MMA: Kyle Noke

Noke, not Jones, on Brenneman's mind now

September, 17, 2012
McNeil By Franklin McNeil
Erick Silva and Charlie BrennemanJosh Hedges/Getty ImagesLosing to Erick Silva marked the first time Charlie Brenneman has been submitted as a professional.
At some point this week, the paths of welterweight Charlie Brenneman and light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will cross. Both are scheduled to compete Saturday night at UFC 152 in Toronto -- Brenneman faces Kyle Noke on the card’s opening bout, while Jones defends against Vitor Belfort in the main event.

But it’s the encounter they are certain to have outside the cage that could prove most interesting.

Brenneman was scheduled to fight Noke on Sept. 1 at UFC 151, the same event where Jones was to headline against Dan Henderson. But the card was canceled after Jones and his handlers opted not to fight late replacement Chael Sonnen on eight days’ notice. Upon receiving the news that his fight was off, Brenneman took to Twitter and tossed a verbal jab at Jones by suggesting the champ send Brenneman a check for his rent.

“I was just walking down the street and [the tweet idea] came to me,” Brenneman told “It wasn’t something I thought about in depth. But it’s certainly not something I regret.”

Brenneman isn’t about to soften his stance anytime soon. And the likelihood of running into Jones won’t alter how he feels about the champ’s decision regarding 151. Still, he doesn’t have a personal beef with Jones.

“I still feel the way I felt before,” Brenneman said. “I don’t disrespect him in anyway. If I could have his talent ... who wouldn’t want it?

“I don’t agree with what they did. It’s a tough situation, but he and his team, they made the decision they made and I’m sure they have their reasons. But if it was our team and the circumstances were the same, we would have taken the fight.”

The attention his comment attracted and the probability of running into Jones is the least of Brenneman’s concerns. He finds himself in a must-win situation Saturday night. And he won’t allow anything, especially a potentially brief face-to-face with Jones, to interfere with the task of defeating Noke in impressive fashion.

His 2½-year stint in UFC has been spotty. Brenneman has fallen into a pattern of win one, lose one. That recipe has to change if he's to maintain his spot on the promotion’s roster.
[+] EnlargeAnthony Johnson and Charlie Brenneman
Ed Mulholland for ESPN.comThings started to go wrong for Charlie Brenneman after he was knocked out by Anthony Johnson in the first round.

“[This fight] is pretty darn important,” said Brenneman, who is 15-4. “I wouldn’t say it’s the most important fight of my career, but it’s one of. The fact that I’m the first fight on the card, maybe it’s a coincidence, maybe it’s not. But I don’t want to take that chance.

“I’ve got to go into this fight and build some steam. I’ve been up and down and up and down; now I want to keep going up. And this is a first step.”

Brenneman enters UFC 152 looking to rebound from a first-round submission loss against Erick Silva on June 8. He was the victim of a rear-naked choke. It marked the first time Brenneman, a solid wrestler with strong defensive skills on the ground, had been submitted.

The manner in which he lost and the fact that it was his second setback in three fights has likely put Brenneman’s future in UFC at stake. While there might be some pressure on Brenneman, he has a favorable opinion of the matchup with Noke -- who will make his welterweight debut Saturday night in hopes of ending a two-fight skid.

“He’s coming down from 185 and he’s got Greg Jackson training him,” Brenneman said of Noke. “So he’s probably going to have a good game plan. But anyone’s game plan against me is to not end up on the bottom. That’s it, period.

“He's [known to get] tired. He’s gotten tired in several of his fights at 185. This will be his first cut to 170, so I’m not banking on it, but I’m going to push the pace and see if he breaks or not.”

In addition to the matchup, Brenneman feels positive about the fight taking place at a later date. It’s the one thing he can now thank Jones for.

“If anything, [the date change] is positive,” Brenneman said. “I took that fight on 4½ weeks’ notice. This gives me almost eight weeks to prepare for it.

"But when [Jones] didn’t take the fight [with Sonnen] we didn’t know what was going on. I could very easily be fighting in December. I’m one of the lucky ones.”

Five potential foes for Hector Lombard

April, 27, 2012
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
Hector LombardDave Mandel/Sherdog.comWelcome to the big leagues: Hector Lombard won't get any soft touches in the UFC.
The one thing that any successful fighter heading into the UFC will hear is this: He’s overrated. He hasn’t faced any real competition. Somebody’s about to come crashing down to earth. Somebody is about to get exposed.

That "somebody" this time happens to be Hector Lombard, the popular Bellator middleweight champion who has rattled off 20 victories in a row, including eight as the company’s flagship. Lombard is a menace at 185 pounds and is sculpted like a Frank Frazetta overlord, but the big gripe against him is he’s beating guys named Falaniko Vitale and Herbert Goodman instead of cats like Mark Munoz and Rousimar Palhares.

All that changes, now that Lombard makes his way to the UFC. Instead of facing UFC castoffs like Jay Silva and Joe Doerksen, the 34-year old American Top Team fighter will face UFC regulars. It’s a completely different vantage point. Lombard’s new assignment is to covert guys into UFC castoffs rather than feast on what’s left of their good names.

Here’s a quick look at five guys who would make for mean welcoming parties for “Shango.”

Brian Stann
Back when Jorge Santiago had built up a new head of stream in Sengoku, he became a popular dark horse pick against Brian Stann at UFC 130. What did Stann do? He punched the daylights out of him. And wouldn’t you know that just as Lombard brings his 25-fight unbeaten streak into the UFC, Stann is coming off a big victory over Alessio Sakara and needs an upgrade in opponent, just as all the bigger names are occupied?

Enter Hector Lombard. The great thing about this fight is both guys like to bang on the feet. Lombard is a precision striker who carries a lot of power. He likes to fight guys that get right up in his wheelhouse and tempt him into uncoiling. That’s Stann, who makes it his duty to oblige brawlers. (And just as often, shut them down).

Jake Shields
Shields has bounced back and forth between 170 and 185 pounds, and after a fairly subpar run in the UFC’s welterweight division, it looks like he’ll bulk back up. Bottom line is, he wasn't losing to slouches, either -- Georges St. Pierre and Jake Ellenberger (under trying circumstances, dealing with the passing of his father) never looked like easy outs.

But the last time we saw Shields as a middleweight he looked ... if not great, then totally resilient. He beat up Jason Miller for five rounds, and then improbably defended the Strikeforce belt against Dan Henderson in a fight he had his wits scrambled in the first round. Not to name drop, but Shields was the last guy to defeat Henderson, who is now set to fight Jon Jones for the 205-pound title. Think he wouldn’t like to punch some holes in Lombard’s lore? And for those desperate for storylines or loose patriotism, it’d be the battle of the Americas -- American Jiu-Jitsu versus American Top Team.

Luke Rockhold
Hey, while we’re restocking the UFC’s middleweight division with valuable intrigues, why not bring Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold into the UFC fold to face Lombard? It’s not the likeliest scenario, but Rockhold has just come into his own at a time when Strikeforce has become a weekend skeleton crew. Think he likes the idea of challenges named Keith Jardine or, maybe at some point, Bristol Marunde?

It’s fun to imagine a Rockhold/Lombard scrap. You’ve got two guys who aren’t afraid to fight in the pocket, each with a durable chin and sadistic intentions. It has “back-and-forth war” written all over it, a great UFC debut for both ... but it looks like Rockhold will get that long-awaited battle with Stikeforce contender Tim Kennedy, thus rendering this flight of fancy moot. Truth be told, we’re merely throwing Rockhold’s name out there in the off chance that matchmakers Sean Shelby and Joe Silva are combing the Internet for suggestions.

Ronaldo Souza
Again, we’re dealing in Strikeforce property (read: ultimately Zuffa’s), but Souza hates the pace of fighting once every six to eight months. And if the promotion does make Kennedy versus Rockhold, that means Jacare is going to be fighting some unmentionable. If the UFC brought Souza over to face Lombard, you’ve got the strutting fisticuffs that languished in Bellator for too long against the tall-grass predator with the aggressive, limb snatching jiu-jitsu. What better?

And how would that be for a red carpet rollout for both guys into the Octagon?

Ed Herman
You laugh. I can see you laughing. But let me put Herman’s name into perspective. For one thing, he has been completely rejuvenated since coming back from his knee injury and setbacks, having won three fights in a row. For another, “Short Fuse” is a finisher just like Lombard. In every one of those fights he dusted his hands of the opponent, beginning with Tim Credeur (whom he TKO’d in 48 seconds) and ending with Clifford Starks (second round rear-naked choke).

The guy he beat in-between? Why that was Kyle Noke (via first round heel hook), the same guy who took Lombard to a draw back in 2007. Herman is creeping up on the pack in the middleweight class, and Lombard is a big step up in opposition. Here’s the rub, though: So is Herman a big step up in competition for Lombard. Either Lombard could treat Herman as an appetizer to the main course, or he could, for the first time ever, find himself with a nostril full of smelling salts.