Posts Tagged ‘American Top Team’

By: Jonathan M King The Clinch Report

Champions emerge, by a culling of the common. A lone figure atop a mountain of vanquished demons. The UFC 194 main card exemplifies these laws of natural selection. A historic event with epochal implications. Simply put, if you are going to buy a combat sports PPV this year this is your huckleberry!

When Conor Mcgregor began his meteoric climb through he UFC rankings it became obvious that a matchup with Jose Aldo would be down the line. Once the fight was signed the hype train was derailed by an Aldo rib injury. Forcing McGregor to fight for the interim belt against divisional stalwart Chad Mendes, who he picked apart methodically. Now that Aldo has healed the fight appears inevitable, just days away and the excitement level could not be higher. Both fighters have fight ending-one punch power and can win in a host of different ways. The odds may determine a favorite but in actuality this fight is an absolute toss up!

The hype generated by this matchup alone is leaving some of the Hollywood elite without ticket options. When you add in the fact that the Weidman vs Rockhold middleweight title fight is the chaser for the featherweight shot on the marquee, you might want to consider a cab ride home.

The co main event might end up being the best fight on the card. Chris Weidman has been dominate since rising to the top of the middleweight division. Unblemished, his win over Vitor Belfort in May proved his durability as he withstood Belforts best punches before slamming him to the mat and swarming him for the finish. His opponent challenger Luke Rockhold may be his toughest test to date. Rockhold possesses a unique blend of speed and athleticism that translate well to all areas inside the cage, and his speed and length may prove to be a nuisance for the champion. Another even matchup that only odds makers could fine a margin of advantage.

Also on the card is a middleweight showdown between Yoel Romero and ‘Jacare’ Souza. The classic matchup of wrestler vs jiujitsu will be on display in this fight that will most likely decide the next title contender. Neither fighter has tasted defeat in quite some time, and when you add in the title implications this fight could be a closely contested battle that goes into deep waters. Standing both fighters have advantages, with Romero the stronger of the two fighters he will have a power advantage. However ‘Jacare’s’ ever evolving standup game with grant him with a significant technique advantage. Another very close contest on paper, that will produce a future contender.

Featherweights Max Holloway and Jeremy Stephens will face off in yet another intriguing battle. Both fighters are at a similar junctions in the title picture, teetering on earning a top 5 ranking. If either fighter is going to become a legitimate contender the time is now, and this fight will solidify that claim. Holloway is riding a 7 fight win streak since his decision loss to Conor McGregor, a run that showcased victories over Cub Swanson and Charles Olivera. In his way is one tough son of gun, Jeremy ‘Lil Heathen’ Stephens. Owner of some of the most powerful punches in the division, Stephens is coming of a big win over Dennis Bermudez and is also at the point where he needs to make some noise. At 29 and with alternating wins and losses, this is a huge opportunity for Stephens to steal some thunder by landing some lighting.

Rounding out the main card is welterweight fight that will also have title implications, featuring two grappling wizards. Both Gunnar Nelson and Demian Maia are absolute masters on the mat. Maia having a career resurgence at 170 lbs has been on a roll (pun absolutely intended) since finding a new weight class.  Outside of his close decision losses to Rory McDonald and Jake Shields, Maia has been nothing short of a menace inside the octagon. Fresh off a dominant win over Neil Magny, the Brazilian submission expert is yet again on the verge of another title shot. His opponent Gunnar Nelson will neutralize much of the ground advantage that Maia is used to enjoying over his opponents which could lure him into a slugfest. A grappling expert himself, Nelson also has some accurate hands. Should a toe-to-toe slugfest emerge, Nelson should maintain a significant striking advantage. However with those little gloves anyones lights can go out at anytime, so don’t blink.

However the card ends up, whoever wins, only time will reveal. Two champions will emerge but so too will claim staking contenders nipping at those champions heels. For in MMA you can only celebrate for as long as the champaign stays cold. Once those grapes go stale, the culling will continue. This card not only serves a holiday feast for fight fans, it also sets the table for the next banquet.

NOTE: Urijah Faber will take on Frankie Saenz in a must see fight on the undercard. Also Jocelyn Lybarger will be making her promotional debut against American Top Teams Tecia Torres. This is another promising fight that could produce entertaining results.

Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor For UFC Featherweight Title
Chris Weidman vs. Luke Rockhold For UFC Middleweight Title
Yoel Romero vs. Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza
Max Holloway vs. Jeremy Stephens
Demian Maia vs. Gunnar Nelson
UNDERCARD
Marcio Alexandre Jr. vs. Court McGee
Warlley Alves vs. Colby Covington
Kevin Lee vs. Leonardo Santos
Magomed Mustafaev vs. Joe Proctor
Urijah Faber vs. Frankie Saenz
John Makdessi vs. Yancy Medeiros
Jocelyn Lybarger vs. Tecia Torres

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By: Jonathan M King The Clinch Report

Photos By: John Walsh The Clinch Report

Once again the sights and sounds of Bellator MMA did not disappoint. Local fighters such as David Duran, Saad Awad, Keith Berry, Ray Sloan, and Fernando Gonzalez were all victorious while other fighters Karo Parisyan and Johnny Cisneros came up short on the Bellator 127 card.

Lesson 1.) In case anyone thought Daniel Straus was a pretender, they learned a valuable lesson! Straus solidified himself as the promotions #1 contender when he blitzed through Justin Wilcox as if he was standing still. The American Top Team product needed only :50 seconds to obliterate Wilcox, who at least on paper seemed like a good match up! The win catapults Straus into a showdown with current champion Patricio Pitbull.

Lesson 2.) Keith Berry showcased superior technique in his win over Joe Pacheco, however the bout was declared a split decision in what should have been a clear victory for Berry. Pacheco may have landed the heavier shots, but they were few and far between. Berry relentlessly pressured Pacheco and peppered him with his jab, sometime tripling up with success. Once again the judges who already screwed up one fight almost screwed up this one as well! (Note of interest Berry was 10 strikes away from the Bellator Record for strikes landed!)

Lesson 3.) Building off of lesson #2: I wonder how many more years have to pass before the CSAC realizes that one of their judging cures is right in front of their faces! Head inspector Chris Crail is probably one of the most qualified people in the entire state to judge a fight, however in CSAC’s infinite wisdom they have decided he would be better suited as a glorified valet. Maybe the inspector position should be reserved for people who can’t score a fight, lord knows there are plenty of them, some of them call themselves judges!

Lesson 4.) Stephan Bonnar and Tito Ortiz do not like each other. In case you were wondering. And just in case you forgot, Bonnar is a really charismatic guy who can work a stick almost as well as Chael Sonnen. Tito however, cannot! He can however shoot a double and pound out the best in the world. Hopefully the fight  cashes the checks these two are writing. Even if you think the hype is completely ridiculous you have to at least be slightly intrigued by this fight.

Lesson 5.) Rafael Silva is a beast, that eventually a champion will have to contend with.

Lesson 6.)  Shawn Bunch ( See lesson #5, same lesson)

Lesson 7.) Since Scott Coker has taken over the look and feel of the events have improved tremendously. Gone are the delays, and in their place a smooth machine that operates efficiently and fires on all cylinders. Coker and his team are building an incredible roster of talent that fuses the well known veterans, to the little known up and comers with pedigree, solidifying the future while entertaining the hell out of the present.

Videoed and Edited By: Bob Fisher Pugilpix

 

Liam McGeary (8-0 MMA) took another step towards a title shot, with an incredible highlight reel finish over a very well rounded Egidijus Valavicius (27-11 MMA). McGeary ate a few heavy shots early on, but walked right through them to instigate a nasty clinch that delivered heavy knees. Valavicius made it entertaining, by refusing to be outgunned. Although eventually he was.

McGeary bloodied Valavicius with a knuckles-crapping uppercut that painted the canvas red. The clinch assault then continued until Valavicius dropped. Follow up punches forced the referee to stop the fight, leaving McGeary again with his hand raised.

McGeary now brings his perfect record into the light heavyweight finals against American Top Team’s Kelly Anundson. A fighter with a completely different skill set than what McGeary has seen yet. However so far increased competition has only led to more victims for the Renzo Gracie fighter.

Training out of New York, the native Englishman brings a very marketable charisma that coupled with his knockout power will certainly carry him far in this sport!

by: Jonathan King The Clinch Report

 

Only a small percentage of gladiators lived long enough too fight in Rome. However every single one hoped too not only live, but those that embraced this barbaric path dreamed of fighting on the grandest of all stages the Roman Colosseum. Since then nations have risen and fallen, with that gladiator code still festering in the few who continued the fighting spirit.

Today the closest thing we have to the Gladiator is the mixed martial artist, and the UFC is the only stage as grand or at least comparable too the Colosseum. Like the warriors before Mike Bruno (11-4 MMA) and Vagner Rocha (7-3 MMA 1-2 UFC) have been in each others company previously, coming through the ranks. However with a 3 fight stint in the UFC only Rocha has tasted the nectar of the UFC gods, a thirst he longs for still, and one he shares with Bruno

Although it is a normal scenario for Howard Davis’s Fight Time Promotions to feature a young promising fighter, against a UFC vet trying to get back to the show. This fight is anything but ordinary. Bad blood fueled by a team split, jealousy, and smack talk has led too a genuine feeling of disgust shared by both fighters. “When Vagner made it to the UFC, I was extremely jealous, and being young I made the mistake of running my mouth” Bruno said. Before the Brookins fight, Mike Bruno was heard on the Rudolfo Roman Show begging Brookins “To smash” his former teammate.

A salvo that Rocha believes was from a jealous ex-teammate. “I have openly apologized, because I was in a bad spot, but he apparently he is interested,” Bruno said.  Animosity between opponents is common, however the war of words between the two has at times, become quite volatile. Recently Rocha called out Bruno for being a jealous boring fighter, that lacked any quality finishing skills. With Rocha becoming more aggressive, the war of words was back on and has become increasingly personal. “I was willing to let it go, and just be professional, but either way the outcome will be the same, with me smashing him,” Bruno said, seemingly content to let his performance speak for itself.

The match up of styles adds to the intrigue of this bout. Rocha the savvy Brazilian Ju Jitsu veteran, is slick on the ground and possesses lethal submission skills from any position. “I know he is world class on the ground, he used to train at Top Team”, Bruno said. “He also has a very tough chin”, said Bruno referring to Rocha’s UFC fight with title contender Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, who peppered Rocha for three rounds, before winning a unanimous decision. With his world class wrestling pedigree the younger stronger Bruno is not afraid to enter the Brazilians world. “I have no problem putting my wrestling against his jujitsu.” Bruno said.

As the promotion stalwart, Bruno has fought victoriously 4 times in Fight Time, and in the main event 3 times. Training daily with American Top Team has enabled Bruno to grow tremendously with MMA veterans such as: Mike Brown, Cole Miller, Hector Lombard, Stefane Dias (strength coach), Thiago Alves.  His arsenal continues to improve.

At the helm of this project is Mike’s older brother and UFC veteran Steve ‘Hollywood’ Bruno, who also recently began fighting with the promotion. As a dynamic striker Steve has chiseled away at his  younger brother, turning a power wrestler, into  a well round mixed martial artist capable and comfortable wherever the fight may go. “Steve has been an amazing mentor for me, not only as my brother, but he has a very high MMA I.Q., he knows the business inside out,” Bruno said. With both Bruno’s scheduled to compete on this card, its sure to be a family affair.

Fight Analysis: Besides his wrestling and improved striking skills, Mike Bruno is freakishly strong at 155 lbs. He is notorious for is Rampage-esque slams, and his relentless ground-and-pound attack. Once in a dominant position, Bruno’s hands drop like pile-drivers, at lighting speed. His elbows are lacerating, and they seem to finish beneath his opponents. Vagner Rocha is very experienced and on paper his jujitsu is more refined. He will look to capitalize on a mistake, and try to catch an over aggressive Bruno. Although a very close match-up on paper, it seems Bruno has several advantages, with Rocha only holding one.

Prediction: Mike Bruno via TKO rd 2. I cannot see Rocha stopping Bruno’s relentless power doubles, or his ground and pound.

 

 

In the world of Mixed Martial Arts, only a handful of gyms have consistently maintained a stable of champion fighters. Ricardo Liborio’s American Top Team since its inception has been one of the best schools in MMA. known for producing champions, the roster of fighters is littered with strap-holders and contenders in all organizations , and at every weight class. It must be something in the air in Coconut Creek Florida, that creates mixed martial arts legends. This environment directed by Liborio, and Marcus “Conan” Silveira, enables young talented fighters to be baptized by fire against  savy veterans. Lightweight Mike Bruno, is currently one these fighters earning his degree daily.

Born in Bensonhurst Brooklyn’s rough streets, Bruno’s family moved to Boca Raton Florida following his father’s retirement from the NYPD.  As a precocious youngster, like most younger brothers toughness was instilled early on. Watching professional wrestling inspired Bruno to use this desire competitively. As a high school wrestler, the competitive drive was fueled by inspiration . ” As a family we ordered UFC 3 on pay per view”, Bruno said. Following that event Mike and his older brother Steve just started “Doing all of the moves we saw on pay per view. Ken Shamrock and Marco Ruas where my favorites during the mid 90s when I started watching. Then I fell in love with Frank Shamrock, Kevin Randleman and Kazushi Sakuraba.” Bruno said.

His biggest influence in the sport, is his brother Steve. Steve Bruno began fighting as a professional in 2000. The following year the elder Bruno was fighting in the UFC. While watching his older brother fight, Mike thought, “I want to do this and I can do this , that was at age 15.”  Bruno said. With his interest growing, High School wrestling gave Mike the venue to set his foundation. Distractions arose, inspiration faded, and Bruno finished his junior year with a humdrum 20-10 record. His senior year was much different. “Watching a video called  ‘The Competitor Supreme’ by Dan Gable is where I developed the drive from to become a top-level competitor.” Bruno said. “I saw it while I was in training for my senior year of wrestling in high school.” The results were remarkable. That year Bruno wrestled his way to a dominating mark of 35-3, setting the school record.

With his high school days coming to an end, at 17 years old, Bruno decided that he was going to join American Top Team. However, like anyone else he had to pay his dues first. ” I met Ricardo Liborio and told him I want to be a pro fighter, Bruno said. “He told me to come to the regular classes that the paying customers go too”. At American Top Team your pedigree may get you recognized, but your talent and work ethic is what earns your spot as a professional fighter. For Bruno, that did not take very long at all.  “I took one regular class and submitted everyone, then Mr. Liborio told me that I could join the pro team.”

Since 2004, the younger Bruno has amassed a 10-4 MMA record. He has fought all over the world, and with each performance his style and power continue to evolve. Currently signed to Fight Time Promotions in Florida, Mike is looking forward to taking the next step. “I learn something everyday!” Bruno said.  “Working with pioneers such as Conan, and Liborio is an amazing feeling.” Being surrounded by some of the best fighters in the world helps a little too!

Bruno at times is still star struck by the amazing roster of fighters he trains with everyday. Besides his brother Steve, Mike trains regularly with an all-star cast of MMA royalty. With fighters such as Thiago Alves, Cole Miller, Hector Lombard, Gleison Tibau, Micah Miller, Mike Brown, and Brad Pickett testing him daily Bruno is now looking forward to take his place on the larger stages. “I see myself next year in Bellator or Strikeforce challengers.” Bruno said. No longer a rookie to the sport, the years have given way to a more mature fighter. “You grow up, mature and learn from your mistakes.” Bruno said. “I’m ready.”

With a fight already scheduled in February of 2012, Mike Bruno is ready to start the year off with another win. His trademark wrestling-infused ground and pound, always offers a glimpse into his dominant grappling days. However, the more mature fighter has added an updated striking game to compliment his already potent ground game. He will look to put those skills on display early on in 2012. “I am booked for Feb 17th and then again in April .” Bruno said.

In the fight game there are very few certainties. The revolving door of relevance, mirrors the short window of opportunity. There are no guarantees. The only things you can rely on are god given talent, ever evolving skills, and the team you surround yourself with.  Fighting is not a team sport, but training to fight is! You can only be as good as those around you. With the cast surrounding Mike Bruno, and the skill he has displayed thus far, it would be hard to bet against him!