fought some of the best light heavyweights of all-time, so nobody can make me fearful at this stage in my career.

Four of my last five fights have been against current or former champions, and that’s pretty good going for somebody considered an up-and-coming prospect not long ago. I’m no longer looking at these guys as fighters I used to watch on television and support – they’re now my peers, my rivals. I’ve fought and beaten heroes of mine and, after a while, you kind of lose sight of the fact you used to look up to some of these fighters.

Machida is no different. He’s a guy who has been there and done it already, and somebody I have admired in the past. When he rose to the top of the light heavyweight division and knocked out Rashad Evans to win the belt, he seemed invincible. Nobody could solve the Machida puzzle. At the time I had no idea who would be good enough to suss him out.

However, in the end, somebody did figure him out. And on August 4, it’s my turn to do the same.

Frank Mir, the Strikeforce Crossover, and Who Should Be Next

By Jim Genia

Former UFC heavyweight champ Frank Mir has done us all a great service by agreeing to meet Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand-Prix winner Daniel Cormier in the Strikeforce cage this fall.  After all, the other opponents rumored to have been under consideration — Tim Sylvia, Josh Barnett (again), KJ Noons sitting on Ryan Couture’s shoulders — weren’t really options at all, and who else is there on the Strikeforce roster to challenge Cormier?  The answer is no one, and with Mir shucking the bonds of the UFC for a one-time-only crossover bout, we get to have a match-up that’s compelling on paper and will likely be very fun to watch.

However, the move doesn’t address the other glaring holes that need to be filled in the roster of the House That Scott Coker Built.  Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez has beaten everyone that matters in his division, middleweight champ Luke Rockhold is without a worthy foe, and gosh darn it, you can only spread Keith Jardine so thin.  So who else should the UFC send over to fill Strikeforce’s ranks?  Sure, the dough and exposure is nowhere near as great compared to what you get for fighting in the Octagon, but look at Nate Marquardt.  The ex-UFC welterweight waltzed in, put up a heck of a fight against Tyron Woodley, and is now the owner of a shiny new belt.  For the fighters, there is certainly value in crossing over.  Here, then, is a list of fighters on the UFC roster who could be prime candidates for taking the Strikeforce fieldtrip.  It is by no means complete — please, feel free to add to them in the comments.  And if you disagree with my suggestions… picture me sad.  So very sad.

Evan Dunham giving Shamar Bailey the business. (Getty)

  • Evan Dunham — At one time, the word on the street was that the brass wanted B.J. Penn to take on Melendez in Strikeforce.  But Penn is too much of a viable pay-per-view commodity, and it would’ve been senseless to waste him on the subscription-based channel Showtime.  Evan Dunham, though, is another story entirely.  The jiu-jitsu specialist had a pretty good win streak going before he was outpointed by Sean Sherk at UFC 119 and smashed by Melvin Guillard at UFC: Fight for the Troops 2, and his well-rounded skills could conceivably give Melendez fits no matter where the fight goes.

 

  • Clay Guida — Fast, frenetic, and fun when he wants to be (i.e., when he’s not running away for five rounds), Clay Guida could definitely make Melendez miserable in the cage.  Besides, what’s left for him in the UFC?  It would take Ben Henderson, Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard and Nate Diaz all slipping on banana peels and breaking their legs before Guida could come close to tasting championship glory.

Gray Maynard (L) and Clay Guida about to fight.  Or something. (Getty)

  • Gray Maynard — As a former “wrestling man-blanket” turned “dangerous slugger”, Gray Maynard could stuff Melendez’s takedowns, squash his jiu-jitsu, and hit “El Nino” so hard his pet parrot dies.  Also, what else is the UFC going to do with Maynard?  If Edgar reclaims the lightweight championship from Henderson, watching Maynard and Edgar go at it once more is about as palatable as a plate of dirt.

 

  • Thiago Alves — Once upon a time, Thiago Alves was in contention for the UFC welterweight title.  Those days are gone now, but that doesn’t mean that Alves isn’t skilled and dangerous enough to make waves among Strikeforce’s welterweights.  Maybe, maybe Woodley could hold Alves down for three rounds.  Maybe not, though, and Alves is just capable enough to beat him and beat Marquardt and take the belt.

 

  • Jon Fitch — UFC welterweight king Georges St. Pierre mauled him, Johny Hendricks KO’d him, and he drew with Penn.  However, other than that, Jon Fitch’s run in the Octagon has been flawless.  Boring, but flawless.  Do you think Marquardt can prevent Fitch from hugging him to death?  I don’t.  And I’d wager that once Fitch stepped into the cage to face Woodley, the two would stare at each other for a full fifteen minutes, unsure of what to do.

Chris Leben excited about something. (Getty)

  • Chris Leben — UFC middleweight stud Chris Leben is good for about two or three fights a year before his annual steroid suspension forces him to sit on the sidelines, so why not let him do those bouts in Strikeforce?  In terms of skill set, he’s got enough grappling to keep Rockhold from really hurting him.  As for his striking… yeah, no way could Rockhold eat one of those concrete fists and survive.

 

  • Vladimir Matyushenko — Look, it’s not like any of the Strikeforce light-heavyweights can hold onto the belt for any length of time, but it’s boring watching the same three guys fight for it over and over again.  Put Vladimir Matyushenko in there against Mike Kyle, Gegard Mousasi and Rafael Cavalcante and let’s see where it goes.

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Ronda Rousey’s meteoric rise in popularity is fueled by her biggest weapon: personality

by Kevin Iole

A year ago, Ronda Rousey was a largely anonymous ex-Olympic bronze medalist who was trying to find her way as a professional in mixed martial arts.

As the 2012 London Games open, though, Rousey’s profile has shot higher than that of all but a very elite cadre of athletes inside the Olympic Village.

Ronda Rousey will be the focus of an All-Access Showtime piece before her fight with Sarah Kaufman.

Since winning the Strikeforce bantamweight title in March with a stunning display against Miesha Tate, Rousey has rocketed to stardom.

She appeared on the cover of ESPN The Magazine’s “Body Issue.” She testified before the New York legislature for the legalization of MMA in the state and then appeared before the California state assembly to testify against an MMA bill.

She is blunt in interviews and says what others think but wouldn’t dare to say. She garnered major attention when she trashed Olympic hero Michael Phelps as arrogant, as well as when she urged the 2012 athletes not to forget to pack condoms.

She also didn’t hide her disdain for pseudo-celebrity Kim Kardashian.

“You know what? I would beat the crap out of Kim Kardashian, actually,” Rousey told the Times. “I don’t want some girl whose entire fame is based on [appearing in] a sex video to be selling Skechers to my 13-year-old little sister.”

On the other end of the celebrity meter, Rousey ran Carmen Electra through a workout, worked a corner in a UFC fight and along the way became a more recognizable figure in MMA than just about anyone this side of Anderson Silva, Jon Jones and Georges St. Pierre.

The secret formula which has made Rousey a pop culture icon in such a brief period of time is partly due to her good looks, partly due to her tremendous athletic ability, but most of all due to her very large personality.

She defends her title for the first time Aug. 18 against the estimable former champion Sarah Kaufman at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego in the main event of a Showtime-televised card in what essentially will play out as all Ronda, all the time.

Showtime cameras have been trailing Rousey and the network plans to feature her in an All-Access show on Aug. 8. Though Kaufman’s resume is elite and she’s beaten a who’s who of the best female fighters in the world, attention figures to be split about 99-1 in Rousey’s favor.

That may irritate a few who are angered that Rousey’s presence overshadows everything else in women’s MMA, but it also misses a significant point: The attention paid to Rousey can only help create and increase interest in the sport. As President Kennedy said in 1963, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

Rousey insists that all she’s doing is being herself. She’s attracting a lot of attention because of her ability – she’s 5-0, with five first-round finishes, four of which were in less than a minute – and because of her quick wit. She’s always good for a great sound byte.

That shouldn’t be construed, however, as Rousey forgetting why she became famous in the first place. She understands that she won’t be the so-called “It Girl” for too long if she doesn’t keep up her part in the cage.

As a result, she’s done what she’s asked to do and, wisely, taken advantage of opportunities presented to her to increase her exposure and build her personal brand. What she hasn’t done, she swears, is cut corners athletically.

“I still have a lot more work to do and I have had a lot of different kind of media opportunities come up,” Rousey said. “I keep the same group of people around me when I’m home. I try not to think about everything that’s happened, though. It’s not like I wake up in the morning and say, ‘Good morning, world. I’m a star!’ That just doesn’t happen.

“I am just trying to do the best I can with what I have and take advantage of the opportunities to come my way. If I do a good job, more opportunities will come up. But in no way am I sitting around thinking I’m so awesome and that my job is done. I have so much more I want to do and so much I want to accomplish.”

The biggest name athletes make the bulk of their money outside of competition. Tennis star Roger Federer makes $54.3 million, according to Forbes, but the bulk of it is not prize money but rather in endorsements and sponsorships.

Rousey’s omnipresence has to appeal to sponsors, so she dutifully fulfills as many requests as she can.

It’s had a side effect that might benefit her as a fighter, though her record would show she hardly needs the boost. And having won a championship in just her fifth fight added to her belief in herself.

“I have so much confidence from having had all these experiences,” Rousey said. “It doesn’t affect me in the cage the way it would somebody who wasn’t used to it. I don’t get tired as quickly. I’m able to keep a more level head, those kinds of things.

“Being comfortable in that environment is something you can’t teach. You have to go through it and because of what I’ve been through, my comfort level has been increasing every day.”

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Daniel Cormier Believes Beating Frank Mir is the Perfect Introduction to UFC Fans

by MMA Weekly

Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix champion Daniel Cormierwas having a regular day at training like any other, hitting pads and helping his teammates like he does any Wednesday. But this day took a turn for the positive when he finished up his workout, and noticed he had a slew of messages on his phone, as well as a flood of Twitter responses awaiting his viewing.

“I was getting out of training because I thought I fought Sept. 29. So I was in the gym working out, starting my training camp. On Wednesday nights I hit mits with Javier (Mendes), and I got done and I was sitting on the side watching him work Shawn Bunch. Bob (Cook), my manager, told me today he’s like ‘they’re trying to bring over a bigger named guy, we don’t know who it is yet, but they’ll let us know something soon’,” Cormier told MMAWeekly.com on Wednesday night.

“So Bunch went on Twitter cause I put a picture up of him hitting pads and he goes ‘I guess you’re fighting Frank Mir.’ So I started fumbling with my phone and I got a call from Daniel Rubenstein and he tells me that it’s a done deal, cause Ruby knows everything.”

Just like the rest of the world, Cormier found out via Twitter that he would indeed be facing former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir for his final fight in Strikeforce later this year. While a date and location have not been determined, the bout is likely to take place in October or November and will close the book on the Strikeforce heavyweight division forever.

Just over a week ago, Cormier heard once again via the internet that he was expected to face former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia for his final bout in Strikeforce. Now make no mistake, Cormier would have been happy to face any opponent, but when he got word that Frank Mir was going to be the name on his bout agreement, he certainly perked up.

“It’s like knowing I was going to fight Josh Barnett. There’s only a few guys in the world that their names ring that much and it’s so resounding when it comes to what they’ve done in this sport. So I was pumped up,” Cormier stated.

“Tim Sylvia’s accomplished a lot, but he just hasn’t really fought in the top of the sport for a while. No disrespect to Tim, but this is a much easier fight to get pumped up for. I dropped my phone a couple of times while I was trying to look at Twitter.”

Mir’s willingness to go to Strikeforce, even if it is only for one fight before they both head to the UFC in 2013, is still unprecedented because up till now that’s been the biggest complaint by many fighters competing in Zuffa’s sister promotion.

UFC fighters haven’t been willing to give up a bigger viewing audience and the marquee name that goes along with fighting in the Octagon to compete in Strikeforce.

When the offer came in, Mir was happy to make the move to go over and give Cormier the big fight he’s been waiting for. The former Olympian gave thanks to the executives at Zuffa, like UFC president Dana White, for making this deal possible.

“You’ve got to tip your hat off to the executives at Zuffa for doing something like that and to Frank Mir for doing it. I respect Frank greatly for stepping in and taking this fight. This fight can elevate my status in the sport a ton,” said Cormier.

Beyond Mir’s standing as a multi-time former UFC heavyweight champion, he’s also one of the most recognized fighters in the sport. His last fight was a headlining championship bout at UFC 146 against Junior dos Santos, and Mir has headlined more than his fair share of big shows including his part as the biggest card in history when he faced Brock Lesnar at UFC 100.

Cormier believes that facing Mir will raise his stock not only in the heavyweight division, but also to the casual UFC viewers who might tune in to see the bout because Mir is involved.

“The reality is Frank Mir is a guy people from the UFC know. He’s been a champion. He’s always around the top of the sport. Frank Mir is going to introduce me to the UFC fans a little bit more than I would fighting a different guy,” said Cormier.

Now it’s on to the business of getting ready for the fight with Mir, and that will be the only name on Cormier’s mind for the next few months.

He’s already begun his preparation, but he knows in his heart that he’s already had the best training ever to face Mir because Cormier has already defeated a man he believes is superior to his next opponent.

“There’s no motivation like fighting a champion. I respect Frank, the fight’s very similar to Josh Barnett. I think Josh Barnett is better,” Cormier revealed.

“No disrespect to Frank, but I think Josh is better and I’m going to train as if I’m fighting Josh Barnett again, and let’s see how this fight plays out.”

The last time Cormier prepared like that, he dominated Barnett for the better part of 25 minutes en route to winning the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. If he can duplicate that performance, Frank Mir’s lone trip to Strikeforce may not have a happy ending.

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Frank Mir making pit stop in Strikeforce, faces Daniel Cormier at Strikeforce Sept 29th

 

USA Today confirmed with Zuffa officials that former UFC heavyweight champ Frank Mir will head over to Strikeforce to challenge Daniel Cormier in the last heavyweight fight held by the company.

The fight will either headline an October Strikeforce card or be the co-main event on September 29th at the Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento, CA. Gilbert Melendez would take top billing when he defends his lightweight belt against Pat Healy.

Cormier is coming off of winning the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix, taking every round against Josh Barnett in the tourny final.

One week later, Mir suffered defeat at the hands of UFC champ Junior Dos Santos.

The fight gives Cormier a chance to prove that he is deserving of a heavyweight title shot, and Mir a chance at redemption as one of the best heavyweights in UFC history.

Regardless of the winner, the Strikeforce heavyweight division will be dissolved and both fighters will head back over to the UFC octagon.

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UFC Confirms Vitor Belfort vs. Alan Belcher for UFC 153 in Rio

by MMA Weekly Staff Writer

After the back and forth between Vitor Belfort and Alan Belcher on social media and in interviews over the past couple of days, it should come as no surprise that the two are now slated to square off at UFC 153 on Oct. 13 in Brazil.

UFC officials on Wednesday announced the bout, in addition to TUF Brazil finalist Sergio Moraes vs. Renee Forte.

“Right now, if I want to get something signed it needs to be against Vitor Belfort or Chris Weidman,” Belcher told MMAWeekly.com prior to the fight’s announcement. “Both of those guys are highly ranked, good fighters, very challenging for me and both of them could potentially be a top contender.

“I want to fight Vitor. He’s still an awesome fighter, still a top contender, but he’s also a legend.”

Although they had both been calling for fights, and eventually targeting each other, neither has been derogatory in his comments.

“He is an excellent fighter, a tough guy and good in all the basics,” Belfort remarked when the fight was announced on the UFC’s Portuguese website. “He comes from a very good win over Palhares. Surely this will be a great test for both (of us).”

UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo headlines UFC 153 in Rio de Janeiro, putting his belt on the line against Erik Koch at the HSBC Arena.

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