Maurice Smith, Welcome to the Hall of Fame

Note: This is a column I wrote for Champions

During the Fight Night: Nashville event, the second member of the 2017 Hall of Fame class was announced. Former UFC heavyweight champion Maurice Smith will be inducted into the Hall on July 6, during the UFC Fan Expo.

Smith will join former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber, who will be inducted in the hall’s Modern Wing at the expo.

Smith will join the Pioneer Wing, alongside fellow former UFC heavyweight title holders Mark Coleman, who he defeated for the belt, Randy Couture – who won the championship from him – and former interim champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

Although some UFC faithful might look at Smith and say “who is that guy and why should he be inducted into the Hall of Fame?” However, the Seattle native has an extensive – and impressive – combat sports resume that includes a murderer’s row of UFC stars and mixed martial arts legends.

To read the rest of the column, follow the link.

Invicta FC 23: Tiffany van Soest has opportunity to capture first MMA win

Tiffany van Soest has accomplished a lot in her combat sports career, but she has yet to capture her first professional mixed martial arts victory. That could all change on May 20 at Invicta FC 23.

At the event, which is headlined by a flyweight bout between former title challenger Vanessa Porto and undefeated prospect Agnieszka Niedźwiedź, van Soest will face Las Vegas native Christine Ferea in a strawweight bout.

This is an important fight for van Soest, one that could be the start of a great MMA run.

To read the rest of the story, follow the link.

Jorina Baars makes successful Bellator kickboxing debut

Note: This is a piece I wrote for Champions.co

Kickboxing star Jorina Baars added another notch to her combat sports career during last night’s Bellator 177/Kickboxing 6 event in Budapest Hungary.

In her first foray in a Bellator ring – that’s still weird to say – Baars picked up a decision win against Italian fighter Irene Martens.

Baars landed some good hits throughout the contest, even knocking Martens down in the third frame. It was a good performance for Baars, who in a post-fight interview, said she looked forward to future fights in Bellator.

To read the rest of the story, follow the link.

Katya Kavaleva could do well in WWE

Note: This is a column I wrote for Creators

WWE’s Performance Center has had a plethora of experienced professional wrestlers and athletes come through its doors, but I don’t know if there has been anyone quite like Katya Kavaleva.

WWE recently released a video of Kavaleva’s tryout at the Performance Center back in March. In the video, Kavaleva gives some of her martial arts background, as well as showcases some of her workouts.

This was Kavaleva’s second tryouts, she had been to the WWE Performance Center back in February.

I’m going to come clean and say that I didn’t really know of Kavaleva outside of her training with the Blackzilians – becoming the first woman to do so – and her calling out Gabi Garcia. After viewing some of her training footage at her WWE tryout, as well as videos of her sparring and competing in Taekwondo, the fantasy booker in me thinks she’d do well in WWE and the company should sign her to a developmental deal – if they haven’t already.

To read the rest of the column, follow the link.

 

LION FIGHT SIGNS ANTONINA SHEVCHENKO

Another Shevchenko is going to make a name for herself in combat sports.

In a news release, Lion Fight promotions announced it signed 2016 K1 Enfusion Tournament winner and WKC world champion Antonina Shevchenko to a contract. Her sister Valentina recently signed with the UFC and is 1-1 in the promotion.

According to the release, Shevchenko agreed to a multi-fight contract with the organization. President and CEO Scott Kent complimented Shevchenko’s fighting skills and is he is very excited “that (we) will be showcasing her talents inside the Lion Fight ring.”

Shevchenko is originally from Kyrgyzstan, and like her sister, now lives in Lima, Peru. She captured the K1 Enfusion tournament title earlier this year with back-to-back victories over Laetitia Bakissy and Shana Lammers. She was a three-time IFMA Muay Thai champion, earning top spot at events in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Malaysia. Her mother also practiced martial arts, has also claimed WKC titles in kickboxing and Thai boxing.

“I am very happy that this new year has been very productive and exciting start for me,” Shevchenko said in the release. “Fighting for Lion Fight is a big step in my professional career. I will work hard to be the next champion, and I hope my competing in the promotion will be interesting, stirring, and prosperous. I look forward to my first fight for such a great promotion.”

Shevchenko’s debut will be announced as soon as possible.

The organization’s next event will be Lion Fight 29 taking place on Friday, May 27 at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut.