oct11

By: Jonathan M. King The Clinch Report

Spar Star MMA Promoter Tony Padilla and Matchmaker Mel Robles Valenzuela have once again rewritten the local MMA playbook by booking the first ever CAMO  sanctioned WMMA bantamweight tournament. Four local women will stake their claim in the opening round of the tournament on Oct 11th at The Hollywood Park Casino.

The winners of each fight will move on to face each other in the finals, in late November, culminating in the first ever Spar Star MMA bantamweight champion. The first fight will feature Aiko Ewing vs. Farren Romero, and the second pits Danielle Mack against Paola Ramirez.

As the sport of mixed martial arts continues to proceed into the mainstream, it is the women who have recently picked up the torch and really turned heads with some of the best fights in recent memory. Supporting this progression at the grassroots level is what will ensure the long term success of Women’s MMA.  Promotions like Spar Star MMA recognize the need to feed the sport.

Continually showcasing talent such as Ashley Evans-Smith, Albert Morales, Andre Nickelson, Matthew Spencer and many others; the promotions relentlessly scouts local talent that consistently make waves in the pro ranks. By offering these fighters a chance, Spar Star MMA not only entertains it ensures the sports future. Make sure you come out to support some of Los Angeles’s finest local amateurs.

Oct 11th Spar Star MMA Hollywood Park Casino

The event will also be Streamed Live on the Internet for those who wish to watch from home!

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By: Jonathan M. King The Clinch Report

Photos By: John Walsh The Clinch Report

One of the most exciting aspects of covering mixed martial arts is watching a fighter develop. Watching young men and women transition past pedigree into the realm of contendership is very satisfying. At times it seems like you are on the ride with them.

So tonight make sure you tune in to the preliminary fights on http://www.Bellator.com, before the Spike TV broadcast takes over at 8pm ET. One of the sports top prospects Chris ‘The Cutt’ Honeycutt (4-0 MMA) will be making his promotional debut against Aaron ‘The Daywalker’ Wilkinson (11-6  MMA). Honeycutt is a former two-time NCAA finalist in wrestling out of the powerhouse that is Edinboro College.

Now training in Fresno CA with former collegiate teammate Josh Koscheck’s Dethrone Base Camp, Honeycutt burst on the scene as a series regular on “Fight Factory”, a show which showcased the lives of several fighters including Koscheck, Honeycutt, Phil Baroni, Ron Keslar, UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez, and many other of the fighters who train at either AKA or Dethrone.

Currently undefeated as a mixed martial artist, Honeycutt seems to be ready for the step up in competition. Wilkinson a former finalist on the Ultimate Fighter is certainly no stepping stool. ‘The Daywalker’ is 5-2 in his last 7 fights since his loss to Cody McKenzie at the Ultimate Fighter finale, and a win over the surging Honeycutt will certainly put his name on the Bellator MMA contender list.

Wilkinson should have a clear advantage in the technical striking area. However Honeycutt’s power, and smothering wrestling based attack should dictate the pace and location of the fight. If Wilkinson is unable to defend the takedown, he will be in for a very long night! Once Honeycutt is in a dominant position his power really shows. Like a new-age Mark Kerr, Honeycutt is a finisher. He is a shark, he can sense blood in the water, and his finishing instinct is scary. Scott Coker may not recognize the gem he is sitting on, but he will tonight!Crazy B

Prediction: Honeycutt via TKO Rd 1. When tomorrow comes, the MMA world will know his name!

Note: The fight will also be Honeycutt’s first at 170 lbs… Previously he fought at 185 lbs.

 

Bellator-125-Fight-PosterBy: Jonathan M. King The Clinch Report

Kickboxing legend and Mixed Martial Arts veteran Melvin Manhoef (28-11 MMA) is set to make his Bellator MMA debut against Doug ‘The Rhino’ Marshall at Bellator 125. Both men can end the fight with one shot, and both would prefer to stand and strike. A fight that has most MMA fans frothing at the mouth. Not because there is anything at stake, but simply because this is  a powder keg of a fight.

The well travelled Manhoef finds his way to Bellator MMA after successful stints in well known promotions such as Dream, Cage Rage, K-1, and most recently One FC. Now fighting in the United States, Manhoef hopes to make a big impression. “I want to show America who Melvin Manhoef is and I think Bellator is the perfect organization to let the fans enjoy my skills.” Manhoef said.

Manhoef transitioned from kickboxing to MMA years ago, and continues to fight in both disciplines today.  Although he has other kickboxing engagements already booked, make no mistake this is not a ‘one and done’ scenario for Manhoef. He has one goal in mind, and that is securing the Bellator MMA World Title. “I want to be Champion. This is my goal!” Manhoef said.

His first step towards achieving that goal is an extremely dangerous one. Doug Marshall may not be as technical as Manhoef in the striking department, but make no mistake he is just as dangerous. Marshall generates tremendous power in his punches, and can just as easily end this fight with one punch. Just ask Brett Cooper, who is known for having a granite chin. Marshall is that strong, and coming off of his suspension for PED’s he will be looking to make a statement.

With both fighters eager to stake their claims in a wide open division, its best to take Manhoef’s advice. “Don’t Blink!”

Prediction: Manhoef via TKO Rd 2 in one of the most entertaining fights of the year!

By: Jonathan M. King The Clinch Report

Many men and woman look the part, and act the part in Mixed Martial Arts. Time however inevitably exposes the hype. Categorizing the serviceable pro from the contenders, and relegating those who never live up to expectation into obscurity. The combat roads are littered with those who dared to believe their own hype, before creating anything more than raw ability. In the fight game toughness and god given ability will get you far, but not far enough.

Liam McGeary (8-0 MMA) is the latest fighter to find himself on that road. Complete with an endearing smile, charming accent, and a very aggressive style; McGeary has all the tools and the early success that could make him the next great light heavyweight. His last fight was supposed to be his toughest test yet. The Bellator brass wanted to see if there protege could stand up against a higher level opponent. His opponent Egidijius Valavicius (27-11 MMA) was far more experienced, and a tough dude who had fought some of the best in the business including Fedor Emelianenko.

The matchmakers at Bellator MMA had there plans thwarted as McGeary dispatched the veteran in just 2:10 into the fight. Utilizing his superior reach McGeary picked his way inside of Valavicius and tore through him with nasty elbows and knees forcing the stoppage. One question however was answered. McGeary ate a few big shots from Valavicius early into the round, and he walked right through them.

In answering those questions, McGeary also punched his ticket to move on in the light heavyweight tournament. His opponent in the finals will be toughest test yet for McGeary as he will face off with American Top Team’s Kelly Anundson (9-2 MMA). Anundson possesses some of the best wrestling in the division and that could be the focus of the fight. Will McGeary, who is primarily known as a striker, be able to withstand the relentless pressure that Anundson brings to every fight.

With a grappler as accomplished as Anundson its not a matter of if he will shoot for the takedown but when? Can McGeary stop them, certainly not all of them. This fight will eventually end up in Anundson’s living room. However if McGeary can get back to his feet, he is deadly in the clinch. So although Anundson has the wrestling advantage, he is going to have to walk through a hell storm of knees and elbows to finish the shot.

The key to victory for either fighter is being able to score in the opponents territory. If McGeary is on his back he has to be active with the strikes, in order to counter the methodical smothering of Anundson. For Anundson, it is imperative for him to score on his feet. He can not allow McGeary to manipulate the distance. If he does, he has a tendency to telegraph his shot, especially as he wears down. If he does, McGeary should be able to avoid, and counter with his superior striking.

In a weekend filled with fights, both Boxing and MMA this is the single most intriguing fight of the weekend, and one that cannot be missed!

The winner of the fight will face the winner of the Joey Beltran vs. Emanuel Newton fight, and vie for the Bellator MMA Light Heavyweight Championship of the World.

Prediction: Liam McGeary via TKO RD 2

 

 

 

oct11

 

 

By: Jonathan M. King The Clinch Report

Photos By: John Walsh The Clinch Report

Video: Courtesy of JT Media, LLC

UPDATE: Women Named for the tournament! 

Aiko Ewing vs Farren Romero will square off in the first bout, while Danielle Mack vs Paola Ramirez will face each other in the second opening round bout on Oct 11, at The Hollywood Park Casino. The winners will fight for the inaugural Spar Star MMA Womens Bantamweight Title which will take place Nov 29th at Spar Star MMA’s Thanksgiving Fight Weekend!

Tickets are available now!

Spar Star MMA Promoter Tony Padilla, and ‘Matchmaker Mel’ are putting together the first ever CAMO Womens Bantamweight Tournament. With the next two dates secured, the promotion is in prime position to put together a round robin tournament at the amateur level.

October 11th will feature the opening round as four women will enter the cage, each with a chance to move on to the November finals. On the line the inaugural Spar Star MMA Womens Bantamweight title, and bragging rights as the first ever CAMO sanctioned tournament winner.

The tournament is just the latest addition to what is shaping up to be an amazing fight card. Stay Tuned for more details!

Photo By: Bob Fisher Pugilpix.com

Photo By: Bob Fisher Pugilpix.com

By: Jonathan M. King The Clinch Report

A magazine that is not even worth sourcing, has labeled UFC President Dana White #8 on a list of the “Top 25 Sleaziest Men in Sports”. White is the meat in the sleaze sandwich with one piece of bread being that of an admitted cheater (Lance Armstrong #9), and convicted felon and alleged woman beater (War Machine #7), as the other slice according to the article.

The periodical aledges that White “underpays his employee’s, bullies his rivals and, generally impersonating Don King as a bald white guys doesn’t do wonders for his charisma.”

Breaking Down the Bullshit:

We can start with the first accusation. Although we have no idea what the UFC corporate workers make, the fighters are the highest paid fighters in the industry, and although mixed martial artists are vastly underpaid with respect to boxers and other professional athletes. The UFC still pays the most. That is why most fighter want to fight there. There pay structure is higher than any other promotion and have created the sports first multi millionaires. So to say he underpays his employees; at least on the fighters side is completely irresponsible. Simply because it is untrue.

Secondly White “bullies his rivals”, the author of this tripe may be confusing competition with “bullying”. Is Dana White brash? yes, he certainly is. Does he curse an awful lot for an executive? Yes he does. Does he meet his detractors and competitors head on? yes he does. Does that make him a bully? Absolutely not. Is he tough on his competition? Absolutely. Arent you supposed to be?

As the head of the UFC White is the target not only for soundbites by the media, but for the spears that all the ‘fly by night promoters’ hurl. With their “we are gonna be better than the UFC” mantras. White has even started some of these beefs himself, but not out of hatred but out of a competitive desire to succeed. White is a winner. Like Jordan, Bird, Rose, he’s not cuddly. Most winners are guarded, measured personalities that rarely break from competition. Does that make him a bully?

As far as “impersonating Don King as a bald white guy” is an obvious attempt at taking a shot at not only someone’s character but their appearance. Odd for an author who just accused his subject of “bullying”tactics, for these are the methods of  the bully. The author might also want to do a little research because he compared White to a convicted murderer, that now happens to promote boxing.

Dana White is a tough character to understand. He has been a huge advocate for the sport of mixed martial arts, and this article cites one jaded opinion without presenting any of the facts. The facts are simple and undisputable. Dana White has built a sport not single handedly, but collectively he has played a huge part. Since White has been in charge the sport has moved from back alleys to the back pages of the sports sections. Even those who dislike him profoundly have to admit his role has been crucial to the sports success.

No longer relegated to monthly PPV’s, the UFC has played a major role in bringing the sport to the mainstream. Leading that charge is Dana White. You may not like him or agree with him. He is at times a curmudgeon, often confrontational, and fiercely protective of his brand. You can rightfully accuse Dana White of all of these things. But he has other traits the author neglected to mention.

He is also guilty of donating tons of money and time for kids, he makes sure to spend time with the fans, and even engages and occasionally endears some of his detractors on twitter. However to refer to him as one of the “sleaziest” people in sports is pretty hacky. A pathetic attempt to push off TMZ-esque nonsense as actual news. Calling Dana White one of the sleaziest men in sports is a statement made by someone who knows nothing about sports or sleaze for that matter.

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.

 

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.