Fight Guide – Picking This Week’s Can’t Miss Cards

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Two cards jump out from next week’s schedule, as Bellator and Cage Warriors continue to fill the gaps between UFC events with compelling cards deserving of genuine international interest.

Bellator are first up on Friday, so…

Bellator 102: Godbeer vs. Kongo
Visalia, California

The main card is all about tournaments, as we have four semi finals from the Middleweight and Heavyweight tournaments (although the HW semis are actually the first round of the tourney, unlike all the others this season…) and the final of the Summer series Bantamweight tourney.

Heading the card are the HW semi finals, each featuring a former UFC fighter in the shape of Cheick Kongo and Lavar Johnson. Kongo is the draw of the two, having left the UFC on a 1-2 run after a largely successful seven year run.

Most interestingly, Kongo faces English heavyweight. Mark ‘the hand of’ Godbeer who may have never competed at this level before, but he’s never been to decision and has a habit of scoring knockouts – which Kongo seems to have become susceptible to.

The Bantamweight final, to earn a shot at Eduardo Dantas’ belt is a tasty one as Rafael Silva puts a twelve fight winning streak on the line against Anthony Leone who had amassed a 5-1 streak since a disastrous run of 0-4 in 2010-11.

Both are experienced fighters, with Silva probably having the edge on the feet. Should be a good scrap.

In the Middleweight semis, the choice bout is between Danish knockout artist Mikkel Parlo and undefeated submission specialist Jason Butcher.

Bellator 102 can be viewed on Spike TV in the USA and shows on VIVA in the UK after a week’s tape delay.

MAIN CARD

Mark Godbeer vs. Cheick Kongo – heavyweight tournament semifinals
Lavar Johnson vs. Vinicius Queiroz – heavyweight tournament semifinals
Anthony Leone vs. Rafael “Morcego” Silva – Summer Series bantamweight tournament final
Jason Butcher vs. Mikkel Parlo – middleweight tournament semifinals
Perry Filkins vs. Brennan Ward – middleweight tournament semifinals

PRELIMINARY CARD
Cain Carrizosa vs. Juan Quesada
Jonny Carson vs. Bryan Travers
Brandon Girtz vs. Poppies Martinez
Javy Ayala vs. Thiago “Big Monster” Santos
Scott Cleve vs. Isaac DeJesus
Kenny Ento vs. Michael Page
Brandon Cash vs. William Richey

Cage Warriors 60: Omoyele vs. Wilkinson
October 5th, the Forum, London

Headlined by two TUF veterans and featuring a wide open tournament to crown the new lightweight champion (following in the footsteps of Conor McGregor) this card is just another example of why Cage Warriors is the best MMA organisation in Europe.

Topping the card is fearsome striker Bola Omoyele, on a run of six first round victories via his fists facing rangy submission specialist Aaron Wilkinson who is 4-2 since his UFC release in 2010 and most recently lost a decision to Dinky Ninja, Alan Johnston.

The real draw, however is the Lightweight tournament with two veteran finishers in Ivan. Buchinger and Mick Sinclair on one side of the draw and the very experienced Jason Ball taking on Scotland own former BAMMA British Lightweight champion, Steven Ray in the other.

Throw in some familiar faces who are guaranteed to throw down like Spencer Hewitt and Nad Narimani and the faith I have in Ian Dean’s skills for unearthing fighters who I’ve never heard of but end up being worth remembering, this is a fantastic card.

Cage Warriors 60 can be viewed on Premier Sports in the UK, Joe.ie in Ireland and either MMAJunkie.com or CageWarriors.tv everywhere else.

MAIN CARD
Bola Omoyele vs. Aaron Wilkinson
TBA vs. TBA – lightweight tourney final
Bryan Creighton vs. Spencer Hewitt
Athinodoros Michailidis vs. Nad Narimani
Sean Carter vs. Richard Griffin – lightweight tourney reserve bout
Ben Constantine vs. Charlie Watts

PRELIMINARY CARD
Ivan Buchinger vs. Mick Sinclair – lightweight tourney opening round
Jason Ball vs. Stevie Ray – lightweight tourney opening round
Cameron Else vs. Paddy Pimblett
Amanda Kelly vs. Hannah Stephens

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Tragic Death During Weight Cut – MMA Community Must Take Notice

20130927-174259.jpgWe woke this morning to hear of the death of Nova Unaio fighter Leandro ‘Feijao’ Souza while cutting weight for tonight’s scheduled Shooto Brazil 43 card which has since been cancelled.

First of all, we extend our heartfelt condolences to Souza’s family, friends and teammates in this painful time.

Secondly, we’ve seen a lot of commentary about weight cutting in MMA today, some of it well intentioned, some of it bullishly dismissive, some of it almost gleefully critical and most of it thankfully reflecting the sense of shock and compassion all decent folks should be feeling right now.

Make no mistake, this might have been the first publicised death directly linked to weight cutting in MMA but it is not a freak occurrence. This had been coming for a long time, and the litany of fighters having to pull of out of fights during weight cuts with kidney problems, badly missing weight, making weight by the slimmest of margins and/or looking very drained a full day later come fight time shows that it is an enduring and serious issue.

The fact that fighters have by and large been able to cut significant amounts of weight without immediate health concerns and then compete successfully is the wonder here, and is in fact a testament to the determination and hardiness of those folks who step in the cage.

Weight cutting confers a noticeable advantage in competition – allowing a fighter to theoretically compete against physically smaller opponents – although in effect it has become a practise which it is necessary to utilise merely in order to stay competitive. As everyone cuts weight, those who fight in any given weight class will inevitably have a healthy, walking about, competing the next day weight more suited to a division at least one, sometimes two classes higher.

As it confers a competitive advantage or at least parity (don’t do it, and you’ll be fighting a larger, heavier opponent come bell time) it’s something that is going to be done, even in the case of such tragedy and the well established risks.

Fighters will do it, camps will help with it and promotions will not punish it, as it’s part of the sport, is accepted as a necessary evil in order to be successful and fighters want to win, while promotions want matches to go ahead.

I feel that MMA needs to protect itself, and few issues show the problems with MMA’s lack of empowered, centralised oversight as this. If one promotion makes a stand, fighters will move elsewhere, their champions will be degraded as not being big or dedicated enough to succeed in promotions that allow cutting etc.

MMA as a whole needs to protect itself from itself. Of course, managing this would be a pain, an organisational and financial burden on the sport but balanced against the threat to fighter’s lives and well being (and if you’re being callous and only thinking about the money, MMA cannot afford the negative publicity and to wilfully feed the ever circling critical vultures is short sighted, arrogant folly.)

I don’t like to criticise things without offering a solution, so here’s one suggestion (feel free to tear it down if you so please.)

How about, we have second weigh ins on the way to the cage. Fighters are allowed to weigh in within ten percent of the divisional limit en route to the cage.

That would allow Lightweight fighters to walk in at 170lbs, welterweights at 187lbs, and heavyweights up to a mighty 291lbs.

That leeway allows a degree of weight cutting, but should preclude fighters from attempting that one weigh division too far.

Of course, there needs to be a punishment, and seeing as fighting is all about making money and winning gold…

…So long as you hit weight the day before, the fight goes ahead but if you miss weight en route to the cage, you lose 25% of your fight purse and the ability to win a title belt.

If a champion misses the second weight, then they vacate the belt and are effectively fighting for the chance to compete for it next time out. The challenger can still win the belt, so long as they make weight.

Just an idea…

If nothing else, I hope that Leandro’s death forces the wider MMA community to take a long look at itself and look more towards fighter safety, not just in terms of TKOs, but in terms of out of the cage concerns like weight cutting, drugs etc.

The continual chorus from promoters (looking squarely at the UFC in particular) that ‘it’s not our place’ to take responsibility for such things cannot continue.

First Fighting Championship offer incredible opportunity…

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Fast rising Scottish promotion First Fighting Championship have announced that the winner of the ‘performance of the night award’ – as decided by noted MMA officials Neil. Hall & David Weir – at their upcoming FFC4 event on November 22nd will receive the opportunity to travel to Chicago and train with Team Curran under veteran Jeff and current Bellator Featherweight champion Pat as well as their camp full of well known fighters like Felice Herrig, Mackens Semerzier and Bart Palaszewski in early 2014.

It’s a fantastic opportunity for a young fighter, and such forward thinking investment in the future of MMA in this country is something we can’t help but applaud.

We’re fixing to be on site at FFC 4 for a top night of MMA action and we heartily encourage any of you that can make it to do so. Support grass roots MMA, see the future, NOW.

Fighter to Watch – Martin ‘.50cal’ Stapleton

Fighter to Watch – Martin ‘.50cal’ Stapleton

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On Friday, Rochdale’s own Martin Stapleton makes his stateside debut in the quarter finals of Bellator’s most recent Lightweight tournament.

Somewhat familiar to international fans due to being a cast member of the Team UK vs. Team USA series of the Ultimate Fighter way back in 2009, Stapleton actually took three years out to complete a tour in the Royal Marines.

In his return year of 2012, he embarked on a six fight win streak which culminated in three wins on one night, to lift the Cage Contender tournament trophy, a run which earned him his call up to Bellator.

Stapleton is a well rounded fighter, although he is rightly best known for his potent submission game, his striking had noticeably come along in his return fights.

With his only career loss coming via submission to Paul Sass in the dim and distant past (2008), a green beret tucked neatly into his kit bag and all the momentum and talent in the world, we are backing ‘Stapes’ to take Bellator by storm.

On Friday he faces the dangerous Saad Awad, who entered the previous Bellator tourney as a VERY late injury replacement and stormed to the final on two memorable knockout victories before running into the wall that is David Rickels.

He’s British, he finishes fights, wins tournaments and is sitting on a hefty 8 fight winning streak. Of course we like him. You should too.

Check out ‘.50 Cal’ making his Bellator debut on Friday, live in SPIKE TV in the States, and a week later on VIVA in the UK.

Photo credit goes to – http://brianrobertsimagesblog.com

Fight Guide – What events to look for this week…

Fight Guide – What events to look for this week…

Here we’re debuting a new weekly feature where we look at the upcoming week’s cards and do a quick rundown of the one’s we really think you should go to, watch on TV/online or at worst check out the following day*

*Disclaimer – Kumite does not endorse or recommend the usage of sites like mma-core.com or mmaversus.com to catch up on fights that happened overnight or were not viewable directly in your area. If you know of any similar sites, please let us know and we will add them to this list of places we recommend that you don’t use.

Anyways, the events we’re showcasing this week are Bellator 101: Warren vs. Kirk and Pancrase 252: 20th Anniversary

Bellator 101
Portland, Oregon, USA
Friday September 27th

Headlined by a bantamweight clash between former Featherweight champion and FightMaster coach Joe Warren (8-3) against Nick Kirk (10-2) this isn’t Bellator’s most heavyweight (no pun intended) offering, which is likely to be a theme running up to their PPV debut as their big names like Michael Chandler are held off for that.

However, the rest of the main card is filled with the opening round of the new lightweight tournament and it’s a truly compelling, if strange field featuring some veterans, some tantalising prospects and some undoubted talents who’ve been unlucky with injuries.

First up is UFC vet Marcus Davis, drawing out his long career at lightweight against Russian, Alexander Sarnavskiy who was my pick for last season’s tourney before being ruled out through injury.

More veterans Rich Clementi and John Alessio face off against last season’s also rans Will Brooks and Ricardo Tirloni, while my favourite fight is the meeting of last season’s surprise package Saad Awad, who impressed after being a late replacement and British debutant and TUF winner, Martin Stapleton who is no stranger to the tournament format.

I’ll talk about him more tomorrow…

Bellator 101 is viewable live on SPIKE TV in America and will show on VIVA in the UK a week later, for tickets or viewing in other areas, please check http://www.bellator.com

Pancrase 252: 20th Anniversary
Yokohama, Japan
Sunday, September 29th

This event is notable just for being the 20th anniversary of one of MMA’s most long lived and beloved shows, but the card is deep and has some real international interest.

Headlined by the experienced pairing of Ryo Kawamura (15-8-4) vs. Kazuo Takahashi (30-26-3) – that’s 86 pro fights between them – my relative ignorance of Japanese MMA (something I really should remedy, but you can only watch so much MMA before it starts affecting your normal life, strains your eyes and generally warps your perception of reality) means that the bouts which stand out for me are on the under card.

Bellator and Sengoku vet Marlon Sandro features, as does Sweden’s Sirwan Kakai, who we feel is easily one of the best bantamweights outside the UFC alongside other familiar names like Richie Whitson and an awesome women’s match between Tara LaRosa and Rin Nakai.

Mix in with some of the more familiar Japanese names like Mitsuhisa Sunabe and Satoru Kitaoka and this is a card that is definitely worthy of your notice.

Time For A Change

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“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
Maya Angelou

We’ve always been pretty proud of being ‘just’ a blog. It’s allowed us to make up our own schedules, say unfavourable things about promotions, fighters and even fans without worrying about bottom line, press passes etc.

It was never about getting free stuff for us (although we wouldn’t say no), rather trying to present an honest, passionate and credible face for MMA fans and in our eyes, that involves saying things that need to be said, rather than being enthusiastic cheerleaders on the look out for the thrill of getting some attention from an industry figure or feeling important.

However, as anyone who’s actually been a regular, loyal reader will have noticed, we’ve gone pretty quiet of late, and there’s a few reasons for that.

For a start, we’re both in full time jobs and some choices have had to be made between living a full and healthy life, and spending hours hunched over our computers researching and typing articles.

Also, it’s become a bit galling to spend hours of your free time writing an in depth preview of an event, to be rewarded with 20 views, especially when you see other blogs accumulating more followers through vacuous fanboy sucking-up, evident trolling, misanthropy and outright cuntishness.

When we’ve had most response it’s been from folks who have been angry at us for not being a fan of certain fighters, failing to fall in line with the oh-so-fashionable pose of loudly hating the UFC or trying to offer a more clear headed approach regarding the progress of the sport, the real economics of the sport etc.

It wears away at your will to spend time writing about the sport.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.”

That said, we’re not the type to be discouraged. A change in tack is coming.

Out go dedicated event previews, in depth critiques of promotional actions and pretty much anything critical or negative. We’re not a news source and while we’ll still live tweet events and post news as we hear it on social media, we know we’ll never be first and you’re all as capable of trawling MMA Junkie, MMA Fighting or the MMA Underground as we are.

In comes pieces promoting which shows we think are worth watching, up and coming fighters we feel should be on your radar, more articles on training, philosophy and MMA lifestyle stuff like equipment, supplements and apparel (which fits neatly into our current plans to launch a Kumite t-shirt line.)

We’re looking to keep this fun, sustainable and be a beacon for all that’s good about MMA.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Mahatma Ghandi

We stand by our old tag line of ‘life is a contact sport’ and the point of KUMITE had always been to make contact, to spread the word, to convey some of our enthusiasm for the sport. We realise that our old approach was causing more conflict than debate and we have no wish to be another blog which thrives on troll baiting. Similarly, it was more work without reward rather than a fun end in itself for us.

I hope you enjoy the new emphasis. We will.

Thanks for reading.