UFC on FOX: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos Preview

nullThe UFC makes its national television debut on FOX Saturday night with one of the biggest heavyweight fights in the history of the organization as Cain Velasquez defends his heavyweight championship against Junior dos Santos.

Coming into the fight, the oddsmakers like the champion Velasquez to retain, as he has a money line of -190 to win on Saturday night. Dos Santos comes in with odds of +155. These two will clash from the Honda Center in Anaheim at 9 p.m. ET live on FOX.

Here is a look at both fighters and my pick for the winner.

Cain Velasquez (9-0) – The former wrestler from Arizona State is unbeaten in his short MMA career and he holds wins over top fighters like Cheick Kongo, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and Brock Lesnar. Velasquez started as a wrestler, but has quickly developed his boxing and turned into one of the top knockout artists in the division. The questions for the champion coming in are his conditioning and health, as he is coming off rotator cuff surgery that has sidelined him for over a year. His longest fight in the UFC is 15 minutes and he struggled to make it to the end there, so if this fight goes deep, he could be in rough shape.

Junior dos Santos (13-1) – The Brazilian is 7-0 in the UFC and holds wins over the likes of Fabricio Werdum, Mirko CroCop, Roy Nelson, and Shane Carwin. Junior is a powerful striker that likes to throw heavy punches. His uppercut has been his signature strike to finish opponents, but he also works in devastating body shots. A black belt in jiu-jitsu as well, dos Santos hasn’t had to show those skills because he has been able to dominate fights standing. The test for him in this fight will be whether or not he is able to stuff the takedowns of Velasquez, as he has not faced a tough wrestler in the octagon. Like Velasquez, dos Santos hasn’t been pushed past 15 minutes yet, so fatigue could be an issue if this bout reaches the championship rounds.

Who Will Win? – This fight could go 25 minutes and it could go 25 seconds. Both fighters have a lot of explosiveness to them but both also have some big questions coming in. Ultimately, I feel Velasquez’ striking is closer to matching dos Santos’ as opposed to dos Santos’ wrestling being anywhere near Velasquez’. I think both fighters will land some early strikes, but Velasquez will be the one to get the fight to the ground and control Junior from there. I am actually going to be part of the minority that sees this fight going the distance due to Velasquez going with the wrestling.

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UFC 137 Results – Diaz is for real

nullNick Diaz proved that he is no minor league champ on Saturday in the main event of UFC 137.

The last Strikeforce Welterweight champion overcame a slow start to dominant the final two rounds against UFC legend, B.J. Penn, as Diaz picked up a unanimous decision win for perhaps the biggest win in his career.

Diaz survived the opening round as Penn came out with a fast start, using dirty boxing and grappling to control the round. Penn had Diaz’ back at one point, but Diaz was able to get out of the dominant position and get into the later rounds, where he started to work his boxing.

Diaz used relentless jabs and combinations to pick apart the tiring Penn, who ended up with a busted nose and bruised face before the final bell sounded. The decision wasn’t really in doubt, as Diaz had clearly closed out the final two rounds.

Following the win, Diaz called out UFC welterweight champion, Georges St. Pierre, whom Diaz was originally scheduled to face before being pulled from the title bout by the UFC as a disciplinary action for missing pre-event press conferences.

Still, Diaz is likely in line for a title shot against GSP or Carlos Condit, who will be fighting for the title in early 2012.

Penn announced his retirement from the sport following the loss, his third in his last five fights. Penn will go down as one of the all-time greats as he held titles in two different weight classes and was arguably the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world during his prime.

For full UFC 137 results, check out the jump.

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UFC 137 Betting Odds & Fight Card

nullThe UFC has two legendary welterweights facing off in the main event of UFC 137 on Saturday night as B.J. Penn takes on Nick Diaz.

Penn is a former UFC welterweight and lightweight champion while Nick Diaz was the Strikeforce welterweight champion prior to leaving the organization for greener pastures.

Penn (16-7-2) comes into this three-round contest as the favorite over Diaz (26-7-1), as Penn has odds of -125 to top Diaz, who has a money line of -105. Both fighters have similar styles as each relies on boxing and jiu-jitsu to win fights. Penn may have the edge in regards to wrestling, but Diaz will have a big size edge in terms of mass and reach. Both fighters will be sure to leave everything in the octagon, which makes this fight very interesting.

The co-main event also has a very competitive contest as heavyweights Cheick Kongo (26-6-2) and Matt Mitrione (5-0) face off with the winner emerging as a top-10 contender in the division.

Mitrione is the slight favorite, with a money line of -140 while Kongo has odds of +110 to win. Both fighters are primarily strikers, but Mitrione packs the harder punch and is more mobile while Kongo has a slightly better ground game. Mitrione will look to keep the fight standing and stick-and-move while Kongo will look to utilize leg kicks and takedowns to finish the fight with ground-and-pound.

For complete UFC 137 betting odds, check out the jump.

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MMA is big now, but it continues to grow

Dana White during the press conference for the Ultimate Fighting Championship 109 event at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on February 4, 2010.

The UFC continues to grow in popularity on a global level and as far as Spencer Kyte of HeavyMMA.com is concerned, we haven’t seen anything yet.

Dana White has famously called mixed martial arts the “fastest growing sport in the world” on numerous occasions.

With the ever-increasing popularity of the UFC and the countless promotions cropping up across the globe hoping to emulate the biggest brand in the business, the boisterous UFC President could certainly be right.
What makes the assertion even more impressive is that in all reality, the sport is still in the infancy stage, and as it continues to grow outside of North America, mixed martial arts has the potential to become a truly global phenomenon that rivals soccer.

If you think I’m exaggerating, take a look at the number of British fighters competing this weekend at UFC 120.

Four of the five main card bouts feature a Brit, and the lone bout which doesn’t contain a British national involves Cheick Kongo, a French heavyweight who trains with one of England’s premier teams at Wolfslair Academy. On the preliminary portion of the event, four more Britons are competing, bringing the event total to eight.

Read the full article.

Saturday MMA Review: 6/20

Here’s a weekly rundown of MMA content from Ben Goldstein of CagePotato.com:

– Rich Franklin edged out Wanderlei Silva and Cain Velasquez dominated Cheick Kongo at UFC 99 last Saturday. Also, Mirko Cro Cop defeated Mostapha Al Turk via illegal eye-pokes, then told the UFC to kiss his ass.

– We saw some crazy knockouts this week, including Tim Sylvia getting wrecked by a 50-year old boxer, a brilliant flying knee KO at a Bellator show [http://www.cagepotato.com/knockout-day-nick-pace-wrecks-collin-tebo-bellator-xi], and a 9-second head-kick finish followed by a flying referee tackle.

– Brock Lesnar is built like a black man, still not a fan of the gays.

– Team U.K.’s James Wilks cruised to the welterweight finals on Wednesday’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter, ending a season that didn’t really live up to the hype.

– MMA model Penny Mathis’s breasts may not be real, but they’re still fabulous.

– Shaquille O’Neal is seriously considering a switch to MMA after finishing his basketball career, and wants to start off by beating up the giant Korean who smashed Jose Canseco.

– When Cris Cyborg chokes out a reporter, that’s just her polite way of saying she’s finished with the interview.

– Come back tonight [Saturday] at 9 p.m. ET/PT for our liveblog of the Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale show, which will feature Diego Sanchez vs. Clay Guida, Nate Diaz vs. Joe Stevenson, and the lightweight and welterweight TUF finals. And check out our exclusive interviews with Sanchez, Stevenson, and Chris Lytle.

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