VILLASENOR TALKS ELITEXC AND WHAT COMES NEXT
As the fallout from the shutdown of EliteXC continues, some of the fighters hardest hit by this news were the competitors for the upcoming Nov. 8 show in Nevada. None may have taken a bigger hit than top middleweight contender Joey Villasenor, who for the second time in just three months had the rug pulled out from under his fight schedule.
Originally set to be a part of the Sept. 20 show that was eventually canceled as well, Villasenor was gearing up for a rematch against Robbie Lawler on Nov. 8, but now that fight has been scrapped as well.
"Yesterday my manager called me and he said I have some bad news for you and I said, 'Robbie Lawler got hurt?' and he said, 'No, it's worse than that, Elite folded,'" Villasenor told MMAWeekly.com in an exclusive interview. "I knew that they were in turmoil, but I was really banking on Nov. 8 happening.
"I felt good going into the fight that I would beat the No. 3 ranked middleweight in the world and have a great plan for my future, but these things happen and now we just have to prepare for what's next."
Spike TV: UFC 89 Draws 2.6 Million Viewers
Anchored by a middleweight bout between Michael Bisping and Chris Leben, UFC 89 on Saturday drew an average of 2.6 million viewers, according to Spike TV representatives. The telecast -- which aired on tape delay from the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England -- peaked with 3.4 million viewers during the 11:30 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. quarter hour.
Despite stiff competition from Game 6 of the American League Championship Series on TBS and regional college football coverage on ESPN and ESPN2, the UFC 89 telecast ranked second with 18- to 49-year-old males, 18- to 34-year-old males and 25- to 34-year-old males among ad-supported cable for its time period.
Bisping (17-1) defeated Leben by unanimous decision in a competitive main event, as the UFC made its final stop in the UK this year. The popular 29-year-old Brit extended his winning streak to three fights and continued his rapid ascent up the 185-pound ladder. Scheduled to coach on the ninth season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, Bisping will face the winner of the UFC 93 match pairing Rich Franklin with Dan Henderson sometime in 2009.
Wanderlei Silva training to score a hat-trick
Getting ready to face Quinton “Rampage” Jackson for the third time in career, Wanderlei Silva isn’t resting in Las Vegas. The man behind Wandy’s preparation, Rafael Alejarra seeks a hat-trick over Rampage. “I want another victory, it doesn’t matter if it comes with a knockout, submission or decision. Score is a score, we want the victory and go after the belt. The most important is the victory, and we wanna a great one. We have the goal and we’ll fight smart to win”, said Alejarra, commenting Wanderlei’s training.
Aleks Emelianenko Still Claims to Be Healthy, and He Doesn’t Care What You’ve Heard
You might be wondering to yourself, what ever became of Aleks after he was kicked off the Affliction event amid rumors that he may or may not have Hepatitis B? Well don’t worry. According to Aleks, it was all just a paperwork issue, as he explains to The Fight Network:
“I came late, couldn’t get my Visa in time and I was not allowed to fight. I’m healthy.”
That’s weird, because just last week M-1’s Raimond Joost said you had “medical issues.” Granted, he also expressed optimism that they could be resolved, but he sure as hell didn’t try and chalk the whole thing up to Visa troubles. Not to mention, if it was just a paperwork snafu, why would the CSAC’s Bill Douglas say this:
“The one thing that I can absolutely say is that he (Emelianenko) was not and will not be cleared to fight in California. He is officially denied a license and that will stand for all of the United States of America.”
Aleks, I’m getting the sneaking suspicion that you are lying to us, and doing a really bad job of it. Couldn’t you at least think of something more plausible? The strangest comment of the interview, however, was this one:
“I have never taken painkillers, I am healthy, and I am preparing for my next fight.”
We have no idea what question he is answering here, because The Fight Network doesn’t tell us, but I’d like to assume it was something along the lines of, ‘how are you doing?’ I know that’s how I usually answer that question. I start by denying accusations that have not yet been made, then launch right into what I’ve been up to. You should try it. Really puts you on a whole new level of intimacy with the checker at the supermarket.
CAGE RAGE TO FORGE AHEAD
And so the fallout begins… as EliteXC hit the wall, there will understandably be a massive scurry for top tier talent as well as speculation on the future of all the other brands that were held under the umbrella. One such brand cut its teeth in the U.K. and tittered on the edge of international expansion before being amalgamated into the behemoth that was ProElite.
Originally founded by Dave O’Donnell and Andy Geer as a small regional show before taking onboard once silent partner John Faraday, the company started to grow and attract talent from Brazil, the U.S., and Japan; and in turn relocate from venue to venue before settling on Wembley Arena and crowds that varied between 4,500 and 8,000 depending on the card. High times indeed, but since ProElite came onboard there has been a significant cost-cutting and business streamlining process that lead to a date for Cage Rage 28 at the smaller Troxy venue in East London and a trimming of staff, some left, others had their roles reduced and pursued other business endeavours.
Dave O’Donnell, the one constant since its inception, told MMAWeekly.com of the demise of the brand’s parent company, “For Cage Rage it is business as usual. The next show is Contenders. It’s still going ahead. I can tell you that much.”
Economic Factors Affect MMA, UFC
As reported earlier on MMAPayout.com, the Fertitta’s Station Casinos bond rating recently placed on CreditWatch with negative implications. The company is being monitored due to it’s increasing level of leverage that violates certain covenants of its’ bonds. The leverage covenants aren’t being met due to more recent turmoil in the financial markets and continued weakening of economy, which is bringing down performance in the Las Vegas locals market more than previously thought.
The Station Casinos stake may not be the only portion of the Fertitta empire to be hitting on hard times. MMAPayout.com has learned that the UFC has recently went through a round of layoffs in their operations. The UFC looks to be cutting away the fat to make itself lean and mean and capable of weathering an extended time period of financial stress and lowered performance.
Jake Shields Wants in With UFC
Almost immediately after the news broke that EliteXC would be shutting down, just about everyone began to speculate what would happen to its fighters. On the top of that list is Jake Shields, likely to be one of the most sought after fighters from the roster. MMAWeekly.com spoke to the first and only EliteXC welterweight champion about his future
"The UFC's the most likely option," he said. "That's where I'm certainly leaning. I haven't had any talks with them yet; I have to get my contract released. That's definitely the number one option I'm looking at. I was on good terms with them before I signed this last contract, so I don't think there should be any problem."
While he won't rule out other promotions as viable contenders, it seems clear where Shields wants to go.
"The UFC's where I've wanted to fight for years, and also the guys ranked above me in the world are there so that's certainly the most logical show to go to."
Random drug testing Implemented in the UFC
Six UFC 91 fighters, including the event's headliners, have passed pre-event drug tests administered by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
The commission recently enacted year-round drug testing, and the NSAC has been testing fighters approximately a month before fight time.
In an email sent to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com), NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer confirmed main-event fighters Randy Couture and Brock Lesnar were tested, as were undercard fighters Amir Sadollah, Nick Catone, Jorge Gurgel and Aaron Riley.
UFC 91 takes place Nov. 15 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. It airs on pay per view.
The NSAC's year-round testing was implemented earlier this year. MMA fighters are subject to drug testing at any time -- for just about any reason -- throughout the year, regardless of whether or not the fighter is scheduled for an upcoming event. However, the testing is usually reserved for scheduled fighters.
For more on the NSAC's new procedures, check out our interview with Kizer that followed the commission's official announcement.
Additionally, for the latest on UFC 91, including the latest fight card and interviews with the night's competitors, check out the UFC Rumors section of MMAjunkie.com.
I don't know how many fans realize how big this is or the potential impact but if HGH and others are as rampant as a few fighters have came out and stated they are this could change the balance of fighters in the UFC, Im just glad Randy came back clean! Now all the people that assumed Couture was juicing can shut it.
Jake Shields to UFC ‘has now become a real possibility’
“Jake Shields in the UFC has now become a real possibility.”
GracieFighter.com posted this statement mere hours after Elite XC was pronounced dead. Shields is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Cesar Gracie who runs the Web site, so even as vague as this comment is, it’s still coming from a very close and reliable source in regard to Jake.
Shields — the first and only Elite XC welterweight champion — was pretty vocal over the last few months about wanting to prove himself against the best in the sport. In fact, after defeating Nick “The Goat” Thompson in little more than a minute at “Unfinished Business” in July, he called out the winner of the George St. Pierre and Jon Fitch UFC title fight scheduled for a couple weeks later, saying he wanted a super fight against the UFC champion.
At the time it seemed like a pipe dream since the UFC obviously doesn’t believe in cross-promoting and Elite XC had Shields locked up under contract for another year or so. But, now that Elite XC is no more, it appears Jake is a free agent, and would like to be the first — and possibly the best — former Elite XC fighter to join the UFC ranks.
Of course, if Shields does end up in the Octagon, he’ll have to work his way up a very long ladder of title contenders that include Thiago Alves, Josh Koshcheck, Diego Sanchez, Karo Parysian, Jon Fitch and many more.
Karo Parisyan to Return at UFC 94
Former UFC welterweight title contender Karo Parisyan will reportedly return to action against a yet-to-be-determined opponent at UFC 94 on January 31 in Las Vegas according to MMA Weekly’s MMA Insider Blog. The fight will be the first on a new eight-fight deal Parisyan recently signed with the UFC.
Parisyan was scheduled to take on Japanese sensation Yoshiyuki Yoshida in a welterweight bout at UFC 88 in September, but was forced to withdraw at the last minute after aggravating the sciatic nerve in one of his legs during a pre-fight training session. He has not fought since.
The 26-year-old judo black belt earned a title shot against former UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes in the fall of 2005 before a separate injury forced him out of the running. Parisyan’s then five-fight winning streak was snapped after the Armenian dropped an unanimous decision to Diego Sanchez at UFC Fight Night 6.
Following the loss, Parisyan bounced back and racked up three more victorious before being stopped for the first time in his career at the hands of Thiago Alves, who knocked out Parisyan with a knee during the second round of their bout at UFC Fight Night 13.
Shannon Gugerty: You will know me after UFC 90 win
Some fighters are built up slowly, crafting a winning record through carefully selected opponents.
UFC lightweight Shannon Gugerty (11-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) will apparently not be that guy.
But on the verge of a "UFC 90: Silva vs. Cote" showdown with perennial contender Spencer Fisher -- in just his second bout for the organization -- Gugerty recently told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that he welcomes the challenge.
"Spencer Fisher is almost like a household name," Gugerty said. "Everyone who follows the sport knows who he is. A win over him would definitely be huge for my career."
Gugerty debuted for the UFC in July, defeating fellow newcomer Dale Hartt at "UFC Fight Night 14." Gugerty said the joy of earning a win in the sport's premier organization is a feeling he won't soon forget.
"It was like my first win all over again," Gugerty said. "I was really excited. It was like a real surreal feeling. I was really stoked."
Hermes Franca predicts knockout win over Marcus Aurelio at UFC 90
“If he’s awake, I’ll shake his hand.”
– Hermes Franca shares his prediction with InsideFighting.com on his upcoming fight against Marcus Aurelio at UFC 90: “Silva vs. Cote” at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill., on October 25. He intends to finish his former Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor and camp member at American Top team (ATT) — a good back story that most of you should check out prior to the lightweight showdown if you haven’t already. Despite the bad intentions, both fighters insist that bad blood is not boiling over after their shared and spotty past. In fact, Franca and Aurelio intend to go about this as professionals, indicating that it is not personal. Uh-huh …
Matt Hughes vs Matt Serra UFC fight likely in April 2009
Arch enemies Matt Hughes and Matt Serra will more than likely finally face off in the Octagon to settle their bitter score sometime in April 2009, according to Matt-Hughes.com.
Here’s a snip from Hughes’ most recent blog entry:
“This week, I talked to Joe Silva at the UFC and a possible date for Serra and I is in April. I don’t know the exact date right now or venue. So, that is something that I can look forward to and I can set my training up for that schedule.”
Both former welterweight champions have been sidelined with injuries — Serra sustained an elbow injury in his loss to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 83: “Serra vs. St. Pierre 2? back in April and Hughes has been nursing a knee injury that he suffered in his loss to Thiago Alves at UFC 85: “Bedlam? back in June.
Serra and Hughes — who are about as opposite as two people can get — were opposing coaches in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 6 and were supposed to fight at UFC 79: “Nemesis” in December 2007. However, Serra had to withdraw because of a serious back injury.
The trash-talking has heated up ever since.
Luke Cummo arrested in New York under suspicion of DWI
“Luke Cummo of Lynbrook was charged with DWI. Nassau County releases the photos of individuals charged with DWI. The gallery represents the charge at the time of the photo. All are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.”
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 2 welterweight finalist Luke Cummo was recently arrested and charged for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in New York. He was penciled in to fight next against Steve Bruno at UFC Fight Night 16: “Fight for the Troops” in Fayetteville, N.C., on December 10 before being forced to withdraw with an injury. He is on a back-to-back losing skid and has dropped four of seven bouts all-time inside the Octagon.
Some Upside From ProElite's, EliteXC's Demise
Sam Caplan identifies it:
Another thing you will see with the fall of ProElite is the rise of regional MMA. With MMA on the downturn in Japan, a lot of talented fighters could be stuck in a state of purgatory. Granted, Strikeforce will be very interested in a lot of the aforementioned names, but the reality is that the WEC, UFC (which will likely have to purge some of its roster if it pursues a significant amount of ex-EliteXC fighters), and Strikeforce can only have so many fighters under contract. A lot of fighters who were fighting and winning on the national level are suddenly going to find that their only options will be to fight for less for U.S.-based regional promotions and improve their market value with the major national promotions that remain, or retire.
Existing regional promotions will look to secure talent that falls through the cracks while several promotions will form out of the void that has been created by the collapse of so many national promotions. A fight such as Rogers vs. Herman, which had been discussed as a strong possibility of taking place for EliteXC in 2009 for the promotion’s heavyweight title, might now be contested on a regional show. And once these regional promotions sign a few significant names, they will become immediate candidates to land a broadcast deal with HDNet.
What's Next for Kimbo Slice, Gina Carano and Jake Shields?
Dave Meltzer ponders what's next for the three biggest players in EliteXC's roster:
Elite XC’s two biggest attractions, Slice and Carano, are unlikely to be moving to the sport’s highest-profile group. UFC president Dana White has repeatedly said he won’t use Slice, who made his reputation as a backyard streetfighter on YouTube videos but is not the caliber of even a mid-level MMA pro. White also has said he’s not interested in promoting women’s fighting, although Carano’s success as a draw may cause him to reconsider. Her match with Kelly Kobold two weeks ago ended up adding more new viewers than any MMA match on television in the U.S.
Several agents for fighters have been in contact all day with the UFC. Some, like welterweight champion Jake Shields, would be welcomed into the promotion.
Carano will likely be fighting in an ad hoc basis. She is too marketable and popular to never be used, but without a strong financial backer to build women's MMA or divisions she'll be forced to fight opponents in a one-off basis. Luckily for her, she doesn't have all of her eggs in one basket with her various ventures. She'll still have a public profile with or without MMA.
Shields is in an excellent spot and I would be surprised if he didn't go to the WEC or UFC (more likely the latter).
As for Slice, that's tougher to predict. He is exceptionally popular, but do major promotions like Strikeforce or Affliction - who realize how limited his talent actually is - want to follow in EliteXC's footsteps with meaningless match-making? Part of the impetus to put those matches together was simply to keep EliteXC afloat on the back of their most popular star. Does Strikeforce want to follow that precedent? I seriously doubt it, although I could imagine a world where Affliction tries that. While it's impossible to dismiss Slice's appeal, EliteXC offered the perfect hand-in-glove scenario for him to thrive. Unless promoters are willing to make the same accomodations, where does he go?
New Rashad Evans Interview!
Rashad Evans ‘Almost Undisputed’
#1 UFC Lightheavyweight Contender ‘Sugar’ Rashad Evans took some time to talk with PDG about his victory over the ‘Iceman’, training for his title shot against Forrest Griffin, his mixed martial arts career and ‘Devil May Cry’.
PDG: Another big UFC fight in your division that is coming up is Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson vs. ‘The Axe Murderer’ Wanderlei Silva version 3.0; what do you think of that match-up and possibly facing the winner of that fight sometime down the road? Evans: I think it's great and I would love to be in a position to fight the winner of that match. It would be an honor in itself to fight either one of those two guys since I've been a fan of both of them for a very long time. ‘Rampage’ nearly got killed though the last time that he fought Wanderlei, Wanderlei could have got arrested for what he did to him in their last fight [laughs]. But in all seriousness if ‘Rampage’ goes into the fight like a quarterback who had a really bad game the last time he faced that opponent and has a short memory. Then just like the quarterback who bounces back and has a great game, so can ‘Rampage’. It is going to be tough though because of the blows that he was dealt in their last fight. Sometimes a fighter just has your number and if Wanderlei stays true to him self....