Inside the Chicago Cagefighting Championship

By Bloody Elbow

Saturday, March 5th. Illinois is in deep cloud cover, awash with snow and icy rain. Forty minutes west of Chicago, in the town of Villa Park, inside the Odeum Expo Center, Jens Pulver is hounding local palooka Wade Choate around the cage. It’s the closing minutes of their three-round affair. The arena is already half emptied out.

For Pulver, having just snapped a six-fight losing streak last January, this fight is the first chance in nearly five years for him to put two wins together and begin to change the story of the end of his career. Wade Choate is in a hole almost as deep. Dubbed “The Last Dog Man,” he also just recently emerged from a stretch of losses, which saw his record fall to 12-12-0 before a win last August. He’s a little younger than Pulver, but he’s never reached the heights the former UFC champ has seen. As if he’d like to erase the past two years of his career, Choate’s introduction states his record as it stood in January of 2009, before his five-fight skid: 12-7-0.

It’s easy to imagine how desperate he is to string a couple of wins together, and though outside the cage he may have observed Pulver’s recent downward spiral with due sympathy, in the fight it’s every man for himself. Hence Choate’s refusal to stand in the pocket, and his stubborn adherence to a stick-and-move game plan. It’s been surprisingly effective. Pulver’s had trouble chasing him down all night, and his power shots have come slow and fallen short time and again. It’s enough to draw angry boos from the crowd. Unthinkably, the words “You suck” rain down from somewhere in the audience.

Pulver and Choate fight it out for a final, lonely couple of minutes. When it comes time to hear the judges’ decision, Pulver favors his left foot as he walks over to the referee. It’s a close fight to call, but people nevertheless crowd the exits.


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Miguel Torres: Fedor Should ‘Man Up or Get Left Behind’

By Matt Erickson

It’s not often Fedor Emelianenko and Miguel Torres are talked about in the same conversation.

Fedor is a soft-spoken 230-pound heavyweight from the heart of Russia. Torres is a 135-pound Mexican-American bantamweight living in the shadow of Chicago, and a few glances at his Twitter feed shows he’s far from shy. Physical and social equals, they are not.

Fedor has been synonymous with the sport of mixed martial arts for years – so much so that he needs only one name. But only in the last three years did Torres get widespread recognition.

There was a time two years ago when Fedor was at the top of most pound-for-pound discussions, and Torres himself had entered the top-5 mix. But beyond that, the two had little reason to be mentioned together.

But they might be more alike than most people think. Torres believes the similarities are there – and he believes Fedor, following back-to-back losses for the first time in his career, needs to do just what he did last year after suffering a similar, formerly unthinkable skid: Pack the bags and change things up, or he’ll only have himself to blame.

“He’s at a crossroads in his life,” Torres told MMA Fighting last week. “(He’s been) dominating his division, plus the popularity, exposure and everything that comes with being The Man, a showman, a father, representing a country and people – and being a fighter.


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Stakes High for Torres in UFC Debut

By Todd Martin

For years, Miguel Torres led a life strangely defined by dominance and anonymity. Inside the cage, he ran up dozens upon dozens of wins against only one — later avenged — loss. But those wins came at a time when lighter weight fighters struggled to capture the public’s imagination. Many of Torres’ victories remain unchronicled to this day, and his known triumphs took place almost exclusively in low-profile shows in the Midwest. Torres had a feared reputation but lacked the proper stage to showcase his skills.

That changed with Zuffa’s purchase of World Extreme Cagefighting. The WEC became the promotion for lighter weight North American fighters, and Torres had the venue to become a star. Torres won the WEC bantamweight title in his second bout for the promotion and defended it successfully on three occasions. Torres’ name was a mainstay in pound-for-pound lists, and his classic bout with Takeya Mizugaki drew more than 5,000 fans in Chicago.

With fame arrived a new set of challenges. Opponents once knew little about Torres’ tendencies. Now, they were studying his game for weaknesses and devoting training camps to tackle his particular style. Torres’ anonymity vanished, but so, too, did his dominance. Torres dropped consecutive bouts via knockout to Brian Bowles and submission to Joseph Benavidez.


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My First Fight: Pat Miletich

By Ben Fowlkes

In 1995 Pat Miletich had one long-term goal: getting into the UFC. His short-term goal? To make at least enough money so that he didn’t starve in the meantime. Something called the “Battle of the Masters” could help him achieve both, or so he hoped. Battle of the Masters was a one-night, eight-man, no-holds-barred (with the exception of biting and eye-gouging) fighting tournament at St. Andrew‘s Gym on the south side of Chicago.

It was also winner-take-all. The prize for second place was little more than a pat on the back and free bag of ice for your swollen face.

“I needed the money worse than any of those guys,” Miletich says now. “I don’t think they knew what they were getting into.”

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Jens Pulver returns to action in March in Chicago

Twelve-year MMA veteran Jens Pulver (22-14-1) will soldier on.

The upstart Chicago Cagefighting Championship announced Pulver will serve in the main event of a March 5 fight card in suburban Chicago at The Odeum in Villa Park, Illinois. Pulver will face an opponent yet to be named. A former UFC lightweight champion and eight-time veteran of the world’s largest MMA promotion, Pulver is currently mired in a six-fight losing streak, and five of the results have come in the first round.

The 36-year-old Pulver remains one of MMA’s more popular historical figures. “Lil’ Evil” debuted for the UFC in 1999 at UFC 22, where he fought to a draw with Alfonso Alcarez, who would win just one fight in five career outings. Pulver would improve dramatically in future fights.

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