Cagewriter - Mixed Martial Arts

  • Fabricio Werdum earned a UFC heavyweight title shot with a dominating win over Travis Browne Saturday night in the main event of UFC on Fox 11 card. Scores were 49-46 and 50-45 (twice) in favor of the Brazilian.

    Werdum tagged Browne over and over for five rounds, though the Hawaiian hung tough and heard the final horn. From the start, the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu expert landed the cleaner and more frequent strikes on the feet, scoring to the head, body and legs with punches and kicks.

    Werdum also managed to take Browne down three times throughout the fight, the first times the resilient slugger has ever been taken down in his UFC career. Werdum added insult to injury as he taunted Browne repeatedly in between landing big strike combinations.

    For his part, Browne started the taunting when he made light of the first big body kick that Werdum would score in the fight. Browne also refused to quit, even when he was dazed and slowed by the accumulation of strikes absorbed, and landed one of his best combinations of the fight in the closing seconds of the fifth.

    With the win Werdum has now won four straight and likely earned a chance to challenge Velasquez at a future event, expected to be held in Mexico. Browne's loss snapped a three fight win-streak.

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  • For our money, two fights stand out as the biggest wins of UFC heavyweight contender Fabricio Werdum's career. Tonight, Werdum squares up against Travis Browne for the right to challenge Cain Velasquez for his UFC heavyweight title.

    Werdum has had a long path towards UFC title contention. Five and a half years ago, he was quickly dispatched with via KO by an unknown rookie named Junior Dos Santos.

    Werdum vs. Fedor

    Of course, Dos Santos turned out to be a world-class champion himself. Werdum has had to slowly and steadily work his way back up into the heavyweight's elite class.After losing to JDS, Werdum was released by the UFC and went to Strikeforce. There, three fights after the loss, Werdum faced one of the best of all time - Fedor Emelianenko - as a big underdog in 2010.

    It took Werdum under one round to submit "The Last Emperor," and make the realize that he himself was one of the best heavyweights in the world. Check out the full fight video above.

    Werdum vs. Nelson

    In 2012, Werdum was back in the UFC and faced a stiff challenge in Roy Nelson. Nelson was skilled enough in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu not to fall victim to Werdum's submissions and also powerful enough of a striker on his feet to seem like an up-hill battle for Werdum.

    Instead, the Brazilian went out and showed much-improved Muay Thai kickboxing skills and dominated Nelson from bell to bell, earning a unanimous decision win.

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  • Tonight, UFC heavyweight contenders Travis "Hapa" Browne and Fabricio Werdum meet in the main event of UFC on Fox 11. The winner will then be next to face heavyweight king Cain Velasquez for his championship belt.

    Browne and Wedum have contrasting styles - Browne is the athletic slugger and Werdum the slick ground submission artist - but both men always seem to be fighting for a finish. Browne recently spoke with Sports Net Canada about the match up, the stakes and his goal in every fight.

    Check out the video interview below and let us know who you're picking in the comments section!

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  • Bellator fighter Rick Hawn became a seasoned competitor long ago. The Judo player has competed on national and international levels since he was a child.

    That's probably why the fighter is able to be so fiery in the ring but cool as chilled steel just a few days before fighting for a major championship. Cagewriter is visiting with Hawn as he heads into an April 18 fight against Douglas Lima for the vacant Bellator welterweight title, and he's calm and unhurried as we pester him with technical questions about the differences between Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

    Hawn is also relaxed as he talks about taking on Lima but admits that winning the Bellator title would be a major accomplishment. "It would mean a lot," he says.

    Hawn is well-acquainted with desire. His dad had studied Judo before Rick was born and got his son into class early on.

    By the time Hawn was 12, he had a specific goal in Judo - make the U.S. Olympic team. It was an unusual amount of certainty and commitment for a 12 year-old.

    Judo wasn't huge in Hawn's small Oregon town so after high school he moved to Colorado to train at Team USA's Olympic Training Center. Hawn says he saw his family only once a year or so while training in Colorado.

    When he moved to Boston to train with Judo legend Jimmy Pedro a few years later, Hawn worked as many side jobs as he needed to pay the bills while training full-time. Now on opposite coasts and mostly self-funded, Hawn saw his family only once perhaps every other year.

    "Every day, you wake up thinking of that goal," Hawn remembers of his mindset as a kid and young man pursuing Olympic glory.

    All this was what was needed to make his Judo dream come true, in Hawn's mind. It might sound excessive to thouse unfamiliar with high-level athletics but you can't say he was wrong.

    Hawn's sacrifice eventually paid off, and he made the 2004 Olympic team. He placed 9th overall at the Athens Summer Games.

    When he couldn't do it a second time in 2008, Hawn decided to retire from Judo and began his MMA career. The Judo fighter jumped in with both feet, training with the best and taking fights almost immediately.

    Hawn had always felt like he knew a secret watching MMA competition as a kid while also training Judo. "We watched the first UFC events with Royce Gracie," he remembers.

    "Back then, no one really had any idea what he was doing except for Jiu Jitsu and Judo people. He'd go for something and the announcers would say, 'what is he doing?' and we'd be sitting there like, 'that's an arm bar!'"

    Hawn knew he would give fighting a chance one day. His elite Judo pedigree and skills would certainly help him, he felt.

    However, he suspected he had something else needed to transition from grappling to full fighting. The MMA world has seen many top athletes from other fight sports, like wrestling, Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, dabble but flame out in the cage and ring.

    Some guys got smashed, sure. Fighting is a cruel hobby.

    However, other grapplers found success early but, for whatever reason, decided that fighting wasn't for them. American Olympic wrestler Rulon Gardner is one such example.

    The giant won a fight in Pride but said he had no interest in continuing to hit and be hit.

    We ask Hawn, is there something inside certain people, in addition to athleticism and skill, that makes them a fighter? Why can some make the transition while other, perhaps even more accomplished grapplers, not?

    "Yeah, you know, I think there is," he says.

    "Not everyone has 'it.'I've seen guys who were even better than me in Judo and they don't fight and I wonder what it is. I wish I could say what 'it' is, but I don’t know. I've always just been able to take the same approach I had in Judo, in MMA. Even in Judo, I had a killer instinct."

    Maybe "killer instinct" is it. Maybe 'it,' is something else. Hawn has fought over twenty times in the last four years, losing just twice.

    Tonight, he heads into his biggest fight ever. He's confident and calm.

    Perhaps it is because, whatever 'it,' is, Rick Hawn definitely has it.

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  • Since losing a decision to Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren in 2012, Douglas Lima has won four straight fights via KO or TKO and has earned another crack at the title. He'll get it tonight in Council Bluffs, Iowa in the main event of Bellator 117.

    Lima will get another shot at Bellator gold tonight but won't get a chance at revenge with Askren. Though Askren never lost his belt, he was released by the promotion and allowed to walk away.

    Now, the belt is vacant and Lima will take on Rick Hawn, who is also on a red-hot four win fight streak. The Brazilian admits that he hoped to be able to face Askren for the belt.

    "It is a little bit of a let down, yeah," he tells Cagewriter.

    "Anytime you have a loss like that you want to try and get even."

    That said, Lima is focused on things he can control - namely being ready for Hawn, a former Olympic Judo competitor with nasty strikes on the feet.

    "But, you know what, being a champion is what is important to me," Lima goes on.

    "I want that belt and it doesn’t matter who I have to beat to get it."

    Although Askren was virtually flawless during his Bellator run, Lima may face a more diverse set of dangers from Hawn. "He’s good everywhere," Lima says of his Judoka opponent.

    "Obviously, he’s got great Judo, but he also likes to strike on the feet. He’s a good, well-rounded fighter for sure."

    Lima, however, believes that he himself is even more well-rounded than Hawn.

    "I’m confident, man," he concludes.

    "I just think that I put everything together really well. If we stay on the feet, I believe in my striking. If he takes me down, I think my Jiu Jitsu will be able to handle him. I can’t wait for the fight to prove it."

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  • Last summer at a media luncheon, a reporter sarcastically asked UFC president Dana White how it could be true that fight sports like boxing and MMA helped individuals make better lives for themselves. White, no bleeding heart, was trying to make a point about how many people had used the discipline of training and professional opportunities of competing in fight sports to turn their lives around.

    "You can't tell me punching saves lives!" the reporter was quoted as saying, incredulously.

    The crass writer could not have seen through his own snark to realize how ignorant his comments made him look. The point doesn't need much arguing but, suffice to say, that, with the abundance of studies showing the positive psychological, physical and social effects of competitive sports as well as seemingly endless anecdotal tales of fighter after fighter pulling themselves and their families out of real violence and poverty, to say nothing of a common sense understanding that any type of disciplined work, including that found in gyms across the world, is character-building, the writer proved himself to be a poorly read and out of touch reporter of a singular variety.

    Fight sports, of course, are the toughest sports. It isn't the punching and kicking that magically helps lay and expert practitioners alike better themselves.

    Learning skills, working hard, maintaining discipline and developing a sense of self-worth. These are the things that fighters talk about when they say "fighting saved my life."

    Alex White fought for his life long before he began to train martial arts. And, it's hard to say if that training "saved" his life all over again.

    If fighting didn't save Alex's life, though, it dramatically changed it for the better.

    When Alex White was four years old, he drank gasoline placed in a milk jug near other jugs that were filled with lemonade. Friends say that he died three times before his family was able to get him to a hospital.

    When doctors finally did get a look at poisoned little Alex, they said it would be a miracle if he lived past 10pm. That was twenty one years ago.

    The gasoline accident burnt his vocal cords, damaged his hearing and that all led to a minor speech impediment, but Alex proved stronger than anyone could have imagined. On Saturday, Alex White, now an undefeated professional fighter, will make his UFC debut.

    There was a lot of rough living in between that early childhood trauma and becoming one of the world's best fighters for Alex, however. The Missouri native was bullied much of his life.

    As a young adult, the shy and meek White was in and out of homelessness, working for close to nothing at a McDonald's. Then, one day, Alex walked into Joe Worden's fight gym, which was near the McDonald's he worked at.

    "He walked in and told me, 'Hey, I'd like to try this. I don’t have any money but I'll clean the gym, do whatever I have to,'" Worden remembers of their 2008 meeting.

    "I had never had anyone come in like that. He had a speech impediment, was shy, didn’t want to talk and wouldn’t look me in the eyes. He had his head down, looked embarrassed. I thought, 'I don’t know about this kid.' But the more he trained, I realized he was something. He was always quiet, never said five words through a practice but he worked hard....I guess he was bullied his whole life. Now, he was 19 and he decided to do something about it."

    Do something, he did. Alex trained consistently for a year before Worden entered him in competition.

    First, came amateur boxing. Alex entered a Ringside world tournament, the biggest one in the country, according to Worden, and beat five opponents in five days.

    Alex put in the work, day after day in the gym, improving by leaps and bounds. "He has something I can’t teach," Worden says.

    "He's all heart."

    Alex kept on winning. First, in boxing, then in MMA. Over the past five years, in fact, White has gone 15-0 as an amateur in MMA, before turning pro and going 9-0. Alex also went 12-0 as an amateur boxer and recently made a successful pro boxing debut.

    He's also a perfect 4-0 in kickboxing competition. More important than how well he's done in fighting competition, however, is how training and competing in fight sports changed Alex White.

     Alex in his third pro fight, back in 2012 - Video via Cage Championships

    "He came out of his shell," Worden says.

    "He's a completely different kid, now. He used to not want to talk to people but now he's signing autographs for kids at shows telling them, 'If I can do this, anybody can do this.' "Before, he had never been out of his small town of three hundred people. I coach on the U.S. national team, too, and now we've traveled everywhere. Alex has fought in Italy, Ireland, Azerbaijan, Nicaragua."

    Alex White himself doesn't try to talk up his transformation as much as those close to him do. The humble MMA prospect can't deny what training and competing has done for his confidence and life, however.

    "Yeah, I was kind of shy and all that," Alex says.

    "At that time [before I started training] I didn't really talk to people I didn't know. Training and competing did build confidence, made me more outgoing and more outspoken because before I just kept to myself and my friends and didn’t really talk to nobody I didn’t know. Basically, I was drinking all the time with friends. Fighting has changed me from that. Whenever I do drink these days, it's once in a blue moon. Fighting has helped me change my life for the better. If it wasn't for training and fighting, I'd be doing the same things and working at the same dead-end job."

    Alex still works a day job outside of fighting. His success isn't (at least not yet) one of a rags to riches, world-famous fighter. He has learned and earned the profound dignity of doing professional work to support himself and his passion, because of fighting, however.

    White's coach Worden is impressed by his student's work ethic, in and out of the gym. Worden helped connect White with a new employer, for whom Alex now delivers oxygen tanks, full-time.

    "The crazy thing of it is that he still works full-time," Worden gushes.

    "He gets to the gym and trains at 5am, then works from eight to five, then comes back to the gym and trains again until 8pm. Then, he goes home, gets sleep and does it all over again the next day."

    It would appear that White's motivation as he enters the UFC is the same it was when he first walked into Worden's gym - to see how far he could push himself. The glory of competition is nice but White never thought about it when he first started training.

    "I’ve always been into fighting," he says.

    "I never watched UFC or any of that before but I liked Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li and stuff like that is what got me really interested in fighting. I was down visiting my mom and they were telling me about it so I thought I would try it. I didn't think about fighting at first, it was just to train with the other people. I wanted to see how far I could push my limits."

    Alex has pushed and pushed and now gets his chance to fight in the big leagues. Worden says that the UFC put their team on notice months back that Alex could get a call to take a fight, so the possibility has been on their minds for some time.

    As they often do, White's first UFC opportunity came on short notice, just a couple weeks ago. Former world champ Mike Brown pulled out of a fight with Estevan Payan and White was tabbed to replace Brown on April 19th's UFC on Fox 11 card in Orlando.

    "They first offered me the fight April 2, the day after April Fools Day," Alex recalls with a chuckle.

    "My coach called and said, 'you'd better be cutting weight because you got the offer.' I said, 'what are you talking about? April Fools is over!' He said, 'no, for real,' and I thought, 'that’s crazy.' We accepted, of course. If the UFC offers you a fight, you don’t not accept."

    Doctors said that it was a miracle Alex White survived the accidental poisoning at age four. Just a few years ago, perhaps many people who knew him in passing would have thought it would take a miracle for the painfully shy, homeless White to do anything else with his life.

    However, Alex had a strength deep in him that fight training help bring out and here he is, doing interviews and getting set to fight on national television this weekend. The moment is not lost on the fighter.

    "Who would have thought," Alex says.

    "It's just a great deal right there. You've got kids that look up to you, even grown ups that look up to you...I’d have never guessed but you look back and here you are. You work hard enough and you can make it happen. Just fighting in the UFC, that’s a big goal. Back when I started fighting, I would look and see that's where all the best guys competed and thought, 'wow, that would be awesome.'"

    Alex "The Spartan" White's awesome journey continues Saturday.

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  • Legendary former heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira suffered yet another traumatic loss April 11 when he was knocked out in the first round by Roy Nelson. After nearly fifteen years, forty three professional fights and numerous ring wars, UFC president Dana White believes that it is time for Nogueira to retire.

    “As soon as he got knocked out I was getting blown up by media guys saying, ‘What do you want to do? So, out of respect for Nogueira I didn’t want to say anything until he said something publicly. Then he came out and said he wants to fight Frank Mir. I don't want to see Nogueira fight ever again. He should retire," White said in a media scrum last night after the TUF: Nations Finale card.

    "He is a war horse. That guy has been in - just the battles in PRIDE he's been in - let alone the fights that he's fought in the UFC. He's one of the most respected fighters in the world by other fighters, let alone by fans. And I like him very much, too, so I wanted to give him the opportunity to say something first. I wanted to give him the opportunity to say something first, but now I’m going to say Big Nog, I love you, but I’d love you to never fight again.’”

    Do you want to see Nogueira move on to greener and safer pastures with his life? And, what can White do to help convince the warrior to hang 'em up?

    Let us know in the comments section.

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  • Dana White and Gina Carano did recently meet to discuss bringing the former Strikeforce champion into the UFC for her first fight since 2009 and, according to the UFC President, the meeting went well. Carano does not have a deal to fight anyone yet but White was optimistic when he spoke with Fox Sports last night after the TUF: Nations Finale card.

    "Gina and I had a good meeting. I'm very confident that she does want to come back and she does want to fight. We do not have a deal but, umm, we might," White said.

    Rousey, of course, next defends her bantamweight title against Alexis Davis this coming Fourth of July weekend in Las Vegas. According to White, Carano isn't only interested in fighting Rousey - "Conviction" wants to take on whoever the UFC champ is at the time.

    "No, this isn't a 'I'm just coming back to fight Ronda Rousey.' [Carano] wants to fight whoever the champ is," White insisted.

    Speaking of women fighting, White also opined on the controversial question of who would win a real fight between Rousey and boing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.

    "MMA fight or street fight, Ronda Rousey easily, easily wins that fight," White said.

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  • Tim Kennedy got the last word in his feud with Michael Bisping with a unanimous decision win in the TUF: Nations Finale Wednesday night. Scores were 49-46 (twice) and 50-45 in favor of Kennedy, who moved into the top five of the middleweight division with this, his third UFC win.

    Kennedy used a persistent grappling attack to best Bisping over five rounds. The former Army Ranger sniper controlled the fight with multiple take downs and dominant positions repeatedly achieved on the ground.

    Per usual, Bisping proved resiliant and used his excellent conditioning to fight until the end. Bisping's toughness and sharp striking on the feet, however, were not enough to keep Kennedy off of him and prevent him from controlling him in the clinch and on the ground.

    The win is Kennedy's fourth straight. Bisping, who was returning after nearly a year lay-off because of serious eye injuries, has now lost two out of his last three fights and three out of his last five.

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  • Though he's fought professionally since 2001, middleweight Tim Kennedy is a relative newcomer to the UFC. On the other hand, his TUF: Nations Finale main event opponent tonight, Michael Bisping, is a seasoned veteran of the world's top MMA promotion.

    The outspoken British star is not only confident in his own ability to get the win against Kennedy, he also believes that his opponent lacks professionalism, all-around. "Fighters should behave accordingly, because we're not court jesters. We're not kids working on a school project. We're professional athletes, and this guy is kind of cheapening the whole thing," Bisping said of the wise-cracking and often silly Kennedy in a recent interview with Steph Daniels.

    "He's making these stupid videos. This isn't Comedy Central. We're not here to be judged on the best skit. It's about going out there and fighting to your best ability. I don't think he's representing the sport as he should. He's certainly representing himself well, but not the sport."

    Bisping went even further, questioning how well the proud war veteran Kennedy represents his Army brothers and sisters. "I made the comment about him not representing the armed forces very well because he's acting like an idiot," Bisping said.

    "I'm sure when he was in the service, he was a very good representative, but he's not a soldier any more. He needs to stop going on about it. Good for you, you did a great job. I commend the service you provided for your country, I really do, but you decided to leave the military to fight in the UFC. Your service days are over. Please stop talking about it. Focus on the fight at hand and what you have on your plate now."

    At the end of the day, though, Bisping doesn't doubt that Kennedy might be a good person. Decent human being or not, however, Bisping is sure that Kennedy isn't a top fighter.

    "I don't feel that he has what it takes to be a marquee fighter," he said.

    "He's got his propaganda machine out there rolling with all these videos from Ranger Up. They're in the gym, and they're interviewing Jon Jones and all these other people he trains with. Of course they have nothing but great things to say, ‘Tim Kennedy comes in and teaches our children's class' or ‘Tim Kennedy came in to help with this fighter's training camp', but they're not saying Tim Kennedy will be the next champion. They're just saying that he's a hard worker. That's fine, but where are the comments about him knocking everyone out in sparring or that he's going to be the next big thing in this sport? They're just not saying those things at all.

    "The world is full of hard workers and team players. Does that make you the stuff of world champions? No, it does not. I just don't see him having the ability."

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