Monthly Archives: February 2015

Shawn Michaels on the Jam Hype

WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels appears on the Jam Hype Live. I wasn’s looking for this interview, but I found it while stumbling on Youtube one day.

It’s a pretty good interview with perhaps the greatest in-ring performer of all time. If you have 25 minutes, I suggest you give it a listen.

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Michael Shawn Hickenbottom (born July 22, 1965), better known by his ring name Shawn Michaels, is an American actor, professional wrestling personality, television presenter and retired professional wrestler. Often considered to be the greatest in-ring talent ever,[8] he is widely regarded as the finest wrestling performer of the 1990s and 2000s

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Kankaanpää and Tiburcio defend titles at Invicta FC 12

Photo Credit: Esther Lin-Invicta FC

 

Note: This is a column I wrote for MMA Latest

It’s one thing to win a championship but it’s something else to defend it.

Two of Invicta FC’s newest champions, strawweight Katja Kankaanpää and atomweight Herica Tiburcio, will make their first title defenses April 10 at Invicta FC 12. President Shannon Knapp announced that Kankaanpää (10-1-1 MMA, 2-1 IFC) will face Livia Renata Souza in the main event while Tiburcio (9-2, 1-0) squares off against Ayaka Hamasaki.

Both Kankaanpää and Tiburcio are coming off impressive years. “Killer Bunny” defeated Stephanie Eggink to win the vacant Invicta strawweight title in a fight where she came back and pulled off an impressive D’arce choke.

Tiburcio shocked the mixed martial arts world in December when she submitted Michelle “The Karate Hottie” in the third round to win the atomweight strap in what was not only her Invicta debut but also her first foray into the 105-pound division.

Both champions have interesting, but different challenges ahead of them.

Kankaanpää will face Souza (7-0, 0-0), a Brazilian prospect who has won six fights via submission, five of which were in the first round. Yet Kankaanpää has held her own against submission specialists in the past, including UFC fighter Aisling Daly. She also has a tough chin and can scrap with the hardest of hitters as she displayed in her fight against Scottish striking sensation Joanne Calderwood.

Souza’s record may look impressive but stepping into the Invicta cage is different than fighting seven opponents in Brazil. This is also her first time fighting in the United States and that might factor into how she performs.

While Kankaanpää faces a competitor who is making her Invicta debut, Tiburcio steps up against Hamasaki (11-1, 1-1), who is no stranger to the Invicta cage. Hamasaki last fought in the U.S. back in July 2013 where she suffered a decision loss to Claudia Gadelha. Since then she’s had back-to-back wins against Mei Yamaguchi and Naho Sugiyama.

Fans criticized Invicta for putting on the Yasuko Tamada vs. Waterson title fight where The Karate Hottie picked apart her opponent, but I think we’ll get more of an even contest from Tiburcio vs. Hamasaki.

As with any upcoming Invicta event, details about the rest of the card will be revealed in the coming weeks.

Tonya Evinger is ready for Invicta title shot

Note: This is a column I did for MMA Latest

Fans of Tonya Evinger received some good news last night at the Invicta FC postfight press conference after president Shannon Knapp announced that the “Triple Threat” would be next in line for a bantamweight title shot.

This couldn’t have come at a better time as Invicta is currently without a 135-pound titleholder and Evinger (14-6 MMA, 3-0 IFC) is someone who deserves to fight for it.

Invicta’s bantamweight title picture has been up in the air for the last year. It crowed it’s first champion, Lauren Murphy, at the end of 2013. Murphy’s reign wasn’t that grand as she left for the UFC to fight Sara McMann before she could make her first title defense.

Evinger has been on a tear since she first stepped into the Invicta cage. She looked impressive in her win against Sarah “The Monster” D’Alelio at Invicta FC 7, then followed it up with back-to-back armbar submission wins over Ediane Gomes and Cindy Dandois.

Prior to fighting for Invicta, Evinger was a journeywoman who racked up an 11-6 record that included wins over Julie Kedzie and Carina Damm. She’s also faced some tough competition throughout her career, such as Gina Carano, Alexis Davis and Vanessa Porto.

If Evinger is going to fight for Invicta’s bantamweight crown, who should she face?

One possibility is Mexican prospect Irene Aldana. Knapp said Aldana (5-1, 2-0) might be line for a title shot.

Aldana is coming off back-to-back submission wins over Peggy Morgan and Colleen Schneider. The prospect has shown fans that she has a well-rounded game and she’s making headlines along with her gym partner and undefeated strawweight prospect Alexa Grasso. This fight could peak the interest of MMA fans who have recently on the Invicta bandwagon and headline or at least co-headline a future Invicta event.

Another opponent for Evinger is “The Happy Warrior” Roxanne Modafferi, a veteran as well as one of the most beloved women fighters in the sport.

Like Evinger, Modafferi is on an impressive run as of late. In her Invicta debut, she defeated Tara LaRosa in the third fight of their trilogy, which also snapped The Happy Warrior’s six-fight losing streak. Three months later she picked up a split-decision win over rising star Andrea “KGB” Lee.

While Evinger vs. Aldana would grab the attention of casual Invicta fans, this fight would bring in folks who have followed the careers of both fighters. It could also be an entertaining match on the feet or the ground. Some critics would argue that Modafferi should stay at flyweight – her fight with Lee was at 125 – but she could move back and forth between weight classes.

Some critics believe that Invicta should abandon hope of establishing a solid 135 weight class because of the UFC’s roster. While the UFC has several great fighters in the women’s bantamweight division, there are plenty of competitors like Evinger, Modafferi and Aldana who can make Invicta’s 135 weight class just as entertaining and competitive as other organizations. There are also numerous fighters from around the world who would love the opportunity to step into the Invicta cage.

Invicta has the talent and the capability to make their bantamweight division one of the strongest in MMA, it just needs a champion. Like Oberyn Martell said to Tyrion Lannister before the Imp’s trial by combat, Evinger has already told Invicta and the world that she will be its champion.

Alman on Parks and Rec

It’s never easy saying goodbye to friends, whether they were ones you met on the playground, on the wrestling team, at college or on television.

NBC wrapped up “Parks and Recreation” this week. I’ll admit that I came into the show in the last season – as I tend to do with TV programs. I spent two weeks going through the first five seasons and another weekend going through the sixth. I managed to catch the final season as it aired and was fortunate enough to say goodbye to everyone as they left.

For me, “Parks and Recreation” was like other sitcoms where you fell in love with the characters. You roll your eyes when they make mistakes and cheer when they achieve happiness. You also learn life lessons along the way. I’ve got two copies of the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness – one hanging at home and another on my wall at the office.

The finale itself was great as it gave fans a safe landing and let everyone know that our favorite Pawnee residents would be fine. I loved that you got a glimpse into everyone’s futures. It’s not like other shows. It didn’t leave us on a cliffhanger like “Fraiser” or give us a tragic ending like “Dinosaurs.”

I’ll miss “Parks and Recreation.” I’ll miss trhe characters but as Leslie Knope and her motley crew have taught me, change is good and it’s okay to move on.

Brief: Alman on winter sports

Blue Corner logo

Spring sports is only a couple of days away but I can’t help but miss winter sports.

Both teams did pretty well this year. Boy’s swimming had a few kids compete in state, including Trevor Babcock who finished seventh in one of his events.

Wrestling had a couple of big players: Michael Ferguson and Devon Waterman. Waterman picked up his first state medal – eighth place – while Ferguson went on to take third in his weight class.

The thing I’m most proud of this season has to do with myself and writing. My wrestling stories this year were stronger than last year. I didn’t get a chance to interview any of the kids but hopefully I can change that next year.

Tonight I’ll be watching UFC 184 but I’ll be sure to give a toast to both teams.

Cris ‘Cyborg’ should focus on being Invicta’s champion

Photo Credit: Ether Lin-Invicta FC

Note: This is a column I wrote for MMALatest

Featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino proved that she is pound-for-pound one of the most dangerous fighters in mixed martial arts after she dispatched challenger Charmaine “Not So Sweet” Tweet at Invicta FC 11.

Everyone has their speculations on what Justino will do next. Some folks think she’ll head to the UFC and face women’s bantamweight titleholder “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey. At the post-fight press conference, Justino assured the media that her contract is with Invicta Fighting Championships, although skeptics point out that she is saying this at an event streamed on the UFC’s Youtube channel and just fought on an event featured on UFC Fight Pass. I hope Justino does keep her world and continue to fight for Invicta. The promotion needs star power and she is their biggest draw.

I’ll be honest, I’m kind of sick of hearing this talk about Justino vs. Rousey. I understand that fans are foaming at the mouth for this match to happen, but the Rowdy one has repeatedly refused to fight Cyborg until the Invicta champion can successfully drop back to 135 pounds, something she hasn’t done since 2008 when she fought Shayna Baszler. Justino has tried to make the weight cut during her run with Invicta – the promotion was even touting a main event match with Cyborg at bantamweight – but it never happened.

After beating Tweet fans may think that Justino has no other challenges that Invicta can put before her, but last time I checked, the promotion’s roster has a few gems in the featherweight division. There’s grappling artist Ediane Gomes, who has repeatedly called out Justino. You have Amanda “The Lady Killer” Bell, who has been a tear as of late. Veronica Rothenhausler, a knockout artist who suffered a setback in her fight against Tweet but could easily make a comeback.

Some of Invicta’s bantamweights could move up to 145 as well. During the press conference, Irene Aldana, who scored a submission win over Colleen Schneider, said she would be honored to “share the cage” with Justino. Invicta president Shannon Knapp and crew could also scout for new talent.

Invicta has some big things coming its way in 2015, including an event in Las Vegas in July. Knapp said Justino is schedule to headline the event.

INVICTA FC 11 OFFICIAL RESULTS

Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino def. Charmaine Tweet by TKO (punches). Round 1, 0:46 – for featherweight title
Alexa Grasso def. Mizuki Inoue by unanimous decision (30-26, 29-28, 29-28)
DeAnna Bennett def. Norma Rueda Center by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Irene Aldana def. Colleen Schneider by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 1:05
Jamie Moyle def. J.J. Aldrich by technical submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 2:20
Amy Montenegro def. Brianna Van Buren by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Christine Stanley def. Laura Salazar by TKO (strikes). Round 1, 2:59
Aspen Ladd def. Ana Carolina Vidal by TKO (strikes). Round 1, 4:21

Talk is Jericho with Lance Storm

This week’s “Talk is Jericho” features a reunion of the Thrillseekers tag team. If the name doesn’t sound familiar it was the handle used by Lance Storm and Chris Jericho during their time at Smoky Mountain Wrestling.

Storm is Jericho’s first friend in professional wrestling. The reflect on their days at the Hart Brother’s Wrestling Camp, Japan, SMR and other promotions. This is one of my favorite types of interviews as it features a lot of wrestling history and fun stories.

I remember Lance Storm mostly from his WCW days. As a kid I didn’t appreciate his work, but as I’ve gotten older I grew to enjoy it. He was a bright spot in WCW’s last days.


Part 1


Part 2