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by MMA Fans and Fighters.

Friday, May 30, 2008

At the Threshold to Glory - Interview with Newly Signed UFC Fighter Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy

British sensation Dan Hardy, a Cage Warrior's world champion, just signed a four fight deal with the UFC. With a remarkable 8-1 record in his last 9 fights, Hardy is known for his superb striking ability, his conditioning and his confidence. At 26 years old he is at the threshold of a path to glory that every young fighter wants to be on. He now faces a challenge he has been looking forward to his whole fight career, rising through the ranks of the welterweight division in the UFC.

I caught up with Dan a few days ago to discuss his new success, his background, his current training and his thoughts on everything from pot smoking to superheroes.

Roxy Richardson: Hi dan!

Dan Hardy: Hey. (Dan smiles. He's got a toothy, boyish grin and a pink colored Mohawk)

RR: How've you been, Dan? It's been a while since we've talked.

DH: I'm ok. Ready to get back to training

RR: How long has it been since your last fight? Did you take off completely since then?

DH: My last fight was May 3rd (against Daniel Weichel at Ultimate Force in the UK) so like three weeks. I took two days off and then started conditioning again, and lifting

RR: And eating brownies?

DH: (Laughs) I'm afraid not... just a ton of chocolate and fast food.

RR: Sounds like fun. I've been doing some of them same, but been back on training this week.

DH: Cool. When is the next one? July? (Dan Hardy is my Muay Thai trainer when he is in Los Angeles.)

RR: Yes. July 19th at Pechanga Casino in Temecula. I can't wait... It will be great to have my coach back!

DH: Yeah, looking forward to it! I'll be back in Los Angeles in early June.

RR: So you ready to get started with your in depth interview, Dan?

DH: I was born ready, (smiles).

RR: Noted... Okay, so you took up martial arts when you were 6 years old with Tae Kwon Do training. Did you dream of becoming a fighter then?

DH: Not really, my first instructor used to bully me so I hated going. It was only because my parents wanted me to that I continued. I didn't want to disappoint them.

RR: When did you start to enjoy the training and take it more seriously?

DH: My Tae Kwon Do club had two instructors. The one I didn't like taught the kids and beginners so when I moved up through the grades I was moved to the other instructor. I stayed with him for 11 years. He made the training fun and we are still good friends today.

RR: Wow, that's a long time. He must be very proud of you. Did you have other goals as a teenager? When did you start to see that fighting could be a career for you?

DH: I went through stages of wanting to be an artist but my heart wasn't set on it. It wasn't until I went to China to train (for fighting) that I realized that this was the way my life should go. I came back (home) and started training to fight.

RR: Now I know as a fighter your first love was Muay Thai. After a successful Muay Thai career you then transitioned to MMA. Your pro MMA debut was a loss. What made you decide to continue fighting MMA? Was there ever a time you questioned your decision?

DH: I knew that my first loss was my own fault. I was too aggressive and ran out of gas. I never had a second thought though; I already had another fight lined up a couple of weeks after against on of the best in the UK at the time. The only time I think I'm crazy is about ten minutes before I walk out to the cage, but that's just nerves!

RR: I know what you mean. I get the same feelings... You have stayed very active since your pro MMA debut in 2004, taking only a month or two between most fights. What drove you to fight so frequently? How do you feel it has helped shaped you as a fighter?

DH: I don't like long layoffs. I get real restless so I kept fighting. I knew when I started that there was nobody in the UK that was better than me and I was impatient to prove it. I was also fighting Muay Thai and K1 fights in the first couple of years (of pro MMA competition). On one occasion MMA and K1 on the same night! I think it has proved my hunger and aggression with me fighting so much. It's not something I have done intentionally though; I just love winning.

RR: Speaking of hunger and winning... Your first loss, to Lee Doski was avenged by a rematch victory where you broke Doski's arm. Of your other five losses who would you most like to rematch?

DH: The only one I'm not really interested in is Pat Healy. That was a stupid decision taking a fight on two days notice as I was exhausted and over trained. I never lost the Forrest Petz (fight). I was robbed of a decision but now I'm above him in the rankings so that doesn't matter. David Baron beat me once, the second time was a close decision but he would never fight me again because he knows I would knock him out. Yoshida, well that still pisses me off. He deserved an Oscar for his performance in the Cage Force final, clutching his nuts and saying he couldn't continue. He will get what's coming to him though.

RR: So can I predict Hardy versus Yoshida in a future UFC?

DH: That's up to the UFC, I don't get much of a say until I've won a couple but if I was offered him I would be extremely happy.

RR: When do you hope your first UFC fight will be?

DH: I'm not sure yet, I hope later in the year. Probably on a UK show first.

RR: You currently split your training between your home team in Nottingham (UK), Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Not all European fighters travel out of their comfort zone to learn new skills. What first inspired you to take an international approach to training?

DH: My first trip was to China to train with the Shaolin monks and since then I've been pushing myself to travel to find places to get my ass kicked in the hope of getting better. I didn't want to become a big fish in a small pond. The guys in team rough house keep me grounded though. They kick my ass every day but it's always nice to get beaten up by someone new.

RR: Plenty of ass kickers here in Cali, huh? You are known as a dangerous striker. Currently you train ground with Eddie Bravo. Do you feel your ground training will one day equal your stand up skills? How comfortable have you gotten on the ground?

DH: I'm getting better there; each day I see small improvements but I'm not sure I will enjoy tapping people out as much as hitting them. I'm hoping that my ground game will get good enough so I can hold them down while I do it though. I do have subs but the time hasn't been right to use them yet.

RR: I agree that hitting is so much more satisfying... From watching your fights I can see you have an amazing confidence and intensity in the ring. Can you tell me about your mental preparation for a fight?

DH: I spend a lot of time visualizing my opponent and I slow the fight down so I can clearly see every detail in my head. When I'm running I imagine I'm trying to catch them and that makes me run harder too. My confidence comes from knowing that I am well prepared and I have trained harder than them.

RR: I been on these runs you talk of, way behind you of course... You are a conditioning machine! Dan, what do you want to say to all the critics that say that you face a huge challenge coming into the UFC with such a stacked weight division including fighters Georges St. Pierre, Matt Hughes, Matt Serra, Diego Sanchez and Karo Parisyan to name just a few?

DH: I agree! The division is stacked but I always rise to the occasion and it is a challenge like this that keeps me excited and makes me feel alive. It just motivates me to keep improving and in my UFC debut, a lot of people will be eating their words.

RR: I'm guessing there will be a lot of word eating by your critics... So, when you retire, as a champion of course, what do you hope to do? Trainer? Gym owner? Promoter?

DH: I doubt very much I will be a promoter; it seems like a horrible job! I will definitely teach though and hopefully in my own gym. I will always be a part of the sport though.

RR: Can I ask a few random/silly questions now?

DH: Of course!

RR: If you could fight any superhero who would they be?

DH: Hmmm.... I'd say Wolverine because he heals so fast it would definitely be a war!

RR: If your house was burning down and you could only grab 3 things from it to save what would they be?

DH: My amulet, my iPod and my passport!

RR: As a member of the notorious Nibiru Warriors/10th Planet Clan and trainer of the infamous "Tigerheart" Grear, what is your stance on marijuana use and its effect on a fighter's development mentally and physically?

DH: I can't see how it would help a fighter in any way. An athlete doesn't need to put it in their body but if they choose to, it's their business. In my opinion it neither helps nor hinders (development) so I don't really think about it too much.

RR: Well said... In closing do you have anything you want to say to your fans and/or foes that I have left out?

DH: Just thanks to my fans for all the support and to all the critics, keep watching because I'll be proving you wrong.

RR: Thanks for your time, Dan. It's been a pleasure.

DH: Thank you!

For news, blogs and more go to for more information about Mr. Hardy.

by Roxy Richardson of

Photos Courtesy of Dan Hardy's Myspace page with permission

Putting Your Best Foot Forward (Responsible Fight Promoting)

by John Poe of

The MMA world is exploding at an alarming rate. The numbers of promoters out there is huge. Many promoters, that I know of, are in it for the right reasons. They want to provide quality shows for the fans and safe fight environments for the fighters. They provide the necessary equipment and items needed to ensure that fighters are taken care of. It is especially important in the Amateur Division. There are those, however, that are in it because they see a profit to be made. People with no martial arts or MMA experience are jumping into the business and trying to suck every dime they can out of it. These people disappear soon enough but, they leave such a negative mark on the whole industry. Some have gone so far as to steal sponsors from other promoters, lock out venues preventing others form promoting there, and make fighters agree not to fight for other promotions. As a promoter we have more of a responsibility to the fighters, fans, and the industry. It is our responsibility to provide safe, secure, and entertaining events. There are ways to do this and do it in a way that everyone can not only make money, but help the industry grow at the same time.

State Sanctioning: In states, like Ohio where MMA is sanctioned and regulated, things run much more smoothly. The state has set regulations that help to stop in fighting with promoters and create a safe environment for fighters. Promotions cannot host events within a set radius of each other on the same night. This way you don't have one promoter under cutting another and hurting their business. It also helps to ensure a better cross section of fighters to draw from and makes for a better event. The state compiles and updates a database of fighters. This database helps promoters to choose fair matches and gives fighters, who may be unknown, a chance to have more fights. The down side to state sanctioning can be the way that rules are set up. Some states have rules that severely restrict the way amateur fights are conducted. Most realize that amateur fights are for the purpose of preparing fighters for the professional division. It allows them to see if this is what they want to do or if they should try another sport. By restricting the rules, to the point that they don't allow fighters to do much, it doesn't give them a fair look at what the sport is really like. This in no way prepares them for professional fights. They make the decision to go pro and find themselves unready. Many states require HIV/HEP blood tests for amateur fighters, and even more in depth testing for pro fighters. I feel this is one of the most important regulations that can be enacted.

Promoter Associations: In states that have no regulations, sanctioning, or are in the transition before regulations are enacted, this can be very useful. Unfortunately, for the most part, these kinds of agreements are based on a "Gentleman's Agreement" type of arrangement. Basically the promoters come together and agree to regulate themselves, most set rules like you would find from state sanctioning bodies. Promoters agree to not step on each others events and share info on fighters. In some cases the help goes further than that. I own my cage and rent it out. There are other promoters that do not own a cage, or their cage (for one reason or another) isn't right for the event they are hosting. Two friends of mine, and fellow promoters, needed a cage for their events. Ron DeLeon (Ron DeLeon Promotions) and Phil Daveys (Rough House Promotions) have my cage tied up for 3 straight weekends. In fact I just got the cage and will have set it up and will allow others to use it at 4 different events (so far) before I get to use it at my own event. This isn't a problem for me. They have helped me in the past, without hesitation, and I gladly return the favor. We share contact information on fighters and news about the industry. We advertise each others events, at our events, and look out for each other. If a promoter calls me few days out from their event and say they've had someone drop out, I will do my best to find them a replacement. We are trying to compile a database of fighters, which will further the pool of fighters for our events. The down side of this is when promoters do not want to participate. Some promoters go out of their way to sabotage other promoters. You will find promoters having fighters make agreements to not fight for anyone else, take sponsors, and try to edge others out of venues, or arrange events on the same night as others.

While looking at the different points of promoting it is important to look at the divisions of fighters. Amateur fighters receive no compensation for their efforts. Most are paying for their training and work a full time job while training. Imagine working 40 hours a week and then trying to get ready for an upcoming fight. Now imagine going through all that, paying the incredibly ridiculous gas prices to get to an event, and then having to bring your own gloves/gauze/tape, water/energy drinks, food, and have no dressing room to change in. I have been to events where fighters were placed in a room, with no chairs or benches, and had to change and prepare for a fight right across the room from their opponent. Some promoters have had professional fighters fight amateurs, without the amateur fighter knowing who they were fighting. We have to remember that, in a lot of cases, the fighters are young men or women. The experiences they have directly reflect on the industry as a whole. Take, for instance, a fighter going into his/her debut fight. They know nothing about their opponent until they are in the cage/ring and its fight time. That young fighter has been paired against a fighter with 5 or 6 fights. You know what the outcome is more than likely going to be. What do you think the fighter, friends, and family or team are going to think about MMA? Often times they will have several people there to see their debut. What kind of statement does this make for the industry? They are fighting for you for free, and you are making money off of the event. It is your responsibility, as a promoter, to PROMOTE the sport.

Professional fighters are on a different plain. They know that they may end up fighting an opponent with many more fights. It's the nature of the beast. The upside to this is the fact that they have so many outlets to find info on their opponent. I can't count the number of websites that keep records on pro fighters. Often times you can find video of their fights online. Pro fighters have the ability to be very prepared for their fights, and so much more so than amateurs. The downside of pro fighters can be the greed of a promoter, and the fighters desire to fight. There are so many people getting into the business that you can pick and choose who you bring in. There are fighters who will fight for the price of gas and a hotel room, just for the experience of the fight. Some promoters will exploit this to lower their out of pockets expenses. It is one thing to try and host an event and show a profit. It is another to use people just to make a profit. Now some will try the "Well if they are willing to do it for free it's not my fault" point of view. Sorry but that is crap. You are using people and profiting off of their desire to get into the sport.

As a Promoter we assume the burden of looking out for others. We have to be aware of the pitfalls and dangers out there. We have to provide a safe environment for those who work for us. There's no doing things halfway or carelessly. You are dealing with the well being of others, and the future of the sport. The young fighter that gets thrown into a match, against someone who is out of their league, could very well have been the next Jenz Pulver or Chuck Liddell.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Joshua's EliteXC Picks for CBS: Saturday Night at the Fights.

by Joshua Ottley of

I have chosen to begin with the main event and work my way down what seems to be the main card. Although, it seems that the event's two-hour time slot will be affected if most of these fights end up going the distance.

The main event of the evening will feature Kevin Ferguson a.k.a. Kimbo Slice, the notoriously tough as nails, former street fighter and Youtube sensation. Kimbo is originally from Miami, Florida and he now trains out of Thousand Oaks, California with the legendary Bas Rutten. He is slated to face a mountain of a man in James "The Colossus" Thompson from the U.K. I would like to say that Thompson will give Kimbo a run for his money, judging by his own striking ability but given what I know about Slice, it's hard to believe that Thompson will make it past the first round. If he does then I will give him all the respect I can possibly give if he can make it through to the second. But as it stands for me, I'll have to go with Kimbo by K.O. in round 1. A left field scenario for either of these individuals would be if one manages to make the other submit. Although, with Bas training with Kimbo on his ground skills, as well as watching his Ray Mercer fight, I can find it somewhat safe to say that it wont be overly hard to believe if such a thing does indeed occur.

The precursor to the main event will be devastating striker "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler to take on the ever-talented Scott Smith. This one is sort of tough to call with Smith having only 4 losses on his record to some very noteworthy opponents, I might add. I can easily say that he will give the tough Lawler a go, as he seems to have the better of the ground game. But, if Smith decides to drop his hands or not protect himself properly while standing, then he will most likely be put to bed. So suffice it to say that it will be Lawler by K.O. in the second round, due to his "swing for the fences" mentality. Although I'm not counting out the chances of Smith doing the same. If both of these men keep the hands up and chins tucked, it will be quite a fight, indeed.

Next I will make my picks for the forerunners of these two match-ups. Beginning with the first women's MMA match to ever be broadcast on network television. This will pit Gina Carano a.k.a. Crush from American Gladiators against Kaitlin Young, one tough lady in her own right; having suffered only one loss in her career thus far. For this fight I would just like to state, as I'm sure most fans would agree, that this seems to be one of the more historically important match-ups in an already historical evening for MMA, in and of itself. First off, my personal opinion going off of Young's record, it is obvious that the submissions game is her kryptonite, if you will; having won all of her other fights by K.O. or T.K.O. with her only loss coming by submission. Whereas Carano, the more well rounded of the two fighters, remains undefeated as a pro, winning in every fashion possible. On top of training out of a world-class caliber camp at Xtreme Couture, Carano seems to have a far superior game overall. It's hard to say how the fight will end, but in my opinion this fight will go to Carano; as hard fought as it may be.

We will also see Brett Rogers take on Jon Murphy in their own heavyweight collision. Rogers currently undefeated has also defeated Kimbo's opponent James Thompson via K.O. and with all of his wins coming by strikes including one by tap out due to strikes, he seems to pose quite a threat to his opponent; who is 4-2 as a pro. Jon Murphy as a submission grappler seems to be pulling the short straw, as his opponent will most likely be looking for the K.O. while standing and sprawling, in one of the earlier rounds and my guess is he will succeed at doing so. If the game goes to the ground I can say that Murphy would stand a closer chance there, definitely. All in all, I give this one to Rogers doing what he does best!

Another fight that I am looking forward to personally will be UFC vet Phil "The New York Badass" Baroni vs. Joey Villasenor. With Baroni being a hot and cold fighter in my opinion, it all comes down to whether or not he's passed his prime or not, which to be honest, I truly think he is. With a record of 25-6, Joey Villasenor seems to be an individual who is always on his game, having suffered most of his losses to the cream of the crop in Pride. Even recently defeating my fellow Canadian, David "The Crow" Loiseau by unanimous decision. I personally feel that Villasenor will easily take the already washed up Baroni out of the box for good, in one form or another.

It seems to me that having a two hour time slot on CBS will not really allow anymore of the under card to be broadcast, so I feel it will be somewhat useless for me to continue making predictions, especially since I am fairly unfamiliar with those participating therein. So my friends, this is Joshua E. Ottley Esq. signing off, enjoy history in the making on CBS: EliteXC SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE FIGHTS!

The Importance of Interval training for MMA with the Owner of

by Kyle Kaiser of

How do you get a leg up on your opponent? Whether you are in front of a sold out crowd as the main event, or in your friend's basement trading shots, as an MMA fighter you had better find a working solution to this question. Everyone has an answer. A smart fighter can mesh numerous solutions, workouts, training methods, and techniques that will mentally and physically prepare them for war. But knowing what to do is merely half the battle. You need to have the heart, determination, and a driving force to push yourself past your comfort zone if you want to see the light of day in this game. I had the pleasure of talking to Gary, the owner of timers about my training methods and his product that has greatly helped push me through some grueling workouts.

For me, interval and round training is the method of choice when getting into fight-ready shape. It's just a no-brainer. In a fight you have rounds. Intense bursts and barrages of attacks, mixed in with short rest periods and well planned counters. Gary's timers take out all the guesswork when frankly, you should be to tired to care. I asked Gary what he enjoyed about the sport of MMA.

"It's the ultimate in anything goes. You better be versed in more than one fighting style, and you better be in the best shape of any athlete there is! Technique, speed, strength, endurance, aerobic and anaerobic conditioning are all key to survival. It's also good to see new up and coming guys?not just the Tyson's, Ali's, etc. of the boxing world, This sport is quite wide open with talented newcomers... except for the repetitive replays on the VS. network (he joked)".

Somewhere down the line every athlete has heard, "train like it's the real thing". MMA is no exception to this rule. If the first time you ever get hit is in front of a crowd of onlookers, it's going to be a long night (or a short one, depending how you look at it). So I put the Gymboss timer to work. I've never seen so many options on such small device. I set my round times, break periods, intervals, and was ready to go. There is no cheating this thing! After a few of rounds of full-fledged heavy bag work, the one minute break periods I had set just wasn't cutting it. But the good thing was that I wasn't stopping. When time came around again for action I found myself pushing the pace, determined to stay at it until my break period came. I almost had to pause to laugh at myself. I'm trying to impress an inanimate object! But that was what I liked. If you are ever on your own training, you need one of these. End of story. It's then when I remembered what Gary told me.

I get many remarks back from MMA guys telling me that, they "hate it". It keeps them honest and kicks their ass in the gym. So basically it's the worst and best $20 you can spend on exercise equipment.

Here is a workout that I recommend to my friends and other fighters. Whether it be hitting a bag, mitts, sparing, or grappling, training with rounds will get you in shape the fastest, while still serving a function. Start off as a "beginner" until you feel as though you are ready for a longer round. Learn to utilize breaks, recover quicker, and breathe properly. If you can compete for a full 5 minutes and completely recover after a one minute rest period, you are considered to be in pretty decent "fight shape". Set goals and reach them. It may take you quite a while until you feel as if you are where you need to be, but it will come. Have patience.


2 minute rounds- 1 & 1/2 minute break

3 minute rounds- 1 minute break

4 minute rounds- 1 minute break

5 minute rounds- 1 minute break

5+ Advanced

The last Question that I had for Gary was who his favorite fighter was in which he replied...

I would have to say Carlos Condit (of the WEC). His look is not threatening out of the cage, but he has some great talent. He appears to be training more effectively and I think it will help him a lot. Also he's not a loud mouth like some of the others.

So as I continue to train and better my MMA skills and conditioning, there are still days in which I want to throw my Gymboss timer through the wall. The product you hate to love... at least I know it's doing it's job.

Thanks Gary for the interview.

The Ultimate Fighter 7: Episode Nine

by Joshua Ottley of

This week saw the beginning of the quarterfinal match-ups with the two battles certain to ensue this hour being Jesse Taylor vs. Dante Rivera, as well as Amir Sadollah vs. Matt Brown. So yet again, we had two fights in one action packed hour of entertaining television.

At the top of the hour, Dana had Forrest choose which of his two teammates to corner, as every man facing off this week was from his side. Opting to flip a coin as opposed to picking favorites, it turned out that it would be Taylor and Sadollah having their very own coach in their corner, thanks to the luck of the toss. The remaining two combatants would have Rampage in theirs.

The house footage this time began with Jesse Taylor microwaving cheeseburgers and discussing his diet, as well as stating that he enjoys eating junk food even if there is the possibility of detriment to his cardiovascular health. Tim Credeur and others would also give their opinions on Taylor's diet, stating that he will eat anything and everything he gets hands on, still remain in shape and keep a better endurance level than everyone else in the house. Later on, Taylor could be seen chilling out in the hot tub, then ascending out of it, proceeding to urinate in his swimsuit before jumping back in; being followed in by his opponent Rivera who was none the wiser of his immature action. Also to cut weight, Taylor was observed donning the "plastics" or the jogging suits used to basically de-hydrate the body, thus cutting the weight needed to fight. But instead of sitting in the sauna for a spell, Taylor decided that it would be beneficial to play ping-pong to cut the weight needed, instead. Low and behold, it seemed to work out for the student of Team Quest, Temecula.

Next, the fight would begin on Ref. Rosenthal's command. It began with a missed left hook by Rivera, with Taylor following up with a take down into guard; soon passing to half. Taylor, grabbing for wrist control and attempting to open up Rivera's defense, would work on shots from there. Taylor then landed three solid shots to Rivera's face while still trying to maintain wrist control. Rivera though being dominated strength wise, would defend well and manage to control Taylor's posture off and on during the round, whilst on the bottom. Rivera made his way back to closed guard with Taylor posturing up but not doing any damage to Rivera before falling back into guard. Taylor would once again work on strikes before standing up, immediately jumping back into the guard of Rivera. Landing hammer-fists, Taylor would posture up yet again, attempting to land strikes before falling back into closed guard before the sound of the horn. Round 2 began with a "deja vu" if you will, of round 1. Rivera maintained a closed guard for a moment but then seemed to be looking for submissions, but with his corner's guidance Taylor would easily defend these with ease. Rivera would eat some shots for his troubles. Once again looking for the arm-bar, Rivera wouldn't manage to secure the submission before being stood up by the ref. Taylor would once again shoot for a takedown, once again succeeding to bore fans everywhere. Pushing towards the cage with Rivera controlling his posture, Taylor would execute some decent shots before passing to half-guard, which would not be kept for long as Rivera once again moved back into a closed guard, soon after. Taylor would work on shots before the horn and would gain the judges decision thereafter for his pure dominance, boring as it was.

We then heard the predictions by various members of the cast, as to what to expect in the upcoming fight between Sadollah and Brown. Matthew Riddle predicted that it would be a "bloodbath", with everyone else conveying the same basic opinion . Then we heard Brown and Sadollah, both claiming to be truly good friends due to the fact that they are roommates on the show. I myself could see an oncoming, explosive battle of epic proportions looming on the near horizon.

Round 1 began with Brown throwing fists as well as low kicks at Sadollah. Squaring off soon after in a stare down, both men pondered a plan of attack. Brown threw a knee that missed. Sadollah clinched with Brown, pushing him up against the cage and landing a solid knee to Brown's side that would greatly affect him, as we heard more about following the fight from the man's own lips. While being pushed against the cage by Sadollah, Brown secured momentary Thai clinch that seemed pretty useless from my vantage point, at that exact point in time. Although he would then use it to push off the cage, returning the favor to Sadollah, pushing him to the cage. Both men showing great take down defense they would step off to intensely exchange hands, once again. Sadollah connected with a leg kick, followed up with a body kick connection from Brown, who would follow up with a missed high kick. Brown would then cage clinch briefly, then squared off. Sadollah defended a take down attempt rather well, being pushed to the cage once again by Brown. Sadollah managed to escape, throwing an intense flurry that looked like it wobbled Brown a bit, and who covered his face immensely from the brutal barrage. Soon regaining his composure, Brown attempted another takedown, with Sadollah once again defending it tremendously well. The horn sounded bringing an end to this round, which had already far surpassed both rounds of the first fight as far as excitement was concerned. Round 2 began with as much action as the first, with Amir landing a body kick on Brown. After another heated hand swapping, Amir seemed to land a knee to Brown's face, which obviously didn't connect very well. Brown worked for a takedown, with Sadollah showing great defense, yet again. Soon after, it would be Amir getting the first takedown of the match. With Brown utilizing butterfly guard, Sadollah postured up, passing to mount with seemingly little effort. Landing elbows and body shots from mount, Sadollah continued to rigorously rain down blows to Brown's face. Brown using his feet to roll to the top, found himself inside of a triangle choke that forced him to submit, allowing Amir Sadollah's hand to be raised as the victor and recipient of a spot in the semi-finals to come.

Following the match, appearing on camera, Brown would show great class stating that he was glad that it was his friend who got the win but, as anyone would be, was disappointed at losing the fight. Next week, the quarterfinals continue on the Ultimate Fighter.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Melting the Ice. Interview with Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell (May 15, 2008)

by JP Berube and Jen Leigh of

On May 15, 2008 I drove up to San Luis Obispo to spend some time with Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell. I brought Jen Leigh with me, who is another one of our writers, and we met up with DeWayne Zinkin and Heidi Seibert of Zinkin Entertainment at a gym in San Luis Obispo. At the gym we met Chuck Liddell's trainer John Hackleman, who has a strict no photography policy at the gym. We did get the privilege of watching Chuck train for a while, which was still pretty intense considering that Chuck is coming off of a hamstring injury.

After watching Chuck train for a while, we got treated to Italian food for lunch. I fund out that it's true what they say about how Chuck likes to text message all of the time. But he is good at multitasking and was able to text, talk with us and have a meal at the same time. Then it was off to the Iceman's pad. What I discovered about Chuck is that he is a real down-to-earth, regular guy. It was almost like going to a buddy's house that I hadn't seen for a while. Chuck rolled out the red carpet for us, figuratively speaking, and welcomed us into his home. Chuck was so cool and so laid back that after the interview, we had to make a move to leave. Otherwise it felt like Chuck might just let us hang out for the rest of the week. Jen and I took turns interviewing Chuck with me starting things off:

How did you feel right after you were injured? Were you pissed off about it?

Very pissed. It was one of those things; a freak accident, but it was doing a drill. I was working with someone that I didn't usually work with. It wasn't his fault or anything but, it was just one of those things where it shouldn't have happened. It wasn't like we were live sparring or something crazy. Stuff happens when you are doing drills and goofing off and just working some little drills, trying not to work too hard. It was a light day and for it to happen that way it just kind of sucks.

Do you think that Rashad Evans was a good match up for you?

I thought it was a great match up. He's a wrestler that likes to try to move around and strike. But he's going to get caught.

So you're looking forward to fighting him if they stick him in front of you again?

Anytime, I'll fight him any time they want.

What's next for you right after your hamstring heals?

Hopefully I'm fighting. Whenever it heals and whenever its ready I'll start working on a fight. I'm hoping we'll be ready to go by September, if not there's November-December so, sometime this year I'll fight again.

What inspired you to write your book, "My Fighting Life"?

To be honest I was kind of talked into it. I'm one of those people that's a little bit modest. I don't particularly think that people are really that interested in talking about me growing up. But, I'm glad I did it when it was all done. Chad Norman did a great job. I was really happy at the end. A lot of fans came up to me and said that they really liked it. They felt like they got to know me a lot better. All in all I think it was good.

Fighting is a job just like anything else. What motivates you to keep fighting? Have you ever lost interest in it for a time, or been bored with it?

I've never lost interest or been bored with it; I love fighting. It gets hard training sometimes. When you're training really hard for a fight it's tough work, but then you have a reward at the end. You got that fight and you get to have fun.

Are there any fighters that you are a fan of personally?

Lots of them actually.

Which one stands out in your mind?

BJ Penn, Anderson Silva, Matt Hughes…

Now it's your job to beat the crap out of people for a living. How would you feel if somebody actually died at your hands?

Well, obviously I wouldn't be happy about it. I'm one of those guys; I'm out there trying to punch you out and to hurt you, but as soon as I'm done hopefully there's nothing wrong with you, I'm hoping that you're okay. So yea, it would be horrible.
That's not something that I would ever want to happen to anybody.

I heard a strange rumor that you like to party. I was wondering what your drink of choice is.

Um, my drink of choice... I don't know. It's a good question I guess (laughing). I like to have a good time. Bud Light!

What, if anything, is Chuck Liddell afraid of?

Things that I can't control, with the kids and stuff. You watch these TV show like "to Catch a Predator". I think a lot of that happens to parents that don't pay attention to their kids but still, that could happen to anyone.

What do you like best about being a dad?

They're great. I have a great time with the kids. I'm always happy when they're around.

Does it bother you when boxers like Floyd Mayweather rip on MMA? Floyd was saying something like he'd give you a million dollars if you went up against any good heavyweight. He also said something like "These are guys who couldn't make it in boxing. So they do [mixed martial arts]." What would you say to stuff like that?

The thing that they started talking about this and bringing this up explains where they're at. Before, they didn't even notice us. Now they have to talk about us because we're taking their place. They can't make it in our sport. Look at the boxers that just went to kickboxing. So many said that boxers were better than kickboxers because the kickboxers came to boxing and lost. Well, now there are boxers that are going to kickboxing; did you see that show last week? It wasn't very pretty. Boxing guys don't do real well in kickboxing because you can't stand in their stance. Especially in MMA. The way he fights, he'd get taken down. I told Mayweather, well he said that after I told him that I'll bet him a million dollars that I'll get a 135 pounder to kick his ass in an MMA fight. And that's a 135 pounder; that's a couple of weight classes below him.

Too bad it's all talk!

Yea, he obviously doesn't know how much I make to fight.

What's the best thing that has ever happened to you in your life?

The best thing? My kids being born.

What is your biggest regret?

My grandpa never got to see me fight. He always thought that I was the best in the world. He always told me that.

I heard that he supported you a lot.

Yea, he always said that I could be anybody. He used to watch Tyson and say, "You can beat that guy." And I'm like, "Alright pops, whatever, whatever you say" (laughing). When he saw those mixed martial arts fights he thought that there was no way that I could be defeated. I just wish that he was there to see it.

Let's talk about the women. Do you have women that throw themselves at you all of the time?

Define throw themselves at me (laughing).

Well, I know that you touched a little bit on that in your book.

I don't know, I do okay. I do okay with women I guess. I was always the guy that when my buddies would say, "hey
man, that girl over there likes you", I would say, "nah" and they'd say, "no really, she does, she's looking at
you", and I'm like, "yea whatever".

How hard do you think they should come down on fighters that use steroids?

I think they come down on them pretty hard. You lose your way to make a living for a year if you get caught. You get tested. I've been tested regularly for 10 years. So, it's one of those things. I don't know how much harder you want them to come down on someone. You take away the way they make their living for a year, not to mention they're going to lose sponsors and it'll be hard to get new sponsors when you add that stigma to you if you're a steroid guy. It's a negative response from a lot of people in a lot of ways.

Tell me about your role with MMA Jacked with both the website and the new training centers.

Well, it's mostly as a consultant. I help with the site by letting them know what I think the site should have on it. The guys that I work with are really the guys that are in charge of getting it done. It's cool and it's a social network for fighters, fans and other people to be on.

How much leisure time does fighting afford you as a professional fighter?

I don't get a lot of free time. Dewayne (Zinkin Entertainment) and these guys keep me pretty busy. When I get to stay at home and relax the most and do stuff with my kids is when I'm training for a fight. I'm training 2-3 times a day. Usually I want to get a nap somewhere in there. I'm eating 5-6 times a day and trying to get that in between training sessions. Plus you're doing interviews and you're still doing your regular day-to-day business. So, it's a lot of work. There is not a lot of time off. And then when I'm off, I have to make decisions between going somewhere and making money or staying home and relaxing, so it's kind of hard balancing those two.

What would you do if your father suddenly showed up at your door?

I'd shut the door.

Fair enough. I heard that he wasn't a big part of your life anyhow.

He wasn't any part of my life. He left when I was 3. He tried to get in touch with me when I was 28. I told him he was 25 years to late and to have a nice life.

Has your degree in accounting ever helped you in MMA?

I like having it, especially in the beginning with the stigma that we are a bunch of Neanderthals that like to beat people up. And it's a good contrast, having a degree and being a fighter. It's good for basic business ideas. People ask, "do you do your own takes now" (laughing). It's a specialized field and I would have had to keep up with it all this time and that's just not something that I would do. It does help me understand things a lot better from having a business degree.

Thanks Chuck. That is all that I have for you, but Jen has a few additional questions for you if you don't mind.

Here is the video from Jen Leigh's interview with Chuck:

Special thanks to DeWayne Zinkin and Heidi of Zinkin Entertainment

Photos by JP Berube

Sunday, May 25, 2008

What is the truth? Interview with Brandon "The Truth" Vera

by Penny Buffington of

We can see Brandon "The Truth" Vera fight in a matter of days! I spoke with Brandon about his upcoming fight just last night. He told me, "I'm fighting Fabricio ["Vai Cavalo"] Werdum, In London, at the '02 Arena. He is probably by far my most challenging match ever! He is ranked number 6 in the world for a reason. He is for sure good. He's no slouch." He also said, "It is going to be a good fight. I'm looking forward to fighting Werdom and giving it everything that I have." The fight can be seen live on PPV sat. June 7th.

During Brandon's last fight, against Tim Sylvia, Brandon broke his hand. Brandon explained to me that earlier in the day, "I had to be formally cleared by my physician that said my hand is good to fight." He also explained this was just a formality. Brandon Vera is partial owner of City Boxing out of San Diego, CA. You can go to the official webpage at the following web address: He is married to his beautiful wife Kerry. Kerry was on the television show "Fight Girls". I suspect Brandon is a very busy man. He said, "My life is pretty much secluded. Actually, it's okay. Right now I have partners at my gym that actually take care of the gym while I'm gone." Brandon is not at the gym right now because he is, "Over on the east coast training. All I do is just, train-eat-sleep, train-eat-sleep, train-eat-sleep. That's it. So I'm not really busy. It's nice to get back into a zone like that."

I asked Brandon who was managing him, only to learn that this boy goes it alone! He said, "An issue came up with the California Athletic Commission about management stuff and terms. So as far as the fight career is concerned, I manage myself. For my endorsement deals I'm managed by NCFC."

Wrapping up with Brandon I got his final thought on the upcoming fight. He told me, "It's going to be a good fight. Just because I lost one doesn't mean you need to put me on the back of the bus. You're going to find out why I'm called "The Truth"; everybody will see it come June 7th."

Audio Clips from Penny Buffington's Interview with Brandon Vera:

UFC 84: Ill Will Thoughts and Discussion

by Kurt Hall of

BJ "The Prodigy" Penn vs. Sean "The Muscle Shark" Sherk

I predicted this fight to be a unanimous decision victory for Sean Sherk. I was very wrong. BJ Penn was declared the victor in the third round of the fight due to referee stoppage. Sean Sherk started the fight going with a single leg takedown but BJ defended it well. The rest of the round was basically a standup battle. Penn did rock Sherk in the middle of the round but Sherk recovered quickly. The combination delivered by Penn opened up a cut under Sherk's eye but didn't seem to affect Sherk too much. The second round was fairly similar to the first. Penn was taking control of the fight with his jab but Sherk was holding his own with small, quick flurries. This was probably the closest round of the fight. Sherk could have easily stolen this round by getting a takedown. The third round was really where Penn took over the fight completely. Both fighters continued to use their jabs to give their opponents trouble. Sherk looked like he broke his right hand in the round. He was shaking his right hand after each exchange. However he continued to throw punches with the right hand. Penn ended the fight with hard right knee under the chin of Sherk and the referee stepped in as the bell sounded for the end of the round. Mario Yamasaki decided Sherk was unable to continue. Sean Sherk had a bad strategy in the fight and seemed to give up on trying to takedown BJ Penn. Sherk was unable to find his range standing up and BJ Penn dominated standing. BJ Penn will probably move up to fight Georges St. Pierre in a rematch of a highly contested split decision victory for St. Pierre. I would expect Sean Sherk to take on a middle of the road fighter in the lightweight division. It will most likely be a guy like Kurt Pelligrino or Rich Clementi.

Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva vs. Keith "The Dean of Mean" Jardine

Wanderlei Silva knocked Keith Jardine out cold in just 36 seconds. Jardine started out the fight throwing a right kick and Silva countered with a hard right hook. The right hook knocked Keith Jardine down to the canvas and Silva went down and finished the fight with right hands. Jardine was out and noticably staring at the ceiling as the referee stepped in to save Jardine. Jardine was reported to have a CAT scan after the fight and everything turned out fine. Wanderlei Silva showed his old school fighting style and finish. He showed flashes of how he looked before he went on his losing streak. I would expect to Silva fight someone in the caliber of Thiago Silva or Matt Hamill. Jardine lost for the second time via brutal knockout such as in his fight with Houston Alexander. He seems to have a lot of trouble with strikers that push the pace. I would expect him to fight a potential UFC newcomer or a bottom of the ladder fighter such as Stephen Bonnar.

Wilson Gouveia vs. Goran Reljic

Goran Reljic took this fight via KO in the second round. The first round started out by Reljic kicking the legs of Gouveia and landing a nice straight left. Reljic did a really good job of mixing up kicks to the leg and body of Wilson Gouveia. Just as soon as Goran Reljic was starting to get comfortable, Gouveia landed a hard right to the body of Reljic. The right hand affected Reljic and the round ended with Reljic pulling guard to recover from the body shot. The second round started out with Gouveia landing a strong left and right hand that dropped Goran Reljic. The fight ended up getting back to the feet and Reljic knocked Gouveia down to the canvas by hitting Gouveia in the temple. Referee Herb Dean was forced to save Gouveia 3:15 into the second round. I think Gouveia drops back into the middle of the pack in the light heavyweight division. Reljic looked really good and I am interested in seeing him fight in the future.

"The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" Tito Ortiz vs. Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida

Lyoto Machida took this fight via unanimous decision. The first round started out with low leg kicks on Ortiz's lead leg. Tito later shot in for a takedown from a long distance and Machida stuffed the takedown fairly easily. Lyoto Machida used his fine foot movement to stay away from Tito to frustrate him. Machida ended the round by slamming Ortiz down to the canvas and establishing side control. The second round started out with Machida landing a left body kick and straight left. Machida continued to use his smooth foot movement to move away from Ortiz's strikes. The round ended with Tito shooting for a takedown but was forced to end up in full guard. The third round bell sounded and the round started out with referee Yves Lavigne slipping and falling onto the canvas. Tito Ortiz shot in for another single leg takedown but Machida defended the takedown once again. Later in the round Tito was knocked down to the canvas by a hard knee to his liver. Machida hurried down to the ground to try to finish the fight but he failed and fell into Tito's full guard. Tito locked in a triangle with about 30 seconds left in the fight but Lyoto rolled out of the triangle and survived to win a unanimous decision. Tito Ortiz is expected to leave the UFC and sign with either Elite XC or Affliction. Lyoto Machida is expected to get the next title shot against the winner of Quinton Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin.

Thiago Silva vs. Antonio Mendes

Thiago Silva took this fight via TKO in the first round. The round started with Antonio Mendes landing a head kick on Silva that knocked him to the canvas. Silva recovered quickly and clinched up with Mendes. Silva took down Mendes and quickly transitioned to the mount. Thiago continues to throw punches as the referee stopped the fight just 2:24 into the round. Thiago Silva is climbing up the ladder in the light heavyweight division and is just a couple wins away from a title shot. Mendes looked like he had a lot of trouble on the ground. He can definitely strike but he needs to train obtaining guard.

Ivan Salaverry vs. Rousimar Palhares

Rousimar Palhares took this fight via armbar in the first round. The round started out with Palhares getting a body lock takedown and obtaining the full mount quickly into the round. Ivan Salaverry ended up giving up his back and fighting off a rear naked choke for more than a minute. As Salaverry attempted to get out of the body lock. Palhares quickly transitioned into a smooth armbar. Salaverry was forced to tap out just 2:36 into the fight. Rousimar Palhares looked very good in his UFC debut and looks like a good young up-and-comer in the middleweight division.

"The African Assassin" Rameau Sokoudjou vs. Kazuhiro Nakamura

Sokoudjou took this fight via TKO in the first round. The first round started out with Sokoudjou landing a hard leg kick on Nakamura. Sokoudjou followed the kick with two more leg kicks and a hard kick to Nakamura's ribs. Nakamura missed badly with two hard right hands. Nakamura had trouble getting a takedown and had very stale and predictable striking. With a few seconds left in the fight, Sokoudjou landed a tough right kick to the body and a stiff right jab to Nakamura's chin. Nakamura clearly injured his right knee and might be out for a while. In the post fight interview Sokoudjou called out Shogun. However I would be surprised if he gets the Shogun fight that he wants. The fight really doesn't make any sense right now.

Jon "War Machine" Koppenhaver vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida

Yoshiyuki Yoshida took this fight via anaconda choke in the first round. The fight began with the two fighters clinching up and Yoshida performing a beautiful judo throw. As Koppenhaver tries to scramble he gets caught in a tight guillotine choke. Yoshida rolled over the tight guillotine and turned the choke into an anaconda choke. The choke put "War Machine" completely out and and Herb Dean was forced to end it just 56 seconds into the fight.

"The Hungarian Nightmare" Christian Wellisch vs. Shane Carwin

Shane Carwin took his UFC debut via KO on the first round. The round started out with Carwin throwing a lot of aggressive punches. Shane landed a tough right hook to Wellisch's face. Wellisch was out cold and his mouth piece was knocked out of his mouth. Yves Lavigne was forced to stop the fight just 44 seconds into the fight.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

WEC 34 - Faber VS. Pulver - Picks and Discussion

by Kurt Hall of

Urijah Faber vs. Jens Pulver

Urijah Faber is coming off a second round submission victory over Jeff "The Big Frog" Curran. He boasts a 20-1 record with his one loss coming to UFC standout Tyson Griffin. He has just 3 wins via decision, while with the other 17 he has finished his opponents (10 via submission, 7 via TKO). He is the clear number one featherweight fighter in the world right now. He is coming into the fight with a 12 fight winning streak obliterating every fighter he has taken on. During this streak not one of his fights have went past the second round. Urijah Faber's main strengths are his outstanding submissions, amazing takedowns and lightning fast hands. He has one of the hardest rear naked chokes to defend against in all of MMA and has a very tight guillotine. This was shown in his last victory over Jeff Curran. He synched in a tight guillotine choke on Curran who's main strength is his ground game. Urijah also features some outstanding takedowns. When Faber takes you down, you are going to feel it. He has some of the hardest throw-downs in the featherweight division. He has even been known to create his own takedowns. His atomic butt drop is a good example. Jens Pulver is coming off a submission victory over Cub Swanson. He beat Swanson by guillotine just 35 seconds into the fight. That was Pulver's first fight in the featherweight division in a couple of years. He moved down to the WEC's featherweight division after getting beaten by BJ Penn at the Ultimate Fighter 5 finale. Jens Pulver is undefeated in the featherweight division (8-0). Jens Pulver's main strengths as a fighter are his great left hand, the great opponents that he has fought against, and he is a great grappler. If you need proof of his great left hand just ask John Lewis. He knocked out Lewis with a left hook just 15 seconds into the fight at UFC 28. Pulver has fought some of the toughest fighters in the world. He fought against Din Thomas in his prime, Caol Uno, Takanori Gomi, and BJ Penn twice. Jens is also an outstanding grappler. Only 3 fighters have submitted him and their names just so happen to be Din Thomas and BJ Penn; Two awesome grapplers in their own right. I believe this fight will be an all out war between two of the best fighters in the division. Urijah Faber is an outstanding fighter with almost no weaknesses. Jens Pulver's only real glaring weakness is that he can be knocked out. I believe that Jens Pulver's experience will overcome Urijah's relentless attack. I pick Pulver to win via TKO in the fourth round.

Yoshiro Maeda vs. Miguel Torres

Yoshiro Maeda is coming off a first round KO victory over Charlie Valencia. Maeda has a 23-4-2 MMA record. Fourteen of Yoshiro's wins are by TKO and 2 of his victories are by submission. Seven of his MMA victories are by decision. Yoshiro's main strengths are his strong standup game and he has loads of experience. Maeda has 29 fights on his resume and is a Deep and Pancrase veteran. His strong standup is by far his best strength. He has been known to consistently control the fight on the feet and win the fight using his hands to stop opponents in their tracks. Maeda does have some issues as a fighter however. He goes to decision a lot and he isn't what I would consider a top level grappler. He can handle his own on the ground but he isn't going to submit most of the people he fights. Miguel Torres is coming off a first round submission victory over Chase Beebe. That fight won Torres the bantamweight title of the WEC. Torres' main strengths as a fighter are his good striking, his awesome submissions, and good knee strikes. Miguel is probably the most well rounded fighter in the WEC other than Paulo Filho and Urijah Faber. He controls the fight wherever the fight goes and is an elite fighter boasting a 33-1 MMA record. Torres has not lost a fight nearly three and a half years. His striking is really good but he really knows how to use his knees and can knock you out. The ground is where he prefers to have his fight. He will give up a takedown just to get it to the ground and work to get in a better position to win the fight. I do not think that Maeda's experience will make a huge difference in this fight. I think Torres is a better fighter wherever the fight takes place. I expect Torres to win this fight and keep his belt via submission in the second round.

"The Reverend" Chuck Grigsby vs. Mark Munoz

Chuck Grigsby is coming into this fight on an 8 fight winning streak. He boasts a 13-3 MMA record. He has 5 wins via TKO, 6 wins via submission, and 2 victories by unknown means. Grigsby?s main strength in his fight game is his strong standup game. All of his TKO wins have come within the first round of his fights. He starts out quickly swinging for the big knockout. However he seems to have a couple of weaknesses. He is an average grappler. Two of his losses are by submission in the second round. Mark Munoz is boasting an undefeated 3-0 MMA record. His main strengths are his strong wrestling and good Muay Thai. However he has one thing holding him back in this fight; he has very little experience and has not been tested, especially against a tough guy like Grigsby with 13 more fights under his belt. I expect Chuck Grigsby to take this fight via TKO in the first round.

Kenneth "The Black Ninja" Alexander vs. "Razor" Rob McCollough

Kenneth Alexander is a fighter who boasts a 5-2 MMA record. He has 2 wins via submission, 2 wins via TKO, and 1 win via Decision. Alexander's main strengths are his outstanding wrestling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The problem with Kenneth Alexander is that he is an average striker. Rob McCollough is an outstanding fighter who lost his WEC lightweight belt to Jamie "The Worm" Varner. "Razor" Rob's strengths are his world class striking and his sharp jab. He also is very hard to takedown. However Rob can be rocked in a fight. This is shown in his last fight with Jamie Varner. I expect Kenneth Alexander to struggle in this fight even though he beat McCullough before. I expect "Razor" Rob to take this fight via KO in the third round.

Richard "Cleat" Crunkilton vs. Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone

Richard Crunkilton is coming off a decision victory over Sergio Gomez. He boasts a 16-2 MMA record. He has 7 wins via TKO, 6 wins via submission, and 3 wins via decision. Crunkilton's main strengths as a fighter are his striking ability and his very good takedowns. However sometimes he doesn't follow the game plan. This was shown in his fight with Rob McCullough. He decided to stand and trade with "Razor" Rob and got knocked out in the first round. Donald Cerrone boasts an undefeated 7-0 MMA record. All of his wins have come via submission in the first two rounds. His main strengths as a fighter are his decent striking and awesome triangle chokes. Donald Cerrone does have one problem in his fight game, however. He has been known to give up takedowns which will play into the hands of Richard Crunkilton. I would expect Cerrone to give Crunkilton fits on the ground and take this fight via submission in the second round.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Riddle Has An Answer. Interview With Matt Riddle

by Joshua E. Ottley of

First and foremost tell me, what does it feel like to be the owner of one of the most gruesomely impressive knockouts in recorded MMA history?

Ha ha, that's funny. I may have had one of the best knockouts on TUF 7 but it hardly is the best in MMA. I am glad I got to put on a good show for Dana & the two coaches.

Well then, at least you know my personal opinion. Did you feel any remorse whatsoever, for causing someone to eat only liquids for a considerable period of time? He wasn't exactly protecting himself properly.

I hate that he had lasting effects along with the loss and I am not glad he got hurt. We all do this for the love of the sport so getting hurt or taking someone out by injury is never fun. Dan is a tough competitor and he will be back.

Let's hope he does, indeed. I couldn't of said it better myself, really. Even though we all know what can happen in the cage, it's just a risk we are all willing to take. Our sport has come a long way and the last thing we need is the general public thinking we are all about barbaric practices. Could you please state the particulars of that fight and win, perhaps with your own brief interpretation and retrospective of the situation?

The K.O. comes as you see it. I followed him down to make sure I was able to finish him. I was taught to never stop until the ref stops you and that is what I did. Post fight they edited to look a little different. I was stoked to win and win like that so I celebrated immediately after. When he started waking up and groaning I knew that was not "normal" so I was very concerned & worried for my fellow competitor.

Who was your favorite member of the cast, among the residents of the house?

CB; he was a good dude and could back up the talk if need be. Brandon Sene and I also got to become good friends too.

Well, from what I know thus far, CB seems like a really cool cat, definitely. Besides the obvious, did you have anyone that you disliked immensely, or perhaps even slightly?

I really don't hate anyone in the house. I thought Cale was pretty lame. He was not able to really come up with anything other than "you are gay" or you are "boyfriends". As if that's hugely insulting, we were in the house with 15 guys, whom else are you going to spend time with?

What was your favorite pastime while being secluded at the house and did you have any generally fond or foul memories of your time there?

I loved hanging out with Rampage and getting to train with the great fighters in the house. A fond memory was when we had the TV Guide crew at the house. I was throwing the medicine ball at the wall and doing no damage at all. Then I gave it to CB and he threw it through the wall and it busted all the way to the outside. We were sitting there with a huge hole in the wall, and this was right after Dana asked us to stop destroying the house.

Oh man, they must've gotten sick of replacing them and just decided to reinforce the walls this time around, for good measure. I could feel bad for Dana's pocketbook, but I don't really. Haha. Do you feel that your time on the show helped you evolve as a fighter, or even grow as a human being in general?

Watching it does, it helps you see yourself in a different light and you can make adjustments.

I never really though about it like that. It gives me something to think about, for sure. Although, I don't really have plans to ever go on the show. How do you feel you are adjusting to your new surroundings and climate? I've actually been wondering how a decrease in altitude would affect one's training, as opposed to say, training in Denver (Home of UFC 1), a mile above sea level. You may give your thoughts on this, as well, if you so desire.

I was from Pennsylvania not Colorado. It has not gotten hot here yet so for me the change is wonderful. The training here in Arizona is maybe the best in the country. Walking into Arizona Combat Sports I was quickly shown how much I have to learn. They have great instructors and a solid team of fighters that train like no others I have seen.

Oh I knew you were from Pennsylvania, bro. I was just pointing out the stark contrast between those two locations. It's been on my mind lately, having watched UFC 1 and even recently when they were in Denver, and observing how the change in altitude affected each individual. I was only wondering what the adverse effect would be like; it's obviously nothing overly drastic, though. So, What's your favorite thing about training with the Arizona Combat Sports team?

The quality of training I get is the best. They give you a lot of one on one time and want to see you improve. They spent three days just working on my hands. They tell me I have a lot of work to do and that I am very green. I am glad to hear it because if I impressed them I knew I was at the wrong gym.

Well it sounds to me like I might have to stop by sometime and check it out for myself. What's your favorite fighting style, besides wrestling which you stated on the show to be your root?

I am a grappler with huge balls and a bigger heart. I want to be known as a striker/wrestler and with the Lally Brothers working on me I am sure that will happen.

Well, it looks like you have an amazing career ahead of you with the level of training you're getting down there and personally I'm glad. I truly look forward to seeing you fight again soon. Did you get your drivers license yet?

No, I have been here and training almost everyday. CB went and got me the paperwork and books to study. We will put it on youtube when it happens. Good thing is the license is for like 50 years so when I get it I am going to be set!

Ha ha, I myself don't have a Canadian beginners license, yet. But, I plan to remedy that, this week sometime. Well, I suppose that's all for now, but as a closing remark I would like to dedicate this interview to all mom's everywhere, but most especially those who drive their license-less, 20 something sons around with a smile, bless your hearts! Also, I would like to extend my offer for you to join me (and CB) in Canada sometime in the near future, when the opportunity becomes available of course, to throw back some strong cold ones that don't taste like total crap. Thanks a bunch bro and all my best to you, your family, and all of your team! Best of luck on the 21st of June; I'll actually be making my Amateur debut the same day, let's kick some ass! Take care!

Thanks! My family has really been a huge support group for me. My mom would drive our here to take me somewhere if I asked her too. I really do love her!

Don't we all, my friend! Don't we all!

Special thanks again to Jason Genet, President of LG Sports Marketing and Salil from Spike TV for all of his great help with photography.

Photos courtesy of:
Josh Hedges, UFC (action shot)
Kevin Lynch, UFC/SpikeTV (portrait work)

The Ultimate Fighter 7: Episode Eight

At the beginning of this week's installment, we saw a continuation of the frustrations being conveyed at the end of last week's show from both coaches. But this week it would be Forrest venting and making his way back to the locker rooms and proceeding to angrily annihilate the entryway into his team's preparation area. As Dana came to investigate the ruckus, Forrest could be observed shadow boxing and flailing his arms as if he was mentally and physically warming up for his upcoming 5 round title fight with Rampage. Cale Yarbough stated his happiness at receiving the judge's decision. Rampage voiced his frustrations at losing, as well as his disgust at such a decision, going on to state his general distaste for most judges in general. Patrick Schultz apologized to an already calmed Coach Forrest, for his un-called for comments towards the number 1 contender preceding the official decision.

This week it would be CB Dollaway vs. Nick Klein to decide the final contestant who would proceed to the quarterfinal match-ups.

CB stated his credentials as a wrestler from childhood, and being a Division 1 All-American wrestler in college would also explain his decision to choose the career path of an MMA warrior. Matt Riddle boldly predicted that his good buddy CB would win by T.K.O. stoppage in the first round. Nick Klein appeared to be speaking his mind about his nervous and jittery mentality before every fight, and explaining that it is not only because he is facing the highly touted Dollaway, but also that it is his general mindset overall, never having fought outside a cage.

The antics this week would be that of the coaches and not of the house residents, with Forrest brandishing a net gun that he had purchased. The first recipient of a test fire "netting" was BOB ? the body opponent bag. Following this, we observed Rampage sitting against the cage during his own team's training session. Forrest could be seen sneakily creeping up to the cage before abruptly cuttingto a commercial break, for a TUF cliffhanger of sorts. Returning, Coach Quinton would be fired upon by his future opponent, being truly snagged as well as confined against the side of the Octagon. He stated his disappointment, on camera, at most likely being made fun of by his family upon returning home for being captured like a wild animal on national TV. Later in the hour Coach Quinton would exact revenge by super soaking an unsuspecting Forrest in the locker room area.

The Tale of the Tape for this last semi-final showdown showed us that both combatants remained undefeated professionally. Immediately following, they would begin on Ref. Steve's command. Round 1 began with a body kick from CB, leaving him off balanced and open for a takedown by Klein. CB, powering his way out, would then roll attempting to secure a guillotine with one arm in. Working on strikes with Klein in turtle guard, CB would be warned about striking the back of the head, which had caused a small laceration on the back of Klein's cranium. Reaching for a leg, Klein tried his luck at a knee-bar submission, which was successfully defended by Dollaway. CB made his way back into the guard of Klein, who would work on arm-lock submissions from the bottom position, whilst being rained upon by powerful strikes. Rolling back into turtle guard, giving away his back, Klein would then roll back into half-guard and then manage to secure a closed guard with CB still working with much diligence on solid strikes from the top position. CB then passed to side-control with Klein showing great ground defense by making his way back into half-guard. Securing guard yet again, Klein would be the recipient of several unblocked blows from CB, causing him to once again give away his back. Attempting to work on a Kimura from turtle, this was easily defended by CB after paying close attention to the vocal guidance of Rampage back in his corner. Again in guard, CB attempted to pass before having to defend a nearly executed arm-bar before the sound of the horn. Round 2 began with a nice leg kick from CB, which was followed up by both men throwing low kicks in unison. After a brief yet intense exchange, CB overpowered Klein, tackling him to the Octagon floor. Trying to push Klein against the cage, CB would be struck from the bottom momentarily, as he once again rolled for an attempt to secure back-control. Scrambling up, Klein was dragged back down immediately to the ground with CB gaining side-control. Back in guard both men worked their respective games, CB with strikes and Klein looking for submissions. After rolling into turtle guard again, Klein proved spending a huge amount of time in this position is not drastically detrimental if you are well trained for it. But, this would not last long as CB grabbed the neck of Klein, wrenching it, causing him to submit. CB gained the guillotine choke victory and the last remaining spot in the quarterfinals!

With the semi-final match-ups concluded, leaving the total wins at Forrest- 6 Rampage-2, the quarterfinal match-ups could now be chosen. After some discussion with each competitor individually, Dana and the two coaches determined each fight. The fights are as follows: Jesse Taylor vs. Dante Rivera, Amir Sadollah vs. Matt Brown, Daniel Cramer vs. Tim Credeur and CB Dollaway vs. Cale Yarbough. So, the tension mounts as dear friends begin to face off in the Octagon, next Wednesday on The Ultimate Fighter.

by Joshua E. Ottley of

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sean Sherk Is Looking For Redemtion May 24th At UFC 84

UFC Lightweight Champion BJ "The Prodigy" Penn puts his title on the line fighting former champ Sean "The Muscle" Sherk May, 24 2008 live on PPV at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Nevada.

When I spoke with Sean this past Wednesday 5/15/2008, nearly one week before the fight, he told me, "This is chance at redemption for me. I lost my belt for something I didn't do. This is an opportunity for me to redeem myself, get my belt back and beat one of the better fighters in the world. You know? Become the two time UFC Lightweight Champion."

Sean had his title stripped after a drawn out steroids accusation. The title became vacant allowing BJ to swoop in and take over the title after defeating Joe "Daddy" Stevenson in Jan. of 2008.

I had to agree with Sean when he stated, "This is obviously a fight people have wanted to see for a long time. Me and BJ have been two of the top ranked fighters for five or six years now. This should be a dream match up." He went on to say, "This is probably the biggest fight of my career. You've got two of the best lightweights on the planet, and the fans, they're going to be happy."

Here is the full audio version of Penny's interview with Sean Sherk:

by Penny Buffington of

Monday, May 19, 2008


by Jen Leigh of

Elite XC & CBS television held a press conference in Los Angeles today to promote their upcoming May 31st mixed martial arts program, entitled "Saturday Night Fights". This will mark the first time in the history of the sport that it will be on major network television for free. Unless you've had cable or paid bi-monthly pay-per-view fees, you haven't see MMA on TV until now. The exposure to potentially millions of new viewers is what the top organizations have been waiting years for. A primetime slot on CBS of 9-11 pm ET/PT is set for MMA to take over the world, once and for all. And Elite XC are the ones doing it.

I had the pleasure of attending today's event, and what an honor it was to be there. The overall excitement and energy in the room was undeniable. Workout demonstrations were given by Gina Carano and Kimbo Slice. Jake Shields and Nick Diaz displayed submissions, techniques and the general rules that apply in an MMA match, MC'd by none other than MMA legend Frank Shamrock. Some of the main event fighters on the card then fielded questions from the press alongside head honcho Gary Shaw.

In addition to this being the first time MMA is on a major network channel, it will also mark the first time that a women's fight will be featured on a main card on TV. That in itself is history. I had the opportunity to chat with Gina Carano (5-0) who will be taking on Kaitlin Young (4-1). In my opinion, this may wind up being the fight that everyone talks about come Sunday morning. I personally view it as a milestone for women in any profession and Gina's got my vote any day of the week. She was extremely sweet and gracious and realizes what an opportunity this is, not only for herself, but all women in this sport. Amen to that.

The middleweight title match-up between former UFC vets Robbie Lawler & Scott Smith is sure to have the crowd on their feet. Both fighters can brawl and put on a great show.

Phil "NYBA" Baroni, one of my all time personal faves, will take on Joey Villasenor. Baroni's hilarious comments throughout the Q&A panel kept the media & press rolling with laughter. Regarding the fight, Phil's exact words to me were "I'm ready. I'm gonna knock his ass out."

Then there's the main event. Kimbo Slice aka Kevin Ferguson vs James Thompson in a heavyweight bout of gigantic proportions. Kimbo is the man of the moment, and an Internet phenomenon known for his street fights. Will he be MMA's next superstar? Will a presence on major network television propel mixed martial arts into the stratosphere? Are the 2012 Olympics in MMA's future? Gary Shaw would like to think so. Here we go. On May 31st, the world will know about mixed martial arts. Get ready.

(pic) Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, Scott "hands of steel" Smith, Kimbo Slice, Shaw, Gina Carano, Phil Baroni, and "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler.

Interview with Matt Horwich

by Kyle Kaiser of

It's hard to find a fighter these days with more personality then the IFL's Matt "Suave" Horwich. Fighting out of one of the best camps in the world with Matt "the Law" Lindland and Team Quest, Horwich and company are not the kind of people that you want to be in the ring with. With Matt's soft tone, kind demeanor, and strong Christian faith, it would be tough to pick him out of a crowd as a world class, championship caliber fighter. Matt reached the highpoint in his career when he stunned the MMA world by stopping Benji Radach in the second round on 12/29/07 to win the IFL's first Middleweight belt. I had the pleasuring of interviewing the champion which was a dream come true for me. There is no doubt that I'd love to see more fighters follow in his footsteps.

I heard that you are a Christian. How does someone that follows a religion that teaches peace become interested in the sometimes crazy and sport of Mixed Martial Arts?

I want to be a warrior and artist by Jesus' grace like David in the bible. When I was a kid I went back and forth between wanting to be a musician and a martial artist, and now I'm hoping do both. All things are possible to them who believe! I'm working on getting a poetry book, spoken word poetry with a music album together with some good friends. I'm way stoked!

It's obvious that you have some insane cardio! I can't think of a fight that I've seen where you're not constantly pressing the action. What is a typical training day like in the shoes of "Suave"?

I do two or three classes a day usually at Team Quest. On top of weight training twice a week, cardio, running, mit and tai pad work, bag work, jump rope everyday, and I like to do push ups and jumps between rounds to improve my cardio.

Obviously winning the World Grand Prix IFL Middleweight Belt must have been a dream come true. What were your first thoughts when you stunned Radach with that great hook? Did it take a while to sink in?

I was so stoked, thank God for everything! It's a beautiful universe, and we can all do awesome things by God and Jesus and the holy spirits grace and love working through us and the power of the resurrection!

What is your diet like Matt? Do you have any foods that you just can't seem to resist?

I eat a lot of greens. Broccoli, spinach, a lot of almonds, walnuts, pecans, Odwalla Superfoods, juice, avocados, fish, chicken, and turkey. The one junk food I like is Dutchbrothers and Starbucks mochas!

Fight after fight, your striking seems to improve by leaps and bounds. Knowing that you have a great passion for grappling and jiu jitsu, is the game plan still mostly to get your opponent to the ground?

Mostly it depends on how good my opponent's jiu jitsu, kickboxing, and takedown defense, is. I try not to look at any fight the same way.

Thanks so much Matt! You are a huge role model of mine, a great fighter, and a heck of a guy. We need more people like you in the spotlight of this great sport! I wish you all the best in your upcoming fights!

Right on! Thanks so much. I'm glad to have so many awesome friends. I'm really blessed as we all are! It's a beautiful universe by Jesus' grace! God bless.

Photo courtesy of Team Quest

Kendall "DA SPYDER" Grove - Feeling the Spirit of Aloha

by Jen Leigh of

Kendall Grove, middleweight winner of The Ultimate Fighter's Season 3, is preparing for his biggest fight to date. He will face UFC veteran Evan Tanner in the main event of Spike TV's TUF 7 Finale on June 21st and he is ready.

Grove recently made the move back to his homeland of Maui, Hawaii, after living and training in Las Vegas for the past several years. He made the move for many reasons; Grove will be the proud father of a baby girl in August, he and fellow TUF 6 fighter Troy Mandaloniz plan to open a mixed martial arts school on the island in September, and he is currently training in Hilo with his childhood hero B.J. Penn.

Upon speaking with Kendall, the first thing I noticed is how humble he is and how appreciative he is to do what he loves most, and that is to fight. Constantly learning and growing as a fighter is what drives him to succeed. And with his new school on the horizon, he hopes to give back to the younger, aspiring fighters in his community.

"It's all about expanding your arsenal." says Grove in regards to switching training camps several times in recent years. From Tito Ortiz to Randy Couture, and now B.J. Penn, Kendall has trained with the best in the business. He credits Rudy Valentino from B.J.'s camp for "getting me in touch with my reach and fighting smarter for a 6 foot guy. We just click", says Grove. "Whenever you change camps you get excited because you're learning something new." When I asked what he was learning most in his new camp Grove replied, "Obviously, I'm getting unbelievable jiu jitsu training, but I'm also getting excellent stand-up. B.J. is always flying guys in for us to train with, so we're getting everything." And those new skills may be exactly what is needed to secure a win against Tanner come June 21.

Having just come off two consecutive losses in the UFC, Kendall seems incredibly at ease with his upcoming fight and is very grateful for his opportunity to be the main event. He feels that fighting Tanner will be a wrestling and boxing war, but expects a battle in the clinch. "I'm preparing myself for the worst. That's where he inflicts the most damage. All the Hilo boys are helping me for that so if it does happen, I'll know how to react."

Mental strength is also key for Grove, as it is for any fighter. Visualization techniques help him to prepare for any and all scenarios in the Octagon. He spends a few hours every day walking on the beach thinking about the fight over and over with his favorite reggae or rap music, something he considers his form of meditation. "That's the greatest tool that we have is our mind, and if we can't use that then we're hopeless."

Having a supportive family and network of friends is also something Kendall cherishes and does not take for granted. "My father has been to every one of my fights. He even flew to the UK in January." Although his mom is a bit squeamish about watching him fight in person, he chuckles, she still manages to watch the taped fights afterwards while supporting him 100%, win or lose.

During our conversation, I had to ask the inevitable question "Who would you most like to fight that you haven't already?" Kendall's response was "Anybody good. I like pushing myself and I like fighting crafty veterans who've been there. One guy I would love to fight is Jason McDonald; he's a tough kid, good wrestler and a good jiu jitsu guy."

Regardless of the outcome of the June 21 fight with Evan Tanner, Kendall plans to take a break until January of next year to enjoy being a father for the first time, in addition to focusing on his new MMA school with buddy Troy "Rude Boy" Mandaloniz. "Ever since I've been in the UFC, I told myself I'm going to help the boys in Maui get where I'm at, help get them fights wherever I can, get their names out there. I'm already there. They don't have the opportunities to take it that far. Nobody helps them." He also states that teaching the next generation of young fighters is his greatest passion, something I find commendable being that he himself, is just a young gun of 25. Whatever the future holds for Kendall Grove, one thing is for certain, he has a good head on his shoulders and the spirit of Aloha in his soul.

Kendall Grove thanks: Jill Baxter, Team Punishment, Hui, Cryogel and Mickey's Malt Liquor

Photo used by permission from Kendall Grove's myspace page :

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Interview with Din Thomas

by Donna Knoll of

UFC Veteran, Din Thomas, holds prominent wins over Dokonjonosuke Mishima, Jens Pulver, Matt Serra, Rich Clementi, Clay Guida, and Jeremy Stephens. He is an MMA school owner, fighter, and trainer out of American Top Team in Port St. Lucie, Florida, who was also featured on The Ultimate Fighter 4.

Hi Din, thanks for taking the time to chat with me!

How did you get involved in MMA and why was it the right career choice for you?

I got involved in MMA pretty much the same way everybody else did - watching it on TV. But I got involved back in late 94 before it was cool. Actually it was cool back then, just not mainstream. I'd say it started off cool then it lost its steam for a while until Zuffa picked it up. But even when it had its black eye, I never lost faith in it. I didn't and don't do this to wear cool T-shirts and impress meatheads in a bar. It's the right career choice for me because it allows me the freedom and luxury to do what I like and make money at it. Even if I wasn't making money at this, I'd still be training and be involved in this game. My father always told me, "Do something you love and find a way to make a living at it". I did because I was passionate and determined. Most people lack those qualities.

I'm sure your losses to Kenny Florian and Josh Neer have affected you by making you train even harder and want to come back stronger. In what other ways has it affected you and your career?

Life is ever changing and doesn't move in a straight line. Things happen and the way you react to them determine the reason for why it happened. I never complain about losing or make excuses. I stay positive and try to twist it into my favor. As for now, I moved on from them losses and decided to drop to 145 and see what direction life can take me.

Do you have any plans to return to the UFC or is a drop to 145 a definite?

Immediately after the fight with Josh Neer, I was on my way to the airport and told my manager that I'm going to go down to 145. This has been something that my good friend, Paul Rodriguez was talking to me about for quite some time. He would always say, "man, you cut weight too easy for 155. You should go to 145". But I hate cutting weight. But in this game, you have to be willing to do things that you don't want to in order to achieve what you want. This game is all about sacrifices and chances. The more sacrifices you make and chances you take, the more success you will have.

In either division, lightweight or featherweight, who would you like to fight next?

I have fought the best fighters in the world. I have fought clowns. I don't really care who I fight.

You own a couple of gyms now with American Top Team, right? How is that going? Which do you think is more satisfying, training up and coming fighters or being a fighter yourself?

As of now, I closed one of my schools and consolidated everything into one. Groups are stronger when united. As far as satisfying, it's all a matter of mental state. There is one thing that you should always be satisfying whether you are fighting, coaching, or just a hobbyist, and that is the training. Training should always be satisfying and fun. As a fighter, sometimes it's not fun when you're doing it but when reflected upon it should be fun and satisfying. As a coach it's the easiest way to separate fighters from posers. If a guy says he wants to be a fighter but doesn't find the training rewarding then I know right there that he is a poser. And this game is full of Affliction T-shirt wearing posers. One thing is for sure, that is the most dissatisfying aspect of the game.

You have so many fans and fighters who look up to you. Who do you admire and who has influenced you in your career?

I find inspiration in many different places. Early on in my career, different fighters have influenced me. I'd say Jose Pele Landi, Mach Sakurai, Rumino Sato, Renzo Gracie, and Murilo Bustamante had a major affect on me. As I got older, I found inspiration in other sports figures such as boxers like Roy Jones, Prince Naseem Hamed, Bernard Hopkins or more common athletes like Allen Iverson or Kobe Bryant. It's weird how you can be influenced by different entities if you just watch them. Because today I can watch two seven year olds grapple and say to myself, "I want to be like that".

Who do you feel is the top all around fighter in MMA today?

That is just too difficult to answer. There are so many flavors of the month and everybody seems unbeatable until they get beaten. Everybody has a weakness.

Can you tell me about your acting role in the movie Owned?

We have yet to film so I can't tell you much about it. I will tell you that when we do start I will put as much time into that as I would put into a fight.

How did you prepare for this new role and is acting something you would like to pursue?

Hmmm. I have studied acting a bit. Acting and being in movies or being a superstar are two completely separate things. It is no chief pursuit of mine to be a movie star, but I love to act. Acting is something that can be done anywhere.

Are you watching the current season of The Ultimate Fighter? If so, who do you think is going to come out on top?

I'm afraid to say that I haven;t watched The Ultimate Fighter. After going through that experience, I told myself that I would watch because I would owe it to the guys. But it's like being in jail and telling your cell mate you will write when you get out. You may write once but then you just forget.

What are your thoughts on Rampage and Forrest? Who is the better coach and who do you think will win the fight in July?

As stated, I haven't watched to know who the better coach is. I don't know who will win in July. I have an idea of who may be better but I don't know who will win. This I know from training with the best guys in the world on a regular basis. You can compete 100 times and the outcome will be different each time and the better guy doesn't always win.

Is there anything else you would like to add or tell your fans about?

I just want to tell everybody to be passionate about something and take chances in life. Keep your nose out of other peoples' business and make things happen for yourself. Life it too short to spend time criticizing others and pointing fingers because of your mishaps. Nobody wants to hear you crying about what you don't have. And lastly, never judge a man from your own shoes. I'm out.

Thank you again for taking the time to chat with me. I wish you the best of luck and look forward to seeing you fight again.

Photo courtesy of ATT Port St. Lucie, Florida