Posts Tagged ‘Greatest’

Josh Barnett is back in an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Octagon at UFC on FOX 18 this Saturday night (Jan. 30, 2016) inside Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., where he will face “Big” Ben Rothwell in a pivotal Heavyweight match up.

“Warmaster” recently returned to mixed martial arts (MMA) action after a 21-month hiatus in Sept. 2015 when he traded fists and elbows with super tough veteran Roy Nelson in his old stomping ground of Saitama, Japan. Barnett, 38, prevailed via unanimous decision and is now eager to continue to prove that he is among the best in the world at 265 pounds.

But, he’s also got a hell of a lot on his plate at the moment between upcoming movie projects and commentating duties for professional wrestling powerhouse, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW).  However, Barnett still found some time to chat with about his acting career, future in UFC, Ronda Rousey, Brock Lesnar and more!

When did your last film wrap?

Barnett: “Never Back Down 3” wrapped filming last July in Thailand before the Roy fight. I hope for it to be released sometime early this year. When I’m doing my movies, I don’t have a fight anywhere near. When I’m on set, I’m doing my thing. I’m not worried about training at all. The reality of it is, I just go on the treadmill and lifted weights. I knew that it was just all a matter of staying relatively fit, so that when camp started up for the fight against Roy, I’d be great and ready to go.

Seeing as how you’re as a credible person as there is to answer a question like this, do you feel that the constant grind of competing in the Octagon and filming movies wore on Ronda Rousey ahead of her title loss to Holly Holm?

JB: No idea. I couldn’t really say one way or another. As a fighter, at least for myself, I always make sure no matter what I’m doing — no matter how busy — that it’s sustainable and useful for me. If I can’t be sure to do the best job I can do, in whatever I’m doing, then I don’t want to divide my time up to do it in a mediocre way.

Ever get the chance to pick Steven Seagal’s brain on the set of “Mercenary: Absolution?”

JB: We got on set and did our thing and tried to make the best movie we could. Maybe if I do some more films with him perhaps the topic of martial arts will come up. When you’re on set 14 hours, you tend to focus on the task at hand.

Have you given any thought to where your post-fight life lies?

JB: I’ve heard that it’s always good to bite off more than you can chew, and I’m a Heavyweight so I can chew quite a bit. I’m not really looking to streamline anything too much yet. I still have plenty of fights left in me. Even now, given the right timing, I can go out and do plenty of work in the professional wrestling ring. I’ve been doing commentary with Mauro Ranallo for New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV, although Mauro just got picked up by the WWE. The acting stuff is great and a lot of fun. I hope to have one or two more projects come to fruition this year. Coaching has been great.

How do you think Mauro will do as the new Smackdown announcer?

JB: I think he’ll kill it. I think he’ll do amazing. I think it’s a step in the right direction in the world of professional wrestling and the commentary. He believes in the old school ways of commentary and treating professional wrestling as a legitimate contest. That’s necessary to get the emotional investment that I believe is important for why professional wrestling works at its highest level.

Staying on the topic of wrestling, what do you think the future holds for A.J. Styles, Bullet Club and Shinsuke Nakamura in WWE?

JB: My first reaction was, ‘So they took Mauro, too? What are they trying to put me out of a job?’ I’d like to think that it was because of some of the work Mauro and I have been doing and the popularity of New Japan Pro Wrestling, forcing WWE to go out there and take a look at things — what is a really potent talent pool. They’re great at their job.

Luke Gallows had been in WWE before, but him and Anderson make a pretty fantastic tag team. Styles and Nakamura continue to be some of the top talent in the whole world. If you just let them do their thing, they’ll have success here as well. It’s always difficult to know how that will turn out. Until they hit the ring, doing whatever gimmick they’ve decided to do, you’ll never know. That’s what happens with wrestlers that get picked up by WWE. There’s no guarantee you’ll see the wrestler you’re used to watching there.

What is your view on Brock Lensar and where he ranks in the history of the UFC Heavyweight division?

JB: I think Brock Lesnar’s full potential as a fighter was never really realized. His tenure was far too short and I don’t always feel like the way he approached being a fighter — not just being a fighter, but how to prepare and how to build your foundation — that he took the best path for that. Strictly speaking, I don’t have any personal grudges with Brock.

As an MMA fighter, he’s something that’s created. He’s not something that is reality. He’s not one of the greatest Heavyweights in UFC [history], as far as skill fighting-wise, or accomplishments. As far as interest and intrigue and potential, that spark that’s undefined and gets your intention … he might be the No. 1 guy of all-time in that. His title run was the easiest road to a title. It was the most cherry-picked set up there ever has been. He made great money for everybody, so in that case it was a huge success. He’s built such a good foundation for himself in terms of business.

Switching gears to the current state of UFC, how do you feel about Rousey and Jose Aldo? Do they deserve rematches?

JB: No. There’s far too many rematches as it is. It’s not because Jose is a bad fighter, or because he’s not a champion-level dude, because he is. He’s shown it. That’s not really the way UFC works, at least I didn’t think so anyhow. In boxing, they do that quite often, but those guys are fighting maybe once a year. In MMA, they keep a more active schedule and figure out rankings based on performances. Aldo goes out there and wins a couple of fights, give him another title shot. I’m not saying he has to work himself back up all the way, but one or two quality fights would be sufficient I think.

Ronda doesn’t deserve a rematch, either, and as a matter of fact, if you wanted to build a better story, the reaching the peak and then the fall and the drive to reclaim the top spot is a much more interesting story globally. If I really thought there was long-term thing to be exploited, I would say her fighting one or two matches and fighting her way back to the title would be impressive. It’s also highly lucrative to have Holm and Rousey fight again. This is prize fighting, not a sport. It makes sense in the business end of things. If I was Holly, I wouldn’t want to pass up a rematch with Ronda.

We can leave your past in the past, but I wanted to discuss USADA with you. What are your thoughts on its policies and what it does for UFC?

JB: I don’t think anybody likes having to check in with mom when they’re a grown adult … having to give them their whereabouts every day and all the time. I actually I believe I’m the first fully random tested athlete in MMA when I worked alongside with WADA to do testing before my fight with Travis Browne. They knew what locations I’d be in for the most part, but I didn’t have to fill out any quarterly filings or any of that very strict — I never had any issue giving samples to the inspector at WADA. It wasn’t a big deal to me to show that this sport can be clean. I think what they’re trying to is a noble idea and in some time here it will show to be effective and useful, or ineffective. I don’t know. It’s not the hardest thing for anyone to deal with.

Lastly, when did the fight camp for Ben begin and what have you done to prepare for him stylistically?

JB: Probably the end of November. I’ve trained my ass off. Ben likes to eat a steady diet of punches and kicks to the face himself like Roy and then try to slug you back. You don’t want to be on the other end of their shots at revenge. I’ve never seen a whole lot of ground work out of Ben, but when you’ve been in the game this long you can’t treat someone lightly. Just because someone doesn’t use that skill-set, it doesn’t mean they don’t possess it. He’s a big ol’ viking bastard and I’ll have to go out as one myself and swing my long axe and see if I can’t cleave his skull.


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If Fabricio Werdum were trying to make himself a pariah, I doubt he could have done it this fast. Any intentional action meant to make fight fans mad at him – say, publicly dumping the UFC heavyweight title in the trash, or criticizing all those who watch his fights as pencil-necked geeks – would have been cheered as classic pro wrestling-style gimmickry. Only the exercise of agency and caution could make people this upset, this quickly.

Part of Werdum’s problem is poor communication. The other part is poor timing.

After former UFC heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez 13-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC) announced on Sunday that he was withdrawing from the title-fight rematch with current champ Werdum (20-5-1 MMA, 8-2 UFC) at UFC 196, the UFC swiftly moved to announce heavyweight contender Stipe Miocic (14-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) as Velasquez’s replacement for the Feb. 6 pay-per-view event.

And that’s how things stayed for almost a full 24-hour period. Trouble is, that gave us just enough time to mourn for Velasquez, celebrate for Miocic, and adjust our thinking for this new reality.

Honestly, it was not a bad reality, either. Werdum vs. Miocic for the heavyweight strap? Hashtag would watch. It quieted concerns about the immediate rematch nature of the original fight, plus took a challenger with a lot of momentum from a win still fresh in our memories and gave him the shot he deserved sooner rather than later.

But then, just as we were getting re-psyched for the new fight, Werdum told us to forget it – he was hurt too. He’d hurt his toe and also his back, he explained. And while you’d think that a withdrawal based on two injuries rather than one would make us more sympathetic, it seems to have had the opposite effect, perhaps creating the impression that he was more banged up than truly injured, or that he was simply naming off body parts that didn’t feel good as a way of justifying his decision.

Where Werdum really went wrong, however, was in saying that he would have stayed in the fight had Velasquez not withdrawn – and maybe also if he didn’t have a title to lose.

Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum

Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum

“If Cain was going to fight, I was still going to face him,” Werdum said. “There’s a history between us due to our previous fight. … What weighed a lot was that, in my career, it took a long time to get here, to get the belt, to be the champion. … I’m 38 now. I’m the champion. I’m feeling great in this moment of my life. But I can’t risk a 20-year career due to my pride. I can’t.”

And, logically, that’s a completely reasonable explanation. At least, you know, the second part. The first part, the stuff about him planning on fighting hurt as long as it was against Velasquez, is the kind of thing you shouldn’t say even if you’re thinking it, because you’ve essentially just told us you’re too hurt to fight one guy, but not too hurt to fight a different guy. And, if you’ve been paying attention, you should know by now that fight fans love nothing so much as they love to accuse a professional tough guy of being scared to fight.

As for the risks and rewards, that’s where Werdum made some sense. Even fellow UFC heavyweight Josh Barnett had to admit as much, even if he also thinks Werdum “should have come up with a better excuse.”

And no, just telling us that you think the situation is a raw deal for you doesn’t cut it, apparently. That’s because when it comes to withdrawing from a prize fight the only acceptable explanation seems to be one involving debilitating injury. Even that won’t shield you from all criticism, but it will at least turn down the heat.

But pointing out that the situation was changed without your consent, and in a way that you feel is unfavorable to you, that’s apparently not good enough. For some reason, we think that fighters who agreed weeks in advance to face one opponent should therefore be obligated to face any opponent, and without any extra time to adjust to the change.

We also think that fighters who have worked their entire careers to get into the most lucrative possible position should be willing to risk it all, at any time, because of something that someone else did.

It’s asking a lot, maybe even too much. It’s the place where the rhetoric of this sport meets its reality. It’s the intersection of the “anyone, anywhere” mentality and the cold, hard business facts of life as a professional fighter.

We like our tough guys with an attitude in this sport. What we don’t like, it seems, is an abundance of sense.


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Fabricio Werdum’s resume is highly-impressive.

Not only was he the first person to defeat Fedor Emelianenko in over a decade, but he ended Mark Hunt’s championship dreams and dethroned Cain Velaquez from the top of the 265-pound ladder to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

He’s also on a six-fight win streak and won nine out of his last 10.

Oh, and he’s also banking, which is why “Vai Cavalo” recently told Sherdog (via Bloody Elbow) there is no reason for him to even think about retiring anytime soon. Especially since his end goal is to become the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time.

“Now that I’m getting rich, why would I retire? No way, I want to make history! I want to be considered the best heavyweight fighter in history by the fans. I started beating Fedor Emelianenko, Mark Hunt, Cain Velasquez, a long list. I was always considered the underdog. So, now I think I’m starting a new phase in my career where I’m not the underdog anymore.”

Plus, the Brazilian bomber is ever-improving, as he’s gone from a jiu-jitsu specialist to an all-around MMA fighter with the hands to take out the best of them.

And when you add the fact that he’s taken very minimal damage to his own health, Fabricio has plenty left to write.

“In the beginning, everybody said I was a jiu-jitsu fighter. I think I could change that, too, by evolving my stand up skills. Of course, I have much more to evolve, but when I see my fights today, I can recognize that I’ve been able to add new skills to my game. So, no way am I thinking about retirement. I’ve never had serious injuries. Never even taken hard punishment to my head, so I have a lot of story left to write in that sport.”

Werdum will next face Velasquez in a highly-anticipated rematch at UFC 196, which is set to pop off on Feb. 6, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

See the official fight night poster here.

Anyone think Werdum has what it takes to go down as the G.O.A.T? Or is he already there?

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It’s all come down to this – the Highly Unofficial picks for the best fighters of 2015. As always, the rule is that someone had to have fought at least twice to be considered for the list, but with so many shows, what used to be an issue is an issue no longer, as there were plenty of top performers showing what they do best in the Octagon.10 – Neil Magny Back in the same spot he was in at this time last year, Colorado’s Neil Magny continues to impress as he climbs up the welterweight ladder. One of the busiest men in the sport, Magny went 5-0 in 2014 and he kept that he … Read the Full Article Here

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A great fight is a perfect storm. Put two fighters together and you never know what you’ll get, but when both have the intention of making a statement against each other and the styles mesh, it becomes something more than just an athletic competition. When that happens, there’s nothing better in all of sports. Here are 10 of the best fights from 2015, as the Highly Unofficial awards season continues.10 – Gian Villante-Corey AndersonCorey Anderson’s first pro loss was a painful one, mainly due to the teeth he had to get fixed after eating a knee from Gian Villante, but s … Read the Full Article Here

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High praise for UFC’s cash cow and interim Featherweight champion ahead of the blockbuster pay-per-view (PPV) event next weekend …

“It’s too early to tell if Conor is one of the greatest fighters ever, though we’re getting close [to being able to tell]. A win over Jose Aldo would get him going in the right direction, obviously. But I can tell you this, without reservation: He is the greatest mental warfare fighter I have ever met. Ever. The best. He doesn’t just fuck with the guys he’s going to fight. He fucks with everybody. I know it’s sacrilege to compare anybody to Muhammad Ali in anything in the fight business. You don’t ever want to be comparing people to Muhammad Ali, but he’s the only one who comes to mind when it comes to the mental warfare that Conor wages.”

Chalk that up as the second comparison (here’s the first) now made to Muhammad Ali by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) brass on behalf of boisterous Irishman and interim Featherweight titleholder Conor McGregor, who they maintain is just as good as the greatest boxer of all-time at the mental side of the combat sports game.

UFC President Dana White, who has become increasingly cozy with his “Notorious” cash cow throughout 2015, told such to Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole (via FOX Sports).

McGregor has made waves over his two-year run in ZUFFA, masquerading across continents as part of a UFC 189 pay-per-view (PPV) World Tour, in which he lambasted 145-pound king Jose Aldo.

Their planned headliner never happened because of an Aldo rib injury, with Chad Mendes filling the void in a scrap for the interim belt, causing UFC head honcho Lorenzo Fertitta to take extra precautions to make sure that it goes down at UFC 194 on Sat., Dec. 12, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

All the while, McGregor has been making big plans.

For the complete UFC 194: “Aldo vs. McGregor” fight card, click here.

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holly holm jon jones

Holly Holm has been showered with praise since defeating Ronda Rousey by knockout at UFC 193 last Saturday in Melbourne, and one of the biggest compliments has come her Team Jackson-Winkeljohn teammate Jon Jones.

The former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion wrote the following message on Facebook about Holm, calling her the greatest of all time in women’s combat sports. He cited her accolades in boxing and the fact that she defeated Rousey, who Jones called “the greatest female mixed martial arts fighter to date.”

In my opinion Holly Holm is already the G.O.A.T. of women’s combat sports. She was considered the greatest female boxer to ever compete in the sport and now she has defeated the greatest female mixed martial arts fighter to date,” Jones wrote on Facebook. “Her accolades are absolutely unheard of, but that’s not what makes me such a fan of Holly. It’s the way she carries herself outside of the bright lights and the arenas.

I know the MMA community doesn’t really know Holly yet, so let me be the first to tell you. She is the most classy and down to earth athlete I’ve ever had the pleasure to be around. She is the long time pride of Albuquerque, New Mexico not only because the way she competes, but the way she treats each and every individual that has the opportunity of meeting her. This actually can be a problem at times, a simple trip for a gallon of milk to the grocery store could take her an easy 45 minutes and she doesn’t even mind haha. If you’re impressed by Holly’s talent, wait until you get an understanding of what type of character she possesses, it is truly world class. She is a role model that you would love to have your daughters look up to. I’m so honored to be able to call her a teammate and most importantly a friend.

Congratulations again, Champ and keep kicking ass at life.

Jones and Holm both train at Jackson’s Martial Arts & Fitness Academy in Albuquerque, NM.

Related: Athletes & Celebrities React To UFC 193: “That’s What Ronda Gets For Not Touching Gloves!”

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Ronda Rousey is the biggest star in MMA history, and that didn’t happen overnight. 

Since the first interview before her first fight, Rousey has been working to get herself noticed. That started all the way back in 2011, where she called out Gina Carano and Cris “Cyborg” Santos ahead of her professional MMA debut opposite future Invicta FC staple Ediane Gomes at King of the Cage: Turning Point and ever since, she has made the most of every opportunity to get her name out there.

That hustle led to a slew of unique opportunities, and those opportunities resulted in a level of exposure never before seen for a UFC fighter. With all eyes on Rousey year-round, she has been able to deliver memorable moments by the truckload.

With Rousey set to face off with Holly Holm at UFC 193 this Saturday, it’s worth taking a look back at the moments that defined her as an athlete and elevated and separated her from the rest of the pack. Here are Rousey’s greatest hits, as brought to you by the Bleacher Report MMA crew.

Begin Slideshow

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For all intents and purposes, Fedor Emelianenko will forever be known as the greatest mixed martial arts (MMA) heavyweight of all time. This, despite the fact that he’s never competed inside the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Octagon.

And probably never will.

But, when we look at the landscape of the big men, Fabricio Werdum seems to always be overlooked as a combatant deserving of that title. After all, he was the man who broke Fedor’s ridiculous 10-year unbeaten streak.

Plus, he recently submitted Cain Velasquez — a fighter many fans considered to be the one to give Fedor a run for the coveted title of G.O.A.T — to claim the UFC heavyweight championship. He also knocked out tough-as-nails Mark Hunt to claim the interim belt, as well.

Regardless of his impressive resume, you’ll never hear “Vai Cavalo” label himself as the greatest of all time. Because as he recently declared on The MMA Hour, it’s up to the fans to decide who they praise as the best, not him.

“The guys have more respect for me. All the time I’m the underdog. Now, guys are changing their mind. I showed against Travis Browne, Mark Hunt. When I fought Hunt, everyone said Hunt would knock out Werdum for sure or Werdum submit him. But no one expected that I knock Mark Hunt down. Just look at my record. I beat Fedor Emelianenko for the first time. Travis Browne, Roy Nelson, Cain Velasquez. Cain, everyone knows he has good cardio, big heart. But, I break him, I finish him. I don’t know what more guys want. I don’t like to say this (that he’s greatest of all time), it’s like a prepotent (cocky). ‘Oh, I’m the best.’ That is not my style. I like when the fans say that. When the fans say that, I am very happy for sure. I get more motivation, but I don’t like to say that. I’m a jiu-jitsu world champion, ADCC world champion twice. Three times jiu-jitsu and UFC heavyweight champion. But when I say that, people say, ‘Werdum may be a little prepotent.’ So I don’t like that. But, nobody have a record like this. I’m very happy.”

Hard to argue with the man. Though some will find a way to do it.

Werdum will look to add to his win total when he rematches the aforementioned Velasquez sometime in 2016. And though the bout is rumored to go down in a stadium in Brazil, Fabricio could not confirm the date or location at the moment.

Nevertheless, the Brazilian is more confident now than he was in their initial match. To show he’s a good sport, he gave Cain a friendly warning, advising the former champ to stay away from his guard and his powerful right arm.

Words that should be taken very seriously.

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