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Articles of 2006

Pride FC, Fedor’s American debut a brutal success

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Pride FC, the mixed martial arts company based out of Japan, is quickly becoming more familiar to fans of “the savage science” as some of us at TSS like to call it. The company held its first American card on October 21st and it turned out to be an intriguing one on many levels. Pride FC: “The Real Deal” featured their finest talent as they made their debut at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.

The main event was spectacular and unfolded into an interesting situation afterwards. Mark “The Hammer” Coleman was beaten to a pulp by perhaps the greatest practitioner of the sport, one Fedor Emelianenko out of Russia. Emelianenko, 30, looks as ordinary as your local barkeep or butcher yet is arguably the most complete fighter in the mixed martial arts universe. Whether it’s grappling, wrestling or striking, the virtually undefeated world champion may not have the ripped abs of the typical MMA star but for now, you may consider him the Ali of the sport.

Yes. He’s that good.

Coleman, 41, a former UFC Champion and Pride Grand Prix winner didn’t stand a chance. He immediately rushed the Russian in an attempt to bring him to the floor where Coleman, a former amateur wrestling star, excels. Coleman, who showed tremendous heart in this battle, tied up Emelianenko with hopes of getting him to the canvas. Emelianenko was pecking away with efficient punches every time he got a chance. He eventually broke loose and landed some hard shots to the face of Coleman that turned him into a bloody and swollen mess. The fight eventually went to the mat, much to Coleman’s detriment, where he was caught with an arm bar ending all matters as a very beat up Coleman opted out of battle in the second round at 1:17. It was another brilliant performance by Emelianenko whose work should be studied by all combat sports enthusiasts.

After the fight, a surreal scene unfolded. Coleman was graciously thanking people on the microphone and noticed his daughters in the audience crying their eyes out. Coleman called them in to the ring. The daughters, seemingly between the ages of 7 to 10 years old, ran into the ring crying for their disfigured father who beckoned them into his arms. “Daddy’s okay,” Coleman said to his girls. The crying subsided momentarily after Coleman’s assurance. The tears would start up again once they took another look at their father’s severely injured face. Coleman picked up his inconsolable girls and introduced them to his conqueror for the night. The cyborg-like fighting machine greeted the Coleman girls with a friendly smile. It seemed to work. Still, it makes one wonder why a fighter would bring their kids to watch them participate in a brutal sport like MMA.

Kevin “The Monster” Randleman is part of the aforementioned Mark Coleman’s camp and also excels at the ground and pound technique. He proved it when he knocked out the highly regarded Mirko “Crocop” Filipovic in 2004. Randleman, 35, squared off against Brazilian Jiu Jitsu prodigy Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Rua, 24, is one of Pride’s rising stars and its 2005 Grand Prix champion. Randleman shot out for the take down and successfully took Rua to the ground. Rua is one of the best in the business fighting from his back. Like an Amazonian boa, he maneuvered himself and positioned his opponent into an ankle lock which Randleman fought off only to end up leg locked instead. Randleman tapped out in serious pain at 2:35 of the first round in an impressive win for Rua.

American wrestler and former UFC champion Josh Barnett defeated Pawel Nastula of Poland by submitting him via heel hook. Nastula is an accomplished Judoka who holds a 1996 gold medal. The fight started out with a clinch against the ropes as both men fought for position. Nastula powered Barnett to the mat and went to work on him sneaking in punches as often as possible. Nastula was dominating the action when all of a sudden they were brought to their feet by the referee much to the Polish fighter’s chagrin who had a nice side mount going.

The fighters got back to their feet and Nastula again put the clinch on Barnett. Nastula took Barnett down and worked him over effectively. Barnett tried for a tight knee bar just before the bell rung and held it to the point where it clearly affected Nastula who seemed slightly injured from then on. Barnett came out for the second round reenergized, sensing his prey was wounded. He initiated a clinch and landed some hard shots to the face. Nastula hurt Barnett with some head shots of his own then slammed him to the canvas. Nastula was working his ground game effectively when Barnett reversed the position and quickly applied a heel hook that made Nastula submit. An exciting battle that ended in controversy since Nastula was one of two participants for the night that were found to have banned substances flowing through their veins for their encounters.

390 pound former boxer Eric “Butterbean” Esch faced off against kickboxer Sean O’Haire. The 290 pound O’Haire started off by throwing some impressive looking kicks that almost hit their mark. He should’ve stuck to kicking instead of trying to exchange hooks with Esch. Esch trapped the South Carolina native with a left hand and belted him with numerous uncontested short rights that made his opponent crumble to the canvas at twenty nine seconds of the first round. Amazingly, “The Bean” is now seven and two and making some noise in the sport. O’Haire loses in his Pride FC debut.

Dan Henderson, 36, dominated Vitor Belfort on and off the ground to win a unanimous decision. Belfort, a fighter who made his name fighting for the UFC, is known for his excellent boxing abilities and Jiu Jitsu. Although still young at 29, Belfort is not the same wunderkind we saw annihilate Wanderlei Silva in 1998 with his blazing fists. He seems battle weary at this point in his career. Dan Henderson, on the other hand, is a resilient wrestler-striker who’s in his prime and known for his hammer-like right hands. Henderson took the fight to the ground from the very first second and maintained his top position for most of the bout. Belfort had his moments but Henderson punished him for most of the time in what was a complete domination of the Brazilian. Days later, a banned substance was also discovered in Belfort’s system.

Phil Baroni, who is tabbed “The New York Bad Ass”, is known for quick fists and spectacular one punch knockouts. Standup warfare was expected since he was facing Japanese Cruiserweight boxing champion Yosuke Nishijima. Nishijima went for the punch and Baroni surprised fans by immediately slamming his opponent to the ground for several submission attempts. Baroni’s ground skills were obviously superior and he took full advantage. Nishijima’s lack of ground skills cost him as Baroni submitted him by arm bar in very un-“New York Bad Ass” fashion. The end came at 3:20 of the first round. You want to dislike Baroni due to his “badder than thou” attitude but his performances and enthusiasm can’t help but win you over.

Japan’s Kazuhiro Nakamura proved too versatile for Canadian Jiu Jitsu artist Travis Galbraith. Both men started out brawling with Nakamura landing a hard kick to Galbraith’s jaw. A left hand by Nakamura dropped Galbraith and forced him into a defensive guard. The action heated up when Galbraith tried for a leg lock which Nakamura escaped. Some nice exchanges ensued that got the crowd roaring. The end of the first round was looking good for Galbraith but Nakamura used a tremendous hip throw to steal and punctuate the round. Nakamura is a Judo specialist and for those that doubt its efficacy within mixed martial arts, this fight is a great example of Judo’s application. The second round came and started with an exchange of punches. Eventually Nakamura landed a knee to Galbraith’s chin during a clinch that put him on the canvas where Nakamura continued to rain down punches. Nakamura battered Galbraith into a second round TKO that came at 1:16.

In the opening bout, Joey Villasenor was obliterated by Robbie Lawlor at 1:22 of the first round. Lawlor landed a kick to Villasenor’s face then followed up with a perfect knee to the chin that sent a dazed Villasenor to the mat with Lawlor on top of him landing more shots as the referee jumped in and put a stop to the beating.

For more info on Pride FC go to www.pridefc.com.

Articles of 2006

Peter/Toney Ii: Peter Has The Brutal Punch

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Samuel Peter claims he has dynamites in my two hands?

Heavyweight contenders Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter and James Lights Out? Toney get it on a second time this Saturday from the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Fla. (Showtime).

The hard-slugging Peter, unlike Toney, is one of those strong, silent types notorious for letting their fists to the talking one the opening bell sounds, but the Nigeria Nightmare is as confident as ever and determined to turn Lights Out’s lights out for good.

I have got dynamites in my two hands,? said Peter, according the Lagos, Nigeria Vanguard, and I will crush James Toney once and for all. The Toney camp made the mistake of their lives by protesting and seeking a rematch. I am ready to teach him a bitter lesson.?

Sam Peter walked away with the W for Peter/Toney I at the Staples Center in LA last September, but it was by disputed split decision a verdict so disputed, there was even a dispute about the dispute which forced the WBC’s hand into mandating Saturday’s rematch.

Samuel Peter is the biggest thing to hit African boxing since Ghanaian superstar Azumah Nelson rocked the feather and junior welterweight divisions. The President of the Nigeria Boxing Board of Control, Prince Olaide Adeboye, admitted, according to allAfrica.com, We are rooting for Samuel Peter, of course. He is one boy we believe in to bring back the country’s lost glory in professional boxing. I am personally making arrangement to be at the ringside to see him fight Toney again. I was at the first fight in Los Angeles in September.

Peter has the brutal punch, and to me he was the clear winner of the first fight. But the WBC Board of Governors, of which I am a member, voted 21-10 for a rematch. There was nothing those of us Africans on the board could do in the circumstances. But I believe Peter will confirm he is better than Toney and will then go ahead to meet the champion and claim the belt for Nigeria and Africa.?

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Articles of 2006

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings for Asia

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There are claims that boxing is dying. Hogwash. The heavyweight division isn’t the only division in boxing and 2007 promises to be a banner year in boxing; especially for boxers hailing from Asia.

While Asia isn’t Vegas or Atlantic City, it is a region packed of diamonds in the rough; undiscovered gems and potential superstars who wait for their moment in the sun.

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Asia

1) Manny Pacquiao – There’s no way to dispute Pacquiao is the best fighter in Asia, if not all of boxing. He’s exciting, he wins with Je Ne Sais Quois and is definitely “the man” in boxing.

2) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam – Although his competition leaves much to be desired, his longevity and skills are undeniable. He is currently Thailand’s only world champion and is undefeated in ten years. Need I say more?

3) Chris John – A victory over Juan Manuel Marquez, however controversial, shows he belongs at the top of the heap. He easily outpointed Renan Acosta to close out 2006 and should have no trouble defending against Jose Rojas in February. A fight with Pacquiao would not be a good move on his part but a rematch with Marquez would not hurt – especially if he defeats the Mexican again.

4) Hozumi Hasegawa – Hidden away in Japan, Hasegawa is a sharp punching southpaw who put former champion Veeraphol Sahaprom to sleep. He recently bested Genaro Garcia and his herky-jerky style will give fits to any one who steps in the ring with him.

5) Masomori Tokuyama – Tokuyama has never shied away from a good fight and although he only fought once in 2006 (UD12 Jose Navarro), he ledger shows wins over Katsushige Kawashima (twice), Gerry Penalosa (twice) and In Jin Chi (twice). A fight with Hozumi Hasegawa is a distinct possibility in 2007.

6) Nobuo Nashiro – With only seven fights under his belt he took on WBA champion Martin Castillo – and defeated him. Although he’s only fought a total of nine fights, nearly all have been against quality opposition. A victory in a rematch with Castillo would cement his claim as the king of the 115-pound division.

7) Yukata Niida – This light-hitting minimumweight defended his title twice in 2006, winning a technical decision against unbeaten Eriberto Gejon (Tech Win 10) and the other on points over Ronald Barrera (W 12). Scheduled to meet Katsunari Takayama early next year – the best has yet to come for this WBA belt holder.

8) In Jin Chi – Won back the title he lost to Takashi Koshimoto in January from Rudolfo Lopez. While there’s little uncertainty to his skills, at thirty-three, 2007 may provide some insight as to just how much he has left.

9) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai –Sor Nonthachai is an exciting, top-shelf fighter with an iron chin. Has no trouble making mincemeat of mid-level opposition and deserves a title shot in 2007. Time is running out.

10) Rey Bautista – He’s young, relatively inexperienced in big-time boxing, but will continue to shine in 2007. One of the better prospects in boxing, he should snag a title in 2007.

Asian Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pound for Pound:

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #2

Jr. Lightweight

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #1
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai: #9

Featherweight

Chris John (Indonesia) #1
In Jin Chi (Korea) #3
Takashi Koshimoto (Japan) #5
Hioyuki Enoki (Japan) #7

Jr. Featherweight

Somsak Sithchatchawal (Thailand) #4

Bantamweight

Hozumi Hasegawa (Japan) #2
Veeraphol Sahaprom (Japan) #3
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin (Thailand) #6
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (Thailand) #10

Jr. Bantamweight

Nobuo Nashiro (Japan) #1
Katsushige Kawashima (Japan) #7
Pramuansak Phosuwan (Thailand) #10

Flyweight

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Thailand) #1
Takefumi Sakata (Japan) #7
Daisuke Naito (Japan) #10

Jr. Flyweight

Koki Kameda (Japan) #1

Minimumweight

Yukata Naiida (Japan) #2
Eagle Kyowa (Japan/Thai) #4
Katsunari Takayama (Japan) #5
Rodel Mayol (Philippines) #7

Boxing in Thailand

There’s no shortage of boxers in Thailand. With a huge pool of Muay Thai fighters to draw from and several talented amateur boxing prospects turning pro after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Thailand seems destined to remain a boxing powerhouse in Asia.

The country is known for having tough, determined and disciplined fighters who give their all whenever the step in to the ring. However, consistently losing while fighting abroad and padding their records with no-hopers has done nothing to enhance their reputation.

Whether because of a lack of marketability, a lack of funds or their unwillingness to travel abroad, the vast majority of boxers from Thailand remain a mystery to fans in the west. If anything though, the boxing scene involving Thai fighters will be active. In fact, it’s one of the most active in the world; since 2000, the number of fights has nearly doubled in the country.

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand – August 2006

1) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam
2) Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym
3) Somsak Sithchatchawal
4) Wandee Singwancha
5) Sirimongkol Singwancha
6) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai
7) Veeraphol Sahaprom
8) Pramuansak Phosuwan
9) Terdsak Jandaeng
10) Oleydong Sithamerchai

Current Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand

1) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Flyweight) – Definitely the top dog in Thailand

2) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai (Super Lightweight) – He’s a seasoned fighter who has proven himself in the big-time. He’s one Thai who can fight outside of Asia. He has an abundance of skills and one-punch power. His overall ability and ease in dispatching anyone other than championship caliber get him the runners-up spot.

3) Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (Super Bantamweight) – After losing to Vladimir Sidorenko he’s bounced back. He’s young, he can punch, but the former interim champion needs to prove himself against a name fighter.

4) Somsak Sithchatchawal (Super Bantamweight) – Was his win over Monshipour a fluke or was Celestino Caballero just that good? Did Sithchatchawal catch Monshipour at the right time and can he rebound from the devastating loss? The jury is still out.

5) Wandee Singwancha (Flyweight) – He doesn’t have much of a punch which will be his downfall in the end. He can box, as was evidenced in his recent victory over Juanito Rubillar, but this won’t be enough. He can no longer make the Jr. Flyweight limit and with no punch he’ll have a hard time competing against the “big boys.” Although he’s now rated second by the WBC, he doesn’t deserve to be.

5) Sirimongkol Singwancha (Super Lightweight) – Get this guy a fight. He’s better than Jose Armando Santa Cruz and would have beat up Inada had the fight taken place. He’ll fight anyone but his biggest obstacle is staying motivated fighting tomato cans in Thailand. Like many Thais, he needs a fight against a name opponent.
6) Wandee Singwancha (Flyweight) – He doesn’t have much of a punch which will be his downfall in the end. He can box, as was evidenced in his recent victory over Juanito Rubillar, but this won’t be enough. He can no longer make the Jr. Flyweight limit and with no punch he’ll have a hard time competing against the “big boys.” Although he’s now rated second by the WBC, he doesn’t deserve to be.

7) Pramuansak Phosuwan (Super Flyweight) – A genuine tough guy. Always calm and focused no matter how heated the battle. But at thirty-eight, he’ll be in trouble should he fight one of the division’s elite.
8) Veeraphol Sahaprom (Bantamweight) – Will be lucky to get another crack at the title. Although he has a puncher’s chance of winning a belt, that’s about all he has left at this point. A third shot at Hasegawa is unlikely.

9) Oleydong Sithamerchai (Minimumweight) – He’s fought better than the usual opponents faced by Thais at his level and he moves up one spot with the departure of Terdsak Jandaeng. He lacks the punch and is in the wrong division to become a superstar. He’ll need to defeat a name opponent to convince me.

10) Saenghiran Lookbanyai / Napapol Kittisakchokchai (Super Bantamweight) – These two square-off in early March, supposedly to see who deserves a shot at Israel Vasquez. Kittisakchokchai has the edge in experience but some feel Lookbanyai has the edge in heart and is the favorite.

Neither has defeated a top twenty fighter and yet are ranked number one and two respectively in the WBC’s world.

In Kittisakchokchoi’s lone shot at the big-time, he was TKO’d in 10 by Oscar Larios. His dreadful performance against Larios and lack of quality opposition leads me to believe Saenghiran might have more of a shot at beating him than some suspect. Regardless, neither of them lasts longer than six rounds with Israel Vasquez.

Honorable Mention: Wethya Sakmuangklang, Denkaosan Kaovichit, Devid Lookmahanak, Nethra Sasiprapa, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Pornsawan Kratingdaenggym

Thai Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam: #1 Flyweight
Pramuansak Phosuwan: #10 Jr. Bantamweight
Veeraphol Sahaprom: #3 Bantamweight
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin: #6 Bantamweight
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym: #10 Bantamweight
Somsak Sithchatchawal: #3 Jr. Featherweight
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai: #9 Lightweight

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Articles of 2006

Iceman Stops Tito Ortiz Win Streak

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LAS VEGAS—UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck “Iceman” Liddell’s fists proved too much for Huntington Beach’s Tito Ortiz who was stopped in the third round before a sold out crowd at the MGM Garden Arena on Saturday.

The punching machine Liddell (20-3, 13 KOs) repeated his victory in UFC 66 over the much-improved grappler Ortiz who has improved his punching and blocking. Ortiz was trying to avenge his loss of April 2004.

Despite all the new weapons displayed by Ortiz it wasn’t enough as Liddell pummeled the former champion and retained his title with a technical knockout at 3:59 of the third round. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bout.

“This was the most satisfying victory of my career,” said Liddell, 36, of Santa Barbara. “Tito came back real tough.”

Ortiz (15-5, 8 KOs), a former wrestler, worked on his boxing technique knowing he would need it against the former boxer Liddell. But Liddell’s experience allowed him to find the right moment to pounce on Ortiz.

“I had him hurt, I just kept throwing punches,” said Liddell who also knocked down Ortiz in the first round with a left hook.

Ortiz was gracious in defeat.

“Chuck is the best fighter Pound for Pound in the (mixed martial arts) world,” said Ortiz, 31, who suffered a gash on the side of his left eye from a punch. “I’m disgusted by myself. I let my fans down.”

Other bouts

Underdog Keith Jardine (12-3-1) knocked out Forrest Griffin (13-4) at 4:41 of the first round in their light heavyweight showdown. A right uppercut followed by a left hook wobbled Griffin who was sent to the floor by a barrage of punches. On the ground Jardine landed right after right until referee John McCarthy stopped the fight for a technical knockout.

“I couldn’t believe he was hurt,” said Jardine about Griffin who is known for his resiliency. “I was so nervous coming into this fight, but now I know I belong here.”

Canada’s Jason McDonald (18-7) choked out Chris Leben (15-3) in a middleweight bout that was up for grabs. Though Leben seemed to control the fight with stunning left hands, once the fight went to the ground McDonald managed a chokehold at 4:03 of the second round. Referee Steve Mazagatti saw Leben was unconscious and stopped the fight.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski (12-5) caught Brazil’s Mario Cruz (2-2) with a sneak right hand while both were tangled on the ground. Then the Belarusian pummeled Cruz until referee Herb Dean stopped the fight at 3:15 of the first round.

Third season winner of the Ultimate Fighter television reality season Michael Bisping (12-0) of Great Britain won by technical knockout over Eric Shafer (9-2-2) at 4:29 of the first round. A knee knocked Shafer groggy then Bisping knocked him to the ground and pounded him. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bludgeoning.

Thiago Alves (16-4) caught Peru’s Tony De Souza (15-5) with a knee as he attempted to dive for his legs in a welterweight contest. After that it was pretty much over as Alves pummeled De Souza at 1:10 of the second round forcing referee John McCarthy to halt the bout.

Gabriel Gonzago (7-1) proved too strong for Carmelo Marrero (6-1) in a heavyweight bout. At 3:22 of the first round Gonzago of Massachusetts manipulated his way into arm bar forcing Pennsylvania’s Marrero to tap out.

Japan’s Yushin Okami (19-3) pounded Georgia’s Rory Singer (11-6) into submission at 4:03 of the third round of a middleweight bout. Okami seemed the more-rounded fighter with effective kicks to the head and more accurate punching.

Christian Wellisch (8-2) jumped to a quick start with an accurate left hook that rattled Australia’s Anthony Perosh (5-3) in a heavyweight bout. During the first round it seemed the Sacramento fighter might end the fight but the Aussie hung tough. Wellisch won by unanimous decision.

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