Onto The Next One

Not every week can be glorious and you can’t win every fight. Last week was a week to forget with Daniel Straus being submitted at Bellator 184 in the third round, and Nik Lentz succumbing to diabetic-like symptoms before his weigh-in for UFC 216. But then again, as the old, extremely cliché saying goes, “it’s not about how many times you get knocked down, it’s about how many times you get back up”. And Henri and his team are unquestionably on the up-and-up. In more positive news, Robbie Lawler versus Rafael Dos Anjos has officially been announced as the main event at UFC on Fox 26 in Winnipeg. This comes almost as no surprise since Lawler was back on the mat training with Henri pretty much immediately in the wake of his emphatic victory of Cowboy at UFC 214. With Jose Aldo versus Ricardo Lamas co-maining, Glover Teixeira going toe-to-toe with Misha Cirkunov, and Minotauro making his return after a year versus Jared Cannonier, you would think this is a PPV card, but no, the gods have blessed us with a high-stakes fight card that rivals another recent free event in UFC Fight Night 116. In fact, UFC on Fox 26 is so high-stakes, that Dana white announced the winner of Lawler versus Dos Anjos would get a shot at Tyrone Woodley’s belt. After getting the belt taken from him by Woodley himself, this is the sweet revenge that Lawler will be striving for, and Dos Anjos is just one more hurdle in that quest.

And finally, wrestling extraordinaire Logan Storley is also poised for a fight against Matt Secor at Bellator 186 on November 3rd, which coincidentally will also feature another high-profile fighter at Hard Knocks 365 under Henri’s tutelage, Linton “The Swarm” Vassell. Vassell, as written on here many times before (and many more times to come), will be headlining Bellator 186 for a title fight against former UFC vet Ryan Bader.

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Triple K.O.

Pow. Game, set, match. Wow.

I don’t think Henri Hooft could have had a better night at UFC Fight Night 115. All 3 of his fighters, Gilbert Burns, Kamaru Usman, and Luke Rockhold, ended their fights with knockouts. Ok, Rockhold’s wasn’t a knockout, but he made David Branch tap after a vicious ground-n’-pound that left no shadow of a doubt concerning his abilities despite his brief hiatus due to injury. In the process, he snapped Branch’s 11-fight win streak, and in a post-fight interview, called out GSP for having no place in the middleweight division, or even the UFC. Durinho, on the stroke of the 3rd round, with only 5 seconds to go in the 2nd round, put Jason Saggo to sleep with a vicious right overhand. It connected so sweetly, that the Brazilian didn’t even follow-up with some hammer-fists. We all know Gilbert is a notorious BJJ practitioner, but he made a huge statement on Saturday, proving that he’s got more than just ground-game in his locker. After that strike, Durinho is a definite force to be reckoned with in the lightweight division. Kamaru’s knockout, was also unforgiving. He packed so much power into his punch, that somehow, some way, Sergio Moraes rolled forward upon hitting the ground. “I’m a problem” – The Nigerian Nightmare’s words echoed throughout the MMA community as it made headlines and sent chills down the spines of the rest of the welterweight contenders.

In more recent news (as I am typing this, actually), Daniel Cormier has welcomed the idea of taking on Volkan Oezdemir, whom trains under Henri Hooft as well. DC tweeted “we can make this happen”, while also entertaining the idea of taking on Alexander Gustaffson. Volkan, who incidentally also called out Gustaffson shortly after his win versus Manuwa, took to social media to respond right away. One to never shy away from a challenge, Volkan immediately responded “for sure, let’s do it” via both his Instagram and twitter. With the top 3 Light Heavyweights embroiled in a three-way “call-out feud”, it’s practically written in the stars at this point that Volkan will get his title shot sooner rather than later. And with his 1-round knockout track record, it could be lights out for Gustafsson and DC sooner than they’d expect.

Had Knocks 365 Mentioned in Globo News

The last time Luke Rockhold was seen inside the Octagon in the UFC was in June 2016, crestfallen after losing the weight belt-medium (up to 83, 9 kg) to Michael Bisping ICS zebras in the history of MMA. Fifteen months later, the American finally returns to the world’s most famous Octagon this Saturday in Pittsburgh, in the main event of the event. On the other side of the cage, will be another ex-champion, but the competing World Series of Fighting Organization (WSOF): David Branch, the current ninth placed in the category ranking in Ultimate.

Little has changed in 15 months when he was away from the cage Rockhold. He went on to split your workouts between the American Kickboxing Academy, in which team came to Strikeforce and UFC titles, and the Hard Knocks 365, coach Henry Hooft. The long time dealing with injuries and contract negotiations, however, have not changed the enormous trust of Rockhold. In the loss to Bisping, the American was accused of belittling other rival. Now, despite the series of 11 consecutive victories of Branch, including the conquest and defense of two belts (Middleweight and light heavyweight weight-up to 93 kg), the fighter back saying that the opponent is not at your level. Remember that your teammate Michael Johnson made similar error in loss to Justin Gaethje, Rockhold ensured that the situations are different.

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Rockhold is back, while Burns and Kamaru never left

After an eventful (for lack of a better term) week in Florida in anticipation to Hurricane Irma, we are back in business and better than ever. Better than ever because Luke Rockhold has just completed his training camp with Henri Hooft under our roof, and is now at the official weigh-in as he faces off David Branch as we speak (or as I type this).

Yes, the champ is back bigger, stronger, and “badder” than ever. The former StrikeForce and middleweight champion has had a lengthy spell on the sidelines after his defeat to Michael Bisping and also due to an injury, but now, after having recuperated and trained extensively under Henri Hooft’s “hkickboxing” system, Rockhold is on a mission to take his title back, and he believes David Branch is his first crucial step back into the fold. UFC film crews were here at Hard Knocks 365 to capture some footage of Rockhold’s intense training regime. In an interview, Rockhold said, “obviously I’m not happy about how my last fight went, and I’m ready to come back and write that wrong. First we take down David Branch, then we take back the game”. Rockhold was nothing short of resolute during his camp. He had observed Hooft’s high-caliber methodology first-hand when he was on the losing side in his bout versus Belfort, when Hooft happened to be cornering Belfort, and as such, sought out Henri for this ever-crucial bout against Branch. The rest was history, and Rockhold too, will make history once he ends David Branch’s 11-fight win streak.

But he isn’t alone. Kamaru Usman, and Gilbert Burns, will also be present at UFC Fight Night 116 in Pittsburgh at the PPG Paints Arena this Saturday, and they face tough opposition in Sergio Moraes and Jason Saggo. But Usman, unlike Durinho and Rockhold, is on a roll, having won his last 9 fights in a row. The Nigerian Nightmare has an impressive record of 10-1 that he will look to improve on to be a top contender, while Durinho is on the verge of a comeback, having lost his last fight to Michel Prazeres. If the trio go 3-for-3 at the end of Saturday night, it will be a big boost for Henri Hooft, and of course, Hard Knocks 365.

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HK365 takes on Russia in Rotterdam

After a turbulent week brought on by the biggest fighting spectacle of all time, the “Money Fight”, we are back with our regularly scheduled programing. Mayweather and McGregor may have been a fight full of bravado, but it is to be eclipsed tomorrow by a fight full of blood. Stefan Struve, a Hard Knocks 365 regular, will be facing Alexander Volkov in the heavyweight division. This bout is especially “monumental” as it will be the fight with the highest combined height of all time, at 13’6, with Volkov standing at 6’7, and Struve at 7 feet. It is very much poised to be a clash of the titans, and with the venue being in Rotterdam, Holland (the country with the tallest people on earth on average), the title is befitting to say the least. In an interview, Struve stated he hopes fight will get him back on track to challenge for the title, and even hinted that Stipe Miocic, the current heavyweight champion, owes him a rematch as champion, since Struve got the better of him back in 2012. Volkov himself attested to the epic proportions of the upcoming bout, stating taking on Struve will be no easy task, as he is by the far the tallest fighter he’s ever faced, and that he’s usually the one used to dwarfing his opponent.

Desmond Green, another Hard Knocks 365 regular, is set to face another Russian in Rustam Khabilov under the prelims. With the fight card being mostly a contingent of Russian nationals, and the event taking place in Holland, Struve’s country of origin, UFC Fight Night 115 is sure to be one for the books.

Stateside, our neighbors, Xtreme Action Park, will be hosting their first professional fight event. Over 800 confirmed attendees will fill Xtreme Action Park’s “Arena”, all thanks to the diligent work of promoters “Fight Time Promotions” under the alliance MMA wing. Yet another one of Henri Hooft’s prodigies at Hard Knocks 365, Gerald Rosa, will be looking to cement his first professional win.

In more charitable news, we’ve begun to collect donations of any kind for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. If you’re in the Fort Lauderdale area, don’t hesitate in dropping off canned food, clothes, supplies, etc. for the relief effort being conducted in Texas.

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The Money Fight, and the Real Fight

Tomorrow, we will witness perhaps the most viewed, hyped up, bout in the history of combat sports. As you all know by now (unless you’ve been living under a rock), Floyd Mayweather will come out of retirement to face Conor McGregor at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The two biggest egos will clash in the ring (not the octagon), to put on the single-most lucrative event of all time. The figures, are ridiculous. The projected purse is a whopping $300 million; PPV sales alone will be in the $700 million range. The split has been reported to be 70-30, but with McGregor looking to increase his net worth tenfold, he would even be happy with a 90-10 split.

Much like the title of the fight suggests, this bout is mainly about money. Not even pride, is really on the line. Should McGregor lose, he and his fan base will take the “well he wasn’t a boxer route”. Should somehow Mayweather lose, he will blame his age and the fact that he had to come out of retirement for the bout. And with a huge tax bill on his chest and with allegedly little liquidity, one would think Mayweather needs this fight, almost more than McGregor does. But alas, it is just a money fight. Mayweather vacated all of his titles after hanging up his gloves in 2015, however, the WBC has commissioned a “Money Belt”, a crocodile-skinned, 4000 diamond-encrusted belt, which is believed to be valued in the millions. Ultimately, it is a circus show, a display of bravado and power by the rich, famous, and talented. For all intents and purposes, it is a mere money fight, not a real fight.

The real fights, took place over the weekend. Henri Hooft’s professional up-and-coming fighters were out in full force. Steven Mowry KO’d Dustin Clements at Titan FC 45, while Demarques Jackson submitted Luciano Dos Santos 20 minutes afterwards via triangle. All the way in Sioux Falls, Tyler Ray, unfortunately, was submitted by J.P. Saint Louis, but later commented that his resolve was now stronger than ever to get back on track to land a contract with either the UFC or Bellator.

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