Evan Shoman

www.shomanart.com
www.twitter.com/shomanart
www.facebook.com/evanshoman
www.youtube.com/shomanart
 photo vi_zps5ad68ed9.jpg

Grabbing the Bull by the Horns: Bull Lawal

When you think of brothers who compete in mixed martial arts, you think of Frank and Ken Shamrock, Jim and Dan Miller, or Fedor and Aleks Emelianenko.  When we see siblings in MMA they usually they come from a similar martial arts background almost 100% of the time. King Mo’s 27 year old younger brother Abdullah ‘Bull” Lawal is going to enter the world of mixed martial arts with a totally different set of credentials. When Mo was pinning opponents and preparing to wrestle in the Olympics, his brother Bull was getting assists and steals playing basketball in college. After only 9 months of MMA training, the former collegiate point guard will test his new found skills when he makes his pro debut against Jabari Abduhl-Shakur at Legacy Fighting Championship.

 

MMA seemed to just fall into Bull’s lap.  Regretfully not entering the NBA draft, Lawal found himself at a crossroad in his life.  Timing had a lot to do with Bull’s decision to make a career out of MMA.

 “A lot of my friends were asking me why I had not tried fighting since my brother was so successful at it.  I didn’t even consider it because college basketball doesn’t exactly translate well into to MMA like wrestling or boxing.  Once Muhammed signed with TNA Wrestling I spoke with his manager Mike Kogan who told me I should start training.  Playing in the NBA wasn’t going to happen so I jumped in with both feet.”

 

Bull Lawal will begin his mma career with a giant target on his back.  Even though he has never stepped foot in a ring yet, his last name alone is a bullseye for would-be opponents to take aim at.  Bull is plenty aware that he will be known as ‘King Mo’s brother’ until he creates his own identity within the sport.  He isn’t cocky thinking he is going to step right in and get straight A’s across the board.  He knows that MMA is a learning process and has tried to soak in as much knowledge as he can from his brother, coaches and training partners. Bull said jokingly,

 

“I don’t have any combat sports background whatsoever.  I watched Muhammed train all the time when we were growing up and he used to do every type of wrestling move on me to prepare me for this moment.”

 

Before Mo turned pro, the word out of Team Quest was that he hit like a truck. I asked Bull if this was Lawal genetics or if he had to learn how to power punch from square one.

“It’s a Lawal trait but I do hit harder than him.  I know people will find that hard to believe, but every time we go to a place that has a punching machine that tests the force of your punch I always beat him. One time with Mo, Rashad Evans, and his brother Lance Evans we were all hitting that machine and I hit the hardest.”

 

Although he is confident with his progress he still adapting to the mma style of training.  

 

“There is such a big contrast in training for basketball and training for fighting.  I was a very physical player and was used to the contact in basketball. MMA is a totally different type of cardio and physicality.  It’s one thing to be able to run all day long, but it’s another thing to have a 205 lb guy laying on you trying to punch your face in.  On a daily basis at “The Octagon” in Texas my head coach Sayif Saud, my other coaches, and my training partners are all helping me get prepared.

 

When speaking with Lawal you can tell that he is a competitor.  Some people are just born with that x-factor of needing to compete.

 

“This is really exciting for me because I’m testing myself again.  My last college basketball game in 2009 was the last time I did anything competitive.  I am so excited for this new venture that I am about to take part in.  However, I haven’t started enjoying getting punched in the face or choked out yet.  That is a work in progress!”

 

When April 12, 2013 arrives and Bull Lawal steps into the ring at Legacy Fighting Championship, we should anticipate seeing him with a big smile on his face.  We’ll see a fighter fulfilling his dream to compete as a career.  He is content on being ‘King Mo’s brother’ for now and is just taking MMA one step at a time.  You won’t hear him boasting that he will be world champion tomorrow.  What fans should expect is a humble man who wants to make those closest to him to see that hard work pays off. His motivation right now is “To make my son, Mo, and teammates/friends proud.” 

 

You never know… In a few years King Mo may become “World champion: Bull Lawal’s brother”.  Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s just see how April 12 turns out first.

Love and MMA with Cristiano Marcello

Anyone who has been a mixed martial arts fan for an extended period of time is well aware of the reputation of the Chute Boxe Academy in Brazil.  The gym was known to produce combatants that fought like savages in MMA.  Wanderlei Silva, Anderson Silva, Shogun Rua, and Cris Cyborg were just some of the savages who were created in that gym.  Current UFC lightweight, Cristiano Marcello, was the head jiu-jitsu coach to these fighters.  His attacking style of BJJ helped mold his fighters into some of the greatest champions the sport has seen today. 

Marcello has done and seen it all.  He is one of the few UFC fighters in history to be on the Ultimate Fighter reality show, compete in Pride, and fight for the UFC.  With 17 fights to his credit, Marcello has no fear when stepping into the cage and competing.  Tomorrow night we will the see 35 year old compete against UFC newcomer Kazuki Tokudome in Japan.   

ES: What do you know about your opponent Kazuki Tokudome?

CM: He’s a guy who likes to come forward and doesn’t mind exchange strikes. He also has a wrestling background. I hope he tries to bring the fight to the ground where I can submit him.

ES: Do you think he wants to take you down knowing about your exceptional bjj skills?

CM: In MMA, you start standing, so I have continued training my Muay Thai and boxing skills to be prepared for anything.  I don’t have any fear of a brawl and if I have to go to war like my last fight, I’ll do it again.  However, I would love if the fight took place on the ground.

ES: Does the UFC making a lot of cuts weigh heavily on you going into a fight?

CM: I fight to submit or knock a guy out.  I believe the UFC wants you to give a great show. I want to win, but more than anything, I want to perform my best. I want the submission or knockout.  I feel if you give a good show and fight your best you will still have your job.  Winning is obviously important in a career, but the skill level of UFC guys are so high now it’s hard to win every time.

ES: Would you say your style of fighting is what fans want to see?

CM: My goal is to fight the same way I fight every time.  People like the way I fight.  When I can’t fight aggressively for the win any more, I will quit MMA.

Japanese fans are the best in the world and respectfully enjoy watching fights.  Are you happy to go back and compete?

I feel at home in Japan.  I still have a lot of fans there from when I fought in Pride, so I’m very excited.  This will be my 27th time in Japan, so I know how to get myself acclimated quickly.  The Japanese people really study the martial arts too. If there is a good sweep, punch, or throw they will cheer for you and your technique.  It doesn’t matter if you are from Japan, Brazil, or America… if you give them a great show they will show appreciating for it.

ES: What do you think of all of the TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy) issues that keep coming up?

CM: I still have a lot of motivation in MMA. THAT is my testosterone.

ES: Do you still train other people during your own training camp time?

CM: In my Chute Boxe days, I did both at the same time, and still do today.  I love my life today because a lot of people need my attention like those I train, my 2 kids, and my wife.  I embrace it because if I stay home and do nothing it makes me crazy. 

I have over 40 pro guys in Brazil that I train.  Brazil is like a factory for putting out mma fighters.  Right now I am building future champions that are aggressive and technical.  I am teaching them to fight the way that I do for their career.

I am very proud and happy with my camp for this fight and my home life too.  I am so happy right now and you will see me fighting with a smile on my face in Japan.

Speaking with Cristiano,  it is obvious that he is thrilled at this point in his career.   It’s not often that you get to hear people say how happy they are with the way things are going in their life.  When you hear pure joy coming from someone that loves where they are at in life, it’s inspiring.  This is what Marcello exudes when you hear him talk.  When he steps into the cage to fight Kazuki Tokudome he will be wearing 4 things… shorts, gloves, a protective cup, and a smile that stretches from ear to ear.

Follow Cristiano Marcello on Twitter: @CristianoBJJ

Not the Endo for Dan Hendo

If you watched UFC 157 this past Saturday night, you were like every other fan that was terribly disappointed in the Dan Henderson vs Lyoto Machida fight.  Fans tuned in to see a #1 contender emerge to challenge Jon Jones for his title, but instead saw a track meet.  Back pedaling and being elusive was a smart game plan for Machida, but brutally unaesthetically pleasing to watch.  In all fairness who would want to stand in front of Dan Henderson and trade power shots? The answer is, not many people.  More often than not, if you stand in front of Dan Henderson you will likely wake up staring at the arena ceiling.

Dan Henderson will never make excuses for anything. He didn’t make excuses when he went into his fight with Jake Shields with a severely injured back, and he surely didn’t let it be known that he was battling a flu bug when he fought Shogun Rua.  So, when Dan Henderson didn’t fight for over a year, you know it was because Dan was badly injured and unable to compete.  He has made his career being the guy that will fight at any weight, anywhere, and any time.  If you are a fan of mixed martial arts, then you have to appreciate Dan Henderson.  He is what all MMA fighters should strive to be like.

I asked Dan from his perspective what happened in his fight with Lyoto Machida at UFC 157.  He was prepared for Machida’s ‘elusiveness’, but definitely not the extent of the elusiveness.  Dan’s thoughts on the fight with Lyoto Machida clearly show his frustration with the way he fought, judging, and his own performance.  He makes no excuses and the following quotes are directly related to the questions asked about the fight.

“I kind of expected him to run to a point, but I didn’t expect him to not really engage at all.  It was probably the most frustrating fight I’ve ever fought.  Maybe I should have pressured him more, but I felt like I was pressuring him enough. He was tough to hit. Even the way the fight went, I still thought I had done enough to win, but evidently not.”

 “I didn’t have the best training camp, due injuries and stuff.  Towards the end of my camp everything came together and I was able to do what I needed to do during practices, and wasn’t having any issues with injuries. Possibly, because of that, my timing was a little off or footwork wasn’t as good as it could have been. There are a lot of things that I’m normally a little bit better at, but I wasn’t that night. I don’t know if it was the time off or injuries in camp that held me up, but either way I still had the tools to be in there and I should have changed it up a little bit when I knew he wouldn’t engage with me.”

“I felt the first 2 rounds could have gone either way.  Even if it had been 1 round apiece I had just been on top of him for a couple of minutes in the 3rd round and thought he’d really have to come at me (because Machida would think he was losing). I waited for him to come at me but he never really did. Maybe a couple of kicks but, that’s it.  Unfortunately for the fans, I let him fight his fight, which is to not really fight.”

 “I really should have changed it up during the fight. I planned on taking him down a little bit more, but didn’t.  I can’t blame it completely on the judges or Lyoto. There are things I was capable of doing that I didn’t do.  It’s tough to fight a guy that doesn’t want to fight you, though.”

 After discussing the Machida fight we went on to talk about Dan’s future in the UFC.  Despite having a career that has seen him fight at middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight he says,

 “185 pounds is always a possibility, but at this point, I want to stay at 205 pounds.  I know I’m capable of winning that belt there.  I just didn’t have a great fight, and not having a great fight I still thought I had done enough to win.  Sucks to lose those really close ones, but ultimately I shouldn’t have let it get that close.”

 In typical Dan Henderson fashion, when asked if he’d take a super fight at heavyweight, he calmly stated,

 “I’d consider fighting anybody.  As long as I didn’t have to cut too much weight, I’d pretty much fight anybody.  I just want to get back in there as soon as possible. I hated the long layoff.  I want to fight any one of the top 5 guys and I know I’m capable of beating them. That’ll keep me right up in there. I’ll take any one of them.  I could sit here and bitch (about the Machida fight), but it doesn’t help anything.  I just want to be active and give the fans what they should have seen the other night.”

 Any fighter nearing their mid to late 30’s often hears the whispers from media or fans about when they will decide to retire.  Even at 42 years of age, Dan doesn’t plan on slowing down or going anywhere any time soon. 

 “I wasn’t planning on retiring anyway after 1 or 2 fights. I plan on being there for a couple of more years, at least. I want to get back in there and fight as soon as I can and stay active this year and next year for sure.”

 Dan Henderson is one of the last active fighters from a time in MMA where the landscape of the sport was vastly different than it is today. There were no reality TV shows that catapulted you to superstardom and glorified drunken exploits of mid-level fighters.  When Dan won his first UFC tournament, the Fertittas didn’t own the UFC, Jose Aldo was 12 years old, and Titanic won the Academy Award for Best Picture.  To this day, he is the only man in a top MMA promotion to hold championship belts in two different weight classes concurrently.  The accolades associated with his name epitomize the definition of what a living legend is.  At 42 years of age it seems that Hendo has finally hit his prime, and that is a terrifying thought for anyone standing across the cage from him.

You can follow Dan on twitter @danhendo or visit his website danhenderson.com

#SaveOlympicWrestling

 

Hater’s Ball

I’ve said a million times that I love the sport of mma but hate everything else that surrounds it.  The ACT of mixed martial arts is intriguing to me.  I love watching fights. But that is where my love for this sport ends.  It’s both a blessing and a curse that the internet was developed and people have such easy access to anyone.  A majority of people do not use the internet for what it was intended. Stealing music and trying to find porn.  Fans of all sports now have a direct line to athletes and many of them abuse it to the extent of embarrassing proportions.

Fans are opinionated jerks in every sport.  Everyone has something to say after a game and in our case… after every fight.  20 years ago you couldn’t get near an athlete unless you had a mailing address to contact them through.  But now with the click of a button you can tell Dana White exactly how you feel about the way he runs his company.

“Thanks Bob in Des Moine Iowa for your insight and opinion.  Jon Fitch is re-hired since you told me I am an asshole and he should be in the UFC”

-Said Dana White NEVER

I have no misconceptions about myself and do not think I am perfect.  Lord knows I have put many athletes on blast via the internet when they show disrespect for an opponent etc but never have I gone out of my way to tell them so.  The last thing I would ever do is contact them directly to tell them about it.  I express my views on my social media pages but never on theirs.  Maybe it’s because I am an adult and have seen vaginas up close and not on a laptop so typing stupidity on the internet to someone seems a bit immature. Trust me, I know immature.

I’ve been posting my drawings on the internet forums for the last 9 years.  Every time I do someone HAS to tell me how much I suck, my work is traced, or they just aren’t even drawings in the first place. 

What is it that prompts someone to say “I hate that” instead of just moving on?  There is no more discussion about things any more. Everyone just tears down everything without batting an eyelash.  The audacity of someone to absolutely slam someone for no other reason other than having a screen name and accessibility to the internet is now staggering. 

I started writing this after a day of watching people slam Dana White, Bellator, Jon Fitch and ultimately the knockout of a personal friend of mine, King Mo.  Look at the amount of people who come out of the woodwork:


I know what is coming any time someone loses a fight.  An absolute storm of negativity hits the internet where people that have never accomplished anything of significance  decide to put on their steel tipped boots and stomp on someone’s son, brother, father, friend, or hero.  We’ve all seen it many times and I can only come to one of three conclusions.
Either:

1. This gives a feeling of empowerment by hurting someone else without actually suffering any repercussions.

2. They live for this moment to show the world that “I told you so”.

3. They are simply just an asshole.

It’s hard to deal with seeing people you love, look up to, or care about getting unmercifully shredded apart by some no name accountant in Florida.  I saw a tweet from the owner of MMA Elite Alden Halpern who views his stable of fighters not as clients but as family.

 “You all know me and I never take anything away from the winner. Nothing but respect for all who step into the cage. It’s the a-holes I am over.”

 I can only imagine the tweets that came in to Alden filled with hate for no other reason other than people simply want to be cruel.  Alden just watched his brother Mo get ko’d and in these people’s minds it was a good idea to tell Alden ‘In your face’.  No one wants to hear that stupidity.  Why people can’t just spew their hate to their 14 followers that are fake Brazilian porno sites is beyond me.  But targeting people who care about the person they are slandering (90% of the time anonymously) is the ultimate show of classlessness and insensitivity. Anything but complimenting someone you’ve never met via the internet is the pinnacle of a cowardly act. 

In a time when gas prices are too high, the economy is a bust, and there is just an overall sense of instability people are still finding the time to be unkind to their fellow man.  The only way all of this will ever stop is if the internet ceases to be and that will never happen. God forbid people have to go outside and do something productive.  If you are reading this and have ever spewed negativity on the internet to someone personally then you are the problem with this sport.  I’ve seen people say they aren’t ‘Hating’ but just being honest.  If you don’t know whoever you are being ‘Honest’ to then that is 100% the definition of being a hater. 

Now if you will excuse me I have to write a death threat to Norv Turner.

Gimme an Ellenberger with a side of Gold

UFC 158 should be moved to UFC 170 just so the title can match the description.  The 158 card boasts a bevy of welterweight fights which by that night’s end will see a significantly changed landscape of the top 10 standings in the division. The scheduled fight between Jake Ellenberger and Johny Hendricks features stone fisted welterweights who are both at the top of the division vying for the next title shot.  As of yesterday this fight is no longer happening.

 At UFC 154 on November 17, 2012 Carlos Condit battled Georges St Pierre for the welterweight title and lost a unanimous decision.  In the bout before that very main event Johny Hendricks knocked Martin Kampmann out in :46 seconds and solidified himself as the next in line to fight GSP for a title shot.  Within a month the UFC brass changed their mind and decided that Nick Diaz, who not only was coming off a loss but a year long suspension for testing positive for marijuana (which is still the dumbest rule in any sport), would Face GSP for the belt.  Hendricks earned his shot and had it taken away just as fast.  He was crushed and the mma world empathized with Hendricks.  It wasn’t fair. But in the world of business, ‘fair’ means nothing compared to the all mighty dollar.  Like Chris Rock says,            

“I wouldn’t have done it… But I understand.”

So UFC 158 was set.  GSP would fight Nick Diaz for the title, Jake Ellenberger would fight Johny Hendricks for the top contender spot, and Carlos Condit would get his revenge match against Rory MacDonald.  Unfortunately Rory gets injured while attending a roller-skating hipster fashion show and he can no longer compete.  Condit now has no opponent so the UFC decide to give him Hendricks.  Now Ellenberger has no opponent so the UFC puts him against Nate Marquardt now at UFC 158.  The fight card is now set.  Again.

Jake Ellenberger had a possible #1 contender fight set in stone but is now slated to fight Marquardt who is coming off a loss in Strikeforce and there hasn’t been any talks of a title in the very near future.  If Jake wins he will more than likely have to fight again before a title shot.  If he loses… Longer.  Here we see another example of a fighter getting the short end of the stick in the name of the company making money. Again,

“I wouldn’t have done it… But I understand.”

 What makes this whole situation even worse is that Ellenberger, Hendricks, Marquardt, and Condit are all the nicest guys you’ve ever met.  You can stand up and cheer for the situations that Hendricks, Condit, and Marquardt have all been put in but Ellenberger gets the awkward sympathy hug with the butt sticking out. 

On Tuesday Ellenberger was visibly heated towards Hendricks as we can see from his twitter. 

His ire may be misdirected but he still has every right to feel wronged.  But Hendricks has to do what is best for his career and taking a fight with the former top contender when the UFC asks is something you do not turn down.  The best thing Ellenberger can do is get short term memory loss and put this behind him to focus on Nate Marquardt in 25 days.  In this day and age Dana rewards fighters who perform inside the Octagon.  Ellenberger, Hendricks, Condit, or Marquardt could be the next top dog with the type of performance they put on. Now we just have to wait and see how this whole thing plays out.

*Grabs popcorn*

Ronda Rousey: The 2013 Mike Tyson

“Is there any possibility at all in the UFC for a women’s division?”


“Everyone asks me that and the fact is right now Gina Carano is a star.  There’s just not enough good female fighters out there to make a division. You have Gina Carano and a couple of other girls and that’s it. If you had 20 girls at Gina Carano’s level then maybe you could do it. There aren’t that many girls out there that are that good. In our small little mma world we still can’t even have fights in New York and Massachusetts. We’re still trying to get people get used to seeing GUYS fight. People are not ready to see a girl get a beat down.”
-Dana White
Tapout Radio 2008

A lot of people get hung up on every word, breath, or sound that comes out of Dana White’s mouth. Fans hear it and remember forever. It’s as if fanboys are all Scorpio’s and they never forget just so one day they can say ‘I told you so’. Dana said to tmz that we will ‘Never’ see women in the UFC.  For all these private investigators always trying to get the inside scoop from Dana it’s astonishing that none could see the sarcasm in his statement. In numerous interviews Dana has always stated ‘We’ll see’ in regards to women’s mma in the UFC. ‘We’ll see’ is now UFC 157 this Saturday night where Ronda Rousey will defend her women’s bantamweight title against Liz Carmouche.

Shannon Knapp has created Invicta as a platform for only wmma. Women now have a home to display their skills as opposed to before when they were tucked away on an all male fight card somewhere on the prelims.  But it was because of a select few females that helped boost the sport of wmma to even make Invicta possible.  One of those women was Rowdy Ronda Rousey.

While the former ‘Face of wmma’ Gina Carano had good skills and was very marketable, she chose the more mainstream path and used her hype to elevate her status to become an actor.  Meanwhile Ronda Rousey has come along using superior skill and marketability to further the sport of fighting.  People don’t really seem to grasp how important Ronda is to the sport of mixed martial arts. In a very short time she has accomplished so much in mma with her sometimes brash style, never being out of a 1st round, and finishing every fight the same way.  When an opponent knows an armbar is coming and they can’t stop it no matter what they do or how they trained… Whether you have a penis or a vagina… I WANT TO WATCH YOU FIGHT. Just today someone posted on my twitter that they have no interest in wmma.  To each their own but those people are ignorant to the fact that they will miss out on beautiful technique and finishing prowess.  Should it matter if your doctor is male or female?  No. It should matter how good they are at keeping you alive. Period. end of story.

For arguments sake I can say that the WNBA is one of the worst things I’ve ever seen and I never would want to watch a game.  Is it because I don’t want to watch women play basketball? Absolutely.  They are aesthetically so brutal to watch and don’t have half the athleticism that men do. So until a woman comes along that can dunk a basketball or not have a 3 part hitch in her jump shot then NO I will never watch it.  But wmma is a different monster completely. How so? I’d bet that my rec league men’s basketball team would beat any WNBA team (providing we were the same height).  Whereas I’d bet that every professional female mixed martial artist that I’ve ever seen fight would beat my ass so badly I’d probably think that jean shorts were a good idea again.

Finally women have made it in mma.  The main event of a UFC ppv is 2 women.  This is such a historic moment in our sport that everyone should just embrace this whole thing.  It is a big deal and it WILL be successful.  Liz Carmouche is the first ever openly gay UFC main eventer and no one seems to care, which is awesome.  This shows tolerance in a sport that is tremendously homophobic.  Hardcore fans are supporting the fighters.  Not a gay person. Not a woman. Not a Ryan Loco.  But a fighter. 

I can’t wait for Saturday and I have no idea what other fights are on the card aside from Henderson vs Machida.  I just know that on February 23 a proven finisher named Ronda Rousey will step into the cage and do whatever she can to try and rip someone’s arm off.  She is the current day Mike Tyson.  I say that because if you watched Tyson in the 80’s and 90’s and went to a ppv party someone always cracked the joke, “Is it over yet?” when they showed up. People showed up to watch because they knew they were going to see a violent ko.  Odds are if you see Rousey fight you will see a 1st round armbar. It’s going to be a great atmosphere in the Honda Center when Rousey and Carmouche fight.  Liz will have a huge following from nearby San Diego and the Rousey Armenian contingent that live and train locally will be there as well.  In fact she is legally changing her name to Ronda Rouseyian and the certificate comes with an autographed 8x10 of Gokor Chivichyan with a gold necklace starter kit.   If anything, go to see Ronda’s mom Dr Ann Maria DeMars running up and down the crowded aisles mirroring everything Ronda does in the cage. I’ve seen it live and as a parent myself, it is hilarious.

MMA Valentine.

You can follow your favorite fighter on twitter or watch a Primetime episode to usually get a glimpse of what mma athletes are personally like. But you will never really know unless their significant other gives you the inside scoop. Well, here is that scoop.

 

Lani Carwin (Shane Carwin’s wife)

@LaniCarwin @shanecarwin

image

What set Shane apart from his twin brother Shrek when you first met him?

 Lol, we actually met at the gym, big surprise I know!  His friend knew that I was a Realtor and Shane was looking to buy a home…and apparently his friend also knew he had his eye on me.  And the latter is true for me too. I had seen him at the gym a few times and was happy to stay running an extra few minutes on the treadmill if he was lifting nearby.  Sidetracked, sorry, just thinking about how good looking he is still makes me sidetracked!  Anyway, his friend called me over while they were doing bicep curls and said, “Lani, Shane wants to buy a house.  Can you help him?”  I said certainly and talked to Shane a bit about what he was looking for and better time to visit.  Shane wouldn’t even make eye contact with me, he just kept doing his bicep curls – he was soo shy!

What does your husband do that drives you nuts?

Honestly, not much.  He is truly an incredible guy.  I think the great thing about us getting married when we were older is that we both knew what we were looking for. 

His best characteristic?

How dedicated he is to our family.

You ever look at his hands and think “That really looks like a stack of bananas”?

I like to think of them as large lunchboxes when he’s training and fighting.  When we have downtime, they are my sweet cuddly bear hands

Best experience you saw with a fan?

I remember when the UFC was taking us back to the hotel after the Gonzaga fight.  They were taking us to a back entrance to avoid the crazy crowd, but as we passed by the front of the hotel there were kids outside just waiting for him.  He asked that they stop the van, he wanted to get out and make sure they all got their autographs.  Between that, and him being so generous to a wonderful fan who was disabled, those are probably my two favorite moments.

What’s it like during fight training time?

So crazy at our house. Shane is still an engineer by day, so between that and training (and being and husband and father) it’s really stressful.  Time is sacred and we don’t have much to spare.  I miss him like crazy, and the kids do too, but he’s working for our family and we know it’s a sacrifice we are going to make.  I do my best to support him and help him get ready for the fight.

 

 

Kannika Pulver (Jens Pulver’s wife)

@nikka_wtf @jens_pulver

image

You’re almost 4’8”. Is that why Jens was interesting to you? Because of how tall 5’7” seemed?

Now that you bring up my height…isn’t 4’8” considered legally handicapped? If not it should be…I’m tired of having to park all the way in the back just to go people watching at Wally World on food stamp day!

When you look into his eyes which do you look at, the brown or the green? (Jens has 1 brown and 1 green eye.)

It depends on who’s driving! 

What does your husband do that drives you nuts?

Eat punches! Apparently ducking isn’t on the menu though! Thankfully Jeff Curran’s team is fixing that.

His best characteristic?

His big brown eyes! HA!

Best experience you saw with a fan?

When he signed a 400 lb man’s HAIRY ass!

Does Jens EVER stop talking?

Not even in his sleep….

What’s it like during fight training time?

Peacefully quiet… duh!

 

 

 Elizabeth Holloway (Dan Hardy’s girlfriend)

@danhardymma

image

After he fought GSP did you start calling him Dan R D like I did?

Haha,  no. However, there was a lot of watching Kermit the frog on youtube.com and trying to mimic his voice. Don’t get me wrong, Dan’s got an accent as well, but I’m not sure it’s as easy to mock. Most women just think a British accent is hot. However, when we order take out, it’s usually for “Don” instead of “Dan”.

What does Dan do that drives you nuts?

He hangs his jock strap outside on the fence, in plain site, where all the neighbors can see. When I asked him if he could not do that, he said “Well, I don’t see what the big deal is, it’s clean!” Oh, and when we do laundry, I mean when I do laundry, I spend a good amount of that time trying to untangle my bras and underwear that have been snared in his hand wraps. I mean, you don’t see me hanging up my sports bras on the neighborhood fences!

 He’s also a really passionate collector of things. Recently, it’s been Hot Wheels cars and vinyl. He’s lined them up on the crown-molding ledge around the circumference of our apartment. I usually give up trying to decorate our apartment to look like a real living space, knowing that it’s just going to look like a toy store eventually. He probably has about 200 Hot Wheels cars and maybe about 1500 records. It’s out of control.

His best characteristic?

His brain. We’re both nerds when it comes to things like video games, art, and music. I couldn’t date someone that has crap taste in music and wanted to listen to remixed radio drabble all the time. Thank God, he’s British, so he naturally comes from a good solid music background.  He’s really well read on art as well, so we also have great conversations.

Best experience you saw with a fan?

We went to a fight night in Charlotte after Dan’s fight against GSP. After the show was over, people in the stands were screaming for Dan. There were a bunch of people with toddlers with Mohawks. Parents were trying to lower their kids over the stands to Dan, Michael Jackson style, so they could get pictures. Dan stayed and signed every single autograph and held all the babies. By the time we left, the octagon had already been taken down and the area was vacant!

 What’s it like during fight training time?

Like Natalie Portman in Black Swan. He’s gets insane and very focused on training camp routine. I think it’s because he has to diet. He hates dieting. I’ve seen him sit down and eat an entire meatloaf.

Does his Mohawk take longer to style than your hair does?

The Mohawk isn’t the problem, after years of putting crap into his hair, it naturally styles itself, but he does take longer to get ready than I do. He’s very particular about his converse shoes matching his t-shirt, and if the styles of jeans he has on is appropriate for where we are going. He usually changes outfits about 5 times before we go anywhere, even to the store for groceries.

 

 

Melissa Pellegrino (Kurt Pellegrino’s wife)

@M_Pellegrino06 @kurtpellegrino

image

How in the hell did Kurt ever land you?

With a very sharp hook!  We’ve been together since high school.  I wasn’t always this fabulous, he just lucked out!   Honestly I’m pretty lucky myself. 

What does your husband do that drives you nuts?

Hmm, how long do we have?  I’d have to say empty water gallons left all around the house drives me pretty nuts.

His best characteristic?

His dedication to me, our kids, and his career.  He is always there and very dependable.  Also he still makes me laugh at least twice a day.

Kurt seems like a fart under the covers kind of guy. Does he put you through that?

Ahh yes, and far worse!

Best experience you saw with a fan?

The best experiences are always with the kids. They are always so excited and Kurt fits right in with them.  But the best was when some girl asked him to sign her boobs with me next to him 8 months pregnant!  I took the picture of him signing her boobs. Ha!

What’s it like during fight training time?

It’s pretty challenging.  I make sure Kurt doesn’t have to worry about anything but training, eating, and sleeping. So with a 3 year old, a baby on the way, running 2 businesses and taking care of Kurt it gets pretty insane.  I always just remind myself that it’s only 8-10 weeks until his camp is over and after his fight we really enjoy our time together.

 Daisy Bader (Ryan Bader’s wife)

@daisybader @ryanbader

image

Did you start dating Ryan because he looked cute in a singlet?

Duh! He looks cute in anything!

What does your husband do that drives you nuts?

He likes to open things and leave the boxes or wrappers everywhere. He also likes to shave in my sink, especially after I just cleaned it. I think he likes it because I can’t get mad. I just cuss at him and laugh.

How many times a day does he mention CB Dollaway?

Only when we are making sweet sweet love. Just kiddin’! They are best buds.

His best characteristic?

He is honestly the most genuine and all around nice guy. He has wonderful character and loves his family and friends beyond words. Anyone who has ever met him would say the same thing.

Best experience you saw with a fan?

We walked past a group of people on the streets in a hurry and a handicap guy tried calling to Ryan but we didn’t hear him. Someone in our group told us a block later that the guy yelled for Ryan so he ran back to the group and took pictures with everyone. I have never seen him turn down a picture or autograph… EVER!

What’s it like during fight training time?

The mood definitely shifts during training camp. I know it’s no longer play time and I have to somewhat take the backseat to his upcoming fight during this time. It’s hard during camp, but so rewarding seeing all the hard work put in and another W on his record.

 

 Beth Franklin (Rich Franklin’s wife)

@franklin_beth @richfranklin

image

Did Rich break his hand when he shook your hand the 1st time since he’s made of LEGO’s?

When Rich and I started dating he was a tough guy.  I think I’ve probably turned him into a softy somehow in the last 11 years and maybe that’s why he’s more breakable these days. 

What does your husband do that drives you nuts?

He has analogies for everything. I don’t need the analogy- I get the point!!

His best characteristic?

He’s super smart. He has endless knowledge about nutrition and working out but also about things that aren’t so expected like the Bible. I admire that in him. 

What’s it like during fight training time?

I pretty much leave him alone for the most part when he is training for a fight. I found out a long time ago that that works better than interfering in the stress. He can be pretty “intense” (which is a nicer way to say “moody”).  We don’t get a ton of time together during those 8 weeks so I treasure every second I get. 

Best experience you saw with a fan?

The Miracle Kids Network contacted us a few years ago about a little boy named Mikey that wanted to meet Rich. Mikey and his family came to the gym and spent the day with us. Mikey called Rich “Rich Franklin” the entire day which was really cute. There was a constant “What’s Rich Franklin doing now?” sequence of questions. We took pictures of him in boxing gloves and head gear wearing his American Fighter shirt.  We have the pictures on richfranklin.com

Are there times that Rich looks terrifyingly similar to Jim Carrey that it freaks you out?

I don’t really agree with the whole Jim Carrey thing. They are similar in their personalities being they are both goofballs. I think Rich is way better looking than Jim Carrey with a much better body too!

 

Marie-Eve J. (Pat Cote’s girlfriend)

@talamarie @patrick_cote

image

Is it hard being shared with Brett Favre?

It was very hard to share, especially dealing with Favre posters and the Green Bay stuff all over the house. But hopefully Pat and Brett “broke up” a few months ago now that Brett retired.  He’s all mine now!

What does your husband do that drives you nuts?

I HATE talking on the phone and he calls me every 2 minutes just to say hi. It makes me insane!!

His best characteristic?

Pat is so dedicated to the people he loves.  He’s always there for us and we can always count on him no matter what. Pat’s friends are the luckiest people ever and i hope they realize that.

Best experience you saw with a fan?

All.

What’s it like during fight training time?

The minute we know who his next opponent is, I’m the one who can’t sleep at night! He always seem to be calm and in control. I cook him his boring meals (white chicken or salmon with broccoli), spend a lot of time washing his stinky training clothes, and doing everything i can to make his life easier so he can concentrate on his fight. How sweet is that?

If Pat could only save you or Brett Favre, who would he save?

Hahaha me for sure! Brett is the past now. But 5 years ago…

 

Kim Goldberg (Mike Goldberg’s wife)

@kimgoldberg16 @mfg16

image

After passionate love making has Mike ever yelled “It is allll over!”

Ok seriously, I think he knows better then to ever yell that.

What does your husband do that drives you nuts?

He does play by play when we are at ANY sporting events. It drives me nuts and I am sure the people around us.

His best characteristic?

One of Mike’s best characteristics is that he is so caring and genuine with everyone. Whether you are his boss or a fan trying to get an autograph he will always make time and always try and fill any request he gets.  

Best experience you saw with a fan?

I think one of the best fan experiences I witnessed was in London. Mike was surrounded by a bunch of people taking pictures and autographs and my son was getting really bored trying to walk but having to stop every few steps.  After about 10 minutes he yelled out “Why couldn’t you have been an NHL player?”   Honestly, all fan experiences are pretty amazing. We have received many letters and emails from fans who say that Mike has touched their lives by just taking the time to talk to them, take a picture, or sign something.  It truly is surreal to Mike.

Have you ever worn a skin tight black shirt, jeans, and a wallet chain to make Mike feel closer to Joe when they aren’t together?

Only a couple of times. PLEASE don’t tell anybody!!

 

Killer Cub

I have been a huge supporter of a Swedish/Mexican mixed martial artist named Kevin Luke Swanson for exactly 7 years. You may know him as featherweight contender Cub Swanson and if you have seen his last 3 fights you are a fan of his too.

I met Cub the day after mma was first sanctioned in the state of California on March 11, 2006. As do most mma fighters that are beginning their mma career he competed in a large tent located in a city fair parking lot.  The card had a plethora of unknown fighters like Swanson including future UFC combatants Rob Emerson, Edwin Dewees, Eddie Sanchez, and James Wilks.  I still vividly remember Cub walking to the cage and getting vehemently boo’d when he took on local San Diego favorite Shannon Gugerty. 

“Alright… It’s like that? Now you are all going to see what’s up”, he would admit to me at a later time.  Swanson was motivated by not only the home crowd boo’ing but avenging his only professional loss at that time to Shannon Gugerty. Of the 10 fights that were on display that evening a 22 year old kid with palm tree tattoos sticking out of his shorts stood out from everyone on the card. Like Dirk Diggler before him I saw a future star of the sport. A big bright shining star.

 



I was so impressed that I went up to him after the event and let him know I thought he would be a champion one day.  I had never told a fighter that before or since.

Within the year Cub was in the WEC putting on an impressive show in every fight. However the mma mainstream fans didn’t get to see this because he was fighting on the WEC undercards. When he got the chance to perform on the main card and to finally shine, he had possibly the worst luck you can have.  Cub Swanson had 2 televised fights which were both losses in under a total of 2 minutes.

Cub has baby girl hands. In fact, Cub has baby girl bones. After the UFC merged the WEC fighters to their roster Swanson was unable to compete due to his recurring injuries and was the first fighter to take advantage of the UFC insurance program. At this point nobody had seen this savage Cub Swanson that people and teammates like Jon Jones, Cowboy Cerronne, and Clay Guida had been raving about. After healing up and dropping his first UFC bout to #1 contender Ricardo Lamas, Swanson has brutally ko’d his last 3 opponents in a division where barbarous ko’s rarely occur.

This weekend Cub will take on fellow featherweight stud Dustin Poirier in England on Fuel TV.  If Swanson is able to put on one of those magical types of performances then UFC president Dana White may have no choice but to consider Cub as the #1 contender. Swanson’s goal is simple… win the featherweight title. While not looking past him, Swanson feels Poirier is standing in his way to achieving the ultimate prize.

“Beating Dustin Poirier is just another step up the ladder to becoming the best in the world”.
Cub Swanson has been climbing that ladder the last 9 years and has almost made it to the top. Pretty impressive for a Swedish/Mexican kid with no formal martial arts base (unless soccer is a martial art) who used to fight in parking lot tents for $200 is on the cusp of achieving his dream.


Follow Cub on twitter at @cubswanson

Watch TUF 17

Watch season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter.  In a sport where many fans hate everything about mma even skeptics will be pleased. Many people refuse to watch the show because they do not want to see what past producers made the show about. Drama. This season focuses on the sport itself instead of outrageous drunken debauchery with a few fights in between. Whatever Zuffa and Fox executives did to re-format the show has worked and it shows in the weekly ratings.

 

We’ve seen seasons where coaches like Matt Hughes do the show and make it all about themselves. Other coaches like Rampage Jackson do not even bother to coach and feel it is more of a burden than blessing.  This season we have the outspoken Chael Sonnen and the heavily scrutinized Jon Jones.  No matter how much you buy into the media balderdash to make you form adverse opinions about them you can’t help but like both. There is no trash talking between the two coaches. They both seem to genuinely care about the guys on their respective teams. They both have a wealth of knowledge from personal experience and a gaggle of all star coaches in their stable backing them up.

 

Ultimately watch TUF for the athletes portrayed on the show. In seasons past there have been many future title holders who have seen championship gold. You never know who will become a success in the UFC down the road.  If anything tune in to TUF to see Uriah Hall.  No two ways about it… this man is a star in the making.  He is one of those guys who everyone can relate to. He’s confident yet full of self doubt. He is very calm but also charismatic. When Hall speaks of how he was bullied as a kid you can see he still holds on to some of that fear as a motivating factor as an adult.  You become a fan of his persona and THEN you see him fight. In episode 3 he lands a spinning back kick to his opponent Adam Cella that knocks Cella totally unconscious. In a room where poetic violence just took place full of UFC employees and hardened fighters you could hear a pin drop. People were amazed, awed, scared, and concerned. But none more than Uriah Hall who looked at his fallen opponent with the utmost sincerity and broke the deafening silence by saying “I’m sorry Adam”.  You have to love this guy and if you live in the TUF house you better fear this guy.

Watch the show. Trust me.

The UFC145 Shoman breakdown: Dana had a wallet chain. Turned out it was @JoeRogan. Jones is long. @rory_macdonald has no relation to Michael McDonald who wasn’t in the Doobie Brothers. I don’t miss walkouts or previously recorded fights. Che Mills won’t be beautiful for a week or 2. Matt Brown is compiling a record to rival Randy Couture’s.