The ’09 Wish List
Pre-“Ultimate Fighter,” pre-Affliction, pre-state sanctioning, fans will remember the UFC’s modest promotional resolution for 1999: run nine shows. (The campaign was dubbed “9 in ’99,” which is what happens when you can’t afford a marketing department.)
A sad testament to the state of the sport at the time: They could only manage six.
Ten years on, and the UFC is likely to meet or exceed the 20 programs it ran in ’08. Wishes have become largely extraneous, since most requested matches wind up happening sooner or later. The sport’s devotees have everything they could possibly ask for -- free shows, top talent, capable management.
This space, though, works tirelessly to find something to complain about. Some hoped-for events for the New Year:
Josh Koscheck Added to UFC 95
MMAmania.com learned this weekend that the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) member has been approached about beefing up an event that could need a little more of it. The promotion has done a nice job of filling up the card with solid match ups after the services of marquee attractions such as Chuck Liddell and Anderson Silva could not be secured, but the Spike TV special could use a little more star power.
TUF 10 set to bring back heavyweight division
UFC President, Dana White could be about to bring back the heavyweight division to the popular reality show, “The Ultimate Fighter” for its 10th season set to screen late in 2009.
According to a report by the Wrestling Observer, White has hinted that Olympic Judo Gold Medalist, Satoshi Ishii could feature on the show and has possibly been offered a slot on the show.
Matt Riddle vs. Steve Bruno added to UFN 17 in February
An alumnus from the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter, Matt Riddle had been scheduled to make his welterweight debut in a UFC 91 matchup this past November against Ryan Thomas. However, a serious knee injury sustained while training forced Riddle off the card and created an opening for fellow TUF 7 veteran Matt Brown.
Riddle has been making progress in his recovery from the injury and sources close to 22-year old fighter have informed FiveOuncesOfPain.com that he’s expected to return to the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 17 on February 7 against Steve “Hollywood” Bruno.
Yvel, Lesnar, Emelianenko All on Barnett's Mind
Barnett recently told Sherdog Radio’s “The Savage Dog Show.” “In terms of me, whether I’m fighting Arlovski or Yvel –- sure, it would have been a bigger profile fight to fight Arlovski and maybe it would have been in a better fight in terms of the viewing audience too, but I don’t really care. There’s nothing I can do about it, but I do have an opponent and the biggest thing I can say is that on paper, you can think what you want, but when the fight is said and done and the results are in, it’ll be worth watching.”
WANDERLEI WANTS LIDDELL BEFORE 185
Brazilian brawler Wanderlei Silva is scheduled to meet with UFC president Dana White this week to determine his next challenge.
The former Pride champion is not thrilled about a possible cut to middleweight. He walks around at 215 pounds, and doesn’t like to cut more than 10 pounds for a fight. He denied an immediate move to the division below him, but said he would wait to hear from “the boss.”
DEAN LISTER REQUESTS, RECEIVES RELEASE FROM UFC
The news was confirmed to MMAWeekly.com on Sunday by Lister's management team at Haymaker's Empire.
According to his manager, Lister requested the release and the UFC granted his leaving the organization. The former Abu Dhabi champion is already in talks with several promotions, including Dream and Affliction, for a new deal.
Chuck Liddell says he’ll take the light heavyweight title from Rashad Evans
“I’ll fight anybody they put in front of me as long as it gets me back closer to the title. I have to try to be the best at what am I doing. I want Rashad Evans, he’s got the title and I’ll take it.”
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell — who was most recently on the wrong end of a vicious knockout at UFC 88: “Breakthrough” courtesy of Rashad Evans — wants another crack at “Sugar” when asked who he’d like to fight next. That more than likely isn’t going to happen anytime soon — Liddell has lost three of his last four fights. And he no longer appears to be the same world beater who dominated the talent-rich 205-pound division for two years up until 2007. “Iceman” is expected to return at UFC 96 at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, on March 7; however, his opponent remains a mystery. With a win in March, Liddell — who has been getting some extra training at American Top Team (ATT) recently — could very well begin to mount his final assault on the light heavyweight hill before calling it a career. Because of his celebrity and drawing power it’s not crazy to imagine that two impressive wins could get him to the top, regardless of what else is happening in the division. Can he pull it off? Does he have enough gas left in the tank? Has he been surpassed in skill by the other top fighters in the division? Let us hear your opinions in the comments section below.
"Babalu" Sobral: "I'm probably going to submit" Sokoudjou on Jan. 24
Less than a year ago, Rameau Thierry Sokodjou (5-3) was widely regarded as one of the most dangerous light-heavyweights in MMA.
But after a less-than-impressive stint in the UFC led to Skoudjou's recent dismissal from the organization, Renato "Babalu" Sobral (31-7) thinks "The African Assassin" presents little in the way of special challenges.
"I have to prepare a little bit for Sokoudjou's strikes, and I have to respect his judo skills of course," Sobral said in a recent media call. "I respect all his skills, but I know what I have to do to win this fight. And I don't have anything special prepared for Sokoudjou."
The two former UFC fighters will meet on the main card of "Affliction: Day of Reckoning," scheduled for Jan. 24 in Anaheim, Calif. The bout will be Sokoudjou's first since an October TKO loss to Luis Cane prompted his release from the UFC.
Sobral, a 10-year veteran with 30 more professional bouts than his adversary, believes that the difference in experience will not play a major role in the fight.
"The truth is that it doesn't matter," Sobral said. "If you have 100 fights in the bag or one fight, minutes before the fight everybody pretty much does the same. That's where you have to control more emotions over there, like minutes before the fight. But this really doesn't matter very much because some kids just coming up right now, they already know how to control (their pre-fight) emotions."
Ishii Satoshi Makes Appearance At Sengogu In UFC Shirt
Here is the exact words he announced the Japanese audience.
“Happy New Year everyone. I am the MMA Fighter, Ishii Satoshi,” says a nervous sounding Ishii to thunderous applause.
“I am very honored to be here, addressing you all today. There was a rumor the other day that a certain fighter lost at an MMA event, and people were saying it was me. That’s not true,” says Ishii, perhaps referencing Akihito Tanaka’s performance as Kinniku Mantaro at Dynamite.
“Do you folks like MMA? It’s really quite wonderful, isn’t it? I like it a lot,” stammers Ishii nervously, eliciting laughs from the crowd.
“In the future, I will fight in US, but I will return to this ring with a big souvenir for you all,” says Ishii.
“I see that the Yokozuna, Asashoryu is here today, so I’d like to fight him maybe,” he jokes with a good natured stutter.
“Please support me this year,” he closes.
Kitaoka, Santiago Crowned By Sengoku
SAITAMA, Japan -- Satoru Kitaoka and Jorge Santiago were crowned champions after they finished their opponents by submission at Sengoku “No Ran 2009” on Sunday before some 18,000 fans at the Saitama Super Arena.
In the main event, Kitaoka kept true to his word, as he put away Takanori Gomi before the former Pride Fighting Championships lightweight king could do anything of note. Sizing up each other for a tense moment, Kitaoka was the first to act, as he dove for a takedown. Gomi spun out of the way to avoid the shot, but the persistent Kitaoka made another attempt and ate a grazing hook in the process.
Satoru Kitaoka on Gomi: "I think I hate him"
“The result of the last fight doesn’t matter,” Gomi said. “My opponent was decided from the [lightweight grand prix at the] last Sengoku. I’ve had a chance to look at [Kitaoka’s] past fights, so he’s not some Unknown Fighter who will be coming in from abroad.”
“He looks strong, but I think I hate him; I don’t know why,” Kitaoka said. “After this fight, I don’t think I’ll ever talk to him ever again, no matter the result.”
A member of the Nippon Top Team grappling circle, Kitaoka mentioned a conversation he had with teammate Shinya Aoki regarding the former Pride champion.
I told Aoki, from here on out, I’ll make it so that you won’t ever hear anything about Gomi anymore,” Kitaoka said.
MMA Quick Quote: Fedor Emelianenko has ‘no technique’ when it comes to striking
“He’s flat-footed, has no technique, but he can punch. That always helps. He’s accurate. He’ll follow you right to the floor, so he’s aggressive. But that aggressiveness can be used to our advantage, I think.”
– Freddie Roach — the world famous professional boxing training savant — tells SI.com that WAMMA Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko lacks technique when it comes to his stand up game. He says what the Russian cyborg lacks in that department he makes up for with his accuracy and aggressiveness (see Sylvia, Tim for the most recent example.) Roach is currently working with Andrei Arlovski to refine his striking and prepare him for a possible cross-over to the sweet science. Emelianenko and Arlovski will collide in the main event at Affliction: “Day of Reckoning,” setting up one of the best heavyweight match ups in a very, very long time. For what it’s worth, Emelianenko is more known for his crafty and tight submissions … not his striking (at least recently). He is also known to be a bleeder. Can Arlovski find holes in his game and open up a hole in Emelianenko’s face? Will the former Pride FC deity once again answer the call and quiet the critics? What say you?
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Undeterred by recent performances, Tito Ortiz looking to make impact
Love him or hate him, Tito Ortiz (15-6-1) still draws a crowd.
Such was the case when Ortiz was announced as a special guest at Affliction's December press conference for their Jan. 24 event from Anaheim, Calif., "Day of Reckoning."
And while Ortiz committed only to announcing for the organization that day, "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" recently told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) he's nearly ready to return to vintage form.
"I know all the fans want to see the monster Tito Ortiz of five years ago when I was the world champion," Ortiz said. "And I've done pretty good over the last five years to compete while being injured."
The once-dominant Ortiz has compiled a paltry 5-4-1 record in the past five-and-a-half years. Two of those wins came over a well-over-the-hill Ken Shamrock, and the former UFC champion has been winless since those 2006 contests.
Now rehabilitating from a successful back surgery that included the fusion of his L4, L5 and L5-S1 spinal discs, Ortiz said he is well on the way to returning to his prior form.
"I'm excited to be 100 percent again," Ortiz said. "I'm about 40 percent right now, but I'm not as brittle as a glass house anymore. I'm starting to be able to move around a little more and not taking painkillers anymore is the biggest thing.
For Matyushenko, Little Nog Just The Beginning OF Affliction Run
Riding an eight-fight win streak, former IFL light-heavyweight champion (21-3) may very well be the best fighter many MMA fans have never heard of. The 11-year veteran has fought for the UFC, IFL and IFC, but continues to remain just outside of most discussion concerning the world's best 205-pound fighters. Now scheduled to face Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (15-3)-- twin brother of former UFC and PRIDE champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira -- at "Affliction: Day of Reckoning" on Jan. 24 in Anaheim, Calif., "The Janitor" looks to make a clean sweep of his new organization's expanding light-heavyweight roster.