Archive for the ‘Canadian MMA’ Category

The top three boxers in MMA today

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

By Matt Larkin

Guest Writer

A few weeks ago, I made my picks for the top three wrestlers in MMA today. Now, let’s turn our attention to the masters of the Sweet Science. Which three mixed martial artists would have the best chance of contending as pro boxers? Here are my picks, keeping in mind that I’m not referring to strikers overall – just pure boxers.

Another aside: Anderson Silva will appear on the Muay Thai list instead. And George St-Pierre, as good as he is, just misses the cut as he hasn’t shown knockout power with his boxing yet.

1. Vitor Belfort

To me, the Phenom is the guy most MMA insiders mention as “someone who could immediately contend if he switched to pro boxing.” Belfort’s hands are both lightning-fast and powerful and he strings together vicious combinations. In a pure fist fight, there’s no one better.

2. Junior Dos Santos

Dos Santos has emerged as a close second to Belfort. The UFC heavyweight champ is similar in that he relies almost exclusively on his boxing to beat opponents. Trained by Brazil’s Olympic coach, JDS has great speed for a heavyweight and devastating uppercut.

3. Mark Hominick

That Mark Hominick even survived five rounds to Jose Aldo is a testament to his outstanding boxing ability. Place the Canadian featherweight in the cage with any other opponent and he outclasses him in the striking game. Hominick has crisp technique, outstanding accuracy and knocks guys out more often than people think.

What? No Nick Diaz? He picks opponents apart with his precise, long reach but loses points for his nonchalant defensive approach and pitter-patter power.

Why losing to Carlos Condit might help Georges St-Pierre’s legacy

Friday, October 14th, 2011

By Matt Larkin

Guest Writer

Make no mistake: swapping Carlos Condit in for Nick Diaz as Georges St-Pierre’s next challenger for the UFC welterweight title was not a lucky break for the champ.

In fact, I’d argue that Condit may give GSP his toughest test in years – at least since the Thiago Alves fight (on paper, as he ended up dominating Alves).

Condit embodies what mixed martial arts is all about. He’s the total package, displaying knockout power, solid BJJ and submission skills, excellent fitness and, most of all, a true killer instinct. It’s the latter trait that should have the champ sweating. Appropriately nicknamed the Natural Born Killer, Condit (27-5) is as good a finisher as anyone in the sport. Of his 27 victories, 26 have come via stoppage, 13 by knockout and 13 by submission. He has a granite jaw and has battled back to win some real wars.

Though overcoming St-Pierre’s wrestling will still be a challenge for the wiry Condit, he clearly poses a major threat to St-Pierre because he’s truly willing to go for broke and he attacks from any position in the cage, including on his back. That nasty edge is the one skill GSP lacks nowadays and it makes me wonder if losing this fight would be better for St-Pierre’s career.

With a 22-2 record and having avenged his only two losses, GSP has surpassed Matt Hughes as the greatest 170-punder ever to compete in MMA. He’s at worst the No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. But if he continues to fight the way he has his last few times in the cage, he’ll tarnish his legacy.

St-Pierre has begun fighting not to lose. It was particularly evident in his most recent title defenses against Josh Koscheck and Jake Shields, when he was clearly the superior striker but seemed afraid to fully engage. This conservative style has sent many a fan leaping off the GSP bandwagon.

GSP fights cautiously because he has little to gain and everything to lose when defending his title. If we ever want to see the GSP we fell in love with again, he may be better off losing the belt.

Falling to Condit would mean that GSP would have to change his game the next time out and win more decisively to gain top contender status and challenge for the belt again. He would have to battle in a way that didn’t leave the fight to the judges. He’d have to bust out all the athletic, dynamic strikes and takedowns that he used to, when he was the welterweight version of Jon Jones. Losing the belt would also open up a chance for GSP to challenge Anderson Silva at 185 pounds.

If St-Pierre keeps winning, he’ll forever be viewed as a dominant champion, but also as a boring one who didn’t take chances. He said he wants to be known as the best fighter of all-time. To do that, he may need to be humbled first. If Condit breaks GSP down, the legend may build himself back up better than ever.

Has Jon Jones passed Georges St-Pierre in the pound-for-pound debate?

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

By Matt Larkin

Guest Writer

Another high-profile fight, another easy-breezy win for Jon “Bones” Jones.

Last weekend, the UFC’s light heavyweight champion and youngest belt holder in the promotion’s history battled a legend of the sport, Rampage Jackson, and tossed him aside like nothing.

The fight lasted four rounds but wasn’t remotely close. Jones picked Jackson apart with his ridiculous reach and unpredictability in the striking game, softening him up before choking him out. Rampage barely laid a finger on him. Most other high-profile MMA fighters even believe Jones toyed with Rampage and could’ve finished the fight sooner.

The epic performance called to mind the current world pound-for-pound rankings. Jones is almost a consensus top-four pick, with Cain Velasquez arguably deserving the fifth spot. After Jose Aldo got beat up in his last defense, it’s fair to argue that Jones deserves at least the No. 3 spot. But what about the top two spots?

It’s fair to say that Anderson Silva remains untouchable at No. 1. He’s won 15 straight fights and has never lost in the UFC. But what about Georges St-Pierre?

On paper, the welterweight champion has done little to lose the second rung on the ladder, having won nine consecutive fights. But a look at four pound-for-pound factors shows suggests GSP and Jones may be interchangeable.

1. Longevity

Naturally, GSP still has the edge at this stage. He’s 22-2 for his career and has defended his UFC welterweight title six straight times. Jones’ defense streak sits at one and counting.

Edge: St-Pierre

2. Dominance

A few years ago, GSP would’ve gotten plenty of votes, as his wrestling has made him dominant. But Jones has taken dominance to an even higher level. In 15 pro fights, the kid hasn’t sustained a scratch. No opponent has landed a noteworthy strike, takedown or submission attempt. Jones has utterly owned his rivals with unorthodox, accurate striking, powerful wrestling and evasiveness.

The crazy thing about Jones: as his opponents get tougher, he doesn’t become less dominant. He made legends like Rampage and Shogun look just as bad as his early conquests like Stephan Bonnar and Jake O’Brien. He beat an elite wrestler like Ryan Bader with superior wrestling. He beat an amazing Muay Thai striker in Shogun with superior striking. No fighter in MMA history has ever obliterated the competition like Jones through his first 15 bouts.

Edge: Jones

3. Quality of Opponents

GSP still gets the clear edge here. Jones was coddled to start his UFC career and, after breezing through some vets and young pups, arguably has only three victories that matter (Bader, Rua, Jackson).

GSP, meanwhile, has cleaned out the competition at 170 pounds. He’s beaten two of the greatest fighters of all time, BJ Penn and Matt Hughes, twice each. He’s avenged his only two defeats (Hughes and Matt Serra). He has turned aside everyone thrown his way.

Edge: St-Pierre

4. Intimidation factor

St-Pierre was a much more intimidating fighter a few years ago, when he used his Karate to pummel opponents. But his lack of finishing ability in recent years has been well-documented. Dana White has defended GSP, stating that his opponents have gotten tougher and thus made it tougher for him to put guys away. But tough competition hasn’t stopped Silva from burying opponents and it seems no one can go the distance with Jones anymore.

As Pat Barry explained, Jones has reached “Mike Tyson status.” Fighters are afraid of him and have no idea how to solve him.

Edge: Jones

To me, St-Pierre and Jones are on equal footing as co-No. 2s in the pound-for-pound rankings. The way things are trending, Jones may be alone in the second spot before long.

Grant Brothers MMA hosts summer BBQ with Chuck Liddell

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

When the Iceman cometh to your MMA gym, you know you’ve hit the bigtime.

That must be how the Grant Brothers Boxing and MMA Gym feels these days. In less than two years, the training facility has become one of Canada’s best and brightest. The likes of Gray Maynard, Mark Bocek, Dan Hardy, Roy Nelson and Claude Patrick have stopped by to train and chat. Fighters like Sean Pierson and Wagnney Fabiano train there.

And now, UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell will co-host a summer barbecue this Saturday, August 27 at the gym, located at 4884 Dufferin Street, unit 6 in Toronto, Ontario. The event runs from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Want a free autograph or photo with the former longtime UFC light heavyweight champion? Liddell is available until 7:30 p.m. Then, he’ll hold a press conference at the barbecue to make a major announcement. From 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., he’ll make himself available for one-on-one interviews on a first-come, first serve basis.

If hanging with Chuck Liddell isn’t your cup of tea (yeah, right), the Grant Brothers summer barbecue has plenty more to offer. Rockstar Energy and GP8 Water will be on hand to provide free drinks and Headrush Clothing will give away free clothing.

Barbecue guests will also get their shot at some cool prizes. Signing up for the gym enters you in a draw for a trip to Las Vegas; entering the GP8 Fitness challenge also qualifies you for prizes.

The fun doesn’t end at 9:00 p.m. For all the UFC fans out there, Grant Brothers MMA will screen UFC 134: Silva versus Okami live and free. The event will feature lots of Brazilians – including Muay Thai legends Anderson Silva and Shogun Rua.

For more  information on the Grant Brothers MMA summer barbecue, call 416-736-7770 or e-mail info@grantbrothersmma.com. You can also inquire at the Grant Brothers front reception.

Anyone looking for a one-on-one interview with Chuck Liddell, Grant Brothers ownership or Headrush clothing can contact Mimi Ngo at 647-267-4692 or e-mail Mimi.ngo@umusic.com.

MMA Training Toronto, North York, Brampton, Etobicoke, Markham, Mississauga, Oshawa, Peel Region, Pickering, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Thornhill, Vaughan, Woodbridge, York, York Region Ontario Canada.

Shawn Tompkins: Death of a Canadian MMA legend

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

By Matt Larkin

Guest Writer

Hearts are heavy in Canadian MMA this week. Shawn Tompkins, the legendary Canadian kickboxer-turned MMA trainer, died suddenly of a heart attack on Sunday at age 37.

His loss is a major blow the sport we love. But nothing can bring him back now. All we can do is celebrate the man Shawn Tompkins was and what he did for mixed martial arts.

Shawn was a teacher and mentor to numerous high-profile fighters, known for his Muay Thai expertise. He taught Canadians Mark Hominick and Sam Stout; he was married to Stout’s sister, Emilie Stout. Shawn also taught Brazilian striking legends Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort.

Shawn really made a name for himself over the last several years, starting in 2007 when he took over from Bas Rutten as head coach of the Los Angeles Anacondas in the Independent Fight League. He migrated the Anacondas, plus his Team Tompkins from London, Ontario, over to Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas.

Shawn became Xtreme Couture’s head instructor. In 2009, he left there to become a team trainer at the TapouT Research and Development Training Center. Despite taking on a new job, he remained closely tied to all the fighters he trained, consistently cornering them. He was particularly thrilled when MMA finally gained Ontario sanctioning and cornered several of his fighters’ first bouts in the province.

His sudden death leaves a massive void among the fighters he mentored and most of all, with his wife. It also begs the question: did we celebrate his contribution to Canadian MMA enough while he was alive?

Canadian mixed martial arts is still in its infancy. Naturally, Georges St-Pierre put it on the map like no one else, and several other fighters have risen to prominence since. But there may have been no more respected Canadian MMA trainer than Shawn Tompkins.

Just look at the reactions among the MMA community:

“Shawn is one of my best friends, one of the best if not the best striking coaches on the planet, and I mean this,” said Bas Rutten. “He always puts his students and friends before him, would do anything for them.”

“Sad to hear the news about Shawn Tompkins,” said Chuck Liddell. “My condolences to his family. He was a great guy and coach.”

“RIP Shawn Tompkins – your impact on MMA and this world will be remembered by millions,” said Shane Carwin.

“Big loss for our sport,” said UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta. “Shawn Tompkins. We will miss him!”

Looking at that list of names, it’s clear Shawn was revered around the world. In hindsight, I wish Canada did a better job honouring such a meaningful contributor to MMA.

It’s not too late, however. We can still pay tribute to him by celebrating his life and accomplishments. Here’s hoping someone makes a documentary to tell his amazing story. It would be a major step toward doing him justice.

R.I.P., Shawn Tompkins, and thanks for what you’ve done for our awesome sport.

MMA Training Toronto, North York, Brampton, Etobicoke, Markham, Mississauga, Oshawa, Peel Region, Pickering, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Thornhill, Vaughan, Woodbridge, York, York Region Ontario Canada.

Is Rory MacDonald ready to contend?

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

By Matt Larkin

Guest Writer

With respect to a former champ like Carlos Newton and current UFC contenders like Mark Hominick and Sam Stout, Georges St-Pierre remains Canada’s one and only mixed martial arts superstar to date.

He’s the only guy to reach that “untouchable” status, land the “cool” endorsement deals, and become an icon outside his own country.

But is that about to change? Rory MacDonald’s performance at UFC 133 last Saturday was impressive enough to beg the question.

He rolled through Mike Pyle so easily that he almost looked insulted to have been given such an inferior opponent. MacDonald literally brushed off his shoulders after finishing Pyle – an opponent with 21 MMA victories and 17 submissions to his credit.

After walking through Pyle like he was nothing, MacDonald is now 12-1…at age 22. His only loss came to mega welterweight contender Carlos Condit – and Macdonald may have won that fight had Condit not TKO’d him with seven seconds remaining.

MacDonald has all the makings of a superstar. He has a solid wrestling base, he can submit opponents, his technical striking is strong and he has a swagger in the Octagon. Joe Rogan even went as far to say during Saturday’s telecast that MacDonald may have a higher ceiling than GSP.

And that’s what scares me. Is there a risk of pushing MacDonald up the ranks too quickly? He’s already voiced his interest in fighting Jon Fitch, who has lost once in his last 23 fights. I worry that he’s aiming too high, too soon.

The UFC really has something with MacDonald. He’s a new-age fighter who looks like he could be the 170-pound division’s answer to Jon Jones. But I hope the promotion is careful. Instead of Fitch, why not give MacDonald a contender from the next tier down, like Thiago Alves, Rick Story or Anthony Johnson?  To me, a Fitch fight is no-win. If MacDonald loses, his growing legacy gets tarnished. If he wins, he’d likely vault into No. 1 contender status and be forced to fight GSP, who is his training partner. That would be messy.

MacDonald’s emergence as a new potential Canadian MMA superstar is fantastic news. But I hope he isn’t rushed up the ladder too quickly.