UFC Fight Night 24 Preview

E. Spencer Kyte of HeavyMMA.com takes an in-depth look at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 24 card from Seattle.

The UFC production team makes the cross-country trek for the second show in seven days as UFC Fight Night 24 hits Spike TV from the Pacific Northwest just a week after UFC 128 rocked New Jersey harder than Springsteen in his heyday.

While the card has undergone a number of changes since the original lineup was announced, each shift has made the event better.
Nam Phan squaring off with Leonard Garcia would have been good, but Garcia facing “The Korean Zombie” for a second time is awesome. Tito Ortiz facing fellow veteran Rogerio Nogueira was an okay main event, but switching Ortiz for Phil Davis makes things a lot more entertaining.

Cards on the table: I love all the changes because I’m going to be in Seattle (well, I’m in Seattle right now) covering this event for Heavy, so getting an even better lineup for my first assignment for the site is gravy on my french fries, maybe with some cheese curds mixed in.

Read the full preview.

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UFC on Versus 3 Preview

HeavyMMA.com did a complete preview of Thursday night’s UFC on Versus 3 event. Will Diego Sanchez or Martin Kampmann take another step towards the welterweight title?

Just five days after UFC 127 ends in Australia, the company is back in business with their third event on the Versus network, and the first of three cards slated for March.

Taking place at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky, this event has been marred by injuries since the original line-up was announced. Alexandre Ferreira pulled out due to the flooding in Brazil, both Matt Brown and Matt Riddle withdrew from fighting Mark Scanlon, who ended up getting pulled entirely, Francisco Rivera was replaced by newcomer Reuben Duran opposite Takeya Mizugaki and a bout between Johny Hendricks and Paulo Thiago was taken off the card entirely when the Brazilian was forced from the fight.

Maiquel Falcao was also forced from his fight with Alessio Sakara due to an unspecified injury, at which point the UFC inked talented Matt Serra pupil Chris Weidman. The New Yorker will not only make his debut in Louisville, but he’ll also be featured on the broadcast portion of the card.

Aside from the ridiculous number of injuries that reshuffled the lineup, and the ridiculous name of the venue itself, UFC on Versus 3 actually looks like an event that has the potential to deliver an exciting night of fights.

Read the full preview.

Learning to appreciate B.J. Penn

Spencer Kyte of HeavyMMA.com believes it’s time to stop arguing about B.J. Penn’s legacy and just enjoy the ride.

Every time B.J. Penn prepares to enter the Octagon, the same string of stories and commentaries surface, describing the former multi-divisional champion as “an enigma” or “polarizing,” discussing whether not “the real B.J. Penn” will show up.

I should know, having followed those paths half-a-dozen times myself here at HeavyMMA.com.

While all of those angles are valid and a result of a career spent alternating between amazing and underwhelming, there comes a time when you have to step back from wondering what could have been or what might come next, and simply enjoy Penn for what he is, a truly one-of-a-kind fighter.

This new way of looking at Penn is a shift in perspective for me, having spent a long time being frustrated by the duality that is “The Prodigy,” a fighter who can go from unbeatable to uninterested from one fight to the next. That possibility still exists; he could just as easily follow up his 21-second knockout win over Matt Hughes with a sub-standard showing against Jon Fitch on Saturday.

Read the full article.

Matt Hughes fighting like it’s fun again

E. Spencer Kyte of HeavyMMA.com writes that if Matt Hughes seems like he’s enjoying himself these days, it’s because he is. And the former welterweight champion plans on having fun against B.J. Penn on Saturday day at UFC 123.

There is a point in the careers of many elite athletes where their once dominant skills start to erode, the twinkle in their eye turns into a glossy stare as they go through the motions.

Somewhere along the way, the Jim Gray du jour sits across from them, softly and earnestly asking what caused the decline, often eliciting the same response: “It stopped being fun” or some variation on that sentiment.

Sitting on the sidelines, far away from the daily grind of being a professional athlete, many wonder how such a thing could be possible, ready and willing to trade our daily routine with those of our athletic idols at any moment. But every job gets stale after enough time, and being a professional athlete is no different.

At that point, there are only a handful of options: riding things out, continuing to collect a paycheck is the path many take, while some decide enough is enough and opt for retirement. A small percentage choose the path Matt Hughes has decided to follow, accepting that his glory days are gone and getting back to having fun inside the cage.

Read the full article.

Phil Davis the next big thing in MMA?

E. Spencer Kyte of HeavyMMA.com thinks so.

Phil Davis’ first year with the UFC has already been a very good one.

The 26-year-old former Penn State wrestler has already earned a trio of victories, a pair of lopsided unanimous decisions sandwiched around a first round Anaconda choke submission of Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 112.

Saturday night, Davis has a chance to add a fourth win to his yearly total, facing off against Tim Boetsch in his main card debut at UFC 123. Though the 12-3 Boetsch has the edge in experience, Davis is favoured heading into the bout, and with good reason. In a sport where fans and analysts are always looking for “The Next Big Thing,” many have tabbed Davis as the man to carry that moniker in 2011.

Arguing with that assessment is a difficult task, as the talented young light heavyweight has the pedigree and past performances to make you believe greatness rests in his future.

Read the entire article.

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