Wamma, Bamma, No Thank You Ma’ama (Parts 1&2)
WAMMA, BAMMA, NO THANK YOU MA’AMA
A couple of weeks back, I received (second hand, mind you) a release from an organization called WAMMA (World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts) trumpeting their new ratings for the month of August. This crew, which is headed up by s former FBI agent, is, I suppose, is trying to establish itself as accepted authority of sorts on ratings and titles, along the lines of what Ring Magazine has been trying to re-establish for itself (with mixed results - but that’s a LONG story) in the world of boxing.
On balance, I think the WAMMA ratings are a nice thing. They should actually be kind of a harmless thing. They give another perspective on who the best fighters in each weight division are, especially since the UFC does not issue official rankings. But I’m not sure you want to get carried away with all this. Remember, it’s just one perspective among many, many perspectives. You also have ratings made available by Sherdog and other mixed martial arts publications, and could probably get dozens and dozens of ratings lists from people if you just asked them for it.
I just hope WAMMA doesn’t get crazy and start thinking it is going to install itself as “official” ratings for the entire sport, by attempting to find an impressionable ear somewhere in the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) to push this through as another of those “innovative” ideas, or worse yet, as part of a legislative mandate through some federal bill. After all, there are many ABC members who DO impressions; they are sometimes very good at imitating real, live public servants.
As ridiculous as this concept may sound to you, there have been half-hearted attempts to do it in boxing. And there is a certain precedent as well, because even though many boxing people (including most regulators themselves) don’t seem to be aware of it, sanctioning bodies like the WBA and WBC started out as nothing more than associations between boxing commissions.
But as this point, an official national ranking of mixed martial arts fighters would REALLY be going too far. Can you imagine - the United States government rating fighters?
Next thing you know, somebody will be looking to the government to subsidize losing pay-per-view ventures or rescue failing promoters, the way that they are bailing out Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
This all sounds pretty trite, and was meant that way, until I found out that WAMMA made a presentation at the latest ABC meeting that was held in Montreal. I can’t think of any reason they may have been there other than to get their foot in the door as a way of eventually garnering some sort of recognition by the ABC. You can not forget that the ABC has for years granted an exclusive “record keeping” license to one company in boxing, and is doing that with another group for MMA. It may not seem inconceivable to some that if they are controlling that kind of thing they would do the same for ratings that would be “recognized” by every jurisdiction.
The standard has been set for giving such license to a private business, as has been done with Fight Fax, the record-keepers in boxing, and that company has felt a certain amount of entitlement toward such exclusivity ever since, with opportunistic regulators like Greg Sirb of Pennsylvania running interference for them along the way. The reasons for that became clearer over time, especially when it was revealed that in John McCain’s bill to take over federal oversight of boxing there was the provision for a big chunk of taxpayer dollars to subsidize the keeping of fighters records and medical records. Gee, why not ratings? Remember, WAMMA has positioned itself as a commercial business.
Yes, a commercial business. And that’s what starts to worry me, within this particular context, as you’ll find out in Part Two of this mini-series.
Boxing and MMA is like oil and water
After having to reschedule their second MMA event from October 11th to January of 2009, Affliction promised the MMA public a breathtaking, earth-shattering announcement that would forever alter the course of the fight industry. This announcement would take place at a press conference featuring Ricky Hatton to hype up his next boxing fight. Rumors were abound that Affliction finally inked a partnership with Golden Boy Promotions.
So on Saturday night, we were treated to Hatton no-showing his own press conference (illness was used as the reason for the no-show) and Affliction announcing that they would promotion four fighting events with Golden Boy Promotions in 2009. The headline from this press conference on AP and other news agencies revolved around the fact that Oscar De La Hoya was finally getting into the MMA business.
The real headline, of course, is that Affliction is now abandoning their originaly MMA business model in hopes of promoting hybrid fight shows featuring both boxing and MMA matches.
What a lousy concept.
Babalu Undergoes Knee Surgery, Eyes November Return
Renato “Babalu” Sobral has undergone successful surgery on his injured knee which on Wednesday knocked him out of his “Strikeforce at the Mansion 2? bout against Anthony Ruiz.
The former UFC 205-pound contender could return to action by as early as November.
Sobral’s manager, Richard Wilner, confirmed the developments with MMA Junkie on Thursday.
Following a mid-August injury Babalu last week underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee to repair a medial meniscus tear.
Strikeforce continues to look for a replacement for Sobral to take on Ruiz on the September 20th card.
The all-time TUF Top 10
While there are cynics that like to downplay the relevance and importance of the UFC and Spike TV's hit reality television series The Ultimate Fighter, Rashad Evans' upset knockout of Chuck Liddell last weekend during the main event of UFC 88 has proved the show's impact on the sport undeniable.
While not yet official, it's expected that in December during New Year's Eve weekend, Forrest Griffin will defend his UFC light heavyweight title vs. Evans. Once the bout is finalized, it will mean that the light heavyweight winner from Season 1 of TUF will be taking on the show's Season 2 heavyweight winner in the main event of the biggest show of the year with arguably the sport's most prestigious title at stake.
It doesn't get any thicker than that.
There still might be a pocket full of skeptics who claim that many of the show's top graduates are nothing more than "manufactured reality TV stars," but that argument seemingly weakens with each fight card that passes. The argument that the show has manufactured some fighters might have some validity, but the vast majority who have appeared on the show were already legitimate guys who were only lacking exposure.
HBO Unhappy With Golden Boy/Affliction
I just got off the phone with a friend of mine over at HBO (who will remain anonymous) and they want nothing to do with "bastardizing" (as he put it) their Boxing product.
It seems Golden Boy offered the Arlovski/Barnett fight on the under card of Hopkins/Pavlik... but HBO rejected the idea.
We also discussed the end game:
If Golden Boy is successful what then? You just converted another fan pool for the UFC. The casual UFC fan will not order these mixed boxing/MMA cards who wouldn't already... so the best case scenario for Golden Boy is to convert their boxing fans into MMA fans.
Is Golden Boy taking a risk may bite them in the ass? It seems HBO is not.
If you work the numbers and realize that in order to be successful you would have to convert a good portion of the boxing fans into MMA fans... that opens up alot of variables that can blow up in your face - for example: right now boxing ppv's are hurt by counter programming via other boxing events on other networks...
This would create a situation where counter programming by other MMA events can then have a similar effect.
For HBO It would be like playing chess against 2 players where you only have one set while the other 2 each have their own... how can you conceivably protect your king?
"Minotauro" Nogueira eyes UFC title unification bout with Randy Couture
Despite currently holding UFC gold, interim heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira believes he's still two fights away from being the true world champion.
And as Nogueira recently told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com), he wants to go through Randy Couture to get there.
"When I fought against (Tim) Sylvia, I was thinking about being the world champion," Nogueira said of his UFC 81 interim title bout. "And I made it.
"Randy Couture came back, and he has the title, too. I think I have to fight against him, and whoever wins is going to be the real world champion of the UFC."
Couture will first have to get past his UFC 91 battle with WWE-import Brock Lesnar. Although Lesnar will enjoy a 40-pound weight advantage in the bout, Nogueira feels confident that Couture will prevail.
"I think Randy Couture is going to win the fight," Nogueira said. "That's my opinion. He's much more experienced. He's got a big history as a fighter."
Wolfslair Academy adds Ghosn, Rodriguez as training partners
The recent influx of top-level talent to the U.K.-based Wolfslair Academy that began with former light-heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson has left many observers scratching their heads.
Until recently, Wolfslair had little notoriety outside of the U.K. But as Wolfslair Muay-Thai coach Dave Jackson recently told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com), the talent pool at the camp continues to grow.
"Rampage is coming out tomorrow," Dave Jackson said. "I spoke to Cheick (Kongo) yesterday, and he is coming to train on Sept. 26. We also have guys like Ricco Rodriquez and Tiki Ghosn coming to help out the guys as well. We have a really strong training team assembled at the moment."
While the partnership of U.S.-based fighters to an English camp may seem odd, it is Dave Jackson's experience that has been cited as a crucial factor for Quinton Jackson and Kongo to lead the migration of talent across the Atlantic. A coach since 1986, Dave Jackson impressed Quinton Jackson when installed as part of a training team for "Rampage" in Big Bear, Calif.
KIMBO SLICE READY TO BREAK... SHAMROCK'S LEG
Thus far, Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson has made his living as a silent menace. In his spotlight-grabbing YouTube fights, he didn’t say a whole lot to his opponents before he threw down. Usually, it was a “let’s do this,” and the fists started flying.
Slice graduated to professional mixed martial arts in 2007 and doubled his fame, largely with the same reputation. In pre-fight hype, he’s played a sort of a Darth Vader of the cage – quiet and ominous, speaking only to intimidate or promise doom for his opponents. He is, of course, a humble guy away from the lights – the menace just sells a little better.
But against a guy like Ken Shamrock, how could he not have a little fun?
“Just come ready to fight on Oct. 4,” he said to his foe during a recent EliteXC teleconference.
“Yeah, I can hear you breathin’,” Shamrock spat.
HECTOR LOMBARD RETAINS TITLE AT AUSTRALIAN CFC
SYDNEY, Australia – In front of a packed house at Sydney’s Luna Park, Australia’s Cage Fighting Championship staged its fifth event. The diverse and respectful crowd of MMA enthusiasts was eager to see Australia’s best up and coming mixed martial artists alongside some international talent.
The card did not disappoint with every bout being action packed, drawing the crowd’s interest and excitement with a demonstration of what Australia has to offer to the world of mixed martial arts. Clinton MacDonald reports from Sydney exclusively for MMAWeekly.com
Hector Lombard v Brian Ebersole – 84kg Middleweight Title Bout
Crowd favorite Hector Lombard returned to defend his crown against Brian Ebersole. Lombard was able to beat Ebersole to the punch standing and land several Judo-style throws to get the better of his opponent the entire fight. Lombard was content to strike for the most part of the fight, managing to open a large cut over Ebersole’s left eye that had to be tended to by the doctor in the fourth round. The doctor cleared Ebersole to continue and the fight resumed. Shortly after continuing the round, Lombard landed a takedown and started to work ground and pound. He landed a big right hand on the cut of Ebersole, which was all that Ebersole could take, verbally submitting after taking the blow. Lombard retains his CFC middleweight belt, but Ebersole clearly had got under his skin, with Lombard landing an illegal knee to his opponent’s ribs after Ebersole submitted and the referee had called the fight. Lombard apologized, but he needs to maintain his composure if he’s to compete at an international level again.
SENGOKU LANDS DEAL ON JAPAN NETWORK TV
World Victory Road’s “Sengoku” has landed a television deal with TV Tokyo in Japan, according to a report by Nightmare of Battle.
The report, citing NikkanSports.com, says that the deal begins with a one-hour program covering Sengoku 1 through 4 that will air on Sept. 27, the night before Sengoku 5. Following the inaugural show, operating under the temporary name of Sengoku G, a weekly, 25-minute series will be on Oct. 6.
In addition, the New Year’s Eve Sengoku event is believed to have a two-hour slot notched for it on the network.
According to Wikipedia, TV Tokyo is the smallest of Japan’s major broadcast television networks. It is a free network station, much like ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox in the U.S.
GAN MCGEE MAKES SUCCESSFUL RETURN AT XFC
TAMPA, Fla. – Utilizing his 13-inch height advantage and clubbing fists, six-foot, ten-inch heavyweight Gan “The Giant” McGee successfully launched his MMA comeback Saturday night in Tampa, Fla. at the St. Pete Times Forum, stopping veteran fighter Johnathan Ivey by technical knockout in the second round at Xtreme Fighting Championships (XFC)’s “Salute to Our Armed Forces 5.” Over 11,200 fans were in attendance, topping XFC’s June 28 attendance mark of 10,700. This was the fourth consecutive XFC promotion in Tampa to draw at least 10,000 fans.
“It feels great to be back,” McGee stated in a post-fight interview. “I love fighting. I [expletive] love it! Really short guys are really hard to hit, but I did what I had to do. ‘The Giant’ is back!”
UFC FIGHT NIGHT: LAUZON GETTING BACK ON TRACK
Joe Lauzon didn't have your typical Ultimate Fighting Championship debut. He was brought in originally to take on the former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver in what was supposed to be Pulver's big return to the UFC. Lauzon had other plans though and pulled the upset of the year, knocking Pulver out in 48 seconds.
He then went onto “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show, where he came up short in the semi-finals. He then went on to defeat fellow cast member Brandon Melendez on the Ultimate Fighter finale by triangle choke. Keeping the success going, he subsequently submitted Jason Reinhardt.
Following that bout, Lauzon was tapped for main event status to take on top lightweight contender Kenny Florian in Denver. Both fighters had an intense first round of action in the fight with many transitions. In the second round, Florian took control and was able to finish Lauzon with punches and elbows.
Now “J-Lau” is looking to get back to his winning ways when he takes on Kyle Bradley on Wednesday night at UFC Fight Night 15 in Omaha, Neb. “I'm definitely excited,” Lauzon said confidently. “I want to erase that last one.”
JZ EYEING NEW YEARS EVE; ASKS FOR HANSEN
One of the most popular international fighters is just about to head back into training as Top 10 lightweight Gesias “JZ” Calvancante is almost finished rehabbing his knee injury and is ready to go out and claim the Dream title he didn’t get the first time around.
“A couple more weeks I’ll be back in training and I hope I can fight by the end of the year,” said Calvancante in an interview with MMAWeekly.com
The knee injury has been lingering for some time. After his last fight against Shinya Aoki, JZ was forced into surgery to finally repair the longtime damage.
“My first injury was a week before the first tournament in Hero’s when I fought Shaolin (Ribeiro). I kept going because I wanted to fight on New Year’s Eve,” he stated. “I could not so I came back in March to fight (Shinya) Aoki. It was a no contest. Then I kept pushing my knee, and then it ruptured totally.”
With two fights left on his current contract with the Dream promotion, JZ is ready to get back in action. His first goal is to take aim at the current lightweight champion in the organization.
Josh Neer – The Quiet Headliner gets His Chance to Shine
This past April at Colorado’s Broomfield Event Center, Josh Neer stepped into the Octagon with all odds stacked against him. With an extended absence from the UFC, untested mettle in a new weight class, and a formidable veteran opponent, a potential win would not come easy. To add to the burden, this wasn’t an ordinary fight— its outcome would determine his standing in the organization.
Marcus Aurelio interview
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt from American Top Team, Marcus Aurélio will do his fourth fight in UFC’s octagon needing a victory. The Brazilian fighter will face his former pupil Hermes França at UFC 90, which happens in October 25th at United States, and guarantees that knows the way to defeat his opponent. Directly from Florida, Marcus Aurelio spoke to TATAME.com, when he talk about his training, the expectation for the fight and his problems with Hermes França.
Breaking down the UFC heavyweight tourney
Two mixed martial arts legends and two fighters whose paths intertwined for a very important 90 seconds, will be competing over the next several months in what comprises the biggest heavyweight MMA tournament ever in North America.
At stake is the UFC heavyweight championship, which has been a matter of confusion over the past year.
Affliction and Goldenboy
Affliction Entertainment Vice President Tom Atencio on Saturday confirmed that his company has entered into an agreement with Golden Boy Promotions, the boxing promotion led by Oscar De La Hoya. The two will co-promote a hybrid evening of boxing and mixed martial arts to be held at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. on Jan. 17.