The Ultimate Fighter U.K. vs. Australia In The Works

By Jeff Cain

Sports are built on rivalries, and there’s none better than the U.K. vs. Australia. But this time, it won’t happen on a cricket pitch.

UFC president Dana White recently said on a UFC 127 media conference call that The Ultimate Fighter was going international in 2011. The first stop will likely be the Philippines, but it appears that a TUF-themed Australia vs. England series is also in the works.

“We’re getting pretty far along. We’re not in a position to announce anything,” said Marshall Zelaznik, UFC Managing Director of International Development.

The UFC wants to get The Ultimate Fighter 13 shown in Australia before moving forward with the planned reality show that they’re going to call “The Smashes.”

“We’re getting close here on an announcement for The Ultimate Fighter season 13. It will be very widely distributed here once we get that deal secured. That will be the first step in trying to get ‘The Smashes,’ I think we’re going to call it,” said Zelaznik during the UFC 127 pre-fight press conference in Sydney, Australia.

 

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Sotiropoulos: From laundry mat to the Octagon

By The Canadian Press

George Sotiropoulos just has to think about the time he lived in a New York laundromat to remember how far he has come.

It was just for a week, back in 2002, but it was long enough for the Australian to question his mixed martial arts career path.

“I was in an office, sleeping on a couch, but it was like ‘What am I doing here?”‘ he recalled. “It wasn’t in the greatest part of town and basically it sounded like an asylum.

“Not that I’ve seen in an asylum, but I have seen the movies,” he added with a laugh.

“I couldn’t wait to get out of there. And I did shortly after.”

Sotiropoulos (14-2, including 7-0 in the UFC) now ranks as one of the world’s elite lightweights.

 

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UFC’s Fitch missing killer instinct

By Chris Doucette, Toronto Sun

Prediction: Penn wins Down Under

When B.J. Penn and Jon Fitch square off Down Under Saturday night, there will be a lot at stake.  One fighter aims to prolong his storied UFC career, the other hopes to finally secure his place among the greats in MMA. And both know a shot at the welterweight title is on the horizon for who ever exits the cage victorious at UFC 127 in Sydney, Australia.

As the main event on a card stacked with solid matches, this one has all the makings of a great fight. But it could just as easily be boring as hell.

Whether it’s memorable or forgettable depends largely on two things:  Has “The Prodigy” been working out as hard as he claims? And has Fitch finally learned to finish an opponent?

Many fans believe Fitch will continue his UFC winning streak. Even some of Penn’s fellow fighters have counted him out.  On ufc.com this week, heavyweight Brock Lesnar told UFC president Dana White that he believes Fitch will win by decision.

Go figure!

There are plenty of valid reasons to think the Indiana native will beat Penn.  For starters, Fitch should be able to easily control the much smaller Penn, who moved up from the 155 pound lightweight division to take this fight. Penn was taken to the ground repeatedly by Frankie Edgar when he lost his lightweight strap to him last spring and again in their rematch last summer.

Fitch is 15 pounds heavier than Edgar, six inches taller, with two more inches of reach and he’s a takedown specialist.

 

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Joe Rogan Offers His Official Preview Of UFC 127

By Trent Reinsmith

UFC commentator Joe Rogan has released a preview and prediction video covering three of the UFC 127 main card bouts. Rogan takes a look at B.J. Penn versus Jon Fitch, Michael Bisping versus Jorge Rivera and George Sotiropoulos versus Dennis Siver.

Rogan praises the work ethic and constant improvements Fitch has made throughout his career, describing Fitch as “the ultimate grinder.” The grinding style has not made him the biggest fan favorite, but it has allowed him to win five UFC fights in a row.

Rogan also looks at Penn and how “The Prodigy” we all saw decimate Matt Hughes in 21 seconds at UFC 123 looked like the B.J. Penn of old. If that Penn enters the Octagon against Fitch he stands a good chance to win, according to Rogan.

Rogan’s big question for the fight is, “Will Fitch be able to take B.J. Penn down? If he’s not able to take B.J. Penn down, will he be able to deal with his hands and his kicks and his knees?”

Both welterweight fighters seem eager to test each other in this fight.

Rogan then moves on to the Michael Bisping and Jorge Rivera bout.

 

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B.J. Penn: Learning To Appreciate An Original

By E. Spencer Kyte

It’s time to stop arguing and appreciate a true legend at work

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.

By wondering what will happen and what it all means in the grand scheme of things, a scheme that isn’t actually all that grand considering how relatively young a sport this is, we’re missing the forest for the trees.

Penn is an original, a throwback to guys who fought to prove something to themselves above all else. While we’re all busy trying to break down how Penn’s loses outside of the lightweight division contribute to his legacy, the kid from Hilo is preparing to challenge himself once again, stepping in with the second-best welterweight in the world.

 

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Erik Koch Removed from UFC on Versus 3

By Ariel Helwani

Erik Koch will have to wait to make his UFC debut after all.

Due to the late timing of Cub Swanson’s injury, the 22-year-old Koch has been pulled from the UFC on Versus 3 card, UFC officials confirmed with Versus.com on Friday.

The event takes place March 3 at the KFC Yum! Center in Louiville, Ky, which means that there simply wasn’t enough time to find a replacement fighter to compete against Koch.

News of Swanson’s undisclosed injury broke on Thursday.

Koch (11-1) recently defeated Francisco Rivera at WEC 52. This fight would have marked his UFC debut.

 

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Sotiropoulos among Dana White’s Jiu-Jitsu favorites

By Carlos Eduardo Ozório

On an eight-fight winning streak, seven taking place in the UFC, Australia’s George Sotiropoulos is one of the most keenly-awaited fighters to perform at this Saturday’s UFC 127 show in Sydney. A grappling wizard with eight submissions in 14 wins (two losses), Sotiropoulos, who will face also-finisher (nine) Dennis Siver, mixes up an assortment of different positions, from the omoplata to the traditional rear-naked choke.

The fight promises plenty of ground action and George will have to apply himself to appease his public. Among the Australian’s fans from Jiu-Jitsu is none other than UFC president Dana White, who heaped praise on the fighter in a recent conversation with GRACIEMAG>com. Sotiropoulos says he has just what it takes to meet expectations:

“I was doing Jiu-Jitsu one week, wrestling the next, boxing, then MMA, and back to Jiu-Jitsu. That mentality always kept me going and always gave me another goal to look forward to and something to always prepare for. I like having something to do, I like having something to strive for, and I feel a sense of achievement every time I set my mind to something and I’m working away at getting it done. It gives you something to look forward to everyday and this is what I love doing. I couldn’t accept myself doing anything else, and because of that, I’m motivated to do it every day. ” he said on the UFC website.

 

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Fitch ready to contend once more

By E. Spencer Kyte / Photo by Esther Lin

Long before Jon Fitch became a part of the team at American Kickboxing Academy, the man he’ll face at UFC 127 was working with the same trainers who have helped make him one of the best fighters in the sport today.

Though the image many people have of B.J. Penn preparing for a fight has been crafted by various UFC Countdown specials showing the former two-division champion training in his native Hawaii, Penn indeed trained in San Jose, and Fitch has heard all the stories and uses them as motivation.

“It’s like chasing ghost almost, hearing stories about a guy you’ve never gotten to work with or train with or anything. When I first came to AKA was shortly after B.J. had left, and everybody who had trained him or trained with him was still around, and he was a pretty amazing athlete, so you’ve got a lot of stories about some of the things he’s done and what he’s capable of.

“You kind of have this mythological thing in the gym because of B.J.’s presence there before, and it’s like you’re always trying to chase it. It’s kind of like having an older brother, and you always have to kind of live in his shadow a little bit.”

In the time since Penn left San Jose, Fitch has established himself as one of the elite welterweights in the world

 

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The Breakdown: Penn vs. Fitch

By Michael DiSanto

Moment of total honesty. I’m not going to pull punches. And I’m not going to sugarcoat it.

BJ Penn’s UFC 127 bout with Jon Fitch may very well be the toughest stylistic matchup of his career. If I wanted to create a prototype welterweight to give Penn problems, it would be a very big, athletic wrestler who has endless cardio, good standup, and prefers to take down opponents and grind away a conservative victory.

Reads a lot like description of Fitch, doesn’t it?

Let’s be honest for a moment. Fitch has just about every physical advantage imaginable over Penn.

He is three inches taller and enjoys a four inch reach advantage. Fitch walks around somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 pounds—a very, very lean 200 pounds. Maybe his new vegan diet has him a little lighter these days, but there is no question that he will be the heavier guy come fight time.

Fitch is definitely the stronger man. Lifelong wrestlers have a weird, almost Cro-Magnon-like core strength. I’m not suggesting that Penn is a weak guy. Not at all. He can’t match strength with Fitch, though.

Fitch also has a much deeper gas tank. Have you ever witnessed Fitch run out of gas in a fight? He looked great in the second half of his five-round fight with Georges St-Pierre, despite getting rocked in the first round. Penn cannot make the same claim. “The Prodigy” has displayed a lack of conditioning in his welterweight bouts. A lack of conditioning is the sole reason he lost to GSP in their first bout.

 

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Jon Fitch: B.J. Is Dangerous In Any Weight Class

By Jeff Cain

Jon Fitch is taking his UFC 127 main event match up with B.J. Penn very seriously.

Fitch will enjoy a reach and size advantage over the former UFC lightweight and welterweight titleholder. But will that be enough for the American Kickboxing Academy trained fighter?

“B.J. is dangerous in any weight class. He brings a certain type of skill set that if you make a mistake he’s able to capitalize on it and put you away, and that transfers into any weight class,” said Fitch.

“As a welterweight going into this fight I have certain advantages with size, but it’s not going to be enough. I’ve had to work a lot on speed and explosiveness and keeping everything tight to make sure there are no mistakes in this fight.”

 

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The UFC’s Meat Grinder: From Vagabond to Contender

By Jason Probst

With a UFC record of 13-1, welterweight Jon Fitch soldiers ahead toward a second title shot, a campaign underwritten by an eminently blue-collar and unassuming approach. In facing B.J. Penn at UFC 127 on Feb. 27 in Sydney, Australia, Fitch knows it to be an opportunity replete with upside.

In short, an impressive win over Penn could go a long way toward getting him a second crack at champion Georges St. Pierre.

Originally booked to fight Jake Ellenberger, Fitch received news of the switch after Penn’s slam-bang knockout of Matt Hughes on Nov. 20. Coming off back-to-back decision losses to Frankie Edgar, Penn’s stock was instantly resurrected in the welterweight division.

“[American Kickboxing Academy trainer] Bob Cook called my wife and had her track me down. I was kinda shocked,” says Fitch. “It was late Saturday night; they’re calling for an opponent change and a date change. I jumped all over it. I was a little [disappointed] to come away from the Jake Ellenberger fight, because he’s an up-and-coming guy. I’ve been in that situation, but, at the same time, I need with fight with B.J. Plus, to headline a card is great.”

Stylistically, the matchup is compelling, as Fitch and Penn are polar opposites in terms of how insiders and fans perceive their consistency.

 

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B.J. Penn Is Back to the Business of Just Being a Fighter

By Damon Martin

For years, B.J. Penn has talked about the legacy he wants to create before he leaves the sport of MMA.

As he heads into his fight at UFC 127 against Jon Fitch, legacy doesn’t seem to be the biggest thing on Penn’s mind anymore. Nor do titles or even some of the mind games he’s been known to play with opponents before heading into a big fight. This B.J. Penn has only one focus, and that’s beating Jon Fitch.

It’s not necessarily a different Penn than fans have seen before, but to hear his demeanor before his last fight against Matt Hughes, and then before his upcoming fight with Fitch, the once brash Hawaiian has started to just talk about the fight before the fight and nothing else.

Gone are the days of Penn’s relentless goal to be the best in the world, he’s just back to the business of being a fighter. For his camp to prepare for Fitch, he even brought in an old adversary to help him get ready.

 

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Chris Lytle: “I usually have a game plan that usually lasts maybe four or five seconds.”

By Tim Groves

“I usually have a game plan that usually lasts maybe four or five seconds. As soon as the fight starts and I go out there and I get hit, I’m like ‘That’s it’.” – Chris Lytle to UFC.com.

Chris Lytle (30-17-5) has a history of being in exciting bouts. The former fireman has won four fight of the night bonuses, two submission of the night bonuses and one knockout of the night bonus in his past ten UFC bouts. Now it seems like we know why.

Lytle knows that he can’t throw his game plan out the window against crafty veteran Brian Ebersole (46-14-1-1) when they meet at UFC 127 in the coming week.

“I hope to dictate the pace, I have to make the fight happen where I want it to happen,” Lytle said.

 

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Cool, Calm and Collected, Kyle Noke Fighting With Renewed Enthusiasm

By Erik Fontanez

If you listen to Kyle Noke speak about his life and what role MMA plays in it, you get the feeling that he is one of the most laid back fighters in the sport. He takes everything in stride, not letting the bright lights of the UFC consume him.

At UFC 127: Penn vs. Fitch, Noke will be fighting in front of his fellow countryman as the UFC will make its second trip down under. His opponent, Chris Camozzi, will be waiting for him, prepped and ready to spoil his homecoming. But do you think that matters to a guy like Kyle Noke? Do you think the thought of Camozzi beating him in front of other Australians is something that circles his consciousness, weighing him down and taking focus away from the actual fight night.

Have a conversation with the man and you won’t think any of those things for a minute.

The thing about Noke is that he has been in the fight game for quite some time – nine years, to be exact. He has done the pre-fight preparation several times over for many organizations across the world. Simply put, he knows how to handle the pressure of fighting and is able to balance the emotion that stems from performing at a high level.

 

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Penn’s only target is the welterweight crown – Zelaznik

By ESPN

BJ Penn is only thinking about the UFC welterweight division, even though he has major revenge to exact on current lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.

Penn heads into a real ‘pick-em’ fight with Jon Fitch at UFC 127, knowing victory could land him the chance to become welterweight king for the second time in his career.

It is an odd situation for The Prodigy, who moved up to the 170lb division after twice losing championship bouts to Edgar. Such setbacks leave question marks over Penn’s future plans, with suggestions that he could float between divisions, but UFC chief Marshall Zelaznik has no doubt about what currently dominates Penn’s mind.

“This is massive for BJ. He put his stamp on the welterweight division with the knockout of Matt Hughes and is looking to get back in line for the important fights,” Zelaznik told ESPN. “Jon Fitch is the same, he desperately wants that title shot and knows he needs to prove he is worthy of it.

 

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