Tag Archives: mixed martial arts
Gracie family patriarch and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu pioneer Helio Gracie died in early 2009 in Rio de Janeiro at the age of 95. Its impossible to overestimate his influence on martial arts, and particularly his pathbreaking role in what is now the sport of mixed martial arts. The Gracie family name will forever be synonymous with Brazilian sports, jiu-jitsu, MMA and the UFC–not only due to Helios own accomplishments but the legacy he created both by training others and through his family.
One of the stranger sports stories of the past is that of Rick Ankiel. Ankiel became a vital cog in the starting rotation of the 2000 St. Louis Cardinals and as a lefthanded pitcher possessing both velocity (his fastball was in the 95-97 MPH range) and wicked breaking stuff his upside was unlimited. During the Cards run to the 2000 division title Ankiel allowed only 7.05 hits and struck out 9.98 strikeouts per nine innings. As the playoffs began, it all fell apart for Rick Ankiel’s career as a starting pitcher. In the third inning of game one, working with a 6-0 lead, Ankiel allowed 2 hits, 4 walks and 5 wild pitches before being pulled with two outs. Initially, he wrote it off as a bad outing until history quickly repeated itself in game 2 of the NLCS against the NY Mets. He threw only 20 pitches in that game, 5 of which went past catcher Eli Marrero. For the next several years he tried to fix the control problems that suddenly manifest themselves on baseballs biggest stage but was unable to do so.
UFC 92 was a high impact affair, with Rashad Evans defeating Forrest Griffin by TKO to win the light heavyweight title and Frank Mir knocking out Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to claim the UFC interim heavyweight title. The event had been dubbed The Ultimate 2008 and every one of the main cards six matches ended via TKO.
Ever since he burst onto the MMA scene Joe Lauzon has been working to earn respect. Hes lost only once since then–to top contender Kenny Florian in a bout that earned fight of the night honors–but for some reason hes had trouble being taken seriously as a top contender in the UFCs lightweight division. In the main event at the UFC Ultimate Fight Night in Tampa, Lauzon withstood a game challenge from late replacement Jeremy Stephens to earn a 2nd round submission victory.
Rashad Evans was fighting for respect. He earned it and then some with a devastating 2nd round TKO of Chuck Liddell in the main event of UFC 88: Breakthrough.
A day after failing to make weight for his fight against Matt Hughes, Thiago Alves dominated the former UFC welterweight champion en route to a 2nd round TKO victory. The main event at UFC 85 in London was somewhat anticlimactic to the fans at the O2 Arena who considered the semifinal matchup between Manchester’s Michael Bisping and Jason Day the biggest fight on the card. Bisping actually improved upon his excellent showing against Charles McCarthy at UFC 83 and pummeled Day mercilessly from the top mount position until the fight was stopped just past the 3 minute mark of the first round.
BJ Penn entered his main event battle against welterweight kingpin Georges St. Pierre looking to become the first man in UFC history to simultaneously hold titles in two weight classes. GSP never gave him the chance to make history, as he stopped Penn after four increasingly dominant rounds to retain his belt with a TKO victory and make a compelling case for being the pound for pound best fighter in mixed martial arts.
When golf legend Jack Nicklaus was still a young upstart in the sport and only starting to tear up PGA courses, legend Bobby Jones commented following ‘The Golden Bear’s’ 65 Masters win that “he plays a game with which I am not familiar”. Following his absolute destruction of Rashad Evans in the main event of UFC 98, there’s likely a few MMA fighters saying the same thing about the new light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. Machida completely befuddled Evans en route to a 2nd round TKO victory after which ‘The Dragon’ looked as if he’d barely worked up a sweat.
The oldest fight sport adage in the world is ‘styles make fights’. For that reason, no one knew quite what to expect in Saturday’s WEC Interim Lightweight Championship battle between Donald Cerrone and Ben Henderson. Henderson was known for his dominating wrestling skills, while Cerrone has a reputation as a punishing striker. Instead of being a clash of styles, however, it was an instance where the differing approaches of the two competitors complimented each other perfectly. The result was a ‘fight of the year’ candidate bout that Henderson won by a narrow-yet unanimous-decision.