Top Five – Canelo Alvarez Will Face Amir Khan

Canelo Alvarez will face Amir Khan

What were the top stories last week?

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Chris Leben Signs With Bellator

The Crippler is back. Chris Leben signs with Bellator.

Chris Leben signs with Bellator

Today, Bellator announced that they inked Chris Leben to a contract. Leben, who hasn’t won a fight since the summer of 2011, previously retired in 2014, saying that he wanted to make sure he had a head still on its shoulders and a brain, while raising his kids.

Leben’s best known for being on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter and helping launch that show as a success. Many turn to the Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin fight as a major turning point for the UFC (and it was), but it was Leben’s conflict with Josh Koscheck and Bobby Southworth that really kicked the show into high gear.

Leben came into the UFC off the first TUF season as a young star. He won his first four fights on early UFC Fight Night cards (he actually fought on the first six of them) until he was thrown into the wolves against Anderson Silva in his UFC debut. Leben was about a .500 fighter from that point on, but scored big wins against Yoshihiro Akiyama and famously knocked out Wanderlei Silva in the first round at UFC 132.

Bellator’s press release is below. Continue reading

UFC 155 Play By Play – Cain Velasquez Vs. Junior Dos Santos

Mike Goldberg isn’t at the show tonight. Jon Anik is doing the play by play with Joe Rogan.

1. Derek Brunson vs. Chris Leben
Leben was on his back the entire round. Brunson took him down and kept him down. Easy round for Brunson.

Leben landed some shots here and Brunson tired from trying to keep him on his back. Much better round for Leben. But Brunson still won the takedown game and held his own with the striking. Still probably his round, but not by much.

Leben and Brunson were both tired. Leben couldn’t get off quite enough to where Brunson didn’t even seem to be worried. He took Leben down enough times to get the decision. Not a terrific way to open up this show.

Winner: Derek Brunson by way of unanimous decision

2. Alan Belcher vs. Yushin Okami
Okami pretty much out-grappled him the entire round. He knocked him to the ground and just kept him down. Not the kind of fight that you want to follow up the first fight with.
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The Aftermath – UFC 137 And UFC 138

I know I’m late to the game in getting these up, but I wanted to share the feedback from the past two UFC events before UFC 139.

Here’s what the FGB crew thought about UFC 137:

Thumbs In The Middle
Best Fight: BJ Penn vs. Nick Diaz
Worst Fight: Cheick Kongo vs. Matt Mitrione

The only thing that kept this show’s head above water was a spectacular main event, but what a main event it was. For two and a half hour’s we got a mixture of the average and the dull, but by the end of Diaz/Penn that was all forgotten about. Their three round war more than redeemed any undercard shortcomings.

There is now at least one welterweight title fight out there worth watching and that’s a major bonus moving forward. Diaz perhaps has the skill set required to ask some fresh questions of St. Pierre. This is the bout the division has been craving.

If this is to be the final farewell for both Penn or Crocop (and I think it should be), they can each leave with their head held high – huge efforts turned in by both guys on their last night even in defeat.

Penn is still certainly capable of competing in either of the divisions he once reigned, but I don’t see him being the type to just make up the numbers. Having been usurped by Edgar at 155 and now falling short of the 170 elite; he will likely see this as the right time for him to move on to other pursuits.

For Crocop, it’s more a case of diminishing options. At this point (should he carry on), he would be reduced to fighting at a prelim level and he’s getting paid way too much for that to make financial sense. He gave as good an account of himself as anyone could have realistically hoped for against Nelson, but Mirko has been a spent force for a long time. The truth is the real Crocop never once showed up in UFC – not even a glimpse – he perished with PRIDE in 07.

Thumbs In The Middle
Best Fight: BJ Penn vs. Nick Diaz
Worst Fight: Cheick Kongo vs. Matt Mitrione

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UFC 138 Preview – Chris Leben Vs. Mark Munoz

This is the lowest hyped UFC show in quite some time. SpikeTV isn’t really doing much advertising even though the show is on their network. And based on the card, only the hardest of hardcores know every fighter. However, there’s one fight that everyone should be looking forward to.

Duan and I are going to give our thoughts on the main event.

Chris Leben vs. Mark Munoz

Duan says:

Leben probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves as a well rounded fighter. He’s viewed as this one dimensional slugger type and really that doesn’t quite do him justice. He’s a very good inside fighter, tremendously strong in the clinch, and can box or brawl. He has an underrated ground game, an iron chin and the power to knockout a horse. He matches up well with Munoz. As long as he stays off his back, I give him a huge advantage in this one.

Munoz is not the most natural striker. There’s a very deliberate look to everything he does and he’s suspect defensively. He’s never really demonstrated any major submission threat either, so ground and pound is his game. I just don’t see him finishing a guy as tough, both physically and mentally, as Leben in that way. That means Chris will get opportunities to land some of those big shot. At some point over the three rounds, they’re going to stand there and mix it, and when it happens, Munoz is getting iced.

Prediction: Leben by 2nd round TKO

GG says:

I think Leben has a chance to end this early if he’s on his game. What I worry about with Leben is that he’s been hit very hard lately. Duan mentioned his granite chin and it’s generally been there, but he’s taken some big shots recently and throughout most of his career. I think he’ll be able to hit Munoz, so Munoz will have to show some testicular fortitude. And I think he will.

If this was a three round fight, I’d probably have Munoz winning by decision after a slobber knocker of a fight. But it’s a five round fight and I’m going to go with the guy who I think will have more cardio. I think Munoz will take advantage of being the less tired guy and use his wrestling a bit to tire Leben out more. And then I see him knocking him out sometime in the third as each guy is barely able to stand. Whatever happens, I expect a great fight.

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