Champ Jamie Varner confident the WEC can find worthy contenders
Just days after his first successful WEC lightweight title defense, Jamie Varner (15-2) says he believes the organization is well-suited to attract top-level opposition for future bouts.
Varner discussed his desire to face elite-level competition while a guest of TAGG Radio (www.taggradio.com), the official radio partner of MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
"I have faith that the WEC is constantly growing," Varner said. "They're constantly recruiting new talent. They're going to be finding guys for me to fight. I trust that eventually a guy that they're going to bring in will be a top-five guy, a top-10 guy, and I'll have a true test."
Varner survived an early test from challenger Marcus Hicks this past Sunday night's WEC 35 event. But after overcoming the initial onslaught, Varner was able to blast back with a barrage of punches, kicks and knees en route to a first-round stoppage.
Varner was impressed by the courage of his opponent.
"I was definitely wondering when [Hicks] was finally going to (fall)," Varner said. "Either the corner was going to throw in the towel or he was going to take his final fall. That was definitely going through my head as I was hitting him. I was like, 'How is this guy still standing?' But eventually he did fall, and (referee Steve) Mazzagatti stopped the fight."
The win was Varner's fourth in a row. "The Worm" has lost just once in his most recent 15 official bouts.
Varner believes there are a few immediate obstacles for him to overcome. Once past them, he feels the responsibility will shift to the WEC to find him suitable challengers.
"I'd like to fight Richard Crunkilton, Donald Cerrone or 'Razor' Rob (McCullough) again," Varner said. "I think any of those three would be worthy opponents -- or even all three of them. I'm looking at those three.
"And if I win all three of those fights, I pretty much cleaned out my division. And then the WEC is going to have to find some new talent."
McCullough, who Varner defeated for the title in February, and Cerrone, an undefeated prospect, will meet in September at WEC 36 in Hollywood, Fla., Varner believes the winner of that bout will more than likely be tagged as his next foe.
"I haven't heard anything about my next fight," Varner said. "I just kind of assume that it's going to be the winner of 'Razor' Rob and Cerrone, the 'Cowboy.' Next Monday I'm going to start training for a right-handed kickboxer. Hopefully I'll end up with one of those guys."
Should Varner be able to register his fifth consecutive victory, the Arizona Combat Sports fighter trusts the WEC will continue to seek out the best available opponents.
"I think I should be fighting top-five guys," Varner said. "I trust that the WEC will be bringing me that kind of talent and that kind of competition.
"I'm 23 years old. I'm in no hurry. But my goal is to be the best fighter in the world, and I trust that the WEC will get me there."
Varner also discussed the possibility of a cross-promotional bout with the WEC's sister-company, the UFC, his training with Arizona Combat Sports, and his days before becoming a full-time fighter. To hear the full interview, download Wednesday's edition of "TAGG Radio," available for free in the TAGG Radio archives.
Razor Rob, Rampage, Tiki and the cops
From "Razor" Rob McCullough's latest blog:
"That night, I ended up being the sober driver for my boys, Rampage, Tiki and Ryan “Loco.” The nite ended up with us on the side of the road pulled over by the police for speeding. After getting a ticket, the cops were super cool and asked if they could take some pics with their camera phones. They shook our hands as we left. I suppose that could’ve ended up a lot worse."
Check out Razor Rob's entire blog here:
Texas Court Grants Zuffa LLC Motion
of the Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC®), has been informed by the Texas Court of Appeals that it has granted Zuffa’s Motion to Compel Randy Couture to arbitrate in the District of Nevada, thereby staying all further action by HDNet against Zuffa in the state of Texas.
Specifically, the Court of Appeals found that the lower court had engaged in “a clear abuse of discretion” by permitting HDNet to litigate claims relating to Mr. Couture’s contract in Texas, rather than in Nevada, where Zuffa is presently pressing a breach of contract action against Mr. Couture.
Upon learning of the court’s decision, Zuffa’s Las Vegas counsel, Donald J. Campbell, Esq., explained the significance of the ruling:
“The practical effect of the Court’s decision is to allow Zuffa to continue its prosecution of claims against Mr. Couture in the Arbitration presently underway here in Nevada without any regard to the flaccid claims of HDNet and its management. Based upon evidence uncovered during the interrogation of Mr. Couture during his deposition, we have every confidence that Mr. Couture will be held accountable for the serious and ongoing breaches of his contractual obligations to Zuffa.”
The successful appeal to the Texas Court of Appeals was achieved by Mr. Barry F. McNeil, Esq. and his partners at the Texas law firm Haynes Boone, LLP.
Ortiz Still a Free Agent
The drama surrounding the next home for embattled light heavyweight superstar Tito Ortiz continues to unfold as Affliction has still not signed the fighter, according to company COO Michael Cohen, who spoke to MMAWeekly.com on Wednesday.
I guess its not so official
alifornia State Athletic Commission on MMA
"The California State Athletic Commission takes a lot of heat for its handling of MMA affairs, on every topic from fighter licensing to drug testing."
They talk about strikes to the back of the head, point scoring in MMA, etc etc. I am surprised by his competency. I figured CSAC was full of people who ignored MMA.
Affliction Lands Horodecki
In a move that strengthens its roster outside the heavyweight division, the upstart Affliction promotion on Wednesday announced the signing of former International Fight League poster boy Chris Horodecki (Pictures). Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The once-beaten 20-year-old Canadian will make his promotional debut at Affliction “Day of Reckoning” on Oct. 11 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. An opponent has yet to be named. Horodecki (12-1) last competed in April, when he earned a unanimous decision victory against World Championship Fighting veteran Nate Lamotte (Pictures) at an IFL show in East Rutherford, N.J. ...
Affliction Announces Lindland-Belfort, Nelson-Buentello
Matt Lindland (Pictures) will fight Vitor Belfort (Pictures) at the Oct. 11 Affliction event in Las Vegas, Affliction announced Wednesday at a news conference.
Belfort (17-8) is currently serving a 180-day medical suspension with the California State Athletic Commission following his July 19 knockout win over Terry Martin (Pictures) at Affliction’s debut event in Anaheim. An orthopedic doctor must clear him before he can fight Lindland.
Affliction also announced Wednesday that IFL heavyweight champion Roy Nelson (Pictures) will fight Paul Buentello (Pictures).
No-Show Ortiz: Let the Games Begin
Tito Ortiz (Pictures) knows it’s all about the timing.
Which is why most of the fight community tuned in to a news conference Wednesday in Las Vegas for the Oct. 11 Affliction 2 "Day of Reckoning" only to hear that the fighter would not only not be attending, but also that he has not yet been signed by the promotion.
Roger Huerta and UFC ‘far apart’ on contract extension
Roger Huerta is getting a ton of attention lately. And it appears to be for all the wrong reasons.
“El Matador” has perhaps his biggest test to date this weekend when he takes on Kenny Florian at UFC 87: “Seek and Destroy” at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn., on August 9. With a win he will likely distinguish himself as the clear-cut number one contender in the division.
But he may never get to challenge for the title even if he does win if he can’t ink a contract extension, which is a very real possibility if things don’t change soon, according to Dave Meltzer at WrestlingObserver.com.
Here’s his analysis:
“Huerta, who has one fight left on his contact after the Florian fight, is far apart with UFC on terms for a renewal. Huerta, who has gotten a new agent, was asking for six-figures guaranteed per fight as well as points on the PPV, in negotiations that haven’t gone well for some time. That’s a better deal then [BJ] Penn, so he wasn’t going to get it. The UFC position is that they groomed Huerta and pushed him hard and were careful of his opponents, with the exception of Clay Guida….”
Kenny Florian: "I Have an Advantage Everywhere"
Following a dominant victory against Alvin Robinson in July 2007, Kenny Florian gave a warning to the lightweight division that he was looking to clear out all of the top contenders on his way back to a second shot at the title. He also let it be known that he was looking to finish each and every one of them just as he did Robinson.
Two more fights and two more finishes followed and at UFC 87, Florian faces another tough challenge as Roger Huerta now stands in his way of a possible shot at the 155-pound divisional crown.
Florian has been working hard alongside long time trainer Mark DellaGrotte, while focusing on all the things he needs to do to win his next fight. While Florian respects Huerta, he doesn’t believe there is one facet of the game that his opponent out matches him going into the fight.
“I really believe I have an advantage everywhere,” he said during a recent appearance on MMAWeekly Radio. “If I go in there and I fight a dynamic fight, like I can, he’s not going to be sure whether I’m going to take him down, whether I’m going to strike with him, whether I want to come with a knee or if I’m going to do a kick, a punch, an elbow; he has to be worried about a lot of things with me.”
Both fighters have always been extremely well spoken of each other in the past, but a now controversial interview with Roger Huerta produced by the UFC has spurned a little extra motivation in Florian.
“He’s got to go in there and be confident and know that he’s going to win and I’m the same way,” commented Florian. “Of course there’s a way to do it respectfully, but Roger’s saying it’s going to be a cakewalk. I don’t think he believes that and if he does believe it, he’s going to be in trouble.”
Regardless of hype, the real prize in this fight could be a shot at the UFC lightweight title, but current champion B.J. Penn has his sites set on a welterweight showdown with the winner of Georges St. Pierre and Jon Fitch. While titles are great, Florian is only focused on one thing right now.
“I don’t know first of all what B.J.’s going to do. Who knows what B.J.’s going to do tomorrow or the next day? Looks like he’s going to fight GSP at the end of December. That’s what I feel is going to happen. That’s what I’m hearing is going to happen,” Florian said. “One thing I know for sure is when I fight Roger Huerta, I’m going to have another tough fight. And that’s exactly what I want.
“The belt is great of course. I want that, great prestige, a lot of prestige with that and probably more money of course, but the main thing is me being able to fight the top guys.”
The Boston native will get a chance to take one more step towards that title shot when he faces Roger Huerta on Saturday night in Minnesota at UFC 87.
Jay Hieron tapped for Oct. 11 Affliction; Lindland vs. Belfort in jeopardy?
Reigning International Fight League welterweight champion Jay Hieron (15-4) has been approached by Affliction executives and is expected to compete at the organization's "Day of Reckoning" event in October.
On Tuesday a representative from Hieron's Xtreme Couture camp told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) of the upcoming bout.
No opponent has been determined.
"Affliction: Day of Reckoning" takes place Oct. 11 at UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The event -- the second one for the rookie Affliction Entertainment promotion -- features a headline match of Andrei Arlovski vs. Josh Barnett.
Hieron, a 32-year-old UFC and WEC veteran, hooked up with the IFL soon after its formation in 2006. He's 7-2 in the organization and defeated Delson Heleno for the IFL welterweight title back in December. He made one title defense -- a first-round TKO of Mark Miller in April -- before the organization's financial troubles forced the IFL to cease operations earlier this summer.
Although Affliction is best known for a stocked heavyweight division, executive Tom Atencio has promised the organization would begin signing additional talent for the lighter weight classes. Hieron brings instant credibility to a welterweight division that's still under construction.
The former stand-out high school and collegiate wrestler will now go for his fourth consecutive victory -- and his sixth win in his past seven fights. His only career losses have come to UFC veteran Georges St. Pierre, Jonathan Goulet, Chris Wilson and Brad Blackburn.
For the latest on "Affliction: Day of Reckoning," stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of MMAjunkie.com.
* * * *
MMAjunkie.com has also learned that a rumored Oct. 11 Affliction bout between Matt Lindland and Vitor Belfort -- both of whom were winners at Affliction's first show back in July -- could be scratched.
A source close to Belfort said that the middleweight fighter has been slowed by a lingering hand injury.
As we previously reported, the California State Athletic Commission suspended Belfort 180 days after his July victory over Terry Martin for undisclosed medical reasons (though a hand injury is believed to be the reason why).
Belfort can be cleared early by a doctor, but any signs of a hand injury would make an October return unlikely.
MMAjunkie.com coudln't immediately reach Belfort or Lindland for comment, but we'll have more on this story later in the week.
Cheick Kongo: International Man Of Mystery
Cheick Kongo certainly looks the part. At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, with a physique that appears carved out of granite, the former Euro Savate champion seems like the kind of guy you wouldn’t want to run into in a sinister Parisian alleyway.
Wait, do they have sinister alleyways in Paris?
Anyway, if a Hollywood movie producer or comic book artist were to dream up a prototype of what a “cagefighting champion,” might look like, they’d likely come up with a character resembling Kongo. But after six fights in the UFC – including one where he made Mirko Cro Cop look downright dwarfish en route to a unanimous decision win – Kongo may still be the least known of all the company’s legitimate contenders for the heavyweight strap.
It’ll likely take a highlight reel knockout of Dan Evensen to even get him back on TV this weekend, as a UFC 82 loss to Heath Herring has relegated the Frenchman to the unaired preliminaries at UFC 87.
Critics say Kongo is a fearsome and athletic striker, but with a ground game that is just barely adequate enough to pass at the highest level. Even the UFC promotes him as something of a work in progress, saying that he has “looked better each time out,” before his split decision loss to Herring in March. English is also Kongo’s second language – a problem for many top level heavies trying to make it in America – so it’s hard to learn much about the guy from his own words.
Meia Will Be Sub-Hunting On Saturday Night
Demian Maia is looking for his third submission win in the UFC when he faces Jason MacDonald on Saturday night.
Five of his seven consecutive wins have come by way of submission, and Maia believes if something isn’t broke, there is no point trying to fix it.
“I train always what I do best,” he told Tatame magazine this week. “If I need to fight stand up I’m ready to do it, but I believe jiu jitsu has always been my strongest part, I’ll always go for submission.”
Maia is a highly decorated grappler in his native Brazil and internationally, having won Pan American and ADCC titles, national and world championship sand seven state titles.
But he is aware that anything can happen in an MMA fight so to prepare himself for the stand-up element, he has drafted in a fellow Brazilian known for his aggressive Muay Thai.
“I’m at Las Vegas now and will train a little this week with Wanderlei Silva,” he revealed, adding that Silva will also be his cornerman at UFC 87.
Jacaré wants Dream’s belt
Waiting for the announcement of his next opponent, Ronaldo “Jacaré” Souza keeps training hard without caring about who he will face. “The expectations are the best, I’ll do my best as a person and fighter, all my heart and faith to be the champion”, said Jacaré to TATAME. After hearing about what Jason Miller said about him. “He’s a jackass with a mouth, and can say whatever he wants. He calls himself a jackass. He can say whatever he wants, he lost, and if he wants to fight again just need to ask”, answered Ronaldo, that said he’s working everything to win his first MMA belt. “I’m training everything, Wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu… I’m going to do MMA. I’ll bring this belt home”, guarantees the Xtreme Couture athlete.
Ford-Clark to Co-Headline MFC 18
MMA on Tap has learned that welterweight prospect Ryan Ford will attempt to bounce back from his first professional loss when he takes on longtime veteran LaVerne Clark in the co-main event of Maximum Fighting Championship’s upcoming “Famous” show on September 26th in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Ford was upset by journeyman Pat Healy at MFC 17 last month, succumbing to a late third-round armbar after dominating Healy for two rounds. Ford, a training partner of current UFC middleweight contender Jason MacDonald, also scored consecutive submission wins over C.J. Fernandes and Pete Spratt earlier this year.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua to endorse Bad Boy MMA Apparel
Bad Boy Brands announced today that they have signed a multi-year sponsorship & endorsement agreement with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. The new relationship between Bad Boy and Shogun includes product endorsement, advertising, promotion, personal appearances, product design involvement and even a line of Shogun “signature” fight apparel, The most noticeable aspect of the relationship will be when Shogun dons the legendary Bad Boy “Sungão,” the original Vale Tudo fight shorts as he represents Bad Boy on the international MMA stage.
Bad Boy has been involved with MMA since the early nineties, sponsoring such legendary fighters
as Rickson Gracie, Wallid Ismael, Vitor Belfort and Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira!. Bad Boy
currently offers a full line of premium MMA gear and clothing online and at specialty fight retailers. “Shogun’s ultra aggressive fighting style demands fight apparel of the highest quality and performance
attributes” commented Robin Offner, CEO of Bad Boy. “We’ve developed our new line of Bad Boy Pro Series products specifically for Shogun’s style of fighting”. ”I’ve known and respected Bad Boy apparel for years in Brazil”, said Shogun. “I’m excited to be a part of the Bad Boy team and I will do my best to represent them well”.
Fighter Salaries: A Fair Share of Revenues (Part 3)
Narrowing In On Better Revenue Sharing
We’ve already acknowledged the fact that the information isn’t available to make an absolutely precise definition of fair. As a result of this we’re forced to use what we have at our disposal. Let’s look at what we know:
* 75% of Zuffa’s revenue is event-related (i.e., PPV buys, live gates).
* The remaining 25% of Zuffa revenue comes from their SpikeTV deal, sponsorships, and merchandise sales.
* Zuffa is likely to maintain an EBITDA margin in the mid-30s in the foreseeable future.
* Estimated Zuffa revenues for 2008 are expected to be $250 million (according to Lorenzo Fertitta).
* Base salary payouts average out to 10% of event-related revenue.
Michelle Watterson to make EliteXC debut on Sept. 20
“The Karate Hottie” Michelle Watterson will join Gina Carano and Jennifer Tate as alumni from Oxygen’s “Fight Girls” reality television series to appear inside of an EliteXC cage.
Watterson has signed to fight on the non-televised undercard during EliteXC’s Sept. 20 show, EliteXC Vice President Jared Shaw revealed to FiveOuncesOfPain.com earlier this afternoon. An opponent has yet to be determined.
Watterson, who comes from a traditional martial arts background, is 2-2 in her professional mixed martial arts career. She has fought for the Ring of Fire promotion in Colorado and most recently competed for King of the Cage, where she recorded a second round TKO against Thricia Poovey on July 12.
Tyson Griffin agrees to meet Sean Sherk at UFC 90
Former UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk (32-3-1 MMA, 6-3 UFC) and lightweight contender Tyson Griffin (12-1 MMA, 5-1) have agreed to meet at UFC 90, which takes place Oct. 25 at Allstate Arena just outside Chicago.
A source from Griffin's Xtreme Couture camp today told MMAjunkie.com that a verbal agreement is in place and bout agreements have been distributed.
The fight will likely end up on the night's televised main card, which features a main event of UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva vs. Patrick Cote.
Jason "Mayhem" Miller says DREAM is no nightmare
World traveler and all-around colorful character Jason "Mayhem" Miller (21-6) has been involved in his share of entertaining fights. With recent reports that DREAM -- promoters of Miller's previous two fights -- may be in financial trouble, the 27-year-old may soon find himself a free agent once again.
Miller discussed his status 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).
"As far as the fighting front goes, I'm not sure yet," Miller said of his possible return to action. "I've got my DREAM contract still alive. I don't know what's going on."
Amid recent allegations by Nick Diaz that DREAM still had not paid him for his TKO victory in May, Miller stood firm in his support of the organization.
"I think that's just a rumor," Miller said. "Maybe [DREAM] stiffed a couple of fighters or something. But I'm sure they'll pay those guys eventually. Maybe they were just like, 'The check's in the mail.'"