The Fight Nerd

September 16, 2014

“Fight Church” Documentary Review

Filed under: Features,Movie Reviews — Tags: , , — The Fight Nerd @ 2:13 PM

“Fight Church” is the documentary about the unlikely pairing of the Christian church & combat sports, so it makes perfect sense that the person reviewing it has the last name of “Kaplowitz” and has not been to synagogue since his Bar Mitzvah. I am not a religious person, but that is not to say that I am against it either. With that disclosure out of the way, I was unsure of what to expect when I watched this doc, and I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly invested by the time it was over.

Daniel Junge, the 2012 Academy Award winner for Best Documentary (Short Subject) with the film “Saving Face”, and Bryan Storkel, who directed another Christian-related documentary in 2011, titled “Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians”, teamed up with Eben Kostbar and Joseph McKelheer, the producers of the Matt Hamill movie, “The Hammer”, to make this riveting documentary whose title tells you everything you need to know about it.

“Fight Church” is the story of several (yes, there are many more than just one fight church in the US) preachers and pastors who utilize mixed-martial arts as a tool in their sermons, and as a way to engage more people in their ministries. Paul Burress of Rochester, NY, is a retired pro fighter and minister that wants to get back into the fight game, despite having 10 concussions during his time in the cage. We have Preston Hocker and his wife Lindsey, who describes her husband as a “theater geek” turned minister/fighter, nicknamed “The Pastor of Disaster”. There is John Renken, a former kickboxing and shootboxing champion with an 18-28 record in MMA that dates as far back as 1997, who is a minister that seeks to herd “lost people”, and he believes many of them are watching MMA. Finally, Nahshon Nicks, a Jacksonville, Flordia minister who found his freedom from an imprisoned father through God, and said fighting is “what I do, it’s not who I am”.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is Scott Sullivan, former pro fighter and then-owner of “Bam Bam Martial Arts”, a conflicted Christian that does not understand how he could stay involved in the fight game while heeding the word of God, as well as Father Duffell, a New York City based preacher who is vehemently opposed to the barbarism of cage-fighting who says that other churches that permit it are merely “pick-and-choose” bible readers. The doc also features appearances from TUF season 10 competitor Justin Wren, UFC veteran and soon to be WSOF middleweight Jared Hamman, former UFC lightweight champ Benson Henderson and UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones, who discusses the stigma of publicly linking Christianity to himself and being warned that it would make him “harder to market”.

The doc is an exploration of the conflicts in ideologies between fighting and believing in God. As Father Duffell states, how can someone say they love God while they are spreading violence by voluntarily stepping into a cage to hit someone? On the other hand, for Paul or Preston, it’s a way to give their religion to people that may otherwise would not be interested in the church. Pastors like Nahshon, who compare training to worshipping god, and believe that the “meekness” referred to in the bible means having the ability to destroy but choosing not to, much like King David, the undefeated warrior of the bible who was ready to deal with war when there was no other choice.

A surprising direction in the movie occurred when the story shifted to the legalization of MMA in NY, as both Paul and Father Duffell made their way over to the NY Assembly to explain their causes, two men of the same religion offering extremely different viewpoints on the sport. We even get to see Paul speak with Bob Reilly, the infamous Assemblyman who claims that “people do not want MMA legalized” and, a few sentences later, managed to connect the sport towards domestic violence. Reilly was not keen on doing too many interviews towards the end of his political career, so it was a huge thing to get him on camera and hear his thoughts, even if most of the people reading this review will disagree with everything he says (myself included).

The human element of this philosophical battle between Christianity and MMA is played out within the many stories told in the doc, including when two of the preachers in this very doc, Nahshon and Preston, agree to fight each other. Meanwhile, John Renken is getting ready to wage a war against a man that trash-talked his wife on Facebook, even though this other guy has not even agreed to fight him. This impromptu challenge match happens a few segments after the most uncomfortable scene in the film, where we see John with his two single-digit aged children shooting handguns on a target range as he explains that today’s culture has turned wimpy and needs more controlled aggression to make it stronger.

Nahshon never prays to win a fight, since the outcome is already pre-determined by his Lord, but prays instead for the strength to do his best. The concept of turning the other cheek, and many other familiar biblical sayings are put to the test in real situations, and let the viewer make their own decision as to who is doing the right thing, if there is one. Fighting is an inherently selfish task, and even that idea is challenged when guys like Nahshon, Paul, and Preston, are using it as their methods to spread the gospel to children, crowds in an arena, and to anyone that will listen.

“Fight Church” is never a preachy movie, even though it has preachers using their words just as much as they use their fists. It’s a provocative and no-holds-barred look at the contradictory nature of fighting and religion that does not try to sell one side as better than the other, but opens your eyes to a conflict that will most likely never have a definitive answer. It’s a great documentary for fight fans and viewers outside of our community and I highly recommend giving it a watch.

I also want to add that I became aware of an alleged sex scandal involving Paul Burress after I had watched the movie and was looking up info on the stars. I do not condone any of the actions that Paul did, if it is proved that he did anything, and I hope the truth comes out sometime soon about all of this. So, I want to make sure that my readers are informed of this as well in case that affects your interest in the film.

You can order “Fight Church” on DVD at this link here, and the movie is also available through iTunes and most other On Demand and Digital HD platforms For more info on the film, head to this link here for their official website.

February 5, 2014

Jon Jones to defend belt against Glover Teixeira at UFC 172

The Ultimate Fighting Championship announced today that pound-for-pound king Jon “Bones” Jones will return to the Octagon on Saturday, April 26 at Baltimore Arena to make an unprecedented seventh UFC light heavyweight title defense against No. 2 contender Glover Teixeira, who is undefeated in the UFC. The event marks the organization’s first ever trip to Baltimore.

Jones, the brother of Baltimore Ravens star defensive lineman Arthur Jones, holds the UFC record for most light heavyweight title defenses with six. The dynamic striker and powerful wrestler will now meet the heavy-handed Teixeira, who has reeled off five straight wins in the UFC.

In addition to the Jones-Teixeira showdown, two more light heavyweights will meet in Baltimore when the division’s fourth-ranked competitor and 2008 national champion wrestler at Penn State Phil Davis (12-1, 1NC, fighting out of San Diego, Calif.) meets the explosive Anthony Johnson (16-4, fighting out of Boca Raton, Fla. by way of Dublin, Ga.), who returns to the UFC riding a six-fight win streak.

The card also features top middleweights in action as former STRIKEFORCE middleweight champ and sixth-ranked Luke Rockhold (11-2, fighting out of San Jose, Calif.) takes on No. 11 Tim Boetsch (17-6, fighting out of Sunbury, Pa.). No. 5 ranked Jake Ellenberger (29-7, fighting out of Lake Forest, Calif.) returns to action against former STRIKEFORCE welterweight champion and ninth-ranked Tarec Saffiedine (15-3, fighting out of Temecula, Calif.). Also, No. 2 ranked flyweight Joseph Benavidez (19-4, fighting out of Sacramento, Calif.) hopes to rebound when he takes on eighth-ranked Tim Elliott (10-4-1, fighting out of Lee’s Summit, Mo.).

Highly-touted lightweight prospect Joe Ellenberger (14-1, fighting out of Omaha, Neb.) makes his UFC debut against Honolulu’s Yancy Medeiros (10-1), while, battling to break into the featherweight rankings, Max Holloway (8-3, fighting out of Waianae, Hawaii) will meet recent UFC recruit Andre Fili (13-1, fighting out of Sacramento, Calif.), who is coming off an impressive second-round knockout victory in his promotional debut.

April 23, 2013

Mike Constantino previews UFC 159

Head coach of AMA Fight Club, Mike Constantino, spoke with The Fight Nerd at Modell’s in midtown Manhattan, where Jim and Dan Miller were doing a workout for the fans to promote UFC 159.

Mike talks about Jim’s fight against Pat Healy and the implications of this match, as well as when Dan Miller will return to the octagon. Mike also looks back at UFC on Fox 7 to discuss the Nate Diaz VS Josh Thomson fight, and we also break down the other big fights on UFC 159 including Roy Nelson VS Cheick Kongo, Michael Bisping VS Alan Belcher, Sheila Gaff VS Sara McMann, and Jon Jones VS Chael Sonnen for the UFC light heavyweight title.

April 10, 2013

Uriah Hall and Kelvin Gastelum to meet in series finale for TUF 17

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 9:23 AM

And then there were two. The Ultimate Fighter returned to FX on Tuesday night, with the final episode of its seventeenth season, featuring two semifinal elimination fights. New Yorker Uriah Hall and Kelvin Gastelum of Yuma, Ariz. secured their berths in the final and moved within reach of a lucrative contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship and a brand new Harley Davidson.

Gastelum continued to utilize his impressive wrestling, submitting favored Josh Samman at 4:02 of the first round via rear naked choke. Hall followed in the second semifinal of the evening, spending 9:49 in the Octagon® – more than his two previous fights combined – before securing a TKO victory over Dylan Andrews.

The fighters will square off in the final at The Ultimate Fighter Finale on Saturday, April 13. Given that both fighters were members of Team Sonnen, UFC light heavyweight challenger Chael Sonnen has officially won the Harley Davidson motorcycle, presented to the winning coach.

Team Sonnen – coached by UFC light heavyweight Chael Sonnen – (8-6)

Luke Barnatt (1-1, TKO win over Gilbert Smith in episode 2, TKOd by Dylan Andrews in episode 10)

Uriah Hall (3-0, KOd Adam Cella in episode 3, KOd Bubba McDaniel in episode 11, TKOd Dylan Andrews in episode 12)

Zak Cummings (0-1, lost a UD to Dylan Andrews in episode 8)

Tor Troeng (0-1, TKOd by Josh Samman in episode 6)

Jimmy Quinlan (1-1, submitted Clint Hester in episode 7, tapped to strikes from Josh Samman in episode 11)

Kevin Casey (0-2, lost a UD to Collin Hart in episode 4, lost via TKO [failure to answer to bell] to Bubba McDaniel in episode 9)

Kelvin Gastelum (3-0, submitted Bubba McDaniel in episode 5, defeated Collin Hart by TKO in episode 10, submitted Josh Samman in episode 12)

Team Jones – coached by UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones – (6-8)

Clint Hester (0-1, submitted by Jimmy Quinlan in episode 7)

Josh Samman (2-1, TKO win over Tor Troeng in episode 6, TKO win over Jimmy Quinlan [tapped to strikes] in episode 11, submitted by Kelvin Gastelum in episode 12)

Bubba McDaniel (1-2, submitted by Kelvin Gastelum in episode 5, defeated Kevin Casey by TKO [failure to answer to bell] in episode 9, knocked out by Uriah Hall in episode 11)

Gilbert Smith (0-1, TKOd by Luke Barnatt in episode 2)

Collin Hart (1-1, defeated Kevin Casey by UD in episode 4, TKOd by Kelvin Gastelum in episode 10)

Adam Cella (0-1, KOd by Uriah Hall in episode 3)

Dylan Andrews (2-1, defeated Zak Cummings by UD in episode 8, defeated Luke Barnatt by TKO in episode 10, TKOd by Uriah Hall in episode 12)

All but two of this season’s cast members will make their return on the Finale card, as Thor Troeng recently submitted Adam Cella at UFC on FUEL TV: MOUSASI vs. LATIFI. The full fight card is now available at ufc.com.

The Ultimate Fighter Finale takes place Saturday, April 13, live from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nev. The event will air live on FX at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

January 23, 2013

Sonnen and Jones pick teams on debut of TUF 17

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 9:00 AM

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The 17th season of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s famed reality television show, The Ultimate Fighter, began on Tuesday with a special two-hour premiere on FX. Twenty-eight middleweight (185 pounds) fighters squared-off in 14 elimination fights, vying for a coveted spot on the series and their chance to win a six-figure contract with the UFC.

Premiere episode fight match-ups and results:

· Adam Cella, Fenton, Mo., submitted Jake Heun, Salt Lake City, in 1st round

· Zak Cummings, Kansas City, Mo., def. Nik Fehete, Las Vegas by TKO in 1st round

· Kevin Casey, Hawthorne, Calif., submitted Eldon Sproat, Kaunakakai, Hawaii, in the 1st

· Tor Troeng, Umea, Sweden, submitted Scott Rosa, Sparks, Nev., in the 1st

· Clint Hester, Atlanta, Ga., by unanimous decision over Frasier Opie, Milten Keynes, England

· Bubba McDaniel, Albuquerque, N.M. def. Ryan Bigler, Barrigada, Guam by TKO in the 2nd

· Josh Samman, Tallahassee, Fla., def. Leo Bercier, Great Falls, Mon. by TKO in the 1st

· Kelvin Gastelum, Yuma, Arz., by unanimous decision over Kito Andrews, Sacramento, Calif.

· Jimmy Quinlan, Metheun, Mass., def. Mike Persons, Stockton, Calif. by TKO in the 2nd

· Uriah Hall, New York City, by unanimous decision over Andy Enz, Anchorage, Alaska

· Gilbert Smith, Colorado Springs, Colo., submitted Eric Wahlin, Taylorsville, Utah, in the 1st

· Luke Barnatt, Cambridge, Eng., by unanimous decision over Nicholas Kohring, Valley Springs, Calif.

· Dylan Andrews, Gold Coast, Aus., by majority decision over Tim Williams, Millville, N.J.

· Collin Hart, Santa Rosa, Calif., submitted Mike Jaspar, Camarillo, Calif., in the 1st

Team Selections

Team Sonnen won the coin toss, electing to pick first. Below are the final rosters, in order each was selected, are:

Luke Barnatt

Uriah Hall

Zak Cummings

Tor Troeng

Jimmy Quinlan

Kevin Casey

Kelvin Gastelum

Team Jones:

Clint Hester

Josh Samman

Bubba McDaniel

Gilbert Smith

Collin Hart

Adam Cella

Dylan Andrews

Team Jones, therefore had the option of the first fight pick and chose Gilbert Smith versus Team Sonnen’s Luke Barnatt.

The series resumes next Tuesday, January 29, on FX at 9 p.m. ET/PT (check local listings for Central and Mountain Time) In that episode – “Ambush” – 14 victorious middleweights move into the house, and training begins. A fighter gets emotional after his team shows serious doubts about his readiness. Then Barnatt and Smith face off in the first preliminary fight.

January 10, 2013

Field Finalized For The Ultimate Fighter on FX: Jones VS Sonnen

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 12:27 AM

tuf-17-cast-2012-01-08-x-large

On January 22, some of the world’s most talented and determined mixed martial artists will face-off in the most grueling sports tournament on television. Watch as 28 mixed martial arts prospects battle for a coveted spot on the new season of The Ultimate Fighter®, which begins with a special two-hour premiere airing at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FX.

The Ultimate Fighter, the Ultimate Fighting Championship®’s long-running reality television series, will run for 13 weeks and will culminate in a three-hour finale, live from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev. Unlike previous seasons on FX, the one-hour broadcast will now be shown on Tuesday nights at its new regularly scheduled timeslot of 9 p.m. ET/PT.

The 14 successful combatants will be divided into two teams, which will be coached by two of the fiercest rivals in all of sport. UFC® light heavyweight champion and MMA superstar, Jon “Bones” Jones will captain one team, while the controversial and charismatic challenger Chael Sonnen will lead the second team into battle in this, the 17th installment of the series.

The coaches will then collide for the light heavyweight title on Saturday, April 27, at UFC® 159: JONES vs. SONNEN at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

Not surprisingly, both Jones and Sonnen will be bringing their trademark self-confidence into their stints as coaches this season on The Ultimate Fighter.

“I thought it would be a good way to share myself with the sport of MMA,” Jones said. “I embrace the role.”

Said Sonnen: “The hottest show on FX is being graced with the greatest talent God ever made: Chael P. Sonnen.’’

The list of finalists in the middleweight (185 pounds) division was trimmed from more than 250 applicant athletes. The fighters – all seeking the opportunity of a lifetime and a six-figure contract from the Ultimate Fighting Championship – hail from the United States, Australia, England and Sweden.

“The quality of guys we have this season in unbelievable,” said UFC President Dana White. “From the fights to get into the house, to every single fight this season, I think the talent is some of the best I’ve ever seen on this show. We’re going to end up with some really good guys in the 185-pound division.”

“The production value has increased, the talent level is at an all-time high, and we have two of the most dynamic personalities in all of the UFC as our coaches,” said Chuck Saftler, EVP of FX Networks. “I’m extremely excited about this season of The Ultimate Fighter and truly believe this could be the show’s best season yet.”

On Jan. 22, the season will launch with 14 gripping elimination scraps. Those victorious in the opening round, or “Fight In”, become official cast members and earn their place in The Ultimate Fighter house in Las Vegas. The winners will be drafted into opposing teams of seven by Jones and Sonnen. Thereafter, cameras will document their activity before and after their training and fights during the season.

Each episode’s winners will advance in the single-elimination tournament until one is crowned The Ultimate Fighter.

The competitors are:

Dylan Andrews (16-4-1), 32, Gold Coast, AUS

Jake Heun (3-2), 25, Salt Lake City, Utah

Hito Andrews (9-2), 34, Sacramento, Calif.

Nicholas Hohring (3-0), 22, Valley Springs, Calif.

Luke Barnatt (5-0), 24, Cambridge, ENG

Mike Jaspar (6-0), 29, Camarillo, Calif.

Leo Bercier (7-2), 31, Great Falls, Montana

Bubba McDaniel (20-6), 29, Albuquerque, N.M.

Ryan Lee Q. Bigler (9-3), 28, Guam

Frasier Opie (10-5), 25, Milton Keynes, ENG

Kevin Casey (5-2), 31, Hawthorne, Calif.

Frederick Persons (3-0), 28, Stockton, Calif.

Adam Cella (4-0), 27, Fenton, Mo.

Jimmy Quinlan (3-0), 26, Metheun, Mass.

Zach Cummings (15-3), 28, Kansas City, Mo.

Scott Rosa (4-1), 27, Sparks, Nev.

Andy Enz, (6-1), 21, Anchorage, Alaska

Josh Samman (9-2), 24, Tallahassee, Fla.

Nik Fehete (5-1), 32, Las Vegas, Nev.

Gilbert Smith (5-1), 30, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Kelvin Gastelum (5-0), 20, Yuma, Ariz.

Eldon Sproat (3-1), 27, Molohai, Hawaii

Uriah Hall (7-2), 28, New York City, N.Y.

Tor Troeng (15-4-1), 29, Umea, SWE

Collin Hart (4-1-1), 23, Santa Rosa, Calif.

Eric Wahlin (5-1), 29, Taylorsville, Utah

Clint Hester (7-3), 24, Atlanta, Ga.

Timothy Williams (7-1), 26, Millville, N.J.

Many of today’s most recognizable names in the UFC have emerged from the TUF™ series, including, among many others, Forrest Griffin, Kenny Florian, Rashad Evans, and Michael Bisping.

December 3, 2012

Round 5 Releases Ultimate Collector Series 11 with Britney Palmer figure

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 10:00 AM

Round 5 President Damon Lau, announces the release of Ultimate Collector Series 11 featuring the most robust offering in Ultimate Collector history – including three Championship Edition characters, and a variety of Limited Edition and Special Edition figures.

The Championship Edition Series 11 lineup consists of UFC welterweight champion Georges “Rush” St-Pierre, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones, and former interim welterweight champion Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit.

The Limited Edition lineup includes a Condit WEC figure complete with the WEC championship belt, a Mark Munoz WEC figure, and a Duane “Bang” Ludwig figure (only 750 units) featuring Ludwig’s actual autograph on the packaging.

A highly-limited run of Hall of Fame Edition figures of Randy “The Natural” Couture, Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, and Royce Gracie rounds out the series roster (only 500 of each made). Each Hall of Fame figure, featuring Round 5’s standard eight points of articulation but constructed from clear plastic resin – a first for any Round 5 figure – is an instant collector’s item.

Each figure in Ultimate Collector Series 11 arrives on shelves early December in collectible and protective UFC-themed packaging that includes a short bio detailing the individual fighter.

Ultimate Collector Series 11 will be available at Walmart in Canada, and Toys”R”Us in the United States.

November 19, 2012

Randy Couture on fighting today’s champs and the no-holds-barred era

Filed under: Interviews,Lead Story,Videos — Tags: , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 11:22 AM

In the second part of this exclusive video interview with the legendary Randy Couture, Fight Nerd correspondent Michael Stets asks Randy how he would create fight plans to defeat UFC champions Jon Jones and Junior Dos Santos, opening himself up in his candid autobiography, and his son Ryan competing in Strikeforce (and his uncertainty with that promotion). We also ask Randy his opinion on the no-holds-barred era of MMA and fighting in the early UFC tournaments, and if it was tougher than it is for today’s fighters, how to keep fighters from being taken advantage of by promoters, and much, much more!

Don’t forget to check out part one at this link here!

November 5, 2012

Randy Couture talks wrestling in MMA & behind-the-scenes stories from his movies

Filed under: Features,Interviews,Lead Story,Videos — Tags: , , , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 10:00 AM

Fight Nerd correspondent Michael Stets caught up with UFC Hall of famer & multiple-time champion, Randy “The Natural” Couture, at the Tightan Gym in Astoria, Queens, NY, where Randy was bringing his Xtreme Couture MMA program into the school. In part one of this two-part interview, Couture talks about this new 10,000 sq. ft gym, life after retirement, some stories from acting in “The Expendables” and “The Set-up”, the passing of Jeff Blatnick, wrestlers in MMA, and more. Please forgive the occasionally blurry camera – Randy’s black shirt blended in with the background and caused the camera to have trouble staying on target.

Stay tuned for part two of this interview later in the week!

October 30, 2012

“UFC Ultimate Fight Collection: 2012 Edition” DVD Review

Halloween is not even here yet, but the holiday shopping season has already begun. At this site, we are keeping our eyes peeled year round for products our fans might like or should avoid, and as the end of the year approaches, expect to see a lot more of these to make your lives a lot easier when it comes to buying stuff. It’s only fair that we kick things off with a very big product that has been hyped up for a few months now!

Last year, we praised the UFC Ultimate Fight Collection 2011 Edition DVD set, which put every UFC event from JUly 2010- July 2011 on 20 discs, all in one convenient and uniquely-shaped boxed set. Previously, the set was released in early December, but this year, this set is coming out a month early to get into your hands (and gift boxes) for the upcoming holiday season.

Once again, holding a whopping 20 discs, this set (released by Anchor Bay) contains every event from July 2011 to June 2012, including several that have not been released on DVD before from their Fox, FX, and Fuel telecasts (and probably never will be released anywhere else again). However, this year, things have changed a little from their previous release. Does this new set hold up as strong as the 2011 edition, or will serious UFC fans be disappointed by this set?

Hit the jump for the full review!
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