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.

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Crunch Time: Demetrious Johnson a fighter anyone can get behind

Note: This is a Crunch Time column I wrote for the April 20 issue for the Cheney Free Press.

UFC flyweight (125 pounds) champion “Mighty Mouse” Demetrious Johnson recently declared that he is “the best champion to stand in the octagon.”

That’s not hard to argue — and I’m not saying that because of his fight last Saturday with Brazilian challenger Wilson Reis. Late in the third round of their fight, Johnson took Reis to the ground and managed to get side control before transitioning to the full mount and locking in an armbar to submit his opponent.

The reason that Johnson’s bold proclamation is not necessarily false is because he has now tied the record for most UFC title defenses with 10. The only other fighter to boast that claim is former middleweight champion Anderson Silva, who accomplished the feat in July 2012 — two months before Johnson began his run as UFC flyweight champion. Of the UFC’s 11 champions, Johnson is the only fighter to have held his belt for more than two years. But Johnson doesn’t want to stop at 10 title defenses. During a post-fight interview, he said “next time we’re in the octagon, I’m going to break it,” referring to the record.

I first watched Johnson fight in 2010 when he was under contract for World Extreme Cagefighting. One of his highlight performances was against Damacio Page, who he submitted with a guillotine choke. Like many longtime fight fans, I was thrilled when he signed his UFC contract in 2011 and defeated the highly touted Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto in his octagon debut.

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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.

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Urijah Faber more than worthy of Hall of Fame

Note: This is a column I wrote for

Amidst what was a controversial weekend, there was a bright spot from UFC 210 in the form of “The California Kid” Urijah Faber.

The UFC announced that Faber would be inducted in the promotion’s Hall of Fame – specifically the Modern Wing – during International Fight Week in July.

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Cris Justino vacating Invicta title is a good move

While Invicta Fighting Championships fans watched the promotion’s finest compete at Invicta FC 22, one of the organization’s titleholders has bowed out so to speak.

Invicta featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino announced via a video on her Youtube channel that she vacated the title. Invicta announced that interim featherweight champion Megan Anderson was promoted to undisputed 145 champion.

Not surprisingly, Justino set her sites on a clash with UFC women’s featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie – who became the first titleholder after she defeated former bantamweight queen Holly Holm – opportunity to add more gold to her impressive trophy case. Justino was formerly the Strikeforce women’s featherweight champion before she debuted for Invicta.

When the UFC announced they were creating their women’s 145 division – with the fight between de Randamie vs. Holm to determine the first champion – fans were peeved that Justino was not given the opportunity to become the inaugural champion. How dare the UFC create a women’s 145 title fight without the most dominant fighter in that division? Well fight fans, I’m sure it will be a matter of time before we see her fight for the belt, especially now that she’s no longer the Invicta champion.

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Bellator Champions should headline MSG card, not hyped up talent

Note: This is a piece I wrote for Creators

Bellator MMA is pulling out all the stops for its June 24 pay per view event at Madison Square Garden – dubbed Bellator: NYC. The promotion has already announced for matches for this fight card.

A lightweight championship bout between Michael Chandler and Brent Primus

A welterweight title tilt between Douglas Lima and the debuting Lorenz Larkin

The highly anticipated grudge match between Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva

A heavyweight clash between Fedor Emelianenko and Matt Mitrione – a bout that was scheduled for February.

All four of these bouts would be worthy of a main event on any typical Bellator card, but the promotion is choosing to put Silva and Sonnen on top with Emelianenko vs. Mitrione underneath, which would be fine, except the two title bouts are underneath it.

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Mackenzie Dern has the potential to be a star

Note: This is a column I wrote for Blasting News.

There’s been a lot of buzz in the media about #MMA prospect #Mackenzie Dern. Dern, a highly decorated Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioner who transitioned to MMA in 2016, has been touted as the next “Ronda Rousey.” She’s currently 3-0 in her MMA career with wins over Kenia Rosas, Montana Stout and most recently, Katherine Roy, who she defeated at LFA 6 on March 10. Since Dern made her professional MMA debut, folks are wondering when she will come to the UFC. It might not be that long.

Mackenzie Dern on the UFC radar
In an interview with TMZ, UFC President Dana White confirmed that his promotion is checking out the MMA prospect and referred to her as “a little badass.” As much as fans like to give White guff, he is a fight fan and I’m not surprised that he’s a fan of her work. In an August interview with the MMA Hour, Dern said she would like to fight for a UFC title by the end of 2017. Although Dern has only competed in professional MMA for over a year, it wouldn’t surprise me to see her compete in a future UFC event. In the past, the promotion has brought in MMA fighters with little experience and thrust them in the spotlight.

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