UFC 160 just got heavy: Mark Hunt vs. Junior dos Santos

UFC 160 was already looking like a big card with heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez (11-1) taking on Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (18-4) as the main event May 25 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Tack on a few more pounds because this card just got heavy.

Mark Hunt has agreed to fight former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos as the co-main event.

The news broke early Saturday morning courtesy of Ariel Helwani at mmafighting.com.

Hunt (9-7) is coming off an impressive third-round knockout of Stefan Struve last Saturday night at UFC on Fuel 8, breaking the 7-footer’s jaw in the process for his fourth consecutive victory.

Alistair Overeem was scheduled to take on dos Santos at UFC 160 before the Dutch kickboxer recently bowed out with a quad injury.

It will be the first time back in the Octagon for dos Santos (15-2) since losing his heavyweight championship to Velasquez in December at UFC 155. Velasquez recaptured the belt with an impressive five-round decision victory over dos Santos, who had beaten him for the title with a first-round knockout in November 2011 at UFC on FOX 1.

Also on the UFC 160 card are two highly anticipated fights: a light heavyweight battle between Glover Teixeira (20-2) and Ryan Bader (16-3) and a lightweight showdown between up-and-comers Khabib Nurmagomedov (19-0) and Abel Trujillo (10-4).

UFC 160 airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and Facebook.

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VIDEO: UFC champion Ronda Rousey and boxing great Mike Tyson

What’s badder than UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey?

How about Rousey AND Iron Mike Tyson? On the same set.

Here’s Rousey, who just got back from a promotional tour in New York to push for the legislation of MMA in the state, and Tyson from their segment on “Good Day L.A.” this morning. Tyson seems genuinely excited to have Rousey join in.

The two talk fighting, dealing with pain and being champion.

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ICYMI: UFC champion Ronda Rousey on ‘The Dan Patrick Show’

After visiting New York this week to speak to state legislators about legalizing MMA in the Big Apple, UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey flew to Las Vegas last night and called in for a chat this morning on “The Dan Patrick Show.”

Rousey was affable and glib as always, entertaining Patrick with stories about preparing for a fight, training with her mom (a former judo world champion), whether MMA would ever become an Olympic sport and what exactly an armbar is.

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What Fox Sports 1 means for UFC fans

FOX Sports Media Group unveiled plans Tuesday to launch FOX Sports 1, which is being branded as a new, national multi-sport network that is being talked about as a potential competitor for ESPN.

The network will debut Aug. 17, and be available in more than 90 million homes. FS1 is touting nearly 5,000 hours of live event, news and original programming annually.

Among the programming are big plans for the UFC:

  • 12 UFC “Fight Nights,” starting Saturday, Aug. 17 with the awkwardly dubbed “UFC on FS1 1,” then airing on Wednesdays — but not weekly — through the end of the year. Bouts will air from 8-11 p.m.
  • The studio show “UFC Tonight” from 7:30-8 p.m. ET every Wednesday.
  • 14 Saturday preliminary cards to pay-per-view events.
  • Hundreds of hours of library programs and events.

FOX announced earlier this year that SPEED and FUEL TV would be rebranded as FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2.

For more about FOX Sports 1’s programming, which includes college football, college basketball, NASCAR and soccer, check Tom Hoffarth’s blog Farther Off The Wall.

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UFC on FUEL TV 8 predictions

After last week’s successful UFC 157 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, the UFC takes its act to Saitama, Japan, for UFC on FUEL TV 8: Stann vs. Silva.

Unfortunately, we’re not there for the event at the Saitama Super Arena. But that won’t stop us from making our picks on today’s main card (7 p.m., FUEL TV; prelims at 4:30 p.m., Facebook).

Dong Hyun Kim (16-2-1, 1 NC) vs. Siyar Bahadurzada (21-4-1): Kim is 2-2 in his past four fights — both wins by unanimous decision (Paulo Thiago, Sean Pierson) and both losses by first-round TKO (Demian Maia, Carlos Condit).  Bahadurzada made his UFC debut in April by showing off his power with a first-round TKO of Thiago. Kim needs to avoid it and tie up ‘The Super’ on the mat.  We like the Korean’s chances. Edge: Kim

Mizuto Hirota (14-5-1) vs. Rani Yahya (17-7): Hirota has good standup and doesn’t mind banging. In his last fight, Yahya put a slick choke on Josh Crispi in August at Staples Center. The Brazilian is a slight underdog, and while this is essentially a coin flip, we’ll go with him. Edge: Yahya

Hector Lombard (32-3-1, 1 NC) vs. Yushin Okami (29-7): A middleweight storm is brewing. Fighting in front of his countrymen, ‘Thunder’ looks to take out ‘Lightning’ and make him his third consecutive victim. Lombard rebounded from a split-decision loss to Tim Boetsch in his long-awaited UFC debut at UFC 149 in July by scoring an impressive first-round TKO over Rousimar Palhares  in December. Lombard’s quickness might be too much here. Edge: Lombard

Takanori Gomi (34-8-0, 1 NC) vs. Diego Sanchez (25-5): This is a big home fight for the 2005 PRIDE Grand Prix champion. ‘The Fireball Kid’ has won his last two, knocking out Eijo Mitsuoka and getting a split-decision win over Mac Danzig. Sanchez, who is favored, did not make weight. He weighed 158 pounds and has been fined 20 percent of his purse. He hasn’t fought in more than a year but is still one of the most intense and focused fighters in the UFC. Edge: Sanchez

Mark Hunt (8-7) vs. Stefan Struve (29-5): This heavyweight battle doesn’t get more different in terms of size, but gets points for pairing two resilient fighters. At 5 feet 10 and 266 pounds, Hunt possesses tremendous firepower. ‘The Super Samoan’ by way of New Zealand and former PRIDE fighter has consecutive UFC wins over Chris Tuchscherer (TKO), Ben Rothwell (UD) and Cheick Kongo (TKO). He has a tall task in 7-footer Stefan Struve. Only 25, ‘The Skyscraper’ has finished his last four opponents: Pat Barry (triangle choke), Dave Herman (TKO), Lavar Johnson (armbar) and Stipe Miocic (TKO). Look for Hunt to get inside the Dutchman’s reach and blast away. Edge: Hunt

Wanderlei Silva (34-12-1, 1 NC) vs. Brian Stann (12-5): Another former PRIDE legend returns to Japan as ‘The Axe Murderer’ takes on ‘The All American.’ Silva hasn’t pieced together two straight wins since his PRIDE days in 2006. While his skills and chin aren’t what they used to be, Silva is still a dangerous brawler who relishes a toe-to-toe war. Stann will be smarter that that. The former U.S. Marine will need to utilize his footwork and kicks and stay outside, picking his shots and knowing when to exchange. Worth noting: Both fighters recently flirted with dropping weight and fighting at middleweight, but this one will be at 205. Edge: Stann

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UFC 157: Ronda Rousey’s striking coach Edmond Tarverdyan talks about the fight and what’s next

Amid the post-fight media madness Saturday night, we caught up with Glendale Fighting Club’s Edmond Tarverdyan, also known as the striking coach for Ronda Rousey, after the bantamweight champion made a successful first title defense by defeating Liz Carmouche at UFC 157 at the Honda Center.

Tarverdyan’s thoughts on Rousey’s performance:

“Ronda performed amazingly. You know, we got her where we wanted to with her striking. We got her on the cage, again no one can get away from her. That’s where she wants to be. Even if she strikes, you can tell all her striking is molding to where I want it to be. And she’ll get the best of it too. Did a great job, took her down and, yes, she gave up position a little bit. She’s a little bit comfortable too much sometimes. That’s what she told me. And she gave up her back. But you know she’s so tough. She was thinking more of her clothes getting off, her shorts and her bra. So it took her a while to get her off her back, but she did and she got her in a great position and hit her a lot from side control and kept on punching her and gave it to her and hard punches on the ground. Liz is tough. Take nothing away. And then went past her guard and mounted her down and just submitted her.”

How was he reacting when Carmouche got Rousey’s back?

“Well, you know, I’ve been doing this long enough for me to be nice and calm. If you start panicking and screaming, even if she gets out of that position, then your head is all over the place and it’ll cost you after that. And what happens after that when she gets out? So you have to be calm and give calm advice. She was comfortable. I was watching her face. She was comfortable until she got, you know, her face. Liz went through on the face instead of the neck, got her jaw a little bit hurting. Not a problem. Not a problem at all.”

What’s next for Rousey?

“I guess having Miesha Tate fighting Cat (Zingano), we’ll go out and watch that fight. It’s great. She’ll have competition and we love competition. That’s gonna motivate her even though she trains hard. It’s fun to have competition, mentally to know these girls are training hard and they’re coming out there hard. All the girls were out there to witness the main event. The whole crowd was very into the fight and they did an amazing job, both girls, Ronda and Liz. It’s exciting. We’ve got some fights in front of us. That’s what we need — competition. Always. As long as we got good girls in front of Ronda, she’ll step up in competition, I guarantee you guys.”

How is Rousey different than when she first fought Tate a year ago?

“I’ve always said it was the first time Ronda went down to 135. It was a big deal, the weight cut and everything. Now she does it very easily. Very professionally, she makes 135. But it’s the first time you’re always be nervous doing something the first time. But her body has adjusted, she’s very strong now and she’s looking great. She’s improved a lot. She’ll improve every day. I’ll tell you guys, if they want to stand and bang with her, she’ll get the best of it. I’ll keep on saying it. I wish I don’t see that day. I wish she keeps on winning with the armbar, but if it happens, I know she’s gonna get the best of all these girls. She’s a great striker.”

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UFC 157: Liz Carmouche talks about getting Ronda Rousey’s back, her performance and the fans

Liz Carmouche came up short in her upset bid against bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey at UFC 157 on Saturday night at the Honda Center, but she undoubtedly gained plenty of fans.

At one point, “Girlrilla” had Rousey’s back and was going for a rear-naked choke before attempting a neck crank. It was a precarious spot for Rousey, who shook the challenger off about halfway through the round and eventually got the armbar tapout at 4:49 of the first round.

We got a quick one-on-one after the fight with Carmouche, who earned a lot of praise and respect for her effort.

On getting Ronda’s back:

“I really wanted to get under her chin and unfortunately I was secure on the neck crank and I was like, “Man, I’ll give it all I got and hopefully get it.” But a neck crank is really hard with people. I was trying to get under her chin and I got it in her mouth. I was like, “Whoa, you know, I’ll go for the mouth and get some teeth and that’s a tap.” I’ve been in those situations and I won’t tap to it, but I thought, maybe I’ll try. And it didn’t work out, but it happens.”

On what she came away with from her performance:

“That I’m in the UFC. I gave her the hardest time she’s ever had. I put her in a compromising situation she’s never been in before. I left marks on her. Normally she comes out of her fights unscathed and it’s a quick finish. And that’s the closest fight she’s ever had.”

On the positive reaction from the fans at the sold-out Honda Center:

“It’s great, you know. The fans are what make the fights. If the fans aren’t behind you, the fans don’t want you to be there, then you’re not gonna be there. So to know they’re behind me is great because I know that I’m gonna keep being in the UFC as long as they support me.”

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UFC 157: Chael Sonnen loses Henderson-Machida bet, licks Rashad Evans’ shoe

Chael Sonnen is many things — tough fighter, top-notch trash-talker, insightful commentator, and as we’re seeing on this season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” one heck of a coach.

Add to that list: a man of his word.

Sonnen said if Lyoto Machida beat his former training partner, Dan Henderson, in the co-maint event at UFC 157, he would lick Rashad Evans’ shoe.

Well, Machida won a split decision Saturday night at the Honda Center. And Sonnen paid his debt on the FUEL TV post-fight show:

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UFC 157: Ronda Rousey talks about the Liz Carmouche neck crank and nerves

UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey talks about the moment in the first round Saturday night at UFC 157 when challenger Liz Carmouche was on Rousey’s back and going for a standing rear-naked choke and switched it to a neck crank:

“That was the most vulnerable a position I’ve been in so far in my career. That was pretty tight, that neck crank, and I was very happy to get out of it. She had the choke across my mouth and the angle pushed my mouth-guard out of my mouth. Her forearm was pushing against my teeth and that can’t have been any more fun for her than it was for me… crazy sport we’re in, huh?”

Rousey on whether she was nervous fighting in the first women’s fight in UFC history in front of 15,525 fans at a sold-out Honda Center:

 “I was actually less nervous walking out than I was for some of my earlier fights. I felt like the UFC champion and I know how hard I am working. This was a wild ride and I can’t wait to get back in the Octagon.”

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UFC 157: Ronda Rousey victorious in a night of firsts

Apologies for the blogging issues last night. Serious computer  issues, which is what happens when you get more than 15,000 people in an arena with open wi-fi access.

Anyway, it was an amazing night. First women’s fight in the UFC as bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey got tested by Liz Carmouche, who almost made it out of the first round. Carmouche also became the first openly gay fighter to ever step into the Octagon and no doubt picked up a lot of fans with her gutsy performance.

My story on their fight and the main card is here:


I’ll have more quotes and reactions throughout the day.

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