Does Mike Whitehead deserve your respect?
At first glance, he appeared to be out of place.
In Affliction's first media conference call for its July 19 "Banned" event, the participants were Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio, former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett, middleweight/light heavyweight/heavyweight/politician Matt Lindland and -- oh yeah -- Mike Whitehead.
Scheduled to fight Renato "Babalu" Sobral on the evening's first pay-per-view bout, "The Ultimate Fighter 2" cast member certainly commanded the least attention from the participating media. The 27-year-old didn't even receive the courtesy of having his correct name used at all times, as he was addressed as "Mark" by at least one reporter.
So what was Whitehead doing on the call?
Well for starters, the Xtreme Couture-trained fighter hasn't lost in more than two years, and he will take a 12-fight win streak into his bout with "Babalu." But how did a guy whose last fight was a main-event gig against a 2-2 fighter at the world famous "4 Bears Casino & Lodge" in New Town, N.D., end up on arguably the most-talent-laden card in MMA history?
"Just working hard and keeping my [head] down and keeping my nose to the grinding stone," Whitehead said.
Anderson Silva gunning for two belts
Since emerging in the Ultimate Fighting Championship two years ago, Anderson Silva has clearly proven his position as the No. 1 middleweight fighter in the world. Many have also bandied about the label of best pound-for-pound fighter in the same breath as the UFC middleweight champion.
Now he’s out to prove it. And for the first time in the promotion’s history, UFC president Dana White is giving his blessing to allow one of his champions to move among divisions in an attempt to hold two belts in two classes.
“(Ricarod Almeida) and Patrick Cote are going to fight on Saturday night and see who's next in line for Anderson Silva's 185-pound title,” said White at Thursday’s pre-fight press conference in anticipation of Saturday’s UFC 86 card in Las Vegas.
“Anderson Silva, being the monster that he is, you all know is going to move up to 205 on July 19. He's going to fight at 205. If everything goes well, he wants to move back to 185 and fight Sept. 6 in Atlanta, probably against Yushin Okami, then he wants to fight again two months later,” he continued.
One More Time: Kimbo Is Great
It feels like I can't go more than two days without arguing with someone over Kimbo Slice's value in MMA. Whether it's with a diehard fan, a blogger or a casual sports fan, it always seems like someone wants to talk Kimbo and, more specifically, dismiss his importance to the sport.
Well, hopefully all that talk can officially end today because ESPN.com released it's most searched items for the month of June. "(NCAA) College baseball" and the "College World Series" topped the list followed by "TitleTown" (a new SportsCenter feature), "Euro 2008"...blah, blah, blah.
Oh, look there's our old friend Kimbo sitting pretty at #11. You've heard of him, right? He's the guy who's defecating on the purity of the sport.
Matt Lindland claims UFC contracts are illegal
Republican House of Representatives candidate and - of course - highly respected middleweight Matt Lindland believes there is something very wrong with the contracts from MMA’s top organization.
The UFC contracts are illegal. Based on the Muhammad Ali (Safety) Act, you cannot be the promoter and the manager at the same time,” Lindland said, “If they are telling you who and when you are going to fight, they are the manager as well as the promoter.”
Case of bad timing for UFC 86?
The seeming lack of buzz surrounding UFC 86 is decidedly counterculture to what has otherwise been a tremendous year for mixed martial arts.
From MMA's debut on network TV to the UFC's wildly successful showing in Canada, and a highly anticipated grudge match between BJ Penn and Sean Sherk, just to name a few, 2008 has delivered for MMA fans.
On paper, UFC 86 appears to have the marquee main-event match-up necessary to keep the momentum rolling. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is back after a nine-month layoff to defend his light heavyweight belt against one of the original "Ultimate Fighters," Forrest Griffin, whose stock is rising after stopping 205-pound wunderkind Mauricio Rua.
This is edge-of-your-seat stuff, right? Apparently, not.
BILLY EVANGELISTA CONTINUES WINNING WAYS
No one said it was going to be easy. That’s the lesson that undefeated Strikeforce lightweight standout Billy Evangelista learned in his most recent fight for the promotion.
This past Friday he went toe-to-toe with one of California’s toughest 155-pound fighters, the always popular Nam Phan, in what was a back and forth battle that eventually saw Evangelista come out on top with a split-decision victory.
Still, in the end, a victory is a victory and he learned from the experience and is now positioned as one of the promotion’s top fighters for the coming year.
** New Exclusive Interview with Joe " Daddy" Stevenson
** New Exclusive Interview with Joe " Daddy" Stevenson
To get the full interview:
From part of the interview:
“You pretty much can read my character and my personality on my sleeve. I’m pretty laid back. There are few things I take serious, my training and my family and God other then that, I just like to have a good time.” - Joe Stevenson
Audio of interview also there...
Interviews done by MMATurf's own Penny Buffington -
Big John McCarthy joins as Affliction's ringside announcer
Former MMA referee "Big" John McCarthy may have retired from working in the UFC Octagon but he will be a color commentator for the July 19th "Affliction Banned" pay-per-view event, featuring the WAMMA heavyweight championship fight between the most lethal MMA heavyweight of all-time, Russian M1 superstar legend Fedor "The Last Emperor" Emelianenko (27-1), and former UFC heavyweight champion Tim "The Maine-iac" Sylvia (24-4), live from Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Aoki, Imanari and Kawajiri Take to the Mat
Daniel Herbertson was on location in Tokyo to witness the second day of K-1 Max and Dream's Akasaka Fight Festival, where Shinya Aoki (Pictures) and Masakazu Imanari (Pictures) took to the mat for a grappling exhibition.
Also, Tatsuya Kawajiri (Pictures) and Hidehiko Hasegawa (Pictures) displayed some excellent technique.
Is Joe Duarte “The Next Anderson Silva”?
[Dana White] said he’s found “the next Anderson Silva,” a lightweight who is competing in Season 8 of TUF at 155 pounds, though he declined to release the fighter’s name because it might spoil the season. “I was going off when I saw this guy,” White said. “He’s 24 and he’s destroying people. It’s sick how bad ass he is. I’m getting goose bumps talking to you about him.”
Sin City Sentinel: Burnett Sues ‘TUF'
Mikey Burnett, one of the original Lion's Den members, has filed suit in Clark County District Court against TufGuy Productions, Inc. d/b/a Ultimate Fighting Productions, Inc., the company that produces "The Ultimate Fighter" for Spike TV, as well as American International Group, Inc., an accident and health insurance company associated with the TV show.
I know this should probably be filed under rediculous
This guy is a waste of space..
Changing face, Koscheck ready for UFC 86
Growing up is hard to do. It’s even harder when you’re growing up in front of millions of people on television. But that’s exactly what Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight Josh Koscheck did as a member of the cast for the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show.
Coming onto the show, Koscheck only had a handful of fights and an impressive resume that included an NCAA championship in wrestling at Edinboro University in 2001. What he learned on the show was a first hand lesson in the world of MMA and how reality shows can soon become a reality after the filming is finished.
During the show’s filming, Koscheck became everyone’s favorite bad guy, taunting and prodding at housemate Chris Leben, until the two finally fought on the show. When he won the fight, Koscheck’s intensity only seemed to grow while his protagonists kept at him before and after the season ended.
Now entering his 13th professional fight, facing veteran Chris Lytle at UFC 86 on Saturday night, Koscheck understands that how the fans perceive him could make or break his career as a successful mixed martial artist.
“TV can give you a false sense of who a person is,” Koscheck stated. “So for me it’s all about turning fans around and really showing these fans who I really am as a person. That’s one of the big things I’m trying to do.”
Is K.J. Noons on the horizon for Josh Thompson?
With his win on Friday night, Thomson captured the Strikeforce lightweight title, but he also earned a large target on his back as most champions do when promotions begin to look for challengers. Fans may not have to wait long for his first defense though as the champion is looking for a return in September.
“I will be fighting it sounds like in September at the Playboy Mansion, and I want to try to get another fight in here in San Jose in November, and we’ll see what happens then,” Thomson stated. “I’m just looking to take one day at a time. If I can fit three more fights in this year, then I will. I’m not looking to really take a whole lot of time off.”
As far as contenders who will be vying for the chance to face Thomson, the list will likely start to grow very soon. He did comment that he “highly doubts” that current undefeated lightweight prospect Billy Evangelista will make that list as the two have been training together periodically at Thomson’s home camp of American Kickboxing Academy.
He is confident, however, that Strikeforce will find him a quality opponent for his September appointment at the “House that Hef Built.”
“It’s all up to (Strikeforce CEO) Scott Coker, we’re going to see exactly what happens with Strikeforce and who they look to bring in,” he said.
Another intriguing storyline that could involve Thomson in the near future is a title unification bout between the Strikeforce champion and current EliteXC 160-pound king K.J. Noons.
Dana White Talks Donald Trump
We stumbled upon the oddest interview with a multi-millionaire we've ever seen. You may not like UFC president Dana White but the guy has a lot of patience. He's willing to sell his sport even in the most strange settings.
Now you have to be willing to deal with the weird video quality. White morphs into a robotic, alien character a few times. Think Alien Nation. And there are plenty of fine shots of the walls, the floor and UFC's public relations escorts, Jen and Loren.
Joe Stevenson - All Bets Are Off
Joe “Daddy” Stevenson is indeed a family man. But that never stopped him from whooping up on people inside the cage.
At just 26 years old, the father of four boys has nearly 40 professional fights to his credit. He’s 5-2 in the UFC and is looking to rebound from a recent title bout loss to BJ Penn.
When Joe steps into the cage this Saturday night at UFC 86: “Jackson vs. Griffin” in front of 12,000 screaming fans and millions more tuning in around the world, his eldest son, Joey, will be in attendance, watching his dad fight for the first time ever.
Josh Barnett revisits old rival Pedro Rizzo
UFC, PRIDE and K-1 veteran Josh Barnett (22-5) is perhaps one of the least-known commodities in the upper echelon of the heavyweight division to American fans. But if Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio has his way, "The Babyface Assassin" will soon be a household name.
The first roadblock on that journey is the first man ever to beat Barnett, the heavy-handed Pedro Rizzo (16-7).
Already a legend in Japan, Barnett and Atencio discussed Barnett's upcoming bout with longtime-veteran Rizzo at "Affliction: Banned" today on a media conference call.
"One of my goals is to make Josh famous here (in America), as well," Atencio said. "I think that he deserves the recognition."
For his part, the one-time UFC heavyweight champion downplayed the importance of recognition in his homeland.
"I didn’t do this to become famous," Barnett said. "I did it because I wanted to be the baddest guy on the planet."
Barnett has long been considered among the most talented heavyweights in the world. At just 24, the Washington native defeated MMA legend Randy Couture to become the UFC's heavyweight champion in 2002. A highly controversial steroid scandal followed, and Barnett left the UFC to compete in Japan.
UFC 86: Quniton Jackson ready to get nasty
The remaining question is whether or not Silva can transfer the kryptonite from his hands to Griffin’s. Jackson doesn’t seem to think so.
“I’m telling you, Forrest can train with the Pope, it ain’t going to help him. Wanderlei ain’t going to get in there and fight for him,” Jackson stated to MMAWeekly.com. “Forrest got to fight me for himself. I don’t care who he goes and trains with. He can go train with Sakuraba. He can go train with Marvin Eastman. He can go train with Shogun. He can train with anybody; they ain’t going to fight for him.”
As for his own preparations, once again training in Big Bear, Calif., Jackson has utilized many different sources to train for Griffin.
Calling on his connections from his stint as Griffin’s rival coach on The Ultimate Fighter, Jackson said that he trained with Season 7 competitors Mike Dolce, Jeremy May, and Gerald Harris, but due to how he thinks Griffin will fight him, he called on a lot more training partners than them.