ELITEXC INSIDER DETAILS COMPANY'S DOWNFALL
In an interview with MMAWeekly.com Monday evening, Icon Sport founder T.J. Thompson said crisis management, or lack thereof, brought Pro Elite down.
Thompson history with Elite began in August of 2007 when he sold his Hawaiian MMA promotion Icon Sport to the then-expanding company. As part of his deal, he entered into a five-year consulting deal with the Los Angeles-based company and participated in many strategic talks with its executives.
A 15-year industry veteran who got his start promoting fights in the backrooms of bars to a couple hundred fans, Thompson got a call Monday morning from EliteXC Head of Fight Operations Jeremy Lappen, who informed him that the company had filed for bankruptcy and everyone in the company would be let go.
Thompson said it was CBS, not Showtime, who backed out of an impending deal to purchase the ailing fight promotion. Last Tuesday, he spoke with Elite CEO Chuck Champion, who said the company had a fifty-fifty shot of surviving.
“His opinion was that the deal was either going to close in the next two to four weeks, or it was going to crash a lot faster than that,” Thompson said.
Fabricio Werdum: Odd Man Out in the UFC Heavyweight Title Picture
Sherdog has a good piece about Fabricio Werdum and his plight outside the four man heavy weight title tournament looking in:
“I didn’t like that they put Brock Lesnar against Randy Couture,” Werdum said. “I think that it would be fair to put ‘Minotauro’ Nogueira against Couture -- it had to be a fight between these two. Despite having been champion once, I’ve not found it fair that Frank Mir is fighting for the belt. I had two great victories where I was very superior to my opponents, Gabriel Gonzaga and Brandon Vera. I’ve won by myself -- not the judges.
“So I think I would be the one to fight against ‘Minotauro’ or Couture, the winner between the two of them, for the belt. I’ve imagined that I would fight for the title in March. Let’s see what will happen. I hope to do my part fighting against ‘Cigano.’ I won’t underestimate him. I will win. It will be by knockout or a finish. I won’t give any opportunity for bad luck.”
BJ Penn vs. GSP is a Title Fight
According to Dave Meltzer, the January BJ Penn vs. Georges St. Pierre fight will be for the welterweight title:
St. Pierre vs. Penn will be for the welterweight title, giving Penn the chance to become the first person in UFC history to hold championships in two weight divisions at the same time.
This is great news from my perspective, I really hated the idea of another three round fight between these two. It's hard to imagine this going to decision now, so we should get a real answer as to who is the better fighter at 170 pounds. This also has to favor St. Pierre, who is in far better condition than Penn, and pushes a tougher pace than any other fighter in the UFC.
Top UFC 91 Fighters Test Negative in Out-of-Competition Drug/Steroid Tests
From Keith Kizer of the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), in an email to FightTicker.com:
The Commission recently tested Randy Couture, Brock Lesnar, Nick Catone, Amir Sadollah, Aaron Riley and Jorge Gurgel. All tests came back negative.
All six fighters are scheduled to fight at UFC 91 in November in Las Vegas.
The NSAC is currently the only commission that tests fighters randomly throughout the year, so the tests are commendable. On the other hand, so far the tests have only included fighters within a month or so of their next fight. What I'd like to see on top of this is testing fighters who may not have a fight scheduled in the near future.
I believe that if there are fighters cheating, they'll try to do it at less-than-predictable times of the year, for example when they believe the commissions won't be paying attention to them.
For fighters training for an upcoming fight, however, it'd be pure foolishness to take performance enhancers then.
- CBS RATINGS NOT ENOUGH, ELITEXC CLOSING UP SHOP
ProElite, Inc., parent company of Elite Xtreme Combat, is throwing in the towel on mixed martial arts.
Several sources MMAWeekly.com spoke to said notifications had been sent out on Monday informing managers that the company was ceasing its fight promotion operations by the end of this week and it had begun the process of letting its employees go. One source even said that ProElite had already begun clearing out its corporate offices.
- GAMBURYAN TO RETURN AT UFC 94, TAVARES LIKELY
Lightweight prospect Manny Gamburyan is returning to action at the UFC's Super Bowl weekend card, UFC 94, on Jan. 31 in Las Vegas. Gamburyan confirmed the fight to MMAWeekly.com on Sunday.
Though bout agreements have not been signed, he says he has agreed to face Brazilian Thiago Tavares. Tavares’ American representatives were unavailable for comment.
Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller retires from MMA competition … for now
One of the most charasmatic and popular figures in the sport of mixed martial arts today — Jason “Mayhem” Miller (21-6) — announced that he was retiring from the sport during an interview with FightHype.com earlier today.
Here’s a snip:
“I got plenty of money. I don’t even care. I just do it for fun. I love fighting, but I’m just doing it for fun. I don’t feel like doing it right now, so I’m not going to do it. There’s no need. There’s no need for me to fight, so I’m just happy to have lived such a fun career inside of MMA, so if it ends now, it was fun.”
Nogueira vs. Rimbon added to Sengoku 6
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, the twin brother of the interim UFC heavyweight champion, will square off against Moise Rimbon at Sengoku 6 on November 1 in Saitama, Japan.
Nogueira (14-3) last fought at Affliction: Banned, knocking out Edwin Dewees in the first round.
Rimbon (13-7-3) from Paris, France will be making his second Sengoku appearance. He submitted K-1 kickboxer Peter Graham with a rear-naked choke at Sengoku 4 in August.
World Victory Road: Sengoku 6
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan
Middleweight Grand Prix
Yuki Sasaki vs. Kazuhiro Nakamura
Jorge Santiago vs. Siyar Bahadurzada
Joe Doerksen vs. Izuru Takeuchi (Reserve)
Lightweight Grand Prix
Satoru Kitaoka vs. Eiji Mitsuoka
Kazunori Yokota vs. Mizuto Hirota
Bang Seung Hwan vs. Jorge Masvidal (Reserve)
Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal vs. Fabio Silva
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Moise Rimbon
Another MMA Movie In Development
While the mainstream public was unimpressed with the recent MMA-based movies Never Back Down and Redbelt, based on box office receipts, there will be another such offering in 2009. Filmmaker Gavin O’ Connor is currently in pre-production in Pittsburgh, PA, preparing to move forward with a project entitled Warriors. O’ Connor’s most recent work was Pride and Glory, starring Edward Norton and Colin Farrell, which hits theaters this week.
MMA Fans may be familiar with the name Gavin O’ Connor, as he was the Executive Producer of the widely acclaimed film The Smashing Machine, which focused on the rise and fall of MMA star Mark Kerr. Smashing Machine is widely regarded as the finest film that focuses on the MMA world to date.
Pete Sell seeks redemption at UFC 90
In an organization that often will release a fighter after a single loss, Pete Sell (7-4) has survived four-straight UFC defeats.
But as Sell recently told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com), his bout with Josh Burkman at Saturday night's "UFC 90: Silva vs. Cote" offers a chance to erase three years of frustration.
"[A win would] mean everything to me," Sell said. "Throw me a freaking bone here, man."
Sell won his first six professional bouts, including his debut for the organization in 2005 at UFC 51. After earning a submission victory over Phil Baroni, Sell would then lose his next four bouts in the UFC -- to Scott Smith, Thales Leites and twice to Nate Quarry.
Sell's last bout was in September of 2007, and "Drago" said he has changed with the time off.
"It was just a lot of down time," Sell said. "A lot of time reflecting on my life and the direction I'm going.
"I'm going for the gusto. I'm going to try and make it with this fight game. To me you've got to either do this 100 percent or you're not. I want to put in all my time, training three times a day, and really do it for real. I don't want to do it half-ass."
Sell admits that hasn't always been the case.
"The Ultimate Fighter 9" U.K. tryouts net record number of prospects
Before packing up and returning to the U.S. after Saturday's "UFC 89: Bispng vs. Leben," the UFC held an open casting call for "The Ultimate Fighter 9: U.S. vs. U.K." in London.
Just two days after Brit and "The Ulitmate Fighter 3" winner Michael Bisping was victorious in front of his countrymen, MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) has learned over 200 hopeful fighters showed up to the Earls Court Exhibition Centre for their chance at a UFC contract.
Already tabbed as the coach of the U.K. team, Bisping and fellow English fighters and UFC 89 participants Terry Etim and Paul Taylor were also on hand in support of the would-be "TUF" contestants.
Mixed martial arts has enjoyed a rapid surge in popularity and participation in the U.K. in recent years. After a five year absence from the U.K., the UFC has held five events across the Atlantic in the past 18 months.
In contrast, when the UFC held open tryouts for the third season of "The Ultimate Fighters" in 2006, less than 30 fighters showed up for the session.
One of the more notable participants in the afternoon's session was "The Ultimate Fighter 3" cast member Ross Pointon. The Cage Rage veteran appeared twice in the UFC following his stint on the show, losing both contests.
Thomson vs. Edwards for Strikeforce LW Title
Strikeforce has announced that Josh Thomson's first Lightweight Title defense, scheduled for the 11/21 event, will be against Yves Edwards. "The Busiest FIghter In MMA" is the only fighter to ever beat Thomson by KO/TKO, scoring a first-round KO against him at UFC 49.
Jardine's done messing around
KEITH JARDINE says he is more focussed than ever to get to the top of the UFC’s light heavyweight division following his win over Brandon Vera.
The 32-year-old won a split decision against his fellow American in an underwhelming fight at UFC 89.
But The Dean of Mean admits he entered the bout in a more cautious manner following his 36-second defeat at the hands of Wanderlei Silva at UFC 84 in May.
Jardine said: “I’m done messing around. I’ve had a couple of big wins and a couple of big losses and this fight was all about just changing my game a little bit.
“I’m starting over right now. I wanted to do things a little bit differently and work my way back to the top.
“I’ve always considered Brandon the best kickboxer in both the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions.
“He’s better than Chuck Liddell, better than Forrest Griffin and the others so this was a huge fight for me.
“I was really confident when it went to the judges’ decision because I knew I’d won the first and third rounds.
Hardy Looking To Fight Next At UFC 93
DAN HARDY made a sensational start to his UFC career with a commanding victory over Japan star Akihiro Gono.
The 26-year-old Brit was the underdog going into their UFC 89 clash but he outfoxed the Japanese Sensation to earn a split decision win and stamp his mark on the welterweight division.
But Hardy claimed he was never troubled by nerves ahead of making his Octagon debut.
ANDERSON SILVA TRULY IS EYEING RETIREMENT AT 35
Despite a title fight just around the corner, all of the attention on UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva lately has centered around his recent talk of retirement from the sport he is currently dominating and considered best in the world at.
The champion first talked about his desire to retire a few weeks back and his manager, Ed Soares, addressed the situation recently to set the record straight.
"Even before Anderson came into the UFC his goal has always been to retire at the age of 35," Soares stated. "He's actually talking about it much sooner than all of us would have liked, but the reality of it is that his goal it to retire at 35. He's got 18 months before he turns 35 and it doesn't necessarily mean he's going to retire right when he turns 35, that it would just be his goal."
Regardless of the set goal, Soares reassured everyone that Silva will indeed fulfill his current UFC contract, which spans his next six fights, but understands how his talk of retirement comes across to the general public.
"He's still got six fights left on his contract, the first of the six being against Patrick Cote, so I think that he's just talking about it, but at the end of the day I know for sure he's going to be fighting six fights in the UFC," said Soares. "He's talking about it, but I don't think he's very perceptive on how this is coming across to the media."
Soares is quick to point out that Silva isn't bored or tired of fighting, but just sticking to a goal he's had in mind long before his championship run in the UFC.
"He loves fighting, it's just that his goal has been to retire at 35," he said. "He's always had that goal set."
Dana White: ‘The door is wide open’ for Fedor Emelianenko to fight in UFC
“The door is wide open. I want Fedor to come in and fight the best. At the end of the day, I’m a fight fan. That’s what I really am, and I want to see the best fight the best. Let’s find out if he’s the best. I want to do it…. I still feel the same way about Fedor [after beating Tim Sylvia]. I want to see Fedor fight the best in the world. People want to call him the best heavyweight pound-for-pound. Wait until he gets in and starts fighting some of these guys. I give him credit for fighting Tim Sylvia, but there are better guys out there than Tim.”
UFC President Dana White softens his stance, indicating that he welcomes Fedor Emelianenko as a possible addition to his heavyweight division. White and Co. worked hard to bring the Russian on board after the collapse of Pride FC; however, talks broke down when the parties could not agree on an exclusive fight contract. Emelianenko now competes primarily for Affliction MMA and is apparently locked in to a deal that would prevent him from competing in the Octagon anytime soon. Unless, of course, the upstart promotion falls on hard times in 2009 and beyond. Even still, it would be a minor miracle if Emelianenko ever signed with the UFC … he and his camp appear to mix like water and oil when it comes to working with UFC execs. Stranger things have happened, however. In the meantime, Emelianenko is penciled in to fight former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski sometime early in the New Year, which is a fantastic and highly anticipated match up.
WHITE NOT SURE WHAT'S UP WITH VERA
Sporting an undefeated record through his first eight fights, UFC light heavyweight competitor Brandon Vera has now dropped three out of his last four bouts and seems to be at a crossroads for his future with the promotion.
Always confident before his fights, Vera quickly became a fan favorite early in his career with his exciting style and killer instinct that earned him wins over top opponents like Frank Mir while competing at heavyweight.
Now after two fights at 205 pounds, Vera is 1-1 with two fairly lackluster fights and UFC president Dana White commented on the fighter's performance after his loss to Keith Jardine on Saturday night in England.
"Brandon Vera, it's like he lost something," White commented. "That year off, I don't know what it was. He doesn't have that killer instinct, he doesn't go after it. This kid used to be so cocky, and you know he wanted to fight everybody."
In a pre-fight interview with MMAWeekly.com, Vera mentioned that after his fight with Jardine he would have one fight remaining on his current contract. But has he lost some of his negotiating power after his last two performances in a 205-pound weight class that seems to add new talent with almost every show?
Bisping To Face Winner of Franklin vs. Henderson
Michael Bisping’s next test inside the Octagon will be by far his toughest.
Announced as a coach for season nine of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, Bisping will meet the winner of the UFC 93 bout between one-time middleweight champion Rich Franklin and former dual Pride Fighting Championships titleholder Dan Henderson. The Franklin-Henderson victor will also coach against Bisping on TUF; a Spike TV representative on Sunday confirmed shooting on the show’s ninth season would commence in late January.
Though talk around Bisping continues to center on a potential showdown with reigning middleweight king Anderson Silva, he will have to clear at least one more hurdle before he throws leather with the champion.
Strikeforce looks to match Duane Ludwig and Phil Baroni in early 2009
After delivering some payback in a long-awaited rematch with Sam Morgan earlier this month, Duane Ludwig is likely to bang with Phil Baroni (13-10) next.
The 30-year-old Ludwig (17-8) lived up to his "Bang" nickname in the fight against Morgan at "Strikeforce: Payback" on Oct. 3, wasting little time in punching out the former "The Ultimate Fighter 2" contestant in round one. The outcome evened the ledger between Ludwig and Morgan at a win apiece. Morgan upset the Colorado native in his home state in 2005.
It was a much-needed victory for Ludwig, who has struggled while fighting for Strikeforce. He’s now 2-3 in the promotion and appears headed for an opportunity to trade shots with Baroni.
"We're going to try to put him and Baroni together," Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said. "Since they're so close in weight now, we should definitely put that fight together at 170 (pounds). They should fight either in Denver or Seattle."
UFC Quick Quote: Chris Leben couldnt land that one big shot on Michael Bisping
“I said [to myself] I gotta draw him in somehow. I was playing every card I had. At that point I was like ******* screw it, let’s trade. Let’s try to get him to come in and bang with me a little bit and maybe I could land that shot. Sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t. And this time I didn’t. It was Bisping’s night tonight.”
– Chris Leben talks in the post-fight press conference about his mindset as he realized he was losing the main event fight against Michael Bisping at UFC 89