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
Eddie Alvarez seeking titles on two continents
After an impressive run in the Japanese-based DREAM organization's lightweight grand prix, Eddie Alvarez (15-1) will now look to return to the U.S. on Nov. 8 in search of the EliteXC 160-pound title.
And as Alvarez recently told TAGG Radio (www.taggradio.com), the official radio partner of MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com), if the 23-year-old can defeat Nick Diaz for the title recently stripped from KJ Noons, it won't be the only title he hopes to hold in 2009.
"I tell everyone I feel like the (DREAM) title is mine," Alvarez said. "I wear it on my sleeve."
Currently riding a five-fight win streak, Alvarez defeated Andre Amade, Joachim Hansen and Tatsuya Kawajiri in 2008 to earn a spot in the DREAM lightweight grand prix finals against Shinya Aoki. That bout was to take place the same night as the Kawajiri fight, but damage to Alvarez's eye forced him out of the contest.
"It was the most bittersweet night I could have had," Alvarez said. "I did take out one of the top Japanese guys (in Kawajiri). I felt great. I honestly can say I really don't feel like anybody could have beat me that night.
Dana: ''Win Over Alves Will Give Koscheck Title Shot''
Josh Koscheck will find himself back in title contention if he beats Thiago Alves at UFC 90 next week.
Asked by Fighters Only if winning the fight after taking it o two weeks notice would put Koscheck back in the title race, UFC president Dana White said “Yeah, obviously.”
“Obviously Thiago Alves had a couple of big wins, knocking out Karo Parisyan, knocking out Matt Hughes, and Koscheck is the guy who beat Diego Sanchez,” he explained.
Koscheck was offered the fight on just two weeks notice after Sanchez dropped out because of injury.
There had been speculation that Sanchez would be in title contention had he won over Alves, with that speculation passing to Koscheck once he was announced as the replacement opponent.
Koscheck handed Sanchez his first ever loss, with a controversial split decision win over him at UFC 69 last year.
UFC 89 AWARDS NET $40,000 BONUSES (UPDATED)
BIRMINGHAM, England – The Ultimate Fighting Championship handed out its usual post-fight awards following UFC 89 in Birmingham, England on Saturday night. The winners of each "of the Night" award also took home a bonus check worth $40,000 U.S., a UFC official informed MMAWeekly.com
As billed, Chris Lytle and Paul Taylor went toe-to-toe for the course of their three-round battle. At the end, it was Lytle that scored a unanimous decision victory, but both fighters went home with some extra pay for their extra efforts in the Octagon, winning the Fight of the Night award.
It was definitely a rough night for Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, who was finished via TKO by Luiz Cane in the second round of their bout. Cane dropped Sokoudjou with a flurry and finished him off with successive punches on the ground, scoring the Brazilian a $40,000 bonus check for Knockout of the Night.
MMAWeekly.com initially announced that Marcus Davis was taking home Submission of the Night honors for the guillotine choke that he used to end Paul Kelly's night in their main card fight. After further clarification, we made an error; it was Jim Miller that was actually the fighter the UFC determined to receive the Submission of the Night award and $40,000 bonus.
Miller submitted David Baron in their preliminary bout with a rear naked choke. It was Miller's Octagon debut and he made it in style taking home the UFC 89 Submission of the Night and $40,000 bonus.
UFC 89 AWARDS AND BONUSES
(Each fighter received a $40,000 bonus.)
UFC 89 FIGHT OF THE NIGHT:
-Chris Lytle vs. Paul Taylor
UFC 89 KNOCKOUT OF THE NIGHT:
UFC 89 SUBMISSION OF THE NIGHT:
DARK MATCHES LIGHT UP UFC 89 IN ENGLAND
BIRMINGHAM, England – Save for one, every preliminary bouts at UFC 89 in Birmingham, England went into the third round or went the distance, but it wasn't for lack of exciting action.
Dan Hardy and Akihiro Gono took it to the wire in their split decision effort. It was Hardy who was able to maintain the pace for the better part of the fight, but Gono was able to get some licks in as well in this three-round throwdown. Most definitely the crowd favorite, it was Hardy that walked away with two judges in his pocket, but the performance of both fighters surely ignited the crowd at the National Indoor Arena.
Coloradan Shane Carwin has wasted no time disappointing British fans that were pulling for countryman Neil Wain. In just one minute, 31 seconds, he bloodied Wain into a referee's stoppage, sending Old Skool back to school. Carwin now stands at 2-0 in the Octagon and 10-0 as a professional mixed martial artist.
Swedish fighter David Bielkheden used an onslaught of takedowns and ground and pound to secure a unanimous decision victory over Jess Liaudin – a French import making his home in England.
In a lightweight battle, Terry Etim used his technique and stamina to outlast a frustrated Sam Stout in their preliminary bout at UFC 89. Etim suffered a flash knockdown in the opening stanza, but it wasn't enough to faze him or the judges, as he ended a two-fight skid – sending Stout onto his own slippery two-fight slope – with a unanimous decision victory.
Jim Miller finally made his UFC debut and he did not disappoint. The former Ring of Combat champion had to go deep into the third round with French fighter David Baron, but he controlled the majority of the fight before finishing with a rear naked choke.
Miller is an interesting addition to the UFC ranks. He now holds a 12-1 professional record with his only loss being to Frankie Edgar, a UFC veteran that Miller may now have the chance to rematch in hopes to avenge his lone blemish.
In the evening's opening bout, Per Eklund made up for a disappointing Octagon debut in January at UFC 80 by submitting Samy Schiavo. He had to survive being dropped in the first round, but Eklund persevered and locked on rear necked choke to put an end to the contest less than two minutes into the final round.
Preliminary Bouts Results:
-Dan Hardy def. Akihiro Gono by Split Decision, R3
-Shane Carwin def. Neil Wain by TKO (Strikes) at 1:31 R1
-David Bielkheden def. Jess Liaudin by Unanimous Decision, R3
-Terry Etim def. Sam Stout by Unanimous Decision, R3
-Jim Miller def. David Baron by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:19, R3
-Per Eklund def. Sammy Schiavo by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:47, R3
UFC 89 REVIEW: BISPING TOO TUF FOR LEBEN
Home country fighter Michael Bisping did not disappoint his fans in Birmingham, England on Saturday night as he pulled out a hard fought unanimous decision win over Chris Leben at UFC 89 in front of 9,515 fans crowded into the National Indoor Arena.
Early in the fight, Bisping showed his gameplan and discipline by using an effective counter striking game to work against an aggressive Chris Leben attack.
The British fighter used good combinations to land solid shots to Leben's chin, as the American kept moving forward throughout the opening session, only to be met by the quicker and more accurate fighter in Bisping.
"People talk about it, if you're backing off and using counter footwork, they say you're running away," Bisping commented about his strategy. "That's not the case at all. I'm countering, I'm landing strikes, and that was the plan."
The second round saw Leben stick to a similar attack, stepping forward over and over again, but Bisping stayed patient feeding his opponent a steady diet of short jabs and body kicks which landed with more effectiveness throughout. Late in the round, Leben seemed to get frustrated with Bisping's gameplan almost inviting him to attack, but the former "Ultimate Fighter" winner didn't take the bait, sticking to his counter striking strategy.
As the third round started, based on damage alone, it looked as if Leben was fighting an uphill battle, but he stuck in the fight coming after Bisping with everything he had left in the gas tank.
Injury forces War Machine out of first fight since UFC release
Despite being tabbed to headline an MMA event in Mobile, Ala., an injury has forced "The Ultimate Fighter 6" veteran War Machine (formerly known as Jon Koppenhaver) off of tonight's card.
Scheduled opponent Mike Dolce broke the news in "The Underground," a popular online MMA forum, earlier this week and MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) was able to confirm the news with War Machine.
"I just pulled by groin a little over a week ago," War Machine said. "Nothing serious, but (it) screwed up my training, and I can't do anything explosive. Sucks."
The bout would have been War Machine's first since a 56-second submission loss to Yoshiyuki Yoshida at UFC 84. The UFC released War Machine from his contract in September after the 26-year-old turned down a proposed bout with Brandon Wolff.
UFC interested in Yoshihiro Akiyama
Korean MMA superstar Yoshihiro Akiyama appears to be a free agent and is reportedly no longer on good terms with his former promotional company, FEG, which operates both K-1 and DREAM in Japan.
During a press conference in Japan earlier this week to promote FEG’s annual “Dynamite!” event on New Year’s Eve, Akiyama was a notable omission from a list of possible participants for the show, according to a report on Sherdog.
The Sherdog report indicates that Akiyama is not longer contractually obligated to FEG and could be looking to sign a deal with FEG’s primary MMA rival in Japan, World Victory Road’s Sengoku promotion.
Akiyama has already reportedly expressed an interest in fighting Japanese MMA superstar Hidehiko Yoshida, who is one of Sengoku’s top draws.
However, it is believed that the UFC is also expected to make a play for Akiyama’s services, as it has long-term plans to promote shows in South Korea and a deal with Akiyama would bolster the U.S.-based promotion’s marketing potential in Korea.
K-1 DYNAMITE!! 2008 COMBINES MMA & KICKBOXING
FEG president Sadaharu Tanigawa on Saturday unveiled the company's plans for its annual year-end Dynamite!! event. K-1 Dynamite!! 2008 is bucking the recent format and will combine bouts from FEG's K-1 World Grand Prix, K-1 World Max, K-1 Koshien and Dream brands, according to a report from Nightmare of Battle.
The report states that Tanigawa believes that the combined fight card will likely consist of 15 to 20 bouts.
There were several fighters on hand for the announcement. Mixed martial artists expected to take part in Dynamite!! 2008 include: Joachim Hansen, Hayato "Mach" Sakurai, Kazushi Sakuraba, Shinya Aoki, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Mitsuhiro Ishida, Masakazu Imanari, Takeshi Yamazaki, Atsushi Yamamoto, Kuniyoshi Hironaka, Ikuhisa Minowa, Kiyoshi Tamura, Seichi Ikemoto, and Yuichi Nakanishi.
No bouts have been announced at this point, but sources indicate to MMAWeekly.com that Hansen is likely to face American Top Team fighter Gesias "JZ" Calvancante at Dynamite!!
K-1 kickboxers expected to participate include Musashi, Yasuhiro Kido and Yoshihiro Sato.
UFC 89: JARDINE WORKING BACK INTO THE MIX
When you think of fighters with topsy-turvy careers in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, it's hard not to think about Keith Jardine, product of the Greg Jackson Submission Fighting Camp in Albuquerque, N.M. He has developed well through the camp and has compiled some extremely impressive wins in his career. However, he has also had some deterring losses in his tenure in the UFC.
Jardine was a product of the Ultimate Fighter in season two. He made it to the semi-finals in the show, losing to his current teammate Rashad Evans. His first two victories in the UFC were against Kerry Schall and Mike Whitehead. His next fight would be against the extremely popular Ultimate Fighter season one runner up Stephan Bonnar. Jardine controlled a lot of the fight landing some very strong leg kicks. However, the judges didn't rule in his favor, much to the chagrin of many fans.
In his next bout, he would out-point Wilson Gouveia and move on to take on current UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin. Jardine shocked Griffin, hurting him badly with strikes and finishing him off on the ground. That fight put Jardine on the road to the light heavyweight title. Unfortunately, that road would hit a major stopping point at Houston Alexander. A relative unknown at the time, he stunned and knocked out Jardine in just 48 seconds of the first round.
SOKOUDJOU STILL OUT TO PROVE HE'S NOT A FLUKE
Few fighters have had a better burst onto the mixed martial arts scene than Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou. He had just three professional fights before debuting at Pride 33 against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Nogueira was a heavy favorite coming into that bout. Sokoudjou at that time was 2-1 and had just lost his first bout to Glover Teixeira at WEC 24.
In less than a minute, after a brief exchange, Sokoudjou landed a left that knocked down Nogueira. “The African Assassin” jumped on the opportunity and knocked him out cold with a follow up punch. Instantly, everyone was very excited to see him fight again. Fans wanted to see if this was simply a “lucky punch” or if he was the real deal.
Fans would soon find out as Sokoudjou was slated to fight Ricardo Arona - another Top 10 light heavyweight at the time. Once again, to the surprise of everyone, Sokoudjou finished Arona in less than a round.
All of a sudden, with two straight wins over Top 10 opponents, Sokoudjou found himself in everyone’s Top 1 rankings. After knocking out the aforementioned fighters, Pride dissolved and was purchased by the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Negotiations progressed and Sokoudjou signed with the UFC to add more depth to their already stacked 205-pound division.
Dana White: BJ Penn vs Anderson Silva ‘aint gonna happen’
“If GSP beats BJ then you’ll see Silva v GSP — possibly at a catch weight. But if Penn beats GSP there’s no way I’d let him move up to 185lbs, no way. He’ll f***ing fight, argue and cry about it but there’s no way – it ain’t gonna happen, I can tell you that right now – it ain’t gonna happen.”
UFC President Dana White is all about a superfight between welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and middleweight champion Anderson Silva sometime in 2009. Of course, St. Pierre — who next fights lightweight champion BJ Penn at UFC 94 on January 31 — and Silva — who fights Patrick Cote next week — both more than likely need to win their next bouts for that to happen. Great idea and a colossal moneymaker. But here’s where it gets a little weird — White says he will not let Penn — a former welterweight champion who has competed against light heavyweights in the past — fight “The Spider” if he bests “Rush.” Penn has said numerous times that he would like to hold every belt in the UFC, but according to an emphatic White, it’s not going to happen. White is right in that Penn will more than likely raise a stink if he is not allowed to fight Silva … as he should be. It doesn’t make much sense, especially since Penn would have to vacate at least one title for it to happen. Hopefully, White will elaborate on the thought process in the near future.
UFC 89: PAUL TAYLOR WANTS WAR WITH CHRIS LYTLE
BIRMINGHAM, England – MMAWeekly.com caught up with a surprisingly chilled Paul Taylor on the eve of his encounter with tough MMA veteran Chris Lytle at UFC 89. For the Briton this fight is business like any other and he knows that Lytle has the same mindset. They are both hard chargers who love to throw leather, both have seen their fare shares of wars, and that’s what he is banking on.
“I am really looking forward to this fight with Chris. I respect him, he’s a great fighter, but I want a war. I don’t like to go out there and have a quick fight. Win, lose or draw I want to feel like I have been in war at the end of it,” he stated emphatically.
For many in the U.K., Taylor has been a staple of the welterweight division since joining the promotion, but things may not always stay that way. He sees this fight as being a benchmark for himself and the results will dictate if he makes a move to the 155-pound division or continues campaigning at 170 pounds. “I feel comfortable at 170, but if I get my arse handed to me I may consider the cut to 155. It all depends on how I show, but ultimately it’s a mixed bag. I am probably one of the tall guys in this division, but I am not necessarily a big guy here. My body type prevents that as I find it hard to pack on the muscle. This means I compensate on technical ability, speed, and movement.”