Sunday, October 2, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Bellator’s Season 5 Bantamweight Tournament kicks off this weekend at Bellator 51 in Canton, Ohio. The winner of this stacked eight-man tournament takes home a check for $100,000 and the chance to fight Bellator 135lb Champion Zach “Fun Size” Makovsky (13-2). The tournament is full of young prospects, highly decorated grapplers and plenty of intrigue, as 7 of the 8 fighters have fought either another participant or the current champion.
The night’s main event features Joe Warren (7-1), on his quest to hoard all the gold he can, against undefeated Alexis Vila (9-0). Warren, the current Bellator Featherweight Champion, has been quite vocal about his desire to capture the 135lb title while defending his 145lb title and making a run for a gold medal in Greco-Roman Wrestling at the 2012 London Olympics.
If Warren is in need of some advice about Olympic glory, he’ll have to look no further than across the cage. Vila won a bronze medal in Freestyle Wrestling at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics for his native Cuba.
Vila has fully committed himself to MMA and hooked up with American Top Team in Coconut Creek, FL. The best way to describe Vila is powerful. He drives through his takedowns, slams his opponents, throws heavy strikes on the ground and has finished 8 of his 9 opponents. But the 40-year old Vila, who is normally a flyweight, will have a noticeable size disadvantage in the biggest MMA fight of his career.
The match will showcase two truly world-class wrestlers. Warren is a former World Champion and was a frontrunner to make the 2008 US Olympic Team when he tested positive for Marijuana during trials and was suspended for two years. Warren’s takedowns and wild standup have put him into danger in his fights, but they have also secured him several close decisions in his short career.
The second tournament quarterfinal will showcase another highly respected grappler, Brazil’s Wilson Reis (12-3), facing off with one of the best 135lb prospects in the world, Nova Uniao’s Eduardo ‘Dudu’ Dantas (12-2).
After being eliminated in the semi-finals of three Bellator Featherweight tournaments, Reis will take a shot at the bantamweights. His confidence will be bolstered by a 2008 submission victory over current Champion Zach Makovsky.
At the age of 22, Dantas already has 14 professional fights on his resume, and has been a staple of Shooto Brazil cards since his 18th birthday. That year, Dantas fought five times and stunned the MMA world with a win over Shooto Bantamweight (123lb) Champion ‘BJ’ Kojima in a non-title fight.
Dantas is a high intensity fighter that can be wild and aggressive, but he never gets flustered when he’s hit. ‘Dudu’ has shown the ability to use his reach and long legs to keep opponents outside of striking range, but he rarely sticks to a conservative gameplan for long. He uses plenty of kicks and flying knees because he has a slick submission game and is completely unafraid of fighting from his back.
Dantas will be well advised to keep the fight standing instead of letting Reis get into his comfort zone on the ground. Dantas will also have to adjust to the crowd as he makes his debut on US soil against a seasoned veteran.
Not to be outdone by the highly decorated wrestlers in the main event, two-time Jiu-Jitsu World Champion Marcos Galvao (9-4-1) will take on former WEC Bantamweight Champion Chase Beebe (19-7).
As one of the best grapplers in the world, Galvao entered the MMA scene with plenty of fanfare, but he has struggled to convert his vast skills into submission victories. The Nova Uniao fighter is coming off of a controversial loss to Joe Warren in a catchweight fight. Although Galvao appeared to control the opening round by outwrestling Warren and went on to land several big knees in the second, Galvao managed to lose a unanimous decision that included one 30-27 scorecard.
Beebe was on the rise after defeating Eddie Wineland for the WEC title and then outgrappling ADCC Champion Rani Yahya. But Chase hit a skid that saw him drop 6 of 8 fights, including a fight against Joe Warren in Japan that was stopped due to a cut and an outrageously bad decision against Mike Easton that will go down as one of the worst decisions in MMA history.
Chase, who’s brother appeared on Wednesday night’s TUF season premier, has now won his last 5 fights and hopes to continue his run as he steps back up onto the bigger stage, but he’ll face a much stiffer challenge in Galvao.
The main card will open up with a fight between two of the lesser-known fighters in the tournament. Season three’s bantamweight tournament finalist Ed “Wild” West (16-5) takes his first step towards a rematch with Zach Makovsky by taking on dangerous Brazilian prospect Luis Alberto Nogueira (11-1).
Nogueira is a luta livre fighter and another veteran of Shooto Brazil. He is on a seven fight win streak that includes a victory over Jerod Spoon that earned him a spot in the tournament. ‘Betao’ is a Brazilian National Wrestling Champion with a solid striking game. He loves to showcase all of his tools, including flying knees, spinning back kicks and bone-crunching leg kicks.
Nogueira may be hoping for some favorable matchmaking that will give him a chance to avenge his lone defeat at the hands of Eduardo Dantas. Nogueira will also have to work hard on his defense to avoid taking as many clean shots as he did in the Spoon fight. West has dangerous submissions and does not fear working from the guard, but he is also willing to stand and trade from both a traditional MMA stance and a karate/TKD style side stance.
Friday, July 15, 2011
Although it may be a while before any North Americans get to see them, there will be some tremendous fights in Tokyo, Japan this weekend. Here's a look at just a few of these fine matchups.
Gegard Mousasi (30-3-2) © vs Hiroshi Izumi (4-1)
Dream LHW Championship
Gegard Mousasi is one of three fighters from the April Strikeforce: Daly vs. Diaz card fighting at Dream.17. ‘The Dreamcatcher’ will defend his Dream LHW title for the first time against Japanese Judoka and Olympic hero Hiroshi Izumi.
Mousasi, the former Dream MW and Strikeforce LHW Champion, will look to bounce back from a disappointing majority draw against Keith Jardine by returning to a promotion with which he has had so much success. Including Dynamite!! 2009, Mousasi is 8-0 under the Dream banner. In fact, the 30-3-2 Mousasi has found success all around the world. With 28 finishes to go with multiple kickboxing and amateur boxing wins, he is one of the most dangerous and exciting fighters in the world.
Izumi is just 4-1 in MMA and will be taking a huge step-up in competition. The biggest win of his career came at Dynamite!! 2010 against the much smaller but always game Minowaman. But the 29-year old will have plenty of experience to draw from as the 2004 Olympic silver medalist in Judo. The Tokyo fans will surely be excited for the possibility of Izumi unseating the champ, however small that possibility may be.
Hiroyuki Takaya (15-9-1)© vs Kazuyuki Miyata (11-7)
Dream FW Championship
Hiroyuki Takaya will put his recently captured Dream Featherweight Title on the line against “Little Hercules” Kazuyuki Miyata. Takaya won the belt from Bibiano Fernandes at Dynamite!! 2010 by unanimous decision in a rematch of the FW Grand Prix final.
At 11 wins and 7 losses, Miyata does not bring the most impressive record into the ring, but he has put together a six fight winning streak to earn himself a shot at the title. His last two fights, wins over UFC/Pride veteran Caul Uno and former Shooto champion ‘Lion’ Takeshi, were the most impressive of his career. Miyata is an impressively strong fighter that competed in freestyle wrestling at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Hiroyuki Takaya is another of the Dream fighters coming off of a fight with Strikeforce, and his journey may be the most disappointing of the three. ‘Streetfight Bancho’ saw his record fall to 0-3 on American soil as he dropped a split decision to previously unheralded prospect Roberto Peralta of Honduras.
Takaya is a good technical striker with power in both hands. He used his leg kicks effectively in defeating Fernandes, and he’ll need to use them again to wear down the legs and slow the shot of Miyata. Takaya has been put on his back in multiple fights, but he never stays there long. He is a prototypical Sprawl and Brawler.
The 35-year old Miyata, who speaks English well and has expressed interest in becoming an international star, recently secured a lucrative sponsorship deal with Nike and can propel himself to stardom with a win over Takaya. Miyata’s grinding style and international wrestling credentials make him a great fit for the cage and the 10-9 scoring system. Strength will be Little Hercules’s biggest assets as he was able to easily suplex both Takeshi and Uno multiple times, but cardio may be his weakness. Miyata was noticeably tired after his 15-minute fight with Takeshi, even after taking plenty of time to recover from a pair of low blows.
Tatsuya Kawajiri (27-7-2) vs. Drew Fickett (41-14)
“Crusher” Kawajiri is the final of the Strikeforce trio fighting at Dream.17. Kawajiri, a borderline top 10 fighter, will take on UFC and Strikeforce veteran Drew Fickett in a lightweight battle that brings two experienced veterans into the ring.
Former Shooto champion Kawajiri is a powerful wrestler with great control, but he will have his hands full with Fickett’s active ground game. Kawajiri uses his strength well in the stand up game and he is not afraid to trade leather. He proved that by getting into a K-1 superfight with kickboxing great Masato.
Kawajiri’s first fight in the US did not go any better than his fellow Dream fighters. Kawajiri lasted just 3:14 in his LW title fight against world-ranked Gilbert Melendez in a rematch of a 2006 Pride fight. Although he has a tendency to come up short in his biggest fights, Kawajiri has been in the ring with some of the best 155-LB fighters in history including Melendez, Takanori Gomi, Shinya Aoki, Eddie Alvarez and Shaolin Ribeiro.
Fickett (41-14) will hope for better luck than his opponent found on foreign soil as he brings his extensive resume, including 30 submission victories, to Japan for the first time. Fickett began his career back in 1999 at the age of 19 and amassed 12 victories before his 21st birthday. The submission master was 4-3 in the UFC including landing a last minute desperation knee to the head of Josh Koscheck that lead to Fickett's rear-naked choke victory.
Shooto - Shootor's Legacy 3 7/18
Yasuhiro Urushitani (18-4-6) © Yuki Shojo (11-5-2)
Shooto World Flyweight Title
Japan's top flyweight, Shooto Champion Yasuhiro Urushitani, will attempt to defend his title and avenge his 2008 loss against Yuki Shojo. The champ enters the fight with an 18-4-6 record and has won four straight fights since the Shojo loss.
In their first fight, Urushitani was the superior striker and proved too quick for Shojo in open space. That was until he landed a straight right that dropped Urushitani with less than two minutes remaining in the fight. Shaken by another combination, he dropped for a sloppy takedown and was forced to tap from a guillotine choke.
Urushitani is a supremely accurate striker with tons of speed that he uses to stay out of range. With the confidence to throw a flying knee at any time, he has to fight the urge to be too flashy. It was a spinning back fist that left him exposed to Shojo's right hand.
Shojo is an aggressive fighter with good cardio but he has only fought twice since September 2009. He'll need to be more successful in the clinch this time around if he wants to control the fight this time around.
Rumina “Moon Wolf” Sato (26-14-2) vs. Masakatsu Ueda (12-1-2)
Rumina Sato is a true pioneer of Japanese MMA. He has been fighting Shooto since 1994 and this will be the 17th year in a row that he has fought. The veteran will face stiff competition in former Shooto Featherweight Champion Masakatsu Ueda.
Ueda is one of the best featherweights in the world with his only loss coming from an amazing Brabo Choke by Shuichiro Katsumura from rubber guard. Ueda has extensive grappling credentials in both Japanese college and Combat Wrestling and has developed a solid technical striking game with excellent kicks. Rumors of Ueda coming to fight in America have persisted but never come to fruition.
Sato is an excellent submission fighter himself, but he is not as dangerous as he once was. Sato started his career by submitting nine of his first eleven opponents and defeated Charles Diaz (11-5) via flying armbar in just 6 seconds. Recently “Moon Wolf” has been reckless in his striking which has lead to some spectacular finishes in his last few fights.
Shark Fights 17: Friday, July 15 - Live on HDNET
Jake Rosholt (11-3-0) vs Matt “Suave” Horwich (27-18-1)
Three-time NCAA National Champion Jake Rosholt will enter his sixth fight of 2011 against Matt “Suave” Horwich in the Main Event of Shark Fights 17. The fight is a rematch of a 190-pound catchweight match that ended in a 3rd round TKO victory for Horwich, a 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu fighter.
Rosholt showcased his strengths throughout the first round with strong takedowns and dealt damage from the top position. Horwich took over the fight after the first with a wide array of ground skills, including sweeps off of his back and submission attempts. Eventually, Horwich was able to take the back of a tired and beaten Rosholt and finished him with strikes from the back in the third.
Few athletes entered the sport of MMA with the build-up of Rosholt. Fresh out of Oklahoma State University, Rosholt joined Team Takedown, an MMA management
company that pays high-level wrestlers to train MMA. Rosholt was put into the spotlight early with portions of his fourth pro fight and the training leading up to it airing on Versus as part of the TapouT show. His fifth fight was on the main card of WEC 36, and amid some talk about a TV clause in his contract Rosholt’s UFC debut at Fight Night 17 aired on SpikeTV.
Ricco Suave Rodriguez (46-11-0) vs. Karl Knothe (19-6-0)
Former UFC HW Champion Ricco Rodriguez will fulfill the Suave requirement for the co-Main Event as he takes on Karl Knothe at a 230-pound catchweight. Fighting off the radar, Rodriguez has put together an 11-fight win streak in less than 20 months by taking every fight offered to him. To make that point crystal clear, Ricco is already scheduled to face Seth Petruzelli at Bellator 48 in August.
Karl Knothe will enter the cage sporting a 12-fight win streak that has seen him finish each opponent in the first round. The Minnesota native and former St Cloud State University wrestler boasts a professional record of 19-6, but he told MNMMAnews.com that his true record is 59-6 when including the long list of fights that went unreported. Knothe has a good mix of power in his hands and both the ability and willingness to fight on the ground.
He will need all of those tools to best Ricco Suave. Rodriguez won gold and silver medals at the 1998 ADCC submission fighting championship and took the UFC title from legend Randy Couture in 2002. Since then, Rodriguez has struggled to fit into a proper weight class and has battled addiction to both prescription and illicit drugs. He notably appeared on the first season of VH1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. This will be Ricco’s third straight fight at a catchweight.
MASS – Inauguration 7/16
Jacob “The Hunter” Kirwan (8-2) vs. Jimy “The Kid” Hettes (6-0)
MASS Featherweight Championship
The first ever Martial Arts Super Sport main event will feature two promising American featherweight prospects. Jacob “The Hunter” Kirwan won the Ring of Combat FW Title in February and he’ll have to go through Jimy “The Kid” Hettes if he wants to add another title to his mantle.
UFC matchmaker Joe Silva tapped the undefeated Hettes as a late replacement for Leonard Garcia at The Ultimate Fighter 12 finale, but Hettes was already locked into a fight at Northeast MMA’s Cage Fight 6. A NEPA Gracie fighter, Hettes has submitted all six of his professional opponents and has spent some time training with Greg Jackson in Albuquerque, NM.
If the fight hits the ground, fireworks are sure to follow. Kirwan is a BJJ brown belt under Luke Rinehart and has won five of his eight fights via submission. As a former Maryland high school wrestling champion, Kirwan has a strong grappling pedigree.
Elite-1 MMA – Moncton 7/16
Elite-1 Light Heavyweight Championship
Jeremy “Gumby” Horn (87-21-5) vs Shawn Marchand (8-6)
With 113 fights under his belt, Jeremy Horn is one of the most prolific fighters in MMA history. “Gumby” fought an amazing 21 times in 1999 and has been in the cage with a who’s-who of fighters that include: Anderson Silva, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Frank Shamrock, Dan Severn, "Minotauro" Nogueira, Chael Sonnen, Ricardo Arona and Matt Lindland.
Horn will add another fight to his resume this weekend when he battles for the Elite-1 Light Heavyweight Championship against Canadian Shawn Marchand. Horn is a dangerous fighter with great submissions and plenty of experience. He is a UFC veteran and former title challenger.
Marchand is a local fighter that has found a home in Elite-1. He also holds the promotion’s Middleweight Title, although he missed the 185 LB mark in his last fight. In that fight, Marchand had a lot of trouble handling the stand-up of fellow Canadian Joe Doerksen and only lasted 43 seconds after eating several head kicks and right hands. With only one fight on his record that went the distance, you can expect this fight to end well before the final bell.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
American heroes were once heralded for their courage and humility. Now, foul-mouthed celebrities are celebrated and made more famous by every mug shot and inflammatory comment.
Brian Stann is a true American Hero. He is a warrior and an ambassador of martial arts. Stann is the man we want our sons to become. Chael Sonnen is a hero that has fallen from grace. As an aspiring politician, disgraced realtor and felon recently back from a PED suspension, he is a representation of America’s troubled state. And in true WWE fashion good and evil will meet at UFC 136, except this time both men will be draped in the American flag.
Both Stann and Sonnen know full well the responsibility and dedication required to wear the stars and stripes. Stann served in two tours of Iraq and earned a Silver Star for “zealous initiative, courageous actions and exceptional presence of mind." Sonnen, an All-American at the University of Oregon, earned a spot as an alternate on the United States Greco-Roman Wrestling team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Since entering the spotlight, the two men have followed very different paths towards Houston’s Toyota Center. Dana White describes Stann perfectly. “He is on his way to becoming a superstar," White said. "Not only are his skills getting better, everything that comes out of this kid's mouth is a homerun.”
Sonnen, on the other hand, has taken a Dana-like, pro-wrestling inspired approach to the microphone (Sonnen 3:16 says I just mocked your ass). Whether it’s Lance Armstrong or the entire country of Brazil, nobody is safe from his taunts. Both in person and through the twitter account that he has both promoted and denied the existence of, Sonnen is a lightning rod for controversy.
Through ESPN.co.uk, Sonnen recently said, "Wanderlei tells me that he's going to send me to the dentist… I will cut the power to your house and do a home invasion. You will hear me climbing up the stairs in a pair of night vision goggles I bought in the back of 'Solder of Fortune' magazine. The next thing you'll hear is me picking the lock of your bedroom door and taking a photograph of you in bed with the Nogueira brothers working on your jiu-jitsu.”
What Sonnen failed to mention is that Wanderlei was telling Chael to be more respectful of Brazil and that MMA legend Silva spoke to Chael face-to-face, not behind his back or through the media.
In stark contrast, after his UFC 130 TKO of Jorge Santiago, Stann said, “I’d always love to fight Wanderlei. He’s one of my favorite fighters ever. It would be a dream come true. But, if I never have to fight him, then maybe I can just get a picture with him and an autograph. That would be pretty cool.”
If this were the WWE, the fans in Houston would explode when Stann locked up a submission victory and marched from turnbuckle to turnbuckle waving the flag and leading the fans in the familiar chant of “USA! USA! USA!” But MMA is not fake, and Sonnen is the toughest opponent of Stann’s life. The toughest opponent not firing a gun in his direction.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Fighting on Saturday Nights is a bold choice made by CEO Bjorn Rebney, as there will be competition from bigger MMA organizations almost every week. Through the first five Bellator events of the season, three have been on the same night as a UFC or Strikeforce card. Bellator drew their best ratings, a combined 471,000 viewers for the live and replay telecasts of Bellator 36, on one of the weeks devoid of competition.
With Bellator's tournament format, the fights will continue to get better and the names will get bigger. Bellator 40-42 feature tournament semi-finals on top of non-title matches for US Olympian Ben Askren (Welterweight) as well as non-title fights for champions Joe Warren (Featherweight), Zach Makovsky (Bantamweight) and Cole Konrad (Heavyweight). Bellator 39 featured the first title defense of Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez.
But the big names and big fights will not guarantee big ratings. The unopposed Bellator 39 drew a combined 263,000 viewers and Bellator 40 will go against a stacked Strikeforce card headlined by title fights featuring Nick Diaz vs Paul Daley and Gilbert Melendez vs Tatsuya Kawajiri.
Increased viewership will come down to how well Bellator can market itself to the casual fan. MTV already features the popular show Bully Beatdown featuring Strikeforce fighter Jason “Mayhem” Miller. But one thing is for sure, the fights cannot get much more exciting. Bellator already has early contenders for KO of the Year with Patricky Pitbull's flying knee and Submission of the Year with Richard Hale's inverted triangle.
35 – 200,000 (127,000) March 5 vs Strikeforce Hendo vs Feijao
36 – 230,000 (241,000) March 12 Unopposed
37 – 173,000 (150,000) March 19 vs UFC 128
38 – 150,000 (90,000) March 26 vs UFC Davis vs Nogueira
39 – 174,000 (89,000) April 2 Unopposed
40 – April 9 vs Strikeforce Daley vs Diaz
41 – April 16 Unopposed
42 – April 23 Unopposed
Thursday, March 31, 2011
An injured knee will keep the 23-3-1 Jon Fitch out of the Octagon for UFC 132, but it is unlikely to disappoint fans, many of whom consider Fitch’s conservative wrestling style boring. The February 27th draw with BJ Penn was the ninth straight Fitch fight to go to a decision.
There are several top 10 welterweights eager to replace Fitch and move closer to a shot at the title currently held by George St. Pierre. Based on Sherdog.com and USA Today/SB Nation rankings, the four most deserving candidates are Thiago Alves (18-7), Josh Koscheck (15-5), Carlos Condit (26-5) and Diego Sanchez (23-4).
Alves, ranked #3/4 respectively, is 10-4 in the UFC with wins over Chris Lytle, Karo Parisyan, Matt Hughes and Josh Koscheck. “The Pitbull” is a 3x Brazilian State Champion in Muay Thai, where he started training at 15-years old, and a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Alves is a fighter that will pose problems for Penn with his powerful striking and huge weight advantage. Alves has been unable to make the 170 LB weight limit twice in his UFC career and has been suspended for the use of a banned diuretic in another. Penn, the former lightweight and welterweight champion, weighed in at just 169 pounds for his fight with Fitch and his latest battle with Matt Hughes.
Since Alves’ latest weight cutting failure at UFC 117, he has turned nutritional duties over to MMA fighter and nutritionist Mike Dolce.
"The Dolce Diet helped me out a lot," Alves told MMAJunkie.com after UFC 124. "It's not just a diet. It's a life choice. Everything that he tells you, you've got to surround yourself with healthy people that are going to help take you to where you want to get. I always train hard. I've got a great camp with me, but it's pretty much the diet and the life choice that made a huge difference in this fight.”
Although Alves is undoubtedly a bona fide contender at 170, he is just 1-1 since his title fight with George St. Pierre with a loss to Jon Fitch and a victory over John “Doomsday” Howard. Alves is currently scheduled to face Rick Story on the prelims of UFC 130.
When asked about this potential fight in 2009, GSP told MMAFighting.com, "If you put Thiago Alves and BJ Penn in a fight, I would bet all my money on Thiago Alves. No doubt about it."
Josh Koscheck, ranked #5 by both Sherdog and USAToday, is 13-5 in the UFC and a member of the original cast of The Ultimate Fighter. He has big wins over Paul Daley, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and Diego Sanchez.
Koscheck was a standout wrestler at Edinboro University, where he was a 4-time All-American and won a National Championship at 174 pounds. Koscheck has been accused of abandoning his wrestling background in favor of a more exciting sprawl-and-brawl style in many of his fights, but has begun to use more of his wrestling in recent fights.
His unanimous decision victory over Daley gave Koscheck an opportunity to face GSP at UFC 124 in Montreal, but Koscheck left the Bell Centre with a loss and a broken orbital bone as souvenirs.
Because of the injury, Koscheck has been unable to train and is unlikely to be ready for a July fight. He told Dana White on a UFC 127 Vlog in February that, “This [right] side of my face has been numb the whole time and my teeth still are numb from the nerve damage. I’ve got like five months probably. So, it kind of sucks, but I’ll be back. I’m going to start riding the bike. I can’t do any running because of the bouncing.”
Carlos "The Natural Born Killer" Condit, #7 on both rankings, is the least known of the four fighters with just four fights in the UFC. Condit was the last welterweight champion of the WEC and holds victories over Rory MacDonald and Dan Hardy. The later of which earned him KO of the Night when Hardy and Condit threw simultaneous left hooks. Condit's was harder and more accurate.
The MacDonald fight also earned Condit Fight of the Night honors. Condit battered MacDonald throughout the third round, but he was on the verge of losing a decision.
During the fight commentary, Joe Rogan said, “If I was in Condit’s corner rather, I’d be telling him ‘You gotta get on top of this kid… You’ve got to try and stop this fight. It’s in his home town and he won the first two rounds.’” Condit finished the fight with ground and pound just ten seconds from the finish.
After hearing about the injury to Fitch, @CarlosCondit tweeted, “It would be an honor to fight a legend like BJ Penn, one of my favorite fighters ever. If the call comes, I would take the fight in a second.”
The final UFC welterweight with a chance to replace Fitch in a title eliminator is the newly renamed Diego “The Dream” Sanchez. He is 12-4 in the UFC, the middleweight winner of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter and ranked #10/9 in the two rankings.
Sanchez holds wins over Kenny Florian, Paulo Thiago, Martin Kampmann and Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz. He was a New Mexico state wrestling champion in high school, made his MMA debut at the age of 20 and won his first 17 fights.
Sanchez is one of the more eccentric fighters in the UFC, known for screaming yes as he walks to the ring, or does cartwheels, and doing yoga in thunderstorms to harness its energy.
Of the four fighters, Sanchez is the only one who has previously fought Penn. In their LW title fight at UFC 107, Sanchez offered little resistance to Penn and was finished with a head kick that caused a cut stoppage. After the loss, Sanchez returned to welterweight and defeated contenders Paulo Thiago and Martin Kampmann.
With three months remaining until UFC 132, it would appear that Condit is the fan favorite to take over the spot. Condit is an exciting, well-rounded fighter, who would likely make for a more exciting matchup with Penn than Jon Fitch. The other three fighters have less than two wins since their last chance at a title. But the argument can be made that Condit has faced the easiest competition of the four and holds no wins over a current top 10 welterweight.