UFC 189 Main Event Preview: Conor McGregor vs. Chad Mendes

UFC 189 Main Event Preview: Conor McGregor vs. Chad Mendes

CI2eZvaUsAA3FRG.0.0

Subtitle:  A Hell of a Plan B

Like most MMA fans, I was eagerly awaiting the scheduled collision between Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor, with the extended promotional campaigning combining with the excitement at the meeting of one of the greatest mixed martial artists of our time and the fastest rising star in the sport.

Then Aldo got injured and the UFC had to look for a replacement. My immediate preference would have been for Frankie Edgar to get the call, firstly as he’s one of the biggest stars in the lighter weight classes.   Secondly as he has only lost to Aldo once and has put a top notch 5-0 streak together since, he makes a more compelling potential interim champion than the eventually chosen Chad Mendes who has twice lost to the champion, with the most recent encounter coming less than a year ago.

Howevr, the more I think about it, the more I’m liking the McGregor-Mendes matchup.

Conor ‘Notorious’ McGregor (17-2, 5-0 UFC) was celebrated in Europe before ever being called up to the UFC, winning the Cage Warriors championships at both Featherweight and Lightweight to earn his call up.

Since coming to the UFC, his exciting style and personality have catapulted him up the rankings with a 5-0 UFC streak including four TKO finishes and with the one decision victory came with McGregor injured and against a fighter who has since gone 6-0 to stand close behind the Irishman in the rankings – Max Holloway. That’s a fight I’d like to see again…

McGregor’s fighting style is based around movement and angles, using a wide variety of kicks and punches to disorient his opponent before finding an opening and swarming in to earn the TKO. McGregor also displayed high level grappling skills in his bout with Holloway and in his CWFC tenure showed a Donald Cerrone like ability to translate striking dominance into a submission victory.

On the other hand, McGregor is unproven against a top level wrestler, with the likes of Darren Elkins, Tatsuya Kawajiri and Clay Guida all bypassed en route to title contention. McGregor is also willing to take a punch in pursuit of his opening and has been tagged and dropped several times in his UFC tenure (especially in his recent bout against Dennis Siver) even if he has quickly recovered and gone on to win.

Both of these potential flaws in McGregor’s arsenal are likely to be questioned by his opponent on Saturday.

Chad ‘Money’ Mendes (17-2, 8-2 UFC) started his MMA career with credentials as an All American wrestler and his initial 11-0 streak was characterized by decision victories where those wrestling skills earned the win, especially once swimming in the deeper waters of the WEC & UFC.

That led to his first challenge at Jose Aldo’s title which was lost via a highlight reel head kick knockout in the first round.

Undaunted, Mendes sought to improve his skills and the addition of Duane Ludwig as coach at Team Alpha Male had a profound affect on Mendes’ striking skills, with the power which had always informed his wrestling now turned towards knockouts and complemented by a wider variety of strikes and combinations.

The new, improved Mendes went on a 5-0 streak including four knockouts – most impressively against the tough-as-nails duo of Darren Elkins and Clay Guida – to earn a second title shot.

That title shot saw him press Aldo more than any challenger before, losing out to a decision in what proved to be the Fight of the Year for 2014 and while Mendes dropped to 0-2 against the champion and with a third title shot seeming contingent on Aldo losing the belt, he won a lot of fans in the process.

Bouncing straight back, Mendes rebounded by knocking out Ricardo Lamas – another grappler who had lost a decision to Aldo – in the first round. At that point, it was expected that Mendes would go back into the mix at featherweight, looking to face top ten fighters such as Frankie Edgar, Max Holloway or Charles Oliveira while the Aldo-McGregor showpiece went ahead as planned.

However, the injury bug and UFC brass had other plans and Mendes now finds himself close to championship gold faster than he could possibly have hoped as the decision was read out in Aldo’s favour last October.

Mendes’ main strength is his wrestling which combines a wide array of takedowns with positional sense, strength and excellent level changing to make him capable of taking down or smothering any opponent. Over the past few years this has been augmented with a dangerous striking game, with high level boxing augmented by tactical use of leg kicks and tuned to take advantage of his natural wrestling talents.

Mendes now uses the level change that was once all about the takedown to close distance for striking and force his opponent to drop their guard and if he secures the takedown his ground & pound is more effective than ever.

On the face of things, we have a striker vs. grappler matchup here, but both men possess well rounded mixed martial arts games so it’s not simply a case of McGregor getting a TKO win or decision if he keeps the fight standing or Mendes getting the win if he can get McGregor down.

I would not be surprised to see Mendes score a TKO victory or (less likely) McGregor submitting Mendes from the bottom, or even a tightly contested five round split decision…

The stakes here are huge. A win for McGregor could finally elevate the Featherweight division to the box office realms enjoyed by heavier weight classes and justify the UFC’s investment in him, while also silencing the critics who doubt his top class credentials.

A win for Mendes would be a vindication of all McGregor’s naysayers and a personal triumph for the Team Alpha Male fighter, booking a third bout with Aldo with more momentum and star power in his corner than ever before.

However it pans out and despite the late change of opponent, this is THE big fight of the summer and I can’t wait.

Advertisements

Jim Alers Interview

Jim Alers

This Friday, almost exactly a year to the day after we watched him win the Cage Warriors Featherweight title at CWFC 53 in Glasgow, Orlando’s Jim ‘the Beast’ Alers makes his long awaited UFC debut at Fight Night 40 in Abu Dhabi, facing Iraqi by way of Germany’s Alan Omer.

Jim’s willingness to give us an interview back then, combined with his skills in the cage and genuine personality has made him one of our favourite fighters.

Since winning the CWFC title, Alers made two successful defences of the belt, decisioning giant Swede Martin Svensson and submitting Scotland’s own Graham Turner (yeah, we must like him if we’re still fans after he tapped one of our beloved Ninjas) to hold on to the belt and more than earn his crack at the UFC.

Jim enters the UFC with a 12-1 professional record and riding an eight fight win streak, with only one of his thirteen fights going the distance. Let’s see what he’s got to say…

After a vocal social media campaign and a successful run in Cage Warriors, you are finally in the UFC – what does that mean to you?

The feeling is quite indescribable. How many people can say that they have reached one of their life long goals in life. I have put countless hours into making it to the big show and now that I am here. I am here to stay.

Does it make any difference that you are debuting in Abu Dhabi, rather than the card a week later in your home town, Orlando?

It does not make a difference at all I have told others that I feel maybe me fighting in Abu Dhabi is for the best. My last five fights have been out of the country so maybe fighting at home will be a bit overwhelming for my UFC debut. I hope to eventually get the chance to fight at home but right now Abu Dhabi is going to be just fine.

Your opponent, Alan Omer is also making his UFC debut and like yourself has most of his wins by submission – do you see this being a primarily grappling based match?

There is a good chance that the fight will end up on the ground but if it does I am hoping that it stays exciting. I’m going to be going for the kill the whole time either on the feet or on the ground.

We saw you win the Cage Warriors championship in Glasgow last year which is a long way from Florida. Did you enjoy your time with the promotion, despite the long flights?

I am going to miss everyone over at Cage Warriors I loved every minute that I was with the promotion. It was a blessing to be able to fly around the world, do what I love and get the international recognition I needed to get noticed by the UFC.

You were twice supposed to face Conor McGregor in Cage Warriors – is he an opponent you’d like to face now that you are both in the UFC?

If that is a fight that the fans still would want to see then I will be happy to slam him to the mat and choke him out. 🙂

Who has been your most challenging opponent and who would you most like to fight in future?

My most challenging opponent had to be Freddy Assuncao (whom Jim defeated by submission in the second round at Art of Fighting 6 in Florida back in November 2009.) I remember him coming at me with all sorts of kicks and being rocked by a superman punch. He is having a great career with me being his only loss.

I haven’t really thought about fighting anyone in particular in the UFC I just wanted to show that I belong here and will beat anyone they put in front of me. If I had to choose though it will be that cocky Irish Guy for sure.

Tell us a story from your fight related travels.

After fighting in Jordan I decided to take a trip to Lebanon with my coach for a few days. I am the type of guy who tries all sorts of new things to eat. Well I ate and ate all sorts of new and exotic foods in Lebanon and felt fine but I think once I tried the minced raw lamb my stomach said enough is enough. Lets just say I was in the bathroom for many hours after that.

What’s the last song you listened to?

That Happy song by Pharrel

What’s the monkey hat all about?

The monkey hat is who I am. I’m wild and crazy. I like to think I have ape strength. I started wearing it in the beginning of my win streak and just kept going with it

Give us a life lesson in only five words.

Live Life To The Fullest

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

I’d like to thank my team Tough As Nails MMA for pushing me everyday. Many other people outside my team has helped me get ready as well but just to many to name. I want to thank you though. Also a big shout out to my sponsors.

We’d like to thank Jim for taking the time to speak to us and we wish him the best of luck in his fight on Saturday and fixture career.

#FearTheMonkeyHat #BeastMode

UFC Fight Night 40 will be via the UFC Fight Pass service.

Conor McGregor: The Road To The Title

 

20130401-205716.jpg

 

A few days ago, ‘Notorious’ Conor McGregor again said he thinks he could beat Jose Aldo for the Featherweight title if he was handed a title shot with a win in his next fight.
While Fighter’s Only seem to think that McGregor would be a strong candidate for a title shot with just one more win, I think Conor could have a slightly longer journey, seeing as he sits outside the top ten in the UFC (ranked #13 at 145lbs in the promotion by Fight Matrix) and there are six fighters coming off wins sitting in front of him at the moment.
So pushing my celtic favouritism to one side, what is a reasonable path to the title for Conor?

Fight One: The Comeback
McGregor seems destined to at the very least co-headline the upcoming UFC Fight Night in Dublin on July 19th and given that he’s called out the majority of the featherweight division (amongst others) at some point, there are no shortage of prospective opponents.
Arguably the tastiest realistic fight is a chance to end the war of words with American Cole Miller (21-8) after he called McGregor out over Twitter.
While not the biggest name at 145lbs, Miller is a recognisable UFC veteran with sixteen UFC bouts under his belt since his debut in 2007 and he currently sits on as good a run of form as he’s enjoyed inside the Octagon.
Miller provides a test of McGregor’s movement, takedown defence and possibly his jiujitsu if the American Top Team fighter can take the fight where he wants it to be.
The winner would be on a 3-0 UFC streak and surely ranked in the top ten of the division.

 

Fight Two: Proving Ground
Should McGregor defeat Miller, he’d be looking for a step up in competition as soon as possible, perhaps looking at a quick turnaround for a fight in September or October.
In my eyes, McGregor needs to defeat a grinder to be taken as a serious title challenger as an exciting prospect has so often hit the rocks of the legion of dour grapplers who are the gatekeepers of the upper ranks in the UFC.
I’ve often suggested Darren Elkins (17-4) as an ideal test, but for name value I think the winner of the Clay Guida (30-14) vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri (33-7-2) match scheduled for April in Abu Dhabi would be an excellent choice.
Both men are noted grapplers, with their wins tending to come from grinding displays of grappling, often securing submission victories along the way. A win over such an opponent would assure the doubters of Conor’s all around game.
If Kawajiri beats Guida (which I think he might, Guida has been on a poor run of late) I could see the match with Conor taking place at the Fight Night in Tokyo on September 20th.

 

Fight Three: The Eliminator
If he overcomes these obstacles, Conor would be on a 4-0 streak in the Octagon (12-0 in total) and a clear and present title challenger. Even so, I think one more match against an already-accepted title contender would really put him over the top.
Given that we’re talking about early 2015 at best for this match, it’s impossible to say who else would be in the almost-there-but-not-quite category, but here is a few ideas.
It’s likely that Jose Aldo’s next challenger will either be Chad Mendes or Cub Swanson, so these fighters should not be considered as contenders next year (they’ll either have had their shot or be the champion) even as much as I’d LOVE to see Conor vs. Cub for the sheer spectacle of it all.
There is however a pool of talent at 145lbs who are not in immediate title contention but could be with one more win and depending on results in the meantime, Frankie Edgar, Jeremy Stephens, Dennis Siver, Dustin Poirer and even the likes of Dennis Bermudez, Jimy Hettes, Akira Corassani, Robbie Peralta or Tom Niinimaki could be in line.
Whoever of these is on the best streak at the time would be an ideal final test for Conor, preferably as a featured match on a major American PPV (gotta impress that core market) and if he came through, few could doubt his title credentials.

 

As to whether he would beat Aldo (or whoever snares the belt in the interim, should such an unthinkable thing happen) it’s hard to say at such a remove.

 

Few reasonable observers would deny that Conor has the skills, athleticism and work ethic to go all the way and even if his mouth has written cheques that his record is yet to cash, he is as exciting a prospect as exists in MMA at the moment.

 

You gotta beat the man to be the man, and while Conor’s boundless confidence is likely to baulk at any obstacle, I think this is fair plan for how it could pan out.

 

Now, let’s wait and see how it all plays out…

20130705-210413.jpg

MMA Monday – 19th August 2013

20130818-221759.jpg
In which Chris picks five things from this last week’s MMA to talk about…

– Matt Brown

On Saturday night, Matt ‘The Immortal’ Brown advanced his record to 18-11 and increased his live streak to 5-0 with an awesome first minute KO of veteran Mike Pyle.

To put that in context, Pyle has an 8-4 UFC record (25-9-1 in total) with the losses coming in his debut to then-promising Brock Larson and top level fighters Rory MacDonald, Jake Ellenberger and now Matt Brown.

Beating Mike Pyle is a big deal. He’s slammed the door to the top ten in the face of John Hathaway, Ricardo Almedia and Rick Story and before he was in the UFC he scored wins over legit guys like Dan Hornbuckle and Jon Fitch.

So Brown now has the most impressive win streak at 170lbs by anyone not named GSP or Johny Hendricks. That makes him next, right?

Not yet. He’s not yet beaten a bona fine top ten guy and I’d like to see him face the winner of next week’s Carlos Condit vs. Martin Kampmann fight.

C’mon, don’t tell me you don’t wanna see that fight?

The winner of that bout would join Rory MacDonald and the winners of the upcoming Demian Maia vs. Jake Shields and Dong Hyun Kim vs. Erick Silva bouts in genuine title contention.

Tasty times at 170lbs.

– Conor McGregor

Also on Saturday, ‘the Notorious’ Conor McGregor had his sophomore outing in the UFC and I can safely say, I’ve never felt such a surge of justified hype for a fighter. As those of us who enjoy being Cage Warriors fans have known for a while – he’s gonna be a big star.

His opponent, Max Holloway fought gamely, but Conor stylishly out struck him in the first round and then spent the remainder of the bout in near total top control, earning a dominant 30-26 win on my scorecard.

Conor has now fought twice in the UFC, with a first round knockout and solid all round performance against opposition that cannot be discounted as ‘cans.’ Add in his charisma and the sheer weight of public affection for him and he’s on a fast track to the top of the featherweight division.

Depending on timescales, I’d love to see him face someone like Charles Oliveira or Darren Elkins or maybe even Akira Corassani on the next Sweden card (assuming his potential knee injury keeps him out until early 2014).

I have no doubt that Conor will fight for a UFC title before the end of 2015 but there’s no need to rush the boy. He’ll be ready.

– Pedro Munhoz

At RFA9 on Friday, Pedro Munhoz took a split decision win over veteran Jeff Curran, lifting the RFA Bantamweight belt and retiring Curran at the same time.

Still undefeated at 9-0 and now with a win over a well known and much respected fighter as well as holding gold in a promotion which prides itself on developing talent by challenging them, Munhoz can legitimately be seen as one of the top 135lb fighters outside of the UFC.

It seems like a matter of time till he’s on the big show, but he won’t be rushed or have his record spoon fed to him by RFA in the meantime. I’d love to see him on a Cage Warriors card at some point too…

You have to expect that the next stop for him is a defence against his originally scheduled opponent this weekend, Keoni Koch (5-0) in a much anticipated fight, now twice postponed. I wanna see that.

– Heavyweight Stoppage

The heavyweight co main event of UFC Boston on Saturday featured an all action first round where Alistair Overeem first had Travis Browne on the back foot, knocking him down and landing over a dozen shots before Browne lurched to his feet. Overeem kept up the pressure and landed something like another 30+ unanswered shots before Browne managed to bully his way free of the cage.

Should the fight have been stopped?

Given that Browne then managed to knock Overeem down with a sweet front kick and followed up with two HEAVY shots on the ground that drew the stoppage.

Some folks have said the fight should have been stopped when Overeem was winning and some say Overeem should have been given more time to recover, as Browne took three hits to win the fight, while Overeem landed dozens.

For my money, the stoppage was good. Browne took a lot of shots at the start of the fight, but kept moving, working his way to his feet and at no point did he look glazed or did his legs tremble. He also ate an illegal knee from Overeem that the referee let slide, possibly giving Travis a little longer than he otherwise would to improve his position on account of that.

When Browne levelled Overeem with the kick, his first follow up blow snapped the Dutchman’s head off the canvas and his arms came up in what looks (to me at least) like an involuntary spasm, such as you’d make when you were knocked out, however briefly.

So, good reffing – apart from the fact that the match should have been stopped when Browne took the illegal knee and restarted in the middle of the cage. Browne managed to get there himself in the end, so no harm done.

– Chael Sonnen

Lastly, Chael Sonnen put in a great performance, subbing Shogun Rua in the first round. It was classic Sonnen, going for the takedown from the start and sticking with that plan, even when Shogun initially got back to his feet.

Rua’s ground game is much underrated and Sonnen controlled him excellently. The eventual guillotine submission was indisputable and unexpected – if anyone bet on a Sonnen victory via submission in the first round, I would have expected the odds to be rather good.

Sonnen breaks his losing streak and has already called out Wanderlei Silva – I’d pay good money to see that fight, and it fits nicely into my concept of the UFC Masters Division where well established fighters who shouldn’t really be anywhere near a title shot at this point face off for their ego gratification and our entertainment. I’m sure there’s money involved the somewhere too.

Shogun loses back to back fights for the first time in his UFC tenure, and while his popularity and legend remain undimmed, he’s a long way from a return shot at his title at this time. I’d love to see him fight someone like James Te Huna or Fabio Maldonado, that would be fun to watch but also give Shogun a chance at someone who is behind him in the rankings, as much as behind him in name power.

UFC Sweden 2 (UFC on Fuel TV 9) Preview

20130403-170324.jpg
UFC Sweden 2 (UFC on Fuel TV 9) Preview
Sat, 06 Apr 2013
Stockholm, Sweden

Well, after injuries, April Fools taken too far and half the fighters in Europe throwing their hat into the ring, I’ve had to rewrite the first chunk of this preview a half dozen times. Lets go… just don’t anyone else get injured, yeah?

It’s always nice to have live MMA at a reasonable time, and the UFC’s trips to Sweden give those of us in Europe just that. With the main card showing on ESPN at 9pm in the UK, that’s pretty civilised, even if we are enduring a THREE HOUR tape delay to accommodate ESPN’s usual dose of German and Italian football.

Bangs head against wall.

Of course, we’ve got the prelims from 2.30 in the afternoon on Facebook, so that’s nice…

Still, it’s better than usual.

We were expecting a main event featuring Swedish superstar and in my eyes at least, should-be-no.1-contender Alexander Gustafsson but a training injury has ruled ‘The Mauler’ out of his scheduled match with Gegard Mousasi (33-3-2).

Stepping up to the plate at the eleventh hour, is fellow Swedish Light Heavyweight Ilir Latifi (7-2) who rides high in the Nordic rankings and as one of Sweden’s most popular domestic fighters should go some way to making up for the loss of Gustafsson in the eyes of the Swedish fans.

Latifi has a 7-1 record in Sweden and is on a three fight winning streak since dropping a decision to new Bellator tournament champion Emanuele Newton in 2011 and comes in with some momentum, home advantage, surely knowing more about his opponent than Mousasi knows about him and absolutely nothing to lose. That said, he is giving up a lot in terms of experience, preparation and height…

Of course, Gegard Mousasi (who was nice enough to give us an interview in the run up to this fight) isn’t the sort to get unduly ruffled by much, except of course folks who make him believe he’s got a living legend as his next opponent for a full day and then admit to a joke.

No, Mousasi is a former champion in Cage Warriors, DREAM and Strikeforce and aside from his decision loss to Muhammed Lawal in 2010 he’s not tasted defeat since 2006 for a run of 20-1-1.

I’ve been a little disheartened by so called fans who’ve said Mousasi was easy meat for Gustafsson and not UFC calibre, because he’s a well rounded fighter with a total of 29 finishes split between strikes and subs including victories over the likes of Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, Renato Sobral, Mark Hunt, Ronaldo Souza and Hector Lombard.

Underestimate him at your peril – not that he cares what you think, anyway.

Of course, suddenly Mousasi is a heavy favourite against an opponent casual fans outside Sweden have truly never heard of and the mental balance of the match shifts again.

What to expect? Well, Mousasi is a dangerous and aggressive fighter both on the feet and on his back, who’s mentality has been questioned in the past while Latifi’s stocky frame and well rounded base means he may find success from takedowns and ground and pound, following Lawal’s path to victory.

Then again, Latifi has scored head kick knockouts on opponent’s Mousasi’s size before…

All in all, this match is an example of all that is weird and wonderful about MMA, with a hometown favourite replaced by a hometown underdog and the enigmatic newcomer caught in the middle. Time to repeat a time worn maxim.

ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN MMA.

In the co-main event we have Ross ‘the Real Deal’ Pearson (14-6) fresh off his impressive victory over George Sotiropoulos, welcoming Ryan Couture (6-1) to the UFC in almost surprisingly high profile fashion.

Pearson is a clinical striker with a 6-3 record in the UFC and wins over some varied talent, with only his loss to Cole Miller really denting his momentum. With increasing confidence and maturity, Pearson is looking to re-establish some momentum following some inconsistent form and bad luck with judges. He’s gone on record as saying that Couture isn’t on his level, which is probably fair but never a smart thing to say before a fight.

Couture debuts following a largely impressive run in Strikeforce, although the common wisdom is that he didn’t deserve to win the split decision in his last bout against KJ Noons. A collected fighter who’s greatest strength lies in a well rounded base and good game plans, Couture may have been thrown to the sharks a little bit here as Pearson is likely to pick him apart on the feet and not allow him to settle into whatever his plan may be.

Next up we have a bout between two heavyweights looking to get back in a winning way, with Matt Mitrione (5-2) and Phil DeFries (9-2) squaring off in as typical a striker vs. grappler bout as you are like to find.

Mitrione wins by knockout while DeFries wins by submission, and loses by knockout. Given the way Stipe Miocic and Todd Duffee folded DeFries up, it looks like being a short night for the Sunderland boy unless he can pull ‘Meathead’ in the grappling world where DeFries excels and Mitrione remains untested.

A probably fight of the night contender between Brad Pickett (22-7) and Mike Easton (13-2) comes next, with both men coming off a decision loss, but bizarrely not that far out of the title picture, seeing as how piled up Bantamweight is at the moment.

MMA Math tells us both guys have posted a UD win over Ivan Menjivar in recent years which is absolutely no use, aside from to tell us that they evidently don’t suck.

Hell, it’s top level Bantamweights – don’t blink and prepare to be entertained!

A similar pace is to be expected from the next match as Ultimate Fighter Diego Brandao (16-8) looks to build on his mature performance against Joey Gambino against submission wizard Pablo Garza (12-3) who boasts a marked six inch height advantage.

Brandao is always a fast starter, but tends to gas in later rounds, while Garza uses his length to great effect in both striking and especially submissions. If Brandao gets inside Garza’s reach, this could be over quickly but if Garza can maintain distance (at least until Brandao tires out a bit) and pulls guard, it could be a very different fight.

Rounding off the main card is a bout between two more exciting Featherweights, both coming off memorable wins at last year’s UFC Nottingham.

Robbie Peralta (16-3) scored his second UFC win with a quick knockout of Kumite favourite Jason Young while Akira Corassani (10-3) scored a contentious (we thought he lost) split decision win over fellow TUF alum, Andy Ogle.

Peralta has the definite edge in finishing power, with fourteen stoppages to Corassani’s four and Akira has also shown a slight susceptibility to getting KTFO which is not good facing a striker like Peralta.

The preliminary card for this event is enthralling but I’m only going to focus on one match, however I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to watch all of the prelims as the bouts between Papy Abedi (8-2) and Besam Yousef (6-1), Tom Lawlor (8-5) and Michael Kuiper (12-1) and Michael Johnson (12-7) versus Reza Madadi (12-3) are all plenty interesting.

The prelim that has me really stoked however is the UFC debut of Cage Warriors double champion Conor McGregor (12-2) facing Marcus Brimage (6-1).

We’ve waxed lyrical about McGregor elsewhere but suffice to say that he’s an insanely talented fighter, with a taste for aggressive yet cultured displays of striking.

Brimage has less experience and is remembered as a stand & bang guy from TUF yet has made a run to 3-0 in the UFC, including mature wins against the very talented Maximo Blanco and Jim Hettes.

This one should be a barnburner, don’t miss it.

So clear your itinerary for Saturday, be it morning, afternoon or evening, wherever you are in the world (check listings at http://www.ufc.com if you are unsure) because this card rocks.

Oh, and don’t let any naysaying casual fan who’s only interested in title matches and guys who talk immense amounts of trash tell you otherwise. The Fuel cards consistently deliver and with a red got Swedish crowd thrown in, this card looks set to do the same.

MAIN (FUEL TV, 2 p.m. ET)
• Ilir Latifi vs. Gegard Mousasi
• Ryan Couture vs. Ross Pearson
• Philip De Fries vs. Matt Mitrione
• Mike Easton vs. Brad Pickett
• Diego Brandao vs. Pablo Garza
• Akira Corassani vs. Robert Peralta

PRELIMINARY (Facebook, 10:30 a.m. ET)
• Michael Johnson vs. Reza Madadi
• Adam Cella vs. Tor Troeng
• Adlan Amagov vs. Chris Spang
• Marcus Brimage vs. Conor McGregor
• Ben Alloway vs. Ryan LaFlare
• Michael Kuiper vs. Tom Lawlor
• Papy Abedi vs. Besam Yousef

Notoriety Comes Naturally – Conor McGregor Feature

20130401-205716.jpg
This weekend’s UFC on Fuel TV card is significant for a great many reasons, be it the UFC debuts of Strikeforce alums like Gegard Mousasi and Ryan Couture, the fact that it marks only the company’s second foray into Scandinavia or the host of exciting matches but for fans of Cage Warriors and Irish MMA one match catches the eye even though it’s buried on the undercard.

Conor McGregor is coming to the UFC.

If you are among those who don’t get a littler shiver at those words, a little backstory may be required.

A product of the SBG Ireland team alongside current and past Cage Warriors champions like Cathal Pendred and Chris Fields as well as standouts like Aisling Daly, John Michael Shiel and current UFC wunderkind Gunnar Nelson under the tutelage of John Kavanagh, McGregor has been turning heads since his pro debut in 2008.

Going 4-2 over the first 30 months of his career, with four (T)KO wins and two submission losses (incidentally to highly regarded talents Artemij Sitenkov and Joseph Duffy who at the time they met had record of 5-4 and 6-0 respectiely, versus 2-0 and 4-1 for Conor) he impressed without developing the type of streak that immediately gets casual fans hailing you as the next big thing.

That changed with six knockout wins in a row through 2011 and early 2012 earning him a crack at the then-vacant Cage Warriors Featherweight title in June 2012.

He won that belt with a second round submission of Dave Hill and announced his arrival as one of the brightest talents on the European stage.

Twice, highly anticipated defences against Jim Alers fell through due to me or other man being injured and this led to McGregor being given a crack at the Cage Warriors Lightweight title on New Year’s Eve against experienced submission specialist Ivan Buchinger.

That match speaks for itself, so please take a few minutes…

That win made McGregor a double weight class Cage Warriors champion and the manner in which he became only the second man in twenty five fights to stop Buchinger clearly made some folks on the other side of the Atlantic sit up and take notice.

The UFC swooped and Cage Warriors were left with two vacated belts once again, but pretty much everyone in Europe was excited by the prospect of “Notorious” testing himself at the very highest level.

Conor has never been to a decision, indeed in his fourteen fights he’s never yet seen the third round, he finishes fights with his fists and an underrated submission game, and with an apparent weakness for subs long behind him and riding an streak of eight stoppage victories in a row, he rides into the UFC with some serious momentum and some well deserved hype.

What could be better?

Well, the fact that he’s got real character. For a start, he’s Irish which tells you a little bit, but more than that he truly deserves his “Notorious” moniker, being an engaging interview and likeable guy (as seen on last week’s MMA Hour and the MTV documentary ‘the Rise of Conor McGregor’) with a distinctive and wholly original and individual personality.

This is no cookie cutter hot prospect, with the usual tough guy demeanour or pat BJJ zen. McGregor is like calm chaos, a perfect storm and he’s riding a wave of momentum and dragging Irish MMA into the mainstream (along with his teammates and promotions like Cage Warriors, Cage Contender and Celtic Gladiator) on his coat tails.

Featherweights of the UFC, be afraid, be VERY afraid.

The Rise Of Conor McGregor

Image

Although known to fans of Cage Warriors for quite some time, Conor has really hit the limelight in 2013. In December he achieve the impressive feat of becoming a dual Cage Warriors champion, holding both the Lightweight and Featherweight straps at the same time (See pic above). This caught the attention of the UFC and earlier this year he signed an exclusive deal, setting up a debut at UFC Sweden in April.

MTV has subsequently put together a short documentary on his rise to the big time which has now been released online. Click the link below to go directly the video and learn a bit more about Conor before he takes the UFC Featherweight division by storm.

http://www.mtv.co.uk/sports/mixed-martial-arts