Archive for the Features Category

STORMY WEATHER AHEAD: THE HURRICANE RETURNS TO STRIKEFORCE

Posted in Features, Legends MMA, Strikeforce with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2010 by jaytan716

Conor "The Hurricane" Heun vs. KJ Noons will open "Strikeforce: Live" this Wednesday, June 16th, at Nokia Theater in Los Angeles,

After a year’s layoff, Legends MMA / 10th Planet’s Conor “The Hurricane” Heun returns to Strikeforce action this Wednesday, June 16th, as part of “Strikeforce: Live.” Moreover, the former Division III wrestler-turned-10th-Planet-brown-belt comes in for no tune-up match, as he faces his highest-profile and possibly most dangerous opponent to date, KJ Noons.

Tickets are available at the Legends MMA / BeSpun front desk.

“KJ is a very talented fighter. Very strong, very dangerous. I’m sure it’s going to be a hell of a fight. Definitely not taking it lightly,” said Heun.

As was previously reported, Heun was scheduled to fight RJ Clifford on this same event. Noons, a former EliteXC lightweight champion, was preparing to fight Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett , in a rematch of their January 2007 bout. That first bout ended when Bennett KO’ed Noons midway through the first round.

However, when Bennett was forced to pull out of his June 16th date, Heun was reassigned to Noons. This new pairing raises the bar for Heun, as Noons comes with bigger credentials and, with victory, more potential reward.

“When I got that fight, I told them I needed to think about it. I hung up the phone and cried for five minutes. Then I called them back and said ‘fuck yeah, put me on that card’,” he recalled.

This match represents not just a professional, but also a personal climax to Heun’s past 12 months. Following his show-stealing three-round war with Jorge Gurgel at the second Strikeforce Challengers show, Heun was forced to undergo ACL replacement surgery, which found him inactive and frustrated for months. Faced with a growing pile of bills, his main gym in transition to its new location, and several important personal relationships strained, storm clouds were brewing for the Hurricane.

“I was in a dark place, sitting on my couch. . . Peaks and valleys. That was my valley, now I’m ready to hit my peak on Wednesday,” said Heun.

A victory over Noons could quickly reestablish Heun as a quick-rising star in the Strikeforce ranks. Prior to his Gurgel battle, Heun was 3-0 since 2007, with two wins in EliteXC, where many expected him to fast-track to a title shot. Unfortunately for Heun, EliteXC went under in 2008.

Ironically enough, their lightweight champion at the time was none other than KJ Noons.

“Opportunity knocks, you gotta answer the door. We’re never given anything that we can’t handle, and it’s my time.”

Tickets are now on sale at the Legends / BeSpun front desk:  $40, $65, and $100.

Conor Heun is sponsored by TapouT, Full Tilt Poker, Five Star Fight Gear, X-Pole, Fight Defense Mouthguards, One 11 Ink, Revive Energy Mints, SFGoldman.com, JoeRogan.net, Melee Fight Gear, HPE, Inc., and On The Mat.

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Legends member Robert Bregante makes Muay Thai debut in Thailand!!

Posted in Features, Legends MMA with tags , , , on December 14, 2009 by jaytan716

By Jay Tan

On the international front, Legends MMA member Robert Bregante recently had his Muay Thai debut.

Bregante, 27, first started taking Muay Thai from Legends trainer Peter Nylund two years ago.  Wanting to take his skills to the next level, Bregante moved out to Thailand three months ago, and has been training at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket ever since.  He says his plans are to stay there for a year and hopes to get at least 10 fights under his belt before returning to Legends.

His routine consists of two training sessions per day, in addition to running twice daily, totaling approximately seven hours of training a day, six days a week.

Here’s the clip for Robert’s match (he’s in the white trunks):

About his experience abroad, Bregante said by email “it feels wonderful to have my hard work pay off, after going through this experience I think it’s the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  But it has come with a huge sense of accomplishment, and now I feel like I can accomplish anything I set out to do.”

“I think what surprised me most about this whole experience is what I learned about myself.  I set my fears aside and allowed myself to embrace a new culture and new way of life. . . it has helped me to become more confident in myself, something I was lacking before I arrived to Thailand!  I am especially grateful to Peter, the first person I met when I walked through the doors of Legends, the first person I trained with and my biggest inspiration for coming out here to Thailand!”

Congratulations on the big victory, Robert, and keep up the heavy training.  We’ll be looking forward to having you back in the gym when you return.

Affliction Officially Announces Fedor vs. Barnett, Mousasi vs. Sobral with Press Conferences in New York, Los Angeles

Posted in Affliction, Features with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2009 by jaytan716

Clothier-turned-fight promoter Affliction held back-to-back press conferences in New York and Los Angeles this week, officially launching the promotional campaign behind “Affliction: Trilogy,” headlined by Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko vs. Josh “The Babyfaced Assassin” Barnett.  The PPV event is scheduled for August 1st at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA.

In the co-main event slot, reigning Strikeforce Light Heavyweight champion Renato “Babalu” Sobral will face former DREAM Middleweight champion “Gegard “Young Vagabond” Mousasi, who recently submitted Mark Hunt in the opening round of the DREAM Super Hulk tournament.

“People said we wouldn’t be here after the first event.  Well, we were.  We had a second event, and it was a bigger card than the first. . . Once again, we’re back, and with a card that’s . . . actually better than the first and second event,” proclaimed Affliction VP and matchmaker Tom Atencio.

Promotional partner Roy Englebrecht added “I think the reason why we’re here today . . . is the fact that we’re seeing, in my estimation, the greatest mixed martial arts heavyweight fighter of all times, trying to do something for the third time: beat three former UFC heavyweight world champions.  First show, Tim Sylvia.  Second show, Andrei Arlovski.  And now, standing in his way, is another former UFC champion, and he was the youngest – Josh Barnett.  The trilogy . . . doesn’t happen very often, can happen on August 1st.”

The Los Angeles press conference was short and sweet, with brief, generic comments from Sobral, Mousasi, and Emelianenko about their respective matches.  Each fighter was respectful, almost to a fault, of their opponents, and indeed, Atencio, Englebrecht, and M-1 executives Joost Raymond and Vadim Finkelstein almost seemed to play microphone hot potato, as if nobody wanted the spokesman responsibilities.  Barnett, who prides himself on having studied the interview skills of pro wrestling personalities, was notably absent, apparently due to transportation problems.

Ever the man of few words, Emelianenko, through his translator (and M-1 USA VP of Legal Affairs) Steven Bash, simply said “I’d like to thank everyone for inviting me out again and giving me the opportunity to fight on a world-class level.  I expect the fight with Josh to be very exciting and I promise you a wonderful show.”

One of the more burning topics of conversation was that of Affliction’s future as a fight promotion.  Although there was discussion that the “Trilogy” moniker indicated a planned finality to promoting MMA after August 1st, Atencio steadfast denied any intentions to quit.

“Our future isn’t undetermined. I’ve always said that we’ll take one fight at a time. . .  We came out and made a big bang in the industry. . . [M-1 Global] has been doing this for a long time, and I couldn’t ask for better partners than them. . . I’ve learned a few things and I’ve made some mistakes, myself and my partners.  We take that and we move forward and we correct those mistakes.  And that’s what we’re looking to do,” said Atencio adamantly.

M-1 Global President Vadim Finkelstein, also through translation, echoed the sentiment, saying “I’m very proud and honored to have partners such as Affliction.  Together, what we’ve done is we’ve come together to build a worldwide MMA company, and utilize both of our resources and put together many products and projects all over the world, culminating in what will be and is the biggest fight in mixed martial arts.  This will be the best fight this year and many, many years.”

Another recurring subject of debate was the ongoing standoff with the UFC and promoter Dana White.  Keeping true to form with Affliction’s prior two events, an invitation was extended, via M-1 Global COO Joost Raymond, to White and his two reigning heavyweight champions, Brock Lesnar and interim champ Frank Mir, to attend “Trilogy.”

“They are all very cordially invited to come and watch . . . And ultimately we can follow up, in the same lines as what the UFC has done for Mr. Mirko Cro Cop, in a one-fight deal . . . We’d like to make that happen.  So, again, we can bring out the true champions and the best fights available for all.”

Mousasi is a former DREAM Middleweight champion who recently declared his intent to move up to light heavyweight, claiming he no longer is able to make the traditional 185 lb. limit.  In May, he submitted Mark Hunt in DREAM’s Super Hulk tournament, giving up 63 lbs to the Kiwi kickboxer.

Mousasi was originally expected to face Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort, a former light heavyweight (205 lbs.) who now fights at middleweight.  However, in an interview with Tatame.com, Belfort denied any intention to fight at anything above 185 lbs., suggesting that Mousasi’s lack of name value and challenge makes going up in weight not worth his effort.

“I don’t know if he turned it down.  I heard, because I had received the contract, I had signed the contract, that I would fight him.  I thought he had the contract.  He received also the contract, so I thought he knew about it.  But obviously he says he didn’t, so I cannot say. . . Because he’s a middleweight, so I cannot say ‘come up and fight light heavyweight.’  I thought he knew about it,” explained Mousasi.

“I think Babalu is a very big challenge.  I still have a very tough fight,” he added.

Other matches listed in the press materials were Tim “The Maine-iac” Sylvia vs. Paul “The Headhunter” Buentello, “Big” Ben Rothwell vs. the unbeaten Chase Gormley, Chris “The Polish Hammer” Horodecki vs. Dan “The Upgrade” Lauzon, and Jay ‘The Thoroughbred” Hieron vs. Paul “Semtex” Daley.  The undercard, which includes the Horodecki-Lauzon and Hieron-Daley fights, will air live on HDNet.