UFC 88 AWARDS: FIGHTER BONUSES NET $60,000
Rashad Evans took the heat in “Hot-lanta” to a whole new level on Saturday night as the Ultimate Fighting Championship descended on Atlanta. He spent the first round being stalked by former UFC champion Chuck Liddell, but didn’t wait long to score the “Knockout of the Night” in round two
Exclusive Interview: Chuck Liddell
Chuck Liddell isn’t the easiest man to get on the phone. But our buddy Ben Zeidler pinned him down yesterday for a wide-ranging discussion on his impending title shot, Dana White’s trustworthiness, money, and tonight’s UFC 88 fight against Rashad Evans. (Quick prediction: “I’m gonna knock him out.”) So without further ado…
CAGEPOTATO: What’s the plan for Rashad Evans?
CHUCK LIDDELL: I’m gonna punch him until he falls down and then I’m gonna punch him a few more times until they stop me. Can’t give you more of a gameplan than that. Simple.
Can you handle Rashad’s wrestling? You wrestled at San Luis Obispo, but Evans is one of the top wrestlers in the sport.
I mean, that’s definitely one of his strengths and you have to worry about it, but you know, I was a Division I wrestler myself so I can handle him.
What do you see happening if the fight goes to the ground? Will you stay there or try to stand back up?
I’ll try to stand back up. The plan is to get back to the feet and make him work to keep me down. No matter where the fight is, he’ll have to work.
What from your strategy will you bring in from the Wanderlei fight and what will you leave out?
I’ll probably use just about everything.
Werdum still wants the heavyweight belt
Randy Couture’s back to UFC may have pushed a Brazilian fighter back in the title line. Pointed as the next contender with a new victory at UFC 90, against Junior Cigano, Fabrício Werdum maybe was forgotten by the Dana White, Ultimate president, that put Randy Couture to face Brock Lesnar, who only has one fight in the octagon, and the winner will face the winner of Nogueira-Mir bout. “Ultimate thinks about business, and Lesnar is more famous in United States. I don’t know how they’ll do it, because my new contract guarantees a title shot with a victory against Cigano”, said Werdum to TATAME.com.
Brock Lesnar and the road to Randy Couture
Quite frankly, it had gotten to the point where it didn’t seem as if there was any chance Randy “The Natural” Couture would ever fight in the UFC again. After all, he wanted a match with Fedor Emelianenko— who currently fights for Affliction— and had said some rather unsettling things about the UFC upon initiating his recent hiatus from the fight game. But then came the announcement that we were all waiting for—Randy Couture would be fighting again.
But it wouldn’t be against the guy we all thought it would be against. Forget Fedor for now; apparently those recent rumblings were true. That’s right, we’re talking about Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Couture at UFC 91 on November 15th.
“We aired out a lot of our differences, resolved a lot of things,” said Randy Couture on ESPN’s SportsCenter regarding his problems with the UFC.
Rousimar Palhares: “Henderson can say whatever he wants; the fight will be decided in the Octagon”
While Rousimar Palhares has yet to gain much traction with casual UFC fans, his outstanding Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu credentials have caught the eyes of many hardcore fans. When it comes to Palhares and his recent entry in the UFC, there is a certain buzz going around as it pertains to him.
Palhares made his UFC debut at UFC 84 this past May thanks in large part to his impressive 3-0 record while competing for Brazil’s Fury Fighting Championships. Facing veteran Ivan Salaverry in his Octagon debut, Palhares did not disappoint after he notched a first round armbar submission.
While the fight with Salaverry was not featured during the live portion of the PPV broadcast, the performance was still strong enough to spark some fans to suggest that Palhares could be an eventual challenger for current UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Based on the UFC’s decision to match Palhares against former PRIDE middleweight and welterweight champion Dan Henderson in just his second UFC match during tonight’s UFC 88 event, it’s safe to say that the promotion things highly of him as well.
Few pegged Rashad Evans’ main-event status
ATLANTA – On Rich Franklin's first day as a coach on Season 2 of "The Ultimate Fighter," he looked at Rashad Evans and immediately had a candidate to name the weakest link.
But a couple of days later, Franklin saw something during a workout from the one-time Michigan State University wrestler that convinced him that Evans was better than his first impression.
And so, when the former UFC middleweight champion and fellow coach Matt Hughes were divvying up the teams, Franklin tabbed Evans, causing Hughes to shoot him a sideways glance in surprise, for Hughes had also viewed Evans skeptically.
Three years later, Evans (11-0-1) has made Franklin look good as a talent evaluator. He's one of the few main-event fighters on the UFC roster with no losses and will meet Chuck Liddell (21-5) on Saturday at Philips Arena in a key light heavyweight bout at UFC 88.
Finkelstein: Dana White Wants To Destroy Couture
M-1 Global president Vadim Finkelstein released the following statement regarding Randy Couture's recent signing with the UFC:
I believe Randy knows what he’s doing. He’s an awesome athlete, one of the world’s best. I know he got tired of these endless litigations and uncertainty that arose after his resignation. UFC had Randy in the contractual trap so he had to choose an easier solution to the problem.
As for his potential bout with Fedor – all the MMA fans are eager to see this happen. The statements mister White still makes about Fedor alert me. It looks as if White is reluctant to let the best fighter in the world fight the UFC symbol. I’m afraid we’ll stumble upon the bricks of the UFC monopoly and the negotiations will lead nowhere. This fight the fans await might never materialize.
Randy has proved long time ago to be America’s number 1, he’s got nothing more to prove but this contract brings him back to the position where he has again to fight younger athetes in order to earn the right he’s already earned to face the best. Randy is a mature fighter and putting him to the test now and again seems not quite reasonable to me. Everyone wants to see Fedor vs. Randy. Apparently Dana plans to destroy Randy by signing him to three bouts. White believes that Couture won’t pass through the hard trial without loss so that eventually the champion will stay with the UFC. Randy is 45 and he defeated a lot of great adversaries but now he is set to face some upstart athlete who Dana intends to turn into the national star if he pulls the victory against the long-time hero. Fight is fight and anything can happen. All this reminds me of the PRIDE situation when the organization was bought out with the sole goal of completely destroying it.
That’s why it looks like there will be no Randy-Fedor fight ever although we are eager to make it happen, both fighters are eager to get it on.
Fedor is the number one fighter in the world and we always try to give him the bouts against the best opponents while all the statements of White doubting Fedor’s status are caused by the awareness of the fact that the power of the UFC in the world of MMA is not overwhelming. They can’t own every fighter they covet. UFC is very well-known and possesses lion’s share in MMA industry because of its history and popularity accumulated during the years that the organization exists.
In our turn we negotiate a longterm collaboration with Affliction. We build a global project helping fighters from all over the world gain fame. That’s why we launched international M-1 Challenge. We want to organize huge events in order to promote MMA and make it popular in the whole world and not in the context of one particular country. We work hard on achieving the goals we set and time will tell whose path was right.
Lyoto Machida's camp prepared to defer UFC title opportunity
With Friday's unfortunate revelation that UFC light-heavyweight Thiago Silva (13-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) would be forced to withdraw from a UFC 89 clash with fellow-undefeated-contender Lyoto Machida (13-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC), Machida's camp has been forced to re-evaluate its current position in the UFC's light-heavyweight division.
Machida'a manager Ed Soares recently spoke with MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) about the camp's immediate reaction to the news.
"I guess [Silva] hurt his back pretty bad a few weeks ago, and he's been trying to work through it," Soares explained. "And then [Thursday], something during practice -- supposedly today he's not even able to walk. It's horrible. We were really looking forward to that fight. But hopefully he's able to heal up and be OK soon."
Soares said Machida was disappointed to lose the opportunity to face Silva.
UFC Quick Quote: Rousimar Palhares over Dan Henderson via heel hook
“I’m not as Las Vegas, but I put some money on him, there are people there to bet for me. MMA is an unpredictable sport, but I can say that Palhares’ game is perfect to fight Dan Henderson, and I believe Henderson’s only chance is to find a punch in the beginning. I truly believe this fight will be over with a heel hook first round submission.”
– Mario Sperry — the man responsible for bringing Rousimar Palhares into the Brazilian Top Team fold — tells Tatame.com that his fighter will win tonight over Dan Henderson at UFC 88: “Breakthrough” via heel hook. Henderson has seven career losses, three of which are by way of submission.
Strikeforce adds three fights to ‘Payback’ card
Three matches have recently been added to the Strikeforce: “Payback” event, which takes place at the Broomfield Events Center in Denver, Colo., on October 3.
In a welterweight tilt, UFC veteran and “The Ultimate Fighter 4? alum Pete “The Secret Weapon” Spratt (18-14) will face off against former IFL competitor Donnie Liles (11-5).
Spratt is (1-2) in 2008, losing to John Alessio and Ryan Ford, while scoring an impressive knockout victory over Jason Von Flue in April. Liles on the other hand has won both of his fights this year, beating Cruz Chacon and Seth Baczynski with third and first round submissions respectively.
Also signed for “Payback” is a middleweight bout featuring the undefeated Billy Evangelista (7-0) taking on two-fight UFC veteran Luke “Lil Hulk” Caudillo (14-11).
Caudillo lost both of his fights in the UFC to Nate Mohr by unanimous decision and Marcus Aurelio by first round technical knockout. In his first fight after leaving the top organization he lost a disappointing fight at a Ring of Fire event, submitting to Torrance Taylor in the third round. The loss brought his losing streak to three.
Evangelista impressed a lot of folks in a split decision victory over Nam Phan in June even though he gassed out towards the end of the fight. This will be his fifth fight under the Strikeforce banner. He also holds a knockout victory over “TUF 5? alum Marlon Sims, who claims to be “Mr. Indestructible.”
The third fight announced is a female match pitting Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Watterson (3-2) - one of the stars of the television program “Fighter Girls” - against Fatal Femmes Fighting veteran Brandy Nerny (1-1).
Forrest Griffin pulling for Chuck Liddell at UFC 88
ATLANTA - With a potential title shot on the line in tonight's UFC 88 main-event fight with Rashad Evans, Chuck Liddell could be just one win away from a shot at Forrest Griffin's light-heavyweight title.
UFC President Dana White recently mentioned the possibility of that scenario, and on Friday, the former champion got some additional support.
As mentioned in today's edition of the Dayton Daily News, it came from the current title-holder.
During a Q&A segment with the UFC's fan club (and hosted by UFC broadcast Mike Golberg), Griffin was at first hesitant to predict a winner in tonight's Liddell-Evans main event, which takes place at Atlanta's Philips Arena. But, after a little prodding and some critical thinking, Griffin picked a winner.
However, he was admittedly self-serving with his prediction.
UFC 88 Projected Big Pay-Per-View Numbers
MMA Payout is projecting big numbers for UFC 88 -- 590,000 ppv orders -- based on the number of viewers for the UFC Countdown program earlier this week -- 701,000.
That is the second highest rated Countdown special of the year, trailing only Countdown to UFC 83, which drew 782,000 viewers. This was only the second countdown special all year to break the 700,000 level and suggests a strong PPV performance for this card.
Zach Arnold comments:
590,000 PPV buys for this weekend’s show? If that is the case for a show that has received little or no media coverage, then UFC is truly unstoppable and everyone else in the business should get out now and cut their losses.
MMA Payout's Robert Joyner hedges his bets a bit at Fight Opinion:
The predictor thing is a work in progress to be sure, Zach. We went back and did the data for the past year and a half and it gave us between 8 and 10% margin of error. Not the best but it was scarily accurate at times. My gut tells me it will be closer to the 475k (500 maybe) figure mentioned in my UFC 88 preview. tbh, I was surprised at the strong number the Countdown show did.
I've commented previously on the lack of buzz for this show so it will be a very good sign indeed for UFC's upcoming big money run of events starting with UFC 91.
Our own Mike Rome comments:
The online hype is all Randy Couture, but Chuck Liddell is still a huge mainstream draw, as evidenced by the countdown rating. Rashad has also surprised headlining before.
Chuck was on sportscenter today too, I think this one will do 500-550, which is still a great number. 590 seems very high.
Strongman Mike Miller Enters the Cage
Following in the footsteps of his WWE counterpart Brock Lesnar, former pro wrestler and one of the world’s stongest men Mike Miller has decided to test his chops in the mixed martial arts cage.
Miller, who at the pinnacle of his powerlifting career weighed in excess of 400 pounds, made the announcement during a recent episode of the “Super Human Radio” show.
And while Miller has never professionally competed in MMA, he is no stranger to mixed martial arts.
“I’ve been training in martial arts for over ten years” Miller told the host Carl Lanore during the interview.
Liddell Wants Two Titles Before Retirement
Chuck Liddell thinks it would be possible for him to hold both the light-heavyweight and heavyweight titles in the UFC.
He has set his sights on getting the light-heavyweight belt back, assuming he beats Rashad Evans this weekend, but is also eyeing the strap currently held by Randy Couture.
Regarding the light-heavyweight belt, he told MMA Mania: "I think I'm due a crack at that title, sure. I'm going to argue for it after I win but we'll see what happens.''
And if Couture is still heavyweight boss at that point, “I wouldn't mind coming up and getting the heavyweight title too,'' he added.
Couture and Liddell have fought three times before, with Liddell being the winner on two occasions, both times by knockout.
Earlier this week, the UFC announced that its errant heavyweight champion had returned to the fold after a prolonged absence.
Palhares’ coaches betting on his victory
Tomorrow UFC will view the most important fight in Rousimar Palhares’ MMA career, and his coaches bet on his victory against Dan Henderson. One of the most Brazilian Boxing coaches, Cláudio Coelho trained some of the best fighters of the world, as Murilo Bustamante, Rodrigo Nogueira, Royce and Ryan Gracie, Marco Ruas and many others, and helped Rousimar on his stand up game. “He’s really aggressive on the ground, and Murilo (Bustamante) put him to do Boxing to catch some skills, and we’re doing a special job to prepare him for this fight”, said Cláudio, that guarantees Palhares’ has an underrated stand up game.
“He’s very explosive and has a great punch that can end with a fight”, said, betting his tips on a victory. “After knowing him like I know, I can say that I think he’ll win by submission”, said Coelho. After Paulo Filho, WEC middleweight champion, said TATAME that he could bet his own house on Palhares’ victory, Zé Mário Sperry, the man that took Palhares out of Rio de Janeiro streets and put him to train at BTT, actually bet on his victory at UFC 88.
“I’m not as Las Vegas, but I put some money on him, there are people there to bet for me”, said Sperry, that is waiting for the vitory. “MMA is an unpredictable sport, but I can say that Palhares’ game is perfect to fight Dan Henderson, and I believe Henderson’s only chance is to find a punch in the beginning”, said Sperry, that thinks this fight will be fast. “I truly believe this fight will be over with a heel hook first round submission”, finished Sperry.
PFC Announces Complete Card for “Explosive”
The Palace Fighting Championship has announced the complete fight card for it’s upcoming event on September 26. “Explosive” will take place at the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino in Lemoore, California.
World Extreme Cagefighting mainstay Olaf Alfonso will take on UFC and PRIDE veteran Phil Baroni in the show’s main event. Baroni dropped down to welterweight for the first time in his career and knocked out Scott Jansen at Cage Rage 27 in July, following it up with a first-round TKO of Ron Verdadero at ICON Sport’s “Hard Times” on August 2.
Alfonso snapped a dreadful six-fight losing streak with a surprising knockout of lightweight prospect Casey Olson at a PFC boxing and MMA card in February. Regardless of the outcome of his fight against Baroni, PFC officials intend on offering Alfonso a shot at the promotion’s lightweight title later this year.
Other notable fighters in action include WEC veteran Antonio Banuelos, Poppies Martinez, and Xavier Foupa-Pokam. A total of three championship bouts will also take place on the card, which can be found after the jump.
Phil Baroni vs. Olaf Alfonso
Shawn Klarcyk vs. Brandon Miller - PFC Bantamweight Title
Brian Cobb vs. Lance Wipf - PFC Lightweight Title
Bryan Travers vs. Jeremiah Metcalf - PFC Welterweight Title
Antonio Banuelos vs. Bryan Goldsby
Poppies Martinez vs. Sergio Cortez
Xavier Foupa-Pokam vs. Derek Thornton
David Mitchell vs. David Suarez
Chris Botelho vs. Anthony Bivins
Dustin Akbari vs. Bill Theofanopoulos
Joe Soto vs. Brandon Jinnies
Lavar Johnson vs. Vince Lucero
Elvis Franco vs. Mike Craddock
Joey Cabezas vs. Billy Terry
Chad Mendes vs. Giovanni Encarncacion
Luis Gonzales vs. Elbert Randle
Sherdog to Stream Strikeforce on Sept. 20
Strikeforce today announced that Sherdog.com will be providing a live stream of the organization’s upcoming “Strikeforce at the Mansion II” event, which will take place at the at the Playboy Mansion in Hollywood, California on September 20.
The stream, which will be free of charge to viewers, is scheduled to begin promptly at 7:30 PM PT and will air the entire fight card in its entirety, including the show’s two preliminary bouts. The link to the stream will appear on Sherdog and Strikeforce’s official websites on the day of the event.
“We are looking forward to bringing fight fans around the world a great night of professional MMA action from the Playboy Mansion on a major web platform,” Strikeforce founder Scott Coker said in a press release today. “Sherdog has been cutting edge in its delivery of MMA coverage since the sport’s early days so showcasing this event is a natural fit for its brand.”
Brian Gassaway to appear at TKO 35 on Oct. 3
TKO Championship Fighting has announced that UFC veteran Brian Gassaway will take on welterweight prospect T.J. Grant at TKO 35: Hioki vs. Quenneville.
Gassaway, a native of Chicago, Illinois, possesses a mixed martial arts record of 28-18-2 and has appeared in the UFC confines once losing to TUF 1 winner Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez. Gassaway’s record includes appearances in organizations such as King of the Cage, World Extreme Cagefighting, and Pancrase while he holds victories over Travis Fulton, Mark Hughes, and Jose “Pele” Landi-Jons.
Gassaway’s victory over Pele marked his debut in TKO and the bout ended in a gruesome fashion. While battling it out on the feet, Pele moved in and attempted a low kick only to have his right tibia and fibula snap. He immediately went down in a heap of pain and Gassaway was awarded the victory on the injury.
Martin Kampmann "at 100 percent" for UFC 88 bout with Nate Marquardt
UFC middleweight contender Martin Kampmann (13-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) has been in this position before.
In June of 2007, Kampmann was slated to face former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin with a shot at current champion Anderson Silva on the line. A devastating knee injury suffered in training forced Kampmann out of the bout.
A little more than a year later Kampmann stands again on the verge of a title shot. And as "The Hitman" told TAGG Radio (www.taggradio.com), the official radio partner of MMAjunkie.com (www.mmmajunkie.com), this time he's ready.
"I feel good," Kampmann said. "It was a long way to get back in training because the knee injury was very complicated. It took a long time, but now I've been back training 100 percent. I'm ready to go 100 percent."
Kampmann actually suffered multiple traumas to his knee. The process required two surgeries and a tissue transplant.
Possible Rampage vs. Wanderlei Silva at UFC 91?
According to FightTicker the two have been offered a spot against each other on the November card that will feature Couture/Lesnar.
MMARated.com is reporting that a light heavyweight bout between Rampage Jackson and Wanderlei Silva has been offered to both fighters for UFC 91.The show will be held on November 15th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas,NV.
The show's main event between the returning Randy Couture against Brock Lesnar has had the MMA world abuzz this week and the addition of this fight could only help draw even more PPV buys to what may already be a record number when all is said and done. The card will also feature a lightweight bout between Kenny Florian and Joe Stevenson and a possible matchup between TUF season 7 winner Amir Sadollah and Nick Catone is also being rumored.
Silva has two previous victories against Rampage in the now defunct Pride organization.
It will be interesting to see which Rampage shows up. Will it be the man who rose to glory to defeat Chuck Liddell or will it be the disturbed man we have seen lately? I personally hope that Jackson can work through all of his troubles and give us a performance that could lead to "Fight of the Night" honors.
This could make for a great start to a huge card. It'd be really interesting to see if Rampage can really be in the right mental state to take a fight with Silva by November, given all of his problems of late. But if it goes, that'd be two huge fights to look forward to.