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L.A. Times February MMA Rankings

FabforumHeavyweight

1. Junior Dos Santos

2. Alistair Overeem

3. Cain Velasquez

4. Fabricio Werdum

5. Daniel Cormier

6. Frank Mir

7. Josh Barnett

8. Antonio Silva

9. Fedor Emelianenko

10. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

In the month’s most meaningful heavyweight bout, Fabricio Werdum showcased excellent striking to defeat a game Roy Nelson in the semi-main event of UFC 143. It puts him in the mix for the next title shot against the winner of the Junior Dos Santos-Alistair Overeem UFC heavyweight title match at UFC 146 in May.

Light Heavyweight

1. Jon Jones

2. Rashad Evans

Continue reading »

Anderson Silva on greatness, Chael Sonnen, Brazil, the future

Silva3Solving Anderson Silva in an interview can be as problematic as it is for opponents who have to figure him out in the Ultimate Fighting Championship octagon.

Silva, 36, possesses more credentials than anyone in claiming to be the world’s most talented mixed martial arts fighter.

He hasn’t lost since ascending to the UFC middleweight championship in 2006, providing a catalogue of highlight victories since, including his stunning fifth-round submission of Chael Sonnen to retain the belt in 2010, and the wicked kick to the jaw that knocked out Vitor Belfort last year.

“I’m not the best fighter in the UFC,” Silva, 36, said Tuesday during an interview. “I’m working hard. I’m not the best. That’s just the fans’ opinion.”

Yet, when the focus turns to establishing who possibly is better, Silva strikes with indefensible replies.

Asked whether he was especially impressed with younger light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones, with all his spinning hits and kicks and acrobatics, Silva answered, “No, he’s normal.”

So which fighter impresses Silva?

“Bruce Lee,” he said.

And who does Silva believe he can’t beat?

“My clone,” said Silva, looking up from a long glance at his mobile phone with a mischievous grin.

Continue reading »

Nevada commission: Nick Diaz tested positive for pot

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The Nevada State Athletic Commission on Thursday reported that UFC 143 main-event fighter Nick Diaz has tested positive for marijuana metabolites, with a complaint for disciplinary action filed.

Diaz, who lost a unanimous decision to Carlos Condit on Saturday in the UFC's interim welterweight title fight, spoke bitterly of retiring after the loss, defending the merits of his effort and his point that he instead deserved the judges' support.

Diaz has previously spoken of his need to smoke marijuana as a way to temper a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. A former spokesman for the fight organization Strikeforce explained Diaz could say those things because he had a card to obtain marijuana for medical reasons.

But Nevada commission executive officer Keith Kizer said Diaz "never asked for a therapeutic-use exemption," and said he hadn't used any such substance within two weeks of his drug tests.

Condit earlier this week said he was willing to grant Diaz a rematch, and UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta said he was exploring a May 5 date in New Jersey for the bout, with the winner fighting currently injured UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre most likely in the early fall.

Now, that fight is off the books, and Kizer said Diaz could be disciplined beyond the six-month suspension and 20% fine ($3,000) for his positive marijuana test in 2007 because of the previous slip.

Kizer said Nevada could stage a hearing for Diaz to defend himself against the allegations in April.

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--Lance Pugmire   

Photo: Carlos Condit, left, and Nick Diaz, right, stare each other down. Credit: Eric Jamison / Associated Press.

 

UFC 143: Carlos Condit beats Nick Diaz for shot at title

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Carlos Condit has earned a shot at Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre by defeating Nick Diaz by unanimous decision at UFC 143 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas by scores of 48-47, 49-46, 49-46.

Condit (28-5) produced the more creative display in a bout that remained a stand-up battle until Diaz (27-8) gained a takedown in the final 90 seconds of the interim welterweight title fight.

The activity by Condit in the final three rounds, when he began to kick more freely and found some openings (Diaz's right eye was swollen at the end), appeared decisive.

Photo: Carlos Condit vs. Nick Diaz

"I come on strong in the later rounds," Condit said in the octagon afterward. "I started to find my flow."

The volatile Diaz urged Condit to fight in the early rounds, and was so disappointed by the outcome in a bout that failed to meet expectations of a fiercer battle that he discussed retirement.

"I'm not going to accept this as a loss," Diaz said. "I think I'm done with this MMA. You guys pay me way too much. I don't need this ... 

"I landed the harder shots. He landed little baby leg kicks. I don't need this anymore."

Diaz indeed scored jabs and signature left-hands and backed Condit to the cage with a second-round flurry of punches.

But Diaz's aggression slowed, especially in the fourth, as Condit's kicks and a combination of punches proved most memorable.

In the fifth, Condit kicks forced Diaz to slip to the canvas. Diaz tried the takedown around the 1:30 mark, but couldn't find a compelling hold on Condit, despite scrambling to do so. It appeared -- and was -- to be the actions of a desperate fighter.

Condit escaped right before the bell, then celebrated his victory and shot at St-Pierre, who's recovering from torn knee ligaments and likely won't be ready to fight Condit until late summer or early fall. St-Pierre watched the fight from ringside.

"It's an honor," Condit said of fighting St-Pierre. "Georges is a guy I've looked up to since I started fighting."

-- Lance Pugmire 

Photo: Nick Diaz, right, lands a right to Carlos Condit as they exchange blows during UFC 143 on Saturday night. Credit: Eric Jamison / Associated Press

Nick Diaz, Carlos Condit fighting for UFC interim belt

Nick
Nick Diaz, role model?

The rebel of the Ultimate Fighting Championship thinks he is.

Yes, this is the same Diaz who blew a chance to fight welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre after missing a publicity tour to help sell the bout, and the same individual who’s spoken before of using marijuana to calm the effects of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.

Now, due to St-Pierre's torn knee ligament, which is expected to sideline the champion until the early fall, Diaz has been reinstated to Saturday’s UFC pay-per-view main event at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, fighting Carlos Condit for the organization’s interim welterweight title.

The winner gets St-Pierre.

“I am a role model, just not in the image the public might think,” Diaz said. “But when I’m home, and people see me, working to get where I’ll be Saturday, they understand.”

Stockton’s Diaz trains in the seclusion of the lower-income Northern California town of Lodi.

His people skills may leave something to be desired, but like one of his coaches recently said on a UFC-produced preview show: “Nick does this to survive. This is his one shot. He gets frustrated because of his inability to express himself, but when he gets in that octagon, he’s a poet.”

A former Strikeforce champion, Diaz (26-7) is such a skilled boxer he was negotiating to fight former light-heavyweight title contender Jeff Lacy before signing a UFC contract. His cardio is fueled by his triathlete training.

“As you grow up, it can be hard to do some things, but when you see what you’re excelling in, you don’t want to stop doing it,” Diaz said. “As soon as I got to the gym, I found something that motivated me.”

Condit (27-5), the son of the former chief of staff to ex-New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, veered from troubled youth to grappling in Albuquerque, and has emerged to become Diaz’s most difficult test.

“This fight is going to be all over the place,” Condit said. “I know Diaz is working on his takedowns. I have to beat him by not playing into his game, working the angles, not standing right in front of him.”

Diaz has a reputation for treating opponents harshly before a fight, but maintains he doesn’t hate or want to harm anyone, as Condit has said he’ll do.

“I don’t like how Carlos Condit says he likes to hurt people, and I’ll never be tricked by these UFC camera guys into saying those things,” Diaz said. “I may not be a role model to them, but I’m not going to say I want to hit someone so hard I can watch them go to sleep. Hatred’s a strong word. I don’t hate.”

-- Lance Pugmire

Twitter.com/latimespugmire

Photo: Nick Diaz. Credit: Tom Casino / Strikeforce.

UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes, Belfort vs. Johnson live results

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UFC 142 takes place Saturday night from the HSBC Arena in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. In the main event, undefeated Chad Mendes challenges champion Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight title. In the co-feature, Vitor Belfort battles Anthony Johnson.

Felipe Arantes vs. Antonio Carvalho

Carvalho is a world traveled Canadian fighter making his UFC debut. Arantes is fighting in his native Brazil and sports a 13-4 record.

Round 1. Carvalho takes Arantes down a couple times early and advances position into side control and full mount. Arantes is able to get back up to his feet. The fight is contested on the feet for the remainder of the round, with each man landing solid blows. 10-9 Carvalho.

Round 2. Carvalho is better able to implement his standing attack early, mixing in head kicks with straight punches. Arantes throws a flashy kick but it doesn't land well and he isn't able to get off to the same degree as Carvalho. Carvalho does land a knee later in the round. Pretty close round 10-9 Carvalho.

Round 3. Arantes gets a takedown and drops down a few elbows that open up a cut. Arantes continues to work over Carvalho with punches and elbows as the round progresses. They return to the feet at the close of the round and Arantes lands a nice straight right punch. Close fight. Round 1 was clearly Carvalho and round 3 clearly Arantes with round 2 up for grabs. 10-9 Arantes, 29-28 Carvalho.

Winner: Felipe Arantes, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).

Ricardo Funch vs. Mike Pyle

Funch is a Brazilian fighter who fights out of the US and sports a 0-2 UFC record. Pyle is a UFC, WEC, EliteXC and Affliction veteran who has fought many of the top fighters in the sport.

Round 1. Pyle lands a nice straight right punch. It staggers Funch back and Pyle follows with a big knee. That drops Funch and Pyle continues with punches until the fight is stopped.

Winner: Mike Pyle, TKO, round 1.

Yuri Alcantara vs. Michihiro Omigawa

Alcantara sports an impressive 26-3 record, fighting only once in 2011 after eight fights in 2010. Omigawa is a well respected Japanese star who hasn't been as effective outside his native country.

Round 1. Alcantara dominates the standup early, landing crisp combinations of punches and kicks. Alcantara is a much faster and more dynamic striker. Alcantara lands a quality left/right punch combination. He lands another a minute later. Alcantara drops Omigawa with a spinning back elbow and looks to close. He takes Omigawa's back and throws punches to the side of the head. Omigawa spins out and takes top position. Omigawa drops down a few punches but Alcantara sinks in an armbar at the close of the round. It is fully extended as the round concludes but Omigawa is saved by the bell. 10-8 Alcantara.

Round 2. Omigawa seems content to continue to trade even after struggling in the first round. He gets a few good shots in but is dropped with a punch and Alcantara takes top position. Alcantara takes full mount and drops down heavy punches. Omigawa turns his back and Alcantara looks for a rear naked choke but Omigawa avoids it. Omigawa's ear is a mess. Alcantara continues throwing punches from the top. Omigawa tries to set up a knee bar at the close of the round but isn't remotely close. 10-8 Alcantara.

Round 3. Both men have slowed considerably, particularly Alcantara. Omigawa is able to land some punches on the tired Alcantara. Alcantara answers back with a series of punches that connect well on the chin of Omigawa. Omigawa is more aggressive moving forward but Alcantara is connecting more with his strikes. Omigawa lands a couple punches from close range and takes Alcantara down with 90 seconds left in the round. Omigawa controls the top and lands punches until the fight is stood up by the referee with just seconds left. Alcantara takes Omigawa down and gets mount in that very short time and drops down big punches until the fight concludes. That was a closer round but Alcantara still wins on the basis of more effective offensive standup. 10-9 Alcantara, 30-25 Alcantara.

Winner: Yuri Alcantara, unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27).

Ednaldo Oliveira vs. Gabriel Gonzaga

Oliveira is an undefeated prospect who trains with Junior Dos Santos. He has received a significant amount of hype heading into his UFC debut. Gonzaga is a former UFC heavyweight title contender but has faded in recent years.

Round 1. The standup is tentative early. They both maintain distance and don't really exchange. Gonzaga shoots and gets a nice takedown two minutes in. He ends up in side control. Oliveira stands back up but Gonzaga retains control of his body and slams him back down. Gonzaga sinks in a rear naked choke and gets the tap.

Winner: Gabriel Gonzaga, submission, round 1.

Sam Stout vs. Thiago Tavares

Stout is an exciting Canadian fighter with an excellent striking game. Tavares is a well rounded Brazilian fighter particularly adept in jiu jitsu. Both are well respected lightweights but haven't been able to break through to the upper echelon of a deep division.

Round 1. Tavares takes Stout down early. Stout gets back up but Tavares takes him back down. Stout again tries to stand and Tavares again slams him back down. Stout once more tries to get up but Tavares grabs a guillotine and pulls guard. Stout gets out of the guillotine and ends up on top. Tavares looks for a heel hook but Stout rolls out of trouble and ends up back on his feet. Back in his comfort zone, Stout lands a few nice punches. Tavares answers with a good overhand right and left hook. 10-9 Tavares.

Round 2. Tavares stands with Stout for the first half of the round, doing surprisingly well. Stout, perhaps fazed by the takedown attempts, isn't throwing that much. Tavares lands a few good punches and mixes in some kicks as well. Stout throws some body punches but isn't able to connect all that much to the head. One wouldn't expect Tavares to win a round almost entirely standing against Stout, but I've got that round 10-9 Tavares.

Round 3. There is a break in the action following a low blow to Tavares early. Tavares seems comfortable in the standup game and the two fighters exchange punches on their feet. Neither is throwing many kicks and both are throwing wilder punches than in the first two rounds. Stout is able to connect better than in the first two rounds but the fight remains exceedingly close. Stout drops Tavares to a knee with a punch late and follows with a big uppercut. 10-9 Stout, 29-28 Tavares.

Winner: Thiago Tavares, unanimous decision (scores weren't announced).

Terry Etim vs. Edson Barboza

Barboza is a surging undefeated prospect with excellent striking. Etim is a highly regarded in his own right, with both very good standup and groundwork.

Round 1. Etim throws a left hook and looks for a takedown. Barboza defends it. Etim throws a few jabs and a head kick, then goes for another takedown. Etim takes Barboza down but Barboza immediately pushes him off and stands back up. Barboza lands a few heavy leg kicks as Etim moves forward with punches.  Etim goes for another takedown but eats a knee and is brushed off. Barboza gets in his comfort zone as the round progresses, landing a bunch of kicks including a spinning back kick towards the end of the round. 10-9 Barboza.

Round 2. Barboza immediately goes back to leg kicks, punishing Etim's lead leg. Etim lands a few leg kicks of his own, but they just don't have the same zip. Etim does execute a nice combination of a body punch and punch to the head, following with a head kick. Etim takes Barboza down but Barboza again gets back up pretty much immediately. 10-9 Barboza.

Round 3. Barboza lands a leg kick again early. Etim closes range and lands a nice knee to the body. Etim follows with a stiff jab and additional punches. Barboza isn't terribly active early. He shrugs off another takedown. Barboza then knocks Etim out cold with a beautiful spinning wheel kick to the head. That was just a spectacular conclusion to the fight.

Winner: Edson Barboza, KO, round 3.

Erick Silva vs. Carlo Prater

Silva is an emerging young Brazilian fighter who won his first UFC fight in just 40 seconds. Prater is a midlevel Strikeforce and WEC veteran making his UFC debut.

Round 1. Silva lands a flying knee to the body and then throws a series of punches to the head until the fight is called off. But referee Mario Yamasaki makes a terrible call, labeling Carlo Prater the winner via disqualification for incidental punches to the back of the head as the fight was being closed.

Winner: Carlo Prater, disqualification, round 1.

There were a few punches to the back of the head mixed in with punches to the side of the head, but in just about every fight where a fighter turns his back that's going to happen. It's difficult to pinpoint punches in that situation, and the benefit of the doubt should go to the fighter who is winning.

Rousimar Palhares vs. Mike Massenzio

Palhares is a dangerous submission grappler with a reputation for being a dirty fighter. Massenzio is a wrestler with good submission grappling as well.

Round 1. Palhares throws a few leg kicks early. He takes Massenzio down but Massenzio gets back up. Palhares pulls guard, wraps up a heel hook, and gets the submission. This has been a night of quick and decisive finishes.

Winner: Rousimar Palhares, submission, round 1.

Vitor Belfort vs. Anthony Johnson

Belfort is the longest tenured UFC fighter, a popular knockout artist with some of the fastest hands in the game. Johnson is a powerful wrestler with dangerous striking as well. He was a big welterweight who had trouble making 170 pounds, so he moved up to 185 pounds for this fight. Of course, he then failed to make 185 pounds by a whopping 11 pounds. Johnson's UFC future is now in doubt due to the lack of professionalism in repeatedly failing to make weight.

Round 1. They start out swinging wildly. Johnson slams an off balance Belfort down, spiking his head on the mat hard. Belfort looks for an armbar but can't get it. Johnson drops down a huge punch from high up. They are stood up very quickly. Johnson looks for another takedown. Belfort blocks it and throws some punches up against the cage. There is another quick separation. Belfort lands a couple big punches and a knee. Johnson shoots for a takedown and gets Belfort down. After a few punches, there is yet another quick standup. Belfort starts throwing big punches again as Johnson dives in. Johnson looks noticeably slowed and Belfort looks to grab his back. Belfort sinks in his hooks and tries for a rear naked choke. He sinks it in and gets the submission.

Winner: Vitor Belfort, round 1, submission.

UFC featherweight title: Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes

Aldo is the featherweight champion, undefeated in WEC and UFC. He is fast and powerful, with dynamic striking and an elite ground game that he never has to use. However, he has not been tested against top flight competition to the degree that most long time champions are. Mendes is an undefeated Team Alpha Male fighter with excellent wrestling.

Round 1. Mendes lands a couple of leg kicks at the start of the round. Aldo answers with one that turns Mendes around. Mendes goes for a takedown but Aldo defends easily. Aldo lands a nice uppercut and brushes off another Mendes takedown attempt. Aldo then blocks another. Aldo moves in with strikes and Mendes uses the opportunity to try to take him down. Aldo blocks at first, then grabs the fence to block another. Mendes gets him down briefly but Aldo stands back up. Aldo lands a big knee that knocks Mendes down and follows with punches to close the fight. The fight was stopped just as the round was about to end. Jose Aldo then runs into the crowd to celebrate. The stoppage came at 4:59.

Winner: Jose Aldo, TKO, round 1.

--Todd Martin

 Follow Todd on Twitter at @toddmartinmma

L.A. Times January MMA Rankings

Fabforum

Heavyweight

1. Junior Dos Santos

2. Alistair Overeem

3. Cain Velasquez

4. Fabricio Werdum

5. Daniel Cormier

6. Frank Mir

7. Josh Barnett

8. Antonio Silva

9. Fedor Emelianenko

10. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

Alistair Overeem earned a title shot at UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos with a decisive first round knockout of Brock Lesnar. Overeem-Dos Santos should be a compelling battle between feared and explosive strikers. As for Lesnar, the former UFC champion and superstar box office attraction announced his retirement after the loss. In Japan, Fedor Emelianenko picked up another win against average opposition by stopping Satoshi Ishii in the first round.

Light Heavyweight

1. Jon Jones

2. Rashad Evans

3. Dan Henderson

4. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

5. Lyoto Machida

Continue reading »

UFC 141 live results: Lesnar vs. Overeem

Fabforum

One of the biggest pay-per-view events of the year, UFC 141 is headlined by a heavyweight attraction between former UFC champion Brock Lesnar and Strikeforce, Dream and K1 champion Alistair Overeem. In the co-feature, colorful personalities with exciting styles collide as Nate Diaz takes on Donald Cerrone. Preliminary action begins at 7:30PM, with the Spike TV portion commencing at 9PM and the pay-per-view beginning at 10PM.

Manny Gamburyan vs. Diego Nunes

Gamburyan is an Armenian-American fighter with a judo background and great natural strength. Nunes is a quick Brazilian fighter with good technical striking and a solid training camp. Both men are coming off losses and need a win to move forward in the featherweight division.

Round 1. Nunes opens with a few leg kicks and mixes in some spinning kicks to the midsection. Gamburyan isn't able to close the distance early and doesn't make much of an effort to go for a takedown either. Gamburyan shoots for a takedown halfway through the round. Nunes defends well initially but Gamburyan keeps pushing and slams him down. Nunes stands up 30 seconds later as Gamburyan tries to advance position. Nunes goes back to leg kicks and adds a few light jabs. 10-9 Nunes.

Round 2. Gamburyan moves forward more aggressively and wings a couple powerful hooks. Moments later, Gamburyan catches Nunes with a heavy right hook that dazes Nunes momentarily. Gamburyan goes for a takedown but can't get it. Nunes throws a spinning back kick and Gamburyan uses the opportunity to take him down. Gamburyan throws down some punches from half guard against the cage. Nunes stands up with a minute left in the round. Nunes lands a few knees from the clinch and they separate. 10-9 Gamburyan.

Round 3. Gamburyan lands the best early shot of the round, a straight right hand. Nunes continues to throw leg kicks from the outside. Gamburyan moves in for body punches and then ducks out. He looks more comfortable fighting Nunes' fight than he did earlier. Gamburyan shoots for a takedown halfway through the round. Nunes defends and lands a solid knee. Gamburyan goes for another takedown and can't get it. Nunes keeps throwing his kicks. Gamburyan gets Nunes down very briefly but Nunes gets back up with a minute left in the fight. Nunes throws a few more kicks and blocks a takedown at the end. 10-9 Nunes, 29-28 Nunes. Competitive fight, but all three rounds were relatively clear.

Winner: Diego Nunes, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).

Jacob Volkmann vs. Efrain Escudero

Volkmann's wrestling and control game is difficult to deal with, as evidenced by a four fight win streak. He sports a 13-2 record with his only losses coming at a higher weight class to welterweight contenders Martin Kampmann and Paulo Thiago. Escudero is an Ultimate Fighter winner and returns to the UFC for the first time in a year. Escudero went 5-1 outside the organization and takes this fight on short notice.

Round 1. Volkmann goes for a takedown. Escudero grabs a guillotine choke but Volkmann gets out of trouble by moving into side control. Volkmann maintains control for the remainder of the round. Escudero is able to work his way into guard but isn't able to threaten with submissions. Volkmann grounds and pounds for the rest of the round. 10-9 Volkmann.

Round 2. Volkmann immediately goes for another takedown. Escudero grabs the guillotine once more but Volkmann uses side control just like in the first round to avoid the submission. Escudero then grabs full guard. Herb Dean stands up the action pretty quickly with three minutes left in the round. Volkmann clinches and gets Escudero to the mat. Escudero tries to get up next to the cage. Volkmann uses the opportunity to take Escudero's back and look for a rear naked choke. Escudero is able to work his way out of trouble but Volkmann keeps the pressure on and throws some punches to close the round. Dominant round for Volkmann. 10-9 Volkmann.

Round 3. Escudero grabs a guillotine and pulls guard. That didn't work too well for him in the previous rounds and it doesn't work again. Volkmann gets out of the choke and is in top position. Volkmann throws down some punches and tries to take Escudero's back. Referee Herb Dean stands up the fight, which is a terrible decision. Volkmann again looks for a takedown. Escudero grabs Volkmann's neck and has Volkmann in big trouble. Volkmann is able to defend for the remainder of the round and just survives barely. 10-9 Escudero, 29-28 Volkmann.

Winner: Jacob Volkmann, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).

After the fight, Jacob Volkmann tells a joke about President Obama that doesn't go over well.

Sean Pierson vs. Dong Hyun Kim

Pierson is a Canadian fighter who ran into trouble working as a police officer because of his fighting and his nickname ("Pimp Daddy"). Kim is one of the top South Korean fighters with a sparkling 14-1-1 (1 NC) record and a solid ground game.

Round 1. They start out tentatively in the standup game, with each man throwing jabs and adding in a few kicks. Pierson tries to throw some power punches but can't really connect on Kim. Pierson is more aggressive throwing first while Kim counters. Kim blocks a takedown attempt and throws a knee. Pierson jumps on Kim's back standing and tries for a rear naked choke. He then looks for an armbar at the close of the round. 10-9 Pierson.

Round 2. They exchange jabs. Pierson presses Kim against the cage but can't get a takedown and Kim they separate. Kim lands a nice pair of power punches that connect on the chin of Pierson. Kim really opens up and connects with quality combinations on the chin of Pierson. Pierson answers with a couple knees to the body. Kim lands a leaping front kick that rocks Pearson and moves in looking to finish the fight. Pierson is able to survive the round and staggers back to his corner. Big round for Kim. 10-9 Kim.

Round 3. They trade punches from distance and then clinch against the cage. Neither man is able to gt a takedown and they separate. Kim gets a takedown and works him over as the round progresses. They stand back up. Kim again is able to land the better punches in the standup and they return to the clinch. They break and swing wild punches at the close of the round. Kim throws another leaping kick at the close. 10-9 Kim. First round was close, second two were not. 29-28 Kim.

Winner: Dong Hyun Kim, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

Anthony Njokuani vs. Danny Castillo

Njokuani is an excellent muay thai practitioner but a subpar UFC level ground game. Castillo is a solid overall prospect with good wrestling.

Round 1. After a brief feeling out period, Castillo goes for a takedown. He gets Njokuani down but Njokuani gets back up. Castillo then slams him down. Njokuani gets back up. Castillo gets a third takedown and mounts Njokuani against the cage. Njokuani keeps working to get up but Castillo is able to continually pull him down. Njokuani grabs Castillo's head from a standing position but Castillo slams him to get out of the guillotine choke. Castillo tries to grab the back but Njokuani stands up. 10-9 Castillo.

Round 2. Njokuani lands some nice straight punches at the start of the round. Njokuani throws a head kick that is blocked. Njokuani throws a leaping knee and tries for a judo throw but can't get it. Njokuani lands some really hard knees from the clinch and a stiff elbow as he moves away. Njokuani is having a very strong round halfway through the second. Castillo drops to one knee from a hard straight left punch by Njokuani. Castillo takes Njokuani down with 90 seconds remaining. Njokuani gets back up with 30 seconds left but Castillo takes him down at the close. 10-9 Njokuani.

Round 3. Njokuani blocks a takedown attempt and lands a knee to the body. Castillo gets a takedown 90 seconds into the round. Njokuani stands back up but Castillo keeps a bodylock and tries to get him back down. Njokuani moves out and opens up with punches and kicks from distance. Castillo again grabs Njokuani's body and throws a few knees to the leg. As they separate, Njokuani lands some leg kicks and punches. Njokuani lands a couple punches and a big flying knee at the close. Tough round to score. 10-9 Njokuani, 29-28 Njokuani.

Winner: Danny Castillo, split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).

Crowd didn't like the decision but it's perfectly justifiable.

Ross Pearson vs. Junior Assuncao

Pearson is a popular British fighter with an entertaining standup style moving down to the 145 pound division. Assuncao is a well rounded fighter with a good ground game and a seven fight winning streak.

Round 1. Assuncao gets a takedown in the first minute. Pearson gets back up. Assuncao looks to throw some kicks while Pearson concentrates on punches. As Assuncao moves in for a takedown, Pearson nails him with a hard knee to the body. Assuncao clinches again and looks to take Pearson down. Pearson avoids that and begins to walk down Assuncao throwing punches. Pearson isn't able to land a lot but he is landing more than Assuncao. Assuncao opens up with kicks to the body and legs while Pearson continues to focus mostly on his boxing. Close round. 10-9 Pearson.

Round 2. Assuncao continues to move back and avoid Pearson's punches, while countering with kicks. Assuncao takes Pearson down but Pearson immediately stands back up. Assuncao presses Pearson against the cage and looks for another takedown. Assuncao lands a nice straight left punch when they separate. Pearson lands a couple nice punches to the body and head and goes to work against the cage. Pearson pushes Assuncao against the cage and throws some knees and punches. Pearson takes Assuncao down in the final minute. Assuncao gets back up and takes Pearson down. 10-9 Pearson.

Round 3. Pearson throws a kick and Assuncao takes him down. Assuncao works to take Pearson's back and secure the neck. Pearson avoids trouble and gets back up. Assuncao tries to take him back down. Pearson defends against the cage. They separate and Pearson throws a few punches and a knee. Assuncao again works for a takedown against the cage but Pearson reverses and presses Assuncao against the Octagon. They fight for position to close the fight. 10-9 Pearson, 30-27 Pearson.

Winner: Ross Pearson, unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28).

Jim Hettes vs. Nam Phan

Phan, something of a journeyman fighter, has become a popular figure based on his tenure on the Ultimate Fighter and a pair of exciting battles with Leonard Garcia. Hettes is an undefeated judo star in his second UFC contest.

Round 1. Hettes uses a leg trip to take Phan down at the start of the fight. Hettes looks for a guillotine choke from the top. He lets it go but then opens up with big punches that appear to have Phan in trouble. Hettes is just nailing him with huge punches. Phan turns his back. Hettes is able to generate tremendous power with his grounded punches. Phan stands back up halfway through the round. Phan lands a couple nice uppercuts from the standing position. Hettes uses a beautiful judo throw to take down Phan. He then mounts Phan. Hettes goes for the armbar while Phan locks his arms to try to block it. Hettes throws some punches to the head to try to keep Phan from breaking his arms. Hettes gives up the armbar and throws down big punches from mount to close the round. Easy 10-8 round for Hettes.

Round 2. Hettes throws a leaping front kick and takes Phan down. Hettes throws some punches from top position and works his way into mount. He then looks for an arm triangle choke but isn't in the right position. Phan scrambles back to the feet but Hettes looks for a guillotine choke. Phan ends up on top. Hettes gets up and takes Phan down. Phan gets back up. Hettes lands some nice straight punches. Hettes takes Phan down and ends up in side control. Phan works his way back up. Hettes has looked tremendous here. 10-9 Hettes.

Round 3. Hettes throws a head kick at the start of the round. Hettes takes Phan down again and Phan is bleeding near the eye. Phan works to stand up near the cage. He gets up and they trade punches in the middle of the cage. Both men have noticeably slowed down in the third round after pushing the pace in rounds 1 and 2. Hettes takes Phan back down and works to mount him. Hettes looks for an arm triangle choke again. He decides he doesn't have it and lets it go. He then lands a series of punches from mount. He drops a few elbows as well. Phan has no answers as Hettes throws down big punches. 10-9 Hettes, 30-26 Hettes.

Winner: Jim Hettes, unanimous decision (30-26, 30-25, 30-25).

Alexander Gustafsson vs. Vladimir Matyushenko

Gustafsson is a rising Swedish prospect with good length and striking. Matyushenko is a very experienced veteran of the sport who has fought many of the light heavyweight division's best fighter. This should be a good test for Gustafsson.

Round 1. Matyushenko flies in with a big left hook that doesn't connect. Gustafsson lands a nice hook of his own. Matyushenko moves in and gets caught with a straight left counterpunch. Matyushenko goes down and Gustafsson throws a series of punches on the ground until the fight is stopped.

Winner: Alexander Gustafsson, TKO, round 1.

Jon Fitch vs. Johny Hendricks

Jon Fitch is one of the sport's elite pound-for-pound fighters but he has struggled to gain popularity with fans because of his unappealing style of fighting. Hendricks is a better credentialed wrestler than Fitch, but is smaller and less likely to cautiously follow a gameplan.

Round 1. Hendricks knocks Fitch down with a huge overhand left and follows with one punch on the ground before the referee steps in. Fitch is woken up by the referee in a state of confusion. That was a spectacular victory for Hendricks.

Winner: Johny Hendricks, KO, round 1.

Donald Cerrone vs. Nate Diaz

This has the makings of a very exciting fight between two fighters with exciting styles and who look to finish standing and on the ground. Since moving to the UFC from the WEC, Donald Cerrone has gone on a winning streak and looked more impressive than he has at any other point in his career. Nate Diaz and his brother Nick are the most unique brother combination in the sport, known for trash talking and controversy.

Round 1. Cerrone gives Diaz the finger after the staredown. Cerrone charges across the ring. Diaz clinches and looks to take Cerrone down. He can't get the takedown and they trade from close distance. Each man lands solid punches to the chin. Diaz lands a series of big punches right to the chin and Cerrone just backs up. Diaz is consistently knocking Cerrone's chin back with punches. Diaz is beating Cerrone up with straight punches. Cerrone isn't even answering. Diaz is just picking him apart. Cerrone lands a nice head kick and throws some leg kicks in response to Diaz's punches. Cerrone is bleeding from the nose. Diaz has an amazing accuracy rate in this round. Diaz 10-8.

Round 2. Diaz goes back to work with punches. Cerrone knocks him down with a couple of leg kicks. Diaz looks to take the back standing but doesn't get anything. Cerrone answers a series of jabs with a nice knee to the head. Diaz backs Cerrone up with an uppercut. Diaz continues to connect strongly with punches. Cerrone drops Diaz again with a leg kick but Diaz answers back with punches to the jaw. Diaz is pummeling Cerrone with heavy punches and Cerrone's face is a mess. Cerrone knocks down Diaz with another leg kick. Cerrone again knocks Diaz down with a leg kick. Diaz gets back up and drops Cerrone with punches. This has been a heck of a fight, albeit nothing like expected. 10-9 Diaz.

Round 3. Diaz gives Cerrone a double finger going into the third round and Cerrone has no answer after having been beaten up for 10 minutes. Diaz begins taunting Cerrone and follows with punches. Diaz lands a big right hook in the middle of a combination. Cerrone goes back to the leg kicks. Diaz continues to beat up Cerrone with punches. Cerrone sweeps Diaz's leg and lets him get up again. Cerrone lands a nice knee to the body. Diaz then lets loose a five punch combination to the head. Cerrone uses a leg trip again and lets Diaz get up. Cerrone goes for a flying knee but it doesn't land. Diaz walks down Cerrone with punches and Cerrone's face is an absolute mess. Cerrone does land a nice head kick but Diaz goes right back to work for the remainder of the fight. 10-9 Diaz, 30-26 Diaz.

Winner: Nate Diaz, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).

Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem

Brock Lesnar is one of the biggest drawing cards in MMA, a former WWE star who used his wrestling and natural athleticism to capture the UFC heavyweight title. Alistair Overeem is one of the best strikers in the heavyweight division, having won the K-1 Grand Prix tournament (the world's elite kickboxing tournament) as well as MMA titles. The big questions with Lesnar are his reaction to getting hit and a long layoff following a battle with diverticulitis. The big questions with Overeem are the competition level he has faced and his ability to deal with adversity. The winner will receive a title shot at UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos.

Round 1. Lesnar throws a couple leg kicks and a jab. Overeem moves in and Lesnar goes for a takedown but doesn't get it. Lesnar cuts Overeem with a straight punch. Overeem lands a couple knees to the body and looks to close the distance. He throws a series of knees to the body and then some big punches. Overeem throws a big knee and some punches against the cage. He lands a kick to the body that drops Lesnar. Lesnar just covers up and Overeem follows with punches until the fight is stopped. 

Winner: Alistair Overeem, TKO, round 1. 

Lesnar after the fight says he won't fight in the Octagon again.

--Todd Martin

For more, follow on Twitter at @toddmartinmma.

 

L.A. Times December MMA rankings

FabforumHeavyweight

1. Junior Dos Santos

2. Cain Velasquez

3. Alistair Overeem

4. Brock Lesnar

5. Fabricio Werdum

6. Daniel Cormier

7. Josh Barnett

8. Frank Mir

9. Antonio Silva

10. Travis Browne

8.8 million viewers on Fox witnessed Junior Dos Santos’ knockout victory over Cain Velasquez to capture the UFC heavyweight title. The number would have been even higher had the fight not ended so quickly. Alistair Overeem will fight Brock Lesnar December 30 to determine the next challenger for Dos Santos' title. In one of the most memorable fights of the year, Frank Mir forced Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to tap out for the first time in Nogueira's MMA career. Nogueira hesitated in tapping to Mir's kimura and it led to a gruesome break of Nogueira's arm. One name that often comes up high in other rankings is the powerful Shane Carwin. He fails to make the top 10 because he hasn’t won since March 2010, he looked like a faded fighter in his last bout, and his list of significant wins is slight compared to other top 10 fighters.

Light Heavyweight

1. Jon Jones

2. Rashad Evans

3. Dan Henderson

4. Lyoto Machida

5. Quinton Jackson

6. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua

7. Gegard Mousasi

8. Thiago Silva

9. Forrest Griffin

10. Rich Franklin

Jon Jones concluded a brilliant 2011 by choking out Lyoto Machida to retain his UFC light heavyweight title. Jones had already bested Ryan Bader, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Quinton Jackson this year. Dan Henderson and Rua fought in an epic clash at UFC 139. Henderson narrowly won the fight on the judges' scorecards. That decision probably should have been a draw, given all three judges inexplicably ruled the final round 10-9 for Rua despite complete and utter domination on his part.

Middleweight

1. Anderson Silva

2. Chael Sonnen

3. Yushin Okami

4. Mark Munoz

5. Vitor Belfort

6. Michael Bisping

7. Nate Marquardt

8. Demian Maia

9. Hector Lombard

10. Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza

Mark Munoz affirmed his status as one of the top contenders for the UFC middleweight title with a stoppage win over Chris Leben in the main event of UFC 138. He will fight Chael Sonnen on Fox to determine the next challenger for Anderson Silva's title. Michael Bisping overwhelmed a gassed Jason Miller at the Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale. Bisping will fight Demian Maia on that same card with the winner also in line for an eventual title shot. In Bellator, Hector Lombard won his 20th fight in a row over Trevor Prangley. Lombard’s striking is a scary proposition for any opponent.

Welterweight

1. Georges St. Pierre

2. Jon Fitch

3. Nick Diaz

4. Carlos Condit

5. Josh Koscheck

6. Jake Ellenberger

7. Jake Shields

8. B.J. Penn

9. Martin Kampmann

10. Rory MacDonald

Nick Diaz made a triumphant return to the UFC with a dominant victory over B.J. Penn. Diaz beat up Penn like few opponents ever have and now Diaz will fight Carlos Condit to determine the interim UFC welterweight title.  Georges St. Pierre, recovering from ACL surgery, will fight the winner. At UFC 139, Martin Kampmann earned a hard fought victory over a very game Rick Story.

Lightweight

1. Frank Edgar

2. Gilbert Melendez

3. Ben Henderson

4. Gray Maynard

5. Jim Miller

6. Clay Guida

7. Donald Cerrone

8. Anthony Pettis

9. Eddie Alvarez

10. Shinya Aoki

It was a hectic month and a half for the lightweight division, full of exciting fights and meaningful results. Two fights stood out as particularly exciting. In one, Ben Henderson defeated Clay Guida via decision to earn the next UFC lightweight title shot against Frank Edgar. It was a terrific bout that unfortunately was not aired on Fox despite taking place before the Dos Santos-Velasquez contest. In another classic, Michael Chandler defeated Eddie Alvarez to capture the Bellator lightweight title. Chandler is an undefeated fighter to watch. Donald Cerrone makes his perhaps overdue debut in the rankings following another impressive win over Dennis Siver. Cerrone is really clicking as a fighter and will battle Nate Diaz in the co-main event of UFC 141.

Featherweight

1. Jose Aldo

2. Chad Mendes

3. Dustin Poirier

4. Tatsuya Kawajiri

5. Hatsu Hioki

6. Kenny Florian

7. Diego Nunes

8. Erik Koch

9. Patricio "Pitbull" Freire

10. Joe Warren

Dustin Poirier looked impressive in victory again, besting Pablo Garza. Hatsu Hioki was less impressive, taking a close decision win over George Roop. Really, there aren’t any fights at featherweight that will capture the greater public’s imagination right now.

Bantamweight

1. Dominick Cruz

2. Joseph Benavidez

3. Urijah Faber

4. Demetrious Johnson

5. Miguel Torres

6. Brian Bowles

7. Scott Jorgensen

8. Renan Barao

9. Michael McDonald

10. Masakatsu Ueda

Urijah Faber beat up and finished Brian Bowles at UFC 139 and now will receive another title shot against UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. Faber is an elite fighter and likeable personality, but he really should have had to pick up more than one win for a title shot given he has lost four title fights in a row. In other action, Miguel Torres and Scott Jorgensen picked up lackluster wins. Torres was then cut for telling tasteless jokes on Twitter. Meanwhile, 20-year-old Michael McDonald and 24-year-old Renan Barao demonstrated they are going to be forces in the sport. McDonald knocked out Alex Soto in under a minute and Barao submitted Brad Pickett in one round. There are a lot of interesting fights to make in the UFC bantamweight division, although the ranks will thin with the create of a UFC flyweight division.

--Todd Martin

You can now follow Todd on Twitter at @toddmartinmma.

Georges St-Pierre tears ACL, out 10 months

Georges St-Pierre tears ACLUFC President Dana White announced Wednesday that fighter Georges St-Pierre will be out of action for 10 months because of a torn ACL in his knee. Carlos Condit will replace him and face Nick Diaz for the interim welterweight title at UFC 143 on Feb. 4.

“GSP blown acl will be out for 10 mos. Now Condit vs Diaz for the interim welterweight title on Feb 4th in Las Vegas!!” White said on his Twitter account.

St-Pierre  has had knee problems in the past. He lost the title to Matt Serra at UFC 69 in a fight that was delayed two months because he had a sprained knee.

St-Pierre won the title again in April 2008 and has held it ever since.

It is another in a series of injuries that have hit UFC fighters, with Cain Velasquez Jon Jones, Rashad Evans and Brock Lesnar all sidelined for various lengths of time over the last couple of years.

RELATED:

It's prime time for UFC's Dana White

Dan Henderson's fighting spirit is as strong as ever

Junior Dos Santos beats Cain Velasquez for UFC heavyweight title

— Houston Mitchell

Photo: Georges St-Pierre. Credit: UFC.

 

Dana White on UFC 139: Henderson vs. Rua one of best fights ever

Henderson_640

Dan Henderson and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua's light heavyweight match no doubt left quite an impression on everyone present at UFC 139 on Saturday night, including the fighters themselves. Both men's eyes were severely swollen and Rua's shorts were covered in the blood of both opponents.

In the end, Henderson was declared the unanimous victor of a match that even impressed UFC President Dana White, who has seen more than a few mixed martial arts bouts in his day.

“That's without a doubt one of the top three best fights ever in MMA,” White said. “I have so much respect for both of those guys to dig down that deep in a five-round fight. That was like our Ali-Frazier III. It was incredible.”

Photos: UFC 139, Henderson vs. Rua

All three judges scored the bout 48-47 in favor of Henderson, who was so beat up afterward that he could not make it to the news conference.

“That guy can take a punch,” Henderson said, speaking from the middle of the ring before being taken to a local hospital in San Jose for treatment. “I hit him hard and I thought I could finish him the first two or three rounds but he finished strong.”

Henderson (29-8) controlled the first three rounds of the fight, but Rua (20-6) made a furious comeback during the final 10 minutes.

It was Henderson's first UFC fight since 2009. The 41-year-old is now in line for a possible title shot against light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.

In Saturday's co-main event, Wanderlei Silva knocked out former Strikeforce champion Cung Le at 4:49 of the second round of their middleweight fight.

RELATED:

It's prime time for UFC's Dana White

Dan Henderson's fighting spirit is as strong as ever

Junior Dos Santos beats Cain Velasquez for UFC heavyweight title

-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Dan Henderson, left, punches Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Henderson won by unanimous decision. Credit: Jeff Chiu / Associated Press

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