UFC still fighting for respect even in its home town
Event No. 100 is right around the corner for the UFC. It's a long way from the days of struggling to sell 4,000 tickets. The UFC is a lock from a live gate standpoint, events regularly draw between 12,000-16,000 around the country, yet the promotion has to be incredibly proactive to court coverage similar to the NFL, NBA, MLB and even NASCAR in those local markets. That irks UFC owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta along with president Dana White. Newspapers for the most part still turn the their noses up at mixed martial arts. That included the UFC's hometown newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, until recently when the paper named Adam Hill, the first full-time MMA newspaper beat reporter in the U.S. But that doesn't mean the Fertittas and White are curtailing the fight in Sin City. The UFC sort of lashes out at the local media for the lack of attention in a Sunday story in the LVRJ.
Wanderlei Silva on Franklin Loss, Griffin vs. Anderson and Fedor in the UFC
Wanderlei Silva is one of the greatest fighters in the history of mixed martial arts, but after falling to Rich Franklin at UFC 99, he's lost five of his last six fights. Does that mean his fighting career is just about over?
Silva doesn't think so. When I talked to him over the weekend, he sounded excited about returning to the Octagon late this year, and about his work as a trainer and as an ambassador for MMA. He also refuted reports that he had a hard time making the 195-pound limit for the Franklin fight, offered a prediction on the upcoming Forrest Griffin vs. Anderson Silva fight at UFC 101, and talked about whether his old friend from their days fighting in Japan, Fedor Emelianenko, will ever fight in the UFC. Silva's comments are below.
UFC 100 Preview: Dong Hyun "Stun Gun" Kim Aims to Help Zuffa Push Into Korea
Back in May of last year, Dong Hyun Kim made his UFC debut at UFC 84: Ill Will against British fighter Jason Tan. Unknown to most casual MMA fans at the time, Kim was actually making history under the South Korean flag in that he had become only the second Korean fighter to set foot into the Octagon since Joe Son at UFC 4. After three rounds of action that saw the "Stun Gun" tactically out-strike Tan and pick him apart, Kim ended the bout via a technical knockout in the third round to become the first Korean to win in the UFC. Most fans didn't see this match as it was on the undercard, but the nation of South Korea erupted overnight after the battle aired three times on Korean network Super Action.
Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum for Aug. 15th Strikeforce event
"Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg" received another significant addition of talent today, as Strikeforce officially added a heavyweight title fight between current champion Alistair Overeem (29-11) and challenger Fabricio Werdum (11-4-1).
MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) confirmed the addition to the Aug. 15 card, which will take place at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., with Strikeforce Director of Communications Mike Afromowitz.
Michael Bisping: "Dan Henderson Crossed the Line"
You know what, out of nowhere just recently it's got all personal. I'll be lying if I said it hasn't pissed me off. He's really, really annoyed me, he's really pissed me off. In a lot of interviews he's talked not about my fighting ability but about me as a person, and I think he's crossed a line and he's pissed me off.
I spoke to somebody from the UFC this morning and they told me they did an interview with him and in the space of two minutes he called me a moron and a douchebag twelve times, you know what I mean?
Rich Franklin vs. Chuck Liddell not happening at UFC 103; Franklin still a main-event option
September's UFC 103 card is in need of a main event, but the Dallas event won't feature a rumored (and heavily speculated) bout between Rich Franklin and recently retired former UFC light heavyweight Chuck Liddell.
That's the word from MMAjunkie.com's Dann Stupp, who gives an update on Franklin in today's "MMA Insider" column in the Dayton Daily News.
According to the report, UFC officials have contacted Franklin with a handful of potential opponents' names for the Sept. 19 card, but Liddell isn't one of them.
Takanori Gomi comes stateside to fight Rafaello Oliveira at "Affliction: Trilogy"
After negotiations with a variety of U.S.-based organizations, popular Japanese fighter Takanori Gomi (30-5) has signed with Affliction and will take on Rafaello Oliveira (8-1) at the organization's Aug. 1 "Trilogy" card.
Affliction recently added the bout to its pay-per-view main card.
The event, including the five-round headliner between Fedor Emelianenko and Josh Barnett, takes place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
In addition to the five-fight pay-per-view main card, the event also features an HDNet-televised preliminary card with Paul Daley vs. Jay Hieron in the featured bout.
Gomi fights in the U.S. for the first time since his submission loss to Nick Diaz at PRIDE 33, an event that took place in Las Vegas. (The loss, though, was later ruled a no-contest when Diaz's drug test came back positive for marijuana.)
Gomi, once one of the world's top lightweights, is just 3-2 since that February 2007 no-contest with losses to Sergey Golyaev (split decision) and Satoru Kitaoka (submission), both in World Victory Road's Sengoku event series. Gomi most recently rebounded for a first-round TKO victory over Takashi Nakakura at a May Shooto event.
Wilson vs. Pyle Booked for UFN 19
A welterweight fight between Chris Wilson and Mike Pyle has been scheduled for UFC Fight Night 19 in Oklahoma City. Sources confirmed with FanHouse Sunday evening that the bout will be made official later this week.
UFC Fight Night 19 is scheduled for Sept. 16 at the Cox Convention Center. Gray Maynard will reportedly face Roger Huerta on the same card.
Frank Mir, Brock Lesnar Say They Don't Dislike Each Other
A few months ago, it seemed like we couldn't go a week without hearing Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir talk trash about each other. Mir compared Lesnar to Junie Browning, which from Mir's perspective is about as harsh as an insult can get. Lesnar called Mir's interim heavyweight championship a "make-believe belt."
But as their UFC 100 fight approaches, Lesnar and Mir are toning down the rhetoric.
"I don't dislike Frank in any way other than he's got a win over me," Lesnar said on a call to promote UFC 100. "This is a sport. I consider myself a gentleman, and sportsmanlike conduct takes precedence in this."
LAWLOR READY FOR MIDDLEWEIGHT MOVE AT UFC 100
A natural athlete, Tom Lawlor first made himself known to mixed martial arts fans around the world with his stint on Season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter. Part of Team Mir, Lawlor won his preliminary fight against Ryan Lopez via rear naked choke, allowing him to continue in the competition and make his way into one of the most controversial seasons of said show.
Though he would eventually lose in the quarterfinals to light heavyweight winner Ryan Bader, Lawlor left a lot to be remembered.
FABER HEALING, MAKING PUSH FOR WEC & NEW DEAL
In his rematch last month with Mike Brown, Urijah Faber once again ended up on the wrong end of the fight with American Top Team fighter. The two went five rounds with Faber losing a unanimous decision.
That doesn't sound so out of the ordinary, until you realize that Faber broke his right hand in the first round then injured his left in the third, yet he still managed to finish the fight.
COLE MILLER PLANS TO BUILD OFF ESCUDERO'S BACK
Cole Miller has had five fights in the UFC since stepping off of the cast of the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter. His only misstep has been late second-round TKO loss to Jeremy Stephens, outside of that he has won all four of his other UFC bouts, including Andy Wang, Leonard Garcia, Jorge Gurgel, and, most recently, attention magnet Junie Browning.
ST. PIERRE NOT AFRAID OF ANYTHING ALVES OFFERS
For any fighter that is currently aspiring to hit the heights in the sport of MMA, the model to follow is undoubtedly current UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, who has molded himself into the most complete fighter in the sport, while continuously evolving with each and every fight.
Coming off of possibly the biggest win of his career, a fourth round TKO over arch rival B.J. Penn, it was St. Pierre who opted for only a week off before heading right back into the gym to train, which he says he does because he loves it, not because he has to.
Report: While Eddie Alvarez out, Gesias "JZ" Cavalcante still in for DREAM.11
With rumored opponent Eddie Alvarez (18-2) making it clear a DREAM appearance wasn't in his immediate plans, American Top Team's Gesias "JZ" Cavalacante (14-3-1) said he's still in for the as-yet-unannounced DREAM.11 event.
Cavalcante recently told Tatame.com that he still plans on fighting at the event, which is expected to take place in September.
"They offered me Eddie Alvarez and I was excited, but it seems that he's injured or had some other problem and won't be able to fight in the event," Cavalcante told Tatame.com. "I'm confirmed in DREAM.11, but I still have no opponent."
While DREAM had hoped to arrange the matchup for Cavalcante, Alvarez's agent, Monte Cox, recently told MMAjunkie.com his client's recent championship run with Bellator, coupled with a need for some much-deserved time off, would prevent the American from competing at DREAM.11.
Cavalcante will bee seeking his first win since September 2007. The Brazilian slugger has gone 0-2 with one no-contest in three appearances for DREAM. That difficult stretch followed a string of 13-straight bouts without a defeat for Cavalcante between 2004 and 2007.
DREAM.11 will also feature the semifinals of DREAM's "Super Hulk" tournament and featherweight grand prix.
Marc Ratner: UFC aiming to increase quality of MMA officiating nationwide
Marc Ratner: UFC aiming to increase quality of MMA officiating nationwide
by John Morgan on Jul 05, 2009 at 12:55 pm ET
With power comes responsibility, and the heads of the UFC understand that as well as anyone.
While the UFC is clearly the sport's largest – and most profitable – organization, much of the growth in regulation and acceptance of the sport of mixed martial arts is thanks to the Las Vegas-based promotion.
With nationwide regulation nearing completion, UFC exec Marc Ratner recently told the MMAjunkie.com Radio Network (www.mmajunkie.com/radio) that increasing the quality of officiating was one of his next big projects.
"That's one of my other charges, is trying to make the officials better – get better referees, teaching more and doing more seminars," Ratner said. "We're going to do more of that, hopefully, next year."
Ratner said the first step is getting all 50 states to ratify regulation of mixed martial arts. Once complete, the UFC can work with the commissions to assist them in training both referees and judges.
"The first thing we want to do is get all the states to regulate [MMA]," Ratner said. "Once all the states regulate it, we can try to put some national seminars together. The Association of Boxing Commissions, which should now be called the Association of Combat Commissions, they're going to start doing some of that stuff."
While UFC president Dana White has often been openly critical of officials, Ratner offered a more understanding view of the state of MMA judging and refereeing.
"We need to keep on trying to make it better, trying to get a commonality of philosophy," Ratner said. "But some of the things I've read about – 'Oh, these decisions were horrible' – these fights are close fights. The Clay Guida fight with Diego (Sanchez at The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale), that's a tough fight to score. Some of those rounds were real close.
"The first round, some people scored that round 10-8. That was as dominant of a round as you're going to see. That's one of the problems whether it's boxing or MMA. not all 10-9 rounds are equal, but they're scored equal. Certainly a wide round like the first round in that fight compared to the third round which was razor-thin depending on who you give it to, it gives the appearance that the judging isn't that consistent. But when you have a 10-9 system, that's what happens."
Despite the challenges a 10-point-must system can create in a three-round contest, Ratner does not see a need to change the process. Instead, he hopes increased experience, coupled with education, can help to improve officiating.
"We as a company will help [the commissions] try to get more certification for officials," Ratner said. "But you still have to learn on the job. You can take all these tests – I was a Division I football official for 20 years. You can do everything, you can pass a test, you can get a 100, but until you're in that game situation and have to make a (call), there's nothing like experience and watching yourself on film.
"We go to some of these states and these officials have never worked in front of a big crowd before and they freeze a little bit. You have to get over that. It's a learning curve."
Ratner believes a system that provides for regional training seminar, in addition to a national certification process, could help improve performance.
"I think that's a possibility," Ratner said. "(But) it would be a little bit tough. I think you're better off with regional seminars to start with.
"A lot of these guys aren't going to have the money to travel, and you have to pay for the course. But I'd like to see it regionally and then possibly have some kind of a final certification here."
It's an ambitious idea, and one Ratner hopes to commence after the sport's current struggle for nationwide regulation ends. No rest for the weary, and that certainly includes the former Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director.
"It's so busy, my best analogy is like if you climb this mountain for UFC 100, you're trying to get to the top of the mountain and look down, but there's no down," Ratner said. "There's another mountain right behind it. You're constantly moving, constantly climbing, but that's the exciting part of being at the UFC. You're constantly in action. You're busy, and it's exciting."
Heavyweight prospect Lavar Johnson reportedly fighting for life after suffering gunshot wound
Strikeforce, WEC and Palace Fighting Championship veteran Lavar Johnson (12-3) is reportedly battling for his life after suffering a gun shot wound early Sunday morning.
Johnson and three others were injured in Bakersfield, Calif., just after 12 a.m. PT Sunday morning when an unidentified assailant opened fire with a semi-automatic handgun at a gathering that the fighter was attending.
A fifth victim, Anthony Mack Johnson, 37, was pronounced dead at the scene.
While MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) has learned that Johnson is currently under medical supervision, Bakersfield police representatives were unsure of which hospital was currently treating the heavyweight fighter.
Retirement update: Chuck Liddell to sit out until at least April 2010 to heal his brain
“I haven’t personally made a decision one way or the other. Hopefully my brain can heal over time. The shot last fight is something that normally wouldn’t hurt me. I think I need at least some time off from getting hit. I’m going to take time off sparring then. I’ll train still. Still gonna roll. I’ll probably do a little more jiu-jitsu than normal because I like it. It’s fun.”
Former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell plans to take a year off to unscramble his brains before making a decision on retirement. “The Iceman” is coming off a technical knockout loss to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 97: “Redemption” from the Bell Center in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, back in April. It marked the fourth loss in his last five fights. Company president Dana White has pressed his good friend and big time money-making machine to hang up the gloves, saying he has made a ton of cash and has nothing left to prove. Liddell — who will be forty years old by the time April 2010 rolls around — clearly needs more time. Sit tight, Maniacs, this one is far from over.