by Marco Antico – MMAWeekly.com
ST-PIERRE LOOKING SHARP IN TRAINING
MMAWeekly.com was on location to observe a traditional Friday sparring session at the Tri-Star gym in Montreal, Canada. On hand were Georges St-Pierre, Rashad Evans, Denis Kang, Patrick Cote, Jonathan Goulet, David Loiseau, David Pariseau, Jacob MacDonald, Steve Claveau and more.
Coaches Greg Jackson and Mike Van Arsdale were also there to supervise the proceedings. From an on-lookers vantage point, it seemed clear that Jackson is St-Pierre’s closest advisor these days.
The initial pairings as directed by Coach Jackson included Evans versus St-Pierre and Loiseau versus Kang. The fighters began by working mainly their striking and occasionally shooting in for a takedown attempt. Every five minutes they would take a short rest and find a new partner for the next round.
Of note, not one fighter (including Evans) was able to take down St-Pierre and it definitely wasn’t because of a lack of effort. On the other hand, it looked as though St-Pierre took everyone down almost at will with probably a 95% success ratio.
St-Pierre’s standup also looked crisp. Although he doesn’t throw a lot of combinations, the strikes he does throw land clean and often. Perhaps one minor note of criticism is that his feet are not always grounded thus reducing the amount of weight behind his strikes.
There was also some speculation around the gym, although St-Pierre did not confirm this, that he had actually been anticipating the possibility of Serra pulling out of the fight and thus had been going through his regular intensive training rituals for 12 weeks leading up to the fight. This is interesting because his Dec. 29 opponent, Matt Hughes has repeatedly stated that one of the factors he chose to take the fight was that because he felt St-Pierre may not have had sufficient time to prepare. If what St-Pierre’s teammates are saying is true, Hughes may be in for a bit of a surprise.
CATCHING UP WITH DENIS KANG
MMAWeekly.com also caught up with Denis Kang after the sparring session was over. Kang mentioned that if he had a choice, he would be living and training right now with American Top Team in Florida. Unfortunately, due to some visa issues, he may be unable to enter back into the United States for some time. Therefore, he decided to visit with St-Pierre for a few weeks before heading back to Vancouver, British Columbia, where he will remain until his visa issues get sorted out.
He was expecting to fight on the K-1 Dynamite card this New Year’s Eve, but only recently learned that it was not to be. He speculates that his next fight will be on a K-1 Hero’s event scheduled for March.
Asked about the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Kang commented that he and his manager did everything they could to seal a deal with the UFC. They waited on an offer, which they received and were pretty happy with. K-1, however, showed how badly they wanted Kang by tripling the UFC offer. He went back to the UFC to give them an opportunity to match, but it just wasn’t in the cards. Kang is currently on a multiple fight contract, which likely precludes him from fighting in the UFC for at least the next year.
Asked about his thoughts on the upcoming Hughes/St-Pierre fight at UFC 79, Kang responded, “I think Georges is looking really sharp right now. I just don’t see what Hughes can do to him this time around. It will probably be a lot like their last fight.”
BIG JOHN COMES TO CANADA
Highly regarded MMA referee Big John McCarthy was in attendance for TKO 31 as he and Mauro Ranallo worked the broadcast booth for the Fight Network’s pay-per-view scheduled to air on Canadian television in January.
At the TKO weigh-ins, it was almost comical to see the reaction amongst fans and fighters to McCarthy’s presence. There were more people (including fighters) lined up to talk to him and take a picture with him than any of the athletes actually competing on the TKO card. It was definitely an impressive testament to the respect everyone in the MMA community has for the legendary UFC referee, turned full time broadcaster.
His good friend and fellow referee Yves Lavigne remarked, “You ain’t seen nothing yet! Wait until you get a load of the things Big John has planned. It’s going to be really big and it’s going to be great for the sport!”
“It’s been great being here,” remarked McCarthy. “Everyone seems so nice and I’m really impressed by the TKO event. Merci Beaucoup Montreal!”
HARDCORE CHAMPIONSHIP FIGHT CHURNS OUT AN IMPRESSIVE CARD
No one can deny that Hardcore Championship Fighting is certainly doing its best to put on one heck of show. The next event may be its most impressive to date, featuring the Canadian debut of Antonio Rogerio Nogueira:
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Todd Gouwenberg
Gegard Mousasi vs. Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos
Thomas Schulte vs. Garett Davis
John Alessio vs. Derrick Noble
Damir Mirenic vs. Mike Pyle
Andrew Buckland vs. Dan Chambers
Solomon Hutcherson vs. Amir Rahnavardi
Myles Merola vs. Ariel Sexton
Tim Hague vs. Miodrag Petkovic
Nabil Khatib vs. Lucas Rota
Babian Cortez vs. Juan Barrantes
CANADIAN MMA CALENDAR
December 31 – Rumble in the Cage 27 at the Enmax Centre in Lethbridge, Alberta
January 26 – Freedom Fight 2008 at the Robert Guertin Arena in Hull, Quebec
February 1 – HCF at the Stampede Corral in Calgary, Alberta
February 22 – TKO 32 at The Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec