5 Fighters Who Bring Old-School Scrap to a New-School Fight Game
The aftermath of the UFC 151 fallout has painted an ugly picture across the MMA community. Fans of the sport are a passionate bunch and with an ample amount of the finger pointing, cross-talk, and Twitter chatter; this storm will most likely linger on for some time.
The largest of the many points drawn out by the UFC cancelling the event is based around champion Jon Jones refusing to accept the challenge of Chael Sonnen.
Whether it was based on his camp's advice or if Jones felt Sonnen didn't deserve a title shot; the decision has produced a tidal wave of negativity rarely seen in the sport of MMA.
The young champion has cited business and a lack of proper preparation time as his two main causes for his decision. While this may be the case, it hasn't stopped the UFC fan base from attacking. An unwillingness to fight has become a knock on Jones's toughness.
It appears that a champion (and one of the pound-for-pound best) should be ready, willing and able to take all comers at any time. While this is a debatable issue within the sport, the "Wild Wild West" mentality is more than a condition.
The sport of mixed martial arts is evolving into a mixture of highly talented athletes and marketing dollars. It is an ultra-competitive environment where wins and losses mean everything. These circumstances can force fighters to change their entire approach to how things are handled inside of the cage.
Here are five fighters who not only embrace the mindset of "any time, any place," but are guaranteed to put on show win, lose, or draw.
Over the past two years, it would be difficult to find a a fighter more impressive than Nate Diaz. In the same vein as his brother Nick, the younger Diaz has shown a willingness to bring the ruckus wherever the UFC will allow him to.
Following a rough run in the welterweight division, Diaz returned to the 155-pound weight class with a booming statement by drubbing Takanori Gomi. In the bout with the Japanese star, Diaz showcased a much improved hand game as he ripped Gomi with body shots and power hooks.
He kept the momentum going in his next outing as he worked fellow contender Donald Cerrone from pillar to post. The victory tossed Diaz into the mix of fighters jockeying for a place at the top of the division and in his next matchup against Jim Miller, Diaz left zero doubt he deserved to be next in line.
After a lopsided first round where Diaz landed punches at will, he was able to catch Miller in a guillotine where he submitted the BJJ black belt. It was a dominant showing and upon the conclusion of the Henderson vs. Edgar rematch, UFC President Dana White has granted Diaz the next shot at the lightweight title, which will come at UFC on Fox 5 in Seattle, Wash.
While Nate has "played the game" a bit more than his older brother is willing to, make no mistake about it: the younger Diaz is a viper. He is willing to stand in the pocket and take his opponent's best shot in full belief what he brings is going to do more damage.
It his confidence in his ability to outshine the opposition no matter where the fight takes place which has made Nate Diaz one of the best 155-pound fighters on the planet.
Plain and simple, "Cowboy" loves to fight. Since his days of wrecking shop in the WEC to rising through the ranks of the UFC lightweight division, Cerrone has consistently brought the noise. Backed by a well-rounded skill set, Cerrone can (and will) put the opposition to sleep in whatever fashion is available.
In 2011 alone he competed on five occasions, stepping up to the plate whenever an opening arose. Over the course of this run, he separated himself from the middle of the divisional pack and earned himself a seat at the crowded 155-pound contender's table.
Cerrone ended the year with a back step as he was defeated in one of the year's most anticipated bouts against Nate Diaz in a bout Cerrone admittedly allowed emotion to get the best of him.
Staying true to form Cerrone didn't take long to get back on the horse as he returned to the win column with victories over Jeremy Stephens and Melvin Guillard.
He looked impressive in both outings and in the lead up to the fight with Guillard, Cerrone set the table for his next throw down by calling out former WEC champion Anthony Pettis. While the bout is at this time unofficial, all signs point to a Cerrone vs. Pettis scrap late 2012 or early 2013.
Time after time he has proven his willingness to throw caution to the wind, choosing to stand and trade against opponents where he held a significant advantage in the ground game.
As the UFC continues to expand, Cerrone is precisely the type of fighter to help lead the way. Every time he puts on the 4 oz. gloves, the action is going down and a "fight night" bonus is never too far away.
Love him or hate him there is no way around the fact Diaz is one of the most exciting fighters in the sport today. The Stockton native brings the raw fire of genuine conflict into the cage every time he steps in.
Where other fighters chalk up the fight to sport and competition, Diaz takes it personally. He has no want or care to interact or play friendly with his peers because he doesn't know who he will be standing across from next.
When you sign the contract to fight Diaz that is exactly what you are going to get. Whether the action hits the canvas or if things are kept standing, Diaz has proven he's more than capable of taking his opponent's heart.
Working behind an overwhelming punch output where he laces power shots in between chin taps, Diaz's unique striking approach has been a difficult puzzle to solve.
After a successful run in Strikeforce, Diaz made his return to the UFC against former two-divisional champion B.J. Penn. Following a close first round, Diaz turned up the heat and proceeded to put one of the worst beatings to date on the MMA legend.
A loss to Carlos Condit and a suspension for a failed drug test have brought things for Diaz to a halt for the time being, but Diaz's return will throw a bit of fire on the welterweight division.
Another interesting aspect to Diaz's presentation is his unwillingness to bend to demands. He does things his way and on his time; a mindset which hasn't necessarily worked in his favor.
Press conferences and interviews aside, Diaz prides himself on always showing up to fight. Whether that scrap takes place in the hospital post-fight or inside the Octagon, there is never a doubt Diaz is down to scrap.
In a world of heavyweight Goliaths, Nelson is a man apart. "Big Country" has stood toe to toe with the division's best and in the process of doing so, has garnered a passionate fanbase. MMA fans love to watch Nelson do his thing because the know when the cage door closes, heavy leather is about to be thrown with bad intentions.
Where Nelson's career began based on a high level jiu-jitsu background, it has been a signature overhand right which has made him competitive in the UFC heavyweight division. In addition to a "lights out" right hand, Nelson has put his iron chin on display on multiple occasions.
He's battled back from rough starts against Junior Dos Santos and Fabricio Werdum to take the action to the final bell, returning fire at every turn.
Nelson simply refuses to quit, even in times where taking a step back would have been the better decision. At UFC 130, he entered the bout with Frank Mir despite having a case of walking pneumonia.
The bout was the most lopsided of his career, but his health be damned, Nelson still attempted to go out and put on a show. In the fights which have followed, he has delivered exactly that as he's grabbed two wins in his past three showings.
Up next, Nelson will face off with former interim champion Shane Carwin in December. The two heavyweights were selected as the coaches for the next season of "The Ultimate Fighter" which debuts on FX on Sept. 14.
Whether it's fighting the UFC's best or bucking the system's stance on performance-enhancing drugs, it's a safe bet Nelson is up for the challenge.
The gangster from West Linn may be the sport's best salesman these days, but that doesn't take away from his ability to bring the fight. Where there are plenty of other warriors who outshine Sonnen on the feet, there are few who can hold a candle to his ability to put the action on the canvas.
If Sonnen wants you on your back, that is where you are going and that is where he intends to find out what you're made of.
While wrestling in MMA has become a popular base, Sonnen's skill set is on a different level. He is tenacious in his attack. Whether it is a power double or a single leg he holds onto, Sonnen will not stop until he has you where he wants you.
Once in top position, he is a difficult man to move. His style of ground and pound can be brutal as displayed in victories over Dan Miller, Nate Marquardt and Brian Stann.
Over the past two years, Sonnen has faced the best in his division. He's earned two opportunities to square off with middleweight king Anderson Silva and despite coming up short in both attempts, has raised his stock to become one of MMA's most visible stars.
Following the loss to Silva at UFC 148, Sonnen threw his hat into the light heavyweight ring and a bout later this year with Forrest Griffin was set to be his divisional debut.
That of course was before the recent fiasco at UFC 151. After Dan Henderson was forced to withdraw from his bout with Jon Jones due to a knee injury, Sonnen stepped up at the 11th hour to take the fight. Despite Sonnen's willingness, Jones ultimately declined the bout and the rest is MMA history.
In taking the Jones fight, Sonnen solidified himself as one of MMA's toughest. With all the trash talk and pre-fight build up, Sonnen is absolutely willing to "make that walk" against the pound-for-pound best in the sport.
On a list which highlights the "anytime, anyplace" mentality, how can you not include him?
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