CBS Hoping for Herschel; 3 Title Fights Could Cause Problems
If things go right for Strikeforce and CBS over the next six weeks, their April 17 MMA show will feature Herschel Walker returning to the cage in addition to a lightweight title fight of Gilbert Melendez vs. Shinya Aoki, a light heavyweight title fight of Gegard Mousasi vs. Muhammed Lawal and a main event of Jake Shields vs. Dan Henderson for the middleweight title.
But while CBS wants Walker on the card, it's no sure thing that he'll participate. And as great as those other three fights are for hard-core MMA fans, there are potential problems with having three title fights on one card.
One CBS source said he was "hoping but not holding [his] breath" that Walker would fight on the April 17 card in Nashville.
Walker's MMA debut in January was well-received and drew Strikeforce more mainstream media attention than it has ever had before, and although he's a newcomer to MMA, Walker would be the most famous fighter ever to participate in a CBS card. That's why the network would love to have him.
But Walker is a busy man with other interests, and he might not have the time and inclination to devote the next six weeks of his life to getting ready to fight on that card. There are also concerns about finding the right opponent for Walker. CBS, Strikeforce and Walker himself all want his next opponent to be a step up from the guy he beat in January, Greg Nagy, but no one wants him to take so big a step that he gets beaten badly by a better, more experienced opponent. Jose Canseco has said he wants to fight Walker, but Strikeforce insists that won't happen.
The Walker issue aside, another source expressed concern about the possibility of having three five-round title fights on one card. Broadcasting live MMA is always a tricky endeavor because the length of fights is unpredictable, but on this card, officials are particularly concerned about the possibility that all three title fights could go the full five rounds, making it nearly impossible to fit them all into a two-hour show. Or, conversely, CBS might allot more time for the Strikeforce broadcast -- but then all three fights could end in the first round, and CBS would find itself scrambling to fill time.
The bottom line is that while the next Strikeforce CBS card looks very promising, there are still a lot of issues that the promotion and the network need to get ironed out by April 17.
Brock Lesnar Rooting for Frank Mir Over Shane Carwin
Former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir drew a lot of attention for comments about wanting to break current UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar's neck and see him die in the Octagon. Lesnar says he welcomes the opportunity for Mir to back up his words.
In an interview on KFAN 1070 (courtesy of SportsRadioInterviews.com), Lesnar said that he's rooting for Mir to beat Shane Carwin this month at UFC 111 so that Lesnar can fight Mir for a third time -- and beat him, he hopes, for a second time.
"I'd really like to fight Frank Mir again," Lesnar said of the man he lost to in his UFC debut at UFC 82 and then beat at UFC 100. "I don't want to go into the Octagon and kill somebody but I do wanna do whatever I can to win. Maybe that's what he was saying, I don't know. The guy should focus on the task in front of him which is Shane Carwin because if Shane Carwin beats his ass he won't be fighting me."
Lesnar said he was surprised that Mir doesn't show much respect for him even after Lesnar thoroughly defeated Mir in July.
"Hopefully he gets past Shane Carwin so I can put another beat down on him," Lesnar said. "For a guy to take an ass whooping like the one I gave him, for him to get up and keep running his mouth, I just gotta laugh at it. I gotta go back to a quote that he said before my second fight. He said, 'If Brock Lesnar beats me, he will be the greatest mixed martial artist ever.' I guess he's eating his words and he doesn't want to admit that I'm that much better than him. I am truly hoping that Frank wins this fight so it sets us up for July."
The UFC is no doubt hoping that Mir wins as well. Although a Carwin-Lesnar fight would be big, a Mir-Lesnar fight, with all the hatred these two have expressed for each other, would be gigantic.
Grappling ace Ricardo Almeida welcomes Matt Brown's striking aggression at UFC 111
UFC welterweight Matt Brown (11-7 MMA, 4-1 UFC) quickly turned heads as one scary, aggressive guy on "The Ultimate Fighter 7" and has kept that reputation intact since the show. He's shrugged off a pedestrian record to emerge as a serious threat to the 170-pound division with three TKO wins in five post-"TUF" fights.
Ricardo Almeida (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC), Brown's next opponent at UFC 111, is impressed by the Ohio fighter's run in the UFC, which includes a 4-1 mark and a lone split-decision defeat. But aggression plays right into his hand.
"I always like fighting aggressive guys," Almeida recently told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "I think it makes it a little bit easier than fighting someone who's going to play a very tactical approach."
Of course, easy is a relative term in the fight game, and for a highly decorated grappler such as Almeida, a well-established play against a fighter such as Brown is to take the fight to the mat.
Almeida, though, said he'll try to avoid the easy path. In other words, he's not simply diving for Brown's shoelaces when the punches start flying.
"I think my game's going through a little bit of an evolution right now," Almeida said. "Before, everyone knew I could finish fights on the ground only, and I think in the past two fights, I've shown improved wrestling and stand-up."
The 33-year-old New York City native came up short on the scorecards against Patrick Cote at UFC 86 and afterward, he rededicated himself to striking to make sure he could hold his own if the fight stayed up.
He isn't there quite yet; in his most recent appearance against Kendall Grove at UFC 101 this past August, Almeida won the day by taking the action down and maintaining top position.
Almeida has enlisted top UFC welterweight contender Frankie Edgar in his quest to become a more well-rounded fighter. He's working takedown defense with the Rutgers University wrestling team, which Edgar assistant coaches, and boxing with trainer Mark Henry.
It's a slow process, but he feels he's becoming a better all-around fighter.
"I don't really prepare for a fighter," Almeida said. "I prepare for techniques. Like, if there are certain techniques I want to use in a fight, I'll focus more on that."
And boxing, it seems, is at the top of Almeida's priorities. Brown is known for his heavy hands and skill in keeping takedown artists at bay. As with many of the welterweight division's best fighters, a wrestling base allows him to keep the action on its feet.
Almeida long ago resigned himself to fighting opponents who want to stand at all costs. He said he's waited for this kind of test against a fighter such as Brown.
"It's going to tell me what I need to do to get to the top of the welterweight division," he said.
If he can weather the storm, he said, he'll be a little better the next time out.
"I'm having a good time with it," Almeida said. "The key is getting that next win so it gives you time to get better and come back stronger."
Yoshiyuki Yoshida vs. Mike Guymon official for UFC 113 preliminary card
A long-rumored welterweight matchup between Yoshiyuki Yoshida (11-4 MMA, 2-2 UFC) and Mike Guymon (11-3-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) is now official for May's UFC 113 event.
The fight is part of the night's un-aired preliminary card.
UFC 113 takes place May 8 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and features a pay-per-view headliner of UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
Yoshida and Guymon, both 35 years old, find themselves in a must-win situation.
Yoshida, who suffered a KO loss to oversized late replacement Anthony Johnson (who weighed 176 pounds for the 170-pound contest) at UFC 104, looks to avoid the first back-to-back losses of his career since he dropped majority decisions to Yoshitaro Niimi and Keita Nakamura in his second and third pro fights.
Yoshida signed with the UFC in 2008 and scored a submission victory over War Machine (formerly Jon Koppenhaver) before a KO defeat to Josh Koscheck. He then rebounded for a submission victory over Brandon Wolff before the Johnson defeat.
Guymom, a longtime King of the Cage fighter and belt-holder, posted a five-fight win streak to earn a UFC contract in late 2009. He made his promotional debut in January at UFC Fight Night 20 and suffered a first-round submission loss to Rory MacDonald in an initially back-and-forth bout.
Guymon, who runs the Jokers Wild Fighting Academy in California, has posted 11 stoppages (six via submission) in his 11 career wins.
Gilbert Melendez vs. Shinya Aoki could be third title fight on April 17 Strikeforce-CBS card
With Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields meeting Dan Henderson in the headliner and light heavyweight title-holder Gegard Mousasi expected to meet Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal on the same card, Strikeforce's April 17 return to CBS airwaves is likely to have a third title fight.
That's if a lightweight fight between Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez (17-2 MMA, 7-1 SF) and Shinya Aoki (23-4 MMA, 0-0 SF), first reported by SI.com's Josh Gross, is finalized for the card.
Although subsequent reports have suggested the fight is signed, sources close to Melendez's camp told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) on Tuesday night they have not received bout agreements but plan to accept the matchup.
Josh Barnett To DREAM, Could Debut 3/22
While he waits for the CSAC to eventually hear his drug test results appeal, Josh Barnett is headed back to Japan. He has signed with DREAM and could debut in the promotion on 3/22 at DREAM 13. No opponent named yet but it should be revealed in the coming days.
Dana White Unexpectedly Gives Donation To Brain Tumor-Stricken Girl
While he might look and talk like a typical foul-mouthed coprorate head honcho, UFC President Dana White indeed has a gentler side to him. That became more evident recently when White donated 5000 pounds (about $7500 US) to the family of a 2-year-old girl who has a brain tumor and needs to raise 250,000 pounds for life-saving treatment in America. It should be noted that White has never met the girl or her family.
Jeff Curran headed to Bellator
After announcing a pair of opening-round featherweight matchups, Bellator Fighting Championships officials have set three additional bouts for the second event of its upcoming second season, Bellator 14.
A featured attraction is an opening-round welterweight tournament matchup between NCAA Division I national wrestling champion and Olympian Ben Askren (3-0) and. former UFC and Strikeforce fighter Ryan Thomas (10-3).
Non-tourney matchups include veteran and Chicago-area fighter Jeff Curran (31-12-1) vs. Joe Doherty (8-3) and Felice Herrig (1-2) vs. Catia Vitoria (0-0).
This is actually really old news, especially for me as I train at Curran Martial Arts. But I hadn't seen it posted any where.
Unfortunately his opponent is a little outmatched so it's kind of a throw away fight.
Champ Alistair Overeem confirms May 15 Strikeforce fight with Brett Rogers
Alistair Overeem (32-11 MMA, 2-0 SF) wants American fans to get ready. There are no more obstacles in the way of his American MMA career; Strikeforce is the priority for 2010.
In an exclusive interview with MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) today, the Strikeforce heavyweight champion said he is likely to meet Brett Rogers (10-1 MMA, 2-1 SF) in a non-title fight on an as-yet-unannounced card set for May 15 in St. Louis, Mo.
Although Strikeforce has not placed an event permit request to the Missouri State Athletic Commission, all signs point to a second trip to the 22,000-seat Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
The promotion made its first visit there this past June for "Strikeforce: Shields vs. Lawler."
Overeem announced the Rogers fight earlier today on his Twitter account but clarified that the matchup is not confirmed. He also added that a rumored appearance at DREAM.13 against Neil Grove or Josh Barnett is also unconfirmed.
"I'll know this week," he said.
Keeping up with the Dutch fighter's schedule has proven a difficult task for American fans. Overeem was slated to face Rogers at "Strikeforce: Shields vs. Lawler" in 2009 before he injured his hand in an Amsterdam nightclub brawl and suffered severe complications, which he said shelved him for a follow-up appearance two months later against Fabricio Werdum at "Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg."
Just 11 days after the proposed Werdum fight, Overeem entered the 2009 K-1 Grand Prix and made two appearances for the kickboxing promotion before he lost to Badr Hari in the tournament's semifinals. Along the way, he picked up two MMA wins (via submission over Tony Sylvester and James Thompson) before he defeated Kazuyuki Fujita in his most recent appearance at the Dec. 31 "Dynamite!! 2009" event in Japan.
Overeem has not defended his title since November 2007, when he won the vacant belt by defeating Paul Buentello at "Strikeforce: Four Men Enter, One Man Survives."
Overeem's manager, Bas Boon, said his fighter made far more money competing for K-1 and assured American fans he will return in April or May. Boon, though, would not confirm the Rogers bout.
Meanwhile, Overeem said he hopes to fight in the 2010 K-1 Grand Prix but that Strikeforce obligations come first.
"If I can do K-1 after these fights or in between, that's OK, but if not, then I will go for Strikeforce," he said. "It's been too long. Last year was a good year in K-1, but this year, I want to fight in MMA."
The chance of a long-rumored fight with Fedor Emelianenko appears to be a longshot. Emelianenko will not appear on Strikeforce's second CBS-televised event, which is set for April 17 in Nashville, Tenn., and he is currently in a contract dispute with the San Jose, Calif.-based promotion. He is rumored to be fighting on the May 15 card against an unnamed opponent.
While Overeem counts the top-ranked Russian among his targets stateside, there is too much red tape between them.
"Fedor doesn't want to fight," Overeem said. "His manager doesn't want to fight. That's basically the message I'm getting out of all of this. The management said, 'Yeah, we want to fight Alistair, but first, Alistair must fight somebody else.' Basically, you need two parties to agree on a fight. Otherwise it's not going to happen.
"And now, I don't know what is going to happen because I think [Fedor] might want to leave Strikeforce. I'm not really occupied with the situation; I'm just focused on myself and my training."
Overeem was more than happy, though, to take on Rogers, who has called him out on several occasions and demanded he defend his title or give up the belt.
"He's an excellent opponent," Overeem said. "I'm looking forward to [smacking] his face and his loud mouth. I'm really happy that Strikeforce came with this fight so now we can settle things once and for all."
Rogers manager, Mike Reilly, declined to comment on a potential fight between Rogers and Overeem.
"I don't think it's going to be for the title because [Brett] lost to Fedor," Overeem said. "He’s coming off a loss, so I don't think they're going to put it for the title, but it's up to the promotion."
Rogers fights for the first time since his November loss to Emelianenko at Strikeforce's first CBS-televised event. The TKO defeat snapped his 10-fight win streak (all of the wins came via stoppage due to strikes), which included Strikeforce victories over Abongo Humphrey and Andrei Arlovski.
After a long absence, Overeem intends to prove his critics wrong and make his mark once again in the U.S.
"If people take the time to look what the situation is, there's no secrets; there's no strange stuff going on," he said. "I can look you in the face and answer your questions. Then they'll see that things turn out the way they turn out.
"There are no obstacles for me."
Arlovski Signs with Strikeforce *Update* meets Antonio Silva May 15 in St. Louis
Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski (15-7 MMA, 0-1 SF) has signed a multi-fight, 16-month deal with Strikeforce and is expected to fight former EliteXC title-holder Antonio Silva (13-2 MMA, 0-1 SF) at the organization's May 15 event in St Louis, Mo.
Arlovski announced the deal on his official Web site.
The Silva fight, first reported by Sherdog.com, was and later confirmed to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) by a source close to the Brazilian who said the fight will be part of the night's Showtime-televised main card.
Strikeforce, of course, hosts its next major show on April 17 when middleweight champ Jake Shields takes on recent signee Dan Henderson in a CBS-televised main event.
Arlovski fights for the first time since Strikeforce's initial St. Louis show, which took place in June 2009. There, he suffered a 22-second TKO loss to Brett Rogers, which followed a first-round knockout to Fedor Emelianenko at "Affliction: Day of Reckoning" six months prior.
Prior to the back-to-back losses, the former UFC superstar had posted five consecutive wins and reemerged as one of the world's top-five heavyweight fighters.
He can get his career back on track against Silva, whose six-fight win streak recently came to an end with a close but unanimous decision loss to Fabricio Werdum at Strikeforce's November 2009 debut on CBS. Silva posted the win streak with now-defunct EliteXC promotion (where he defeated Justin Eilers for the title) and World Victory Road's Japanese-based Sengoku event series.
A source close to the fighter told MMAjunkie.com Silva was also under consideration for a fight with Rogers.
SportsBusiness Journal: UFC Sets Company Merchandise Sales Record in Australia
UFC 110, headlined by the Antonio "Minotauro" Nogueira vs. Cain Velasquez heavyweight bout, grossed $540,000 in merchandise sales at Acer Arena in Sydney, breaking the previous record of $498,000 for UFC 83 at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Total sales also topped the previous arena record held by Iron Maiden.
Acer Arena doesn’t release concessions figures. The arena, built for the 2000 Summer Games, is the largest indoor venue in Sydney and has hosted acts such as Coldplay and Britney Spears.
All 16,500 tickets for the Feb. 21 fight were bought on the first day of sales back in December, trailing only the UFC’s debut in Montreal in 2008 as the fastest sellout ever. The $2.5 million gate for an international event was second only to the fight in Montreal.
Chris Lytle: UFC's All-Time Bonus Winner
A handful of the UFC's biggest stars get six-figure guarantees for all their fights and a cut of the pay-per-view revenue. Those guys are the promotion's highest-paid fighters.
For the majority of UFC fighters, the standard payday is in the five figures, and winning a bonus check for Fight of the Night, Knockout of the Night or Submission of the Night can actually make up the majority of their income. And in that category of fighter, no one has cashed in more than Chris Lytle.
Cage Potato has put together a great UFC performance bonus leaderboard, and Lytle comes out on top with seven bonuses that paid him a combined $310,000. No one else even has six career bonuses.
Obviously, being the all-time leader in performance bonuses in no way makes Lytle even close to the best fighter in UFC history. He's been pretty mediocre in his UFC career, has bounced around between the UFC and smaller promotions, and has a record of 7-9 inside the Octagon.
But I still think Lytle has a special place in UFC history. I've heard some people denigrate Lytle by saying he fights like he'd rather earn a bonus than a win, but in fairness to Lytle, only two of those bonuses were for fights he lost: He got the Fight of the Night check at UFC 78, when he lost to Thiago Alves because the fight was stopped when he suffered a nasty cut, and he got it at UFC 93, when he lost a split decision to Marcus Davis. It's not like he wasn't trying to win those fights.
The 35-year-old Lytle is never going to be a UFC champion, and he's never going to be one of those guys with a six-figure guarantee or a cut of the pay-per-view proceeds. But he'll always be a fighter the fans will want to see, and he has certainly earned that $310,000 in extra income.
UFC targeting Michael Bisping vs. Dan Miller for UFC 114 in Las Vegas
A middleweight bout between Michael Bisping (18-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) and Dan Miller (11-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC), established contenders both desperately in need of a win, is likely to take place in May at UFC 114.
Multiple sources close to the event today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that UFC officials are working to sign the bout and that at least one competitor has agreed to the matchup.
If signed the fight would likely be part of the main card for UFC 114, which takes place May 29 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and airs on pay-per-view.
As of Monday, though, bout agreements have not been distributed.
It'd be another solid addition to a card, though not officially announced, that's expected to feature Rashad Evans vs. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Forrest Griffin vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and John Hathaway vs. Diego Sanchez.
Both Bisping and Miller, who were both once on the verge of top title contention, look to rebound from recent losses.
Bisping's losses came to Dan Henderson (vicious knockout at UFC 100), and then after a rebound TKO win over Denis Kang at UFC 105, to Wanderlei Silva via close unanimous decision last month at UFC 110. Bisping thought he won the fight, but Silva knocked him down in the final 10 seconds of the co-main-event fight to take the final third round on the judges' cards and the decision win (via scores of 29-28).
Prior to the recent 1-2 skid, "The Ultimate Fighter 3" winner's only loss came to Rashad Evans via razor-thin split decision at UFC 78 in 2007.
Meanwhile, Miller's two consecutive losses both came via unanimous decision to top contenders Chael Sonnen (UFC 98) and Demian Maia (UFC 109). Prior to the defeats, the former IFL middleweight champion went undefeated over a 10-fight span that included UFC victories over Rob Kimmons, Matt Horwich and Jake Rosholt in his first three UFC appearances.
Introducing The Ultimate Fighter 11 Cast - All 28 Middleweights
For the first time Spike TV has officially announced the full cast of the 28 middleweights fighting for a chance to become the next Ultimate Fighter. TUF 11 premieres March 31.
Nick Ring (10-0), Jordan Smith (10-0), Josh Bryant (10-0), Charley Lynch (6-0)
Kris Mccray (5-0), Warren Thompson (5-0), James Hammortree (4-0), Brad Tavares (4-0)
Joseph Henle (3-0), Court Mcgee (9-1), Victor O’Donnell (8-1), Norman Paraisy (5-1)
Costantinos Philippou (5-1), Brent Cooper (5-1), Greg Rebello (9-2), Kyle Noke (16-4-1)
Jacen Flynn (8-2), Lyle Steffens (5-2), Chris Camozzi (11-3), Charles Blanchard (7-2)
Cleburn Walker (9-3), Ben Stark (3-1), Rich Attonito (7-3), Woody Weatherby (7-3)
Seth Baczynski (11-5), Clayton Mckinney (4-2), Jamie Yager (2-1), Kyacey Uscola (18-15)
Cain Velasquez: I'm ready for a shot at Brock Lesnar
"Yes. I'm ready. I think I've been ready for a while. The way this sport works is you've just got to prove yourself when you get the chance. I want to fight the best so I can be the best ... I don't know what I do better than (Lesnar) but I do know I'd be ready. I know what I can do, I know I train with really tough guys, and I know I'd prepare myself to give him a really good fight"