UFC 130 – Miguel Torres vs. Brad Pickett in the works for May 28th in Las Vegas, Nevada

By Michael Pepper

A bantamweight clash between former WEC champion, Miguel Torres and UK stand-out, Brad Pickett appears to be in the works for UFC 130 on May 28th in Las Vegas, Nevada.

A source close to the situation revealed the news to Heavy.com earlier today, although it is not known if bout agreements have been exchanged as yet.

Torres is coming off an efficient win over Antonio Banuelos at UFC 126 earlier this month, putting in the kind of performance that ensure he receives very little damage, but in turn draws a lot of boos from the crowd.

As for Pickett, he rebounded from an earlier loss inside the WEC cage to Scott Jorgensen when he defeated Ivan Menjivar at WEC 53 in December via decision. The show marked the last ever one put on by the promotion.

 

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Del Rosario-Johnson could steal the show

By Dave Doyle

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The opening night of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix features plenty of star power at the top, as former PRIDE champion Fedor Emelianenko, former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski, and former Elite XC kingpin Antonio Silva all seek to advance in quarterfinal action.

But a pair of alternates could potentially steal the show at the Izod Center on Saturday night. Two of Strikeforce’s top heavyweight prospects, Shane Del Rosario and Lavar Johnson, make their Showtime main card debuts in a bout that promises plenty of fireworks.

“It could get explosive out there, baby,” said Johnson (15-3). “Sometimes when you go to the fights, the guys who aren’t in the main event are the ones who come out and really fire up the crowd. I’m going to do my part to make it happen.”

All 25 of the fighters’ combined wins have come by way of stoppage. Del Rosario, a Laguna Niguel, Calif., native and Muay Thai specialist, has only been pushed past the first round once in his career and has eight of his 10 wins via KO or TKO. Johnson, who relies on the power of his big right hand, has six first-round stoppages in his current seven-fight win streak.

Something has to give. But it probably won’t take long.

“We’ll come out standing and banging, no doubt,” said Del Rosario. “Where it goes from there, we’ll see.”

 

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Russian MMA star Fedor Emelianenko on the rebound path

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Fedor Emelianenko barely speaks a lick of English. He rarely smiles. When he steps inside a ring or cage, he looks bored, as if he’d rather be reading a book.

Yet on a frigid Manhattan morning, hundreds of mixed martial arts fans formed a line that snaked through Times Square just to see him. They spent six hours waiting for their six seconds, the time it took him to scribble his name on a photograph or pose for a picture.

Why did they do it? Because he just might be the greatest heavyweight fighter ever.

“He just has that X-factor,” said Scott Coker, who runs the Strikeforce promotion for which Emelianenko currently fights. “When you’re an actor or an actress, or a fighter, you just have that charisma. He’s not a flamboyant character, but people just love him.”

Emelianenko is the biggest reason Strikeforce is expecting a sellout crowd when it stages the opening two bouts of its eight-man heavyweight Grand Prix on Saturday night at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. He faces Brazilian star Antonio Silva in the main event, and former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski takes on Sergei Kharitonov in the other tournament match.

The other two quarter-finals are tentatively scheduled for April, pitting Alistair Overeem against Fabricio Werdum and Josh Barnett versus Brett Rogers.

The favourite, though, is the mysterious man from Stary Oskol, Russia.

 

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Gilbert Melendez Discusses New Strikeforce Contract

By Jeff Cain

Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez recently signed a six-fight, two-year deal with the San Jose based fight promotion.

“I signed a two year, six-fight deal with them,” Melendez said on the latest edition of Skrap Pack Radio. “They made me a very good offer that I knew I would not get in any other organization, so I’m very happy with it and happy to get fighting again.”

The new deal locks Melendez in for two years, or six fights, which ever comes first.

“It’s what ever comes first. They have to give me three fights per year. Obviously, it can be extended if there’s an injury or something like that, or I refuse to fight,” said Melendez. “They have to get me those three fights a year, within that year, within the next year or else they’re in breach, or they’re going to have to pay me for the fights.”

The negotiations weren’t easy, but the two parties eventually came to terms.

“I signed the agreement. They sent it over. We debated for a while. We came to terms and I’m very happy with it,” said the lightweight champion.

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Strikeforce HWGP: Weigh-In Photos and Video

Note: Click Photos To Enlarge.

Fedor Emelianenko (230lb) vs. Antonio “BigfootSilva (264lb)

Sergei Kharitonov (250lb) vs. Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski (242lb)

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Jorge Santiago Signs Multi Fight Contract With UFC

By Brett Okamoto

Jorge Santiago has found his way back to the UFC.

Sources have confirmed to ESPN.com that the American Top Team fighter has signed a multi-fight deal with the UFC and is expected to make his return to the promotion at UFC 130 on May 28 in Las Vegas. His opponent has not yet been determined.

The UFC and Strikeforce veteran recently negotiated his release from Sengoku Raiden Championship, where he’s fought his last eight fights, posting a 7-1 record. He also holds the World Victory Road middleweight title, which he will now vacate.

Santiago (23-8) had a brief stint in the UFC in 2006, during which he posted a 1-2 record. After defeating Justin Levens by first-round knockout in his UFC debut, Santiago suffered back-to-back losses to Chris Leben and Alan Belcher.

The Brazilian middleweight has fought many of the sport’s recognizable names during his eight-year pro career, including Manny Gamburyan, Diego Sanchez, Jeremy Horn, Trevor Prangley and Siyar Bahadurzada.

The UFC 130 event is expected to take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. A lightweight title fight between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard will serve as the main event.

Brett Okamoto covers mixed martial arts for ESPN.com.

Vitor Belfort welcomes rematch against Wanderlei Silva

By Guilherme Cruz

It looks like that Vitor Belfort wants Wanderlei Silva’s “number one ticket”.

Few hours after “The Axe Murderer” calling out Vitor Belfort in exclusive interview with TATAME, we spoke with “The Phenom”, who accepted the challenge and left the decision about the highly expected rematch in Dana White’s hands.

“Let’s do it, brother. I accept it”, Vitor said, praising the fighter he defeated by TKO in UFC Brazil, in 1998. “He’s a great athlete, a great champion, and it would be a pleasure to fight him. It’d be a highly anticipated fight, very important for the sport.

“Whatever Dana (White) says I’ll do, I never chose opponents and I won’t do it now. But he made the challenge and I’m accepting it. I just don’t wanna wait for the UFC Rio to come back, I wanna fight first”, he added.

Will Brian Stann wait, and the UFC set the rematch between former UFC and Pride champions? It’s up to you now, Dana White.

 

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