The Fight Nerd

June 23, 2014

“World Series of Fighting 10″ Results: Branch, Aguilar, Glenn victorious in title bouts

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David Branch (14-3) is World Series of Fighting’s inaugural middleweight champion after submitting Jesse Taylor (27-10) in the first round of their championship fight.

The bout served as the main event of Saturday’s “World Series of Fighting 10: Branch vs. Taylor” event, which took place at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and aired live on NBCSN.

Branch was overcome with emotion after the fight as the Brooklyn, N.Y., resident and former iron worker openly wept as his hand was raised as WSOF’s newest champion. “I came from nothing,” Branch said afterward. “I know that when I was a kid my mom always struggled. There were three of us and sometimes we only had one meal a day.”

Taylor was the first to go on the attack, clinching up and falling to his back to lock in a guillotine choke. But Branch kept himself safe in the hold, forcing Taylor to let go. When Taylor subsequently scrambled up for a better position, Branch instantly locked in the D’Arce choke and cinched it tight. Taylor tried to resist but was forced to tap at the 1:41 mark of the opening round.

In the night’s co-feature, Rick Glenn (14-3) survived a certain finish by armbar to bounce back and score a TKO win at the end of the second frame and unseat former champion Georgi Karakhanyan (23-4).

A heavy favorite in the matchup, Karakhanyan looked strong in the early going, bringing the fight to the floor and moving to his opponent’s back before locking in an armbar that left Glenn’s limb vulnerable. But the Roufusport fighter battled through the hold and somehow survived until the bell.

“When he took my back I could feel him breathing heavy and I was able to land a couple of punches,” Glenn said. “I just stayed on him. I knew coming in he was the big favorite. It’s nice now that I have this belt that I won’t have to worry about calling anyone out.”

He added: “I want to finish fights and I want to put on exciting fights for the fans. I don’t want to leave it in the judges hands and get screwed.”

Things changed dramatically in the second, as Glenn took his opponent to the floor and unleashed a furious ground-and-pound barrage. Karakhanyan was wounded and tried hard to escape but endured a non-stop wave of strikes. He survived until the bell, but when he went to the stool, he revealed he was suffering from broken ribs, and the bout was called off, earning Glenn the title.

World Series of Fighting women’s strawweight champion Jessica Aguilar (18-4) kept firm hold of her belt with a dominant decision win over a tough Emi Fujino (13-8). Aguilar’s crisp boxing scored points from the start, bloodying Fujino’s nose and setting the tone for the remainder of the five-round affair. To Fujino’s credit, she never showed signs of retreat, even when she was locked deep into an arm-triangle choke

“It didn’t go exactly the way I planned, but we still got the hand raised at the end and that’s the most important thing,” Aguilar said. “She was tough. I knew she would be. But I was prepared to go five rounds; I was prepared to go 10 rounds.”

In a lightweight matchup, Luiz Firmino (18-6) earned a hard-fought decision win over highly respected veteran Tyson Griffin (16-8) in a high-paced slugfest. Both fighters fired haymakers on the feet throughout the 15-minute matchup, but Firmino mixed in sharp grappling, as well, working frequently to dominant positions and forcing Griffin to defend potential submissions. The dynamic attack was enough to score him a decision win, 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27.

“I’ve been training so hard for this fight and I was ready. He’s big, as big as me and the same height so I thought it was a good matchup for both of us.”

In the night’s first main-card matchup, Lance Palmer (8-1) rebounded from his failed bid at the World Series of Fighting featherweight title with an impressive first-round win over the previously undefeated Nick LoBosco (7-1). After some early exchanges on the feet, Palmer turned to his wrestling base to bring the fight to the floor. Once there, he offered up non-stop ground-and-pound strikes until he could sink in a rear-naked choke with 45 seconds left in the first round.

“This was a fight I needed coming off the loss to Georgi (Karakhanyan) in my last fight,” Palmer said after the win. “There was a sense of urgency. I wanted to prove I was the dominant fighter in the first round, and I was able to do that and dominate him early.”

In the night’s final preliminary matchup, a heavyweight rivalry fight turned out to be fairly one-sided in nature, as Derrick Mehmen (18-5) cruised to a decision win over Dave Huckaba (21-6). A gritty Huckaba fought hard from start to finish, pumping out a stiff jab throughout the fight. But Mehmen’s speed, coupled with his ability to get the fight to the floor, seemingly at will, allowed him to control the pace and positioning of the contest. Mehmen used short punches and elbows on the floor to batter Huckaba, and at the end of the fight, he was awarded a clearcut decision win with scores of 30-26, 30-25 and 30-27.

Dagestani import Timur Valiev (7-1) made an immediate impact in World Series of Fighting’s bantamweight division, earning a thrilling third-round TKO win over a tough Adam Acquaviva (1-1).

In an early “Fight of the Night” candidate, the two fighters went back and forth in a high-paced affair. But as it wore on, Valiev seemed to settle into a rhythm and unleash a dynamic arsenal of attacks, including punches, kicks and takedowns from all angles. A pinpoint high kick nearly ended the fight in the second before a flying knee did the trick 95 seconds into the third.

Bulgarian middleweight Krasimir Mladenov (11-0) kept his perfect career mark intact, outwrestling Angel DeAnda (11-4) for a decision win. DeAnda showed heart and capable takedown defense throughout the three-round contest, but Mladenov’s second and third efforts routinely brought the fight to the floor, earning him points en route to a decision win, 30-27 on all three cards.

Women’s bantamweight Ashlee Evans-Smith (3-0) earned another win, scoring a third-round finish of a taller Marciea Allen (3-2). Evans-Smith started slow, struggling to navigate the range in the early going. But as the fight wore on, her confidence grew, and Evans-Smith took the fight to the floor. Once there, Allen proved unable to escape, and a non-stop barrage of short punches and elbows forced referee Mark Smith to halt the fight at the 3:01 mark of the final round.

In a lightweight matchup featuring crosstown Las Vegas rivals, Drysdale Jiu-Jitsu’s Jimmy Spicuzza (4-0) earned a unanimous-decision win over Xtreme Couture’ Justin Jaynes (4-2).

In the night’s first fight, Las Vegas’ A.J. Williams (1-0) scored a victory in his professional debut, rocking Utah’s Tanner Cowan (0-1) with an early high kick before finishing him off with punches just 44 seconds into the first round.

June 22, 2014

Old School MMA Review: UFC 11 – The Proving Ground

Once more, Old School MMA Review has returned for more no-holds-barred shenanigans!

In this two-episode, we examine UFC 11 from September 20, 1996 at the RIchmond County Civic Center in Augusta, Georgia. With one event away from the second “Ultimate Ultimate” tournament, we get a tournament lacking in overall star power, but bringing back returning UFC 10 champion, Mark Coleman, as well as Tank Abbott, back from suspension after an incident at UFC 8 involving Art Davie.

We also get a few other familiar faces back in the octagon, like Brian Johnston, the Lion’s Den protege Jerry Bohlander, Sam Adkins, and Scott Ferrozzo, and the glorious return of announcer Rich Goins! It’s quick finishes, dull brawls, and never-ending Jeff Blatnick interviews & filler segments, as we examine one of the most bizarre events in UFC history with a surprise ending that no one expected!

Part one is at the top of this post, while part two is above this paragraph here. Part 1 includes the opening rounds of the show, while part 2 of this episode includes the semi-finals which features Scott Ferrozzo stepping up as an alternate against Tank Abbott to give us one of the most famous and maybe most disappointing brawls in old school UFC history, a quick Coleman smackdown, and then 70 minutes of filler as confusion ensues, leading up to the one of the strangest endings in the history of the UFC tournaments.

If you want to buy a copy of UFC 11, head to this link here for the Zuffa version, and this link here for the longer Silvervision version!

June 20, 2014

Fight Nerd Cinema: “Stoner” Movie Review

Filed under: Features,Movie Reviews — Tags: , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 10:16 AM

Despite having an unfortunate title in this release, this Golden Harvest film has also gone under the alias of “A Man Called Stoner”, “Hong Kong Hitman”, and “The Shrine of Ultimate Bliss”. Released in 1974, this movie was set to be Bruce Lee’s follow-up to 1973’s “Game of Death”. Unfortunately, Bruce died before he could complete filming of Game of Death, and that movie would not be released until years later. That would be only the beginning of the problems for this movie behind the scenes, but on camera, “Stoner” is a pretty great Kung Fu movie that has been re-released by Shout Factory as part of The Angela Mao Ying Collection , and is worth checking out.

Starring Angela Mao, former James Bond actor George Lazenby, and Hong Kong movie veterans Sammo Hung, Wilson Tong, Hwang In-Shik and Betty Ting Pei (whose apartment was where Bruce Lee was found dead), the movie plays one-part secret agent/ police story, and one-part Hong Kong Kung Fu flick. It’s a departure from many other Golden Harvest movies at the time, with this being set in modern times and having a more timely exploitation feel, complete with a cheesy 70’s soundtrack. Angela Mao plays a Hong Kong police officer who has to uncover the truth behind a cargo ship and its underworld connections, which is a group of mobsters who are creating and trafficking a new highly-addictive drug called “Happy Pill”. Fast forward to a drug den/ orgy in Australia, where George Lazenby literally bursts into the scene in search of his sister, who has overdosed to death on the drug. The two stories slowly merge once Lazenby arrives in Hong Kong as the pair each get closer in resolving their missions, even though it takes them over two hours and 20 minutes to join forces.

“Stoner” is a super-cheesy throwback filled with dated exploitation tropes from drug orgies, obscene amounts of nudity, and awful moustaches, but that is also what makes it a ton of fun to watch. Not only do we get hand to hand combat in this movie, but we also get a car chase which was unusual for the average HK action movie at that time. Best of all, tons of awful tight ’70’s bell bottom pants – count all the times the butt or crotch seam rips while people are fighting! There is also much more development of the baddies as opposed to other movies. We see much more of them making drugs, being evil, and having lavish parties that involve a good deal of topless women serving drinks.

Speaking of, the fight scenes are much more spread out in this movie compared to the others we have seen in this Angela Mao collection. Lazenby adjusts well to the HK style of cinematic fighting, working his butt off in the majority of the fight scenes in the movie. He is not as tight with his moves as his Chinese counterparts are, but he holds his own, and I can respect him for that. Mao does her usual routine of beating up droves of bad guys, and also shows her versatility as an actress and not just an action star. Mao and Lazenby do have a short fight scene, which is decent but mostly odd (watch and you will understand). The climax of the film is extremely action-packed and makes up for much of the slowness in the beginning, especially with Mao’s final fight. Sammo Hung was actually the fight choreographer in this movie, so we can thank him for getting Lazenby ready to fight, and for making Mao shine like she always does.

Overall, “Stoner” feels like a distant cousin of the Golden Harvest films of that era, but also a precursor of things to come for them. It’s a solid HK movie that feels slightly Americanized, and that is where it is weakest. But whenever Angela comes on screen, everything suddenly gets better.

You can get this movie, along with five other Angela Mao movies with The Angela Mao Ying Collection from Shout Factory, and I definitely recommend getting this set today for some very high-quality martial arts action that beats the old grainy VHS tapes that we are used to seeing these on.

June 18, 2014

Scott Coker announced as new President of Bellator MMA

Filed under: Lead Story,News — Tags: , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 3:28 PM

Veteran combat sports promoter Scott Coker has been named President, Bellator MMA, effective immediately, thus replacing former CEO Bjorn Rebney. The announcement was made today by Kevin Kay, Spike TV President, to whom he will report. In his new position, Coker, will oversee the day-to-day management of the emerging mixed martial arts franchise. Coker was Founder and former CEO of Strikeforce, which began in 1985 as a kickboxing league and developed into an MMA league in 2006.

“We are excited to have Scott Coker lead us in a new direction as we evolve the league format from a tournament-based organization to a more traditional model with big fights,” said Kay

Coker will be introduced on a conference call on Wednesday, June 18 at 6pm ET/3pm PT. Expect more coverage later today with updates.

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney parts ways with Bellator MMA

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 3:14 PM

Spike TV and Bjorn Rebney, Founder, Chairman & CEO, and Tim Danaher, President & COO, announced today that Rebney and Danaher are leaving their positions at Bellator MMA effective immediately.

“It is with bittersweet emotions that I announce that I am leaving the company I founded. I have great pride in having turned my vision into reality, a thriving business with television distribution to over 140 countries around the world, a partnership with one of the world’s largest entertainment giants and wide array of sponsors, partners and strategic allies all over the globe. This has been a wonderful eight plus years of creation, development and success. I will miss the courageous, strong and dedicated fighters I have had the pleasure of promoting, and equally, I will miss the incredibly hard working, remarkable team that has become a family for me over the years. Viacom and Tim and I differed in our views of the right strategic direction for Bellator, but Tim and I both wish them well,” said Bjorn Rebney.

“I feel very privileged and honored to have been one of the guiding forces for developing Bellator into the largest MMA tournament based organization in the World. I’ve made tremendous life-long friends and feel blessed to have worked with such talented and dedicated people”, said Tim Danaher.

“I would like to thank Bjorn and Tim on behalf of Spike and Viacom for their dedication and hard work building Bellator from the ground up. They worked tirelessly in getting Bellator to where it is today. They were great partners to work with and we wish them all the best,” said Kevin Kay, Spike TV President.

“Martial Arts Movie Marathon Volume 1″ DVD Review

Filed under: Product Reviews — The Fight Nerd @ 10:03 AM

Have you ever met anyone that disliked Hong Kong action movies? If so, I hope you kicked them in the face repeatedly until they changed their point of view. Old Kung Fu movies are great on so many different levels, whether they are awful and cheesy, or super serious and instant classics. Shout! Factory has gotten in on the action scene, and released the first volume of their “Martial Arts Movie Marathon” collection last month, which contains four movies that have not officially been released on DVD before.

This two-disc set contains four movies from the famous Golden Harvest production company, “The Skyhawk”, “The Manchu Boxer”, “The Dragon Tamers”, and “The Association”, all of which look and sound better than they ever have before this release. It’s a who’s who of stars in this set of movies that most of us (myself included) probably never heard of or saw before unless you are a hardcore Kung Fu movie fan.

“The Skyhawk” from 1974 stars Tak-Hing Kwan as the famous Wong Fei Hung, who has been portrayed by countless actors in Hong Kong Cinema including Jet Li and Jackie Chan (although Chan’s portrayal is a much more humorous one). Nicknamed “The Skyhawk”, Wong Fei Hung and his associate Fei Fei (Sammo Hung AKA Fatty in the english dub), are on their way to visiting an old friend, when they rescue a Kung Fu student getting beat up by a rival school. This leads to them getting involved in the local politics, as a mobster is trying to take control of factory workers by any means necessary, and it is up to Wong Fei Hung to sort things out and make everything right. The movie also stars Nora Miao, Carter Huang, and Whang In Sik, with the action scenes directed by Sammo Hung. I am a big fan of Sammo Hung’s work, and his earlier movies still shine as great examples of old and new fighting, and are absolutely worth a watch.

Also from 1974, “The Manchu Boxer” follows a roaming fighter with a dark past that ends up entering a Kung Fu tournament to become Champion of Seven Provinces, but nothing is ever that simple in a tournament, as the fighter must dispose of a crooked family with more sinister plans. Starring Anthony Lau Wing, Sammo Hung (who also directed the action here), and Wilson Tong Wai Shing, the film is a bit slow but when the action happens, it makes up for the long journey it took to get there. Plot heavy but with explosive fights, it’s the typical story of the reluctant hero who refuses to fight until things get personal, and once that happens, all bets are off!

“The Dragon Tamers” from 1975 is notable for being director John Woo’s second film (he both directed and wrote the screenplay for this one), and features Chuan Chen, James Tien, Carter Huang, Ji Han Jae, and Sammo Hung. A Chinese martial artist comes to Korea with the intention of challenging a Taekwondo master. He soon meets a group of people belonging to several martial arts dojos which are localized in the area, and are being attack by a mysterious gang who intend to take control of the schools. If you have been reading this review, I am sure you can figure out what happens next.

You can definitely get a sense that this is a John Woo film, even at this early stage of his career, although it is also clear that the studio must have had some hands in this since there are a lot of random and unnecessary scenes that the movie could do without. Also of note, a young Jackie Chan was an assistant on filming the fight scenes in this movie, which is just a cool note to martial arts movie history.

Lastly, “The Association” from 1975 stars Byong Yu, Tien Ni, Hwang In Sik, Angela Mao Ying, and Carter Huang, and is about a pair of undercover cops that must bust an international prostitution ring that may have ties to police corruption. This movie, which rides the thin line of Kung Fu flick and exploitation movie, has some very stylish fight scenes that were once again choreographed by Sammo Hung. This movie also marks the only time that Byong Yu did a movie, who is a very high-ranking Tae Kwon Do master. It’s a pity he only did one movie, but to be fair, this one is a bit of mess that has awesome fight scenes, but a lagging plot – and frankly, exploitation movies are just not my thing, especially not HK ones.

Overall, “The Martial Arts Movie Marathon” series is shaping up into something pretty interesting. While some movies were definitely better than others, they are all worth watching (even if you do have to fast-forward through a few of the slow parts). While I like my Kung Fu movies to have stories, if you are coming just for the action then all of these movies will give you your fix. These are some hidden treasures that have been unearthed, and are a piece of Kung Fu cinema history that you will definitely enjoy for their cheesiness, and love for the action!

You can order the Martial Arts Movie Marathon Volume 1 DVD set from Amazon.com for around $18, and is a great price for some lost classics that have never looked better.

June 17, 2014

Topps “UFC Knockout” 2014 Trading Cards Review

Filed under: Features,Lead Story,Product Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 9:58 AM

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Topps has been producing UFC cards for a few years now, with every line topping the last one. Whether it be special inserts, contests, or just re-designing the ordinary cards, Topps has proven why they are the leading trading card manufacturer in the industry. I got my hands on an early release of the company’s next batch of UFC cards, titled “UFC Knockout”, and am sharing with you what I saw to see if the cards still live up to the hype or not.

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This year, the cards are not packaged in shiny wrappers, but come in small cardboard boxes shaped like a long octagon. This parallelogram packaging makes these cards stand out on shelves, and they look pretty cool too. Each pack contains only five cards, which is the smallest amount ever seen with this line. The reasoning behind that is that the paper stock of the cards is now a much thicker stock, twice the size of the older cards, and every pack guarantees either a signature or memorabilia card, which were rare in the previous releases.

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Inside the box, the cards are still wrapped up in a silver package to prevent people from peeking into the cardboard to see what they are getting before purchasing. If you buy these in stores, make sure your boxes are sealed to prevent yourself from scooping up a pack that was rummaged through, or worst off, cards were removed and you get screwed.

Let’s tear into a few packs and see what the cards look like!

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As I mentioned, the cards are all on very heavy stock, and remind me of the Marvel cards that Flair released in the mid ’90’s. This heavier card allows for some fancy new printing techniques, with some of the best resolution photos of fighters we have seen in this line. No pixelation or grain, these pictures are crystal clear and the printing helps make that possible.

Below are a few other cards I got, including a horizontally aligned card so you can see what that looks like.

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Here is the back of the cards, which feature succinct bios and stats for the fighter on the card. There are 100 cards total in this line, not counting the special inserts or the sub-lines, which are also included in each pack and are numbered (something that still puzzles me to this day). So, the breakdown for each pack is three normal cards, one numbered normal card, and one special insert – guaranteed for every pack.

And below are some of the special cards I got!

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These are the memorabilia cards AKA relic cards, which include either a piece of fight-worn gear or a piece of the cage the fighters battled in. I lucked out and got a GSP card, which made me extremely happy. Back in the older lines, the super thick card stock was used solely for these specialty cards, but now they are all thick (although Soa’s card was a bit thicker because of the material from the mats).

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And above are two types of signature cards, one of which includes some fight-worn gear. The signatures are all hand-signed, and every card is individually numbered to drive hardcore collectors insane. Worth noting, in the four packs that I got, I only got single fighter cards and these special cards. Gone are the famous fights cards that featured a fight in action rather than a shot focused solely on one fighter, as well as all other special cards. The focus has now become the signature or memorabilia cards, and since I got no other types of cards, it’s safe to assume that those other types have been cut from the line. There are some other rarer special inserts, but I can not comment on those since the luck of the draw gave me what you saw above.

A big part of the new launch will be the 2014 UFC Knockout Golden Ticket Promotion. There will be ten Golden Tickets randomly inserted into boxes of these cards. Those ten will have a chance to be selected for a meet-and-greet session with UFC Ambassador, Chael Sonnen, and a chance to train with him, while the nine runner-ups will receive a piece of training equipment signed by Sonnen.

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This is definitely Topps’ strongest line in terms of targeting card collectors or very serious UFC fans. However, because of this, these cards are not really the type or card just anyone is going to pick up. With a sealed box of these holding eight mini-boxes costing around 80 on Amazon.com
, that means a single mini-box will cost around $20. That is a HUGE price to pay for only five cards, but you are guaranteed a signature or a relic card, which makes them worth the price if you are an autograph hound.

The cards are all extremely nice and great to look at, made from some high quality paper, and the special cards are definitely some of the best Topps has made, so if you can afford them, dive in and pick them up today.

 

June 16, 2014

Fight Nerd Cinema: “Broken Oath” Movie Review

Filed under: Movie Reviews — Tags: , , — The Fight Nerd @ 10:40 AM

Released by Golden Harvest in 1977, “Broken Oath” is a story that might seem vaguely familiar to martial arts movie buffs, and there is a perfectly legitimate reason for that. As part of Shout Factory’s six-movie set, The Angela Mao Ying Collection , this is another Angela Mao classic that has been remastered for your viewing pleasure.

The wrongfully imprisoned wife of a general (her husband betryaed and murdered by turncoats) ends up on a barge headed to a prison island. There, she meets “Thousand Hands”, a female pickpocket who is now a warden in the jail. One night, the woman gives birth to a baby girl (the product of a rape from one of the turncoats) that she wants to seek vengeance on those who wronged her family, but the pickpocket instead gives the young child to a Shaolin monastery, hoping to stop any more violence from happening. Named Jie Lian (“Pure Lotus”) by the monks, the child grows up (Angela Mao) into a rambunctious and aggressive girl that prefers fighting over praying. After killing a group of ruffians that attack her one day in the woods (courtesy of the girl’s fetish with tiny poisonous scorpions), Jie Lian is exiled from the temple. Retreating to her godmother, the pickpocket from earlier, Jie learns the truth about her past and begins to hunt down those who wronged her with the goal of restoring her family name. While she is busy wiping out bad guys and playing with bugs, she befriends Ah Shu, another pickpocket that “Thousand Hands” trained, and together they wreak havoc on the underworld… or something like that. Twists and turns happen, as well as meeting a mysterious Kung Fu master that knows more than he is saying.

This movie features a ton of martial arts movie big names early in their careers, including Mars (an actor often seen in Jackie Chan’s movies), Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah, and Sammo Hung, who also appeared with Mao in “When Tae Kwon Do Strikes”, playing a Japanese bigot. The movie is actually a remake of a Japanese movie called “Lady Snowblood”, which Quentin Tarantino borrowed heavily from for his “Kill Bill” movies. One scene in particular looks a lot like the fight between the Bride and the Crazy 88’s, minus the over-the-top blood and guts.

The story is a basic premise for a Kung Fu flick – revenge and honor. While way too many Shaw Brothers movies used that trope, Golden Harvest was often more successful at it thanks to actually scripting things and having larger budgets to utilize better actors, camera equipment, and more intricate sets. The fight scenes are wonderfully shot and choreographed (oh, to live in the days before shaky cameras), and Angela Mao is as graceful and powerful as always. With her lightning fast kicks and sharp hand strikes, it’s awesome watching her take on a dozen men and beat them senseless.

Despite being over 90 minutes long, the movie is fast-paced with tons of snappy action scenes that feel like they belong, and are not just random fights for the sake of having them. Strong plots are something that many old school Kung Fu movies did not have. Here, there is a good plot that will have you heavily invested, and even better is the fact that this version from Shout Factory looks better than it did when it first hit theaters. Upgraded sound, improved video quality, and remastered for modern TV screens, Shout Factory does a great job with finding classic Kung Fu movies and breathing new life into them.

Good news for you, since you can get this and five other Angela Mao movies with The Angela Mao Ying Collection from Shout Factory, and I definitely recommend getting this set today for some very high-quality martial arts action.

June 12, 2014

All Bellator Tournament Winners Now In World Title Shot Pool … FOREVER!

Filed under: News — Tags: — The Fight Nerd @ 1:22 PM

With Bellator’s 2014 Summer Series having just begun last Friday, Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney announced today that the promotion has made an addition to its real sport, tournament based format that allows former Bellator Tournament winners the potential to be granted a World Title fight without going back into The Toughest Tournament in Sports.

“Just like we’ve done since day one, any fighter who wins The Toughest Tournament in Sports will still be guaranteed a World Title fight,” Rebney said. “The addition I’m making here, that I’m really excited about, is if you’ve won a tournament, you’ll join an elite group of athletes who we can grant a world title fight to at any time.”

“For example, if you win a tournament, fight for the World Title and lose, you forever remain in that elite group of fighters who can be awarded another shot at the title. We will place some fighters back into tournaments, while others may lose a world title fight, win some non-tournament fights and be awarded another shot at the title. We won’t be implementing any hard and fast rule as to when a fighter will go back into a tournament and when he’ll fight non-tournament fights and potentially be granted another title shot. What’s great about this addition is that it allows us to stay true to our core format, where title shots can only be earned through a tournament win, while also providing us tremendous flexibility to make the great fights fans want to see. And, we can do all this while keeping our fighters busy and battling in meaningful fights on a re-occurring basis. This is another step in our constant evolution and most importantly it’s a win for the fighters and the fans.”

“When I heard about this change, I instantly fell in love with it,” Bellator Interim Lightweight Champion Will Brooks said. “This is a way to keep guys active after they have proven themselves in a tournament. You always want to stay in the mix as a fighter, and it’s really exciting to me that Bellator is taking the fighters and fans opinions to heart and making decisions to put on the best fights possible. It’s refreshing to see and be a part of, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

“At the end of the day, everyone wants to see guys they know stay busy and active,” Bellator Welterweight Champion Douglas Lima said. “As fighters we want to stay busy and keep fighting, and this new change helps keep the talent pool fresh and creates new challengers for us. I know the tournament isn’t going anywhere, it’s how we all came up and got our titles, but now we have a chance to keep staying busy and keep defending our titles.”

The current pool of fighters eligible to be chosen to fight for the world title includes:

Bantamweight: Eduardo Dantas*, Joe Warren*, Marcos Galvao, Rafael Silva

Featherweight: Pat Curran*, Patricio Pitbull, Daniel Straus, Shahbulat Shamhalaev, “Frodo” Khasbulaev, Daniel Weichel, Joe Warren.

Lightweight: Eddie Alvarez*, Will Brooks*, Michael Chandler, Pat Curran, Rick Hawn, Dave Jansen, David Rickels

Welterweight: Douglas Lima*, Karl Amoussou, Andrey Koreshkov, Rick Hawn

Middleweight: Alexander Shlemenko*, Brennan Ward, Doug Marshall

Light Heavyweight: Emanuel Newton*, Rampage Jackson, King Mo, Christian M’Pumbu, Atilla Vegh,

Heavyweight: Vitaly Minakov*, Alexander Volkov, Cheick Kongo

* Denotes Current Bellator Champion or Interim Champion

June 10, 2014

WSOF 11 to be NBC’s first televised MMA event, with Gaethje VS Newell for lightweight title

Just last week, World Series of Fighting made headlines when promotion officials announced a major partnership renewal with NBC that will see the organization air live events on the major network twice this year – and many more times in years to follow. The promotion’s inaugural NBC-broadcast event, “World Series of Fighting 11: Gaethje vs. Newell” now takes place July 5 at Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Fla.

World Series of Fighting 11 is headlined by a lightweight championship bout with the exciting Justin Gaethje (11-0) putting his belt on the line against the extremely tough and talented “Notorious” Nick Newell (11-0). Also on the card, a highly anticipated welterweight rubber match takes place as we see Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Jon Fitch (25-6-1, 1 NC) take on Josh “The People’s Warrior” Burkman (27-10). Both Fitch and Burkman boast a win over each other, so this bout is for bragging rights.

Additionally, newly signed lightweight Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard (31-13-2) debuts against Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante (18-7-1) and Cody “Bam Bam” Bollinger (15-2, 1 NC) faces a dangerous 14-year veteran in Pablo Alfonso (9-5) in an intriguing bantamweight contest.

“We’ve been talking about it for some time now, and we’re thrilled to see all of the pieces falling perfectly into place for our first show on NBC,” said World Series of Fighting President Ray Sefo. “With World Series of Fighting 11 taking place over the holiday weekend in Daytona, the world’s most famous beach, we are anticipating fireworks from the Fourth to continue in the cage. I know that it will be another great night of fights for all of our fans.”

Lightweight champion Justin Gaethje is a member of Colorado’s Grudge Training Center and has already earned World Series of Fighting wins over Rich Patishnock, Dan Lauzon, Brian Cobb and Gesias Cavalcante. Fighting professionally since 2011, the 25-year-old is undefeated in his first 11 career fights, and 10 of those have ended via stoppage, including nine by knockout.

“Notorious” Nick Newell will be challenging Gaethje for his lightweight championship when the cage doors close. The inspirational Newell, who shares an identical record (11-0) with his opponent, last defeated Sabah Fadai at World Series of Fighting 7. It was his second submission victory in as many fights under the World Series of Fighting banner, having previously dispatched of Keon Caldwell at World Series of Fighting 4 with a modified guillotine choke that earned him a top play on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

When Jon Fitch (25-6-1, 1 NC) and Josh Burkman (27-10) met for the second time in their careers at World Series of Fighting 3 event Las Vegas, Burkman was determined to return the favor from when Fitch submitted him with a rear-naked choke seven years earlier. Despite being the underdog going into the fight, Burkman succeeded in a victory that earned him a “Submission of the Year” nomination at the World MMA Awards. Both fighters have earned victories since World Series of Fighting 3, with Burkman scoring an impressive first-round knockout over Tyler Stinson on March 9 and Fitch beating Marcelo Alfaya at World Series of Fighting 6.

Melvin Guillard is well-known as one of the most explosive and dangerous knockout artists in all of combat sports. Fighting professionally since he was just a teenager, Guillard is one of the most athletically gifted strikers in the sport today and is capable of ending any fight in a single punch. Meanwhile, Gesias Cavalcante is a well-respected veteran of the sport who has fought previously for Strikeforce and DREAM and now competes for the fourth time under the World Series of Fighting banner. The 31-year-old Brazilian is 2-1 with the promotion with stoppage victories over T.J. O’Brien and Tyson Griffin, and his only loss in that span came due to a cut against current champ Gaethje.

Bollinger made his promotional debut at World Series of Fighting 8 in January and took a unanimous decision against Tyson Nam, giving him back-to-back wins. Alfonso brings a three-fight winning streak to the bout, including a first-round submission of former WEC champ Miguel Torres at World Series of Fighting 6 this past October.

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