Pros Picks: Couture vs. Lesnar
One of mixed martial arts’ most beloved and important figures will make his eagerly awaited return to the Octagon this Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Poised to defend his heavyweight title against behemoth Brock Lesnar at UFC 91, Randy Couture will face arguably his most daunting task when he climbs into battle for the 25th time.
Sherdog.com spoke with dozens of experts, from fighters to trainers to analysts, and got their opinions on the Couture/Lesnar showdown.
K.J. Noons returns to winning ways, eyes 2009 MMA return
Former EliteXC lightweight champion K.J. Noons had his hand raised in victory once again Thursday night.
Noons traded in the five-ounce gloves of MMA and the bright lights of Showtime for a pair of boxing mitts and the relative obscurity of the El Monte Expo Center in El Monte, Calif.
"It was actually a year and a half since the last time I got in a boxing ring," Noons told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "Surprisingly, I was a little nervous. I fought in the main event on Showtime in front of millions and I wasn't nervous, but I was nervous in front of a little crowd here in East L.A."
Noons (7-2 MMA, 8-1 boxing) dropped his opponent, Alejandro Bogarin, twice in the six-round affair. In the end, Noons was forced to settle for a unanimous decision win.
Brock Lesnar is opportunistic
“I don’t think I deserve anything. I was asked if I wanted a title shot against Randy Couture and I accepted it. I don’t think that I deserve anything…. This is an opportunity and I’m going to seize the moment and try and take that title away tomorrow night…. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I understand that. If there was any other heavyweight in the division that was asked for this opportunity they probably would have also not turned the opportunity down.”
– Brock Lesnar tells ESPNs “First Take” this morning that he is merely taking advantage of an opportunity that was presented to him to challenge Randy Couture for his heavyweight title. With just three professional mixed martial arts bouts to his credit, including an average record inside the Octagon (1-1), several people questioned the decision to grant him a world title shot so soon in his career. But this is a business and UFC President Dana White and all the others at Zuffa know that, deserving or not, Lesnar is going to put butts in seats at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 15. It’s good to see Lesnar is under no illusions and that he is shooting straight from the hip. Who can blame him …he makes a valid point.
Hansen talks DREAM, Alvarez & More!
Joachim Hansen ‘The Hellboy Returns on NYE’
DREAM Lightweight Grand Prix Champion Joachim Hansen took some time out of training to talk with PDG about his tournament victory, Eddie Alvarez, training and fighting on NYE.
PDG: You replaced Eddie Alvarez, who beat you earlier in the GP; how did that affect the way you fought in the finals?
Hansen: Eddie Alvarez and Shinya Aoki are two totally different fighters. I knew a little about Aoki’s style because I fought him in PRIDE in 2006. I knew I had to be very careful with Aoki when on the ground and to not make any big moves that could leave me open to his submission game. If you could clone Alvarez and Aoki into one person you would be close to having the total mixed martial arts fighter!
UFC 91 Weigh-In Results
The UFC 91 weigh-ins have just been completed. Everyone made weight, with Brock Lesnar weighing in at 265 compared to Randy Couture's 220 for the main event, which is now official.
Hose Pulls Out Of Starnes Fight
Hawaiin middleweight Kala Kolohe Hose has pulled out his fight with ex-UFC fighter Kalib Starnes, which had been scheduled for tomorrow night.
Speaking earlier today, Hose said that he has dropped out of the bout due to underhanded activity on the part of the promoters, Destiny MMA.
“I signed a contract with Destiny that clearly stated the contest would be three three-minute rounds of mixed martial arts,” Hose explained.
With most professional MMA bouts being three five-minute rounds, he said he “immediately questioned Destiny’s promoter about the shortened rounds”.
Showtime postpones Monday’s asset auction
FiveOuncesOfPain.com was notified on Friday afternoon in an e-mail from Showtime Networks that the premium cable provider has postponed a planned auction for Monday in which select assets of ProElite, Inc. were to be made available to the highest bidder.
“Showtime Networks Inc. has adjourned the previously announced public sale of personal property of ProElite, Inc. and certain of its subsidiaries scheduled for November 17, 2008,” the release states. “Showtime reserves all of its rights, including the right to further adjourn or cancel the public sale and thereafter dispose of such property in a public or private sale or in any other manner provided under its agreements with ProElite and by applicable law.”
The most notable asset that had been scheduled to be auctioned off were the contracts of the 80-plus fighters that are still signed to ProElite even in spite of a massive downsizing by the company last month.
Fedor-Arlovski headed to Showtime
Showtime Sports won't let a dispute with its former mixed martial arts promotional partner keep it from broadcasting the sport as soon as January, SI.com has learned.
The premium cable network, in conjunction with Golden Boy Promotions, will distribute and produce Affliction's Jan. 24 pay-per-view card topped by a five-round fight between WAMMA heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko and former UFC titleholder Andrei Arlovski.
Official announcement will come Monday, confirmed Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio.
Todd Beard Resigns From Affliction
This was an absolute must for Affliction.
MarketWatch.com has the news:
The board of directors of Affliction Inc. announced today that it received and accepted the resignation of Todd Beard as an employee of the company. Mr. Beard is one of the original founders of the clothing company based in Seal Beach, California. The resignation coincides with a public apology for comments made by Mr. Beard and directed toward Randy Couture and his wife Kim Couture regarding their business relationship.
Mr. Beard also disclosed that he will be seeking treatment for anger management and alcohol abuse.
Dana Now Considers Carano-Cyborg For WEC
And the tables have turned yet again. Over the last 2 weeks Dana White has significantly softened his stance on promoting a Gina Carano-Cristiane Santos fight, with Dana now saying he's not opposed to doing it. As long as it's in WEC.
Lightweight Matt Grice To Return To UFC In Early-2009
Lightweight Matt Grice will return to the UFC in early-2009, according to MMA Junkie.
Grice has not fought since defeating Jason Black via split decision in the “Fight of the Night” at UFC 77 in October 2007. After the win, Grice attended a local police academy and recently graduated from the program allowing him to return to the UFC.
Before stepping back into the octagon, however, Grice will reportedly participate in a tune-up bout before returning to MMA’s biggest stage early next year.
Grice, a four-time high school wrestling champion in Oklahoma and collegiate wrestler at the University of Oklahoma, was defeated by Terry Etim in his UFC debut via first-roud guillotine choke but rebounded to top Black and even his UFC record at 1-1.
Affliction 2 shaping up with confirmation of Buentello vs 'Baby Fedor' (Babalu/Lindland official also)
A heavyweight attraction between former UFC title challenger Paul Buentello and Russian prodigy Kiril Sidelnikov is now set for the undercard of Affliction’s “Day of Reckoning” event on Jan. 24, according to a report by SI.com’s Josh Gross.
The fight will be a part of HDNet’s telecast of the event’s undercard, which will be anchored by a light heavyweight bout between Vladimir Matyushenko and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
The addition of Sidelnikov is intriguing because he is one of the world’s top fighters under the age of 21 and his fight with Buentello will mark the first time the young Russian has competed on U.S. soil.
Nicknamed “Baby Fedor” by his mentors with the Russian Red Devil fight team, Sidelnikov is 4-2 in his young career. The 20-year old is considered a prodigy and a potential successor to Emelianenko as Russia’s top heavyweight fighter.
EDIT: Plus, Babalu/Lindland now
‘McLovin’ it: Dustin Hazelett UFC 91 interview
Dustin “McLovin” Hazelett (11-4) has been steadily climbing the ranks in the UFC since his Octagon debut back in October 2006.
The newly awarded Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Jorge Gurgel has gone 4-2 for the promotion and looked impressive in his wins over Jonathan Goulet (22-9) and Josh Burkman (18-8), and even in his loss to Josh Koscheck (11-3), where the submission master showed significantly improved standup skills.
But it was his most recent win over Burkman that earned him the most attention. As the first man to actually finish Burkman since Jon Fitch did it way back at Ultimate Fight Night 4 in April 2006, Hazelett took home both the “Submission of the Night” and “Fight of the Night” honors, along with $40,000 in bonus bucks.
At just 22 years old, Hazelett is looking to make another splash this Saturday at UFC 91: “Couture vs. Lesnar,” where he’ll take on Tamdan “The Barn Cat” McCrory (9-1), who is also 22 years old.
Big Fights, Big Plans
"Ticket sales have been great. Listen, right now, I don’t care how big you are or you small you are, everybody’s feeling this economic crunch. Major corporations that have been around before we were alive are hurting right now and in fear of going out of business. Our business is in a really good place right now. We did great on ticket sales, I’m predicting right now, even with this economic crunch, the biggest pay-per-view in UFC history."
Such was the opening salvo of the president of one of the fastest growing sports entities in the world, Dana White, the head of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Dana White: UFC 91's Florian vs. Stevenson winner gets title shot
LAS VEGAS -- Although largely expected, Kenny Florian was surely happy to learn that his UFC 91 co-main event fight with Joe Stevenson will earn the winner a guaranteed title shot. For real this time.
UFC President Dana White promised the winner a shot at B.J. Penn's lightweight belt during today's UFC 91 press conference in the main lobby of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Kinda quick for Joe if you ask me.
Fighting Father Time
America’s athletic battlefields are littered with good-intentioned men who stuck around too long in their chosen sport, their eroding physical skills rendering them incapable of recapturing the glory of day’s gone by. Remember Michael Jordan in a Washington Wizards uniform? Muhammad Ali and Evander Holyfield also spring to mind.
Though his legacy and place in the mixed martial arts pantheon are secure, Randy Couture does not want his name added to the list.