Archive | September, 2007

Hand Injury Doesn’t Faze Relentless Melendez

30 Sep

by Josh Gross (Photos by Jeff Sherwood) (2007-09-30)

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Sept. 29 — It wouldn’t be wrong to suggest that mixed martial artists are single-handedly responsible for the outcome of their fights. On a chilly Southern Californian evening, win single-handedly is literally what Gilbert Melendez (Pictures) did.

Looking to shed 10 months of ring rust, the undefeated Melendez endured a busted right hand to out-point Japanese veteran Tetsuji Kato (Pictures) in a tougher-than-expected return to competition in the U.S.

As Hugh Hefner and his entourage of Playboy bunnies sat cage-side, the Strikeforce 155-pound champion combined with Kato to cap the first MMA event at the iconic Playboy Mansion with a compelling three-round non-title affair.

Melendez, 25, didn’t look to slug early, opting instead for a fast takedown. But Kato was unwilling to give up position so easily. The squat 29-year-old Shooto veteran, who somehow managed to fight at 167 pounds early in his career, made it a fight until Melendez connected with a perfect right straight that put him on the canvas.

Hailing from Southern California originally but now making his home closer to San Francisco, Melendez (13-0) kept up a decent pace in the first period and connected with heavy left-handed hammerfists that bloodied Kato’s nose to close out the opening five-minute round.

Just as Melendez gained momentum, he connected with a right that caused him to wince and shake out the pain in his hand. While “El Nino” never gave up using his right, he refrained from relying on it as a bludgeoning tool.

Melendez smartly employed his power hand to feint and set up the left, which soon delivered a steady dose of jabs, double jabs, hooks and double hooks.

“I was throwing it to set up a left, make him open up,” said Melendez. “And a couple times I let it open up, try to measure for the chin, but if I hit him on the top of the head it made me think twice.”

The California State Athletic Commission suspended Melendez 180 pending x-rays showing the severity of the damage.

“I know it’s not broken,” said Melendez, holding an ice pack to the top of his swollen right hand. “I just need to heal it up.”

In the final period Melendez battered Kato’s already-beaten face with a stream of lefts that pressured the Japanese fighter, who had blood pouring from his nose and a cut above his right eye, and sported a sirloin-worthy shiner around a quickly closing left eye.

It was a gutsy effort from a Strikeforce champ intent on finishing Kato (18-8), whom most predicted Melendez would walk through.

“I need to get back to training,” Melendez said. “I’m not that happy, to tell you the truth.”

Taking time to heal should give Strikeforce enough breathing room to sort out its plans, though it appears Josh Thomson (Pictures), also a winner Saturday at the Mansion, is in line for an opportunity at Melendez’s title.

“Me and Josh are good styles,” Melendez said. “We spar all the time. You know, he’s a great fighter. He was a role model for me. When I used to watch him, Hermes (Franca) and Yves (Edwards) go at it, I always looked up to him. A guy I wanted to beat — take that as compliment. It would be cool to fight him. I think he’s still a great fighter, a Top 10 fighter still. But you know, I’m the champ, dude, and I got to take all the challenges. That’s my belt — I ain’t giving it to him at all without a fight.”

Strikeforce at the Mansion Results:

– Gilbert Melendez def. Tetsuji Kato by Unanimous Decision (30-27) at 5:00, R3

– Joe Riggs def. Eugene Jackson by TKO at 3:56, R1

– Josh Thomson def. Adam Lynn by TKO at 4:45, R1

– Billy Evangelista def. Clint Coronel by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27) at 5:00, R3

– Jorge Masvidal def. Matt Lee by TKO at 1:33, R1

– Bobby Southworth def. Bill Mahood by TKO (Verbal Submission), at 1:15, R1

– Falaniko Vitale def. Ron Fields by Submission (Strikes) at 3:02, R3

– Daniel Puder def. Richard Dalton by Unanimous Decision (All Three 30-27) at 5:00, R3

– Dewey Copper def. Adam Smith by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27) at 5:00, R3

– Daniel McWilliams def. Eddie Millis by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:05, R1

– Luke Stewart def. Sam Liera by TKO a 3:40, R1

– Anthony Figueroa def. Miguel Linares by TKO at 2:09, R1

Melendez “PUMPED” For Strikeforce Playboy Mansion

28 Sep

by Michael Afromowitz for strikeforceusa.net (2007-09-28)

Undefeated Strikeforce World Lightweight (155 lb. limit) Champion, “El Nino” Gilbert Melendez (12-0), will take on former Shooto star, Tetsuji Kato (18-7), in a non-title bout during the highly-anticipated Strikeforce extravaganza at The Playboy Mansion on Saturday.
“This is definitely a challenge because it’s a bigger guy dropping down in weight and he’s got a lot of experience,” said the 25-year-old Melendez, whose start on the first-ever mixed martial arts fight card at the world-famous home of entertainment mogul Hugh Hefner, will be his first of 2007. “It’s been a while since I fought so I’m super pumped about coming back.”
Melendez’s last effort, a meeting with superstar Tatsuya “Crusher” Kawajiri during Pride Fighting Championship’s star-studded “Shockwave 2006” affair in Japan on New Year’s Eve, was the American’s toughest challenge thus far in his five-year professional career. Melendez showed tremendous poise as he handled Kawajiri intelligently before walking away with a unanimous decision victory following the close of two rounds. The win propelled the American young gun into the world rankings of every major, independent ratings system.
“I take it as a compliment, but I just see myself in the top 10,” said Melendez of the recognition he has gained by the various outlets, a number of which position him as high as three amongst all lightweights around the globe. “Any of the guys in the top 10 are capable of being number 1 on any given day. That’s how I see it and I think I have a lot more to prove. I really appreciate that people do give me that ranking and I want to prove them all right, but I think it’s gonna take a couple more wins to prove it.”
Melendez snatched the Strikeforce crown away from former junior collegiate wrestling star Clay “The Carpenter” Guida at San Jose, California’s HP Pavilion on June 9th of last year. The challenger kept the majority of the five-round fight standing and battered Guida with a full Muay Thai offensive before securing the judges’ favor.
The 29-year-old Kato, who has traditionally competed in the 167-pound limit welterweight class, is looking to re-establish him as a force in mixed martial arts following a recent defeat at the hands of Joe Camacho. Kato had been forced to cut a substantial amount of weight after accepting the fight on only two weeks’ notice.
Kato’s best showings to date have been his conquests of American standouts Thomas “The Wildman” Denny and Ray “Bradda” Cooper, both of which came during his Shooto days earlier in the decade. On March 17, 2000, Kato nearly pulled off an upset of gargantuan proportions when he faced top-five rated countryman Hayato Sakurai. At the close of their three-round dual, however, Sakurai escaped with a majority judges’ decision.
The historic Playboy Mansion event will also be highlighted by the Strikeforce debut of middleweight star Joe “Diesel” Riggs (26-9 (1 No Contest), who will battle fan favorite, Eugene “The Wolf” Jackson (15-7-1). Lightweight phenom and former NCAA Division I Stanford University wrestler, Josh “The Punk” Thomson (34-2 (1 NC), will square off with former United States marine, Adam Lynn (11-7 (1 NC).
Strikeforce World Light Heavyweight (205 lb. limit) Champion and The Ultimate Fighter reality series semifinalist Bobby Southworth (7-4) will face Canadian striker Bill “The Butcher” Mahood (15-5-1) in a non-title bout while undefeated heavyweight and former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) star Daniel Puder (5-0), will lock horns with Richard Dalton (3-2) during the star-studded affair.
In addition to the stellar mixed martial arts fight card, all “Strikeforce At The Mansion” guests will be treated to an array of amenities including a buffet style, gourmet dinner; top-shelf, open bar; and a wine tasting party featuring the spirits of several gold medal wineries. Various Playboy Playmates will be on hand to partake in all activities.
The event at the Playboy Mansion will be staged three months after the Strikeforce co-produced “Shamrock vs. Baroni,” extravaganza, the first mixed martial arts event to be distributed live on SHOWTIME® PPV. Before a crowd of 10,850 at San Jose’s HP Pavilion, former UFC middleweight champion and mixed martial arts legend, Frank Shamrock, became the first Strikeforce middleweight champion in history by choking out UFC and Pride veteran, “The New York Badass” Phil Baroni, in the second round of the star-studded fight card’s main event on Friday, June 22nd.

Fairtex Launches Project Afghanistan

28 Sep

by FTX (2007-09-28)

Fairtex, in association with Hope Of Mother, and Tareq Azim has launched Fairtex Project Afghanistan.Project Afghanistan seeks to empower a new generation of Afghan youth by using sports as a vehicle to open their eyes to a larger world.At the same time, the program aims to shine a light on an often misunderstood part of the world, so that stereotypes and misconceptions of the region can become a thing of the past.
To achieve those ends, Fairtex has agreed to help set up a training facility in the heart of Kabul Afghanistan.This boxing gym will host youth programs throughout the course of the day, as well house the main training facilities for the Afghanistan Olympic boxing team.By offering a positive environment where youth can compete in sport, and hone their skills for international competition, a new path will be blazed.For many of these young athletes, the prospect of competing abroad will offer their first chances at experiencing a larger world outside of their borders.Likewise, it will function as a beacon of hope, showing that there are many paths that one can walk through life, regardless of obstacles.By using sport to understand this, the community of youth in Afghanistan will learn valuable lessons that will enable them to become a generation of leaders at home.The hope being, that they will go on to write successful future chapters in the history of Afghanistan.
At the same time, the stories, personalities, and athletes that emerge from the program will become a shining example of all Afghanistan is at its core, and all that it might one day become again.Just as the youth of Afghanistan have much of value that they will expect to learn from the international community, so too does the international community have much to learn from the youth of Afghanistan.The history of Afghanistan is often misunderstood, and the hearts of the young athletes who will emerge to compete on the international stage will speak volumes about the reality of the situation there, and about the goodness of Afghanistan’s people. It is our hope that by experiencing the will and courage of these young athletes, that the rest of the world will take notice, and look to support positive growth in Afghanistan with a renewed vigor.
As an example to all the youth beginning in the program, Tareq Azim, who himself is a citizen of Afghanistan, has become a sponsored Fairtex fighter who will be competing in MMA on the international stage.Tareq, who has coached many great fighters such as Alessio Sakara and Jake Shields, is himself a student of the Gracie Family Jiu Jitsu, as well as Freddie Roach’s Wildcard boxing.The signature Fairtex Project Afghanistan T-Shirt bears Tareq’s name on the back, as well as a phrase in Dari script meaning “loyalty”.Dari is the local dialect in Kabul, and the phrase as it is written on the Project Afghanistan T-Shirts embodies the principle of remembering your brothers, and those who are in need of aid.Tareq is a shining example of how sport can provide and enrich.He is an inspiration to the athletes he now seeks to empower, and one of new generation that is making a real difference in Afghanistan.Regular updates about Tareq’s fighting career will be available at http://www.fairtex.com in conjunction with Project Afghanistan.
In addition to creating the training facility, Fairtex will be covering the programs progress on http://www.fairtex.com.Fairtex will sell specific merchandise as part of the Fairtex Project Afghanistan program.A portion of these sales will be donated to the nonprofit Hope Of Mother organization.Hope Of Mother specializes in helping widows and Orphans in some of the most war affected areas of Afghanistan.For more information on Hope Of Mother, please visit http://www.hopeofmother.org.

Nongtum “The Beautiful Boxer” Fairtex to face Jorina Baars

28 Sep

by FTX (2007-09-28)

Nongtum “The Beautiful Boxer” Fairtex will be fighting Jorina Baars at the upcoming event, The Battle of the Arnhem 6 this October 14 in Holland.

“She is a very good fighter” says Nongtum.“It has been over a year since I last fought.I like to fight at least once a year.So I have been training.I am ready for her.”

We wish Nongtum much success in her comeback fight.

“El Nino” to Strike Beverly Hills

25 Sep

by Sherdog.com Staff (2007-09-25)

Gilbert Melendez (Pictures) will return to action for the first time in 10 months when the undefeated lightweight fights Tetsuji Kato (Pictures) on Sept. 29 in the first ever mixed martial arts event at the Playboy Mansion, Strikeforce announced Sunday.
Melendez, who made a name for himself in PRIDE after earning the 155-pound Strikeforce title in a five-round war against Clay Guida (Pictures), called the non-title fight with the Japanese Shooto veteran a “challenge because it’s a bigger guy dropping down in weight and he’s got a lot of experience.”
At 25 years of age and with just 12 bouts under his belt, “El Nino” has quickly established himself as one of the premier fighters in MMA, having excelled in both 145- and 155-pound fights. He’ll need a resounding performance over the 29-year-old Kato (18-7), a veteran of the Shooto 167-pound division and loser of four of his last six fights, to meet the expectations that accompany his now top-five ranking.
Also on the untelevised “Strikeforce at the Mansion” card, veteran middleweights Joe Riggs (Pictures) and Eugene Jackson (Pictures) take to the cage.
Lightweights Josh Thomson (Pictures) and Adam Lynn (Pictures) square off.
Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Bobby Southworth (Pictures) fights Vancouver, British Columbia’s Bill Mahood (Pictures).
And heavyweight Daniel Puder (Pictures) takes on Richard Dalton (Pictures).

First fight card for HDNet FiGHTS

24 Sep

by MMA Europe (2007-09-24)

The billionaire businessman Mark Cuban announced that his high definition network, HDNet will be entering into the mixed-martial-arts fighting circle, with the debut of HDNet FiGHTS in Dallas, Texas on Saturday, October 13. HDNet FiGHTS is Cuban’s promotional brand with fight operations headed up by mixed martial arts veteran Guy Mezger.

The debut event will feature highly regarded middleweights, Jason House (7-3-0 ) and Freddy Espiricueta (6-2-0) square off in an all Texas shootout. Former UFC World Heavyweight title challenger, Justin Eilers (17-6-0), will head up the undercard when he battles Justin Howard (7-1-0) in a 3-round Heavyweight contest. Meanwhile, HDNet announced that veteran cable executive Sue Ann R. Hamilton is joining HDNet as a strategic consultant.

Pitbulls Complete Unbeaten Season

22 Sep

by Jerry Milani (2007-09-22)

Dramatic First-Round KO By Gusmao Secures Victory

HOLLYWOOD, Fla., September 20, 2007 – The New York Pitbulls completed an unbeaten season, topping the two-time defending champion Quad Cities Silverbacks, 3-2, to claim their first International Fight League World Championship, before 3,470 at Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Fla.Delson Heleno, Deividas Taurosevicius and Andre Gusmao recorded wins for the second-seeded Pitbulls, coached by Renzo Gracie, en route to the title, with Gusmao’s dramatic first-round knockout over Mike Ciesnolevicz at light heavyweight in the decisive fifth match breaking a 2-2 tie.

The Pitbulls’ Heleno (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) began things with a welterweight victory over Jake Ellenberger (Omaha, Neb.), who was filling in for injured Rory Markham for the Silverbacks.In an entertaining battle, Heleno and Ellenberger traded blows and submission attempts before Heleno got the last word, catching his Silverbacks opponent in an armbar to give the New Yorkers a 1-0 lead.Pitbulls lightweight Taurosevicius (New York) scored a surprise second-round submission victory, also by armbar, over Bart Palaszewski (Wonder Lake, Ill.) to double his team’s advantage to 2-0.Heavyweights Ben Rothwell (Milwaukee, Wis.) of the Silverbacks and former UFC champion Ricco Rodriguez (Staten Island, N.Y.) of the Pitbulls slugged it out for three rounds in another exciting battle, with Rothwell winning the unanimous decision to shave the Silverbacks’ deficit to 2-1.Middleweight Ryan McGivern (Bettendorf, Iowa) evened things at two wins apiece with a convincing second-round TKO over Fabio Leopoldo (Sao Paulo, Brazil), setting the stage for the winner-take-all light heavyweight bout.Gusmao (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) came out swinging from the bell, landing a series of nearly uncontested blows against Mike Ciesnolevicz (Williamstown, Pa.) before the referee stopped the bout less than a minute into the first round.

The win was also the culmination of an amazing turnaround for the Pitbulls, who were winless in 2006 but won all five of their bouts, including three regular season wins, in 2007.The win also avenged a September 2006 defeat at the hands of the Silverbacks in Moline, Ill., in the only other meeting between the teams.

The IFL World Championship can be seen on Fox Sports Net (Sunday, 5 p.m. in most markets, check local listings) and on MyNetworkTV (Monday, 8 p.m. ET/PT; 7 p.m. CT/MT).

In the preliminary bouts which preceded the Finals, light heavyweight Jamal Patterson (Hoboken, N.J) of the Pitbulls tapped out Chris Baten (Tampa, Fla.) in the first round, as did Rolles Gracie (New York), a Jiu-Jitsu champion, also making his MMA debut with a win over Sam Holloway. The welterweight Brad Blackburn (Olympia, Wash.) and Travis Cox (Naples, Fla.) was ruled a “no-contest” when Blackburn unintentionally struck Cox’s head with his knee, and Cox was unable to continue.Popular IFL standout Ryan Schultz (North Platte, Neb.) of the Portland Wolfpack gained a decision against American Top Team’s Aaron Riley (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) in an entertaining lightweight bout in the final prelim.

International Fight League World Championship Finals
Seminole Hard Rock, September 20, 2007

No. 2 Pitbulls def. No. 4 Silverbacks, 3-2

• 170 lb.: Delson Heleno, Pitbulls, def. Jake Ellenberger, Silverbacks, via submission (armbar) 3:45, 2nd
•155 lb.: Deividas Taurosevicius, Pitbulls, def. Bart Palaszewski, Silverbacks, via submission (armbar), 1:30, 2nd
•265 lb.: Ben Rothwell, Silverbacks, def. Ricco Rodriguez, Pitbulls, via decision (unanimous), after three rounds
•185 lb.: Ryan McGivern, Silverbacks, def. Fabio Leopoldo, Pitbulls, via TKO, 1:35, 2nd
•205 lb: Andre Gusmao, Pitbulls, def. Mike Ciesnolevicz, Silverbacks, via knockout, 0:53, 1st

Preliminary Bouts

•205 lbs: Jamal Patterson (Hoboken, N.J.) def. Chris Baten (Tampa, Fla.) via submission (choke), 0:56, 1st
•265 lb.: Rolles Gracie (New York) vs. Sam Holloway via submission (rear naked choke), 1:49, 1st
•170 lb.: Travis Cox (Naples, Fla.) no contest vs. Brad Blackburn (Olympia, Wash.) (unintentional knee to head of downed opponent), 2:32, 1st
•155 lb.: Ryan Schultz (North Platte, Neb.) def. Aaron Riley (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) via decision (unanimous), after 3 rounds

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