UFC 179 Preview & Predictions

It’s finally nice to see a contender go out and work their way back to the top for a rematch. Too many immediate rematches are given, even if a fight is one-sided or ends in a finish. For Chad Mendes, he’s hoping for a different result when he goes up against longtime champion Jose Aldo. Along with this fantastic main event, there are four other fights that bear analysis.

The first fight on the card pits Carlos Diego Ferreira against Beneil Dariush. Ferreira made his name known with a first-round submission win over Colton Smith and continued his improvement by knocking out Ramsey Nijem. Although the knockout was his first method of victory by his fists, his standup has grown and he boasts solid countering ability which I think will be the downfall of Dariush. Dariush last submitted Tony Martin with an arm-triangle choke in August and will be looking to take the fight to the ground and threaten Ferreira. Both fighters have excellent ground skills and a plethora of submission wins on their respective resumes. So of course, we’ll probably see a striking battle since neither man will get the fight to the mat. Due to that, I think Ferreira will do enough with his counters to score a decision victory.

The pick: Ferreira by split decision

Fight number two pits the grinding Darren Elkins against the streaking Lucas Martins. Elkins is coming off a loss to Jeremy Stephens where the difference in all-around skills was very apparent. While all of Elkins’ pressure and toughness can help him out of taxing situations, skills will come into play eventually. Simply put, I don’t think Elkins has the skills to deal with Martins. If Elkins cannot get this fight to the ground, there’s a good chance of his night ending early. Martins needs to keep this fight standing however he can. Elkins’ pace and cardio will be very tough to overcome, but after getting punched in the face a few times, that cardio could disappear quickly. Once again, I think counterpunching will make the difference and Martins will tag Elkins coming in and finish him.

The pick: Martins by TKO in the second round.

The third fight will most likely be a fan-friendly slobberknocker, which I can’t ever complain about. Surprisingly, Hans Stringer has more professional mixed martial arts bouts than Fabio Maldonado. Stringer boasts 30 fights while Maldonado has “only” 28. While that likely doesn’t make that much of a difference, the quality of fighters faced does play a factor. Maldonado has gone up against some strong names including Glover Teixeira and Stipe Miocic. This experience will push Maldonado ahead on my scorecard. It’s very hard for a training camp to replicate title contenders and Maldonado has firsthand experience with them. Most likely, these two will oblige each other on the feet and if this fight hits the ground, I would be surprised. If Stringer can get the fight to the ground, then he should be able to hold Maldonado down and pummel him from the top. But that’s easier said than done. The pace of Maldonado fights is like a less effective Diaz brother. All of the volume coming at Stringer is sure to cause problems with implementing his game plan. Without that game plan, this becomes Maldonado’s fight to lose.

The pick: Maldonado by unanimous decision.

This top-10 matchup is one I’ve looked forward to since it was announced. It will be the first fight for Glover Teixeira since his loss to Jon Jones, and the first for Phil Davis since his loss to Anthony Johnson. Both fighters are in a very similar spot, looking to get their names back into title contention with a big win over a heralded opponent. Glover Teixeira will need to get in close and negate the reach of Phil Davis. This plays right into the skillset of Teixeira as he loves to walk down fighters and exchange the whole way. If he can back Phil Davis into the cage and force him to fight off his back foot, then the wrestling advantage will disappear and Teixeira can look for a finish. However, if Davis controls the center of the octagon and jabs his brain out, he can control Teixeira and take him down at will. I really think the winner of this fight will be the one who can control distance and cage positioning. Without knockout power, Davis will have to work even harder to win this fight. Teixeria has shown that he hits hard in almost every fight, and I’m willing to bet that he finds the chin of Davis and walks him down. I expect a strong effort from Davis, but without proper power and technique, Texeira should beat him up on the feet and stuff his takedowns.

The pick: Teixeira by TKO in the 3rd round.

The main event is the fight I’m most excited for. Chad Mendes has earned his way back to the top of the featherweight decision and a title shot. With wins over Cody McKenzie, Yaotzin Meza, Darren Elkins, Clay Guida and Nik Lentz, Mendes has stayed busy and greatly improved his game. He now boasts a much stronger striking game compared when he first faced Aldo in early 2012. Four of those five wins were finishes, and he nearly finished Nik Lentz. Mendes has improved his angles, which bolster his accuracy greatly. He has become arguably the most well-rounded fighter in the division other than Aldo and I can’t wait for this improved version to test his limits against the champion. Jose Aldo is all about making his offensive output count. When he throws, he throws with wicked intentions and when the blow lands, it sounds like a piece of beef hitting the ground. This explosiveness is something that is impossible to mimic in the gym, even for a great organization like Mendes’ Team Alpha Male. Aldo’s combinations are always crisp and powerful. He always seems in a good position to accomplish something. Whether it’s pivoting away from a takedown or throwing a low kick, there is no wasted movement in Aldo’s game. That’s what Mendes needs to test. He needs to try and take Aldo out of his game and force him to fight in a new way. We saw Aldo on his back for a round against Mark Hominick and Aldo did not look very good. Chad Mendes has to replicate that for 25 minutes if he wants to win this fight. But pulling the trigger against a fighter who has a counter for everything and uses every part of his body is a tough assignment. Although he has greatly improved, I still don’t think Chad Mendes has enough to become the new featherweight king.

The pick: Aldo by unanimous decision.

By Andrew Jerrick

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Cat Zingano is the Next to Challenge Champ Ronda Rousey

The fight that was supposed to happen between “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey and “Alpha” Cat Zingano a year and a half ago is now finally going to happen on January 3rd, 2015.

Does Zingano have what it takes to unseat Rousey as bantamweight champ? To even consider challenging a well-rounded fighter like Rousey, you have to have something more than just exceptional striking and ground work, you have to have heart. In UFC 178’s fight versus Amanda “The Lioness” Nunez, Zingano showed the world that she has the heart of a champion.

Intimidation Clothing

It was a hard-earned win for Zingano after almost three brutal rounds, and a satisfied smile from Rousey watching in the stands says she wouldn’t want it any other way. Cat Zingano left little doubt that she’s the best contender for Ronda Rousey.  Many thought the ref would call the fight in the first round when Nunez gave Zingano a beating that left the 32 year old fighter barely defending, sitting on the mat and trying to coax Nunez into a ground battle, but Zingano wouldn’t give up. “I wasn’t done” she said of the first round in the post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. To the crowd’s amazement, she came back in the second round, seemingly uninjured even after an onslaught of head shots.   As Nunez’s energy and resolve waned, Zingano’s ramped up as she went for the ground and pound. The fight was stopped seconds after blood exploded from Nunez’s face under a flurry of heavy punches and Zingano stood to raise her arms in victory with an exhausted look.

She seemed nothing but eager in the post-fight interview, however, and that night UFC president Dana White announced, to the delight of UFC fans everywhere, that Zingano would be the next to challenge Rousey for the women’s bantamweight title in January.  Zingano was supposed to coach Ultimate Fighter 18 opposite Rousey but had to bow out due to a knee injury. Although disappointing, this allowed us to bask in the guilty pleasure that is the epic rivalry between Ronda Rousey and fellow MMA fighter Meisha Tate, who filled Zingano’s spot as the other coach.

After two losses for Tate against Rousey, Sarah McMann seemed the best contender to defeat the unstoppable armbar machine. She met her doom after 16 short seconds in the ring however, as Rousey showed the world that she can do more than just armbars and throws. Since then, the name Cyborg has been on every fan’s lips as the favorite to be next in line to take a shot at Rousey, that is until Zingano’s return was announced. Will Cat Zingano be a match for the champ? If it comes down to endurance and guts, yes.

As for the Lioness, Amanda Nunez has a bright future in MMA despite her loss. She showed us pure ferocity as well as technical skill in a fight that could have easily been scored in her favor right up until the end.


By Julie Ruddle
ProFightingFans.com & DFN Sports Staff Writer

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UFC 178 Preview and Predictions

UFC 178 features the first fight card in some time that I have been extremely excited to witness. From the main event down to the preliminaries, there are household names, champions, rivalries and more. Even with Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier being moved down the road, this card stacks up well on paper against any other in 2014.


The first fight on the main card pits the returning Cat Zingano against Amanda Nunes. Zingano was last seen in April of 2013 when she finished Miesha Tate in the clinch with knees and elbows. This clinch is going to be her key to victory in this fight. If Zingano can close the distance without being hit too often, then Nunes is going to be in a load of trouble. The pace that Zingano puts on can trouble the most conditioned of women in the bantamweight division. Nunes stands her best chance early in the fight if she can catch Zingano trying to tie her up. Perhaps an uppercut or short elbow would do the trick. In her losses, Nunes has faded and allowed her opponents to storm ahead. If she falters against Zingano, then she will be punished.

The pick: Zingano by 3rd round TKO.


Next up is a battle of middleweight contenders. Tim Kennedy is coming off the biggest win of his career when he decisioned Michael Bisping in April. A grinding wrestler with a sneaky power and submissions, Kennedy has primarily relied on his grappling and positioning to win him fights. On the other side, Yoel Romero is a flashy striker who is on a four-fight winning streak with three finishes. In fact, all but one of Romero’s eight wins are by some type of knockout. His game is based on landing thudding strikes and using the sprawl-and-brawl technique. It’s worth noting that Romero is also an Olympic silver medalist in freestyle wrestling. However, he has yet to face an opponent of Kennedy’s caliber in the octagon. I expect both men to have their moments in this very close fight, but Kennedy’s takedowns, ground-and-pound and submission attempt will win him the fight.

The pick: Kennedy by decision, and I wouldn’t be surprised in a split.


The middle fight of this card has been dubbed “The people’s main event” by Ariel Helwani and I would be tempted to agree. There hasn’t been so much hype around a fighter for years and that’s just the way Conor McGregor likes it. So far he’s talked about how he’s going to win fights and then goes out and proves himself correct. That’s the kind of hyping and trash talk I can get behind. These two men have been going at each other for some time and when the bell rings I expect both of them to start exchanging. When that happens, both men have a great chance to be successful. They throw a lot of different strikes at each other and are very diverse. If the fight hits the ground, I give an advantage to Dustin Poirer. McGregor’s two losses have been by submission and we’ve seen Poirer’s excellent scrambling game before. However, the fight starts on the feet, so McGregor has a great chance to land something big and hurt “The Diamond”.

The pick: McGregor by decision in a competitive, close bout.


A new addition to the UFC roster is looking to make an immediate impact against a UFC veteran on the best run of his career. Even though I sound like a broken record, this fight also looks to be a beat-em-up blast. Eddie Alvarez is coming to town and he’s looking for a title shot. First, he has to find a way through the slashing tornado of limbs that is Donald Cerrone’s arms and legs. “Cowboy” has alternated submission and knockout wins in his last four fights and this bout could continue the trend if Cerrone finds a way to submit Alvarez. That’s easier said than done though. Cerrone doesn’t shoot for takedowns often, but he fights very well off his back and has some of the best finishing instincts in the sport. However, hurting Alvarez is a different story altogether. Alvarez is an ex-champion who managed to regain his belt after losing to Michael Chandler in 2011. His drive and determination are second to none along with his boxing skills. This skills are the way that Alvarez can win this fight. Combinations and footwork are more of his strengths and they will have to be top notch to deal with the output of Cerrone.

The pick: Cerrone continues his alternating finish streak with a third round submission after hurting Alvarez.


I don’t understand the hate for Demetrious Johnson. He goes out and dominates fighters. Johnson reminds me slightly of Georges St-Pierre with his ability to make good fighters look average. Aside from a draw with Ian McCall (which was avenged) and a little bit of trouble against John Dodson, “Mighty Mouse” has looked phenomenal at flyweight, dispatching of each challenger with little trouble. Chris Cariaso looks to change that. Although he doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses, Cariaso also doesn’t have any outstanding strengths. There is no one skill that he has to threaten Johnson. Without a go-to weapon, I think Cariaso is going to look tentative and slow while he tries to adjust to Johnson’s speed advantage. Even if he does adjust, Cariaso is probably going to be down 20-18 or 30-27 and be forced to fight for a finish. That plays right into Johnson’s hands. “Mighty Mouse” can take advantage of over-aggression and mistakes better than anybody. Although Cariason doesn’t have much to lose and boasts and solid all-around game, the champion will retain his belt with another dominant performance.

The pick: Johnson submits Cariaso in the fourth round.

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UFC Fight Night 52 Main Event Preview: Mark Hunt vs. Roy Nelson

Every couple of months, a fight comes around that makes me glad that I became interested in this sport. Sometimes it’s a ground battle of superior submission artists. Sometimes it’s a five-round war between two unknown fighters that catapult their careers into the limelight. But this time it’s a clash of two men with rockets in their hands and brick-wall chins. I’ve guaranteed knockouts before and been wrong by a mile, but this fight has to end in a finish. It’s only right and fair and I would almost feel cheated if it didn’t because we all secretly want to see one of these fabled chins cracked.

Now I know that both of these fighters have been knocked out before, but the spectacle of seeing the heaviest-handed men in the largest division try and pummel each other to unconsciousness remains.

Mark Hunt’s situation is a little different than Roy Nelson’s. Hunt is coming off a fight of year contender with Antonio Silva where both men gave their best shots and took many in return. Before that, he was knocked out by a Junior Dos Santos hook kick after two rounds of bludgeoning. He’s on a decline. Hunt hasn’t had his chin tested this much during his career in such a short span of time. While Nelson has looked overmatched against Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic, his chin has held up in those contests. However, Hunt still holds an advantage over Nelson in the area where this fight is most likely to take place.

On the feet, Hunt has shown to have a much more diverse and effective striking game. He throws kicks to the legs and the head, which could surprise Nelson during the fight. Along with those are a multitude of hooks, jabs, straights and uppercuts. Hunt always looks comfortable while on his feet and if he uses this array of weapons, he can pick Nelson apart. However, he will have to watch out for the big overhand right of big country. Nelson has been knocking out contenders and pretenders with his right hand for years. and if Hunt gets lazy, Nelson will find his chin.

This brings me to my next point. Both men are extremely hittable. Junior Dos Santos can attest to that as he battered both men. In their losses, both fighters look overmatched against men who are quicker and more accurate. So if one man is able to use superior footwork and angles, I think that he would emerge victorious. Whoever moves straight back or stands flat-footed is going to get hit hard. I think that Hunt holds a slight advantage over Nelson in this department, but big county certainly has the skills to go toe to toe and win.

I’d like to mention that while there are fights between excellent stand-up fighters that become grappling battles, I don’t think this will become one. However, there is always a chance and I believe that the ground is where Roy Nelson has his best chance to win. It is often forgotten that Roy Nelson is a brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Renzo Gracie. Nelson won many fights in the early part of his career via submissions. He is surprisingly strong and can definitely take Mark Hunt down and put him in an arm-triangle choke. Hunt’s ground defense has definitely improved, but he hasn’t been forced to work and constantly defend off of his back. If Nelson looks to land ground and pound or a submission, then Mark Hunt might have a long night ahead of him.

Overall, I think that Hunt gets the job done on the feet and knocks out Nelson. Both men are pretty evenly matched on the feet but I believe the stubbornness of Nelson will prove his undoing.

The pick: Hunt by KO in the 2nd round.


By Andrew Jerrick
ProFightingFans & DFN Sports MMA Staff Writer

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UFC Fight Night Preview: Matt Brown vs. Erick Silva

When I was first becoming interested in MMA, I saw Chris Lytle submit Matt Brown with an impressive inverted triangle/straight armbar combination. From that, I got on the Lytle bandwagon and promptly forgot about Matt Brown. That was my fault. Brown eventually worked himself out of his funk and 18 months later began his current 6 fight win streak with a TKO victory against Chris Cope. Since then, he has continued to look impressive against consistently tougher opponents. His most recent victim was Mike Pyle in August of 2013. With that victory, he called out the champion at the time, Georges St-Pierre. Although he didn’t receive that title shot, he has received yet another step up in competition with Erick Silva.

While Silva is not on a winning streak like Brown, he is certainly Brown’s toughest opponent so far. Rebounding from an awkward knockout loss to Dong-Hyun Kim, Silva pounded out Takenori Sato in less than a minute. Since entering the UFC, Silva has been up and down. He has the skillset to blow by lower competition, but has struggled when his opponents sneak into the top 15 range. That isn’t to say that Silva couldn’t have won those fights. He nearly finished Jon Fitch and was winning the Kim fight until a spinning elbow and follow up punches ended his night.

When this fight was made, the bonus for “Fight of the Night” was virtually guaranteed. Both of these men go 100 percent in the octagon at all times. They’re not afraid to brawl or engage in a more technical battle on the feet. One of the main factors that will determine the winner is whoever sets the pace. From what we’ve seen, Brown enjoys stalking his opponents, constantly applying pressure and looking to make the fight dirty. This is going to be a problem for Silva who usually relies on short explosive bursts of offense that are easier to pull off when given some room to move. If Silva doesn’t improve his movement and gets stuck on the cage, he will most likely lose this fight. Brown’s clinch game is excellent. His elbows are lethal and a great tool that could make Silva’s night a short one.

However, if the fight goes to the ground, then the story is much different. Matt Brown has been submitted nine times in his career. Coincidentally, Silva has nine wins by submission in his career. His last one was against Jason High and was an inverted triangle armbar. Hmm, pretty similar to how Brown lost to Lytle. But, I’m not saying we’re going to see another crazy submission like that. Although the edge on the ground goes to Erick Silva, I think this fight will most likely be contested on the feet.

In all, this fight is going to be a fun one wherever it goes. There will be two guys who bring the action every second that they’re in the octagon. I think this is pretty much a dead even fight and if you’re a betting man, there might be money to put on Matt Brown, who is coming in as an underdog.

The pick: Brown by 3rd round TKO


By Andrew Jerrick
ProFightingFans.com & DFN Sports Staff Writer

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Jones vs Teixera Preview

The rise of Jon Jones has been of Cinderella quality. Starting by learning techniques from online videos to training with Greg Jackson at Jackson’s MMA, Jones has had a Hollywood career. The scariest part is that he still has room to grow. He’s 26 years old and already has made a case for best light-heavyweight in mma history and on his way to becoming one of the best fighters of all time. But the road doesn’t get any easier. Standing in his way is Glover Teixeira.

A man who has a record of 22-2 and a perfect 5-0 mark in the UFC, Teixeira is coming off of a knockout win against Ryan Bader back in September. In that fight, Teixeira was rocked and nearly finished by Bader before brutally ending his night early with a TKO victory. He probably won’t have those opportunities against Jones who is going to hold a substantial reach advantage. Teixeira’s best bet is to get inside and try and rough Jones up and hopefully catch him with an uppercut or one of those nasty hooks he landed against Bader or Fabio Maldonado. However, that plays into another strength of Jones: his clinch game.

We all remember the sight of Jones choking Lyoto Machida unconscious. Although a standing guillotine choke might not be the result of this fight, Jones will be able to control Teixeira in the clinch and can use his size and length to dictate where the fight goes. If he wants to utilize a sweep or throw, then he will. If he wants to land elbows or push away to put distance between them, he will.

Similar to all his other fights, Jones holds an advantage in virtually all important categories. However, coming off a tough decision win against Alexander Gustafsson in which he was finally threatened, Jones’ will and heart are going to be questioned. However, I think that these questions were answered in round four of that fight as he hurt Gustafsson with a spinning elbow and proceeded to win the final two rounds and the fight.

Jones will be the large favorite in this fight and with good reason. He’s good enough on the feet to keep Teixeira at bay. Jones’ leg kicks and teeps will annoy Teixeira and cause him to spend a large amount of energy throwing heavy punches and trying to close the distance. When he finally does get close enough, I think Jones will either circle out, or duck under and try for a takedown and work for a submission.

The only time Jones has been threatened on the ground was against Vitor Belfort when he was nearly armbarred from guard. But, he powered through and eventually submitted “The Phenom” with an americana. Even though Teixeira is a 2nd degree black belt, I don’t think he’s going to give Jones any problems with submissions or sweeps. When Jones has time to work, he produces results and he’s going to get another win under his belt on Saturday.

The pick: Jones by 3rd round submission


By Andy Jerrick
ProFightingFans.com Staff Writer

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Sao Paulo Brazil (March 31, 2014) – XFC International sprinted back to the airwaves last weekend on REDETV!.  XFC International’s third live event from Sao Paulo, Brazil drew millions of viewers and outperformed most of the other networks on Saturday night while maintaining momentum and continuing with it’s monumental growth.

XFC International President Myron Molotky described the enthusiasm shared by MMA fans worldwide “Latin America has been the ultimate proving grounds to establish the path of the Next Generation of Champions. XFC fighters understand this opportunity and are winning the hearts of the fans by fighting with a passion that makes the victories euphoric…and the losses unbearable.

In the Main Event, Luis “Sapo” Santos and Alfredo Morales battled for nearly three rounds. Santos triumphed over Morales with what may be the MMA Knockout of the Year. This fight marks Santos’ sixth consecutive win as he moves forward towards a championship fight with XFC.  (KO clip)

The Co-Main Event featured a full scale war between international rivals: Chile (Matias Vasquez) vs Brazil (Allan Nascimento). In the first and second round, the Brazilian had a noticeable advantage over Vasquez, working a cut over the eye of the fighter from Chile. The fight became a highlight video, with Nascimento finally finishing the brilliant Chilean by submission with only 40 seconds left.

The preliminary card had exciting fights, including the women’s strawweight division semi-final matchup and men’s middleweight quarterfinals. The Brazilians dominated the evenings portion of the season one tournament, with a clean sweep of their international opponents.

Eduardo Duarte, XFC International matchmaker, proclaimed XFCi 3 another resounding success. Duarte claimed “XFC has a long history of finding talented, yet undiscovered fighters. The tournaments in Latin America will allow fighters an opportunity to showcase their talents on Rede TV! and become the future stars that fans have been waiting to see.”

XFCi 4 Season One Semi-Finals will take place live from Sao Paulo Brazil, on April 26, 2014 at 00:30am Brasilia time/ 11:30pm Eastern Standard time on REDE TV and streamed worldwide at XFCMMA.com. For full results and photos from XFCi 3, visit www.XFCMMA.com/xfci3 

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Brazil gears up for XFCi 3 On REDETV!

Sao Paulo Brazil (March 24, 2014) – XFC International returns to Sao Paulo with world class fighters and match ups. Athletes from Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela and Colombia will face each other in the XFC Hexagon in the third installment of the XFC International Latin American tournament. XFCI 3 will take place live from Sao Paulo Brazil, on March 29, 2014 at 00:30am Brasilia time/ 11:30pm Eastern Standard time on REDE TV and will be streamed live Worldwide on XFCMMA.com

XFC International President Myron Molotky commented “MMA fans worldwide will witness the rise of new champions in XFCi 3 with the start of the men’s middleweight and women’s strawweight Latin American tournament on Rede TV!”

The Main Event SuperFight features Brazil vs. Mexico, when Brazilian XFC contender Luis “Sapo” Santos steps into the XFC hexagon against top contender Alfredo “Tsunami” Morales from Mexico in a three -round, welterweight bout when XFC International returns to Live TV on REDETV. This is Luis “Sapo” Santos first fight in Brazil since XFC 25…Sapo is on a 4 fight winning streak. In the Co-Main Event, contenders Matias Vasquez from Chile and Brazilian Allan Nascimento face off for a critical battle for supremacy in the XFCi 3 SuperFight flyweight division. The main card also features Mexican hero Julio Cesar Cruz (15-4) facing off against Brazil’s Thiago Rela (6-2) in a contest of up-and-coming middleweights.  In the women’s strawweight division, XFCi 3 will feature Chile’s Gloria Bravo (3-1) against Brazil’s Vanessa Melo (3-2).

XFCi 1 and XFCi 2 have provided highlight reels that have the passionate MMA fans worldwide anxiously awaiting the March 29, 2014 third edition of XFC International.

Molotky provided this insight “As we have seen in XFCi 1 and XFCi 2, the wins have been euphoric for these fighters, while the losses have been equally devastating. Our fighters know what is at stake and are hungry to take advantage of the opportunity to showcase their talents in front of a massive television audience on Rede TV!”

About XFC and XFC International – The XFC (Xtreme Fighting Championships) is a premier International MMA organization founded in 2006, based out of Tampa, Florida with offices in Michigan, New York, Ft. Lauderdale, Sao Paulo- Brazil, & Buenos Aires- Argentina. The XFC is known for entertaining fans with some of the most action packed MMA events on television! Showcasing both Male and Female fighters, the XFC boasts finding and building the names of the next generation of MMA fighters. XFC has produced stadium fight cards throughout the United States, Greece, and now Latin America.

On February 8, 2014, XFC International produced its inaugural event XFCi 1 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. XFCi 1 was one of the highest rated programs seen on Rede TV.  XFC has also established attendance records with events drawing over 11,000 fans to the St. Pete Times Forum. www.xfcmma.com

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Inaugural Driven MMA Event Boasts Ohio’s Best Fight Card of 2014

Only time will tell what the much-anticipated UFC Fight Night in Cincinnati this coming May will bring, but for now, “Best Fight Card of the Year in Ohio” honors unofficially go to Driven MMA and it’s inaugural all-pro event which took place Saturday at the Canton Memorial Civic Center.  While the “Driven MMA” name may be unfamiliar to the MMA faithful here in Ohio, the people behind the name are sure to be well-known.  “Powered by the NAAFS,” including NAAFS owner Greg Kalikas and matchmaker Nicole Long-Castillo, Driven MMA will be the all professional arm of the promotion, while the North American Allied Fighting Series will remain focused on amateur action.

Following an undercard with something of interest for virtually any MMA fan in Northeast Ohio, Driven MMA included 6 more marquis events including the successful professional debut of WMMA phenom Jessica “The Zombie” Zomcik, a triumphant return to Heavyweight for crowd favorite “Big John Hawk,” as well as a powerfully validating submission victory for native son, Antonio Castillo Jr.


Driven MMA Main Card:

Bout 7: 140 lbs – Summer “The Critter” Bradshaw 0-1 (Pariah MMA) vs Jessica “The Zombie” Zomcik 0-0 (Evolve MMA)

Summer “The Critter” Bradshaw came out fighting long, fearless and straight- ahead, showing great confidence in her stand up, especially against such a highly touted prospect as Zomcik.  There was very little feeling out process as both ladies exchanged punches aggressively but in a measured balance.  At times, it looked as if the reach of Bradshaw prevented The Zombie from implementing her striking game, but that concern was short-lived as Zomcik showed supreme confidence in her ground game by pulling guard with lots of time left on the fight clock, and working hard for an armbar submission.  After a brief attempt at an ankle lock, The Zombie sunk in a second, this time much deeper attempt at an armbar which resulted in her opponent tapping out in considerable pain.  Overall, an inspired performance by Zomcik, and one that will have any opponent thinking twice about going to the ground against this jiu-jitsu stylist.


Bout 8: 145 lbs – Ricky “Mountain Man” Musgrave 11-4 (Pariah MMA) vs Frank “The Tank” Caraballo 12-6 (Fearless Fight Team)

Cleveland native Frank Caraballo was first to strike just enough to avoid a pattern of retreating, but he was at his best when he was counterpunching against the talented but occasionally over-aggressive Musgrave. Caraballo fought a smart fight and in my opinion won the battle of the hands albeit often while moving backwards.  The fight was punctuated by some very good attacks by each fighter including a head kick early in round 2 by Muscgrave which scored but failed to deter Frank the Tank who briefly dropped Muscgrave later in Round 2 and showed some good spinning attacks in addition to his superior counter punching.  Both fighters turned in some spirited ground fighting and some good back and forth action, a very close fight. The judges seemed to be swayed more in favor of aggression and output than technique and efficiency in handing Muscgrave a Spilt Descision victory.  This one takes my unofficial fight of the night honors, a very close fight with no real loser.


Bout 9: 265 lbs – William “The King” Penn 7-3 (Independent) vs “Big” John Hawk 8-5 (Strong Style Fight Team)

The early, all-out assault fromWilliam “The King” Penn was fast and furious and powerful. Hawk stood squarely in harms way and traded blows and though he took the worst of several big exchanges, he persevered until he put Penn against the cage, grounded him and began to inflict some punishment of his own.  One had the sense that Hawk’s determination, cardio and heart were turning the tides by the end of the first, but he would have to weather a rested opponent again after the bell to answer rounds 2 and 3.  Hawk started to land some good uppercuts inside and mostly managed to impose his will and fight the fight on his own terms.  Gaining one final takedown toward the end of round three, he cemented his victory eventually taking his opponents back but running out of time to set up the choke. Overall a well-executed fight plan that played to Hawk’s strengths and a well-deserved, unanimous victory


Bout 10: 145 lbs – Wes “Limp Noodle” Lane 3-2 (Butch Hiles BJJ & MMA) vs “The Mexican Muscle” Antonio Castillo Jr 7-4 (Midwest Training Center)

Canton’s own Antonio Castillo Jr. set the tone early with some hard kicks and one of his patented body slams. In spite of a spirited effort by Wes Lane, Castillo was in charge at every term, dominating the striking and the wrestling and simply outclassing his opponent on every level. In this, as well as other fights Castillo appeared to have a strength and cardio advantage over his opponents and seems very powerful for his size.  Two beautifully executed head kicks added excitement and style points to what was a very satisfying submission victory for the Canton resident and product of Toledo, Ohio.


Bout 11: 205 lbs – Rodney “Shonuff The Master” Wallace 19-7-1 (Team R.O.C. Charlotte) vs Maxim Grishin 15-6 (Strong Style Fight Team)

UFC veteran Rodney Wallace wasted no time in dumping an unsuspecting Maxim Grishin squarely on his nogginearly in Round 1, and established dominance in the striking both with some good hands and a massive head kick that Grishin ate and walked through essentially unphased. Grishin began to turn the tides when he put the fight against the cage and got a critical takedown with time left to work in Round 1. A beautiful Judo throw to earn the takedown in Round 2 put Grishin in control, though not much happened the rest of the fight.  The difference in this one was Grishin’s ability to get up when taken down coupled with his ability to maintain top control when he earned takedowns. Overall, this one was an unconvincing, split-decision victory for Maxim Grishin.


Bout 12: 175 lbs – Dominique “Nonstop Action Packed” Steele 10-4 (Vision MMA) vs Dan “The Handler” Hornbuckle 20-7 (ATT WarHawks)

And finally, in the Main Event of the evening,Ohioan Dominique Steele faced fellow Bellator veteran and one-time top welterweight contender Dan Hornbuckle in what was a landmark victory for Steele who is riding a recent wave of success. The kicks of Dan Hornbuckle were a big difference in offensive output, but the punching, takedowns and ground and pound were in favor of Steele, who probably inflicted the greater damage.  Missing were Hornbuckle’s jiu-jitsu stylings of old, as Steele seemed to nullify the once creative and highly entertaining submission game of fan-favorite Dan Hornbuckle.  One could argue that Northeast Ohio is equally hostile territory for Cincinnati native Dom Steele as it would be for say, a Cincinnati Bengal, however; native’s of the Buckeye state have been warned to take note of Steele’s meteoric rise of late and start showing some love for our own, at least when he’s not fighting another NorEaster.

All in all, it was a magical first night for newly-minted Driven MMA.  Everything was just a little bit bigger, better, and brighter and one can only hope there is more of the same to follow.


By Joe Millin
Staff Writer, ProFightingFans.com

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Driven MMA Undercard Delivers Something for Everyone

Six professional bouts of intense local interest made up the undercard for the inaugural Driven MMA event at the Canton Memorial Civic Center Saturday night.  Local favorites Isaiah Chapman, Kyle Rosewski, Reggie Parks, George Comer and Curt Lemmon earned victories, while local favorite Dustin Kempf gave fans reason for encouragement even in a loss, in returning to the cage for the first time after yet another injury sidelined him many months ago.  West Virginia’s “Wild Wild” Wes Hanson added some flash with a slick submission win over Ohioan Louis Johnson in a night that delivered something for everyone of the Ohio MMA faithful.


Driven MMA Preliminary Card:

Bout 1: 265 lbs – Curt Lemmon 1-0 (Dungeon MMA) vs Ryan “The Rhino” Walls 2-0 (Peak Submission)

Heavyweights, Kurt Lemmon and Ryan Walls kicked off the undercard with a hard-fought battle of attrition that was contested mostly in the clinch and on the ground. Lemmon was a relentless, systematic grappler with a brutalizing clinch game while Walls was the more explosive striker in the early going. Round one was essentially a toss up. Referee Mark Matheny’s instincts were perfect in breaking up the cage hugging and while it looked as if Walls might rally a comeback, the crafty Lemmon had pulled the more explosive fighter into deep water where he would eventually drown him by TKO due to strikes in the last seconds of Round 2.


Bout 2: 170 lbs – Reggie “The Contract Killer” Parks 2-1 (Ronin Fight Team) vs Kenny “The Gorilla” Booker 2-1 (Midwest Training Center)

Thirty-nine year old Reggie Parks returned to the cage to face Bellator veteran Kenny Booker in what was perhaps the most closely matched, as well as controversial bout of the evening. Three rounds of back and forth striking, takedowns for both fighters and fairly well-matched grappling exchanges made for a fight without much advantage on either side.  Parks was the aggressor in most exchanges and significantly outworked Booker most of the fight, but was also the culprit in a rather egregious illegal knee to the head which seemed to take some of the starch out of his opponent for the balance of the contest. Only in the final seconds of the 3rd round when Booker appeared to stagger Parks was either fighter significantly in trouble. In spite of giving up a point in the 2nd round, Parks prevailed on the judge’s scorecards winning a razor tight split decision 29-26, 28-27 and 29-28.


Bout 3: 145 lbs – Louis “Light Speed” Johnson 2-0 (Team Carlson Gracie) vs “Wild Wild” Wes Hanson 1-0 (Leon Ramsey’s Dawghouse Gym)

The always sensational Wes Hanson and Louis “Lightspeed” Johnson set a break-neck pace in a lively display of free-style wrestling punctuated with wild scrambles, slick reversals and aggressive “go for broke” submission attempts.  Hansonexpertly wrapped up a guillotine with all the style and technique of his Team Alpha Male training partner Uriah Faber, ending the fight as quickly and decisively as a flash knockout.


Bout 4: 145 lbs – Kyle “Kyote” Rozewski 3-3 (Evolve MMA) vs Dustin “The Reaper” Kempf 6-6 (Instigator Fight Team)

Local favorite Dustin Kemph from Carrollton, Ohio drew perhaps the loudest applause of the evening but ended up on the wrong end of a very slick and artfully executed triangle choke at the hands of Evolve MMA’s Kyle Rosewski. Ring rust may have been a factor in the much-anticipated return to the cage for Kemph who appeared shocked when he woke up to the face ofreferee Jerry Krzys instead of his already celebrating opponent.  Polite in victory but confident enough to put the division on warning, “you go to sleep on me, and I’ll put you to sleep,” was Rosewski, whose ground game appears to be technically stellar.


Bout 5: 155 lbs– Anthony Morgan 3-0 (Dayton MMA) vs George “Bonesaw” Comer 3-1 (GriffonRawl)

Anthony Morgan simply had no answer for the takedowns and top game of Mount Union wrestling standout, George Comer.  To his credit, Comer was not content to grind out a decision victory, but worked hard for the finish after dominating the first two rounds, eventually softening up his opponent with elbows and submitting him with a nasty arm triangle.


Bout 6: 135 lbs – Charles “Trinity” Stanford 4-1 (G-Force MMA) vs Isaiah “The Beast” Chapman 4-1 (Rock Hard MMA)

Charles “Trinity” Stanford did well to survive the initial storm early in Round 1, one of the many challenges any opponent of the physically gifted and well-rounded Isaiah Chapman must face.  But unlike other heavily-muscled fighters, Chapman did not fade in spite of having to contend with a significant reach advantage enjoyed by Stanford who fought long and used his length to his advantage. Stanford fought a crafty, smart fight and seemed to stick to his game plan admirably.  Chapman, however, was simply the stronger, more gifted athlete, and eventually gained a preponderance of advantage from which Stanford was unable to recover, in spite of several brief surges in which he threatened to turn the momentum in his direction. Both fighters turned it on at the end, but Chapman won a unanimous decision.  Isaiah was back after a serious shoulder injury and the local crowd was thrilled to see him looking fit and in top form. It was almost a year since he last fought, suffering a dislocated shoulder in the early part of his first and only professional loss.

Six more professional bouts made up a star-studded main card including both local and national talent.  For a recap of the main card, see:  www.profightingfans.com


By Joe Millin
Staff Writer, ProFightingFans.com

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