Month: October 2018

Two-division ONE Championship World Champion Aung La N Sang is riding the crest of a wave as arguably the biggest martial arts star in Asia.

The modest 33-year-old known as “The Burmese Python” accredits much of his excellent recent form to his change of gym.

Aung La N Sang made big changes to his career in early 2018, moving his training to Florida-based gym Hard Knocks 365, where his game has improved under the tutelage of head coach Henri Hooft.

The former world and European champion kickboxer has a reputation as one of the best head coaches in mixed martial arts, and the Dutchman has taken Aung La N Sang’s game to a new level.

Since he started training with Hooft, the Myanmar athlete has claimed knockouts in each of his last two World Title bouts.

Now Aung La N Sang is looking to complete a hat-trick of knockouts when he takes on Mohammad “O Lutador” Karaki at ONE: PURSUIT OF GREATNESS in Yangon, Myanmar on Friday, 26 October.

“I came down to Florida and did a private session with Henri Hooft, and he made a really good connection as a coach. Then I got a chance to work with the team at Hard Knocks, and I liked how they worked,” he explains.

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PLAINVIEW – It was only a few years ago that becoming a UFC fighter was a dream for Plainview’s Jonathan ‘The Dragon’ Martinez.

A week ago, Martinez, who got his ‘Dragon’ nickname at age 15 because of the way he wore his hair, got the call of a lifetime.

“I was heading to work at like 6 in the morning and they asked me if I wanted to take this fight in the UFC,” Martinez said.

After waiting a couple of hours and getting in contact with his manager, Wade Hampel, Martinez was signed for the bantamweight fight against Andre Soukhamthath during UFC Fight Night on Oct. 27. Not only will this be a new experience for Martinez as an official UFC fighter, but it will also be his first time in Canada, where the fight will take place.

Light heavyweights Volkan Oezdemir and Anthony Smith will be the headline fight of the night.

Martinez hadn’t had a fight since September 2017 in Amarillo because of injury and opponents backing out, but has been in training at A Different Breed in Lubbock.

“I was already getting ready for a fight. I was supposed to fight on (Friday), so I said yes right away because I was pretty much ready,” he said on Monday. “Right now, I feel good.”

Martinez comes into the fight with a 9-1 record, which includes five knockouts. He trains with Danny Perez, though he has worked with legendary UFC coach Greg Jackson in New Mexico in the past.

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For the biggest fight in UFC history between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229, you have a high-level striker with unshakeable confidence facing off against arguably one of the most ruthless wrestlers/grapplers in MMA.

As such, we are going to ask two talented wrestlers and two talented strikers their takes on both the physical and mental keys to victory in the fight.

Related: Check out Mindset Mike’s article about the value of the mental battle tonight.


I chose to focus my questions mainly to fighters at Hard Knocks 365 in Florida.  This is a gym known for two things: world-class striking with Henri Hooft and elite wrestling with Greg Jones and Kami Barzini which has yielded them over 30 UFC and Bellator fighters.

As a result, they attract the gold standard in both disciplines. Today, we sit down with elite strikers like light heavyweights Volkan Oezdemir and Linton Vassell.  We spoke to two wrestlers that spend time at Hard Knocks as well, with four-time Division-1 All-American and 9-0 Bellator Fighter Logan Storley and Chris Wade, NCAA All-American and current PFL Standout.

I also asked Nurmagomedov’s teammate at American Kickboxing Academy, Kyle Crutchmer, his thoughts on the fight. Crutchmer is an undefeated prospect out of AKA and a former All-American wrestler out of Oklahoma State University.

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Carlo Pedersoli Jr. is fine with marching into enemy lands. He just hopes that someday he gets the chance to be the one defending his territory.

Making his UFC debut on less than two weeks’ notice this past May, Pedersoli managed to defeat veteran Bradley Scott in Scott’s home country of England. Up next for Pedersoli is a welterweight matchup with Brazilian finisher Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira in the co-main event of UFC Sao Paulo on Saturday, another booking where he can expect a hostile crowd.

Pedersoli’s last two fights before joining the UFC also came against opponents backed by the majority of the audience. He fought Romanian Mircea Dumitrescu in the city of Brasov, and then traveled to Sweden for a Cage Warriors show where he fought Nicolas Dalby, who hails from neighboring Denmark.

Playing the visiting villain hasn’t been too troubling for Pedersoli (11-1), but he’s making it a point on Saturday not to leave things in the hands of the Brazilian judges after his last two fights ended in split calls.

“I think I have to improve every time. But I think that was a unanimous decision,” Pedersoli told MMA Fighting when asked about the split verdict against Scott. “It’s difficult because Scott was from England, so the judges are from England, so every time you fight in another place that is not your hometown you have to win by KO or submission because the decision will be difficult.”

Pedersoli is going up against a proven finisher in Oliveira, who hasn’t been to the scorecards in his past six outings. He hopes to match the ferocity of Oliveira and steal his spot in the contenders’ rankings.

“I don’t want this fight to end by points, by decision,” said Pedersoli. “I will try my best to finish this fight in my opportunities. But I know it’s a difficult fight, he’s one of the best in the division, but I’m hungry and I want my legacy, so I accept this fight because I think it’s a good moment to put it in the cage. I don’t have fear of anybody.”

Born in Miami to an Italian father and a Panamanian mother, Pedersoli is a man of many nations. Even his nickname “Semento” comes from the Japanese word for cement, a moniker he acquired when he spent time training in The Land of the Rising Sun. Pedersoli was raised in Italy and primarily trains in Rome at the Gloria Fight Center, though he has also made stops at Hard Knocks 365 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Dynamix MMA in Los Angeles.

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