MMA: UFC 131

131 offered insight but no surprises for Cain

June, 13, 2011
6/13/11
4:14
PM ET
Dundas By Chad Dundas
ESPN.com
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VelasquezRod Mar for ESPN.comCain Velasquez made the most of his time in Vancouver.
You’ll have to excuse Cain Velasquez if he’s not exactly in shock here, people.

After six months on the sidelines with a shoulder injury, the UFC’s even-keeled heavyweight champion now finds himself in much the same position as he was in late last year: Still undefeated, still the top-ranked 265-pound fighter in the world and still staring down the barrel of an upcoming title defense against Junior dos Santos.

For the record, that’s exactly where Velasquez figured he’d be after UFC 131. At least that’s what he told ESPN.com on Friday, when he predicted dos Santos’ speed and technical striking skills would win the day during Saturday’s No.1 contender fight against Shane Carwin. Good call, champ.

“He fulfilled all those [expectations],” Velasquez said on Monday. “I just thought Carwin was going to be too slow for him and not really have the stand-up skills and it turned out that way. With him being that much quicker than [Carwin], he was able to do what he wanted. He was able to not get hit and do damage … I kind of saw that [coming].”

Velasquez has seen dos Santos coming for awhile now. The two were originally slated to fight after the 26-year-old Brazilian defeated Roy Nelson at UFC 117 in August and before Velasquez got put on ice by a rotator cuff injury. Now that they are -- fingers crossed -- finally set to meet near the end of this year, Velasquez just needs to get final clearance from his doctor to resume hard training. He hopes that green light will come by the end of this month.

“Once [the doctor] clears me I can start working out 100 percent,” Velasquez said. “[I’ll] just start to slowly get back into it and then I usually start my camp, a hard training camp about eight weeks before the fight. Right now, I’ll just be playing catch-up, trying to get back to where I was.”

Anyone who knows the UFC champ can confirm it’s pretty hard to get a rise out of him, so it’s no wonder the fact he opened as a slight underdog against the newly anointed No. 1 contender failed to draw much of an emotional response.

“I don’t really care about that,” he said.

Even after getting definitive confirmation that he’ll next take on dos Santos and not Carwin, Velasquez said it won’t change much about how he approaches the fight. Either foe would have tried to keep it on the feet and slug it out with him, so it’ll just be a matter of honing in on a few things specific to the acclaimed Black House fighter’s skill set.

Not that Velasquez’s scouting mission to Vancouver over the weekend was a total wash. He was cageside to watch dos Santos take a lopsided unanimous decision from the battered and beaten Carwin and Velasquez said he saw some things he can do differently to put the challenger on the defensive, especially in the ground game.

“[Carwin] just took that one shot and stayed with it,” he said. “Then when he did take [dos Santos] down, he didn’t really scramble to [improve] his position right away, which you have to do against someone like dos Santos because he moves a lot once he gets taken down. That’s something that I saw that I really think I can take to my training camp and make beneficial for me.”

Velasquez and dos Santos are expected to scrap in October or November of this year, depending on the speed on the champ’s recovery.
Shane Carwin and Junior Dos Santos Rod Mar for ESPN.comHold tight: A bout between Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez is bound to happen.
The forthcoming matchup between UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and top contender Junior dos Santos could provide a much-needed boost for a division that his been impacted by injuries and an unstable title situation. More

Carwin lied to doctor over ability to see

June, 13, 2011
6/13/11
8:44
AM ET
By Ben Blackmore
ESPN.co.uk
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CarwinRod Mar for ESPN.comShane Carwin sure didn't look like a man who could see very clearly.
Shane Carwin has admitted he told the doctor what he wanted to hear in order to avoid being stopped in UFC 131's main event. More

'Iron Broom' looking to clean up in the UFC

June, 13, 2011
6/13/11
5:28
AM ET
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
ESPN.com
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Hatsu HiokiTaro Irei for Sherdog.comZuffa brass is keen on bringing Hatsu Hioki to the Octagon.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Kenny Florian got through a self-imposed hell by not only making his weight cut, but by outlasting a hungry Diego Nunes for three rounds. It didn’t help that his Boston Bruins lost an airtight 1-0 game to the Canucks to go down 3-2 in the Stanley Cup Finals the night before, nor that he took a beating from fans because of his allegiances. It took some guts to get through so many obstacles, but he did it and now he's “more than likely” to get a title shot against Jose Aldo, according to Dana White.

Yet, one of the more interesting spectators to attend UFC 131 was Japanese fighter Hatsu Hioki. He wasn’t in town to watch hockey, nor to gloat over the lightweight Shooto championship he just vacated. He was in the building to talk scratch with the UFC, and to add a very interesting element to the 145-pound division. Nothing's been signed yet, but the operative word there is “yet.”

“Yes, I would like a contract,” Hioki told ESPN.com after UFC 131. “I haven’t signed one yet, but yes, pretty soon.”

ESPN currently has Hioki ranked No. 3 in the featherweight division, and his presence could open up some intriguing match-ups for the likes of Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes down the road. Hioki said earlier in the week that he would want to get a couple of fights in the UFC before he challenges for the belt, and make a detoured route to his destination.

So, presuming he got his initial glimpse of his future home in the Octagon, what did Hioki think the fights?

“It was an amazing event,” he said. “It was the first time for me to see a live event that’s a UFC. And Florian [versus Nunes] was a great fight, very tough fight. I am the biggest Florian fan. I like him very much. I am very glad to see him fight.”

Funny, I was thinking the same thing about Hioki. North American fans don’t know him (24-2-2) that well yet, but he’s very tall [6-feet], moves extremely well, has a long, advantageous reach and a deep grab bag of submissions. It’s only a matter of time before guys like Florian will be looking over their shoulder at the 27-year-old Japanese fighter that occasionally goes by the ominous nickname the “Iron Broom.”

Yves and his title hopes starched by Stout

June, 12, 2011
6/12/11
8:49
AM ET
Gross By Josh Gross
ESPN.com
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EdwardsRod Mar for ESPN.comYves Edwards' title hopes reached the end of the road in Vancouver.
Once considered the uncrowned king of the UFC lightweight division, Yves Edwards is rapidly approaching the 14th anniversary of his mixed martial arts debut. Two weeks ago, as Edwards worked through the final stretch of preparation for Saturday’s contest against Sam Stout, the 34-year-old Bahamian proudly said that he could recall virtually every second of every fight he’s been a part of.

By his own admission, that’s no longer the case.

He’d been stopped, but nothing like the cold KO that was inflicted upon him and led to the back of his head slamming into the canvas. This was, as UFC president Dana White suggested, among the most vicious knockouts in the organization’s history. Cringe worthy. At the very least, Stout’s perfect left hook to Edward’s jaw won the Canadian "Knockout of the night" and put him in pole position for "KO of the year."

The topography of Edwards’ face paints a clear portrait of someone who knows what it’s like to get touched up. He's endured more than 70 stitches in his life, including 32 after crashing through a windshield at age 5.

“Probably it made me a little tougher,” Edwards said of the jagged scar that runs down the middle of his face.

Indeed. There are others, of course.

The clean incision along his hairline: an elbow from Joe Stevenson.

The odd shaped mark on his left arm looks like something a large cigar might leave. In actuality, that came after running "from people I shouldn't have been running from," Edwards said with a wry smile. He was a high jumper in high school. In real life the Fosbury Flop -- over a fence and on to concrete -- isn't the best idea, and that struck Edwards in mid-flight. Before landing he twisted. The impact, he said, "burned a hole in my arm."

In Edward's first UFC bout, a majority decision loss to Matt Serra on the seminal "Victory in Vegas" card -- the first sanctioned MMA event in Nevada in 2001 -- his foot caught in the cage, prompting a rip in the webbing between the little toe and the one next to it.

"That," he said predictably, "hurt" -- though it doesn’t compare to an orbital bone break against Duane Ludwig in 2008.

"Miserable," said Edwards. "My eyes wouldn't track. One could only move a little bit. The muscle under my eye was hooked on the bone, and my eye was tilting. I started wearing a patch because I was seeing double. If I covered my good eye and I tried to walk a straight line I would fall over like a drunk person. I was dizzy.

"I was scared. Really scared,” he said. “I asked the doctor if I could fight again. He said it was up to me if I wanted to. I was terrified for a while. I love doing this. I still love doing this."

Edwards has also dished out plenty of punishment over the years. Just once, after fracturing a fighter's palette, was he compelled to feel bad about it.

"I don't want to hurt anybody," he said. "My rule is I just want to hurt a guy enough that he doesn't want to fight me anymore tonight. Beyond that I don't want to take someone's living away from them. I just want to be able to feed my kids."

Edwards (40-17-1) intended to hurt Stout (17-6) just enough to win and walked into the fight envisioning himself as a potential title contender behind a group that includes Gray Maynard, Jim Miller and Melvin Guillard.

One spot-on left hook, which Stout said was identified as a fight-stopper several weeks ago by his trainer Shawn Tompkins, means the championship that long eluded Edwards likely slipped from his grasp forever in Vancouver.

Dos Santos more than just a boxer

June, 12, 2011
6/12/11
8:29
AM ET
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
ESPN.com
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dos Santos/CarwinRod Mar for ESPN.comJunior dos Santos proved he's more than just a one-trick pony against Shane Carwin.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- It wasn’t that he beat Shane Carwin in the main event of UFC 131; it was the topsy-turvy nature of how Junior dos Santos did it.

Not only did dos Santos prevent Carwin from dumping him to the ground with a surprisingly strong takedown defense, but he also took down the wrestler on several occasions for good measure. The boxing, we knew about -- the jab was there any time dos Santos wanted to deploy it; the right was coiled and opportunistic; he had good head movement and he was cutting off angles. At the end of the night, Carwin’s nose was broken, and his face bordered on the macabre.

Some of this was predictable. Cigano -- the boxer. But Cigano -- the wrestler?

“As a fighter I train everything, and I’m improving in jiu-jitsu, I’m improving in wrestling, and I’m improving in boxing,” he told ESPN.com after dominating the heavyweight title contender with Carwin. “So I showed a little bit to the people tonight how I’m good in wrestling. I put him down, and I think it was good.”
[+] EnlargeCarwin/dos Santos
Rod Mar for ESPN.comJunior dos Santos' improved takedown defense came in handy versus Shane Carwin.

This bout didn’t play out the way people thought it might. All the prefight blather was about why they were bothering with judges at all, that this thing would be over in moments. For his part, dos Santos himself said repeatedly throughout the week, “Don’t blink.” Turns out this was a cruel and unusual request for a fight that was destined to go a full 15 minutes.

Who knew?

Dos Santos did. He had his way in every area of this fight, and he was very close to finishing Carwin in the first round with strikes. Instead, Carwin survived and survived and kept on surviving, through the blood that streamed down his face from Round 1 on from severe gashes above his eye and through a mangled nose that took the shape of a comma. Carwin proved his chin and heart, but dos Santos proved he’s a more well-rounded fighter than we’ve seen (even if his jiu-jitsu is still entirely theoretical). In fact, the fight was so one-sided against a very tough customer that it was hard to imagine dos Santos’ original opponent, Brock Lesnar, faring any better.

“Yeah, I think that Lesnar was maybe a little bit easier for me in fight [standing up], because he doesn’t have very good boxing skills and Muay Thai skills,” dos Santos said. “But he does have good takedowns. Both Shane Carwin and Brock Lesnar are good wrestlers. So that was a good challenge for me to keep the fight standing.”

Now that he’s beaten Carwin, dos Santos is set up to face the man he was supposed to face by now anyway, champion Cain Velasquez. Cigano's manager Ed Soares said he was pretty sure the fight would happen in 2011, and the thinking is that Velasquez will be able to return from his nearly yearlong layoff after shoulder surgery. Against Velasquez, dos Santos will meet a wrestler who was thought to be the most well-rounded in the division. That is, until dos Santos began showing up with added wrinkles and depths in his game.

The fight could be in November, and dos Santos would have to wait -- but he’d do it reluctantly.

“I want to fight as soon as possible with Cain,” he said. “It’s going to be a very important for me, because my dream is to win a title. So I will be ready for him. He’s very tough, but I will be ready.”

More ready than we were previously led to believe.

It's gotta be the shoes for Team Soares

June, 11, 2011
6/11/11
8:57
AM ET
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
ESPN.com
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Ali_Muhammad shoeLiu Jin/AFP/Getty ImagesCan old gym shoes be the key to Team Soares' success?
VANCOUVER -- If you haven’t noticed, there aren’t a lot of guys coming out of Black House that lose. Theoretically, this is because Ed Soares has a stable of fighters who are really good practitioners of the martial arts -- guys like Anderson Silva (28-4), Junior dos Santos (12-1), Lyoto Machida (17-2) and Diego Nunes (16-1). The mystery only deepens when you add in the cameo appearances by Steven Seagal, who has guys doing everything short of levitating in training sessions (allegedly).

But there is another theory out there that might as well be discussed, and that is Black House owner/translator/manager Ed Soares’ influence on the whole deal. In the 1970s people carried rabbit’s feet for good luck. Soares doesn’t go that far, but he does cover his own feet with a pair of tennies that are in powerful collusion with the cosmos. To his mind anyway.

“I have a superstition,” he told me after the UFC 131 press conference in Vancouver. “I have a pair of shoes that I always wear on fight night. They are a pair of Adidas, they’re a pair Muhammad Ali Adidas shoes. On fight nights I always wear those shoes, every single fight.”

He will be wearing those shoes tomorrow night when Junior dos Santos takes on Shane Carwin in the main event at UFC 131 to establish a No. 1 contender for Cain Velasquez. Ditto for his lighter charge, Diego Nunes, who is welcoming Kenny Florian to the featherweight division. He was wearing them when Anderson Silva obliterated Rich Franklin at UFC 64, and when Lyoto Machida knocked out Rashad Evans at UFC 98 to win the belt. It’s hard to argue the success rate of those shoes.

Scoffable? Maybe, but considering that Anderson Silva hasn’t lost since early 2006 and dos Santos since 2007 -- and with credit being assigned to everyone from Seagal for dishing up the chakra energy to land those mythological front kicks to the fun proceeds of drinking your own urine (Machida) -- the shoes should at least get equal footing.

Cain scouts the competition in Vancouver

June, 10, 2011
6/10/11
9:55
PM ET
Dundas By Chad Dundas
ESPN.com
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CainEd Mulholland/ESPN.comCain Velasquez will be keeping a close eye on the competition this weekend.
Call it a fact-finding mission for Cain Velasquez.

The UFC heavyweight champion touched down in Vancouver yesterday and come Saturday night he’ll be cageside at Rogers Arena to watch Shane Carwin and Junior dos Santos slug it out at UFC 131, scouting for any possible clues about how the winner might approach an ensuing title fight when Velasquez returns from a shoulder injury.

“I’m going to be doing my homework,” Velasquez told ESPN.com on Friday. “[I’ll] see what game plans the guys come out with and how they fight. I’ll be taking everything in.”

The matchup has been the subject of much speculation since Carwin moved in to replace an ailing Brock Lesnar last month, with fans and analysts alike conflicted about who will emerge as the next No. 1 contender. For his part, Velasquez gives a slight edge to the 26-year-old Brazilian, though he’s hedging his bets a little bit for obvious reasons.

“I’m kind of leaning toward dos Santos just because he’s a better boxer than Carwin,” he said. “I think he’s more technical, a lot faster and his movement’s a lot better. But with Carwin, he hits so hard that if he connects with a clean punch I can see him winning the fight that way.”

Velasquez said he was not surprised by Carwin’s claims earlier this week that he’ll eschew his championship-level amateur wrestling skills in favor of slugging it out with dos Santos. On the other hand, the champ said he thinks the most effective strategy for the Colorado native would be to try to use his size and strength to smother dos Santos, control the range and use his clinch game.

“If he does go out there and try to [get a takedown], that wouldn’t surprise me either,” Velasquez said. “That would be his best bet, just to try to keep that close distance on [dos Santos] because [Carwin] generates so much power from a close distance, just like we saw with him and Frank Mir [at UFC 111].”

No matter who is victorious this weekend, Velasquez said it likely won’t change his own game plan in a potential title match. He gave the impression he sees more similarities than differences in Carwin and dos Santos and would likely approach a bout with either in comparable fashion.

“Those two guys are good stand-up guys. They mainly throw a lot of punches, rarely any kicks,” Velasquez said. “They both have a lot of power, so I think the game plan would be kind of the same for both.”

Exactly when that eventual championship match goes down is still anyone’s best guess. Out since last winter with a torn rotator cuff, it was first thought that Velasquez could make his return at UFC 136 in early October, but more recent estimations say it’ll be more like November. Velasquez confirmed he’s making strides, but still not back to hard training. He hesitated to put an exact date on his comeback.

“The doctor doesn’t want me to punch yet with this right arm or go a hundred percent in training, but I’m able to do a lot of stuff,” he said. “He just kind of wants me to strengthen it and as soon as it gets back to where it was, then we’ll go full … It all depends on how I feel and what the doctor says, when he clears me to start fighting again. October, November -- both of those would be great.”

Dos Santos proceeds with caution

June, 10, 2011
6/10/11
12:58
PM ET
By Marcelo Alonso
Sherdog.com
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Shane CarwinRic Fogel for ESPN.comSay what you will about his cardio, but Shane Carwin's power is nothing to scoff at.
Junior dos Santos respects the one-punch knockout power of Shane Carwin, the man he will face in the UFC 131 main event on Saturday in Vancouver. Carwin has finished five opponents in less than a minute. More
Demian MaiaMarcelo Alonso/Sherdog.comWell-grounded: Junior dos Santos' trainer is happy with his grappling work.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach Yuri Carlton has supreme confidence in Junior dos Santos’ ground skills, which remain unproven in the UFC. The Brazilian contender may get to showcase them when he squares off with Shane Carwin on Saturday in the UFC 131 main event. More

UFC 135 official; Jones to make title defense

June, 9, 2011
6/09/11
6:26
PM ET
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
ESPN.com
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VANCOUVER -- A few tidbits from UFC president Dana White today, who held his usual court with reporters after the UFC 131 news conference:

If everything checks out with his health, light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will have his first title defense against Quinton Jackson on Sept. 24, at UFC 135 in Denver.

“That is the date he will headline, in Colorado,” White said. “Assuming [Jones] has healed. Doctor’s got to say his hand’s OK [first], and he’s got to get in the gym to prove it.”

The advantages are stacking up for Jones. He trains at Greg Jackson’s in Albuquerque at altitude, so his first title defense at 205 pounds occurring in the Mile High City will work in his favor. The date also occurs only six weeks after UFC 133 in Philadelphia, where No. 1 contender Rashad Evans is fighting Phil Davis, so if Jones is cleared to fight the timing could mesh for a late-2011 meeting between Evans and Jones. That is if everything lines up just right.

UFC 135 will also feature a welterweight tilt between Diego Sanchez and Matt Hughes, and will be the first event in Denver proper, since Zuffa bough the company in 2002."

White also said that, from this day forward, all non-title main events --regardless if they are major pay-per-views or free televised cards -- will be five rounds. The one exception is the Davis/Evans fight, because that contract was signed previously to the decision to lengthen main events in general.

When I asked him if there would be asterisks involved, such as a fighter jumping into the main event on short notice, or a co-main event being bumped up to become the main event as happened with Matt Hamill and Quinton Jackson at UFC 130, White said there were no exceptions -- all main events are five rounds.

“For Spike and everything else, all five rounds,” he said. “If you’re in the main event you have to fight five rounds. Even if it’s short notice.”

That’s fairly a significant detail for how gyms will need to alter training camps, as now the possibility of fighting five rounds rather than three will be in the back of a fighter’s mind.
The UFC 131 main card, headlined by a heavyweight showdown between Junior dos Santos and Shane Carwin, features a number of meaningful contests on Saturday in Vancouver. In addition, submission grappling superstar John Olav Einemo makes his promotional debut more than four years after his last MMA appearance. More

The Maia-dos Santos connection

June, 8, 2011
6/08/11
12:33
PM ET
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
ESPN.com
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Dos Santos/MaiaMarcelo Alonso for Sherdog.com Junior dos Santos, left, and Demian Maia helped round out eachother's games ahead of UFC 131.
The last time they fought on a card together, at UFC 95 in early 2009, Demian Maia had only vague notions of Junior dos Santos, and vice-versa. That night, dos Santos destroyed Stefan Struve in a 54-second knockout, and Maia needed only half a round to submit Chael Sonnen.

As is often the case in the Brazilian fight scene, it was Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira who brought the two together a few months later when Maia -- one of the best jiu-jitsu players in the game -- was looking to improve his boxing. Dos Santos had stand-up prowess, but needed experience on the floor. It became a Brazilian ying/yang, and heading into UFC 131, where both guys are slotted on the main card with pretty big stakes, the relationship continues.

“Yes, Junior’s a very good friend and a training partner,” Maia said on Tuesday from Vancouver. “But actually, I don’t box with him too much because he’s too heavy, but we do a lot of jiu-jitsu. Our coach doesn’t put us together sparring, especially as we get near the fights. I think he’s afraid I’ll get hurt because he’s much heavier than I am. But in jiu-jitsu there’s no problems because I can control the actions well, so we spar BJJ.”

Dos Santos may not spar with the much smaller middleweight, but he offers plenty of pugilistic pointers to Maia when they train in northeast Brazil. Maia’s stand-up game has improved from incrementally to drastically over the last four fights. And while just about everybody who thinks analytically wonders just how good on the ground dos Santos is -- he’s 6-0 in the UFC with four KOs -- Maia is source material on the matter.
Demian Maia
Marcelo Alonso/Sherdog.com Demian Maia can hold his own with anyone -- heavyweight title contenders included -- on the ground.

“He picks it up very fast,” Maia said. “He’s a very talented athlete. He has like five years in combat sports, but you can tell in his boxing how fast he picks it up. Same thing with his jiu-jitsu; he picks it up very fast -- it’s impressive how fast.

“One nice thing is he doesn’t have an ego when he trains, so if he’s feeling that he has some issue in a position, whether it’s top or bottom, he puts you in that position. He doesn’t care if he gets beat. That’s very important, I think, if you want to learn Brazilian jiu-jitsu. You don’t care about the ego. He wants to learn. Even when he gets beat in a position, he doesn’t care, he wants to learn the position. That’s why I think he will be the next heavyweight champion.”

Obviously the book is out on Maia. Fighters want to avoid getting supine with him -- lest they end up like a pretzel. He faces the heavy-handed wrestler Mark Munoz this weekend and, if Munoz does the conventional play, he’ll look to engage in a stand-up battle. Meanwhile dos Santos gets Shane Carwin for the No. 1 contender spot in the heavyweight division. The presumption there is that, if one doesn’t knock out the other in short violent order, Carwin’s ace in the hole is to take matters to the ground.

Only Maia truly knows if that’s deep water for dos Santos heading into the fights.

Nunes traded cleats for the cage

June, 8, 2011
6/08/11
9:36
AM ET
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
ESPN.com
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Mike Brown and Diego NunesEd Mulholland for ESPN.comGood move: Diego Nunes' decision to fight for a living is paying off.
In 2004, when a 21-year-old Diego Nunes took his first MMA fight against Jorge dos Santos Velho, there was a sentiment in his native town of Caxias do Sul in south Brazil that he was, among other things, completely off his trolley. The reason? The kid was a phenomenal soccer player in the state of Rio Grande do Sul and everybody thought he was headed for a career in the national pastime.

“I played for a few local pro teams in the south of Brazil,” Nunes said Tuesday from Vancouver. “I was well-known in my town as a soccer player. The first time I fought people were like, ‘what the hell? Isn’t Diego a soccer player?’”



Turns out, well, yes and no. Nunes was a standout center and a forward who had to decide between taking soccer to the next level or trying his hand at fighting, which had a much more visceral connection to Nunes. For a while, he did what any rational person with multiple talents would do -- he did both.

“At one point I was playing soccer and fighting at the same time and it came down to making a decision,” he says. “[Fighting] was really a matter of survival. It is like surviving and that’s what I wanted to do. I was always bullied at school and I always had that survival instinct.”

Seems like a pretty good choice. Seven years later, Nunes is fighting on the main card of his second UFC event. He won a split decision against former champion Mike Brown at UFC 125 in Las Vegas in January, and his professional record is 16-1. Oddly enough, his opponent this weekend is Kenny Florian, who’s fighting in his fourth weight class in the UFC and making his featherweight debut. Florian was a pretty good soccer player, too. He played for Boston College on a scholarship back in the day.

Not they meet in a bout that could determine who’s next in line to face current champion -- and Nunes’ training partner at Nova Uniao in Brazil -- Jose Aldo for the 145-pound belt.

So what does Nunes expect from the seasoned veteran Florian come Saturday night?

“We’re going to see the same Kenny Florian, a guy that’s dangerous,” Nunes said through his translator, Derek Lee. “He’s got a lot of weapons. He feels right at home in the Octagon, very comfortable in the Octagon, but he might not be as fast … maybe from the weight cutting, maybe from his age; we’ll see. But he’s basically going to be the same Kenny Florian that we’ve seen.”
Mark MunozJosh Hedges/Zuffa/UFC/Getty ImagesMark Munoz's mix of heavy hands and wrestling acumen make him a tough assignment for anyone.
Onetime NCAA wrestling champion Mark Munoz has a chance to solidify his place as a middleweight contender when he meets Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Demian Maia in a featured matchup at UFC 131 on Saturday in Vancouver. Munoz, 33, holds a 5-2 mark in the UFC. More »

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