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Inside The Cage Recap -- Saturday, April 19th, 2014

Apr 20, 2014 -- 1:10pm

Every Saturday morning, Jordan Sherwood and Frank Zaffere hit on the top news as it pertains to mix martial arts, on Inside The Cage. Here are the highlights from today's show:

Jordan and Frank discuss when it is time for athletes to call it quits. Audio

Former MMA trainer in the Marines Kelsey DeSantis joins Jordan and Frank to talk her upcoming event, and previews the UFC on FOX 11 card, featuring two of her teammates. Audio

Jordan and Frank go Five Rounds, hitting on the hottest topics in the world of MMA, including which athlete or celebrity home they had like to hold a press conference at for an event. Audio

In a main event card that features two of the top three heavyweights in the division, Jordan and Frank make their UFC on Fox 11 predictions and picks. Audio

Be sure to listen to the show Saturday’s at 10am, follow Jordan Sherwood (@woodonmma) and Frank Zaffere (@realfrankz), and check the MMA blog daily.

UFC on Fox 11

Apr 18, 2014 -- 12:08pm

This Saturday presents another opportunity for the UFC to showcase its product on National TV as the 11th rendition of UFC on Fox goes live from Orlando’s Amway Arena. I’m never trying to be a broken record except when it comes to discussing my love for Diego Sanchez, but a lot does ride on the future of the UFC at this event.

To begin with, the main event fight between Fabricio Werdum and Travis Browne will determine the next challenger to UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez. The UFC hopes that Velasquez will be healthy by November and be able to book that future fight in Mexico City, Mexico; a target for years of the UFC and a market that has always been a huge supporter of combat sports.

Landing a fight card headlined by the heavyweight champion, who coincidentally has “Brown Pride” tattooed on his cheese would be homerun.

The event Saturday also hits home here in South Florida. The UFC’s visit to this region has been very infrequent and following the last “failure” in Sunrise when Dana White said they would never come back to Florida anytime soon; well they are here.

That event featured a flyweight main event and virtually no local Florida Fighters. This time around, you get household names like Werdum, Browne, Donald Cerrone and Miesha Tate, plus local fighters Edson Barboza, Thiago Alves and Jorge Masvidal

Hopefully Florida shows up:

Now to the fights.

No. 2 Fabricio Werdum (17-5) vs No. 3 Travis Browne (16-1-1)

Title eliminators have been a common thread lately in the UFC, but this one takes on extra meaning because it is the heavyweight division and we will now get a fight (sans Junior dos Santos vs Cain Velasquez) to decide the “Baddest Man on the Planet” for the Heavyweight Title.  Both Werdum and Browne deserve to be here, combining to go 12-2 during their last 14-fights and each coming in on a three-fight win streak.

Werdum solidified his title eliminator spot after successfully submitting Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera in June of last year.

It wasn’t that victory that gave the indication that Werdum was ready for a title-shot; as we’ve seen Noguiera decline over the last few years. What we have seen from Werdum is improved muay-thai in victories over Mike Russow and Roy Nelson to help compliment his ground game, which is by far one of the best in MMA. His size is also a problem for lots of opponents and his game plan will be to test Browne on the ground, a place the Hawaiian has not been in quite sometime; and a place where Werdum has the advantage.

The fight will only get there if Werdum can use his size and improved striking to push Browne against the fence and then take him down.

That has proven to be very difficult against Browne of late. During his three-fight win streak, Browne has prevented jiu-jitsu black belt Gabriel Gonzaga and catch-wrestling great Josh Barnett from going to the ground. In fact, when both competitors pushed Browne up against the cage, he sprawled and landed vicious elbows, putting away both competitors.

Browne will have the advantage on the feet in this one. He’s an extremely agile and athletic fighter for the heavyweight division. He’ll use range to keep Werdum at bay, but can also be explosive from far away as seen in his superman punch KO of Stefan Struve or his front kick KO of Alistair Overeem. Browne is a finisher, 14 of his 16 wins have not gone to the judges scorecards. He’s also booming with confidence and believes his record should be unblemished, his lone loss to Antonio Silva only occurred after a hamstring injury during the fight put Browne down.

Standup or ground? That’s your pick. Despite the streak he’s on, I think Werdum finally gets his chance at the title.

My prediction, Werdum (with the upset) via submission (Rd 1)

No. 3 Miesha Tate (13-5) vs No. 7 Liz Carmouche (8-4)

The evening’s co-feature highlights two former title challengers hoping for another (or third in Tate’s concern) crack at Ronda Rousey’s bantamweight title. Each one is going to have difficulty accomplishing that, as a laundry list of challengers await Rousey before either Tate or Carmouche can be considered for that challenger spot again.

Tate has improved every time she’s in the cage, and despite “cupcake” being her new name; the previous incarnation of “takedown” is exactly what she embodies. Her wrestling is relentless and her striking has greatly improved each time out. She was submitted twice by Rousey, but who wasn’t?

Her opponent Carmouche was probably the closest to upending Rousey, as she possesses uncanny strength for the bantamweight division. Carmouche also likes to overwhelm her opponents with takedowns and ground and pound.

This one could end up being a grappling contest. I’ll take Tate’ speed, quickness and slightly better standup to win this one.

My prediction, Tate via decision.

No. 8 Donald Cerrone (22-6) vs No. 11 Edson Barboza (13-1)

If you like fireworks, don’t leave the couch during this one. A critical fight for both guys looking to solidify themselves amongst the top 5 of a loaded lightweight division, muay-thai kick boxers Cerrone and Barboza meet in a fight that should end up with someone being knocked out.

Cerrone has been a mainstay in the UFC for several reasons. He’s exciting, a finisher and well versed everywhere the fight may go; a tough out for anyone trying to climb the UFC’s lightweight ladder.

He uses a combination of leg kicks and punches to brutalize his opponent and his size (a lengthy 5’11 for lightweight) causes issues for all of his opponents. He’s also mean, not intimidated to take a shot to land a shot. He’s also very well versed on the ground, 14 of his 22 wins are by submission and owns 13 post fight bonuses in his WEC and UFC career.

Against Barboza he might be meeting a better leg striker. He’s the only man in UFC history to finish an opponent via leg kicks; and he did it twice. If you haven’t seen his wheel kick KO of Terry Etim, YouTube it instantly. He’s an outstanding athlete with strength and quickness and his black belt in muay-thai has been showcased throughout his entire career.

His lone loss was against Jamie Varner when he got caught with an overhand right, coincidentally Varner is the longtime rival of Cerrone. Barboza was also losing his last fight to Danny Castillo before bouncing back to finish him in a December “Fight of the Night”.

We have not seen Barboza on the ground, but I doubt Cerrone takes it there. I think this is a stand up war and Barboza is just slightly better in that area.

My prediction, Barboza via TKO (Rd 2)

No. 13 Brad Tavares (12-2) vs No. 14 Yoel Romero (7-1)

The fight card opens with two middleweights hoping to crack the top ten in a stacked division. Each was victorious on the same card their last time out, Tavares with a unanimous decision victor over Lorenz Larkin and Romero with a come from behind victory over Derek Brunson.

You can throw the entire kitchen sink at Tavares and he just keeps on coming. Similar in my mind to Dennis Bermudez at featherweight, who uses a healthy combination of striking and grappling to take his opponents, Tavares is very well rounded.

He has not finished opponent since a 2011 victory over Phil Baroni, and everybody finishes the “New York Bad Ass”. He’ll have to do that versus Romero.

Remember the kitchen sink? Romero has it in both of his hands. The dude is an athletic freak; all of his wins in the UFC (3) have been via knockout. He also decides where the fight goes? Why? He’s a former Olympics silver medalist in freestyle wrestling, one of the highest accolades you can have and his athleticism helps keep it there.

Many pundits have questioned his fight IQ heading into this fight. Sure, Tavares becomes the toughest test of his career. But I don’t think it’s smarts that get this done, I think it’s just that Tavares, a slight favorite in Vegas, is just better.

My prediction, Tavares via decision

No. 5 Rafael dos Anjos (20-6) vs No. 7 Khabib Nurmagomedov (21-0)

This fight is on the undercard, but worth noting as a potential next challenger in the lightweight division. Dos Anjos, winner of his last five, might have finally come into his own with improved striking to go with a black belt on the ground.

Khabib is an animal. He owns a UFC record for number of takedowns and attempts in a fight, 21 and 27 respectively. I belive he is the next big thing.

My prediction, Nurmagomedov via decision.

Inside The Cage Recap -- Saturday, April 12th, 2014

Apr 13, 2014 -- 9:23am

Every Saturday morning, Jordan Sherwood and Frank Zaffere hit on the top news as it pertains to mix martial arts, on Inside The Cage. Here are the highlights from today's show: 

Jordan and Frank discuss what should be changed about MMA free agency, following Jake Shields release from the UFC. Audio

Jordan and Frank weigh in on the future of the Diaz's brothers in the UFC. Audio

Jordan and Frank pay tribute to the legendary Ultimate Warrior, whom unfortunately passed away this past week. Audio

Jordan and Frank go Five Rounds, hitting on the hottest topics in the world of MMA, including the athlete or celebrity that they had like to receive a tweet from today. Audio

Jordan and Frank run through the week's top news and notes, and preview next week’s UFC on Fox 11 card in Orlando. Audio

Be sure to listen to the show Saturday’s at 10am, follow Jordan Sherwood (@woodonmma) and Frank Zaffere (@realfrankz), and check the MMA blog daily.

UFC Fight Night

Apr 08, 2014 -- 9:05am

There is so much going on in MMA, it’s hard to keep track. That’s the nature of the sport and the business that the UFC is now invested in. This week, Jake Shields, a former title challenger and multiple promotional champion, was released from the UFC. It’s another Top Ten fighter that has been released by the promotion.

Also, the growing list of names that will be Ronda Rousey’s next opponent continues to alter as reports surfaced this week that the UFC will be meeting with former Strikeforce Featherweight Champion Gina Carano.

Plus, the much anticipated grudge match between Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva has been moved back to UFC 175, making the Fourth of July weekend card a historic event with Chris Weidman vs Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson vs Daniel Cormier already slated for the card.

And, as the expansion for the sport continues, the UFC returns to Abu Dhabi this week with a live fight card on Friday afternoon, only available on UFC Fight Pass.

Now to the fights:

No. 11 Antonio Minoaturo Nogueira (34-8-1) vs No. 9 Roy Nelson (20-9)

It’s appropriate that this fight card is headlined by Noguiera and Nelson, two outstanding Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu experts. Both own black belts and Abu Dhabi, the host site for Friday's fight card, has been known to many across the globe as the preeminent area for submission and grappling competition. In fact, Nelson was an Abu Dhabi Combat Club quarterfinalist back in 2003. Past winners of this annual competition include UFC mainstays Demian Maia, Rony Yahya (also fighting on this card), Fabricio Werdum and Jacare Souza.

While Noguiera has the distinction of being one of the most prolific heavyweight submission specialists of this era, Nelson has relied more on his knockout power to stamp his place in the Top Ten of the Heavyweight Division. He is a four-time Knockout of the Night award winner and prior to a two-fight losing streak, was on the verge of a title shot following a three fight-winning streak.

Nelson is a tough out; only one of his nine career losses has been via finish and his grappling background puts him in a position to dictate where the fight takes place everytime in the Octagon.

Noguiera is a future hall of fame and has the distinction of being the only man to win the Heavyweight Title in both the UFC and Pride Fighting Championships. His submissions are some of the best in the sport and his striking has greatly improved since forming a bond with former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, evident in his knockout win over Brendan Schaub and his timing and precision against Dave Herman.

Noguiera, like Nelson, is also an extremely tough out. He was run over by a truck as an eight year old and survived. Does that do enough to describe his toughness?

The issue for Noguiera, who has alternated between wins and losses since 2011, is that he is 37-years going on 52; the number of fights and wars he’s been a part of date back to 1999.

Nelson should be able to dictate where the fight goes and will look to land that jackhammer of an overhand right.

My prediction, Nelson via KO (Rd 2)

No. 9 Clay Guida (30-11) vs No. 12 Tatsuya Kawajiri (33-7-2)

In the even’s co-feature, Top-15 featherweights Guida and Kawajiri meet in matchup that could be a “pink slip” contest. Don’t let the rankings fool you as the UFC showed it’s fine with releasing Top Ten Talent like Shields or Yushin Okami a few months back. Plus, the featherweight division is becoming a shark tank of top contenders, so victories are becoming increasingly difficult to come by.

After a career at lightweight, Guida moved to featherweight in 2013 and has gone 1-1 with a victory over Hatsu Hioki and a KO loss to the divisions top contender, Chad Mendes. Yes, Mendes has been on a tear, but he became the first man to finish Guida via strikes in his 41-fight career.

He’s the “energizer bunny” whenever he fights, grinding his opponents against the cage while pacing from distance to strike and counter strikes. He should be able to dictate where the fight goes against Kawajiri, Japan’s best featherweight who is only 1-0 in the UFC.

That victory came against the debuting Sean Soriano, a late replacement fight that “The Crusher” easily handled.

Against Guida is a completely different story. Kawajiri is powerful kick-boxer who has been in the fight-game for quite sometime. The issue is that Kawajiri has struggled against quicker opponents, exactly what Guida is.

I think Guida dictates the pace and positioning of the fight.

My prediction, Guida via decision

John Howard (22-8) vs Ryan LaFlare (10-0)

In a fight that should provide fireworks, the resurgent Howard meets the unbeaten LaFlare in a contest that could decide who cracks the Top 10 of the welterweight division.

Howard has great muay-thai and his ground and pound have provided finishes for the Boston welterweight.

LaFlare is lengthy kick boxer that has great timing, plus finishing power. At 6’1, he’s a tall welterweight that uses leg kicks and distance to dominate his opponents.

This fight, despite being an overwhelming pick for LaFlare, is a toss-up in my mind.

My prediction, Howard via decision

Ramsey Nijem (9-4) vs Beneil Dariush (7-0)

The fight card opens with Ultimate Fighter Finalist Ramsey Nijem against Dariush, who is 1-0 in the UFC.

Here’s the thing: If you can beat Nijem, you deserve the be in the UFC. If you cannot, you don’t. It’s that simple, like death and taxes. Nijems wins in the UFC; CJ Keith, Danny Downes and Joe Proctor, all not in the UFC. His losses: James Vick, Myles Jury, Tony Ferguson, all still in the UFC.

He does posses good leg kicks, but has a tendency to leave his chin out in the open for someone to tag.

So, with Dariush, what do you make of a fighter without a Wikipedia page? He has great submissions and a wrestling background, but his striking has also greatly improved. He defeated Charlie Brenneman handily in his UFC debut and will look to the same. He is a silver medalist in submission wrestling and has competed in over 50 submission tournaments.

My prediction, Dariush via submission (RD 1)

Inside The Cage Recap -- Saturday, April 5th, 2014

Apr 06, 2014 -- 7:31am

Every Saturday morning, Jordan Sherwood and Frank Zaffere hit on the top news as it pertains to mix martial arts, on Inside The Cage. Here are the highlights from today's show: 

Jordan and Frank discuss if the UFC suffers from not having a star. Audio

Jordan and Frank debate whether if Jon Jones is ducking opponents, ahead of his UFC 172 fight. Audio

Jordan and Frank go Five Rounds, hitting on the hottest topics in the world of MMA, including which UFC fighter they would not want to get pulled over by. Audio

Jordan and Frank talk about the recent fights announced for UFC 173, as well weigh in on the news and notes from this past week. Audio

Be sure to listen to the show Saturday’s at 10am, follow Jordan Sherwood (@woodonmma) and Frank Zaffere (@realfrankz), and check the MMA blog daily.

Inside The Cage Recap -- Saturday, March 29th, 2014

Mar 29, 2014 -- 2:19pm

Every Saturday morning, Jordan Sherwood and Frank Zaffere hit on the top news as it pertains to mix martial arts, on Inside The Cage. Here are the highlights from today's show: 

Jordan and Frank discuss the benefits, if any for MMA to unionize. Audio

Jordan and Frank debate if the UFC is doing enough to ban performance-enhancing drugs in their sport, and react to other leagues hammering down on PED's. Audio

Jordan and Frank go Five Rounds, hitting on the hottest topics in the world of MMA, including how the UFC can capitalize if the NFL is headed towards implosion. Audio

Jordan and Frank preview the upcoming UFC fight cards, plus the strength of UFC 173. Audio

Be sure to listen to the show Saturday’s at 10am, follow Jordan Sherwood (@woodonmma) and Frank Zaffere (@realfrankz), and check the MMA blog daily.


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