UFC 188
Photo Credit: AP

By Chris Huntemann, Columnist

With all apologies to the defunct World Championship Wrestling, UFC 188 will be where the big boys
play Saturday night. The UFC’s heavyweight division will finally crown an undisputed top dog when
reigning champion Cain Velasquez faces interim champion Fabricio Werdum.

Velasquez returns to the Octagon after nearly two years of nursing various injuries. Will he deliver
another dominant performance in front of his brethren in Mexico City? Or will Werdum make
Velasquez’s return to his native land a sad reunion? Check out who I think wins that fight and others on
the main card.

Tecia “The Tiny Tornado” Torres (5-0) vs. Angela “Overkill” Hill (2-0) (Women’s Strawweight – 115 lbs.)

Torres is another fighter of Mexican descent performing in her ancestral home, as she takes on her
fellow “The Ultimate Fighter” alum Hill. Both women are coming off unanimous decision victories in
their last fights, and coincidentally those were both at TUF 20 finale last year. Torres pummeled Angela
Magana while Hill overwhelmed Emily Kagan.

A win over Hill – particularly by knockout or submission – should move Torres into the mix for a title
shot. Hill was impressive in her UFC debut against Kagan, but Torres is battle-tested after previously
besting some of the most talented fighters in her division – including Felice Herrig, Rose Namajunas and
Paige VanZant. I think the more seasoned Torres shows Hill she still has some work to do in what could
be a sneakily entertaining fight.

Winner: Torres by unanimous decision

Yair “El Pantera” Rodriguez (5-1) vs. Charles “Boston Strong” Rosa (10-1) (Featherweight – 145 lbs.)

Rodriguez competed on the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America” and his initial foray into
the UFC has been a successful one, as he is undefeated under the promotion’s banner. Rosa split his first
two fights in the UFC, losing to Dennis Siver but besting Sean Soriano. The majority of Rosa’s victories
come way of submission, and I think he will do the same here to Rodriguez.

Winner: Rosa by submission

Kelvin Gastelum (11-1) vs. Nate “The Great” Marquardt (36-14-2) (Middleweight – 185 lbs.)

Gastelum makes his return to middleweight after a run at welterweight that ended badly, as he came in
overweight for his last fight against Tyron Woodley and lost a split decision. Meanwhile, Marquardt
looked absolutely lifeless in a loss to Brad Tavares at UFC 182 in January. Tavares went on to be knocked
out in his next fight in under a minute.

Competing in 52 professional fights appears to be catching up to Marquardt, as well as Father Time. He’s
on the wrong side of 35 and while fighters like Dan Henderson and Randy Couture compete or
competed well into their 40s, Marquardt is not on their level. Gastelum will redeem himself with a
performance that gets him back on track and should send Marquardt into retirement.

Winner: Gastelum by unanimous decision

Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez (22-4) vs. Eddie Alvarez (25-4) (Lightweight – 155 lbs.)

Fight fans have been clamoring for this matchup since Melendez and Alvarez were winning titles in
Strikeforce and Bellator, respectively. This bout will likely receive Fight of the Night honors, as both guys
love to stand in the middle of the cage and trade blows. Melendez’s previous performance to that effect
was a Fight of the Year candidate in 2013 against Diego Sanchez.

Alvarez’s UFC debut was a unanimous decision loss to current no. 1 contender Donald Cerrone last year.
However, Alvarez made Cerrone earn every point of that victory by lasting all three rounds with
“Cowboy.” Melendez has alternated wins and losses in UFC, although he’s faced top-flight competition
in Benson Henderson, Sanchez and Anthony Pettis.

This is the type of fight that makes new mixed martial arts fans and reminds existing ones why they love
the sport. I expect a fun, exciting brawl with neither man giving an inch. At the end, I expect “El Niño” to
leave the cage bloody, bruised and victorious.

Winner: Melendez by unanimous decision

Cain Velasquez (13-1) vs. Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum (19-5-1) (Heavyweight Title – 225 lbs.)

I expect another tough, physical affair here between two of the toughest men in all of the UFC. Werdum
has beaten a who’s who of MMA heavyweights, including Roy Nelson, Mark Hunt, Antonio Rodrigo
Nogueira and the legendary Fedor Emelianenko. When Velasquez is healthy, he looks virtually
unbeatable and mows through every fighter in his path.

I don’t expect ring rust to be a factor for Velasquez. Missing almost two years due to injury is a big deal,
but Velasquez is known for his cardio and conditioning. Plus, his striking is vastly superior to Werdum.
I’m sure Werdum will try to take Velasquez down and use his excellent jiu-jitsu, but Velasquez will have
other plans. He will push forward, unleash a barrage of strikes and re-establish himself as the Baddest

Winner: Velasquez by TKO

Chris Huntemann writes about mixed martial arts in the state of Maryland. He also shares his thoughts on the UFC, Bellator, and World Series of Fighting. Check out his blog, or follow him on Twitter: @mmamaryland.

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By Chris Huntemann, Columnist

Invicta FC 12

Many mixed martial arts fighters would be a bag of nerves before making their pro debut. But it sure doesn’t seem that way with Sijara Eubanks.

Eubanks, who fights with Team Lloyd Irvin in Camp Springs, Md., will make her pro debut at flyweight at Invicta FC 12 on April 24 against Roma Pawelek. Although this is Eubanks’ first professional MMA bout, she’s tailoring her preparation like that of a savvy veteran.

“I'm preparing for her just like I'd prepare for any other opponent,” Eubanks said. “I'm working on all aspects of the game, fine tuning my game plan, keeping my conditioning high. I know she's a grappler, so I'm definitely prepared if the fight goes to the ground.”

Eubanks is also changing up her training, having two to three sessions daily, Monday through Friday, and once daily on Saturday and Sunday. Beyond working on multiple parts of her repertoire and keeping her conditioning up, Eubanks isn’t giving much away.

“I don't want to give away too much of my game plan, so everyone will have to tune into UFC Fight Pass on April 24 to see,” she said.

Despite her reluctance to divulge her strategy, Eubanks is very confident in one area of her skills.

“She's a grappler, I'm a grappler, so I feel like this fight is going to end up on the ground,” she said. “I'm very confident that I'm the better grappler.”

Overall, Eubanks is more eager than anything else to make her pro debut, describing her mindset as “pure excitement.”

“It's crazy; I've been waiting a long time to fight, so I'm pumped,” she said. “Plus, it's my pro debut! So this is really a chance for me to show the world what I'm capable of.”

Chris Huntemann writes about mixed martial arts in the state of Maryland. He also shares his thoughts on the UFC, Bellator, and World Series of Fighting. Check out his blog, or follow him on Twitter: @mmamaryland.

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By Chris Huntemann, Columnist

Micah Terrill

Photo Credit: Micah Terrill/Facebook

Note: This is the second part of a two-part series on the fighters involved in Shogun Fights’ first-ever title fight. To read about Cole Presley, click here.

One of the hallmarks of mixed martial arts is that fighters not only train with their own team, but they travel the country or the world and soak up as much knowledge and experience as possible in order to become the most well-rounded fighter they can.

For Micah Terrill, his training for his first title fight at Shogun Fights next month against Cole Presley isn’t just making him well-rounded. It’s also making him – pardon my French – a bad motherfucker.

Terrill is splitting his time training with UFC lightweight Donald Cerrone and other fighters at Cerrone’s “BMF Ranch” and with Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn in New Mexico. Terrill calls Conquest BJJ in Crofton, Md., his home base.

“Being the first title fight [in Shogun Fights] is a great opportunity and honor,” Terrill told me recently. “This should be a great fight for me to showcase my skills. Cole is an amazing guy and even better fighter. I have a lot of respect for him, and can’t wait to see him in the cage.”

Terrill played baseball and football in high school, and wrestled. After a journey into professional baseball fell through, he returned to Maryland and started his MMA training, and soon thereafter devoted himself to the sport full-time. Terrill sports a MMA record of 5-4 and while he came up short in his last bout, he was victorious in his last appearance for Shogun Fights in November 2014.

“I have a family who supports me to the fullest extent,” Terrill said. “I couldn’t do it without my girlfriend and our 5-month-old son behind me. I’m a God-fearing man and he’s blessed me with everything I have.”

Shogun Fights XII takes place on Saturday, April 18, at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, Md.

Chris Huntemann writes about mixed martial arts in the state of Maryland. He also shares his thoughts on the UFC, Bellator, and World Series of Fighting. Check out his blog, or follow him on Twitter: @mmamaryland.

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By Chris Huntemann, Columnist

Shogun Fights

When it comes to mixed martial arts, Maryland welterweight fighter Cole Presley couldn’t have picked a much better fighter to emulate than former UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre.

“I once heard GSP say ‘in racing you need a good driver and a good car. If you have a very good car but a bad driver, you’re not going to win the race. If you have a very good driver and a bad car, you’re not going to win either. So I have a good car and a good driver, which is even more important,’” said Presley, who fights with Clinch Academy in Frederick, Maryland, and is fighting for the inaugural Shogun Fights welterweight title on April 18 in Baltimore, Maryland.

“This quote couldn’t be truer and speaks volumes on the philosophy of conditioning in MMA,” Presley said. “I am a full time union pipe fitter, so I must balance my career and my MMA training carefully or else it can wear on me mentally.”

Presley squares off against Micah Terrill for the Shogun Fights welterweight title after previously competing as a lightweight. He believes a step up in weight class will work to his advantage.

“I have put on some extra muscle, but I am trying to be careful about it so my athleticism carries over to the welterweight division,” Presley said. “I have always been a big lightweight being that I am 6’1 and usually cut from 175 pounds.”

Presley has been a martial arts fan since childhood and was introduced to MMA after ordering the UFC 36 pay-per-view (without his mother’s permission). He first competed in judo and kempo kickboxing, and started his amateur MMA career in 2007. Presley’s mother isn’t the only member of his family to agonize over his decision to embrace MMA.

“My family hates the fact that I fight, but unfortunately for them it is my passion,” Presley said. “My dad’s favorite sport is golf, so that gives you an idea of how different our sports worlds are.”

Presley is very confident leading into his fight against Terrill, which he attributes to his training camp. “Training has been going great,” he said. “I am injury free and I have been doing conditioning and strength training for a steady six weeks now. I have done limited sparring, which has been optional, but I plan on picking up the pace with live sparring within the next few weeks.

“I have also started my sprinting routine this week and have begun focusing on technique training,” Presley added. “This next month is where it all comes together and I plan on peaking the week of the fight, which is a very relaxed week leading up to weigh-ins and the fight itself.”

Presley plans to take full advantage of the opportunities provided to him by Shogun Fights, especially since he’s giving himself a limited window in MMA.

“I am 28 years old and I have no plans on fighting past 35, so I plan on making the most of the several years I have left,” he said.

Chris Huntemann writes about mixed martial arts in the state of Maryland. He also shares his thoughts on the UFC, Bellator, and World Series of Fighting. Check out his blog, or follow him on Twitter: @mmamaryland.

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By Chris Huntemann, Columnist

Ronda Rousey

Photo Credit: Esther Lin/MMA Fighting

Given that it’s tax season, it’s a good time to remember that are there three guarantees in life: death, taxes and Ronda Rousey once again showing why she is the best female fighter on the planet with a first-round demolition of her opponent.

Rousey’s performance at UFC 184 last month was her finest to date. She submitted Cat Zingano, widely regarded as Rousey’s biggest challenge, in 14 seconds. While Rousey was aided by an absolutely horrible strategy by Zingano, her virtuoso performance led to another discussion of who has what it takes to dethrone Rousey. It also led to a ridiculous conversation of whether or not Rousey could compete against and defeat male fighters in the UFC’s bantamweight division. The less time spent on that absurd notion that accomplishes nothing but trying to discredit the great fighter Rousey is, the better.

Of course, the first name that always comes up is Cris “Cyborg” Justino, the Invicta FC featherweight champion. She is expected to drop to 135 pounds for a fight with Invicta this summer before moving on to a fight with Rousey. However, Cyborg attempted a drop to bantamweight last year and abandoned those plans. So I wouldn’t hold my breath on the long-awaited grudge match between Rousey and Cyborg happening anytime soon.

Rousey recently expressed a desire to fight Bethe Correia, who battered two of Rousey’s “Four Horsewomen” teammates and has been calling Rousey out ever since. Jessica Eye has also staked her claim to a title shot, but neither of these women pose a real threat to Rousey. During UFC 184’s postfight coverage, Daniel Cormier floated the idea of his colleague Miesha Tate getting a third crack at Rousey.

Besides the fact I think trilogies should be reserved only when each fighter has a victory over the other, I see no reason why third time would be a charm for Tate. While she is the only woman to go further than the first round with Rousey, Tate has plateaued as a fighter while Rousey has gotten better. If the two were to fight a third time, I see no reason to believe the result would be any different.

So where does this leave Rousey? In my opinion, she has cleaned out the UFC women’s bantamweight division. There is no one who poses a credible threat to her. If Zingano adjusted her strategy and received another shot at Rousey, she might have a chance of winning. Beyond that, if Rousey decided to go out on top and build on her burgeoning film career, I don’t think anyone would hold it against her.

Rousey is currently on a run akin to Anderson Silva’s run atop the UFC’s middleweight division. He dominated everyone in his path and except for his first fight with Chael Sonnen, made it look easy. Rousey’s hardest fight to date was against Liz Carmouche, when she had Rousey in a rear naked choke in the first round of their fight in 2013 before Rousey was able to escape and secure another armbar victory.

Silva’s reign atop the middleweight division came to an end when the previously unknown Chris Weidman came along and showed no fear and took the fight to Silva. Maybe that’s what needs to happen with Rousey. She needs to find an opponent who will get right in her face, give her no quarter and take the fight to her. Zingano attempted that at UFC 184, but her overzealousness ended up costing her dearly.

Until Rousey finds her own Chris Weidman, we can add another superlative to the many that are already attached to the women’s bantamweight champion: cleaner. Rousey is fresh out of his worthy challengers to her crown, a task she accomplished by cleaning out her division.

Chris Huntemann writes about mixed martial arts in the state of Maryland. He also shares his thoughts on the UFC, Bellator, and World Series of Fighting. Check out his blog, or follow him on Twitter: @mmamaryland.

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