hardknocks365 December 11, 2017

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The first time for anything will always be special and cherished. Though it was definitely not Andre Soukhamhthath’s first time with the win (he’d even been the bantamweight champ for CES MMA), it was his first win for the UFC. And what a win it was.

This was long in the making. The Asian Sensation had been victim to two split-decision losses, leaving him on thin ice going forward with a record of 0-2 in the UFC. With much to gain and little lose, Soukhamthath took this fight on 2 weeks’ notice and sealed the deal for one last chance in UFC Fight Night 123 in Fresno, California. Luke Sanders, Soukhamthath’s opponent, was probably content that Bryan Caraway, his original opponent, was pulled from the fight due to injury. Little did he know that Soukhamthath had gone straight back to the drawing board after his loss to Alejandro Perez. The words “two-week notice” might have given Sanders a confidence boost, but it didn’t mean much since his would-be opponent rarely took a day-off in hopes for a fight.

The bell rung, and from then, Soukhamthath caught Sanders with a right-hook in the second round. Sanders dropped like a fly, scrambling to get back on his feet as Soukhamthath bludgeoned him via ground-n-pound. At one point, due to the flurry of Soukhamthath’s hammer-fists, Sanders grabbed the ref’s leg in what was interpreted as cry for help. The referee called it. Soukhamthath screamed with joy, but Sanders called an early-stoppage, which the referee starkly refuted. During his post-interview, the Asian Sensation expressed concerns over being potentially cut: “I took this fight on two weeks’ notice, and I knew he had a full camp. Me and my coaches knew he was planning on coming out hard, and he did. But I know how tough I am and how good my chin is and how good my wrestling defense is. I just weathered the storm, and I literally put all my energy into one punch, and it worked.” Boy did it work. Soukhamthath wants to keep the momentum going forward, as he later proclaimed that he’d miss even Christmas or New Years to get another chance in the near future.

In title news, George St. Pierre has finally vacated his middleweight title, leaving the belt up for grabs between interim champ Robert Whittaker and Luke Rockhold. The fight will be the headliner for UFC 221 in Perth, Australia. With the announcement, it’s hands-on-deck at Hard Knocks 365 as Henri Hooft prepared the former middleweight champ for his deserved title shot.

Bruno Rodrigues Mesquita will face a great challenge in his third Titan FC appearance when he squares off with the unbeaten Gustavo Eddy Balart on Dec. 15.

The bout will serve as the co-main event for Titan FC 47, which takes place at Xtreme Action Park in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Titan FC 47 is headlined by a clash between featherweights Sodiq Yusuff and Luis Gomez. The card will stream on UFC Fight Pass beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.

Balart, a 34-year-old native of Santiago, Cuba, is riding the momentum of four victories under the Titan FC banner. Mesquita, who was preparing to face Allan Nascimento at a different event, accepted the bout on short notice to bolster his career.

The 26-year-old Brazilian fighter known as Bruno “Korea” isn’t focused on his future in Titan, nor a return to the UFC — where he fell to Matheus Nicolau Pereira in his lone Octagon appearance in November 2015. Instead, he is devoting his energy to the task at hand.

“My training was good, we had planned to fight [Nascimento] on [Dec. 8], but the event was delayed and we were offered this fight practically a week later,” Mesquita said. “We accepted, we just had to change strategy, because the opponent was a striker and tall, now I’m going to fight with a low grappler guy. But I just had to change it in the camp, the rest was everything normal. I’m fine physically and mentally, just waiting for the day to fight.”
Read more at http://www.sherdog.com/news/news/Bruno-Korea-Focused-on-Showdown-with-Unbeaten-Balart-in-Titan-FC-47-CoHeadliner-130029#YdGyzXWruosvBEkp.99

From the knockouts, to the tweets, to the polls, to the videos, to the rumors. All the bumps down the road have finally lead to this moment. It was long in the making, pretty much all but confirmed, and had us wondering when the announcement was going to be made.

Ladies and gentlemen, Volkan Oezdemir versus Daniel Cormier, the Light Heavyweight Champion, at UFC 220 in Boston at the TD Garden on January 20th, is finally official. It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for, for months, ever since Volkan set his sights on the title after knocking out Jimi Manuwa inside the first round at UFC 214. Oezdemir had long been calling for a title shot after his bludgeoning victory over the brit, but the then-title-holder, Jon Jones, was stripped of his belt after he was popped for steroids yet again. With the belt in limbo, it left Oezdemir bewildered as he was unsure of who would be his next victim. He briefly called out Alexander Gustafsson to settle the debate on who was the superior European Light Heavyweight, but suddenly an opportunity arose as the dust settled. Cormier had been reinstated as Champion, as his bout had been ruled a no-contest. Facing pressure to defend his belt, he held a twitter poll which gave the fans the option to elect his next opponent. Volkan edged out Guss’ in the polls. The fans had spoken. They wanted this Swiss knockout artist to take on DC. The fans effectively answered Volkan’s prayers, and here we are today.

It’s safe to say that this bout will be one for the ages. One, a knockout-artist with 12 first-round finished, and a record of 15-1, the other, a former world champion in wrestling. The stark contrast between the two couldn’t be any greater, however the two in many ways are similar. DC has only ever failed to edge out Jon Jones, while Volkan also only has one loss back when he fought for Bellator. Both fighters are going into this bout with much to prove but also much to lose. DC needs a decisive win as he’s been garnering much criticism from Jon Jones apologists, but Volkan needs this win just as much. Beyond the title itself, Volkan need not lose as a loss will effectively derail the fastest if not the fastest rise to the belt.

The fight could be quick. Or it could go the distance. One thing is for sure though: it’ll be bloody.

Welcome to the UFC: Allen Crowder

A heavyweight Contender Series standout kicks off the card at UFC 218.

On a card full of legends and veterans, only one man will make the long walk to the Octagon for the first time. This former football star and bouncer turned fighter has rocketed his way up the southeast heavyweight rankings and earned a UFC roster spot only three years in to his pro career. So who is the UFC’s newest big man? Read on to find out if this “Pretty Boy” is more than just a pretty face.

Who is Allen Crowder?

28-year-old North Carolina native Allen Crowder earned his UFC debut by beating the heavily-favored Don’tale Mayes on the final episode of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. Crowder gave up 20 pounds and four inches to larger Mayes, but his conditioning and durability gave him the tools needed to drag the big man into deep waters and pick up the TKO in the third. Prior to the Contender Series, Crowder picked up a win in Bellator and lost a tough bout to top heavyweight Curtis Blaydes, a fight he wants back badly. Crowder’s home gym is Team Rubao Carioca BJJ in Mebane, NC, where he is a blue belt in BJJ. He also spent time in this training camp working with Henri Hooft’s Hard Knocks 365 fight team in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

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It’s a star studded list of MMA fighters coming in to Hard Knocks 365 for wrestling practice and Linton “The Swarm” Vassell is all smiles as he bullies his training partners.

Redemption, just like revenge, can be sweet. Silencing all the naysayers with one swift stroke (or in this case, choke) can bring about a sense of euphoria like no other, and that’s exactly what happened at UFC Fight Night: Werdum vs. Tybura.

There had been a lot to fight for leading up this bout, and almost little to lose. Nik Lentz (28-8-2), was originally scheduled to face the loud-mouthed Will Brooks at UFC 216 on October 7th at the T-Mobile Arena for the prelims, but succumbed to diabetic-like symptoms prior to weigh-ins. There might have been a hint of voodoo during the weigh-ins, as Kevin Lee also didn’t make weight on his first attempt, and looked a dehydrated shadow of himself. Anyways, the fight was scrapped, and the floodgates of criticism opened with next to no mercy or remorse. Lentz was bashed across the board via his social media platforms for botching his weight-cut, when in reality his affliction was something totally out of his control. But as always, the internet can be very unforgiving, particularly MMA fans on the internet. But Lentz was never worried. Why should he have been? He knew he was a UFC vet, and that he’d eventually get rescheduled before the year closed out. Said and done.

It was time for exoneration. For vindication. For redemption. Sort of (since the original fight never took place). Lentz was promptly rescheduled for UFC Fight Night: Werdum vs. Tybura, and the bout with Brooks was back on. He had much to prove and little to lose, especially given that his former American Top Team teammates did not offer him words of sorrow for his medical mishaps prior to his previous weigh-in. Accompanied by Demarques Jackson, the duo flew to Australia, and lit up the Qudos Bank Arena by submitting Will Brooks in the second minute of the second round via guillotine. Brooks was (wrongfully) touted as the favorite, and after the emphatic finish, the critics and nay-sayers almost immediately turned their attention to the former Lightweight Bellator Champion, who now holds a dismal record of 1-3 with the UFC. Lentz was elated, yet not surprised, as he exclaimed during his post-match interview: “ain’t no one getting away from my guillotine anymore!” It was a typical display of bravado and experience, and Lentz summarized it perfectly, when at the end of his interview he bet $50,000 that he would defeat any of his former ATT teammates. “Line em’ up like Mortal Kombat”.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., July 6, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Hard Knocks 365 (HK365), an all-access fitness training center, is pleased to announce it is open for business at Xtreme Action Park, South Florida’s premier indoor entertainment complex. Within the walls of the 30,000-square-foot facility there is an indoor field turf, soccer field (coming soon), two fully-sized basketball courts, heavy bags, fully-equipped weight room, 4,500 square feet of matting for combat training, men’s and women’s locker rooms, showers, and more. All your fitness & sports performance goals can be achieved under one roof!

The venue has three core functions; sports performance training (XPE Sports), combat training (kickboxing and Brazilian jiu jitsu) and basketball (House of Hoops 365). With this instilled variety, there is something for everyone under the Hard Knocks 365 roof. The gym’s already existing roster of professional athletes includes MMA fighters Michael Johnson, Robbie Lawler, Volkan Oezdemir and Michael Chandler, as well as NFL players like Darrelle Revis, Anquan Boldin, Mark Ingram, Pierre Garçon and Byron Maxwell.

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The UFC have just announced all of their events for the first quarter of 2018, and it almost goes without saying that the Hooft army is gearing up for war.

Chronologically, Nik Lentz is up first in what is a reschedule bout. He was due to take on former Bellator Lightweight Champion Will Brooks at UFC 216, but right before weigh-ins, he succumbed to diabetes-like symptoms and the bout was scrapped altogether. Now, the bout will feature in the prelims of UFC Fight Night 121: Werdum versus Tybura on November 19th all the way in Australia.

Next up is Danny Roberts. “Hot Chocolate” will be looking to improve upon his impressive 14-2 record against Sheldon Wescott at UFC on Fox: Lawler versus Dos Anjos on December 16th in Winnipeg. He last KO’d Bobby Nash at UFC Fight Night Nelson vs. Ponzinibbio in Glasgow, and after he crosses Wescott off his list, he’ll be one step closer to the title. Although he will have to wait in line as Dana White has stated that the winner between Lawler and Dos Anjos will get a shot at Tyrone Woodley’s belt.

Which allows me to segue to my next fighter, and that is none other than the ruthless Robbie Lawler. The former champ is taking on former Lightweight Champion Rafael Dos Anjos at the previously mentioned event which he’s headlining (obviously). RDA is coming off a win versus Neil Magny at UFC 215, and Lawler off a win versus Cowboy. As aforementioned, the winner of this bout will have the welterweight belt in their crosshairs.

On the turn of the year, Volkan Oezdemir was expected to face Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 219 on December 30th in Vegas, but it seems now that the main event could mark Conor Mcgregor’s long-awaited return to the octagon. Versus who, is the question. Instead it is all but confirmed now that Oezdemir will get his hands on Cormier’s belt at UFC 220 in Boston on January 20th, in what will culminate in the fastest rise to the title in the UFC, ever.

UFC Fight Night 124 will be held in St. Louis on January 14th. And surprise surprise, Michael Johnson has been officially announced on the card. The Menace, who is a St. Louis native, will relish this fight, as it will be his first competing as a featherweight, and also due to the fact that he’s been thrown a bone by the UFC in a top 10 opponent in Darren Elkins. After losing out to Justin Gaethje in July, this is nothing short of a golden opportunity to return to winning ways.

And finally, born-in-Florida Ben Saunders, could potentially feature at UFC on Fox 28 at the Amway Center in Orlando, as he’s already proclaimed his desire on his social media platforms.

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Sometimes, the script doesn’t play out. One can’t win every battle, and with the defeats that are few and far in between, comes a time of reflection and resolve.

This was the case at Bellator 186 at the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State. Two of Henri Hooft’s finest fighters, Logan Storley and Linton Vassell, were on their quests to further cement their names in Bellator legacy. Vassell was challenging for the Light Heavyweight title that saw him take on Champion Ryan Bader with an 18-5 record going into the fight. Even though Linton displayed grit and tagged Bader numerous occasions, Bader ended up snatching the win after pinning Vassell to the cage and finishing the fight via ground-n-pound. Although he was dejected, Vassell posted on his social media platforms that he had learned from his mistakes and vowed to come back stronger.

However, the other side of the night in the prelims wasn’t so dreary. In fact, it was spectacular. Logan Storley put on a rugged display against Matt Secor, and after cutting him open inside the open round, Storley proceeded to put a beat-down on Secor from all angles. He won via unanimous decision and rightly so, and in the process improved upon his unbeaten record to 7-0. Storley has long been touted as a future household Bellator name. He trained alongside Brock Lesnar in his younger years as they attended the same high school, and beyond high school, he was a 4-time NCAA All-American at the University of Minnesota. With an already impressive ground game, and under the wing of Henri Hooft in the stand-up department, Logan is on course for a title-shot sooner rather than later.

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A fighter’s true character, courage and resolve truly shine when he is called upon to battle with little preparation, and last night, Vicente Luque showed us all of that and more.
In what was an eventful UFC Fight Night in Sao Paolo with Lyoto Machida making his long-awaited return to the octagon, further down the fight-card was a bout that wasn’t in the “original programming”. Niko Price may now well be wishing he could turn the clock back, as he was originally intended to take on Luan Chagas. However, 3 weeks before the fight, Chagas fractured his foot and as such was unable to make it to Sao Paolo.

Vicente Luque was promptly slotted in to take Chagas’ place against Niko Price. Price probably thought he hit the lotto, as taking on an opponent without a full camp is often an advantage, however, Luque, being the dynamic fighter he is quickly quelled that presumption and laid out Price after a flurry of strikes culminating in a submission in the 2nd round. It was nasty, nothing short of filthy, as the crowd went into a frenzy upon seeing their countryman further cement his name in the welterweight division. Luque’s willingness to fight without a full camp, coupled along with his impressive performance, is nothing short of a testament to Henri Hooft’s teachings. Although fighting and training out of Brazil, when he is stateside Luque can be found at Hard Knocks 365 striking pads with Hooft, or rolling with compatriot Gilbert Burns. Furthermore, the Brazilian is only 25 years year of age, and has finished 5 of his last 6 bouts. With a record of 12-6-1, Luque is sure to have a long and successful career head of him.

In other news, Danny “Hot Chocolate” Roberts has hinted that his next fight could be soon with a cryptic post on his Instagram page. The British fighter boasts an impressive record of 14-2, and most recently knocked out Bobby Nash at UFC Fight Night 113 inside the second round in Glasglow, Scotland.
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