THE HUMAN SIDE OF THE ELITEXC COLLAPSE
JT Steele started his career at ProElite, Inc. as an intern when the company was first formed in November of 2006. Hungry to get into the MMA business, he worked for free during the day while completing a law degree at Southwestern University by night.
In a short time, Steele became a paid employee of the company, a beneficiary of the rapid growth the company experienced in 2007. Steele worked in talent acquisition, fighter contracts, and regulatory affairs under Head of Fight Operations Jeremy Lappen, eventually gaining the title of Senior Manager of Fight Operations. Steele had met Lappen while interning for the World Fighting Alliance in its short-lived comeback.
Steele was at ground zero when EliteXC’s deal with CBS fell through, and says the fallout shocked rank and file employees.
“It happened so fast,” he said. “Literally, faster than any of us could have ever anticipated it. We were forced to shut down almost immediately. I think a lot of people didn’t anticipate that.”
Friends Fighting Friends
They say familiarity breeds contempt, but in the world of mixed martial arts, the lines are a bit more blurry. Promoters often pit teammate against teammate, friend against friend, in their pursuit of financial success. Some fighters refuse those advances, no matter the lure.
“We won’t fight each other,” says famed mixed martial arts trainer Greg Jackson when asked about a potential fight between two of his top protégés, Rashad Evans and Keith Jardine.
Former UFC light heavyweight champions Tito Ortiz and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson have pledged never to fight unless the money was “right.” Other competitors seem to have no trouble putting relationships on the back burner and going toe-to-toe with their friends. Karl James Noons and Yves Edwards come to mind.
Few dynamics can match friend-versus-friend in terms of piquing interest. One needs only to look at the clashes between Ortiz and Chuck Liddell to understand the hype such fights can generate. In the case of James Irvin and Scott Smith or Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin, mixing it up inside the cage can forge even stronger bonds and lead today’s modern-day gladiators to hone their games inside the same gym as their former opponents.
Here are some past, scheduled and potential bouts with thick plotlines...
UFC 90 weigh in results
Perhaps the biggest questions heading into the event was whether or not Thiago Alves could hit the scale with no problems. “The Pitbull” came in at a ready 171 pounds, using the one pound over the division limit that is alloted to all fighters in nontitle fights.
Josh Burkman was not as fortunate. “The People’s Warrior” has one hour to shed the additional two pounds and try again; otherwise, he risks having his purse garnished.
Here are the official UFC 90 weigh-in results:
185 lbs.: Anderson Silva (184) vs. Patrick Cote (183)
170 lbs.: Thiago Alves (171) vs. Josh Koscheck (170)
265 lbs.: Fabricio Werdum (256) vs. Junior Dos Santos (234)
155 lbs.: Sean Sherk (156) vs. Tyson Griffin (155)
155 lbs.: Gray Maynard (155) vs. Rich Clementi (156)
185 lbs.: Thales Leites (186) vs. Drew McFedries (186)
155 lbs.: Spencer Fisher (155) vs. Shannon Gugerty (156)
185 lbs.: Dan Miller (185) vs. Matt Horwich (186)
155 lbs.: Hermes Franca (156) vs. Marcus Aurelio (156)
170 lbs.: Pete Sell (170) vs. Josh Burkman (173)
*Note: Fighters are allowed to weigh one pound more than the division limit in non-title fights.
Partnership between Affliction MMA and Golden Boy Promotions off
The big plan to make pay-per-view super cards featuring both MMA and boxing has apparently already been knocked out.
ESPN.com reports Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions has changed its mind about combining the two sports. Last month Golden Boy and MMA upstart Affliction announced a deal to co-promote events.
The deal came in the days following Affliction’s cancellation of a scheduled card in Las Vegas.
The move was met with skepticism from fans of both sports. However, many in the MMA world hoped the partnership could lead to bigger paydays for fighters and help make Affliction viable competition to the UFC.
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com that criticism of merging the sports was part of the decision to scrap the idea.
"The Ultimate Fighter 8" ratings improve; Junie Browning to thank?
This past Wednesday's episode of "The Ultimate Fighter: Team Nogueira vs. Team Mir," which featured controversial cast member Junie Browning's quarterfinal fight with Roli Delgado, scored 1.7 million viewers, an increase of nine percent from the season's first five episodes.
Additionally, the Oct. 22 episode had an audience 35 percent larger than the season low of 1.1 million that tuned in for the third episode of the reality series on Oct. 1.
Spike TV today sent the ratings information to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) via email.
With the recent ratings revival, in doubt aided by the antics of Browning, the eighth season of the show is now averaging 1.6 million weekly viewers. The seventh season of the show ("The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rampage vs. Team Forrest"), which aired earlier this year, averaged 1.3 million viewers for its 11 regular-season episodes.
The only basic cable stations that beat Spike TV and "TUF" this week were Comedy Central (with "South Park" and "Chocolate News") and FX ("Son of Anarchy").
Wednesday's episode of "TUF" peaked with 1.9 million viewers for the Browning-Delgado fight, which took place in the final quarter hour of the show. Browning, whose drunken rampages and confrontations with other cast members have resulted in ratings jumps over the past few weeks, recently told MMAjunkie.com that his actions were the result of being locked in the "TUF" house.
"You're in Vegas, and you can't go anywhere or do anything, so you let loose a little crazier than I normally would." Browning said. "I don't necessarily act like that at home. I can go out to a bar and drink, but I don't mess with people or anything. Once you're in the house, it's almost like being in high school again. You're around a bunch of young guys, we're all crazy and drinking, and I don't like being messed with at all."
Marcus Davis unsure if Chris Lytle deserves a fight against him at UFC 93
“I don’t mind Chris calling me out, it’s part of the game. I certainly didn’t take offense. He had warned me beforehand that he was going to do it, so I don’t consider it disrespectful or anything. I like Chris and think he is a great guy but I don’t know whether he deserves a fight against me. People always say that Chris is the ‘gatekeeper’ to our division, but I think that I am past the gate at the moment. I have spoken to a few people who have told me that they actually think Paul Taylor won that fight against Chris. I beat Paul in one round (in September 2007), so I’m just not sure. But, of course, if that is the fight that the UFC want, then I am more than happy.”
Shades of Gray: Interview with Gray Maynard
UFC lightweight Gray Maynard knows a thing or two about labels.
Like most amateur fighters who find their way into the UFC spotlight through a stint on The Ultimate Fighter reality show, Maynard has to work twice as hard to prove that skill — not television — is what landed him a spot on the active UFC roster.
So far, so good.
“The Bully” has kept his professional win streak intact inside the Octagon, winning three straight fights since a bizarre simultaneous knockout/tapout against Rob Emerson at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 5 Finale in June 2007.
In addition, Maynard knows that he’s more than “just a wrestler” — something he intends to prove in his first appearance on a major UFC pay-per-view.
Gray brings us up to speed on everything from his days as a collegiate wrestler, life in the TUF mansion and the surprising phone call he got that would change his life forever.
DAN LAUZON FIGHTS FOR WCF BEFORE HORODECKI
Before Dan Lauzon debuts for Affliction against Chris Horodecki on Jan. 24, he will first get the chance to stay sharp in his game as he returns to World Championship Fighting on Nov. 14 to fight Justin Hammertrum in a lightweight contest on their upcoming card.
Lauzon was slated to face Horodecki at the Affliction: Day of Reckoning show when it had been slated for earlier this month, but the show was postponed. Opposed to sitting out for several months before stepping into his next fight, the youngest fighter to ever compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship will instead get a tune-up fight first.
Is the Fertitta Business Empire in Trouble?
Zack Arnold puts together the case:
* October 19th - Going private hasn’t saved companies from slump (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
* October 19th - Station Casinos will seek some reprieve from its banks, though the company’s debt costs will likely go up (Las Vegas Sun)
* October 20th - Station Casinos confident business model will best economic worry (online casino advisory)
* October 23rd - Is Station Casinos going out of business? (Fightlinker)
When Dana White announced a while back that Lorenzo Fertitta was making a 100% commitment to UFC and moving away from actively managing Station Casinos, it was heralded as a move that was going to forever change the MMA business. Much to the credit of Fight Opinion Radio lead host (Jeff Thaler), Jeff never bought into the initial explanation given as to why Lorenzo Fertitta would give up such a lucrative position in Las Vegas to go to UFC — a profitable company, but nothing close to the money-making machine that Station Casinos had been over the past decade
EliteXC fighter faces toughest test yet: unemployment
The past few weeks were exciting for middleweight Joey Villasenor. He had prepared vigorously for his rematch with Robbie Lawler.
Though Villasenor was stopped in 22 seconds the first time they met, he was confident things would end differently Nov. 8 in Reno, Nev. Villasenor, who turned 33 on Friday, was feeling good.
Where to now? Joey Villasenor founds himself without a job after EliteXC closed its doors.
In a little more than two weeks, he planned to enter the cage and exact revenge on one of mixed martial arts' top middleweights. Plus, he could earn a much-needed $60,000 -- $30,000 for the fight and $30,000 to win.
Just two more weeks and Villasenor would put a few bucks into his savings account that serves as a retirement fund. But two weeks is a long time when the event's promoter is struggling to make ends meet.
Brock Lesnar does not want Mazzagatti as referee at UFC 91
Lesnar’s reps claim he was “involved in what we believe was a controversial ruling in connection with the Mir-Lesnar fight.” Lesnar’s reps told Sherdog. ”They asked that Mazzagatti be removed from consideration for the UFC 91 main event to avoid “distraction” and “any further controversy.”
Fedor's Manager Vadim Finklestein Addresses Dana White
Dana says UFC’s doors are wide open. Maybe they are. But these doors also shut tightly once the fighter signs with the organization. Randy Couture came back to the UFC and what now?
Instead of fighting the best in the promotion he has to fight a young upstart with 2-1 pro-record. Couture might not survive all the three contractual fights. I’m afraid that’s being made in order to finish the star which is Randy and not let him fight Fedor.
EliteXC’s Top 10 Moments
News of EliteXC’s demise shook the mixed martial arts world on Monday, as an entire stable of fighters suddenly found themselves without a place to work. Any number of reasons behind the 2-year-old promotion’s downfall could be chiseled into its tombstone:
Foray into mixed martial arts failed for boxing promoters.
Organization walked down the same green mile as the World Fighting Alliance, the International Fight League and Bodog Fight.
Promotion unraveled after scandal involving street fighter and UFC retread.
While EliteXC offered just as much controversy as excitement, it enjoyed many bright spots during its 20-month run.