UFC 158 Fight Card Adds Antonio Carvalho vs. Darren Elkins and Mitch Gagnon vs. Issei Tamura

by MMA Weekly

The UFC 158 fight card grew by two additional bouts on Monday.

UFC Canadian officials announced that Antonio Carvalho would square off with Darren Elkins in a featherweight bout, while also adding a bantamweight battle between Mitch Gagnon and Issei Tamura.

The bouts are two of the rare non-welterweight match-ups that grace the UFC 158 fight card that features UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre putting his belt on the line against Nick Diaz.

Carvalho and Elkins are locked in a skirmish that will see one of them take a big step up the featherweight ladder.

Carvalho (15-5) stumbled, losing his UFC debut by decision, but has got back on track with back-to-back victories over Daniel Pineda and Rodrigo Damm.

Elkins (15-2) started off his UFC tenure at 1-1 as a lightweight, but has reeled off four victories in a row since making the drop to 145 pounds.

He is coming off of a key victory over Steven Siler, so a win over Carvalho would propel him into the upper echelon of the featherweight division, while the same could be said for Carvalho if he defeats Siler.

This is a fight that will propel the winner into the early stages of title talk.

Gagnon (9-2) is fighting on his home turf, trying to get some momentum going.

He had a six-fight winning streak disrupted by Brian Caraway midway through 2012, but bounced back with submission win over Walel Watson last September at UFC 152 in Toronto.

He could face a tough task, however, as Tamura (7-3), could be fighting for his very survival in the Octagon.

Tamura started his professional career off strong, winning his first five fights, but has struggled over the past couple of years. He is just 2-3 over his past five bouts, including a 1-1 record in the Octagon, and coming into this bout off of a loss to Raphael Assuncao.

Aging bull: Boxing wonder Bernard Hopkins to challenge for world title at 48

by Kevin Iole

No professional athlete, let alone a boxer, can last for 24 years at the pinnacle of the business without great genes, good fortune and a competitive streak that runs deeper than any normal person could possibly understand.

  Former middleweight and light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins turned 48 on Tuesday, the same day he announced he would fight Tavoris Cloud on March 9 in Brooklyn, N.Y., for a 175-pound title.

The bout with Cloud will come nearly two full years after Hopkins set perhaps the most unbreakable record in sports when he became, at 46 years, four months and six days, the oldest world champion in boxing history.

Bernard Hopkins, 48, will continue to make history March 9 in Brooklyn, NY. (Getty Images)But if, as expected, Hopkins beats Cloud, he will regain a world title at 48 years, one month and 23 days.

  Hopkins’ training discipline is legendary. When he was released from a Pennsylvania prison in 1988 after serving a bit more than five years on a strong-arm robbery conviction, he vowed he would never go back and would turn his life around.

He has done each, and actually has been on the good side longer than he was on the bad side.

  It is his disdain for losing, though, that drives him to greatness at even such an advanced age. He dropped a majority decision to Chad Dawson last April in a highly competitive fight.

  It was an extraordinary performance by a 47-year-old against one of the sport’s young elites, but Hopkins took no joy in coming close.

    “That was so tough for me to take that I didn’t have sex with my wife for six months,” Hopkins said. “I didn’t want to do anything. It’s just a thing where, I hate to lose. I hate to lose at anything. I’m a guy who is very competitive. To lose, to me, is devastating. It was especially so knowing I could have done things I had worked on and trained for.

  He’s one of the great fighters of this, or any era, and has accomplished more than he had any reason to believe when he lost his pro debut a month before George H.W. Bush was elected president.

  He concedes he’s no longer the athlete he once was and has to make concessions to his age.

  As he plowed through his 30s and rolled past his 40th birthday, he growled at anyone who would suggest he may be limited by his age. He openly admits that he isn’t the same physically, which makes his success in the ring all the more remarkable.

  “You lose something every year,” Hopkins said. “Every year, some fighters lose two points, some lose three points and some lose five points. Every year as the page turns and it’s a new year and you’re a year older, you do lose a percentage of yourself. That’s just the way and the nature of life. Some deteriorate quicker than others, though.”

  Hopkins held off his deterioration because he thought about it long ago. He treats his body as a shrine, and has for years. There is no offseason when it comes to dieting and eating right. He doesn’t drink, smoke, do drugs or even indulge in high-fat food.

  His defensively oriented style hasn’t always won him raves as the most exciting boxer, but he’s managed to avoid taking serious punishment. He’s fought some of the greats, including Roy Jones Jr., Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Trinidad and Antonio Tarver, among others, and he’s never been beaten up.

Beaten, yes. But beaten up? Not even close.

  He could have been, had he wanted to or, more importantly, needed to, another Arturo Gatti, a legendary brawler who was willing to take five to give one in order to win a fight.

Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 KOs) didn’t fight that way because he trained maniacally, studied the sport intently and lived boxing. He did nothing that would negatively impact his body and his potential as a boxer.

  That’s allowed him to be competitive as he hits the stretch run for his 50th birthday. It was inconceivable just a few years ago that any boxer could compete at a high level at 50.

Bernard Hopkins, left, lost his last fight, an April 2012 bout against Chad Dawson. (AP)

  As his reflexes, speed and quickness diminish just a bit, it makes it harder to compete against slick fighters such as Dawson. But an aggressive, attacking opponent such as Cloud (24-0, 19 KOs) remains perfectly suited for him.

  “I’m prepared for war like I was when I was 25,” he said. “I’ll be prepared just like I was when I was 35. I know my body will take that, if I need to do it. I know that mentally and physically, I’m preserved enough that I’ll be able to withstand anything that a storm will bring in that ring.

  “You’ll see a technician in the ring. Styles make fights and this is the perfect style for me at this point. This ain’t Chad Dawson. It ain’t a guy 6-2, 6-3, tall, rangy, where you have to set up shots. It became a fight that wasn’t exciting. This one? It will be. This is perfect for me. I’m 48. You know he ain’t going to be running from no 48-year-old man. He’s coming to fight and I can’t wait.”

  The fight with Cloud, though, is just the beginning. As competitive as Hopkins is, and as close as he is to 50, there is little doubt that in 2015, the 50-year-old Bernard Hopkins will be fighting for some sort of title.

  It’s nothing other than amazing.

Female MMA fighters raise over $5,000 for breast cancer research

by Eric Holden

Invicta FC announced on Jan. 10 via Facebook that their fighters helped raise over $5,000 for breast cancer research with a series of sports bra eBay auctions.

The eBay auctions were spearheaded by women’s pro soccer star McCall Zerboni, six-year-old Emma Bayer and her parents.

The auctions were designed to raise awareness and funds in the fight against breast cancer through the empowerment of women. Funds raised went to the Keep-A-Breast Foundation, a non-profit organization that uses art and educational programs to raise awareness of methods of prevention and early detection of breast cancer.

“A huge thank you to everyone who participated in our WMMA sports bra auction to benefit Keep-A-Breast,” the Invicta FC report states. “We raised a total of $5,346, with 63 items!! Because of the success, we plan on doing this all over again in October! We would love to have you all join us. If you know anyone who might like to contribute, please send them our way. For those of you who missed out this time, please get on board!”

Among the many female MMA stars who contributed were Racheal Blaze, Emily Kagan, Julie Kedzie, Cassie Crisano, Hitomi Akano, Ayaka Hamasaki, Sara McMann, Ronda Rousey, Katalina Malungahu, Liz Carmouche, Bec Hyatt, Amanda Bell, Cassie Robb, Michelle Waterson, Laura Sanko, Arianny Celeste, Felice Herrig, Sarah Goodlaxson and Tecia Torres.

Rousey’s bra was the top seller, and Celeste followed close behind.

Rousey’s bra raked into $810, while Celeste brought in $449. Herrig’s cute pink sports bra sold for $405, and Hyatt’s top drew a high bid of $355.

Alistair Overeem Recieves Fight License from Nevada Commission to Compete at UFC 156

by MMA Weekly

Alistair Overeem has been approved for his fight license in Nevada, making his bout with Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva at UFC 156 official.

Overeem appeared in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Tuesday to seek approval following his nine-month de facto suspension following a drug test in 2012 that indicated a positive result for elevated levels of testosterone.

In April 2012 following the drug test result, Overeem was denied a license and given a nine-month waiting period before he could re-apply in the state of Nevada. That time period expired in late December, and on Tuesday he had his day in front of the commission.

According to Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer, in the last nine-plus months, Overeem has submitted a total of five drug tests of his own accord, all of which came back negative.

In addition, the commission tested Overeem randomly on Nov. 16 and Dec. 21, 2012, with those tests also returning negative results.

“I’m ready to get my life back on track,” said Overeem when speaking to the commission.

The hearing became a formality at that point with the commissioners asking Overeem if there was any advice he could offer them on their random drug testing policies following his experience with the process over the last year.

The commissioners then motioned for Overeem to receive his fight license. He received a unanimous approval from the panel.

Now Overeem’s focus can shift back to fighting, where he faces Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva on Feb. 2 in Las Vegas with a possible shot at UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez on the line.

Heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury sets his sights on UFC champ Cain Velasquez

by Maggie Hendricks

That didn’t take long. Heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury is frustrated with his inability to get a fight with either of the Klitschko brothers, Fury decided to call out newly crowned UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.

Via Twitter, Fury said, “If the klitchkos r 2 much of [expletive] to fight me then I’ll go & fight the MMA heavyweight champ at least he is game. Wouldn’t last 2 rounds! … Cain valasquez is a little midget on steds bring it on I’ll fight. Not a man born from his mother can beat me! Contact Hennessy sports! … I’m the new baddest man on the planet I’ll smash @cainmma. Let’s get it on!”

Fury is 20-0 and has four technical knockouts in his last five fights. That’s fantastic for him. As a boxer, he looks like he has a great future.

But this past weekend, Velasquez showed how well-rounded his MMA game is. He was an All-American wrestler at the Division I level, and had no problem taking down Junior dos Santos. Does British-born Fury think he can learn a ground game in a few months? He may want to think about what happened when James Toney tried that.