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Is Winning Enough to Cement a Legacy for Georges St. Pierre in UFC?

(C) Getty ImagesAt UFC 129 we saw UFC sell 55,000 tickets for what turned into North America's largest MMA event in history, in GSP's home country of Canada. Georges St. Pierre is one of the UFC's most decorated champions in history, a two-time Welterweight Champion with six defenses in a row, seven if you count retaining the Interim Championship against Matt Serra to be crowned the Undisputed Welterweight Champion. Of course, over that streak there are only two stoppages, including the win over Serra and defense against BJ Penn, which has earned him a reputation among hardcore fans as lacking a killer instinct.

Without a doubt, GSP is something very special for the MMA world. To see that all you needed to do was watch tonight's UFC 129 and watch for both fighters entering the arena. GSP came into the arena sporting a seasonally fashionable suit and looked very composed while Shields was shown stumbling in the arena dressed in a t-shirt, oversized hoodie, jeans, baseball cap and sneakers. For St. Pierre this is par for the course, he is the epitome of professionalism in the world of Mixed Martial Arts; he dresses well, he speaks well, he also comes across as personable and intelligent. He is really the total package in a business sense, with no one able to come close to him in this department and might not for a while. Shields, while the elder to GSP was walking into the biggest fight of his life looking like a NASCAR vehicle, splattered with his sponsors and a bit nervous.

There is also little doubt as to why there were so many fans in the arena tonight; 55,000 came not only for the UFC brand name, the experience and for fights, but to see a hometown hero like Georges St. Pierre fight for the honor of Canada. We may have to wait and see what the PPV numbers are, but there is a good chance that they are indeed very good considering the solid line-up and marketing leading into the event. For GSP, everything seems on par for him to become one of MMA's biggest legends and superstars, yet something doesn't feel right.

On the same card fans saw a humble Randy Couture knocked out by a Crane Kick (not joking) by Lyoto Machida and announce that he was officially retired. Couture has already cemented his legacy, oddly enough he did so with a 19-11 record, which for an elite level MMA fighter who is held in such high regards as he,  a rather poor record. You could see Couture as the fighter that made the blueprint for GSP to follow; be humble, professional, follow the rules and never forget your fans. Yet for Couture, there is something about him that is very different, and that is his story and feelings he evokes from fans. Couture overcame insurmountable odds a few times in his career, hopping between two of the most competitive weight classes in the sport during his twilight years and securing big-name victories and title wins unlike any other fighter. Some of his fights when watched live were impossible not to be caught up in the moment and the passion of, like the Time Sylvia bout, don't hold up when viewed years later. The Sylvia fight is actually a rather boring fight with a very active crowd, but that is because it has already happened and we all know the outcome. Live, it was exciting and told a story of an over-the-hill underdog, former champion coming out of nowhere to stop a then-dominant champion. When Couture landed a punch you felt your heart race, when he took Sylvia down you wanted to jump out of your seat and cheer.

Randy wasn't always "good for business" with Zuffa, as they had a very public tiff a few years back including a lawsuit, Randy almost fighting for Affliction against Fedor Emelianenko and signing on for the EA MMA video game, all while holding the UFC Heavyweight Championship. Even with that said, Randy returned to UFC, was given a better contract than he had before, was allowed to keep his Heavyweight title and actually put it on the line against up-and-comer Brock Lesnar who was doing great PPV numbers for his previous fights. For many, Randy has an X-Factor, even if there are stories of him being a womanizer, hard to work with, terrible at managing his finances and possibly using hormone therapy to extend his career. None of that matters in the eyes of the public.

At this point UFC has two dominant champions; Georges St. Pierre at Welterweight and Anderson Silva at Middleweight, yet neither man really seem to be as beloved as Couture or primed to have as long of a lasting legacy as Couture. Both champions have been criticized for not finishing off their opponents, many of which are clearly not on their level. For Anderson Silva, the criticism tends to lean towards him simply playing with his opponents and becoming bored and disinterested with fighting them or putting on a good show. For GSP the criticism comes that he looks to fight a safe fight and only to win, not to finish his opponents. Anderson Silva plays more of a bad boy and GSP plays off more like a company man, and while both have great drawing potential in their home countries, possibly even become big stars on a world-wide scale, neither man have the untouchable aura of Randy Couture.

This makes one wonder if winning is really important for cementing a legacy as much as telling the fans an interesting story and having them get emotionally invested in you as a person, not just a fighter. A fighter like Brock Lesnar has this figured out, as to date he has only a handful of fights but has earned more money in those fights than some UFC fighters with lengthy, successful careers. On top of that, he will most likely always have a place in UFC history with fans all having a strong opinion on him, be it good or bad.

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Photo of the Day: Jerome Le Banner Wrestling for IGF in Japan

K-1 is still on hiatus, with a possible update from K-1 this coming week, but that doesn't mean that K-1 fighters aren't still making waves in Japan. Jerome Le Banner headed to Japan this week and was a part of Antonio Inoki's pro wrestling show, Inoki Genome Federation. Le Banner wrestled under "Special K-1 Rules" against Shinnichi Suzukawa, an ex-sumo who has had some interesting bouts in IGF over the past few months. There was a well-publicized bout with Mark Coleman where Suzukawa legitimately brutalized Coleman and then a match with Bob Sapp that was by-the-books pro wrestling. Le Banner came into this wearing his K-1 gloves and did a number on Suzukawa, KO'ing him in 5:39 with a hard punch. There is also some rough video available, so decide for yourself, real or fake punch. [source]

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The Return of Badr Hari: A Look at Badr vs. Ruslan Karaev, 2009 WGP Semi-Finals

We've been taking a look at the fights and moments that led to Badr Hari's meltdown in 2010 and his subsequent return after a year out of action. 2008 was a rough year for Badr Hari, as he was disqualified in the K-1 World Grand Prix Finals during the final round where he stomped Remy Bonjasky when he was down. Then on New Year's Eve Badr Hari walked into a bout with Alistair Overeem who, at the time, had not competed in a professional kickboxing bout in years. Badr Hari was clearly the favorite going into the bout, as Overeem's Heavyweight MMA career was just gaining steam.

It was a shock when Badr Hari was handed his second loss in a row to a fighter like Overeem who many believed would be destroyed by Badr Hari. Hari had not seen two losses in a row since he was 21 years old in 2006. That is what many people need to keep in mind about Hari, he is still very young, a mere 26. Those two losses back-to-back in 2006 were to Peter Graham and another young up-and-comer, Ruslan Karaev. Badr went on to avenge both of those losses, but the rematch with Karaev is one of the most dramatic, entertaining fights in K-1's recent history.

Karaev is a dangerous fighter with great counterpunching and the skills to hurt Badr Hari, so when they were matched up again in 2009 many were expecting another war. For Badr Hari he did not go into the bout with Karaev looking to end quickly to conserve his energy for later fights in the tournament. For Badr Hari, he must prove his mental resolve to overcome an opponent who has beaten him in the past without getting frustrated and making a mistake.

Badr Hari fights on May 14th against Gregory Tony for It's Showtime in Lyon.

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Ontario Athletic Commission lying?

Anyone else check the UFC 129 weigh ins?

The man conducting the weigh ins stated that Mark Hominick weighed in at 145.25, Joe Rogan repeated it to the crowd.

Moments later he was given a bottle of liquid to rehydrate.

Now the Ontario Athletics Commision is saying they made a second announcement claiming he weighed 145.

How is this possible? He never stepped foot back on the scale, and began rehydrating.

Unless I'm missing something the commission is lying, and this should be a 3 round non title fight.

Yeah its only .25 pounds, but rules are rules.

Edit: OK, a lot of people are saying that the music was so loud it made it so the scales weren't completely accurate.

If so, why did Ben Henderson have to go cut his half pound? Why didn't they let him get away with it?

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The Varying States of Water in Pattaya

Played Songkran

Today I went to “play Songkran,” as it's called, in downtown Pattaya. (It was the last day of Songkran in Pattaya, it would go on to end in Bang Si Lee on the 20th.)  For those who don't know, Songkran is the Thai new year, and celebration involves throwing water on everyone you see. I wasn't prepared for the varying temperatures of the water, with some freezing and some tepid (some people put ice in their tubs of water), and I definitely wasn't ready for the revelers who smeared flour paste on the faces of passerbys. I had a decently powerful squirt gun, though, and used it liberally, filling it up at the water barrels people had dragged onto the sidewalk.

I left the gym at 11 and got back around 3 to train. A pickup-taxi had knocked into a water-pipe so I wasn't able to shower right away, but I made sure to wash the dubiously clean Songkran water off my body and the caked flour off my face before training.

There's a festival tonight, similar to the one at Bangsilee on the 15th. I'm quite tired so I'm not sure if I want to go. One of our young fighters named Superbon will be fighting, as will the boy from our gym who made his debut at Bangsilee.

 

[I ended up going. Both boys lost, but fought very well. Superbon fought a boy who was a fair bit bigger and older than him, beating him on kicking technique but losing a decision on power. It was Mong Guh's second fight, so he looked very raw, but his aggressive style looks well and is effective on the scorecards. The other boy fought a more disciplined fight, despite eating a lot of long kicks and punches, and took it on points. Shout-out to Mike and Elmira who, I think, recorded both these fights. If they did I'll get them up on Youtube.]


April 23rd

Training was postponed today by a huge rain. It reminded me of California. When I lived in Southern California, it used to be sunny then explode, with no warning, into torrents of rain that could last for days. The carpet at the gym was getting wet and and water was flowing into the shop at the front of the gym so we got out brooms, dustpans, and basins and started clearing out the water.

It was a lot of fun. I watched the water on the street carry along small animals. There were two toads and a big earthworm that looked like a baby snake swimming in the stream, as well as some curious insects. One of the kids pointed out to me a scorpion-like thing that had the claws and body of a scorpion, but no stinger. I looked at it, thinking, “What the fuck?” before someone picked it up in his dustpan and gently took it outside to set it down in the middle of the road. This was right before he smashed it.

Training went on pretty much as usual after that. We dried off and did bagwork and pads. I did notice some difficulty breathing, though, maybe due to the humidity.


For those who didn't catch the first entry, I'm currently at Sor Klinmee in Pattaya.

April 5-8

April 12 -- Daniel Fights

April 15-17 -- Festival in Bang Si Lee


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Rumble at the Reebok, June 11 Promo

Fans of stand up fighting in the UK can count themselves amongst some of the lucky ones, as they have a healthy community of kickboxing and muay thai. Rumble at the Reebok has put on a few shows now and is aiming on June 11th to promote their next big UK event headlined by Jordan Watson vs. Michael Wakeling.

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Shamil Zavurov vs Yasubey Enomoto: A Look at M-1 Challenge XXV and its delicious welterweight treat

By Daniel Fletcher

Yasubey Enomoto. Tremendous at his best, a mercurial talent, but both the three fight win streaks that represent his entire successful body of work in the sport were ended by extremely sub par performances, losing to opponents he was heavily expected to crush, and bludgeon early. The little known Tyler Stinson earned a surprise technical knockout over Enomoto in his fourth fight, and of course after Yasubey reached the Sengoku Welterweight Grand Prix final after three imperious displays, he choked against Keita Kakamura. Which Enomoto will show up – the dextrous striker who bitchslapped Taisuke Okuno at Sengoku 15 and then Saenchai-kicked him, or the man who turned in a dud in the final?

Yasubey Enomoto

Shamil Zavurov – yours truly wrote the hype feature of this prospect, a man with considerable pedigree in a variety of martial arts of both the grappling and striking variety. Please refer to: http://www.lowkick.com/Other/Shamil-Zavurov-The-Rising-Star-of-Russia-12275

As the piece notes, Zavurov suffered a “Fedor-esque” first defeat – with many putting that particular ‘loss’ in parentheses – which he bounced back from with a perfect 9-0-0 slate in 2010. That is quite an incredible achievement on the top European stage regardless of the quality of opposition, and even more so for the fact that his opponents just about all had winning records, with a total combined tally of 75 wins and 58 defeats. And he scored submissions, knockouts and decisions. He outgrappled them, outstruck them, and demolished them. They were supposed to help build up a star and give him rounds, yet for the most part they got dominated and swiftly dispatched.

In the frankly exciting signing of Yasubey Enomoto, M-1 have put together a really meaty matchup together, one that offers a range of possible conclusions. Enomoto is flashy standing, whereas Zavurov is more stolid; planting his feet and throwing power punches, often using them to close the range to get inside and throw his opponent. Enomoto kicks and clowns his foes, Zavurov has dropped some of his own with hard overhand rights and pounded them to the finish. What wins in this field; dexterity and style, and aesthetically pleasing attacks, or solid technique and uncompromising power?

In the grappling sense, Zavurov surely has the edge. The positional dominance he displays was recounted in loving detail in the aforementioned feature report (link above), and his world champion pedigree in Sambo adds a repertoire and fondness for both throws and submissions into his arsenal. His physical attributes help; stocky and powerful, a low centre of gravity for open-weight grappling competition at 5’10”, and athleticism as displayed when he reverses holds and scramble attempts. His physical package (no pun intended) suits his hybrid style.

Zavurov

One potential outcome could be the GSP/Koscheck scenario, only with Enomoto being more willing to take risks, and capable of throwing flashier strikes than Canada’s favourite son does in his now predictably dominant yet unexciting conveyor belt of title defences. If Zavurov cannot clinch up, or land a big shot on the feet, can he stop M-1 Global’s newest signing from taking the championship belt?

It should be noted that M-1 Global pulled off a major coup with this. Most big organisations would have pulled their champion from the card had the contender pulled out of the fight injured as Rashid Magomedov did, or found a replacement on short notice to carry out a glorified squash match. But in this case, M-1 found an extremely capable and dangerous opponent for Zavurov, and have pitted rising star vs rising star in a fight arguably much more intriguing than the bout originally booked for the card!

Also on the M-1 Challenge XXV card (streamed live on M-1 Global’s official website, http://m-1global.com) Vinny Magalhaes (7-5) and Viktor Nemkov (10-2) will compete for the vacant light heavyweight (205 Lbs) strap.

Magalhaes is one of the five best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners in MMA today. That is no exaggeration; he is a special grappler. I’d advise readers to check his flying armbar victory over Pe De Pano in the Abu Dhabi Combat Club submission grappling world championships (the guy who smashed Frank Mir back in 2006). Magalhaes is up there with Jacare Souza, Fabricio Werdum, Roger Gracie and perhaps Shinya Aoki or Demian Maia in the pantheon of MMA elites who you’d really be best served avoiding entering the grappling realm with at all costs. He is a bad man.

The most noteworthy fight on a pretty solid card outside of the two main events is probably the scrap between middleweight veteran contenders Andrei Semenov (29-9-2) who is looking for his thirtieth career win, a significant landmark for most fighters, and Luigi Fioravanti (22-8). Both are well versed on the European scene, and a win would certainly help one of them take a step closer to a shot at middleweight gold with M-1.

The entire card after the break.

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Kongsak Sitboonmee: The Best Fighter In Thailand

With Saenchai Sinbimuaythai now concentrating on fighting over sea's a lot more, and Nong-O in a bit of a slump, a clear #1 has emerged in Thailand. That man would be Kongsak Sitboonmee, the latest winner of the Thailand's Sportswriters fighter of the year, the most prestigious award that can be given to a fighter. He went a perfect 8-0 from March of 2010 - March of 2011. After going 7-0 he was paired against Pakon Sakyotin in a fight at 127 pounds that would determine the winner of the award. Pakon who is remembered for his ultra violent fight with Pornsaneh Sitmonchai from last year was also riding a great record coming into the fight, and a win over Kongsak was the only thing holding him back from grasping the award he has come close to winning before. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GncRVBMFM14

You can see the fight is competitive, even though it gets a bit ugly. It seems like there was a little bit of tension in both guys, and neither are throwing with there usual superb technique, though its still very good. I think a lot of that can be do to the importance of the fight. By R4 it appears Kongsak has got the fight where he wants it. Pakon who is a strong clinch fighter has struggles tying the bigger Kongsak up, but does get in his share of strikes at times. The left leg of Kongsak and his ability to not let Pakon get comfortable were the determining factors. While not super exciting, Kongsak is a very smart fighter, and throws a heavy kick. This style of fighting will allow the 21 year old to be around for many more years.

Next month he looks to start off another run at fighter of the year when he faces one of Thailand's best, Sam-A Thor Ratonakiat. 

For the sake of Muay Thai I hope he and Saenchai who will also be competing next month on the same card against Petchboonchu F.A Group.... again, (sigh) can agree on a suitable catch weight. Kongsak vs. Saenchai is the biggest, and best fight that can be made in all of Muay Thai. Lets cross our fingers and hope it happens.

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Mark Miller Talks About Legends and Family

I know that it has been a hard week for the fighter we know and love as the Fight Shark. The training, the traveling, the unraveling of his mind as he prepares himself to fly to Russia to fight for the Glory World Series against Nikolaj Falin. This is his first fight in years now since his open heart surgery in 2007. MMAWeekly.com has been publishing a weekly blog written by Mark where he discusses preparing for his fight and the thoughts that go through his mind.

One of the best parts about reading the articles is that you get to see a lot of the more intimate thoughts that go through Miller's mind, as well as see a fighter that is well-read, educated and brilliant in his own right. It is a breath of fresh air to know that you are supporting someone who is not only a skilled fighter, but able to think and communicate far beyond your average professional fighter. In his latest blog he discusses training with Buddy McGirt and Rob Kaman.

Here I am years later, and these two men are my coaches. These are the men polishing me for this fight. I feel so lucky to have such a career that I get to work with the people I have looked up to and aspired to be like. And truly, my career has been this way since the beginning. Starting with Maurice Smith and Rick Roufus, two men I still am so grateful to, and now these guys.

On top of that, Miller discusses his father and his NBA career as well as his three children.

My dad played in the very first NBA game ever. He played for the Toronto Huskies. I always sort of held that fact as a piece of pride. He was a part of something big, bigger than himself.

I hope to do that for my kids. I have three sons, all of whom are so brilliant, and so individual. I am so proud of the human beings they are growing up to be. I hope one day that they will feel that they can have that same pride when it comes to me.

This is what drives me when it gets hard on nights like this.


Read the rest of Mark's blog on MMAWeekly.com and of course, stay tuned to LiverKick.com for more updates as Mark prepares for his big return fight. [source]

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Jerome Le Banner vs. Stefan Leko on June 11th in Geneva

There have been persisting rumors over the past few weeks over who Jerome Le Banner will square off with in his next fight. Le Banner has not fought since his disappointing bout with Kyotaro in October for K-1 where Le Banner had clearly won the bout in his mind and the judges voted for an extension round. As opposed to continuing on like most men do, despite protesting, Le Banner opted to simply walk out. K-1 has a long history of "gift decisions" that would make MMA fighters like Leonard Garcia even cringe. Since then, the return of Le Banner has been hotly debated, with long-standing rumors that his next fight would be for It's Showtime on May 14th. We were able to confirm with Le Banner a few weeks ago that he was not going to be fighting for It's Showtime any time soon.

Someone had leaked out over the past few weeks that there was a promoter putting together a super fight between Jerome Le Banner and Stefan "Blitz" Leko. Leko, just vacating a WKA World title due to not defending it, and not exactly being the most active fighter over the past few years was not the most promising candidate for a bout with Le Banner it seemed. Thankfully, the fight has materialized and will indeed happen in Geneva on June 11th.

Leko and Le Banner met back in 2001 for K-1 with Jerome Le Banner pulling off the 5-round decision after a war. This was during Le Banner's prime and Le Banner looked ready to take a K-1 World Grand Prix title. Think of Alistair Overeem's 2010 and how huge of a star he is in Japan, how much of a celebrity he is, and that is where Le Banner was at that point. This is yet another huge bout to look forward to, but one that might be difficult to acquire a video of for a while. It will be interesting to see where both men stand almost exactly ten years later. Watch the first below. [source]

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