wolf

By: Jonathan M. King

In the fight game, anything can, will and usually does happen. Fighters often fall off of cards at the last minute, leaving promoters in the lurch, holding the bag. So replacement fights are understandable. “Shit happens”, as my mother would say. Mixed martial arts fans understand that. So when news broke about Renan Barao falling ill during weight cuts broke, a replacement name was not a surprise. After all you can’t cancel the event, that would be a logistical nightmare that would cost many people their hard earned paychecks.

So thanks to Joe Soto, we will still have an opponent for headliner TJ Dillashaw. The fact that the fight is still a 5 round title fight however leaves many with their chins on the floor. How does a first time UFC fighter earn that kind of juice? Especially a fighter that was bounced from Bellator after loosing his title and subsequent bouts in decisive fashion.

Of course we will be subject to the same rhetoric Don King used to feed us “Only in America”, only this time it will be geared to a fighter who stays ready. Well, unfortunately the world isn’t buying the “wolf tickets” the UFC is selling. Giving Joe Soto (who does belong in the UFC) a title shot is more than just affording a worthy fighter with the “opportunity of a lifetime”, it cheapens the brand and creates a paper title.

In our sport which is teetering on the main stream, that is a suicidal push in the wrong direction. Renan Barao was Dana White’s pick for best overall fighter pound-for-pound. TJ Dillashaw earned the opportunity to shock the world, and now that same opportunity is being gifted towards Soto? A guy who Terrion Ware thoroughly dominated on his feet just a few weeks ago? Do rankings matter at all?

Ware also belongs in the UFC, but he like Soto are long from being contenders, let alone champions. The move again has to be to satisfy the hometown Sacramento crowd. And the UFC is in a tough spot. Decisions have to be made quickly and you have to move forward. Its too close to show time to second guess themselves. That being said the fight should have remained a five round contest with no title ramifications. After all Soto hasn’t earned even Chael Sonnen type bragging rights yet.

Maybe from the outside it is easier. Without having any money invested, it may be clearer. The decision to put Soto in was a good call. He is a tough fighter, and a former champion. However the UFC is supposed to be the place where titles are earned.

 

Thought: Joe Soto lost his Bellator title, and then his job. Wins on the regional scene and gets gifted a title shot. Ben Askren is undefeated, untested, leaves Bellator with the strap, but he doesn’t even warrant a roster spot? Wolf Tickets! What about Scott Jorgenson? He is on weight? He has at least won in the UFC? Also Former Olympic Gold Medalist Henry Cejudo is so happy he is bumped from the headlines by Barao’s illnes. Cejudo missed weight again, 4th time as a pro, and is out of his UFC debut.

 

About these ads

Photo By: Bob Fisher Pugilpix.com

By: Jonathan M. King The Clinch Report

When word broke last, I like most chalked it up to rumors fueled by the Alvarez release. Then for a few days it disappeared. Waking this morning to the news that former TUF 1 Finalist and UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar came out of retirement to sign a multi-fight deal with the UFC’s rival Bellator MMA was not shocking, but it does seem intriguing.

‘The American Psycho” released a statement with regards to the signing, and hinted as to why..

I want everyone to know I’m coming out of retirement because it’s time to free the MMA world of the virus that’s known as Tito Ortiz. We’ve been suffering through his boring fights for too many years, and it’s about time that someone beats it out of him once and for all.” Stephan Bonnar

Earlier this week the UFC signed Bellator MMA’s 155 lbs champion Eddie Alvarez setting him up for his promotional debut against Donald Cerrone at UFC 178. Now with the Bonnar signing; although much less relevant, Bellator has shown they mean business. Even if they are past their primes, Bonnar v Ortiz is a fight that is guaranteed to entertain. Bonnar’s chin down head first style, and Ortiz’s traditional ground and pound make this a chess match on paper that should not be missed.

Does Stephan Bonnar v Tito Ortiz matter in the MMA world? Sure it does. The fight matters as long as it is promoted properly. If its a grudge match pitting two guys who clearly dont like each other, then its a fun fight. If this ends up being a setup for a 205 lbs contender, then its a joke. A joke that may end up costing the promotion credibility.

Is Bonnar the same guy he was when he carried the sport on his shoulders in his first fight with Forrest Griffin? No, but that doesn’t mean he still cant entertain in the cage.

Setting either one of these guys up for a title run, will only solidify the companies position as a UFC pretender. However, if they utilize both of these guys the way the UFC uses fighters like Cung Le and Rich Franklin, it could be a pretty smart move. Bonnar is also a polished broadcaster, so he will probably see double duty when he is not fighting.

The move will certainly illicit some sort of response from his former employer. Dana White has always been a huge supporter of Bonnar, and even went to great lengths to defend his enshrinement into the Hall of Fame. So it will be interesting to hear his response.

Quelled as a rumor when first reported a week or so ago, the signing may be a sign that the two promotions have put to rest the animosity. Under Bjorn Rebney’s control Bellator MMA was consistently the target for well placed jabs by Dana White, who referred to his counterpart “Bjork”. Now with Rebney out, and Scott Coker in, maybe the two promotions have decided to co exist.

If so it would be a decision that could benefit both companies and the sport as a whole. Perhaps a united front from both Viacom and Zuffa would present a hurdle that even Sheldon Silver could not jleap over, paving the way for the sport to be legalized in New York State. If these two giants could unite if only for that purpose…..Oh the humanity that would result!

 

 

Photo by: Bob Fisher Pugilpix.com

Photo by: Bob Fisher Pugilpix.com

By: Jonathan M. King

The best way to describe Chael P. Sonnen’s personality is polarizing. His cantankerous approach and quick tongue leave most people who come across him on one side of the room or the other. Not many  folks find themselves in limbo when asked “What do you think of Chael?” He is charismatic, talented, extremely intelligent, and his fight analysis is as cerebral as anyone in the business. He can also be a dick. A big one! He doesn’t mind playing the bad guy. He understands that in the world of entertainment everyone has a role to play.

These characteristics are the reason he became the face of the UFC on FOX. Simply put, no one else was a better fit. He was the perfect ambassador for the sport. A good looking, witty dude, who engaged the camera as if it were the viewer themselves. Sonnen made you part of the broadcast weather you agreed with him or not, he involved the viewers. His WWE style promos endered fans who once thought him as brash, but now branded him as ‘colorful’.

Most importantly he raised everyone else’s game to his level. He made Karyn Bryant that much better than she already was… His back and forth exchanges with Kenny Florian, were always hysterical, and his presence made the shows fun to watch. Sort of the way Will Ferrel does, Sonnen’s presence commands the room. You never can be sure what you are going to get from him, and that edginess created a ‘Howard Stern-like’ quality that even his detractors had to watch.

Then it all disappeared. Following two failed drug test (for competition in the UFC, not narcotics) Sonnen was released from his position at FOX, the network cited his conduct as their reasoning.

Ever since the quality of the FOX broadcasting of UFC events has been lacking. Sonnen’s chair has been filled with an ever-changing group of fighters that include (most recently) Josh Koscheck, Matt Serra, Chris Lytle, and Jake Ellenberger. All of whom made Sonnen’s absence that much more obvious with less than stellar performances.

Broadcasting and working with other broadcasters is an artform. A talent that Sonnen has displayed naturally. Maybe we miss him now because those who have tried to replace him have been horrible. However I don’t think its about the what the others lack, per say, its more about what Sonnen possesses. Simply put they’re failures are that they are not Chael!

Not everyone is meant to be a fighter. The same can be said about analysts.  Sonnen’s absence from the FOX broadcast team has shined a glaring spotlight on that fact. The void left in his absence is tremendous. It reminds me of what the news must have been like after Cronkite left…There was no news, because he WAS the news!

Punishment and forgiveness go hand in hand. With the circumstances around this case, with the types of drugs he was taking, and the reasons for taking them (coming off of TRT, and fertility treatments for the soon to be father), maybe its time to forgive. Not because he is needed so badly but….well yeah, because he is needed so badly.

Lets face facts ‘The UFC on FOX’ programming is horrible without ‘The American Gangsta’, borderline unwatchable. The last few shows have proven like Cronkite before him, Chael Sonnen is the identity of ‘The UFC on FOX’ programming. Without him, there really isnt much too watch. Its time to stop fixing mistakes with other mistakes. Please, put Chael back on TV.

Photo by: Bob Fisher Pugilpix.com

Chael Sonnen the Face of The Cheater Photo by: Bob Fisher Pugilpix.com

By: Jonathan M. King

“Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results!” Albert Einstein

It seemed like the clown show was over. With the TRT exemption in the rear view mirror, it appeared the drug test nightmare was over. Unfortunately it was just beginning. Kevin Casey, Brian Ortega, and Robert Drysdale, and Mike King were revealed as the most recent violators. While Ortega, King, and Casey failed for the first time, this was Drysdales second infraction. King, Ortega and Casey tested positive for substances, while Drysdale’s test revealed an elevated T/E ration, which is a red flag for testosterone use.

The latest disappointments join a long list of decorated fighters who have shamed the company. Chael Sonnen recently retired because of his pending positive test which resulted in a 2 year suspension from competition. The opponent he was set to face Wanderlei Silva is in the middle of his own CSAC case for running from a drug test.

The list is as long as it is distinguished. Some of the sports best fighters,currently are or have cheated! So with the list continuing to grow, what is the UFC left to do? Maybe they could start instituting their own penalties outside of the commission’s sanctions.

Possible Ideas:

  • Use repeated failures as a way to trim the already bloated roster. Without exemption.
  • Remove Sponsorships for the following fights: Take away the banner and the t shirts, remove all patches. Maybe this kind of penalty will remind you not to mess around in between competition.
  • Weigh In Changes. Cap the size and weight people are allowed to cut, by weighing them in day of the fight! Allow a differential from the official weigh in, but no more 30 lbs swings. This may seem like an odd way to cut drug usage, but diuretics are responsible for a large number of failures. Essentially weight cut supplements.
  • Fight Bonus Eligibility: If you have been caught cheating with PED’s, your not eligible.
  • Ban PED users from any promotional push.
  • Maybe we, the media need to take control and refuse to write about fighters who use.
  • If the substances are illegal, then get law enforcement involved!

Of course these are just a few ideas. Maybe they are not possible, or legal, but at least it is a progressive thought. Hopefully one that leads to a possible solutions.

One thing is certain the problem is not going away with commission penalties. Perhaps if the promoter took more of a stance as far as penalizing. To the UFC’s credit they have increased testing and even taken steps to be at the fore front of testing, but until now the punishments have been dealt out by the commission for the most part.

Hopefully the firing of Chael Sonnen from his broadcasting duties is a sign that this type of behavior can not be tolerated in the UFC. Fighters using anabolics and PED’s that give an unfair advantage are no different than Panama Lewis removing Luis Resto’s glove material and dipping the wraps in plaster of paris.

It is cheating that can result in permanent injury. Hopefully the Billy Collins jr-like wake up call never comes. However if this continues, the tragedy is not a matter of if, but when?

Allowing this to continue defines insanity.

 

Battle tested, champion approved!

Battle tested, champion approved!

By: Jonathan M. King The Clinch Report

Photos By: John Walsh The Clinch Report

A new day in Bellator MMA has dawned, and the cracking sun shines on a new undisputed champion. The second Eddie Alvarez was released, Will Brooks became the promotions 155 lbs torch bearer. His first title defense is pretty obvious. Michael Chandler will most likely get the first shot at the newly minted undisputed champion. After losing a controversial decision to Brooks, it appeared that a unification bout with Alvarez put Chandler in limbo. It didn’t seem right for him to have to go through another tournament though. Thankfully now he won’t have to!

The Alvarez release makes sense for Bellator MMA. It allows the company to build with fighters that intend on being there for a while. Once the promotions and Alvarez engaged legally, the relationship was fractured. After signing an offer sheet with the UFC, Bellator under Bjorn Rebney exercised their matching rights, and claimed they matched the offer, and a nasty battle outside the cage ensued.

The parting also makes sense for Alvarez who has for years been at the top of the divisional rankings, without having to step foot in the octagon. Alvarez now has the opportunity test himself against the best 155 lbs fighters in the world. His first fight will be against Donald Cerrone at UFC 178. It will be Alvarez’s first fight since defeating Chandler nearly 10 months ago.

Now that Alvarez has moved on and with Scott Coker at the helm, the promotion can finally cut its own path, again! With Coker’s pedigree in MMA and with his new team of matchmakers it seems their only hurdle is the companies past transgressions. However with a group of solid young fighters that includes Chandler, Brooks, 205 lbs contender Liam McGeary, 170 lbs title holder Douglas Lima, 145 lbs champion Pat Curran, Daniel Straus and many others a bright future maybe only be a few roster tweaks away.

With Coker looking to book more big name fights, the Bellator PPV dream may once again become a viable option.

Odd Man Out: Ben Askren ‘Bad timing’

When Ben Askren was released CEO Bjorn Rebney based the decision on Askren’s “one dimensional’ style. Even though he was undefeated and the 170 lbs champion, he was cast aside. Happily Askren accepted the release, expecting his entrance into the UFC. However, Dana White had no intention in legitimizing the Bellator promotion by allowing Askren to continue his domination. So,he was told to sign elsewhere.

Now with One FC, Askren remains undefeated and is slowly becoming the poster child for the dominant Asian promotion.

Now that the regime has changed. It appears tensions have as well. Yes, Alvarez is more exciting to watch, but if the UFC claims to have the best fighters in the world, then you have to include the undefeated Askren. Especially when you consider the UFC even signed Jay Hieron following his loss to Askren.

Maybe Askren wanted too much money, or guarantees the UFC couldn’t grant. However with Alvarez being swallowed up right away, its begs the question. Why Alvarez and not Askren?

By: Jonathan M. King The Clinch Report

Filmed By: Bob Fisher Pugilpix.com and John Walsh The Clinch Report

Wearing only 4oz gloves, knockouts in MMA are hardly a rarity. Chins get tested often and exposed regularly. How durable a fighters jaw, or ‘beard’ is an intangible that can excuse the mistakes a young fighter makes.

Dmitry Gerasimov is a fighter that embodies that quality. Not only does he posses the literal beard, as his last fight proved, he has the figurative one in spades as well.

Facing Chinzo Machida at RFA, Gerasimov was expected to loose. Machida, the elder brother of UFC contender Lyoto, was highly touted entering the bout as a top prospect in the 145 lbs division. Everyone in attendance, including myself expected Machida to plow through his opponent.

Unfortunately for Machida, but to my delight someone forgot to inform Gerasimov of his stepping stone expectations. From the opening bell, Gerasimov matched Machida’s movement and output.  By the second round ended, Machida clearly seemed frustrated with Gerasimov, and it was apparent we all underestimated him.

For three rounds Gerasimov attacked Machida. Often times walking through multiple punch and kick combinations to secure the take down. For three rounds, Machida looked for a highlight reel finish, and each time he tried Gerasimov returned fire.

Although he lost the fight by unanimous decision, Gerasimov earned the respect of everyone in attendance. Now back training, the Russian from Minnesota is helping his Systems Training Center teammates prepare for their fights. He continues to stay in shape, which is something Southern California promoters need to keep in mind. A guaranteed exciting fight, is only a phone call away.

 

By: Jonathan M. King The Clinch Report

Filmed By: Bob Fisher Pugilpix.com and John Walsh The Clinch Report

That city is well fortified which has a wall of men instead of brick.”  Greek Philosopher Lycurgus

Christos ‘The Spartan’ Giagos (9-2 MMA) has become one of the most complete mixed martial artists in southern California. He has notable wins over Sevak Magakian, Chris Tickle, the late great Joe Camacho, Thor Skancke and Preston Sharf. In his last fight, Giagos secured the Tachi Palace 155 lbs title against Magakian.

However the celebration with his father and friends was short lived. The win earned Giagos another title shot in a gateway bout with Dakota Cochrane for the RFA 155 lbs title on August 22nd. More importantly the winner will almost certainly punch his ticket into the UFC.

Preparing him for this bout as always is his Systems Training Center Family. Giagos trains alongside BAMMA USA 135 lbs Champion Terrion ‘Flash’ Ware, WSOF fighter John Robles, and recent RFA standout Dmitry Gerasimov. With coach Ian Harris and Marcus Kowal in his corner, Giagos rounds out a uniquely talented team.

Giagos sat down with The Clinch Report, to talk about his now infamous celebration after his Tachi Palace win, training for his RFA title fight, and what it means to be a major part of the Systems Training Center family.

Christo Giagos is Represented By: Iridium Sports

Giagos vs Cochrane for RFA 155lbs Title

 

 

By Jonathan M. King The Clinch Report

Filmed By: Bob Fisher Pugilpix.com and John Walsh The Clinch Report

The sharpest of blades is forged with steel. Beaten into form. The edges razor thin, through brutal poundings and repeated tempering. Impurities at this stage can lead to catastrophic failures in battle. Fractures formed force confidence from the field of battle. A warrior who has no faith in his weapon is not an efficient warrior.

The same can be said of fighters. Although an individual sport, each fighter is shaped, molded and forged by the camp he or she trains. You may walk to the cage, the only one in gloves, but you are followed by an entourage who are equally invested in your prosperity. Simply because you are invested in them. There is a blind but beautiful loyalty to a fight team, that can only be built by repeated beatings. The camaraderie formed at the forge shapes a teams success.

Systems Training Center in Hawthorne, California is quickly becoming recognized as one of the best gyms in the Los Angeles area. Owner Marcus Kowal sat down with us to talk with us in the first of a several part series featuring some of the teams top young talent.

UFC Champion Ronda Rousey poses with a young fan! #ChaosAtTheCasino

UFC Champion Ronda Rousey poses with a young fan! #ChaosAtTheCasino

 

By Jonathan King The Clinch Report

Photos By Bob Fisher Pugilpix.com, Alex Linares and John Walsh The Clinch Report

Chaos At The Casino 5, was one of the most memorable fight cards in Southern California history. Future and Former UFC stars battled it out in the cage in front of a sold out crowd. Many UFC stars were on hand to watch the fights including UFC Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey, Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke, Chris Beal, Josh Barnett and many others.

The card was headlined by former TUF finalist Karim Ghazi and highly touted prospect Dominic Clark. Clark was able to get Ghazi down early in the first round bout. Once there he quickly grabbed a modified guillotine and put Ghazi to sleep. The win moves Clark that much closer to the UFC, and also garnered him the ‘Submission of The Night’ bonus that was provided by 911 Tax Relief.

Thor Skancke also earned a bonus, for his devastating knockout over a very tough Matt Hagge. In a back and forth heavy handed showdown, both fighters had their moments early. However once Skancke was able to achieve top position, he was able to end the fight with some brutal ground and pound earning the “Knockout Of The Night” Bonus thanks to the Law Offices of Allen Saralou who sponsored the prize.

The “Fight of The Night” bonuses went to Christoper Fajardo and Paul Amaro. Both fighters gave as good as the received in this back and forth battle. Fajardo seemed to have Amaro heading for the exit on several occasions but he kept coming back. Amaro even turned the tide momentarily with some heavy haymakers that had Fajardo reassesing his approach. Ultimately Fajardo proved to be too much, and with Amaro hurt and down, the referee was forced to halt the action. The FOTN bonus was sponsored by Pain Away.

The biggest upset of the evening went to Amanda Bell, who was able to storm through Marina Shafir in the first round of their fight. Bell came out aggressive and landed some nice right hands, that had Shafir adjusting right away. A stiff right hand from Bell starched and staggered Shafir. Bell then swarmed her felled opponent and was able to secure the win with some ground and pound strikes that forced the referee to step in and stop the bout.

Heavyweight stalwarts Chase Gormley and Tony Lopez fought each other in a rather cautious fight that had neither willing to commit. Lopez started slow and was on his back for most of the first round, but was able to reverse the momentum in the second frame. Gormley appeared dominant at first, but then tired, as Lopez began to turn up the pressure. Late in the third frame Lopez attempted a head kick and his knee gave out from under him. Referee Mike Bell let him continue but repeated falls prompted a stoppage that immediately puts Chase Gormley back in the hunt for the UFC contract he so covets.

Also victorious at Chaos At The Casino:

Jay Bogan defeated Marcos Bonilla, Ruben Warr won a unanimous decision over Jordan Isordia, Vardan Sholinian out wrestled Mike Frear for the decision win, Jemyma Betrian decimated Hadley Griffith, and Joe Hernandez came back to TKO Arsen Galstyn.

Once again George Bastmajyan and his Lights Out Promotions team exceeded expectations. The well thought out matchups, and improved organization gave the show a very polished feel. The resulting amazing fights were presented properly in a quick fan friendly format. The event left fans asking as …”When is Chaos At The Casino 6 going to be?”

A very good question only time will answer.

 

 

Broadcast brought to you BY: JT MEDIA in association with The Clinch Report and PugilPix.com

Commentators: Matthew Spencer and Jonathan King

By Jonathan King The Clinch Report

Photos By: John Walsh The Clinch Report

Spar Star MMA is known throughout the Southern Californian region for there amazing amateur showcases. Once again some of the best young mixed martial artists entered the cage. Some dreams were realized, while others were derailed.

Promoter Tony Padilla and his team started with a small snow ball, which has now tripled in size and moves of its own accord. The momentum this promotion has created is fueling a buzz that was making waves across the country. For the first time the event was streamed live online for free, and people were watching live, across the country. Padilla and his team cut their own path, and for fighters that path serves as directions to the ‘big show’.

Fight Card:

Craig Plaskett fighting out of Hayastan MMA, moved his amateur record to 2-0, when he was able finish a very tough Steven Ayala who was making his debut. Plaskett utilized his superior striking to secure the TKO in the 2nd round of the fight.

Lance Lee, Plaskett’s Hayastan MMA teammate also won his fight via split decision over Jose Granillo. Granillo who fighting out of Kings MMA, came up short in a very close split decision.

Sergio Perez completed the perfect evening for Hayastan, when he was able to defeat Jonathan Quiroz.

The highlight of the evening was also the most pleasant surprise. Super Heavyweights Hernan Sebastiani and Edward Rodriguez shook up the entire casino with their incredible brawl. Both fighters showed tremendous heart, and surprising technique. Sebastiani even throwing some nice head kicks. Which is not easy especially when you weigh nearly 400 lbs! In the end, Sebastiani was able to secure the win in a fight that had the entire crowd standing in approval.

In the main event ‘Dog Pound MMA’s’ Jose Lopez remained perfect as an amateur after cruising past an overwhelmed Santiago Diaz.