Kumite Awards 2012

20121231-193819.jpg
Ok, we’ve only existed as a page for the last two months of the year but its not as if we suddenly discovered MMA and decided to write about it. Hopefully next year well be able to do an awards thing voted for by our readers but for this year just as a bit of fun, let’s see who the Kumite boys thought made a mark on MMA in 2012.

Male Fighter of the Year
(As your might expect, this is to reflect the fighter that we thought was most dominant and impressive in 2012)

Chris – Benson Henderson

Benson won three UFC world title fights this year. Nobody else can say that. He’s also growing into the role as an ambassador for the sport and the company, conducting himself like a class act at all times. Oh yeah, and apparently competing with a toothpick in his mouth. Nutter.

Ross – Benson Henderson

Winning the title and defending it twice including the systematic destruction of Nate Diaz last week (UFC on FOX 4.)

Iain – Johnny Hendricks

This has been the year that he has put all the pieces together to become a formidable force in the WW division.

Female Fighter of the Year
(In the interests of equal coverage, the girls get a fighter of the year award as well.)

Chris – Jessica Penne

Partially because I know everyone else will pick Ronda, I’m gonna shine a wee spotlight on someone else who’s got two wins this year and has a shiny belt to show for it. I give you, the first ever Invicta FC champion at Atomweight. There is more to WMMA than blond, mouthy judokas with effective armbars.

Ross – Ronda Rousey

For winning the Strikeforce title, taking WMMA to the next level and being the first ever UFC Women’s champion, it’s got to be Ronda.

Iain – Ronda Rousey

Obviously.

Breakthrough Male Fighter of the Year
(The outright Fighter of the Year award tends to go to fighters who are champions, who dominate divisions. The Breakthrough award is for competitors who’ve moved up from being just another fighter or not even on the radar, to looking like the next big thing.)

Chris – Alexander Gustafsson

For me, the Mauler has been one of the coming men at 205lbs for a while, but this year he really stepped up and showed he’s got the skills and maturity to beat top guys in the UFC. With ageing former champions and plucky Middleweights running short, the UFC are surely going to give him his shot in 2013.

Ross – Rory MacDonald

Especially after last weekend (the UFC on FOX win over BJ Penn) he has now really broken out as one of the top fighters to watch for the future.

Iain – Glover Teixera

After two fights in the UFC, it looks as though no other LHW is keen on facing this dude

Breakthrough Female Fighter of the Year
(Just like the guys, this is for the girl fighter who’s burst onto the scene this year.)

Chris – Joanne Calderwood

From making her debut to fighting on three continents, going undefeated and being in a position to turn down an Invicta FC title shot because her coaches didn’t think it was the right match to take at this time, Jo has blazed a trail through WMMA this year. Hell, when did you ever hear of someone being legitimately ranked in the top ten of their weight class after four fights AND taking time to go an win a Muay Thai world title on the side?

Ross – Joanne Calderwood

Being the only female professional MMA fighter in Scotland and already breaking into the international market, big win in Invicta debut and throw in her Muay Thai world title for good measure. Slightly biased yes but still not undeserved.

Iain – Ronda Rousey

I’m awarding this as she has broken mainstream in 2012

British Fighter of the Year
(We’re a UK based site, so we like to throw some light on British fighters. What’s wrong with that?)

Chris – Jimi Manuwa

Part of me really wanted to give this to one of the wildly impressive Dinky Ninjas, be it Graham Turner, Robert Whiteford, Steven Ray, or Jo Calderwood. Another part of me wanted to show some love for the new breed of Irish champions in Cage Warriors, Chris Fields and Conor McGregor. However, having been at UFC Nottingham and seen a truly awe inspiring beating on the tough as nails Kyle Kingsbury, I have to shout out to Jimi Manuwa who looks like he could really make waves in the UFC.

Ross – Brad Pickett

I wrestled with this one, was all set to give it to Graham Turner for his 2 title wins and impressive performance at CW on Saturday, then also considered Dan Hardy for his comeback year, but with 2 big wins putting him back into title contention I’m going to go with Pickett.

Iain – Paul Craig

I could go for Bisping, however I’m going for Scottish Hit Squad Fighter Paul Craig, I see a huge future in this talented fighter

Fight of the Year
(Pretty self explanatory, this is for the fight from the past year we could watch of and over again, that we’d use as an example to someone new to MMA about what was great about the sport.)

Chris – Jim Miller vs. Joe Lauzon

It might be just because its the one that freshest in my mind, seeing as Im writing my picks in the aftermath of UFC 155 but this fight had everything. Tremendous amounts of heart and skill from both guys, a wafer thin decision and tremendous mutual respect from two top quality competitors. This fight is a great testament as to why I love MMA.

Ross – The Korean Zombie vs. Dustin Poirier

Despite promising many big fights 2012 has been a bit low on the spectacular, but this was a cracking fight so going with that.

Iain – Georges St Pierre vs. Carlos Condit

Well worth the wait and did not disappoint

KO of the Year
(For that strikes based finish which had us jumping out their seats, feeling the pain through our TVs and just a little fearing for the hearing of the guy who got knocked out.)

Chris – Jose Aldo (vs. Chad Mendes)

There have been a few nice KOs this year, but this one from January stuck in my mind because of the way it was set up. Aldo wriggled free from Mendes who had his back against the cage and as the grappler was unbalanced forwards and probably looking to re-establish grappling contact ASAP, Jose knew he’d be leaning forward. Aiming a left high kick AS HE SPUN out of the hold, Aldo landed a shot clean on Mendes face which sent him out cold and prompted one of the most memorable celebrations of the year.

Ross – Edson Barboza (vs. Terry Etim)

Way back in January and was always going to be hard to beat, still a shame it was against Terry though.

Iain – Cung Le (vs. Rich Franklin)

Just purely for Rich’s face-plant.

Submission of the Year
(The grappling finish that lit us up the most, either as a display of slick grappling or because it just seemed so right or important.)

Chris – Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (vs. Dave Herman)

Just because Herman said that jiujitsu didn’t work on him, before fighting Nog, in Brazil. H HAD to get subbed and he was, and all was right with the world.

Ross – Ronda Rousey (vs. Meisha Tate)

There have been some fantastic subs this year so this was also a tough choice, but when you take this as the great submission it was and add that it pretty much took WMMA into the limelight then it just pips the competition in my opinion.

Iain – Matt Riddle (vs. Chris Clements)

Even though it is officially a NC (despite a usage exemption), a standing arm-in triangle choke was awesome

Referee of the Year
(The third man in the cage is a tough, lonely place to be. This award is for the ref that you breathe a sigh of relief when you realise they’re gonna be in charge of your most anticipated match on a card and its not going to be marred by a bad ref call.)

Chris – Herb Dean

With the luxury of going last I can see who the other guys have given nods to, and while I totally agree that Mrk Goddard is a great ref, I think its only fair to give some props to the guy that I like to see working any of the cards in the US that Marc doesn’t do. You’re always glad to see Herb, especially in a match between big hitting fighters, safe in he knowledge that he’s got the experience to call the finish at the right time and the sheer size to pull one guy off the other.

Ross – Marc Goddard

Not only is he a 1st class referee and incredibly consistent but he also spends his time away from the cage coaching both fighters and potential judges/referees as well as generally promoting the sport in this country and trying to push it forward with initiatives like SAFE MMA.

Iain – Marc Goddard

Never seen him give a truly awful decision, unlike Steve Stopagatti

Promotion of the Year
(The promotion that we feel does MMA correctly and is presenting the sport in the right light. Not necessarily the biggest…)

Chris – Invicta FC

From nowhere to one of the most important promotions in the world in three events. Invicta has opened up a major platform for female fighters, especially at the less fashionable weights below 135lbs to showcase their talents. Showing that all-female cards can be compelling and marketable and that the girls can stand on their own rather than being a sideshow afterthought on predominantly male cards, Invicta did great things for MMA this year.

Ross – Cage Warriors

Really established themselves as arguably the top MMA Promotion in Europe and the Middle East, consistently great cards, doing things the right way and generally being a shining light for MMA in the UK especially, the UFC would usually be a shoe in for this but 2012 has been rough for them so I think CW deserve it this year.

Iain – Vision FC

Very impressed with the professional look and set-up from this fledgling promotion.

Event of the Year
(The event that will live longest in the memory, for a clutch of awesome, important fights)

Chris – Cage Warriors 50

It has to be the stunning Cage Warriors show in Glasgow, the biggest MMA event ever in Scotland. To see competitors like Wilson Reis in my hometown was just awesome and the performances by the likes of Graham Turner, Dan Hope and Alan Johnston really made the night. The Scots are coming. Be afraid.

Ross – UFC 146 – Dos Santos vs. Mir

Despite having my reservations at first I ended up really enjoying this card and it was probably the most fun one of the year

Iain – UFC 146 – Dos Santos vs. Mir

Apart from the Dolloway v Miller fight this did not disappoint.

MMA Personality of the Year
(This one goes out to the MMA fighter, promoter, journalist or hanger on that made the biggest impact this year.)

Chris – Dr Johnny Benjamin

After his starring role in the pre UFC 155 vlogs, I was almost tempted to go for ‘Nick the Tooth’ but I have to give a nod to MMA Junkie’s resident MMA doctor for his continuing campaign of saying unpopular things which need to be said for the health of the fighters and good of the sport. Carry on that man.

Ross – Chael Sonnen

Just ’cause he is Chael Sonnen

Iain – Chael Sonnen

Love him or hate him as a fighter, or what he says, he is always entertaining

Hero of the Year
(The MMA figure who has been most inspirational, by example, ethic and/or effort this year.)

Chris – Shannon Knapp

They said it couldn’t be done, but she did it. In the space of twelve months, Shannon has revolutionised the landscape of WMMA and helmed an all-female promotion to being one of the most interesting and exciting promotions on the planet. What’s more, she’s done it in such a way that the fighters have remained centre stage the whole time, promoting her brand, the concept of high level WMMA and her fighters ahead of herself, most unlike the vainglory which seems to affect many male promoters. For a job well and classily done, against all the odds and even though there is yet far to go, I salute you ma’am.

Ross – Brian Stann

I don’t think you can fail to respect and like Stann, quality inside and out of the cage, class act.

Iain – Brain Stann

For not continuing to punch Alessio Sakara when he was clearly out, great sportmanship

Villain of the Year
(MMA isn’t pantomime or even pro wrestling, so there shouldn’t really BE villains. However, some personalities and fighters have unfortunate character traits, a tendency to play the heel, a downright petulant side or just end up being the one taking the fall for unpopular events. Here’s who we’re blaming for the ills of the MMA world this year…)

Chris – Nick Diaz fanboys

For propagating the trend of calling an evasive striker ‘scared to fight’ when defeated by more effective tactics, for talking trash about MMA in general, for getting busted when he didn’t need to, for convincing an army of fanboys to argue that marijuana shouldn’t be considered an illegal substance even though it is clearly labelled as such in the rules, and for managing to squeeze himself back into a title shot despite coming off a loss and a years suspension. Hell, I’m not even naming Nick as the villain, because he’s just himself and he came across REALLY well in the Primetime series. It’s his fanboys, the kind of folks who just want to see wars at the expense of skill, who want heels and feuds rather than top level competition, who think the rules and concepts of earning a title shot should be waived for their preferred ‘thug’ fighter. WWE Raw shows every Monday night, you should find that more to your liking…

Ross – Jon Jones

After the cancelation of UFC 151 he became the pantomime baddy of 2012

Iain – Dana White

Because everyone loves to hate the boss.

Warrior Award
(Our last award goes to the fighter we’d most like to give an award to for being game, for being the never give up, keep moving forward, I shall not tap kind of fighter we all love, even if they aren’t always the most winning.)

Chris – Fabio Maldonado & Junior dos Santos

Fabio for his immense heart in refusing to buckle under the immense onslaught of Glover Texeira and to keep coming back, even looking like he might score a KO off the back foot before the doctor stepped in.
Again, perhaps because its fresh in my mind – Junior dos Santos for gutting out five rounds against Cain Velasquez when anyone in their right mind, with any thought of self preservation would have just sunk to their knees anytime after the middle of the first round and let the finish come.
Both of these guys showed incredible amounts of heart, which is something you can’t train.

Actually, in that vein I want to shout out to Chris Bungard of the Scottish Hit Squad who took a fearful beating at the Vision Fight Night in October but kept getting back up and moving forward. Heart of a warrior, that boy.

Ross – Georges St-Pierre

For fighting back from the brink of injury ending his career to put on one of the fights of the year while maintaining his consummate professional attitude, a true martial artist.

Iain – Pat Barry

He’ll go in there and give his all, despite the deficiencies in his game

That’s all from us and please remember this was a short notice, light hearted attempt at an awards article. All the best in 2013 from the Kumite Team.

MMA Monday – 31 December 2012

20121231-081741.jpg
UFC 155 results, change to Invicta FC title match, the issue of booing & upcoming events…

There’s only really been one big MMA event this weekend, so we’ll cover the results of that below but there are a few other issues that have come up that I want to address.

Change to Invicta FC 4 Title Match

Overnight on Friday it transpired that Claudia Gadelha was injured and had to be pulled from the Straw-weight title fight at Invicta 4. It eventually emerged that Bec “Rowdy” Hyatt got the call to step into the main event, which caused the Internet to explode a bit.

In the first instance, many fans (including myself) thought that Joanne Calderwood was the logical choice to step in, being unbeaten and having a KO victory in Invicta already. Some fans decided to have a go at Invicta and Bec accusing them of all kinds of misdemeanours, basically amounting to favouritism etc.

What nonsense.

As it transpired, Jo’s coaches had refused the title shot as they felt that taking a match against a top level wrestler (the other half of the scheduled main event, Carla Esparza) on a week’s notice after having prepared for a striker for months was a poor career choice, looking at the long term. In my eyes, that’s perfectly fair.

On the other hand, Bec Hyatt was making her promotional debut against a ranked opponent she was expected to lose to. Then she gets the opportunity to do that in the main event with a title on the line. If she loses, then she’ll be roughly where the oddsmakers expected her to be, but with added kudos from Invicta for being game, while as this is MMA she could well wake up next Sunday as the champion…

In that light, both fighters (or their management) have acted 100% in their own interests, and Invicta acted properly in basically offering the title shot to the most suitable girls in the weight class until one accepted.

Anyone accusing Bec of ducking Jo, or Joanne of lacking heart (it turns out she never even made the decision) or Invicta of impropriety is being a complete troll and needs to get a grip of themselves. You’re not helping anyone, least of all your favourite fighter…

That said, the have been some spicy words shared between the two girls via a clutch of interviews (not least our own) and social media posts and I have to say, I REALLY want to see Hyatt vs. Calderwood on an Invicta card in 2013. Perhaps with the title on the line…

Why Boo?

I was more than a little disgusted to hear booing throughout Saturday’s UFC 155 event and especially during Junior dos Santos’ post fight interview. I’ve never understood the need that some people feel to boo athletes, especially in a combat sports environment. I personally will only boo athletes who cheat or act unprofessionally or without respect, but never for losing or being ‘boring.’

Some will defend this activity on the basis that they have paid their money and can cheer or boo who they like. Ill agree, you have that right but that doesn’t make it right to do it.

I find the need to abuse the opposition to your favourite fighter to be inherently negative and depressing and for every fan who boos a fight that is apparently boring, I’d like to see them step into the cage and do better. Or perhaps attend a grappling class and learn more about MMA rather than expecting 24/7 bad kickboxing.

I do not deny that you need competing fans to build atmosphere, but that should involve cheering for your guy, not being classless towards the opposition. I will applaud EVERY fighter in and out of the cage, as they have the guts and skill to do something that is beyond myself and I love to witness.

Results

UFC 155: Dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2
Sat, 29 Dec 2012
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

MAIN
• Cain Velasquez def. Junior dos Santos via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-43, 50-44) – to win heavyweight title
• Jim Miller def. Joe Lauzon via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
• Constantinos Philippou def. Tim Boetsch via TKO (strikes) – Round 3, 2:11
• Yushin Okami def. Alan Belcher via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
• Derek Brunson def. Chris Leben via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

PRELIMINARY
• Eddie Wineland def. Brad Pickett via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 30-27)
• Erik Perez def. Byron Bloodworth via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 3:50
• Jamie Varner def. Melvin Guillard via split decision (30-27, 27-30, 30-27)
• Myles Jury def. Michael Johnson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

PRELIMINARY
• Todd Duffee def. Philip De Fries via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 2:04
• Leonard Garcia vs. Max Holloway via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
John Moraga def. Chris Cariaso via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 3, 1:11

Upcoming

We’ve got Cage Warriors 51 streaming live tonight on Facebook (from 7pm GMT) & http://www.mmajunkie.com (from 9pm GMT) and Invicta FC 4 streaming live on Saturday at http://www.invictafc.com for the low, low pay per view price of about £5. We’d advise that you check both out.

We’ve got some light hearted content for New Year week, with our staff picked awards, review of MMA in 2012 and what to look forward to in 2013 if anyone feels like visiting. Well also have an updated interview with new Invicta FC headliner Bec Hyatt at some point before Saturday (the poor girl is currently flying back in time from Australia to the US which must be confusing…)

Anyways, that’s what we’ve got coming up and we hope you have a cracking Hogmanay and all the best in 2013. Our heartfelt thanks for all support to Kumite to date and we promise there is much, much more to come.

Slainte,

Chris

Cage Warriors 51 Preview

20121228-103415.jpg
There’s no winter break in MMA! Looking to round out a very successful 2012 with a bang, Europe’s #1 MMA promotion, Cage Warriors are presenting a special New Years Eve show with not one, but TWO World title fights on the card.

The rest of the card is pretty stacked as well, so let me explain exactly why I’ll be staying in and hooking my laptop up to my TV on New Years Eve (with a few friends round and a stack of beer in the fridge of course.)

The main event sees the currently vacant Cage Warriors Lightweight title up for grabs in a mouthwatering match between Featherweight champion Conor McGregor (11-2) and top ranked Slovakian Ivan Buchinger (21-3).

McGregor is riding a seven fight win streak, and in his thirteen professional fights to date, he has NEVER gone to the judges scorecards – in fact he’s never seen a fight go to the third round, which bodes well for entertainment and time management! With all but one of his wins coming by (T)KO and both his losses coming via submission, he’s going to want to keep this standing to become the first fighter to hold two Cage Warriors belts at the same time.

Buchinger isn’t going to let him have it easy however, and while the majority of his wins have come via submission, he’s got more than a few KO wins including his last two fights. Buchinger has an advantage size, experience and arguably well roundedness on McGregor (who is fighting above his usual weight, remember) but given that Ivan has won his last few via TKO, McGregor won his last fight by submission and the influence of a partisan Dublin crowd can’t be discounted, I’m making no predictions here.

Ok, I’ll make one. It’s gonna be a GREAT scrap.

Our co-main event is also a title fight as Ireland’s Chris Fields (10-4) makes his first defence of his Cage Warriors Middleweight belt against former Ultimate Fighter contestant Jesse Taylor (23-9).

Fields is another one of the current exciting generation of Irish fighters who seem to be phobic about decisions and all but guaranteed to put on exciting fights (along with Conor McGregor, Owen Roddy and John Michael Shiel) and comes into this fight having posted a 2-1 record in 2012 with huge TKO wins over Jack Mason and Pavel Kusch book ending a submission loss to John Phillips. That’s not to say he’s one dimensional as he’s equally capable of winning fights with his fists or his submission skills.

That’s just as well, because Jesse Taylor has made a habit out of grinding out decision and submission wins across the world, including a comprehensive 2010 decision win over top British Middleweight Tom Watson.

He comes into this bout on a three fight win streak following his loss to Gael Grimaud at Welterweight on Cage Warriors Fight Night 6 back in May (yes, this is his fifth match this year, he’s a busy, well travelled lad) and having only dropped losses to genuinely top class opposition like Grimaud, Mahmed Khalidov, Hector Lombard and Luke Rockhold in the past few years he poses a real threat to the less experienced Fields.

Of course, we’re backing the Irishman to knock the grapple happy American out. It’d be un neighbourly to feel any other way!

Cage Warriors continue their policy of promoting high level women’s MMA on their cards as Ireland’s Aisling Daly (13-4) looks to rebound from back to back losses to Rosi Sexton at Cage Warriors 47 and Barb Honchak at Invicta FC 3 when she squares off against undefeated Finnish fighter Katja Kankaanpaa (6-0-1).

Daly brings an advantage in size and experience into the fight, that when combined with home advantage makes it hard to look past her for the win here. That said, this IS MMA and it’s never wise to discount an undefeated and undoubtedly well rounded opponent like Katja.

The bottom two matches of the main card have sadly been affected by injury as John Michael Shiel has had to pull out of his bout against Jack Mason (21-11) at late notice, but is replaced by Frenchman Florent Betorangal (10-5) who presents a very different challenge to the experienced Mason. All of a sudden we have a battle of two submission artists rather than a styles clash and its always interesting when the dynamic of a bout changes like that.

Sadly, the bout between Liam James and Alan Philpott has had to be scratched from the card since James has also succumbed to injury and a replacement could not be found to face Philpott.

Instead, the main card will open with the Lightweight bout between Paul Redmond (5-3) and Ryan Roddy (5-0).

The main card will stream live and for free on http://www.mmajunkie.com from 7pm GMT and the prelims will start two hours earlier on the Cage Warriors Facebook page and are well worth checking out, not least for Cage Warriors Fighter of the Year, James Brum (10-2) looking to pick up his fourth win under the Cage Warriors banner in 2012 against Moktar Benkaci (8-3).

What more could you possibly want to kick off your Hogmanay celebrations?

It’s been a great year for Cage Warriors, and 2013 looks set to be even better but first, they’re sending 2012 out with a bang. Ill be watching, and so should you as we consign 2012 to Auld Lang Syne in style.

Cage Warriors 51
Mon, 31 Dec 2012
Dublin, Ireland
MAIN (MMAjunkie.com, 7 p.m. GMT)
• Conor McGregor vs. Ivan Buchinger – for vacant lightweight title
• Chris Fields vs. Jesse Taylor – for middleweight title
• Aisling Daly vs. Katja Kankaanpaa
• Jack Mason vs. Florent Betorangel
• Paul Redmond vs. Ryan Roddy

PRELIMINARY (Facebook, 5 p.m. GMT)
• Moktar Benkaci vs. James Brum
• Philip Mulpeter vs. Tommy Quinn
• Henry Fadipe vs. Charlie Watts

Jo Calderwood Interview

20121227-104242.jpg
After a meteoric rise in her debut year, Scotland’s only professional female MMA fighter, Joanne Calderwood is looking to build on her unbeaten record when facing Australian Bec Hyatt at Invicta FC 4 on January 5th.

A multiple time Muay Thai champion, Jo has honed her MMA game at the Griphouse gym in Glasgow and after a brace of wins at home either side of a trip to fight under the SFL banner in India (comfortably defeating a nine fight veteran in only her second pro bout) she got the call from Invicta and made a big impression on her debut, scoring a highlight reel knockout over highly regarded American fighter Ashley Cummins with a knee to the liver in the first round. That unbeaten debut year has been capped of by Jo winning both Personality and Performance of the Year in the Scottish MMA Awards.

Coming back for her sophomore outing in Invicta, at an event where the promotion will crown it’s first champion in her weight class, Calderwood’s match is one of the most hotly anticipated on the card.

We’d like to thank Jo for taking the time to answer our questions and it’s time to turn it over to the girl herself.

1 – How long have you been involved in MMA, where did you start, what was your first discipline?

I’ve been involved in MMA for a few years now but only been fighting MMA for about a year, as I had real trouble getting matched initially.

I started from Muay Thai which was my first discipline almost 15 years ago, competed all over the world winning European and a world title, I had my eye on MMA for a little while before I started training for it.

2 – This is your second fight in Invicta and a win would put you on an unbeaten 5-0 streak. Do you think that would get you a title shot at the winner of Esparza vs. Gadelha?

I’m not really looking past this fight. I’m really focused on getting another win and putting on a great fight. The Invicta championship belt is one of my goals in the sport though and il be watching the Esparza v Gadelha fight with interest.

3 – You won your last fight with a scary looking knee to the liver that was copied a week later by none other than Anderson Silva. How does it feel to have the greatest MMA fighter of all time stealing your moves?

Haha…I love everything about Anderson’s style in and out of the cage. I like how calm he is in there and just how well rounded he is, the fact he seems to be inventing new moves and performing the way he does at the very highest level so consistently is something I admire. I’ve been giving the nickname Joanderson silva which has stuck, being compared to the pound for pound best fighter on the planet isn’t a bad thing 🙂

4 – You’re best known as a kickboxer, but you’re an accomplished grappler as well. Your opponent Bec Hyatt has two wins by submission. Will you be looking to prove a point and get your first submission win?

I like to test myself where my opponents strongest, when I fought Lena on the SFL show she was 8-1 with 6 wins by arm bar, I out grappled her and she defended my submission attempts. I’m happy to fight anywhere, I’ve been busy in grappling competitions for a few years and l always medal and submit people. The girls Bec has submitted are nowhere near my level.

5 – Despite only having your first MMA bout less than a year ago, this is your third long haul trip. Does the travelling make it harder to focus your training and weight cut in the last week?

I don’t like flying so yea….haha nah to be honest it doesn’t I enjoy going away and even if I was jet lagged I’m not going to let it stop me after the amount of work I’ve put in for the fight, jet lag seems to be an excuse for bad performance sometimes, but it’s all mental. I’ve got experience fighting all over the world in Muay Thai so it wasn’t an issue for me fighting MMA, if anything I knew I would have to travel once I started just because there isn’t a lot of girls around in Europe, especially not ones wanting there pro MMA debut to be against someone with my Thai record.

6 – What difference does it make to come from such a close, tight knit team as the Dinky Ninjas? We’ve seen evidence that you are busting the guys up…

It’s awesome, as much as its me getting in there and fighting, MMA is a team sport and our teams like a big family.
I’m a big Sons of Anarchy fan and often think that we are similar to them apart from the killings and stuff but they have this brotherhood that’s hard to break even when things are tough these guys always have my back and I’ve always got there’s.

7 – It’s been a huge year for the Griphouse with yourself, your fiancé James Doolan and teammates likes Graham Turner, Robert Whiteford and everyone else scoring big wins and bringing some belts back to the gym. Is the Ninja takeover set to roll into 2013?

The team have been doing great things for years and this year was in some ways the result of a lot of things that’s went before, 2012 was a big year for the team and the guys you mentioned 2013 will be bigger though, we plan on carrying the momentum of the last few years on into next year.

8 – To date, you’re Scotland’s only professional female mixed martial artist. Do you feel like a trailblazer and can you see any other Scots girls joining you soon?

We did have a girl that had one pro fight in England but she left and went to wrestling. I would like to see more scots girls joining me, cause we are all crazy bitches but MMA helps me get rid of that mood/psycho bit in me. I was inspired in some ways by WMMA pioneer Rosi Sexton and I’d like to pioneer female MMA fighters in Scotland. I get a lot of media attention and get lots of messages from young girls who like watching me fight and that’s something I really like.

9 – You often use the hashtag #HappyFeet on Twitter. If you had to do a victory dance instead of a post fight interview, what kind of dance would it be?

My coach Paul McVeigh is really disappointment in me as I can’t dance to save myself and he is a self proclaimed awesome dancer and if I wanted to I’m sure I could get him to teach me but not into it.

The hash tag happy feet is when I’m feeling humble like when I think of mumble from the happy feet films which I’ve seen about 50 times.

10 – What would you say to any girls considering taking up MMA?

Tweet me on @badmofo_jojo or message me on Facebook page jojo calderwood I’d be more than happy to answer any questions if it helped. But I’d say ‘just do it’ once you get started you won’t regret it.

Last of all, a shout out to your sponsors, gym etc.

Thanks for the interview and thanks to my sponsors: Scotland’s number one gym the Griphouse, stark, sas nutrition, fight camp, funkygums.com and devils own who are currently designing my signature tee (watch this space)
Make sure you tune in to http://www.InvictaFC.com on the 5th of January where I’ll be throwing a shrimp on the Barbie 😉

Kumite would like to thank Jo for speaking to us a we’ll definitely be staying up late to watch her bring the win back home to Scotland.

Bec “Rowdy” Hyatt Interview

20121226-222657.jpg
Following on from the example set by the likes of Kyle Noke, George Sotiropoulos and Anthony Perosh as well as the recent Ultimate Fighter: the Smashes series it’s time for the first Australian girl to make her mark on high level MMA in the shape of Bec “Rowdy” Hyatt who makes her stateside debut at Invicta 4 on January 5th.

Hyatt comes into this fight having posted a 4-1 record in various Australian promotions such as Brace for War, Valor and Nitro MMA with only one of her matches going to a decision. Since losing her first fight by a head kick KO, she’s assembled a four fight win streak and comes into Invicta with some momentum, looking to make an impression and do Australia proud when she faces off with unbeaten Scottish fighter Joanne Calderwood in Kansas.

Bec kindly took some time out to answer our questions, so lets see what the First Lady of Aussie MMA has to say…

1 – How long have you been involved in MMA, where did you start, what was your first discipline?

I began training less than 3 years ago & actually started as a way to lose weight. I was a fatty & have lost almost 30kg since then, so I owe a lot to this sport. I initially joined the original Launceston Combat Club in Tasmania, Australia, which my now husband created & ran. I first wanted to do just kickboxing lessons, but it wasn’t long until I fell in love with MMA & grappling though, and I haven’t looked back since. This is what I want to do with my life & I’m planning to be around this sport for a long, long time!

2 – What first got you into martial arts?

As mentioned above, I began first & foremost to lose weight, but also because I was doing absolutely nothing with my life other than binge drinking on the weekends & hanging out with douche nozzles. Martial Arts have changed my life completely & I couldn’t be happier with the decision that I made to walk into the gym that day.

3 – You’re the first Australian signed to Invicta, joining a select band of Aussies on the International MMA circuit. How is MMA growing in Australia and do you expect more Aussies to be breaking through soon?

Its an absolute honor to be the first Australian signed by Invicta & its something I don’t take lightly at all. MMA in Australia is slowly but surely picking up & I think the rest of the world will start to see a steady increase of Aussies competing on the world stage soon enough. Now more than ever there are more fight shows & fighters, which is a good thing & a bad thing at times, but as far female MMA in Australia is concerned, there have been many talented female fighters before me, but none have had even a quarter of the exposure I have had. I believe I’m in the best position to build WMMA in Australia right now & its my hope that other female fighters from here can follow in my foot steps.

4 – You describe yourself as an ‘inflicter of ridiculously stylish violence’ but with half your wins by submission, do you think a highlight reel KO or slick sub is the more stylish way to win?

My style of fighting is ridiculously stylish, no matter the way I finish. When the cage door locks, its me or my opponent from the get go & I’m going for the win all out or I’m going to crash & burn trying. There is no middle ground; I’m in your face, pop until someone drops or submits. I have never not tried to finish in any situation, standing or on the ground & anyone that has watched my fights can see this for themselves. From start to finish, my goal is to knockout, choke out, pull an arm off or make the referee have mercy because records are for DJ’s & I’m in this to be remembered & to have my fights remembered. I’m not interested in padding my record & I will fight anyone Invicta requests me to.

5 – You’re only loss so far is by head kick KO, will that be on your mind at all, facing a Muay Thai champion like Jo Calderwood?

I honestly couldn’t have signed the fight contract quick enough on this one! I knew exactly who Calderwood was & I think stylistically this is the most exciting fight on the card. Calderwood is obviously very dangerous on the feet, but at the same time she is no chump on the ground, so she is a great overall test for me. I’m under no illusions that Joanne is a far better fighter than anyone I’ve ever faced before & to be truthful, I’m actually loving the underdog status. I have absolutely nothing to lose here & a lot to gain & thankfully fights aren’t decided on paper. I actually read in an interview that she said I need to prove that I belong on Invicta’s level, that she didn’t even know who I was when she signed to fight me & that one of her training partners said I fight like I’m drunk. January 5th is going to be a sweet, sweet night for me if everything goes to plan as defeating her will be a louder statement than any of my words could ever be. Someone is going to sleep in this fight & I’m at peace with that, as long as it’s one to remember!

6 – With a four fight win streak at the moment, do you think a win over Jo would put you in line for a title shot at the winner of Esparza vs. Gadelha?

You know what, even if I do defeat Calderwood on January 5th, I don’t think I would be deserving or ready for a title shot. In saying that, I wouldn’t say no! Calderwood would obviously be my biggest win but one big win doesn’t make you deserving of a title shot in the worlds premier female MMA organization. I would want to & expect to have to prove myself some more against whoever Shannon & Janet wanted & to continue developingt my skills set & knowledge of the sport. I’m 23 years old & certainly in no rush!

7 – You’re a mother of two, what do your kids make of their mum being a professional fighter?

It can be extremely tough sometimes with my two children, especially when my husband is also training for a fight. I’m lucky to be blessed with a fantastic support group though that helps share the load so that I can follow my dream & hopefully make a better life for my children. I don’t they they actually understand what I do, other than that I do “punchy punch”. They certainly don’t understand what is involved & are way too young to comprehend what is happening even though they’re in the gym a lot with me.

8 – It’s been a huge year for WMMA, with Invicta coming through and the UFC embracing at least one female competitor. You share your nickname, “Rowdy” with the new UFC Women’s champ, Ronda Rousey. Do you think there is room for two “Rowdy” girls in WMMA?

There is room for twenty Rowdy’s & from my last count, there is actually four others beside us two. I will never change my nickname no matter how many little Rousey fan boys get their knickers in a twist as its been my personal nickname for more years than I can care to remember. My nickname is “Rowdy” because that’s my personality & look. The fact that my maiden name was also Rebecca Rawlings helped the nickname stick well before I even knew what an under hook was, or before Ronda had fought MMA.

9 – You’re a colourful character, but if you were a comic book superhero, what would your superpower be?

I would want the power of invisibility! The shenanigans I would get up to would span three full length feature films, its own television show & five novels.

10 – What would you say to any girls considering taking up MMA?

Don’t let the occasional fat, smelly perverted man scare you away! That has gotta be number one. MMA can be a positive thing in anyone’s life & its great for weight loss, self defense or growing your confidence. If you’re looking for discipline & direction in your life, you could do far worse than joining an MMA gym.

Last of all, a shout out to your sponsors, gym etc.

Big ups for interviewing me Chris & please be sure everyone to check out my official website at http://www.rowdybec.com & follow me on Twitter @RowdyBec!

Without my awesome gym, Impact MMA & trainers, I would not be where I am today & a big thank you must go out to all my fantastic sponsors who have helped fund my training camp for this fight – Unrivaled, Flex Nutrition, Tussle Fight Wear, Manion Plumbing, MMAApparel.com, Hoodstar, Awakening, Promo Shack, Kevrimney.com, NRF Australia, Fighters Against Child Abuse Australia, Ringcard Girls International, MMA-QLD.com, ACR Security Protections & Crossbone Tattoos 🙂

If you want more of Bec, please check out her highlight video here and be ready to check out Invicta FC 4 when it streams live in http://www.InvictaFC.com on January 5th (January 4th if you’re in Australia…)

Kumite would like to thank Bec for her time and wish her the best of luck at Invicta and in her future career and hopefully we can catch up again down the road.

UFC 155: Dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2 – Main Event Preview

20121226-120434.jpg
Traditionally the UFC saves something special for its year end card, with last year ending with the massive headliner between Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem (ably backed up by Nate Diaz vs. Donald Cerrone and Jon Fitch vs. Johny Hendricks) and the previous festive season producing 2011’s match of the year in Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard II and Brian Stann’s memorable knock out of Chris Leben at the New Years Day UFC 125.

Almost two years and fifty six UFC events later (not bad for a promotion that took ten years to rack up its first fifty shows) we’ve got another compelling card (despite the best efforts of the malevolent injury bug) with a main event which is massive in every possible sense.

That bout sees a rematch of the fight which kicked off the FOX era of the UFC as the consensus #1 and #2 Heavyweight fighters in the world (although people differ as to which is which), Junior dos Santos (15-1) and Cain Velasquez (10-1) face off once again to contest the UFC Heavyweight Title and the informal accolade of ‘baddest man on the planet.’

It’s almost a shame that they’re both so nice.

Except, it’s not really. Both JDS and Cain conduct themselves professionally in interviews, talking softly, smiling broadly and generally coming across like athletes who have worked hard to get where they are, are thankful for their opportunities and enjoy spending time with their families. Some folks might prefer some intense trash talking, but when there is genuinely nothing more than professional rivalry I find it quite refreshing to be presented with two competitors who seem like human beings, not cartoon characters…

The truth is that JDS and Cain are the best heavyweights on the planet and their first encounter didn’t prove much, other than JDS can knock anyone out – which we pretty much knew already.

That first match, insofar as it lasted has been picked apart in the year since, but I still firmly believe it didn’t teach us a great deal. Some people point to the fact that it proves Cain’s striking, specifically his head movement and predictability are overrated (see here at Bloody Elbow) but I’m prone to think that Cain’s relative striking shortcomings are more than made up for in MMA by the threat he presents at closer range.

Few heavyweight strikers have the confidence in their ground game, or movement to keep their hands up and their posture tall when confronted by a wrestler like Cain and even fewer have the presence of mind and sheer strength to make the opportunities his striking deficiencies present count.

Yes, JDS is the better boxer and has the better footwork, but Cain adopts more varied striking and is the better wrestler, the question when discussing striking, is who can make their advantage count, second time round.

Another question, and perversely the one which I’d really like to see answered is who is the better jiujitsu guy. Both guys have high levels of BJJ under great coaches (JDS a black belt from Rodrigo Nogueira and Cain a brown belt from Dave Camarillo) but we’ve never seen them in the Octagon.

JDS has found that his boxing is enough to deal with everyone placed in front of him so far and his takedown defence has confounded everyone he’s faced as well, although it IS worth noting that a tiring Shane Carwin has some success against him in the closing round of their match with wrestling techniques.

Cain’s success has been founded on his wrestling base, controlling opponents against the cage or on the mat in order to unleash a barrage of strikes and has thus far always looked towards the ground and pound option rather than the submission option when the opportunity presents itself.

In theory, if the fight stays standing, JDS wins by knockout or decision and if Cain can take him down or press him against the cage, he wins by TKO or decision. Is it perverse to hope that one of them pulls guard and wins by submission, just to mess with us all?

There is always the possibility that one of these guys, already the best in the world has something truly exceptional in the tank, either in terms of a submission win, surprise game plan or deus ex striking finish worthy of Anderson Silva.

In any case, I expect a decisive finish here, because when you have the two best Heavyweights in a generation facing off for a second time, then they’re not going to be messing about.

Strangely, as the challenger Velasquez has more to lose as a second KO against dos Santos makes a third title challenge unlikely so long as Junior holds the belt.

Will that make a difference? Will Cain regain the belt, setting up a near inevitable trilogy match or will JDS win again and set up future matches against Daniel Cormier and Alistair Overeem, with the potential place as the greatest heavyweight in UFC history within his grasp?

Who do you think will win?

Either way, this is one for the ages, and I can’t wait.

Check http://www.ufc.com for viewing details wherever you are.

UFC 155: Dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2 – Undercard Preview

20121226-071013.jpg20121226-071029.jpg
For all that a heavyweight title fight, especially one actually contested by the consensus #1 and #2 guys in that division (think back, it’s not as common as you’d think…) tends to over shadow the rest of a card, the UFC have done their usual job of stacking their year end card with championship relevant and/or fight of the night contenders for UFC 155 – no mean feat for a card which lost Chael Sonnen, Forrest Griffin, Phil Davis and Chris Wiedman to injury and rebooking!

This is exemplified by the co-main event, which pits two perpetual contenders in the ever competitive Lightweight division against each other.

Joe Lauzon (22-7) holds the second most ‘of the night’ honours in UFC history (behind Nate Diaz) and has the highest proportion of bonuses to fights (that’s eleven bonuses in thirteen career UFC fights) so some form of excitement is all but guaranteed.

A submission specialist who’s no slouch on his feet, Lauzon is not the kind of fighter to play it cautious in the opening frame, always preferring to start strong and look for the finish from the second the match starts. This has cost him a few times in his career, most recently in his KO loss inside the first 90 seconds against Anthony Pettis but on the whole he has twice as many wins in the first round as he has losses of any kind, at any time.

Across the cage will be one of the few fighters who will not be afraid of going to the ground with Lauzon, because Jim Miller (21-4) has long been one of the most solid grapplers in the 155lb division. In fact, he’s only been submitted ONCE, in his last fight against Nate Diaz, balanced against twelve submission wins.

It’s worth noting that to date, Miller’s losses have all come against guys who’ve gone on to challenge for the title, with him falling short against champions Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson and challengers Gray Maynard and Nate Diaz so he is in a way the ultimate gatekeeper at 155lbs.

We have here two submissions specialists, with Lauzon having a small advantage striking and Miller being the better wrestler – I said exactly the same thing about Ben Henderson vs. Nate Diaz and the advantage in wrestling proved the difference there.

That doesn’t mean I’m predicting a decision win for Miller, as such a prediction against Joe Lauzon is madness. If anyone is capable of scoring a wholly unexpected KO or scoring an epic flying submission move worthy of Shinya Aoki, then it’s Lauzon.

This match is a coin toss for me, but I can’t wait to see how it pans out.

Next down the bill, we have a somewhat shock title contender at Middleweight, Tim Boetsch (16-4) riding a 4-0 streak since dropping from 205lbs, having scored two underdog victories in a row against Yushin Okami and Hector Lombard.

For all that those wins came in less than dominant fashion, Boetsch having lost the first two rounds against Okami before scoring a late TKO and Lombard not putting in his usual aggressive performance, it’s evident that Boetsch wrestling base, judo throws and heavy hands make him a credible threat at 185lbs.

A win at UFC 155 puts Boetsch on a 5-0 run and very much in the mix for a title shot in 2013.

For the first time in a while, Boetsch comes into the fight as favourite, as his original opponent (and consensus #1 contender at Middleweight) Chris Weidman pulled out due to injury and has been replaced by teammate Costa Phillipou (11-2).

Phillipou has quietly impressed in his UFC career since failing to make the house on TUF 11 and has assembled a 4-0 win streak, tasting victory over TUF11 winner Court McGee and a trio of experienced fighters. While he hasn’t made a habit of scoring memorable finishes or winning Fight of the Night awards in his UFC run so far, Phillipou’s well rounded moveset and competitive spirit have garnered him a great deal of respect. With his first truly high profile opponent and an opportunity to insert himself into the outer reaches of title consideration, I have a sneaking suspicion that Costa will not disappoint here.

Another bout which has ramifications for the Middleweight title picture sees one time challenger Yushin Okami (27-7) facing slow burn contender Alan Belcher (18-6) in a rematch from both men’s Octagon debut back in 2006 – a fight Okami won by unanimous decision.

Back to back knockout losses hurt Okami’s standing in the division but a dominant win over Buddy Roberts has him back on track to some degree. Nearly being shot by Chael Sonnen’s mother has apparently not affected his training camp for this fight and the Japanese judoka will be looking to get himself back to the top of the division.

Across the cage, Belcher has quietly amassed a 4-0 win streak over an injury interrupted three years – a streak that many feel should be 7-0 over four and a bit years thanks to his debatable split decision loss to Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 100. Belcher is supremely well rounded, being capable of submission victories or taking the win with his fists. He also has some insane submission defence, as showcased in his last fight against leg lock specialist Rousimar Palhares. That said, a third of his losses to date have come to judo throwing Japanese fighters. Can he buck that trend?

The main card is rounded out by Chris Leben (22-8) making his return to the UFC following a years suspicion for failing a drugs test (for painkillers) and looking to get back in the win column following his crushing main event loss to Mark Munoz at UFC 138.

His opponent was meant to be Karlos Vermola but injury has meant that Strikeforce alumnus Derek Brunson (9-2) will be in the opposing corner.

I have to say that if Chris Leben turns up in shape and with his head screwed on, he should walk through Brunson as despite a 9-0 run at the start of his career, Derek has been thoroughly outclassed in his last two fights, losing to Kendall Grove and getting knocked out in less than a minute by Jacare Souza – giving the Brazilian submission specialist his first KO victory in 20 pro MMA fights.

Given that Leben has only been clean knocked out by Brian Stann and Anderson Silva and tends to start every fight looking to take his opponents head as a trophy… I hope Brunson’s corner are standing by with a pillow.

As usual, the preliminary card offers some tantalising, if less celebrated bouts.

The undoubted pick of the bunch, probably only on the undercard because Fuel TV didn’t want to give up their main event is the Bantamweight matchup between Brad Pickett (22-6) and Eddie Wineland (19-8-1) who are both coming off highlight reel knockout victories and could be right in line for an interim title shot with a victory in this fight.

Brad Pickett is never in a bad fight, Bantamweights rarely disappoint and if it wasn’t for Miller-Lauzon this would easily be my pick for Fight of the Night.

That said, it could easily be pushed close by the Flyweight clash between Chris Cariaso (14-3) and John Moraga (11-1) which sees a three fight win streak pitted against a five fight win streak and could easily decide the next challenger (after John Dodson) for the youthful 125lb belt.

Throw in a tasty Bantamweight belt between Erik Perez (12-4) and Byron Bloodworth (6-2) with Perez riding a seven fight win streak including pre-UFC wins over top European fighters Paul McVeigh and James Brum.

Liberally season with the rescheduled bout between lightweight strikers Melvin Guillard (30-11) and Jamie Varner (20-7) and Todd Duffee‘s (7-2) unexpected UFC return against Phil deFries (9-1) and you have a compelling entree to an already stacked festive card.

Please check http://www.ufc.com for listings wherever you may be (the show will be spread between Facebook and ESPN for UK viewers) and give @TeamKumite a follow on Twitter for live coverage from our own Ross Stevenson.

Season’s Beatings to you all!

UFC 155: Dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2
Sat, 29 Dec 2012
Las Vegas, Nevada

MAIN (Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)
• Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez – for heavyweight title
• Joe Lauzon vs. Jim Miller
• Tim Boetsch vs. Constantinos Philippou
• Alan Belcher vs. Yushin Okami
• Chris Leben vs. Derek Brunson

PRELIMINARY (FX, Facebook)
• Brad Pickett vs. Eddie Wineland
Erik Perez vs. Byron Bloodworth
Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner
• Michael Johnson vs. Myles Jury
• Leonard Garcia vs. Mc Holloway
• Philip De Fries vs. Todd Duffee
• Chris Cariaso vs. John Moraga