MMAjunkie.com Fight Biz: On cusp of historic show, what's in store for UFC's next 100?
UFC 100 – it is a milestone few thought possible when the organization was fighting for its survival in the mid-1990s.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship was deemed too heinous for even pay-per-view and on its way to becoming but a footnote in American sports.
"I knew they were going to shut it down," said Guy Mezger, one of the early "ultimate fighters," who competed at UFC 4 and 5. "The reason that I fought in UFC 4 in the first place, I wanted to see how I would do in such a challenge because I thought they were going to shut this down, with it being a no-rules contest. And, we were right. The original Semaphore Entertainment Group held on for as long as they could, but they weren't willing to change with the times and the flow of, let's say, the politics, and they became nonexistent and Zuffa took over."
It's largely because of the change in ownership that the UFC will celebrate a seminal moment in its history on July 11 in Las Vegas with its 100th show. With the "UFC Fight Night" series added to the count, the promotion topped the century mark some time ago, but that's beside the point. UFC 100 takes on special significance because of what the organization – and the sport – has endured to get here.
"The sport had to shake its old renegade image, back in the head-butts and groin-shot days," Showtime MMA analyst Stephen Quadros, who served as a judge at UFC 8, told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "It had to clean itself up, but I've always believed in the athletes and the sport. It's already rivaling primetime sports like NASCAR and the NBA, and people know what mixed martial arts are today and what the UFC is."
It took 16 years to get to this point, and with the pace the UFC now schedules major shows, UFC 200 will arrive on a much faster timeline. So what will the UFC look like then, nine to 10 years from now? Will the promotion and MMA truly be mainstream, as much a part of the American sports lexicon as the NFL, college football or the NBA finals?
For all its strides thus far, MMA isn't there yet.
"It's not mainstream," Mezger said. "We get a lot of attention, it gets a lot of hype, but I don't think we're mainstream, mainly because you don't see GSP (Georges St. Pierre) with the multimillion dollar Nike contract, the Gatorade contract and selling Cadillacs."
The UFC's lack of a network TV deal is one of the main reasons that MMA still sits on the sporting fringe in the U.S. For hordes of casual fans, the UFC is MMA. The organization has the most recognized fighters, the biggest marketing budget and the promotional edge over its rivals. Most casual fans can't even spell Sengoku, much less articulate what it is. The UFC has a significant advantage over all competing promotions, enabling the UFC to draw more new fans to MMA than even EliteXC could with its breakthrough exposure on CBS. However, until the UFC establishes a consistent presence on national network TV, its growth will be tempered.
Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone earns a rematch with Jamie Varner later this year...
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - WEC lightweight Donald Cerrone (10-1 MMA, 3-1 WEC) will get a second shot at current champion Jamie Varner (16-2 MMA, 4-0 WEC) some time this fall.
While Cerrone has made no attempt to hide his desire for the rematch, WEC general manager Reed Harris announced following Sunday's WEC 41 event that Varner had also agreed to the contest.
"I spoke to Mr. Varner tonight, and he's ready to go," Harris said. "He's going to take the fight."
OFFICIAL WEC 41 Fighter Salaries
Despite a loss to Josh Grispi in what might prove to be his final professional MMA fight, Jens Pulver earned an event-high disclosed salary of $31,253 at Sunday's "WEC 41: Brown vs. Faber II" event.
Pulver suffered a first-round submission loss to Grispi in the first Versus-televised bout at WEC 41, which took place at ARCO Arena in Sacramento, Calif.
WEC 41 officially falls short of attendance record...
...but sets new high for live gate.
WEC 41 didn't set an attendance record after all.
Although initially and unofficially announced as 13,027, the attendance at Sunday's show at ARCO Arena in Sacramento, Calif., drew 12,706 fans (10,110 paid) for a $815,415 gate, the California State Athletic Commission today confirmed with MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
WEC: 8 Shows This Year, 10 Likely Next Year
Following WEC 41, perhaps the promotion's most successful event ever, WEC GM Reed Harris unveiled the plans for the rest of the year and 2010. WEC will hold a total of 8 events this year, meaning 4 more events this year including August's WEC 42, and the plan is for 10 shows in 2010 but that also depends on TV partner Versus.
Ben Rothwell vs Chase Gormley Set for Affliction: Trilogy
Former IFL heavyweight champion Ben Rothwell is set to square off with undefeated up-and-comer Chase Gormley at Affliction: Trilogy on August 1 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
MMA Fanhouse confirmed the matchup at Wednesday's Affliction: Trilogy press conference with Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio.
Strikeforce won't stand in way of Brett Rogers' championship aspirations (Possibe title shot in August)
"Alistair, I was kind of aiming for him," Rogers said in a post-event press conference following Saturday's "Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields" event at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. "I was expecting the title today. He's still in my sight."
According to one Strikeforce executive, that Rogers vs. Overeem bout could happen as soon as August.
During Saturday's Showtime broadcast, Strikeforce announced an Aug. 15 card featuring new signee Gina Carano vs. Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos and Strikeforce world lightweight champion Josh Thomson vs. interim title-holder Gilbert Melendez.
Overeem is essentially a lock for the card. BUT Could the Dutch fighter, who hasn't defended his Strikeforce world heavyweight belt since winning it in late 2007, now meet Rogers?
Josh Barnett: ‘Rock Em, Sock Em’ Reilly will vote for MMA when he can get rich from it
"New York is a very big legislative district and there’s a lot of money going through here … [MMA] is an easy target for a politician to make it seem like he’s working for the money he’s gobbling up into his pockets through special interests and greasing palms, the old-boys network. Politicians aren’t really there to serve us, they’re there to serve themselves and to work and live in the political circle that it is and live off the political money that is in that circle. When the day comes that it’s more beneficial for them to have MMA (in New York) instead of attacking it, then things will change. Until they think they can get rich off it, they’re going to use it as their Rock’Em, Sock ‘Em Robot."
Strikeforce 'Lawler Vs Shields' Results - (SPOILERS + Fight Videos)
Jake Shields def. Robbie Lawler via submission - Round 1, 2:02
Brett Rogers def. Andrei Alorvski via TKO - Round 1, 0:22
Nick Diaz def. Scott Smith via submission - Round 3, 1:41
Joe Riggs def. Phil Baroni via unanimous decision
Mike Whitehead def. Kevin Randleman via unanimous decision
Jesse Finney def. Josh Bumgarner via submission - Round 1, 1:55
Mike Kyle def. Rafael Cavalcante via TKO - Round 2, 4:05
Booker DeRousse def. James Wade via TKO - Round 1, 4:06
Tyron Woodley def. Salvoder Woods via submission - Round 1, 4:20
Lucas Lopes def. Scott Ventimiglia via disqualification - Round 1, 3:26
Pat Benson def. Dave Cochran via submission - Round 1, 2:18
Gina Carano vs Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Santos confirmed for August 15 Strikeforce event!
Strikeforce today confirmed that former Elite XC fighter and recent Strikeforce acquisition Cristiane Santos (7-1) will finally fight female fighting sensation Gina Carano (7-0) at the upcoming Strikeforce event planned for August 15.
“Cyborg,” the wife of former Pride FC fighter Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos, burst onto the scene in May of 2008 with a dominating performance against Shayna Baszler in her debut under the Elite XC banner. Like her husband, she’s a product of the Brazilian Chute Boxe Academy, a style that’s evident as soon as she steps foot in the cage.
Her most recent fight was on the Strikeforce: ‘Shamrock vs. Diaz’ card last April when she received heavy criticism for missing weight for her fight against Japanese import Hitomi Akano. Santos brutalized “Girlfight Monster” for two rounds before stopping her with strikes in the final frame.
Since the fall of Elite XC immediately following Elite XC: “Heat” in 2008, Santos has been clear on the fact that she wanted to fight Carano, the face of women’s MMA and one-time Elite XC headliner.
And “Conviction” is more than happy to oblige.
Lyoto Machida vs Mauricio Rua confirmed for UFC 104 on October 24
It’s time for some Brazilian-on-Brazilian crime.
MMAmania.com has learned that bout agreements have been signed for the light heavyweight title fight between newly-minted champion Lyoto Machida (15-0) and 2005 Pride FC Middleweight Grand Prix winner Mauricio Rua (18-3) for UFC 104 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, on October 24.
Leonard Garcia Returns at WEC 42 to Face Jameel Massouh
A featherweight bout has been added to the next WEC show slated for Aug 9 as former top contender, "Bad Boy" Leonard Garcia returns to action to face Jameel Massouh
Garcia steps back into the WEC cage for the first time since suffering a loss to current champion, Mike Brown, in a title fight back in March.
His opponent, Jameel Massouh, will make his second appearance in the WEC, after suffering a loss in his debut bout against top ten featherweight, Rafael Assuncao.
UFC star in new TV commercial
HERE'S UFC star Brock Lesnar showing off his animal instinct in a new advert being screened on American TV.
The heavyweight champion cut a promo for Wildlife Research Center's Scent Killer 99%, which vows to smash human odour just as well as Brock destroys heavy bags.
You can take a look at the 32-year-old former WWE star's efforts at killing off nasty stenches by clicking on the video link below.
‘Dont call it a comeback’ for Kevin Randleman … it’s a rebirth
“LL Cool J has a great song: ‘Don’t call it a comeback. I’ve been here for years.’ Don’t call it a comeback. I don’t think of it as a comeback. I look at it like I needed to go back to school and learn a lot more. I’m just going to give it my all Saturday night. I don’t anticipate anybody at 205 being able to knock me out or take me out.
Think of it as the ‘Rebirth of the Monster.’ But I’m not a monster anymore. I’m not running around in the streets like a crazy man. I just want to fight. I just want to be the guy I always was but was too scared to be. The best thing that ever happened to me was the UFC firing me because I was just too crazy and too out of control. There has always been so much chaos in my life that now that it’s calm I feel nervous.
But not because I’m fighting Mike Whitehead or whoever on June 6. I’m not nervous because I’m angry. I’m nervous because I know for one year I’ve trained for this fight. I’ve been training because I knew I had to be ready to fight once I got that contract.
Strikeforce "Lawler vs. Shields" Weigh-In Results
STRIKEFORCE MAIN CARD
-Robbie Lawler (182.75) vs. Jake Shields (181.75)
-Nick Diaz (179) vs. Scott Smith (179.5)
-Andrei Arlovski (244) vs. Brett Rogers (262)
-Kevin Randleman (204) vs. Mike Whitehead (206)
-Phil Baroni (168.75) vs. Joe Riggs (170)
STRIKEFORCE PRELIMINARY CARD
-Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante (205.5) vs. Mike Kyle (202.5)
-Josh Baumgartner (173.5) vs. Jesse Finney (175.75)
-Tyron Woodley (170.5) vs. Sal Woods (169.25)
-Lucas Lopes (186) vs. Scott Ventimiglia (185)
-Dave Cochran (153) vs. Pat Benson (155.75)
-Booker DeRousse (204.25) vs. James Wade (205.25)
The main card airs live in most American time zones on Showtime on Saturday night.
Tito Ortiz Sued Over MMA Trash Talk
Tito Ortiz is on the receiving end of a serious legal attack -- one that started after the UFC legend bashed "Rampage" Jackson's former trainer to the media.
The guy filing the lawsuit is Juanito Ibarra -- a fighting expert who claims he's trained more than 15 world champs and several Olympic Gold Medal winners. Ibarra's pissed over an interview Tito gave to a website back in 2008, in which the fighter ripped Ibarra as a "thief" who had financially "taken advantage of Rampage."
In the lawsuit, filed today in L.A. County Superior Court, Ibarra claims Tito's statements are all false and "highly offensive" -- and things got worse when scores of sports websites began publishing follow-up stories, repeating Tito's comments.
Ibarra is suing Tito and all the blogs and publications that ran Tito's interview for defamation, invasion of privacy and emotional distress.
Machida Receives Hometwon Hero Welcome
Newly minted UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida got a hero’s welcome from more than 100 fans that greeted him at Belém International airport this week. The 31-year-old Machida knocked out Rashad Evans in the second round of their UFC 98 title tilt on May 23 in Las Vegas.
“I knew they would have a party for me, but I didn’t expect that much,” said the clearly moved Machida.