It was just easier to choose two recipients for our fighter of the year award for 2013, especially when the year in MMA was full of angry Brazilians, California kids, a mighty flyweight and of course an all-American who dethroned a certain king.  There were so many great individual performances that having just one winner didn’t seem right.  Here are Pro Fighting Fans’ choices for 2013’s Fighter(s) of the Year.

Demetrious Johnson (UFC Flyweight Champion)

He’s little but there is nothing little about the huge year that Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson had in 2013.  It was his first full year as a UFC champion and he certainly made it count.  He started it off by getting a unanimous decision victory over TUF 14 winner John Dodson.  Johnson was pushed to the limit in the bout and was even dropped at one point.  However, he persevered and his hand was raised when the final bell sounded.

Then in July the flyweight champion had another stiff test in relative newcomer John Moraga.  Johnson was winning the fight soundly, and when most fighters would have been happy with coasting the rest of the fight, he was still looking for the finish in the 5th round.  Well, he found the finish and locked up an impressive armbar that forced Moraga to tap with less than 3 minutes to go in the last round.

He could have taken some time off and his bosses would have probably been ok with that, instead Johnson decided to give Joseph Benavidez the rematch he so deserved.  The two had met in 2012 to determine the inaugural flyweight champion and obviously Johnson came out on top.  Heading into their 2nd bout many people thought Benavidez would be able to make the necessary changes to be crowned the 125lb champion.  Once again Demetrious Johnson silenced his critics with a shocking knockout of Benavidez in the very first round.  The victory gave him his third successful title defense in a year and was definitely enough to secure him as Pro Fighting Fans Fighter of the Year.  We can’t wait to see what he can accomplish in 2014!

Vitor Belfort (UFC Middleweight Contender)

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, 2013 was a year for angry Brazilians and one in particular, Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort.  Before I recap his impressive year I must say this, sure Belfort uses TRT, and that very well could give him an edge, but until it is banned from the sport it is legal.  I also don’t think it should overshadow the incredible year Belfort had.

In January 2013 he faced Michael Bisping at UFC on FX 7 in Brazil.  Bisping was looking to catapult himself back into the 185lb title picture, and Belfort didn’t get the memo.  Vitor came out in the 2nd round headhunting and found what he was looking for less than 2 minutes into the round.  He landed a perfectly placed head kick that put Bisping on his back and allowed Belfort to secure the TKO finish.

So, with one contender down, Belfort then focused his attention on former Strikeforce Middlweight champion Luke Rockhold.  Once again the bout took place in Brazil. Yes it did seem the UFC was hiding Vitor there all year, more on that to come.  However, he one-upped himself by landing another head kick but this one came in the form of an amazing spinning heel kick that had Rockhold out before his head hit the canvas.  It was one of the best finishes of Belfort’s career, and that is filled with highlight reel knockouts.

When Vitor faced off against Dan Henderson in November, no one was thinking he could pull off a third head kick finish.  Well, we were all proven wrong once again.  Sure, Henderson is way past his prime, but he’s still a tough out for anyone and it didn’t help that Vitor was fighting at 205lbs, a weight that has not always been kind to him.  Plus, Henderson had never lost by knockout in his whole career.  Vitor wasted no time putting an exclamation mark on his year, when very early in the first round he rocked “Hendo” and just as he was getting back to his feet “The Phenom” planted a brutal kick right to the kisser.  He did the seemingly impossible by stopping a man who was thought to be unstoppable when it came to knockouts.

There is no denying that 2013 might have been the best year in Vitor Belfort’s entire career and instead of staying in Brazil, it looks like the UFC will bring him to Las Vegas in 2014 to fight for the middleweight title against Chris Weidman.  Whether or not he gets a TRT exemption from the Nevada State Athletic Commission is yet to be seen, but either way he should give the young champion a run for his money.

Honorable Mentions:

As I’ve mentioned before I’m not a huge fan of giving out honorable mentions when it comes to awards.  However, both Chris Weidman and Urijah Faber deserve at least that.  Weidman of course is coming off two victories against longtime pound for pound king Anderson Silva, even if the 2nd one wasn’t really a win, as we all know Silva was forced to quit when he snapped his leg.  Chris did go undefeated against Silva in 2013 and that’s something no one else could ever do.  Then there is Faber, he seems to be the go to guy when it comes to short notice fights in the UFC’s bantamweight division.  He won four fights in 2013, all of them quite decidedly and those wins have earned him another shot at the UFC bantamweight title in 2014.

There you have it, Pro Fighting Fans choices for the 2013 fighter of the year.  Continue to check back for more awards updates and also keep your hands up fight fans 2014 will be another wild ride in MMA.

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Staff Writer

So we are getting a bit of a late start to the year-end awards here at Pro Fighting Fans, but like I always say, better late than never.  Last year was a great year for the sport of MMA, with the big three promotions making major progress, of course they are the UFC, WSOF and Bellator.  There was the first ever women’s MMA bout in UFC history, as well as the fall of Anderson Silva and many, many more incredible moments.  We’ll begin our yearly awards with fight of the year.  With a ton of fights to choose from it made it extremely difficult to come up with one, so we have two instead.  Buckle up, grab a beverage and prepare to be entertained, because here are the two best fights of 2013 according to Pro Fighting Fans.

 

Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jon Jones (UFC 165)

Not every title fight lives up to the hype.  Frankly, some of them end up being stinkers.  However, Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson for the UFC light heavyweight title was a major exception.  The bout headlined UFC 165 and took place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on September 21, 2013.  Prior to that night Jones had defended his title 5 times, but never before had we seen him tested as much as he was against Gustafsson.  In fact, other than Vitor Belfort’s armbar attempt at UFC 152 and a couple of strikes from Lyoto Machida, Jones had never been in real danger.  That all changed against “The Mauler”, not only was Jones hurt, cut and battered; many fans feel that he may have lost the fight.  I still don’t know if Jones did enough, I do know that it was an epic 5 round war, and quite possibly one of the greatest title fights in UFC history.  Both men were so exhausted at the end of it that I spent the entire 5th round expecting one of them to pass out from exhaustion.  Will we get to see the rematch in 2014?  I sure hope so.  Before that happens Jones must get past Glover Texeira and Gustafsson has a stiff test in Jimi Manuwa standing in front of him.  Regardless, Jones vs. Gustafsson was unquestionably my choice for 2013 fight of the year, and a definite (early) front runner for fight of the decade.

 

Mark Hunt vs. Antonio Silva (UFC Fight Night 33)

If it for wasn’t for Antonio Silva failing his post-fight drug test, the choice for fight of the year might have been a much tougher decision to make.  That being said, I can assure you that never before has a fight made me stand on my couch, screaming at the television like Mark Hunt vs. Antonio Silva did.  I could not believe what I was witnessing.  Two heavyweights, neither of them really in the title picture, went toe to toe for five full rounds in what might have been the best fight in heavyweight MMA history.  Was the fight a draw? Who cares, it was entertaining and that is all that should matter.  Personally, after watching it a second time I scored the fight for Silva, but I can certainly see why some would think Hunt won it.  At different times throughout the fight both men were on the verge of being finished, somehow they survived, maybe a few brain cells less than when they started, they were still standing, barely, when the bell rang after 25 minutes.  Now, unlike the previous fight I mentioned in this column, this is a rematch I could care less to see again.  What’s the point really?  It was amazing and there is no need to run it back, even if it ended up being just as great the second time around.

 

There you have it; those were the two best fights of 2013 according to Pro Fighting Fans.  I’ve never been much of a fan for honorable mentions, but if I must, I’d say Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler II and Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva (the first time) are worthy contenders.  Keep checking back with Profightingfans.com for more 2013 awards, and keep your hands up fight fans.

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Staff Writer

UFC 168 was an amazing night of fights just as expected.  There were finishes in every main card bout and all but the main and co-main events ended in the first round.  All of this made for an incredible night to end a stacked year of fights.  But the way the last fight ended ruined all of this for me.  I will admit that I am a huge Anderson Silva fan and I almost got sick when he went down with one of the more gruesome injuries in the history of the UFC.  It is unclear what will happen to The Spider in terms of his MMA career, but even if he were to come back, it would most likely have to wait until 2015.  With his age, two straight losses, and this horrific injury, I am predicting we have seen the last of who I believe is the single greatest mixed martial artist in the history of the sport.  To see it possibly end the way it did is heartbreaking.

There is a lot of movement in this week’s UFC rankings as many bouts were fought between two ranked fighters so without further ado here are the Pro Fighting Fans UFC fighter rankings for January 3rd, 2014.

Women’s Bantamweight

Ronda Rousey was pushed harder than anyone ever has in her MMA career at UFC 168 and she still absolutely dominated the fight.  Miesha made Rousey work for it, but she was able to lock in her signature armbar in the 3rd round of the fight.  It was an exciting and high paced bout that may have seemed closer than it really was.  Tate had some success in the standup department, but would inexplicably try to shoot on an Olympic judo practitioner and the results were what one would expect them to be.  After the fight Ronda furthered her transition into the biggest heel this side of Brock Lesnar by refusing a post fight handshake from her opponent.  Mix that in with her less than stellar portrayal on The Ultimate Fighter and you have a great recipe for boos from the crowd which she received for the entire post fight process.  At the post fight press conference Dana officially announced Rousey will take on Olympic medalist Sara McMann in her next bout at UFC 170.  In a move I thought was very insulting to Miesha Tate, the UFC already had the fight posters for Rousey-McMann printed up and were handing them out that night.  The Rousey-McMann fight will be a huge fight and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to it.

C – Ronda Rousey

1 – Cat Zingano

2 – Sara McMann

3 – Alexis Davis

4 – Jessica Eye +1

5 – Amanda Nunes +1

6 – Sarah Kaufman +1

7 – Miesha Tate -3

8 – Liz Carmouche

9 – Jessica Andrade

10 – Bethe Correia

Flyweight

There were no flyweight bouts on the card.

C – Demetrious Johnson

1 – John Dodson

2 – Ian McCall

3 – Joseph Benavidez

4 – John Lineker

5 – John Moraga

6 – Jussier Formiga

7 – Ali Bagautinov

8 – Louis Gaudinot

9 – Tim Elliott

10 – Chris Cariaso

Bantamweight

.           There were no men’s bantamweight bouts on the card.

C – Dominick Cruz

1 – Renan Barao (Interim Champ)

2 – Urijah Faber

3 – Raphael Assuncao

4 – Eddie Wineland

5 – Michael McDonald

6 – Brad Pickett

7 – Takeya Mizugaki

8 – T.J. Dillashaw

9 – Erik Perez

10 – Mike Easton

Featherweight

The featherweight division showcased 6 competitors at UFC 168.  The headliner would be a fight between Dustin Poirier and Diego Brandao.  Brandao came into the weigh-ins 8lbs overweight which is completely laughable.  Poirier still took the fight and ultimately came out with the 1st round TKO victory.  Poirier is an absolute stud and I hope he gets the Cub Swanson bout he has been asking for next.  Brandao on the other hand will need a good win in his next bout.  Losing in the 1st round is bad, but when you couple that with missing weight by that much and you’re skating on thin ice.

In another exciting bout, Dennis Siver got the decision win over Manny Gamburyan.  It was a back and forth fight that came down to the 3rd round and Siver did enough to sway the judges in his favor.  Siver vs. the Korean Zombie would be a fun fight or possibly a fight against Frankie Edgar to truly test where he belongs in the featherweight division.  Gamburyan will look to get back on track after this loss in what was a decent performance.  I would like to see a bout against Diego Brandao next.

In the last featherweight bout Robbie Peralta defeated Estevan Payan by 3rd round KO.  It was a fun fight to kick off the night, but both men have some work to do before they make the top 10.

C – Jose Aldo

1 – Chad Mendes

2 – Ricardo Lamas

3 – Cub Swanson

4 – Dustin Poirier +2

5 – Frankie Edgar -1

6 – Dennis Siver +1

7 – Chan-Sung Jung -2

8 – Nik Lentz

9 – Erik Koch

10 – Darren Elkins

Lightweight

Both lightweight bouts ended with finishes led by Jim Miller’s slick armbar win against Fabricio Camoes.  Camoes looked good on his feet and hit Miller with some big shots, but once the fight hit the ground Miller was able to work his BJJ and locked in the armbar for the win.

Michael Johnson is finally starting to show why he had so much hype at one time.  He stopped Gleison Tibau with a 2nd round KO making it his 2nd straight win over some tough competition.  Hopefully he can keep his momentum going and continue to have success in the octagon because he is a lot of fun to watch.

C – Anthony Pettis

1 – T.J. Grant

2 – Gilbert Melendez

3 – Benson Henderson

4 – Khabib Nurmagomedov

5 – Josh Thomson

6 – Nate Diaz

7 – Rafael Dos Anjos

8 – Jim Miller +1

9 – Myles Jury -1

10 – Donald Cerrone

 Welterweight

John Howard kept his momentum going in his 2nd stint in the UFC with a dominating decision win over Siyar Bahadurzada.  It will be interesting to see what the UFC will do with Howard next.

In the other welterweight bout William Macario defeated Bobby Voelker by decision.  Voelker showed some toughness, but was thoroughly dominated by the Ultimate Fighter Brazil 2 contestant.  Although that makes 3 straight losses, Dana promised Bobby would stay with the company for at least one more bout.

C – Vacant

1 – Johny Hendricks

2 – Carlos Condit

3 – Robbie Lawler

4 – Matt Brown

5 – Rory MacDonald

6 – Martin Kampmann

7 – Jake Ellenberger

8 – Jake Shields

9 – Demian Maia

10 – Tyron Woodley

Middleweight

I’ve already talked about what happened with Silva in the opening paragraph, but what many people are ignoring is the fact that Weidman has now successfully defended his belt.  Silva’s injury was almost the worst thing that could have happened for Chris.  He already had doubters after his 1st win over Silva and now those doubters will still be there blaming the injury for the loss.  What people are already forgetting is that Weidman dominated the 1st round and almost had Silva finished.  Now I know Silva has certainly come back from that before, but Chris deserves this win and needs to be respected as the champion.  He takes on Vitor Belfort in his next bout and he will have a chance to silence the doubters once again.  For rankings purposes I am going to assume Silva is going to fight again until announced otherwise.

The last middleweight bout also provided a sad moment.  Chris Leben wisely quit on his stool after he was destroyed in the 1st round by a younger and quicker Uriah Hall.  Leben has been a staple in the UFC and has always displayed the warrior spirit that endeared him to fight fans, but it is clear that it is time to hang up the gloves and move on to the next stage of his life.  Hall on the other hand got a much needed win and earned himself more time inside the octagon.  One thing he will need to improve upon is his killer instinct.  He had Leben very hurt several times and was unable to force the ref to step in.  Maybe a fight against someone like Court McGee will be next for Hall.

C – Chris Weidman

1 – Vitor Belfort +1

2 – Lyoto Machida +1

3 – Anderson Silva -2

4 – Ronaldo Souza

5 – Michael Bisping

6 – Luke Rockhold

7 – Francis Carmont

8 – Tim Kennedy

9 – Mark Munoz

10 – Costa Philippou

 

Light Heavyweight

There were no fights in the 205 division.

C – Jon Jones

1 – Alexander Gustafsson

2 – Glover Teixeira

3 – Rashad Evans

4 – Phil Davis

5 – Antonio Rogerio Nogueria

6 – Gegard Mousasi

7 – Dan Henderson

8 – Chael Sonnen

9 – Mauricio Rua

10 – Ryan Bader

Heavyweight

Travis Browne is a scary, scary, man!  He duplicated his win against Gabriel Gonzaga and landed huge elbows to the side of Josh Barnett’s head after he attempted to push Browne against the cage.  All of this started with a big knee and it was all over one minute into the 1st round.  I want to see Browne fight Cain, but he will have to get through fellow top contender, Fabricio Werdum next.  Barnett is getting old, but he still is very competitive and very marketable so I expect we will see him fight someone like Mark Hunt or Roy Nelson in his next fight.

C – Cain Velasquez

1 – Daniel Cormier

2 – Travis Browne +2

3 – Fabricio Werdum -1

4 – Junior Dos Santos -1

5 – Antonio Silva +1

6 – Stipe Miocic +1

7 – Josh Barnett -2

8 – Mark Hunt

9 – Roy Nelson

10 – Gabriel Gonzaga

 

Pound For Pound

It is very tough to compile this list.  If I keep Silva on here he will be ranked higher than some of his 185lb brethren which doesn’t really make sense.  But I still feel like he is a top 10 pound for pound fighter.  In the end I decided to put Ronda Rousey in the top 10 P4P and Silva was dropped from the list.

1 – Jon Jones

2 – Jose Aldo

3 – Cain Velasquez

4 – Demetrious Johnson +1

5 – Chris Weidman +2

6 – Renan Barao

7 – Anthony Pettis +1

8 – Johny Hendricks +1

9 – Ronda Rousey +NR

10 – Alexander Gustafsson

*Anderson Silva fell out of the top 10 (previously #4).

Thanks for reading and make sure to follow me on my brand new twitter and let me know what you agree and disagree with @BriceJSchroeder and make sure to follow @ProFightingFans to satisfy your MMA fix.

Brice Schroeder

ProFightingFans.com Staff Writer

UFC Fight Night 33 took place Friday night from Brisbane, Australia.  It was headlined by a heavyweight classic between Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva.  There was no shortage of action and overall it was a pretty successful event.  Obviously on a night like this there will always be shining stars and of course the UFC’s most recent fight card had its fair share.  Here are the three standouts from UFC Fight Night 33.

Third Star: Shogun Rua

Maybe he’s not completely “back”, but he is still slightly relevant and after knocking out James Te Huna, UFN 33’s Mauricio “Shogun” Rua will be looking for a big matchup next time around.  Te Huna is not quite top ten material; oh well, he’s still a legitimate tough guy and remember, Glover Texeira couldn’t stop him with strikes.  Therefore I think the knockout victory is absolutely huge for Shogun, it ends his first ever losing streak, which will give the former light heavyweight champion some relief.  It’s unfortunate though that most of the top ten light heavyweights are already scheduled to fight in the near future.  It means he might have to settle for an opponent like Dan Henderson or Ryan Bader who has alternated wins and losses in his last 4 bouts.  Regardless of what his future holds, Shogun is back, for now, let’s hope he can regain a bit of his old form because I really enjoy watching him put guys to sleep.

 

Second Star: Nam Phan vs. Takeya Mizugaki

When the main event between Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva ended, I immediately felt sorry for Nam Phan and Takeya Mizugaki.  Up until that point the bantamweights were well on their way to winning fight of the night bonuses.  However, Hunt and Silva had other plans, which you’ll read about below.  Phan vs. Mizugaki was easily the second best fight of the evening.  These two went back and forth for three full rounds and unlike the main event, this was a very technical affair.  Although Phan clearly lost the first two rounds, he never gave up, hurting Mizugaki before the final bell sounded.  It sucks that Phan lost, he’s now dropped 5 of 7, but he always entertains, even when he is on the losing end of things.  I watched this bout again and it confirmed my suspicion that it was worthy of my second star for UFN 33.

 

First Star:  Mark Hunt vs. Antonio Silva

There won’t be any arguments about this selection.  No doubt about it, the main event was the star of the show in Brisbane on Friday night.  Mark Hunt and Antonio silva slugged it out for five rounds, with both guys coming close to finishing the other.  Who cares if it wasn’t technical at all times, it was still an entertaining bout and a certain nominee for fight of the year.  I do think that everyone had low expectations heading into it, which is one of the reasons we are all raving about it.

The first time I watched it I thought Hunt won, but I was happy with the draw.  I’ve watched it once more and I ‘m still satisfied with the draw, except now I’m leaning towards “Bigfoort”.  In my opinion he won rounds 1,2 and 4. Regardless, it was an incredible fight and one I’ll likely remember for quite some time.  I’m not always in favor of immediate rematches, in this case I am, there isn’t really any other exciting matchups in the division for these guys and why not run it back once more.  I’ll gladly fork out money for a pay-per-view with Mark Hunt vs. Antonio Silva as the co-main event, maybe GSP-Hendricks II could be the headliner, just sayin’.

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Staff Writer

Heading into his fight with Team Rousey member Davey Grant, it was thought that Chris Holdsworth’s time training with Team Alpha Male would benefit him in the octagon.  And that was likely the case on Saturday night when he submitted Grant in the 2nd round to become the Season 18 Ultimate Fighter in the 135lb division.

It was a matchup that was quite similar to the women’s finals where Julianna Pena fought Jessica Rakoczy.  It was striker vs. grappler, and this time grappling won when Holdsworth was able to get his opponent’s back in the 2nd frame. He remained patient and once he got his opportunity he sunk in the rear naked choke, forcing Grant to tap. They showed their willingness to engage and each of them had their moments on the feet.  But once the fight was on the ground there was no question Holdsworth was the better grappler.  Grant may have several submission victories on his resume, but Chris is on another level when it comes to Jiu-Jitsu.

Chris Holdworth’s performance was just one more example of the type of fighters that are coming out of Team Alpha Male.  Since Duane Ludwig became the head coach, the team has been on fire and its members aren’t losing very often.  The camp is creating complete mixed martial artists, excelling in grappling and striking equally.  Holdsworth is now the 2nd Ultimate Fighter finalist to come out of Team Alpha Male alongside his teammate TJ Dillashaw.

The win puts Chris Holdsworth’s professional record at 5-0 and he remains unbeaten.  Davey Grant now sports a record of 8-2.  Holdsworth was a member of Team Tate and Grant was a member of Team Rousey on the 18th season of The Ultimate Fighter.  Team Tate fighters won both the men’s and women’s divisions on the show as Julianna Pena stopped Jessica Rakoczy in the other final.  The sweep for Miesha Tate will only further infuriate Ronda Rousey.  The two coaches face off December 28th in the co-main event of UFC 168.

 

Brent Haugh

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer

 

Wow…try to deny Vitor his title shot now.  In 3 fights he has scored 3 incredible head kick knockouts.  While we all know his win over Dan Henderson is not a win over the Dan Henderson of old, it is still extremely impressive.  Although there were some good fights with big implications in their respected divisions, there were exactly 0 changes to this week’s rankings.  But I hope you enjoy my recap of this very important card.  With that being said, here are the latest Profightingfans UFC rankings.

Women’s Bantamweight

            There were no female bouts in Brazil this past weekend.

C – Ronda Rousey

1 – Cat Zingano

2 – Sara McMann

3 – Alexis Davis

4 – Miesha Tate

5 – Jessica Eye

6 – Amanda Nunes

7 – Sarah Kaufman

8 – Liz Carmouche

9 – Jessica Andrade

10 – Rosi Sexton

Flyweight

Dustin Ortiz won his UFC debut against Jose Maria Tome.  I was tempted to put Ortiz in the top 10, but I did not feel Uyenoyama deserved to be dropped because of a loss to the best flyweight not named Demetrious.  Let’s see Ortiz win a couple more in the big leagues before cracking the top 10.  As for Jose Maria Tome, he has lost his first 2 fights in the UFC and may not find himself inside the octagon in his next bout.

C – Demetrious Johnson

1 – Joseph Benavidez

2 – John Dodson

3 – Ian McCall

4 – John Lineker

5 – John Moraga

6 – Tim Elliott

7 – Jussier Formiga

8 – Louis Gaudinot

9 – Chris Cariaso

10 – Darren Uyenoyama

Bantamweight

         There were no bantamweight bouts on last weekend’s card.

C – Dominick Cruz

1 – Renan Barao (Interim Champ)

2 – Urijah Faber

3 – Michael McDonald

4 – Raphael Assuncao

5 – Eddie Wineland

6 – Brad Pickett

7 – Takeya Mizugaki

8 – T.J. Dillashaw

9 – Mike Easton

10 – Erik Perez

Featherweight

2 fights occurred within the featherweight division.  In the first bout Sam Sicilla scored the TKO victory against Godofredo Pepey.  Sicilla avoided the dreaded 3 fight losing streak in this fight and may very well have been fighting for his job.  In the 2nd featherweight fight Jeremy Stephens defeated Rony Jason with a first round KO.  Jason saw his bid to win a 9th straight bout derailed when Stephens flattened him with a nasty head kick KO.  It was nice to see the veteran Stephens (has been a UFC fighter since 2007) get a much needed W.

C – Jose Aldo

1 – Chad Mendes

2 – Ricardo Lamas

3 – Cub Swanson

4 – Frankie Edgar

5 – Chan-Sung Jung

6 – Dustin Poirier

7 – Dennis Siver

8 – Nik Lentz

9 – Erik Koch

10 – Darren Elkins

Lightweight

Both lightweight bouts ended in submissions and one of those submissions came with a $50,000 check.  Adriano Martins was able to earn the armbar victory against Daron Cruickshank.  Adriano’s effort earned him one of the coveted post fight bonus checks and made him $50,000 dollars richer.  In the last lightweight fight Thiago Tavares won via rear-naked choke against Justin Salas.  Neither of the bouts featured top 10 fighters so you won’t be seeing any changes made to this week’s lightweight rankings.  There was some big lightweight news outside of last weekend’s fight card.  Champion Anthony Pettis revealed he has a torn PCL and may be out for up to 6 months.  It is unclear what this means for the crowded line of lightweight contenders, but it will be very interesting to see it play out in the coming weeks.

C – Anthony Pettis

1 – T.J. Grant

2 – Gilbert Melendez

3 – Benson Henderson

4 – Khabib Nurmagomedov

5 – Josh Thomson

6 – Rafael Dos Anjos

7 – Nate Diaz

8 – Myles Jury

9 – Pat Healy

10 – Jim Miller

Welterweight

            Ryan LaFlare beat Santiago Ponzinibbio by decision and Brandon Thatch forced Paulo Thiago to tap to strikes in the only 2 welterweight bouts.  Thatch should get a more exciting fighter in his next bout and we will get to see what he is really made of.  He stands at 11-1 with 10 straight wins all coming by finish.  Being exciting really makes up for a lot in the eyes of the UFC and it will be interesting to see where Brandon Thatch is in the next year.  While there are no changes this week to our welterweight rankings, next week’s will look completely different with 4 top ten fighters scheduled to fight this weekend at UFC 167.

C – Georges St-Pierre

1 – Johny Hendricks

2 – Carlos Condit

3 – Rory MacDonald

4 – Matt Brown

5 – Martin Kampmann

6 – Jake Ellenberger

7 – Jake Shields

8 – Demian Maia

9 – Tarec Saffiedine

10 – Robbie Lawler

Middleweight

            The bout may have been contested at 205 lbs, but everyone knows Belfort’s win truly impacts the middleweight division.  He was able to knock out one of the toughest fighter in MMA history with a first round head kick and Dana White has already said the winner of Weidman-Silva is next up.  Vitor continued to look better than ever in his fight against Dan Henderson and is in the middle of one of the most surprising career rejuvenations I have ever seen in sports.  It will be very interesting to see him against Weidman or Silva sometime in 2014.  There were 2 fights that were actually fought at 185 lb.  In the first bout, fans got to see the fight of the night winner as Omari Akhmedov KO’d Thiago Perpetuo in the 1st round.  In the co-main event, Cezar Ferreira won a split decision against Daniel Sarafian.  Ferreira scored a nice win over a good opponent, but he will not find his name listed among the top 10 middleweights.

C – Chris Weidman

1 – Anderson Silva

2 – Vitor Belfort

3 – Lyoto Machida

4 – Ronaldo Souza

5 – Michael Bisping

6 – Luke Rockhold

7 – Francis Carmont

8 – Tim Kennedy

9 – Mark Munoz

10 – Costa Philippou

 

Light Heavyweight

          Dan Henderson never even had a chance to throw that deadly H-bomb he likes use.  It will be tough to choose Henderson’s next opponent, but I think a rematch of the epic Shogun fight would be a perfect fit.  Both fighters are in need of wins and are in the twilights of their respected careers.  Hopefully if this fight comes to pass, they will be able to replicate that incredible war they had the first time they met.  In the other 205 fight Rafael Cavalcante was able to force a tap due to strikes from his opponent Igor Pokrajac.

C – Jon Jones

1 – Alexander Gustafsson

2 – Glover Teixeira

3 – Phil Davis

4 – Rashad Evans

5 – Chael Sonnen

6 – Antonio Rogerio Nogueria

7 – Gegard Mousasi

8 – Dan Henderson

9 – Mauricio Rua

10 – Ryan Bader

Heavyweight

There were no fights in the heavyweight division.

C – Cain Velasquez

1 – Daniel Cormier

2 – Fabricio Werdum

3 – Antonio Silva

4 – Travis Browne

5 – Josh Barnett

6 – Junior Dos Santos

7– Stipe Miocic

8 – Roy Nelson

9 – Alistair Overeem

10 – Gabriel Gonzaga

Pound For Pound

No changes to the P4P rankings.

1 – Jon Jones

2 – Georges St-Pierre

3 – Jose Aldo

4 – Cain Velasquez

5 – Anderson Silva

6 – Demetrious Johnson

7 – Renan Barao

8 – Chris Weidman

9 – Anthony Pettis

10 – Alexander Gustafsson

Thanks for reading and make sure to follow me on my brand new twitter and let me know what you agree and disagree with @BriceJSchroeder and make sure to follow @ProFightingFans to satisfy your MMA fix.

UFC Fight Night 27 took place on August 28th at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.  It was the second event to air on the new FOX Sports 1 channel and it was headlined by a welterweight rematch between “The Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit and Martin “The Hitman” Kampmann.  There were some great matchups on the card and always it was a difficult task choosing three stars, but I tried.

Third Star: Darren Elkins

I’ll be the first to admit, watching Darren Elkins fight is not the most exciting thing in the world, unless he performs the way he did against Hatsu Hioki at UFC Fight Night 27.  In the first round Elkins struggled to find a groove against the taller Hioki.  He ate several front kicks to the body and at one point it looked like it was only a matter of time before the bout would be stopped.  But, if you didn’t already know, Darren Elkins is one tough dude.

He was able to fully recover and in the last two rounds he was clearly the aggressor.  Elkins found a permanent home for his right hand and used that threat along with takedowns to keep Hioki guessing.  The stand-up portions of this fight were solid, but it was the grappling exchanges that stole the spotlight.  I’m glad Elkins was able to bounce back from a loss to Chad Mendes in his last fight.  He’s still not quite in the title picture at 145lbs.  However, with a couple more win he’ll be right there.  Congratulations, Darren Elkins, you are my third star for UFC Fight Night 27.

Second Star: Condit vs. Kampmann

These days it seems like Carlos Condit is never in a boring fight.  “The Natural Born Killer” is pure entertainment, especially when he’s able to strike with his opponents.  In the first round Kampmann was able to nullify Condit’s punches and kicks by controlling the fight on the mat.   It seemed like “The Hitman” would utilize his wrestling skills and grind out a decision victory.  Apparently Condit didn’t get the memo, because once he found his range he bloodied Kampmann with precision striking.  Martin could never get his takedowns going again and he was fighting a losing battle from the first round on.  It was obvious that Condit was gaining momentum, so when the fight was stopped in the fourth, it came as no surprise.  If Kampmann wasn’t able to take as much punishment as he did, this fight wouldn’t have been so exciting.  It’s refreshing when a main event comes close to living up to pre-fight hype.  Condit vs. Kampmann was more than worthy of my second star.

First Star: Kelvin Gastulem

I’m a sucker for the underdog stories, and on season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter, Kelvin Gastulem was an underdog.  Then he dominated Uriah Hall on his way to winning the TUF finale and he started looking more like a favorite.  I’ve since realized that Hall isn’t quite the beast he was on the show, so I was hoping Gastulem would continue to impress in his next Octagon appearance.  Thankfully, he did just that at UFC Fight Night 27 when he faced dangerous striker Brian Melancon.

It was Gastulem’s first fight as a welterweight since dropping weight classes.  He looked scary good; his game has improved so much since his time on the show.  He’s gone from being a raw, talented young kid to an up and coming superstar.  Even though Gastulem hurt Melancon on the feet, he didn’t forget where his true strength lies, in his grappling.  When the opportunity presented itself he took the back and sunk in a nasty rear naked choke, forcing a quick tap from Melancon.  If you though Kelvin Gastulem was a fluke, think again, he is for real and he’s still only 21 years old.  Like Chael Sonnen said after the fight, “Chalk another one up for the bad guys”.  Kelvin Gastulem is my first star for UFC Fight Night 27 and he is very deserving of the honor.

Brent Haugh

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer

If a UFC fighter is going to be referred to as “The Hybrid”, they should be versatile with strong striking and submission skills.  Until Saturday night, Brendan Schaub was known to fans as a guy with a striking centered attack, but his UFC 165 performance against Matt Mitrione will likely help to change those opinions.

Even though Mitrione probably expected a stand-up battle, Schaub stuck to a gameplan that consisted of him pushing the pace to secure a takedown.  Once the fight hit the mat it became quite obvious that Schaub had a significant advantage.  If Matt Mitrione plans on continuing with his MMA career he’ll need to strengthen his ground game, because it was exposed at UFC 165.

It did look as though Mitrione might get back to his feet once he was taken down, but he left his neck unguarded in the process.  That was the opening Schaub was looking for.  He locked in a deep D’arce Choke, and although Mitrione held on at first, it was a few moments later that “Meathead” was taking a nap.

It was the first submission victory of Brendan Schaub’s career and he has now won two straight fights.  At the post-fight press conference, Dana White hinted at a possible quick turnaround for Schaub.  White wouldn’t elaborate on who he may fight next, but there are multiple heavyweight matchups set for the near future that may be in need of a short notice replacement.  Seeing as Schaub took very little damage in his fight with Mitrione, he would be an ideal candidate to take a fight.

If Schaub can get another win quickly, it will certainly raise his stock in the UFC’s heavyweight division.  He’s still a few wins away from being considered a legitimate title contender.  If he continues to improve we’ll likely see him in some higher profile matchups one day.

Schaub vs. Mitrione was part of the UFC 165 main card that took place Saturday, September 21st, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  The event was headlined by a light heavyweight title fight between champion Jon Jones and challenger Alexander Gustafsson.

Brent Haugh

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer

It has been said that every great hero needs a great villain; every great champion needs a great opponent.  It’s what made the Rocky movies so good, because he had insurmountable odds with his opponents.  It’s what solidified the legacy of Muhammad Ali when he fought Frazier.  It’s what galvanized Sugar Ray Leonard when he fought Hearns and Hagler.  The fight between Jon “Bones” Jones and Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson defined what a championship fight should be in combat sports.  It exemplified why boxing has been surpassed by MMA and it proves why the UFC is the premier organization for combat sports.  Never have I been more excited for a fight.

This fight was reminiscent of the first Ultimate Fighter finale where Griffin fought Bonnar and neither man really lost.  Gustafsson simply looked amazing.  Never has the Champion been challenged the way that he was at UFC 165.  Let’s face it, never….NEVER has the Champion received and ass whooping like he did from the Mauler.   Jon Jones has faced Machida, Rua, Jackson, and Evans and came out of those fights looking like he maybe had a spirited workout.  Alexander actually mauled Jon Jones and his face proved it.

However, Jon is champion for a reason.  It’s not because he has millions of dollars that he flashes around on HBO specials.  It’s not because he walks to the ring and is best friends with rappers.  It’s not because a network spends millions of dollars hyping a fighter who will just stand there and freeze in the middle of the ring when the fight gets tough (yes, Mayweather vs. Canelo was a joke).  It’s because when he has blood dripping into his eye, he digs deep.  It’s because when he faces a fighter who matches up with him better than anyone else, he digs deep.  It’s because when his lips swell up to the size of smoked sausages and he can’t buy a takedown to save his life, HE…DIGS…DEEP!

I agree with Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg when they said that could have been the greatest title contention in the history of the UFC.

I had both fighters even going into the 5th round with Jon winning rounds 1 and 4 and Gustafsson winning 2 and 3.  Gustafsson was simply amazing with the way he avoided takedown after takedown and how he made a self-proclaimed “sloppy” Jon Jones pay for his indiscretions in practice by feeding him combination after combination.  Gustafsson proved why he was so confident leading up to the fight by staying right in front of the champion and never panicking even when he was in big trouble in the 4th.

What Jon calls sloppiness, I call a huge respect for the skills of Gustafsson and a staunch acknowledgement of the fact that advantages like size and reach advantage were absent from him on this night.  Where was the dynamic striking that has become a hallmark of Jon Jones?  Where were the never-before-seen strikes and Tekken like throws?  Where was the hidden Street Fighter character named Bones Jones on this night?  I’ll tell you.  He was in the cage getting his ass handed to him in the toughest fight of his career by far…but he never faltered.

I’ll say it again.  Jon Jones is champion for a reason.  Every other fighter in the Light Heavyweight division would have lost their composure facing an opponent like Gustafsson.  Even in the midst of the onslaught that was pummeling him, Jones still found a way to persevere and win the fight.  Often Jones would check the clock to see how much time he had to pull out the win demonstrating that he was still in full control of his emotions and spirit.  He would get hit with vicious combinations and respond calmly with a kick to the face or the knee.  He knew that his reach advantage was nullified and still stayed in the pocket to trade with Gustafsson.  There was no hiding behind his shoulder to keep his face pretty.  Jones asked for this fight and he remained engaged for the duration.

Both of these men could be called champions after this night.

What we learned here is a few things.  Jon said it best.  He has a lot work to do when he gets back to the gym.  He needs to train with people that are as long and dynamic as he is so that he doesn’t rest on his laurels.  That’s a tall order as there are not too many people, if any, like Alexander Gustafsson.  Gus needs to keep doing what he has been doing as he looked absolutely phenomenal.  His wrestling and striking looked second to none.  Perhaps not as flashy as Jones or Silva but extremely effective.  His takeaway would be to a bit more on his head movement to avoid incoming elbows and improve his conditioning so that he’s fresher in the championship rounds.  He’ll need it.

Jones and Gustafsson will meet again and when they do, the outcome could be very different.  I know Teixeira is next in line but I cannot be the only one who would like to see these two long and lean warriors lock horns again.  Who’s for Bones v. The Mauler II?

Aarion Browne

Profightingfans.com Staff Writer

UFC Fight Night 26 went down on August 17th, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts.  It was the UFC’s debut on FOX Sports 1 and other than a couple of sleep inducing fights the event was a major success.  There were front kicks, quick knockouts and nasty submissions.  There were a ton of highlights to choose from while compiling my three stars, but as always I can’t include them all, so, here are my favorites from UFC Fight Night 26.

Third Star: Chael Sonnen

“The American Gangster” always promises epic performances, but he doesn’t always deliver.  So, when he fights like he did at UFC Fight Night 26, you’ve got to be impressed.  It’s not like Sonnen was facing an unknown, his opponent was former UFC light heavyweight champion, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.  Joe Rogan and Jon Anik tried their best to convince the television audience that Rua could hang with Sonnen on the ground, boy were they wrong.  Chael wasted very little time once the fight got to the mat, thanks to a Shogun takedown, and he slapped on a nasty guillotine choke which forced the tapout in the very first round.  Instead of celebrating, he used his post-fight interview to call out Wanderlei Silva.  We now know that Sonnen will actually be facing another former light heavyweight champion in “Suga” Rashad Evans.  But, it is that aggressive attitude that earned Chael Sonnen my third star for UFC Fight Night 26.

Second Star: Matt Brown

Is there anyone in the UFC’s welterweight division that is hotter than Matt Brown? Yes, his name is Georges St. Pierre and he happens to be the UFC welterweight champion, as if you didn’t already know that.  But honestly, Brown looks like an unstoppable force lately.  He got right down to business, finishing Mike Pyle with punches at UFC Fight Night 26 and it only took him 29 seconds, to be exact.  Brown still needs to beat a legitimate top 10 opponent before Dana White will consider giving him a title shot, and he’ll get that chance when he faces Carlos Condit at UFC on FOX 9, which is scheduled to take place December 14th, 2013 in Sacramento, California.  However, if “The Immortal” continues his incredible run, UFC matchmakers will have a tough time ignoring him.  If Brown does get by Condit and the UFC still refuses to give him a title shot, I’d like to see him face the winner of Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald.  Until Brown gets another victory he can relish in the glory of being my 2nd star for UFC Fight Night 26.

First Star: Travis Browne

I was worried that Browne’s loss to Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva would mess with his head.  If it did, he showed no signs of it when he met Alistair Overeem on August 17th.  If anyone was negatively affected by a recent loss to Silva it may have been Overeem.  Travis Browne could have been holding a sign that said “I am going to use my front kick, until you either block it or it lands” and it wouldn’t have mattered.  I’m not sure if it was over confidence or ignorance that had Overeem moving forward with reckless abandon.  However, we must not lose sight of Browne’s brilliance in this fight.  He survived a vicious attack from Overeem early in the 1st and then flipped the switch on his way to a highlight reel front kick knockout.  Travis will likely need another win or two to move into title contention, but there is light at the end of the tunnel for UFC Fight Night 26’s 1st star.