On November 21st, 2015 in Beijing, China, ONE Championship held Dynasty of Champions at the Gymnasium of National Olympic Sports Centre. Marat Gafurov and Kairat Akhmetov became champions and Yang Sen took the one-night Featherweight Tournament.
The night had viewers witnessing two titles exchange hands, a few exciting welterweight bouts and a 1-night Featherweight Tournament crowning a winner.
In the headlining spot, Russian grappling wiz Marat Gafurov (13-0) stunned the crowd by taking the 145lb title from then-champion Jadambaa (10-4) in a clash of styles.
Although Jadambaa dazzled on the feet with amazing strikes, Gafurov overwhelmed with precision wrestling and strikes from top position to wear down the Mongolian. Eventually late in the fourth round, Gafurov took the back and finished with a rear-naked choke.
The Russian unifies the title and becomes the undisputed featherweight king for ONE Championship.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
America’s mass pile-on of Ronda Rousey and her team doesn’t seem to be slowing down as we get further away from her loss to Holly Holm on Saturday. First to dance on the former undefeated champion’s grave were staunch enemies like Miesha Tate and Cris “Cyborg, then it was random fellow fighters and hordes of longtime-turned-very-former fans. Then it was gloating boxers sore that Ronda had appeared on the cover of Ring Magazine and megalomaniacal politicians sore that Ronda hadn’t endorsed them for president and experimental pop singers sore that Ronda hadn’t touched gloves before the fight and former professional wrestlers sore at … what?—once being professional wrestlers, I guess. Piling on Ronda has become the country’s newest favorite fleeting pastime, its latest fad: planking or “winning” for the third week of November 2015. So hang on Ronda, if American history has taught us anything it’s that we will move on to a new collective psychosis soon enough.
Photo by Michael Reynolds/EPA
Last Thursday, November 5 in the early hours of the morning, at least one suspect broke into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York, and broke three trophy cases containing six title belts held by Carmen Basilio and Tony Zale. The local police force was alerted to the burglary when the museum’s security alarm was set off at 2:45 am, but by the time they arrived on the scene, the thief and all six belts were gone.
“It’s terribly upsetting to think that someone would do this, Edward Brophy, Executive Director of the International Boxing Hall of Fame said in a statement released to the press after the incident. “It’s devastating to the Boxing Hall of Fame, and we are confident that the items will be recovered.”
Watch almost any PRIDE Fighting Championships match and before the pin-drop silence that accompanies the soccer-kicking mayhem, you’ll hear Lenne Hardt calling each fighter’s name with bombastic screams and trilling r’s.
With fiery hair and a flair for the dramatic, Hardt—you might know her as the “Crazy Screaming PRIDE Lady”—and her high-volume announcing embody PRIDE’s pageantry. She made her entrée into mixed martial arts at the 2000 PRIDE Grand Prix, and her first glimpse of the sport came from behind a microphone while watching Kazushi Sakuraba, Igor Vovchanchyn, and Mark Coleman scrap with blue gloves. She was a fixture of PRIDE until it folded in 2007, her voice cutting through applause from tens of thousands inside the Saitama Super Arena. Since then, she’s parlayed her persona into gigs with DREAM, OneFC, Bellator, and other MMA promotions.
But that “Crazy Screaming PRIDE Lady” moniker doesn’t reflect the nuance in each name she calls—soundscapes constructed from drawn-out vowels, staccato counterpoints, solemn shifts in intonation, and visits to the extremes of the human vocal range in the space of a few syllables. It reflects an expertise that Lenne Hardt cultivated through a North American upbringing in theatre and opera, and a career as a Tokyo-based radio DJ and voice actress. Fightland spoke with Hardt about her approach to announcing, her favorite names to call, what her voice feels like the day after, and the longtime UFC champion who got his nom de guerre from her.
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC
Five years from now, or 10 years or 15 years or whenever MMA finally decides to enter the Age of Reason it’s been building toward since 2001, when the patchwork mania that was early no-holds barred fighting finally got unified rules, we’ll all be able to look back at the days when professional fighters cut 20 pounds of water weight in the week leading up to a fight and laugh. The same way basketball fans laugh at referees retrieving balls out of peach baskets and hockey fans laugh at players skating onto the ice without headgear. Soon weight-cutting will go the way of groin strikes and hair pulling and heat-butts (other relics from the dark early days), and our beloved sport will at last be called “civilized”—anyway, as civilized as mixed martial arts can be.
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC
In professional sports there are athletes who are prone to injury and then there are the tragic cases, men and women so susceptible to the whims of anatomical disaster that their careers take on the air of instruction, like they’ve been chosen by unseen forces to be the embodiments of the coldest lessons the universe has to teach us: that this is all passing, that we will fall apart, that we will all cease to be. What other explanation could there be for a man like Greg Oden, the former first pick of the NBA draft whose short, much-anticipated career consisted almost entirely of knee surgeries and months spent sitting on benches, watching other men play basketball, before limping to its inevitable end? Why would nature or God or the universe create such a near-perfect physical specimen only to break that specimen apart every chance they had? What did the ancestors of those athletes do for them to deserve such a fate, what witch in the woods did they disrespect, what kind of curse did they bring down upon themselves and their future generations?
Photo by Christian Petersen/Zuffa LLC
In the middle of recent press blitz through Toronto, Chris Weidman admits that he’s a little tired.
“I was at Billy Joel’s place last night,” he says, casually. Then, as if realizing how strange this must sound—the undefeated UFC middleweight champion and #3 pound-for-pound fighter in the world just casually hanging out with the Piano Man himself—he feels the need to clarify: “I really was.”
The unassuming but deadly All-American has long been a favorite in the MMA world thanks to his consistent Knockout/Submission/Fight/Performance of the Night-winning victories over some of the best that the middleweight division has ever had to offer in Vitor Belfort, Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva. But until recently, he hasn’t managed to inspire the same amount of interest from the outside world as some of his more vocal colleagues like Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey.
Heavyweight bouts will always have a certain allure but hardcore fight fans know the best action is more likely to be found in the lower divisions. Boxing promoters might lie awake at night dreaming of discovering the next Mike Tyson. But during the daytime they have no qualms about putting together cards that are headlined by two men who between them weigh less than ‘Iron Mike’ did during his prime.
Demetrious Johnson is for my money is the best p4p fighter on the planet. Yet the reigning UFC flyweight champion receives a surprisingly lukewarm response from MMA fans. The lack of interest in the UFC’s 125 lbs division is palpable and I doubt the promotion would be willing to even contemplate introducing lower divisions in the current climate.
Image via Capcom
Originally Posted at FIGHTLAND
Capcom’s upcoming video game, Street Fighter V, will be released in March and feature four new characters to the world-renowned series.
Yesterday at Brazil Game Show, the company officially announced that “Laura Matsuda” will make her debut, and like all Street Fighter characters, will represent a particular nation and style of combat. The brother of BJJ ace Sean Matsuda, Laura won’t be the first fighter in the game to represent Brazil, but will be the first female character to do so. (Blanca is the first character from Brazil, and employs the Brazilian dance-fighting art of Capoeira).