Month: November 2017

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 (The Alliance Arena). 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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