KOTC TL22

For Lights Out Promotions Ticket Info: http://www.teamlightsout.com

 

By: Jonathan M. King The Clinch Report

Photos By: John Walsh The Clinch Report

At the end of the day the sun sets. “Time waits for no man” my teacher Mr Procacinni used to say. As an athlete your window of opportunity is limited. As a fighter, that window is even smaller.

At 40 years old Tony Lopez(34-14 MMA) should be looking back at his career with a margarita in one hand and his lovely wife in the other. Time would have you believe his best days were behind him, and maybe they are, but make no mistake Tony Lopez is not done fighting. He is motivated again, and that makes him a very dangerous animal.

More often than not hindsight is very cruel to the older fighter. Hanging on too long leaves bitter memories that are hard to shake away. Those cautionary tales are usually punctuated with a once granite chin now fractured. Guys like Chuck Liddell who once took a freight train to the jaw, now crumbled as if a button had been pushed.

You can’t paint Lopez with that brush though. Sure he has lost a few fights and those fights are the reason he is still lacing them up. “I have really messed up my career with the last few fights, and now I want to put together a win streak and end on a high note.” Lopez said. Refreshingly honest from a man who at one time was a fighter no one wanted to face.

At 6’5 and near 225 lbs, Lopez has fought in pretty much every weight class between 185 and super heavyweight. His fantastic stand-up, defensive wrestling, and iron jaw made him a nightmare of a prospect for even the most seasoned opponent. Lopez at one time held three King of The Cage Titles concurrently (Super Heavyweight, Heavyweight, and Light Heavyweight),  and has notable wins over UFC veterans Wes Combs, Kyle Kingsbury, Darril Schoonover, and Joey Beltran.

For Lopez his career is coming full circle. Now back with his original coach Colin Oyama, Lopez has his weight where he wants it to be, and appears to be in prime form. In his way is heavy-handed striker Chase Gormely.

Gormley is hungry and looking to get back to the UFC. A win over Tony Lopez would certainly be a feather in his cap. However Lopez is not ready to be a stepping stone, and if Gormely is gonna add his name to the win column he is certainly going to have to earn it.

“I know Chase, he is going to come out and bring the pressure from the start.” Lopez said. “He is gonna try to get me against the fence or take me down, so I have to remember not to give up good positions, and it should be my fight all the way”

For Lopez the chance to right the ship in his own back yard is priceless. His last fight in California although a victory was marred with controversy, when Lopez held a choke too long after the referee tried to stop the fight. A contrite Lopez accepted his suspension, paid his fine and re-applied for a license, which he was granted.

With his past transgression as his only blemish in a otherwise amazing career Lopez deserves this shot at redemption. A measured redemption. One not rewarded with gold belts, but with the honor and dignity that a warrior like Tony Lopez deserves. Who knows when his fighting days will end? He already has another fight lined up in Hawaii after this bout. With his chin intact, and his ticket selling striking style, Tony Lopez will continue.

Warriors like Tony Lopez don’t fade away into obscurity, they ride off into the sunset, of their own accord!

 

Tony would like to thank his wife, whom he credits as both his inspiration and his motivation.

 

Tony Lopez is Sponsored By:

Avengers Cycle

Iron Fist

Unbreakable Mouthguards

Reps For Life Gym

Tony is also available for MMA fighters looking for private lessons at his Gym Planet Krypton

Contact him on facebook for information

 

 

For Lights Out Promotions Ticket Info: www.teamlightsout.com

 

 

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Past, Present, and Future The Supernova From Moldova Marina Shafir.

Marina Shafir

Marina Shafir

By: Jonathan M. King The Clinch Report

All Photos By: John Walsh The Clinch Report

The Past:

Pedigree can only carry you so far. God given ability without a champions work ethic may get you to the dance, but it certainly is not enough to ensure your tenure at the top. Becoming the best is one thing remaining there however, is a completely different animal. One only tamed by embracing the grind that accompanies everyday training. Champions live, they don’t simply exist. They are fueled by a different fire, cut from a different cloth. Sacrifice their only constant, and pain their only guarantee.

For Marina Shafir, that sacrifice began long ago. As a world class Judoka, Shafir cut her teeth competing against some of the best judo players in the game. Along the way becoming very close friends (“sweat sisters”), with UFC Champion Ronda Rousey. Together they trained to become the best, along the way forming a bond that would continue as Ronda transitioned from Judo to MMA.

“I have seen her transition from an athlete to a machine” Shafir said. “We used to eat peanut butter whole wheat bagels, because that was all we could afford. Now each meal is planned and only the finest fruits and ingredients! Its overwhelming to think about how much she has evolved to become this champion!” Shafir said.

The gulf between hype, and champion is wide. The chasm is filled with the crushed potential of pretenders who although once promising,dared to contend. Proper preparation is the only way across this divide. Still, there is no guarantee. Walking the tightrope of expectation can be a daunting task even for the most confident.

However for Shafir the motivation is simple. She fights for her brothers, she fights for her mother’s brutal honesty. She fights for the gym in Moldova her father opened to keep kids off the street. “I am my mom, I am my dad, I am made from them! I fight for them, for the last name they gave me. Not to make me something, but to make our name something.” Shafir said. 

In a world where prize fighters fight for, well…the prize, Shafir’s take offers a fresh breeze in a rather stale locker room full of hyperbole.

The Present:

The past is a majestic world filled with accomplishments, and stepping stones that have led to this moment. Unfortunately the present for Shafir is a cruel bitch named reality. Sure the reasoning is pure. Yes, her camp is sexy. But without the wins nobody cares. The great WWF manager Jimmy Hart was once asked why he dressed the way he did and he said, “The minute I dress like everyone else, I’ll have to sit with everyone else!”

And although not a wiry weasel with a megaphone, Shafir is not unlike Hart, at least for now. Until its her turn, she is perfectly content playing her part. As long as she is still on the players side of the fence. To stay there Shafir must simply do one thing, win!

Without the wins, the ends just won’t justify the means. Justification resumes August 10. On trial, will be Amanda Bell. At only 1-2 Bell would appear like fodder for the touted Shafir, however a close look at Bell’s amateur career reveals a glaring TKO win over Shafir’s teammate Jessamyn Duke. So, the plot thickens…well…a little anyway.Bell a well known grappler is a tough test for Shafir, however she is confident in all aspects of the game.

“If she wants to stand and bang, we can stand and bang. If she wants to grapple, well thats fine too we can grapple.” Shafir said. “I have been training very hard on my striking with Edmond Tarverdyan and would like to showcase it[my striking], but you have to see where the fight goes.”

Wise beyond her years, Shafir has a patience that allows her to enjoy the ride, without taking anything for granted. A ride she is extremely grateful to be on. “I really want to thank my coaches and training partners (Ronda Rousey, Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke, and Jemyma Betrian), they all know who they are! My mom and dad, for making me, and George Bastmajyan for booking my fights.” Shafir said. “George goes out of his way for all the fighters, not just me. He is easy to fight for. I want to put on a good show for him!”

The Future:

Trusting in uncertainty is your best bet. At least it is when you are built fundamentally sound. Each building block serves as a stepping stone for the next. Each step rewarded with another waiting to be taken. The future is only a breathe away from the present, and moments from being in your past. Marina Shafir walks in some pretty big footprints, that carry high expectations. Unlike Rousey, Baszler and Duke, Shafir fights at 145 lbs. A weight class that doesn’t even exist in the UFC. However she believes its only a matter of time before it does. Maybe Shafir can serve as the defacto 145 lbs ambassador as Ronda did, to help usher in the new weight class. Maybe a stint in Invicta will be on the docket. Either way her patience and her surroundings never let the future blind her.

“I can never get lost in the shuffle, because of the people around me.” Shafir said. “You are the company you keep, and my company is pretty fucking cool!” Shafir said.

Wherever the future takes Marina Shafir, and whatever it holds for her, one can only make an educated guess. It may be here… It may be there.. However it will never be far from her past, and it will never be far from where she currently sits, whether on the brink or years past the break, Marina Shafir like her moniker claims, is a Supernova. The light from a distant burning star that can last long after the star itself fades.

It may not be set in stone, but it appears to be a ‘sure thing’, that in the sport of MMA Marina Shafir’s legacy will burn on, long after she is gone.

 

 

Marina Shafir trains at Glendale Fighting Club and is Sponsored by: Virus, Cucuone, Core Power

You can follow Marina Shafir on Social Media Here: Twitter, Facebook

All content is owned by The Clinch Report, LLC Registered with the State of Nevada. Any unauthorized use is prohibited. Contact us at news@theclinchreport.com for information regarding usage.

Originally posted on THE CLINCH REPORT:

By Jonathan M. King The Clinch Report

When Phil Baroni started fighting the sport of MMA was known as a somewhat ‘brainless tough man competition’, where the brutal usually trumped the tactician. However, Baroni was one of the first to bring a blend of disciplines together to win with regularity. His tremendous hand speed, and stiff wrestling pedigree made him one of the first all-around fighters in MMA.

Once he made it to television,Baroni’s career took off. As the UFC was starting to grow into a major sport, Baroni’s brash character, and aggressive style made him an instant draw. People paid to see him win, and they also paid to see him loose. His polarizing persona forced you to make it a decision. You either loved him or you hated him, but either way you wanted to see him fight.

His fight against Dave Menne at UFC 39…

View original 1,187 more words

By Jonathan M. King The Clinch Report

When Phil Baroni started fighting the sport of MMA was known as a somewhat ‘brainless tough man competition’, where the brutal usually trumped the tactician. However, Baroni was one of the first to bring a blend of disciplines together to win with regularity. His tremendous hand speed, and stiff wrestling pedigree made him one of the first all-around fighters in MMA.

Once he made it to television,Baroni’s career took off. As the UFC was starting to grow into a major sport, Baroni’s brash character, and aggressive style made him an instant draw. People paid to see him win, and they also paid to see him loose. His polarizing persona forced you to make it a decision. You either loved him or you hated him, but either way you wanted to see him fight.

His fight against Dave Menne at UFC 39, and rivalries with Matt Lindland and the late Evan Tanner will always be considered as all-time UFC classics.

Since then “The New York Bad Ass” has fought in every major organization around the world (Several stints with the UFC, Strikeforce, Pride, Dream, Elite XC, ONE FC, Titan FC and  others), and is now set to make his promotional debut for Bellator MMA against Karo Parisyan (23-10 MMA) on July 25. On paper the fight seems like a “cross roads” bout, as both fighters are trying to right their once promising careers. However for Baroni, its just another fight!

“I still have the fire!” Baroni said. “I love to train. I’m happy and I have a lot left to prove. I feel my career has been a letdown, and maybe a bust.” Baroni said. Those of us who watched him fight however would disagree. “I’m looking to this fight to set the record straight.”

That record has seen him fight everyone from Frank Shamrock to Ryo Chonan. Adding Parisyan’s name to the win column would certainly pave the way for more big name fights. “Karo is coming off a big win over Ron Keslar, who was a sparring  partner of mine at AKA, and Keslar beat War Machine who is another friend, so its a big fight me.”, Baroni chuckled. “I need to show these young guys I’m still the big dog!”

Currently still under contract with One FC, “The New York Bad Ass” was able to secure a fight with Bellator while still under contract with the Asian promotion in part due to the negotiations of former CEO Bjorn Rebney. With Rebney no longer in charge, Baroni is excited to fight for his former Strikeforce boss Scott Coker; who is now running the Bellator operations.

“When I was coming out of Pride I met Scott Coker; He came up to me and told me ‘I want to be in the Phil Baroni’ business.” Baroni said. “He promotes fighters.” Coker unlike his predecessor at Bellator, and unlike Dana White prefered to remain behind the curtain. A trait that left a lasting impression with Baroni. “You see these guys like Dana White and Bob Arum, become big stars as promoters, doing media scrums, and its like ‘who cares?’ they are just promoters! I just don’t understand it.” Baroni said.

As a promoter, Coker prefered to see his fighters in the limelight. The fact that Scott Coker prefers to stand behind his fighters motivates Baroni more.

“If you look at the Strikeforce fights, it was Frank Shamrock vs. Phil Baroni, or it was Frank Shamrock vs. Cung Le. It wasn’t Strikeforce a hundred and whatever, it was about the fighters, not the promotion!” Baroni said. “When Coker came to me after Pride, it meant something, it motivated me, ‘Now I want to repay that faith and make him[Coker] happy he is in the ‘Phil Baroni’ business.”

A good showing in his promotional debut would certainly secure that faith. However, win or loose “The New York Bad Ass” already has plans to drop in weight and fight at 155 lbs. Baroni claims he could have made the weight for his debut with Bellator, however he “could’t say no to a big name like Karo.” A fighter he not only respects, but recognizes as a legitimate threat. “Karo is coming off a big win, he is a real tough dude, the guy was one of the best in the UFC for a long time.” Baroni said. “I know he had some personal issues in the past, but he seems past all that now, and looked strong in his last fight.”

This fight will also be the first test for Baroni’s surgically repaired ankle. The long recovery from the injury has tested him mentally and physically. A test he would have never passed without the help of his loving wife Angela. “She didn’t give up on me, and she held it down while i was recovering!” With her support he has been able to continue fighting, and again looking to regain his former form.

A return to OKG Gym in Las Vegas is another reason for the drop to 155. “Nick told me if I wanted to come back to OKG I had to prove to him I was serious.” With his injures healed, and his weight in check it appears Baroni has passed all of the test he needed, now he needs to parlay that confidence into a great performance.

Although confident about his chances again, Baroni understands he may have to win over the pundits. “I’m not stupid, I know what the critics say” Baroni lamented. “They think I’m washed up, especially coming off the injury, but the public didn’t really see my fights in One FC, and the critics don’t see me training hard everyday. That is why this is also an opportunity for me to reintroduce myself to the American MMA fan.” Baroni said.

A win over Parisyan on national television would certainly go a long way to regain that notoriety. A loss however, would not define him. Guys like Phil Baroni are cut from a different cloth. His interests carry outside the world of fighting, and he currently owns his own business along with partner boxer Paulie Malignaggi (Future Legend), and also spends a lot of his time helping charities raise money.

“Recently I started volunteering for the One Step Closer Foundation that works with families of and individuals with, cerebral palsy.” Baroni’s nephew Christopher is one of the children who receives assistance from the charity. “I see first hand how hard it can be financially on families, it breaks my heart to see people like my sister struggle to afford things they need.” Baroni said. The charity utilizes the fighters loyal fan base to help raise money through events like their charity poker event which raised $63,000 that directly helped those in need, those like Christopher.

Baroni wears a green armband in support of the charity, and if you would like to make a donation please visit their site at: http://www.onestepcloserfoundation.org

The future for Phil Baroni will be defined by Phil Baroni, not by the critics. His legacy is secured in the concrete memories of the true fan, alongside the Chuck Liddells and Randy Coutures. He may not have won a title (Yet!), but his popularity can never be questioned. Despite what anyone may say, he is and always will be “The Best Eva!”

Make sure you watch Phil Baroni at Bellator 122 on July 25th, when he takes on Karo Parisyan. The fight will be live on SPIKE TV Check you local listings or log on to Bellator MMA.

 

You can follow: Phil Baroni on Twitter: https://twitter.com/philbaroni

Phil Baroni is Sponsored By: Future Legend http://www.futurelegend.co/ a company he owns with Boxer Paulie Malignaggi.

He Trains out of One Kick Gym in Las Vegas http://onekickgym.com/index.html

Phil Baroni would also like to thank the following:

Havoc Boxing for making “The best boxing robe in the business” Phil is their First MMA Sponsored Fighter Following the Likes of Diego Corrales and Sugar Shane Mosley

Tracy from Affliction Clothing,

Garden of Life Raw Meals

Lana’s Egg Whites

Special Thanks: to Chiat Sityodtong from Evolve Singapore.

 

The Fight To Stay Away: BJ Penn’s Cautionary Tale of Retirement Teaches Valuable Lesson.

Photo: Courtesy of Bob Fisher www.pugilpix.com

Photo: Courtesy of Bob Fisher http://www.pugilpix.com

By: Jonathan M King The Clinch Report

When the itch returned long after the scars faded, BJ Penn certainly felt confident. When the fight was announced and the The Ultimate Fighter began filming, he looked to be in great shape.

Were we seeing a rededicated BJ Penn? A champion reincarnated, back to rebuff his already stellar reputation. Could the legend rise again?

Before the show aired many wondered allowed, “Could he even make 145 lbs?” Then when the show did air we saw a very slim and apparently rededicated Penn. His training looked to be on point, his diet was under control (thanks to Mike Dolce) and he looked better than ever. For a guy who had a hard time making weight at 170 and 155lbs, Penn seemed to ready for Frankie Edgar.

Then the door closed. After the first salvo of strikes were fired it became apparent that the itch should have remained unscratched. Penn never looked comfortable and appeared like he wanted to be anywhere but in that cage. The instincts he relied on in the past betrayed him. All Penn could do was minimize the beating by relying on defensive tactics. He simply stopped throwing punches.

Frankie Edgar punctuated their 3 fight history with the finish he so yearned for. Edgar dominated the first 2 rounds, with his superior movement and power takedowns. Penn was never able to mount any offense from his back, and eventually in the 3rd round, after busting him up with elbows and punches, Herb Dean called a stop to the action.

Still, the legend rose. Refusing to stay down, a battered Penn popped back to his feet as soon as the fight was stopped. Not in protest, but because he is a true champion, and true champions are never down long.

Many will question the gameplan. Why was he standing so erect? Why wasn’t he able to step on the gas? The answer is Frankie Edgar. Its not just his clever nickname, its also the reason Penn lost. Penn maybe the legend, but its obvious he is no longer a world class fighter. Frankie Edgar, however showed the level differential between good and great. The win will certainly cement Edgar’s future title hopes, as he continues to chase the 145 lbs crown.

BJ Penn, however remained true to his prefight word and informally retired from the sport for the second time. The one sided beatings that ended Penn’s storied career (Diaz, MacDonald, and Edgar respectively) will fade from our memories. The bad performances will be excused, and instead we will remember one of the toughest fighters who has ever competed. BJ Penn fought in 5 divisions (145-205lbs) and wore two divisional belts (170lbs 155lbs). He is a lock for the UFC hall of fame, and although no longer known as Baby J he will always be known as the Prodigy.

Hopefully other fighters approaching that stage of their careers were watching. The itch will never go away being a fighter is mentality, not an occupation. Soon the fight is no longer in a cage, but with yourself to stay out of one.

By: Jonathan King The Clinch Report

Photos By: John Walsh The Clinch Report

You are a product of your environment. Where you come from has everything to do with who you are and who you become. The early stages, the developmental stage of life needs to be met with a family environment in order to thrive. For fighters this infintile juncture is also the most important. Often talent gets snuffed out before it has a chance to blossom because of confidence issues, gym egos, or lack of focus. Each fighters personality has to gel with the entire gym, otherwise cliques develop and factions arise.

At Systems, the team dynamic is the most important common theme. This is not a gym for individuals motivated by inflated egos.

The team concept is evident as soon as you enter the doors at Systems Training Center in Hawthorne, CA. During pro practice, the fighters children play nearby as daddies and mommies beat the holy hell out of each other. Although a cohesive unit, where everyone loves everyone, the old adage applies iron sharpens iron. With owner Marcus Kowal and coach Ian Harris leading the charge, Systems has several fighters on the verge of making it to the big show, and a few who are already fighting in big shows.

John Robles (7-3 MMA 0-1 WSOF) has already fought once for the World Series of Fighting, where he lost a decision to UFC veteran Jared Papazian. Robles is a hard punching striker, with a great chin and forward moving mentality. Now fully healed from a few nagging injuries, Robles is ready to finish the year strong, and looking to fight before the end of the summer.

Christos Giagos (9-2 MMA Tachi Palace 155 lbs Champion) is one of those guys that just looks like a fighter. He has wrestler build, but with a Leno-like chin. He utilizes a great combination of jujitsu and wrestling on the mat, to secure some pretty slick submissions. On his feet his power is evident. In his last fight, he defeated a very tough Sevak Magakian via triangle choke in the very first round;  securing his first major world title at Tachi Palace. Giagos is looking to possibly fight for the RFA title before the end of the year, but nothing a contract is not in place yet. One thing is certain though, the UFC is paying very close attention. Already on their radar, Giagos intends to stay ready to fight in case that phone rings.

Terrion Ware (11-2 MMA Bamma USA 135 lbs Champion) is another fighter who is playing the waiting game. Riding a 6 fight win streak, Ware has torn through the SoCal ranks, and is one of the top pro prospects in the state. Currently the Bamma USA bantamweight champion, Ware is also slated to fight for the Tachi Palace belt against former Bellator Champion Joe Soto. A win there would all but guarantee a trip to the UFC.

Systems has a very busy month ahead, with training camp in full swing for several fighters preparing for fights on the horizon. Each morning this family gathers, then they punch each other in the face, happily. After all “the family that kicks the crap out of each other stays together right”?

You can be sure that the waves they are making in the fight world will continue to grow. However, remaining true to their identity is the key to their success. As the future brings more and more success, you can be certain that family atmosphere will never change.

 

 

 

 

 

As Much as We Love Him, Chael Sonnen Needs To Disappear, At Least For A While!.

chael

Photo courtesy of THE UFC

 

By: Jonathan King The Clinch Report

Commentary:

“He cheated, he did drugs, and he gave himself cancer. Well, instead of saying ‘Hey listen, I cheated and gave myself cancer, don’t be like me,’ he actually made himself the victim and then went out and profited something like $15 million from this ‘Hey, poor me, let’s find a cure for cancer’ campaign instead of just coming clean and saying, ‘Look, here’s what I did, I screwed myself up, and I hope people learn from my mistakes.’

-Chael P. Sonnen on Lance Armstrong

We shouldn’t be surprised or should we? The first failed drug test was an indication, wasn’t it? Or did we just fall for the excuse? The facts are in by using his own words, Chael Sonnen (who recently retired from MMA) is a cheater. The first failed drug test was blamed on his TRT exemption. Since being made illegal, Sonnen claimed his first ‘hot’ test was not a surprise. In fact, he stated he looked forward to enlightening the commision on the proper way to come off of TRT treatment.

The first test, (which prompted Sonnen’s retirement) was blamed on drugs that were necessary to ween himself off of the TRT therapy. Then news broke this week that Sonnen in fact failed another test, that was conducted by NSAC. A test that was performed previous to the earlier test. Results for some reason were just lagging behind. The second test removed all doubt as to Sonnen’s intentions.

The second failure set off alarms because of the presence of EPO and HGH. Both are banned substances, and both cannot be confused for “weening therapy”. EPO has long been used as a performance enhancer, because of its ability to help increase the oxygen load of red blood cells. HGH, which became famous during the Balco scandal, is used to speed up recovery time, and to help build muscle.

Neither can be confused as anything but performance enhancers.

This latest evidence proves that Sonnen’s intentions were to improve performance. Despite what he may want you to believe. The facts are he was taking the same substances Lance Armstrong was using, and the fact that he has hasn’t admitted anything yet; makes him as guilty as the man he villainized.

With Sonnen no longer actively competing in MMA, one must wonder if these latest revelations will prompt some sort of disciplinary action from either The UFC or from Fox themselves. As a commentator Sonnen is one of the best. His brash attitude, and quick wit make him a standout at Fox, not just among fighters, but among main stream sports casters as well.

His status and potential must however be put aside, at least for now. His recent actions have hurt the credibility of the sport, and that cannot be allowed by the UFC or its partners. Although he is clearly the best fight commentator, Dominick Cruz, Kenny Florian and Brian Stann could all adequately fill his shoes, while Sonnen rode out a suspension. However the suspension would have to be a significant one, one that allows time to remove the sting of Sonnen’s betrayal.