KJ Noons may not be a coward, but he’s doing an awfully good impression of one.
The latest temper tantrum -- a pastime nearly as popular as the sport itself -- to hit media sites has been between Noons’ employer, EliteXC parent company ProElite, and Noons’ manager, Mark Dion, who insists proposed opponent Nick Diaz isn’t a credible contender for an Oct. 4 defense of Noons’ EliteXC lightweight title on CBS.
(The very same title he won against Diaz, a fact that incites a paradox of Dion’s claim: If Diaz isn’t a worthy opponent, what worth does Noons’ belt possess? Doc Brown warned us about this kind of thing.)
This stalemate was preceded earlier by Noons’ apathetic response to pestering about his seemingly inevitable rematch with Diaz. To paraphrase: I’ve beaten him once, so why do it again? I’m in no rush.
But you should be, Mr. Noons. You should be.
If there’s one thing MMA can finally offer after 15 years of its stubborn existence, it’s hindsight: If you don’t do the money match now, it’s going to slip right through your Ouano-laced fingers.
Back in 2003, the UFC thought it could “build” to a marquee match between Ken Shamrock and David "Tank" Abbott. Unfortunately, both went virtually winless in the Octagon, and the polished veneer of that fight chipped off like paint with no primer.
But it’s more than just the loss of a potentially incendiary fight. Barely in diapers in his MMA career, Noons was being offered the Holy Grail of anyone coveting mass exposure: a slot on primetime network television. A fight on CBS, regardless of the result, would give Noons an instant level of recognition that could be parlayed into any number of opportunities: endorsements, sponsorships, acting, seminars, etc.
Put another way, product advertisers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars securing pithy ad time on networks in an effort to marinate viewer brains in their product. Dion’s product is Noons, and instead of paying out the nose for the exposure, ProElite would be paying him -- and so would sponsors eager to get their logos captured by CBS’ high-definition cameras.
I’m not a business major, but that doesn’t sound too bad.
Anderson Silva wants Super Fights
Since making his debut in the Octagon, UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva has never hand picked an opponent. He has never turned down a fight. He even moved up a weight class to be a part of a main event for a special live televised event. And after facing Patrick Cote at UFC 90 in Chicago, Silva is looking for the biggest fights possible.
Being considered among the best pound for pound fighters on the planet always puts Silva’s name in the hat when fans and journalists alike start matchmaking the dream fights, pitting the Brazilian against everyone from Georges St. Pierre to Chuck Liddell.
His manager, Ed Soares, spoke to MMAWeekly Radio recently and feels that Anderson Silva will be a part of many of the biggest fights fans will ever see.
“I think he wants to fight those big mega fights because that’s the kind of fight we want to be involved with right now,” he said about Silva’s future fights. “I think it’s a combination of seeing what the potential opponent is and also seeing what the UFC wants to do. At the end of the day, this is a business, and they need to sell fights. They need to sell a lot of pay-per-views, and they need to sell tickets. So, we want to be involved with those types of fights.”
One name in particular that has been rumored for months is former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell, who is arguably the most well known fighter in the sport today. While Silva’s focus is solely on Patrick Cote, a fight with Liddell is one he would accept.
“We’re not looking past Patrick Cote, but I think we’ll take one step at a time and see what happens. But yeah, if a Chuck Liddell fight came up, we’d take it,” stated Soares. “Whoever the UFC wants to put in front of us, he wants to fight the best, and whoever that may be at the time, that’s who he wants to fight.”
The timing for a year-end super fight involving Silva may work out as well. As Soares explained, he was originally going to fight Yushin Okami at UFC 88 in Atlanta, but an injury forced the Japanese fighter off the card.
This latest match-up with Cote will take place towards the end of October, but barring any injuries, the “Spider” won’t close the door for the possibility of another fight in 2008.
“If the right fight was to come up for the New Year’s fight, maybe we would take it,” said Soares. “Right now it’s really hard to say, we’re pretty much just focused with Anderson on the Oct. 25 fight.”
Radach to Fight ‘Ninja’ at EliteXC-CBS Event
Benji Radach will fight Murilo “Ninja” Rua on the Oct. 4 EliteXC card, Radach has told Sherdog.com.
The bout bolsters a lineup packed with star power. Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano, in addition to Jake Shields’ title defense against Paul Daley, will headline the event, which will air live on CBS from the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla.
Matt Lindland vs. Trevor Prangley Set for Affliction 2
"sources close to the bout" have confirmed to MMAJunkie that the wrestler/fighter/aspiring politician from Oregon will now face South Africa's Trevor Prangley at Affliction's "Day of Reckoning" show. Belfort had previously mentioned that he would fight Lindland for "a title" - presumably the WAMMA middleweight belt - but the sources don't mention if a championship will be up for grabs. The 36-year old UFC and bodogFight veteran Prangley last competed in Strikeforce's "Four Men Enter, One Man Survives" one-night tournament in November of 2007, where he won an opening round decision against Falaniko Vitale but was later upset by Jorge Santiago.
Sources: EliteXC considering Lawler versus Villasenor for Nov. 8
Despite EliteXC middleweight champion Robbie Lawler (16-4) stating he might take the remainder of the year off after a July victory over Scott Smith, MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) has learned that Lawler may return as soon as November.
Sources close to the bout today revealed to that a rematch between Lawler and Joey Villasenor (26-6) is "pretty much a done deal" for EliteXC's Nov. 8 card. The event is scheduled for broadcast on premium-cable network Showtime.
EliteXC Vice-President Jared Shaw's recent comments to MMAjunkie.com would seem to confirm the possible match-up.
"Joe [Villasenor] will definitely be appearing sometime in the fall," Shaw said. "And he's definitely in line for a world title shot."
Although Villasenor recently lost the opportunity to fight in front of his hometown after the cancellation of EliteXC's Sept. 20 show in New Mexico, the Albuquerque-native may now have an opportunity for both a title and revenge.
Lawler and Villasenor have faced each other once before. In Oct. 2006 Lawler stunned Villasenor with a flying knee en route to a 22-second TKO victory. Villasenor recently told MMAjunkie.com he would love a second opportunity with Lawler.
"[Lawler] caught me with his first right, he dazed me, and the rest is history," Villasenor said. "Ever since that night I think about it and him all the time. ... I would really like the opportunity to compete against him again."
Lawler has won five-straight bouts and is currently WAMMA's fifth-ranked middleweight. The fight would be Lawler's third title defense in less than six months.
Lawler's potential early return to action could signal EliteXC's commitment to building momentum within the financially-burdened ProElite brand. Recent SEC filings have shown huge financial losses for the company.
With heavyweight champion Antonio Silva out following a drug-test failure and lightweight champion KJ Noons unwillingness to fight Nick Diaz, the company was in need of another title fight to market after their Oct. 4 CBS broadcast.
Former UFC star Ortiz signs with rival Affliction
It seems that former UFC light heavyweight champion, “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz, has finally signed with rival promotion Affliction in time for their next PPV event on October 11th.
Although no details have been released at this time about the size of the contract, the promotion must surely have talked Ortiz’s terms down from the massive figures originally discussed.
Although just a rumour a few weeks back, this deal seems to have been finalised and according to mmapreview.com, an announcement is due in the next couple of days.
With no creditable victories in the past few years and seemingly being more interested in a celebrity lifestyle, UFC President Dana White will not be losing any sleep over Ortiz’s decision to fight for a rival promotion.
"JZ" Calvancante Hopes to Return by Year's End Against Joachim Hansen
American Top Team lightweight Gesias Calvancante will soon resume training following a four-month layoff due to surgery, and according to a rough translation of an interview published this week on DREAM's official website, the Brazilian has his eyes on a late 2008 return against newly crowned DREAM Lightweight Champion Joachim Hansen. "JZ" also seems to leave the door open for a rematch with Shinya Aoki ("because we would not like to be defeated by anyone, don't you think?"). Calvancante sustained a severe knee injury during his DREAM.2 decision loss to submission wizard Aoki, who in turn was dismantled last month by tournament alternate Hansen in the final match of the promotion's inaugural lightweight grand prix.
New Randy Couture Interview
Hey everyone. Hope you're well. To all the UFC fans out there here is my latest interview with Randy Couture talking about his current lawsuit, moving over into the acting and entertainment realm, his thoughts on Kimbo Slice, and a few other things.
You can read and listen to the interview at the link below:
Thought this would be worth sharing with all you hardcore MMA fans.
IFL refugees Dan and Jim Miller anxious for UFC debuts
For IFL refugees and brothers Dan Miller (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and Jim Miller (11-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC), the chance to fight in the UFC can't come soon enough.
"My brother and I, we quit our jobs a couple weeks ago," Jim recently told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "Now we're training full-time. I'm anxious to get in there. It's tough going into it the first couple fights before you have a little padding in the wallet."
Jim, a lightweight, was scheduled to make his debut for the UFC at April's Ultimate Fight Night 13 against Marcus Aurelio. The then-struggling IFL held Miller's contract, and the organization blocked Jim from accepting the fight.
That decision left 24-year-old Jim with bitter feelings about the organization.
"I wasn't too happy with what was going on with [the IFL] at the moment," Jim admitted. "I really didn't get treated that well personally. So I was pretty happy when we got out of [the IFL contract].
"We were actually supposed to be out of it when I got called for the (Marcus) Aurelio fight (in the UFC). Then [the IFL] kind of hosed me."
For 27-year-old Dan, who earned the IFL's middleweight title with a submission win over Ryan McGivern in his final bout for the ill-fated IFL, the experience was equally upsetting.
"[The IFL's demise] was pretty frustrating," Dan said. "To win the title and not get to defend it? That's what makes a champion -- being able to defend the title. That is frustrating, not being able to defend my belt."
Fortunately for both, the UFC came quickly calling. In fact, stunningly quick.
"My manager had been in talks with the IFL," Jim explained. "(He was) asking them what was going on, when we were getting out, all that stuff. Then it all happened so quickly. It was like one day. It was like, 'Oh, you're released from the IFL.' A day later the UFC's calling up. It was pretty crazy."
Now in the sport's premier organization, the three-year veterans are excited to display to the world the advantages that training with each other has provided.
"We push each other really hard -- if it's rolling or just doing striking and conditioning," Dan said. "We really push each other. No one can push you like family. You can get under each other's skin, but it never gets into anything bigger."
Jim echoed his brother's sentiments.
"I think [training with a brother] is a huge advantage," Jim said. "Dan and I are really competitive, but we've never gotten into fights or anything like that. We joke around with each other. We're competitive with each other. We push each other. He likes to tap me out. I like to tap him out. But it's more just like rubbing it in the other guy's face."
Of course training is one thing. Competing at the same time can prove a difficult challenge.
"On nights when we've fought on the same card, it can get a little hairy," Jim said. "We've been lucky that most of the time nothing's really happened. The last two fights that we fought on the same card were a little tough.
"The one we fought in November at Ring of Combat, it was the third round and Dan was fighting before me. He took a mean right hook and ended up breaking the bone in his face. He takes the punch and it doesn't even wobble him, and he wins the fight. But then he comes back and he's got this divot in his face.
"So then the doctors are like, 'Oh, you broke a bone. You've got to go to the hospital.' Then I've got to sit there and see my older brother put on a gurney. So he's going to the emergency room 45 minutes before I'm supposed to step in the ring. He's been there every day with me training. He's been in my corner for every other fight. And then to have to wish him luck as he goes to the hospital was tough. It was really difficult to keep my head in the game."
While both fighters are still waiting on their first bout with their new organization, it is the type of grit and determination displayed that November evening that the brothers believe will lead them to continued success in the UFC.
"I like to push the pace," Dan said. "I go hard for all three rounds. When you see me fight the fight is going to end up on the ground. And it's going to be a war on the ground."
Jim sees himself in much the same manner.
"I'm not the best wrestler," Jim admitted. "I'm not the best jiu-jitsu guy. I'm not the best striker. But my style is just to keep advancing. Get my opponent into a scramble and take something.
"And I'm really not going to leave anything for the after-party. There are guys out there that like to pace it out so they feel the same in the third round as they did the first round. That just doesn't sit well with me. I'm going to go out and I'm going to push as hard as I can.
"If it comes down to me now being able to stand up after the third round, then I've got three cornermen in my corner to carry me out."
Chuck Liddell looks to remain in UFC another "two to four years"
Although Chuck Liddell (21-5 MMA, 16-4 UFC) may have lost two of his previous three fights and be turning 39 years old this December, don't expect the 10-year UFC veteran to be calling it quits anytime soon.
The ex-UFC-light-heavyweight champion said he still has a few years left while a guest of "The Lights Out Show" on the TAGG Radio Network (www.taggradio.com), the official radio partner of MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
"(I still have) two to four years depending on how my body's feeling," Liddell said. "I'm hoping in two years I'll still be saying 'two to four years.' I still feel like fighting now and my body is still working now."
While many of the sport's newer fighters enjoy moving from camp to camp in order to evolve their techniques, Liddell feels he has been served well by remaining with John Hackleman at The Pit throughout his career.
"We have people come in and train with us," Liddell explained. "And I work out with different people from time to time. But changing actual camps all the time, and doing that travelling thing, I don't think that's advantageous."
Another growing trend among today's fighters is the choice to bounce from organization to organization in order to seek out the highest pay. While several contenders such as EliteXC and Affliction would certainly love to have the exposure "The Iceman" would bring to their organization, the veteran of 20 UFC fights feels comfortable remaining with the UFC.
"The UFC has been very good to me, and I don't see me fighting anywhere else," Liddell said. "At this point they have all the best fighters in my weight, so that's where I want to be. I'm trying to prove I'm the best at what I do. That's what I'm out there doing. So I don't see me changing anytime soon."
And though speculation continues to grow around a possible move to heavyweight, Liddell feels there are still too many quality opponents in his own division to set his sights on another.
"Going up (in weight) is always a possibility," Liddell admitted. "But there's still a few guys I need to fight at my weight. And until then I'm not going to worry about going up or down.
"I've thought about (moving to heavyweight) before, but until I get done with some of the things I want to get done at light-heavyweight it doesn't make sense to move."
And with Liddell's UFC 88 main-event clash with undefeated Rashad Evans looming just two weeks away, the 38-year-old understands the importance of victory. And with a win Liddell feels a title show should follow.
"I think I have a good chance (for a title shot) after this fight," Liddell said. "I need to go out and win, and win impressively. And then I think it would make sense."
Liddell also discussed his thoughts about his previously-scheduled bout with Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, his opinion of Lyoto Machida, and why he feels his style has been so successful in the UFC. To hear the full interview download Thursday's edition of "The Lights Out Show," available for free in the TAGG Radio Network archives.
Josh Thomson vs Ashe Bowman Strikeforce fight booked for Playboy Mansion
Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson will take on team Lion’s Den member Ashe “The Machine” Bowman (6-4) in a three-round, non-title match at “Strikeforce at the Mansion II” at the world-famous Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, Calif., on September 20.
Strikeforce Vice President Mike Afromowitz confirmed the news today to MMAmania.com, which was first reported by Ariel Helwani.
Bowman has won six of his past seven contests after beginning his career with three straight losses. He’s competed five times under the Ken Shamrock Productions banner, winning each time.
Take that for what it’s worth.
He certainly comes as a surprise opponent for the champ — most fans were probably expecting someone with a little more notoriety. But that doesn’t mean Bowman isn’t capable of pulling off the shocker … anything can in mixed martial arts, right?
This will be The Punk’s first fight since winning a unanimous decision in June over then highly-regarded champion Gilbert Melendez. Thomson was a significant underdog in that fight. And after pulling off the upset he earned himself a place amongst the big dogs in terms of the top fighters in the world.
Therefore, it would be an upset of epic proportions if Thomson loses this fight. Bowman just isn’t on his level when it comes to talent or experience. This is most likely a showcase fight for the champ — perhaps to keep him busy and at the same time rest his still-healing shoulder.
In short, don’t be surprised if he takes this one in impressive fashion.
Some were expecting this fight to take main event status after Thomson’s opponent was announced, but given the caliber of opponent and it being a non-title fight, it’s possible that one of the other matches will take center stage.
The light heavyweight championship fight between champion,Bobby Southworth and challenger Renato “Babalu” Sobral is the likely choice.
Drew Fickett vs. Jay Hieron Affliction fight likely October 11
It appears Drew Fickett may have finally been able to move ahead and put his personal problems behind him.
Sherdog.com has been able to confirm that former International Fight League welterweight champion Jay Hieron (15-4) has verbally accepted an offer to fight “The Master” on October 11 at Affliction: “Day of Reckoning”.
Fickett (35-6) has competed as recently as August 8, submitting Joe Manzello at Silver Crown Fights (SCF) in round one. He had aligned himself with EliteXC earlier this year, but his much ballyhooed bout with Jake Shields never materialized to due injuries and scheduling conflicts on both sides.
From there, Fickett was plagued with personal problems including a messy contract dispute with Canada’s Maximum Fighting Championship. After eventually parting ways with EliteXC, Fickett fought twice for Rage in the Cage, going 1-1 before his most recent match at SCF.
Now he has his stiffest test in quite some time against the venerable Hieron.
The former IFL warrior is coming off a first round drubbing of Mark Miller at IFL: ‘New Jersey’ last April. When the troubled company went belly-up shortly thereafter, Hieron settled on a three-fight contract with Affliction after being courted by the UFC, Elite XC and Strikeforce.
Affliction “Day of Reckoning” takes place on October 11 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring the main event of Josh “The Babyface Assassin” Barnett (23-5) vs. Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski (13-5).
Hieron Agrees to Fickett at Affliction 2
Former International Fight League welterweight champion Jay Hieron (Pictures) has verbally accepted an offer to take on Drew Fickett (Pictures) at Affliction 2 “Day of Reckoning” on Oct. 11 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Fickett’s manager, Alexander Oxendine of 2 A-T Media, confirmed his client had been made an offer and negotiations are ongoing.
“We’re in discussion with a few organizations and Affliction is one of them,” said Oxendine. “They are at the top of our list. As far as Drew is concerned, he’s made a great turnaround with his life and training. He is ready to move forward.”
Since his last UFC bout in April 2007, Fickett’s career has seemed to be a rollercoaster ride outside of the cage.
An on-again off-again title bout against EliteXC welterweight champion Jake Shields (Pictures) never got off the ground due to injuries to both participants, which led to scheduling difficulties later down the road.
After a handful of failed attempts, EliteXC representatives said Fickett’s “personal problems” had taken a toll on their relationship with the wayward fighter, and they planned to release him from his contract.
In June, Fickett attempted to step in and fight Luke Stewart (Pictures) for a Strikeforce event in San Jose, Calif. However, a battle over Fickett’s contract obligations with Canada’s Maximum Fighting Championship and its owner Mark Pavelich spilled onto the Internet, as the fighter had supposedly already been booked for a July 25 MFC card.
“He’s ready to move forward and handle himself professionally,” says Oxendine of Fickett’s last few months. “He wants to take his fighting career seriously and to the next level.”
KJ Noons versus Nick Diaz "definitely not happening"
The very-public feud between EliteXC Vice President Jared Shaw and 160-pound champion KJ Noons' manager Mark Dion has now led to the official cancellation of the proposed bout for EliteXC's October return to CBS.
Shaw today informed MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) of EliteXC's decision.
"KJ Noons versus Nick Diaz is definitely not happening on Oct. 4," Shaw said.
Voice your opinion on MMA rules & procedures
I recently spoke with Nick Lembo, the legal counsel for the New Jersey Athletic Control Board and recently appointed chairperson of the Association of Boxing Commissioners' MMA committee, which includes representatives from all the major sanctioning bodies.
Mr. Lembo is in the process of gathering input from those within the MMA industry, as well as the media and fans of the sport, to help guide the committee on important decisions that will affect the rules of MMA.
That includes you, our CBSSports.com readers.
Mr. Lembo asks that readers submit their opinions and comments in writing, no later than September 17, 2008. Comments should be mailed to the following address:
DAG Nicholas Lembo
NJ State Athletic Control Board
Hughes Justice Complex
P.O. Box 180
Trenton, NJ 08625-0180
The committee is reviewing the unified rules of MMA for potential changes, most notably the amendments discussed at the ABC Convention in Montreal in July. Key areas of discussion include, but are not limited to:
* Strikes to the back of the head (more specifically, the question of how wide the foul area is... this would be the "headphones" interpretation vs. the "mohawk" interpretation).
* Downward elbow strikes
* Knees to the head of a grounded opponent
* Weight classes
Lembo told me he welcomes comments on all aspects of the rules, so if you have an issue you would like the committee to address other than those listed above, by all means, include it. You never know -- if others have the same feedback, you could inspire change for the better in this still-evolving sport.
Chuck Liddell Wants Title Shot After UFC 88
Former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell takes on undefeated "Sugar" Rashad Evans at UFC 88 at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta. If Liddell wins, he wants an opportunity to regain the title against current champion Forrest Griffin.
Liddell is confident that a win over Evans on Sept. 6 will result in a title shot. "I think it should," he told MMAWeekly.com. "I think I should have a shot at him. I don't see why I wouldn't. Who else sells as much? But I'll fight whoever.
"I think it seems to make sense for (the UFC). But that's not something I concern myself with right now. I've got to get past Rashad before any of that makes any sense."
Fans have shown interest in seeing him against UFC middleweight titleholder Anderson "The Spider" Silva, but Liddell made it clear what fight he wants if he's victorious against Evans. "I want the title shot, of course," said the former champion. "I'd like to get that and everybody else can fall in after that."
Liddell gained the UFC light heavyweight crown by defeating Randy "The Natural" "Couture at UFC 52 in April of 2005 and held the belt for more than two years. He defended the title four times before being dethroned by Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 71.