- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports5 hrs ago
LAS VEGAS – There is, Martin Kampmann says, at least some similarities between mixed martial arts and playing professional poker.
The longtime UFC fighter has recently turned professional in poker and is currently playing in the World Series of Poker at the Rio.
Contestants begin with $30,000 in chips, and at the end of the day on Tuesday, Kampmann wound up with a stack of $40,775, so he'd made considerable progress.
MMA fighters need a poker face and must remain cool under pressure, traits that also help greatly in poker. But there is one thing, he concedes, that makes fighting more appealing than poker.
"I don't have to worry about getting punched in the face in poker, though," Kampmann said, chuckling. "But staying cool under pressure is a big similarity. One mistake in fighting, if you leave your chin up or your arm out, the fight is going to be over quickly and you'll wind up being knocked out or submitted.
- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports7 hrs ago
LAS VEGAS – Erislandy Lara has a curious nickname. The Cuban-born boxer refers to himself as "The American Dream," but he wanted no part of the United States when he first began to seriously ponder defecting.
Lara knew full well the difficulties he'd face escaping Cuba and had no illusions that it would be easy or safe.
He tried for the first time in 2007 along with two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux, but was captured in Brazil and returned to Cuba.
In 2008, he opted to try it again.
"Cuba," Lara says emotionlessly, "is a socialist country. There was nothing for me there, no future."
To become the boxer he believed he could become, he had to leave the island that has spawned so many greats.
After their failed first attempt, Lara wanted to try again, but Rigondeaux wasn't as sure. He chose not to go, but there was something inside of Lara telling him to go.
He'd leave behind his mother, his sister and two sons, not sure if he'd ever see them again and not entirely sure what would become of them in Cuba.
- Kevin Iole at Cagewriter1 day ago
For the second time in the current ownership's history, the UFC has decided to cancel a pay-per-view event. On Tuesday, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said UFC 176, scheduled for Aug. 2 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, has been canceled because of an injury to featherweight champion Jose Aldo.
UFC 151 was canceled in 2012 when Dan Henderson suffered an injury and was unable to fight light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. When no suitable replacement for Henderson could be found, the event was canceled.
Aldo suffered a neck injury during training on July 1 which Fertitta described Tuesday as "kind of like a stinger," that forced him to withdraw from the fight. UFC president Dana White said on Saturday he thought Aldo would be ready to return in 45 days, and Fertitta said because it was a short-term thing, the decision was made to cancel the Aug. 2 show.
The bout is not rescheduled as yet, however, because it is still not clear when Aldo will be ready, but mid-October seems like a good guess at this point, Fertitta said.
- Kevin Iole at Cagewriter1 day ago
Jens Pulver, one of the stars of the early days of the UFC, announced his retirement on Saturday after a long career that began in 1999. Pulver hadn't fought since losing a Nov. 23, 2013, bout in Sweden to Sami Amzi, but he made his retirement official Saturday at the UFC Fan Expo at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas during an interview with Karyn Bryant of MMA Heat.
Pulver, 38, had an incredibly sad life story. His father, Jens Sr., sexually abused him and once stuck a gun down his throat, only to not pull the trigger and tell his son that he wasn't worth the bullets it would take to kill him. He was the subject of several books and a documentary film about his life called, "Jens Pulver: Driven."
Nicknamed "Lil Evil," Pulver managed to succeed in mixed martial arts and connected with fans in a way that, despite many losses in the second half of his career, kept him among the most popular in the game.
But he told Bryant that he finally realized he'd had enough.
- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports1 day ago
LAS VEGAS – Fighting Jhonny Gonzalez is akin to a stunt man walking a tight rope between a pair of skyscrapers with no safety net below.
It can be done, in some cases easily, but one mistake spells disaster.
And that's the situation that Abner Mares found himself confronting after Gonzalez stopped him in the first round of their Aug. 24, 2013, match in Carson, Calif.
Mares was a heavy favorite and could have easily out-boxed Gonzalez, who is extraordinarily hittable and vulnerable to lateral movement.
But one of the reasons that Mares became one of the more popular young fighters in the world is his fighting spirit. Mares was always so focused on putting on a show and bringing the crowd out of its seats – which is important in getting noticed in a very crowded landscape – that he often lost sight of what was important.
The one thing Gonzalez can do better than just about any featherweight in the world is punch. And when Mares tried to impress the StubHub Center crowd, which likes nothing more than a shootout, he paid the ultimate price.
B.J. Penn suffers inglorious end to brilliant career in brutal defeat to Frankie Edgar in 'TUF 19 Finale'Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports2 days ago
LAS VEGAS – Rarely does the fight game treat its legends well at the end. The ugly finishes are a stark reminder that this is a young man's endeavor. B.J. Penn was the latest to learn that harsh lesson.
After a year-and-a-half off, he returned to fight Frankie Edgar on Sunday in "The Ultimate Fighter 19 Finale" at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Penn, 35, dropped to 145 pounds for the fight and his body was magnificent. Physically, he looked like the 22-year-old prodigy who debuted with a first-round stoppage of Joey Gilbert at the Trump Taj Mahal on May 4, 2001, at UFC 31.
Boxing legend Muhammad Ali also came in with the slim and trim body before getting beaten down by Larry Holmes in a disturbing 1980 heavyweight title match.
Penn suffered a similarly sad fate on Sunday. He had nothing for Edgar and his career ended as he was flat on his back in the center of the same ring where, 10 1/2 years earlier, he scored one of the most historic wins in UFC history when he choked out Matt Hughes at UFC 46 to win the welterweight title.
- Kevin Iole at Boxing3 days ago
LAS VEGAS – Canelo Alvarez is 23 years old, but already a veteran of 45 professional fights. He'll fight the 46th of his brilliant career on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden when he takes on Erislandy Lara in the main event of a pay-per-view card distributed by Showtime.
Alvarez remains one of the sport's biggest draws and most popular fighters, and he has the kind of earnings potential that would even make Floyd Mayweather Jr. pay attention.
Before it is all done, Alvarez could leave the sport as the richest fighter in history. He may never overtake Mayweather in career earnings, though that can't be discounted as a possibility because of his potential longevity. Mayweather has three fights remaining. It's likely Alvarez has at least 30, and potentially over 40, assuming he fights until he's 38, as many boxers do these days.
He's in a position to join Mayweather, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Manny Pacquiao as the highest career earners in boxing history.
And he is in that position not only because of his many talents inside the ring and a charisma that attracts fans by the droves, but also because of his savvy business sense.
- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports3 days ago
LAS VEGAS – For the last year, whenever the name Chris Weidman was spoken in mixed martial arts circles, Anderson Silva's was sure to quickly follow.
But after winning a Fight of the Year-type bout over Lyoto Machida on Saturday in his second title defense to retain his middleweight championship before 10,088 fans in the main event of UFC 175 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Silva may finally be in Weidman's rearview mirror forever.
"I don't know about that," Weidman said after taking a unanimous decision by scores of 49-45, 49-46 and 48-47. "And I don't mind having Anderson Silva attached to me as long as it does, because he's the greatest of all time."
Weidman has a long way to go before he's even in the conversation for that kind of moniker, but he's established himself conclusively as the best middleweight in the world. He's beaten Silva in back-to-back bouts and now Machida in a grueling, hard-fought battle.
- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports3 days ago
LAS VEGAS – It's hard for Ronda Rousey to top herself, considering she won her first nine fights and finished every one of them en route to becoming the first UFC's women's bantamweight championship.
But she found a way on Saturday by defeating a completely overmatched Alexis Davis in just 16 seconds at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in the co-main event of UFC 175.
It took Rousey longer to get to the cage than it did for her to dispose of Davis. Rousey landed a straight right hand seconds into the match that stunned Davis. She fired a knee to the midsection and then used her judo to throw Davis.
She came down on top of Davis and then landed several powerful punches to the head before referee Yves Lavigne mercifully stopped it.
UFC broadcaster Joe Rogan, interviewing Rousey in the ring, said it wasn't possible for her to be better than she was on Saturday.
Rousey, though, disagreed. "I think I can," she said, and anyone who has watched the arc of her career could hardly disagree with her.
- Kevin Iole at Cagewriter3 days ago
LAS VEGAS -- Stefan Struve, a 26-year-old heavyweight who was attempting to return to the UFC from a heart condition, blacked out in his locker room shortly before his fight against Matt Mitrione at Mandalay Bay on the main card of UFC 175. UFC president Dana White canceled the bout, saying, "It's not worth risking" his health.
Struve was diagnosed with a leaking aortic valve last year, but told reporters in the build-up to Saturday's fight that he had recovered and faced no additional risk.
But White said he had an incident in the locker room and was taken to Valley Hospital.