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  • Nick Diaz vs. BJ Penn full fight video

    Before his anticipated clash with Anderson Silva at UFC 183, watch Nick Diaz's Fight of the Night performance against B.J. Penn at UFC 137 on Oct. 29, 2011 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nev. Diaz won the fight against Penn via unanimous decision (29-27 x2, 29-28).

  • SB Nation heavyweight rankings: Junior dos Santos, Fabricio Werdum deadlocked

    Fabricio Werdum has a shiny gold belt that tells him he's next in the UFC's heavyweight pecking order behind champion Cain Velasquez.

    Junior dos Santos has a UFC track record dating back to 2008 which makes the case he's the second-best heavyweight out there.

    So who has the stronger claim?

    Werdum, the UFC interim heavyweight champ, has won five straight fights and eight of his past nine. That nine-fight stretch includes his legendary submission win over Fedor Emelianenko, his dominant win over Travis Browne, and the comeback win over Mark Hunt to claim the interim belt at UFC 180.

    Dos Santos, meanwhile, is undefeated in UFC competition against anyone not named Cain Velasquez. His close decision win over Stipe Miocic at UFC on FOX 13 pushed the former heavyweight champ to 10-0 against the rest of the pack.

    Of course, that 10-0 includes his famous knockout win over Werdum in 2008. But that was a full six years ago, an eternity in combat sports, and while it counts for something, it shouldn't mean too much in the rankings as the calendar turns to 2015, as Werdum clearly is a different fighter today than he was then.

    So who deserves the nod for second place behind the UFC's injury-prone champ? That's proven a tough nut to crack, as the current edition of the SB Nation rankings attest. Dos Santos took three second-place votes and three thirds. Werdum took the other three seconds and the other three thirds. That puts the duo in a deadlock for second place with 51 points apiece, behind Velasquez, who claimed all six first-place votes.

    Travis Browne took five of six fourth-place votes in the wake of his UFC 181 win over Brendan Schaub; Mark Hunt landed fifth; and Stipe Miocic moved up a spot to six in the wake of his solid showing against JDS.

    And that's pretty much how the rankings will freeze for the time being. With Velasquez out and everyone ranked 2-6 fighting within the past six weeks, it will be a while before we see another consequential fight at 265.

    (Scoring: Fighters are given 10 points for a first-place vote, nine points for second, etc., down to one point for 10th place. The results are then tallied up and presented here. Official SB Nation rankings policy: Fighters under commission or company suspension are ineligible to be ranked during the duration of their suspension or if they have licensing issues. Presently, this does not affect any fighters at lightweight who are generally considered to be Top-10 caliber).

    HW ranks

    1. Cain Velasquez (13-1, 60 points): No timetable set yet for the champ's return.

    2t. Junior dos Santos (17-3, 51 points): Given the amount of punishment JDS has taken in recent fights, making his next matchup a three-round co-main event instead of a five-round main event might not be the worst idea out there.

    2t. Fabricio Werdum (18-5-1, 51 points): Long gone are the days when Werdum was considered a jiu-jitsu only guy. Two of his last four wins came by way of strikes.

    4. Travis Browne (17-2-1, 41 points): Rebounded from his loss to Werdum with a one-sided win over Brendan Schaub. Maybe a bout with JDS next?

    5. Mark Hunt (10-9-1, 34 points): The popular Hunt may have finally hit the glass ceiling in his remarkable late career run with the loss to Werdum.

    6. Stipe Miocic (12-2, 32 points): Whether you thought Miocic should have gotten the decision against dos Santos or believe JDS winning was the correct call, Miocic's stock raised considerably with his performance.

    7. Josh Barnett (32-7, 23 points): Still no indication The Warmaster is inclined to return from his MMA hiatus.

    8. Andrei Arlovski (23-10, 1 NC, 14 points): Arlovski's knockout win over Antonio Silva put him at 2-0 in his UFC return and 6-1 in his past seven overall.

    9. Roy Nelson (20-10, 9 points): No next fight lined up yet for Nelson, whose knockout loss to Mark Hunt was his third loss in his past four fights.

    10. Antonio Silva (18-6, 1 NC, 6 points): Silva will be two years removed from his last victory when he meets Frank Mir at UFC 184.

    Others receiving votes: Ben Rothwell 4, Alistair Overeem 3, Matt Mitrione 1.5, Vitaly Minakov 1.5.

  • World Series of Fighting special to air Saturday on NBC

    World Series of Fighting is getting some holiday love from NBC this weekend.

    The network will air "WSOF Unstoppable: Road to the Championship," a look back at the MMA promotion's 2014, on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET, MMA Fighting has learned. The show will focus on the paths that seven World Series of Fighting champions took to earn titles.

    "WSOF Unstoppable" will be hosted by promotion play-by-play announcer Todd Harris along with a pair of MMA legends: Bas Rutten and Renzo Gracie. It will feature a mix of highlights and full rounds from 16 different WSOF fights across 2014 and 2013, including seven title fights from this year.

    Marlon Moraes, Lance Palmer, Justin Gaethje, Rousimar Palhares, David Branch, Smealinho Rama and Jessica Aguilar -- all WSOF champions -- will be featured on the program.

    "We are excited to cap off what was a banner year for World Series of Fighting and appreciate the opportunity that NBC is giving our fans to re-live some of the most incredible moments we have seen thus far in our cage," said Ray Sefo, WSOF president.

    World Series of Fighting will be back with a live event Jan. 17 on NBC Sports Network from Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. Jake Shields will meet Brian Foster in the main event in a welterweight title eliminator.

  • Ryan Jimmo: 'Now is the time' for fighters to be more vocal about UFC's poor pay

    A potentially ground-breaking lawsuit headed by three current or former UFC fighters against the organization was filed last week. Cung Le, who is currently under contract with the UFC, is the face of the suit and ex-UFC competitors Jon Fitch and Nate Quarry are also named. There are reasons to believe other athletes could join, too.

    For the most part, though, those on the UFC roster have remained quiet about the class-action litigation, which alleges antitrust violations and unfair compensation for fighters.

    Ryan Jimmo, a UFC light heavyweight, is one of the few who have been vocal. Jimmo wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that he believes the lawsuit could be a game-changer and that it's "time for change." In his mind, many of the middle-of-the-pack or lower-level fighters don't have that much to lose by speaking out since they aren't making significant money anyway.

    Today is a game changer if your a fighter. Hopefully this improves the quality of life if you choose to fight as a profession

    — Ryan Jimmo (@RyanJimmo) December 17, 2014

    "The fighters as a group, we have more to gain by pushing this envelope a little bit than we do to lose," Jimmo told MMA Fighting. "I know the UFC has been very short-tempered about fighters speaking out about things that aren't fair. But now is the time, I think."

    Jimmo said he has had conversations with dozens of his peers and they share his belief that the UFC is not fairly compensating fighters and that reform is needed. Others, though, don't put their views out publicly, fearing retribution. He thinks that needs to change and the lawsuit could spur it on.

    "For those that don't know, this is a conversation that goes on all the time amongst fighters," Jimmo said. "This is something bubbling under the surface. It's like an iceberg. We're seeing the tip now."

    Jimmo, who has fought six times in the UFC since 2012, doesn't necessarily want the UFC to lose the lawsuit and have to give up hundreds of millions of dollars, crippling its business. In the long run, that would be bad for fighters. He just wants the case to make the UFC realize the err of its ways and improve things for competitors.

    "I hope they look back and they say, let's change this so it doesn't happen again," Jimmo said. "Let's treat everyone fairly and give them a good quality of life as a fighter. I'm in full belief there is more than enough money to do this and give everyone an appropriate slice of the pie."

    He doesn't know all the details, but Jimmo is also lukewarm about the UFC's new uniform deal with Reebok. Even if all the money from the deal goes toward the fighters as promised, Jimmo wonders if it will actually be more than what fighters are getting now from sponsors they will inevitably lose. He said the UFC has been "starving guys out of sponsors" for years with the sponsor tax.

    And even if Reebok will pay slightly more than current endorsement income, will it actually be a fair rate? Jimmo said a fellow fighter raised that previous point and he agrees with it.

    "Some fighters will look at it like, 'Hey I get a pay raise,'" Jimmo said. "Actually, you changed your diet from bread scraps to a Mars bar. But it's still just a Mars bar. You should be getting more for doing this very dangerous sport."

    Jimmo knows that some people, especially fans, will denounce his words because he is not a champion or a top draw. But he thinks his opinion should hold more water since people at his level -- the mid-tier -- and lower are being hurt the most. He hopes he can be a spokesperson for the middle-of-the-pack fighters.

    "I think people have lost sight of how important the fighters are," Jimmo said. "I'm going to compare this to basketball. If you took away the NBA, the coaches, the teams, the fans and everything else, people would still get together on the weekends and play basketball. Take away the players, there's no such thing as basketball. Somewhere along the lines, we lost touch with that. The real people keeping the machine chugging along are the fighters. They're being pushed aside and disrespected. They're seen as pawns on a chessboard for someone to use."

    Jimmo is unsure if he'll take part in the lawsuit himself. But he will look into the possibility and weigh his options. The Canadian is in favor of a fighters union, and thinks if the UFC supports it, something like that could happen quickly. It would just need "a couple of guys to go out on a limb." Jimmo thinks someone like Quarry could be a good leader.

    "I want to be paid appropriately for putting 20 years into a craft," Jimmo said. "People say, 'You're not a champion, why should we listen?' The champions are being compensated. If you're giving me $20 million, I'll let anyone say something bad about me."

    Jimmo said he believes the time is right for fighters to speak up. He thinks 2015 has a chance to be a significant year for how the UFC and the sport of MMA grows and evolves. There just needs to be a few fighters to "fall on their swords a little bit to make a change."

    "People are a little afraid to say anything," Jimmo said. "It's almost like the dark ages. It's like the 14th or 15th century in France. If you say bad things about the church, you're probably going to get burned at the stake as if you were a witch."

  • After six years, Josh Burkman returns to UFC -- and what a rude welcoming committee awaits him

    Not so long ago, Dana White declared that nobody wanted a piece of Khabib Nurmagomedov, which was of course problematic. Nurmagomedov needed victims if he was going to make a run at the title. After a brief period, Rafael Dos Anjos finally raised his hand…only to see the Dagestani Nurmagomedov get his own hand raised three dominant rounds later. 

    With Nurmagomedov recovering from ACL surgery and waiting for his shot at the lightweight title, the most intimidating guy that nobody wants to face at the close of 2014 has to be a 170-pound Hector Lombard. After knocking out Nate Marquardt in his welterweight debut, Lombard knocked Jake Shields clear out of the UFC. These feats made volunteers scarce.

    Lombard was supposed to fight Dong Hyun Kim in August, but had to pull out due to an injury. When Tyron Woodley -- who stood in for Lombard against Kim (and won) -- was very publicly offered a fight against Lombard, he just as publicly turned it down.

    Even after much needling from Lombard himself, and UFC president Dana White.

    Just when it began to feel like Lombard was in a kind of matchmaking Catch-22, who should come around again other than Josh Burkman. Mr. Fearless himself returns, just as gallant as you please.

    Burkman will take on Lombard at UFC 182 on Jan. 3 in Las Vegas. The last time he fought in the UFC was in 2008, when he lost to Pete Sell. Never mind what he’s done to find his way back to the UFC for a moment, which has been significant. It’s the task at hand that’s of more immediate importance. To be thrown against Lombard in his return fight? This comeback story is destined to have a sad ending.

    Or, if you’re Burkman, you know...a story book one.

    "I think these stories are the ones that books are made out of," Burkman tells MMA Fighting. "It’s Rocky fighting the Russian. Real life stories are made out of this. Look at Cinderella Man [James Braddock]. That dude came back and beat people he was never supposed to beat. And he had more to fight for. They interviewed him and they said, ‘what’s the difference this time around?’ and he said, ‘Milk.’ Like, I gotta put milk on the table."

    Burkman is a changed man from the one that lost three in a row in 2008 to get his walking papers from the UFC. He he’s older (34), wiser (no more partying) and healthier (he can tell you stories about holistically healing his back).

    The more compact version of Lombard may look like the monster he was tabbed to be when he came over from Bellator with a 25-fight unbeaten streak, but Burkman doesn’t mind going credential-to-credential with him.

    "What I’ve been doing, I’ve just been doing it outside the UFC, and Hector Lombard’s been doing it inside the UFC now, and that’s a big difference on platforms, as far as what people are seeing," he says. "I think, Gerald Harris…nobody had beat Gerald Harris in a decision when I faced him, and I went out there and took a decision from him. I finished a very game Aaron Simpson, and I beat Jon Fitch in a way he’d never been finished. And Tyler Stinson had never been knocked out and I knocked him out.

    "So, I think I’ve definitely done the work to get in there and deserve this opportunity, but this is a big. It’s a big opportunity for me and I’m just grateful that I’m able to walk in and be able to take this fight."

    Burkman (27-10) has gone 9-2 since his first stint in the UFC, with runs in Showdown Fights and, more recently, the World Series of Fighting. He last appeared in March against Stinson, whom he put away in a little over two minutes.

    Even as he gets set for his 38th pro fight, Burkman remains a little unpredictable. He was expected to lose to Fitch, but needed just 41 seconds to leave him unconscious after a guillotine choke. He was expected then to beat Steve Carl for the welterweight belt at WSOF 6, but got caught in a triangle choke.

    Most of the time he’s been good, though. Sometimes very good. He’s a far cry from the guy who limped out of the UFC after UFC 90. 

    "Did you see the Joe Riggs fight a couple of weeks ago when he slammed Ben Saunders?" he says. "That is exactly what happened to me against Dustin Hazelett [at the TUF 7 finale in 2008]. I slammed him, my arm went numb, and you can see me just lay there for 15 seconds, 20 seconds. Watching that took me back to that night. And then dealing with herniated discs and back problems…you can’t train like a professional fighter needs to train, so you’re not going to perform at the high level that you should be performing at. And that was my career -- those last couple fights in the UFC.

    "I’m just a different person than I was the first time around. I was 25 years old, I was in the UFC two years into my career and I was just kind of learning while I was in the UFC. And it was just me. All I had to worry about was myself. I could be a little bit more selfish and a little bit more reckless and that wasn’t always a benefit to my career."

    These days Burkman is married, and he and his wife have a child out in his native Utah. He’s at the "milk" portion of his career, and the best place to get milk is, was and always has been, the UFC. 

    "The goal was definitely to get back into the UFC," he says. "I was talking to my brother about this the other day. The UFC, it’s the show. It’s where the best fighters in the world are -- where the best fighters in the world compete. And for me, I always knew I could compete with them, it was just a matter of getting healthy enough to compete at that level over and over. I proved to myself that I could do that outside of the UFC and then it was just a matter of timing. For me, the better the competition, and the more dangerous an opponent, the more it brings out of me, the better I perform. I feel like competing against the best in the world is going to bring out my true abilities."

    Hence the reason he never balked when matchmaker Joe Silva presented him a fight with Lombard -- a 4-to-1 favorite, the guy that nobody wanted to face -- in his return fight.

    "Every time you go to the gym, and you’re facing a guy like Hector Lombard, there’s just a level of danger. There’s a challenge in that. So it brings out the best in you. And for me it’s just the way I prep for a fight. To me, this is just a great opportunity. It’s a great opportunity to walk into the UFC, and it’s a measuring stick. Do I belong with the top guys in the world? Can I compete at that level? Or am I just a good fighter?"

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