UFC88: LIDDELL READY FOR EVANS
Former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder Chuck Liddell takes on undefeated Rashad Evans in the main event of UFC 88 from the Philips Arena in Atlanta on Sept. 6. And, with a win, Liddell hopes to move back into title contention and earn an opportunity to regain the belt against current champion Forrest Griffin.
Liddell's been in mega-fights before with the likes of Randy Couture, three times, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson twice, Tito Ortiz twice and former Pride Fighting Championship middleweight title holder Wanderlei Silva.
Questioned whether he can get up for a match with Rashad Evans, Liddell told MMAWeekly, "I don't find it hard to get motivated for fights. I love fighting and I want to get my title back. I want to get my title back, so I'm highly motivated for that."
JAKKS to Release WEC and PRIDE Action Figures
Back in June, the UFC inked a four-year licensing agreement with toy manufacturer JAKKS Pacific. While the first wave of action figures from that deal - which is said to include Chuck Liddell, Brock Lesnar and Anderson Silva, among others - has yet to hit shelves, JAKKS has today issued a press release announcing the addition of two more Zuffa-owned brands to its fold:
JAKKS today announced the signing of two exclusive, four year, worldwide Master Toy license agreements with MMA organizations World Extreme Cage Fighting(R) (WEC(TM)) and PRIDE(R). JAKKS is expected to launch the line of collectible action figures, play sets and accessories based on WEC and PRIDE in Spring 2010.
WEC focuses on lighter weight classes including the bantamweight and featherweight divisions. WEC was founded in 2001 and purchased by the owners of the Ultimate Fighting Championship(R) brand in 2006. PRIDE, one of the most popular MMA organizations in Asia, was founded in 1997 in Japan and purchased last year by the owners of UFC.
"We are thrilled to extend our relationship with UFC by adding WEC and PRIDE to our action figure roster," said Stephen Berman, President and COO, JAKKS Pacific. "As the world leader in fighting action figure toys, we plan on dominating the Mixed Martial Arts collector action figure arena. The addition of WEC and PRIDE gives JAKKS a substantial base of fighters with which to work and develop into a broad and exciting line of collectable products for fans."
"This agreement with JAKKS gives fight fans a premier line of authentic collector action figures," said Dana White, UFC President. "This is a great partnership that benefits the sport, our athletes and our fans."
Karo Parisyan: ‘I have so much at stake’ for Yoshiyuki Yoshida UFC 88 fight
“If I get hit by lighting and I lose, God forbid, I don’t care. All I know for this fight is I trained twice as hard as I did for the Thiago Alves fight. I have to thank Thiago Alves. He woke me up…. I have so much at stake. I have so much stress on me. People don’t understand how tough it is. I need to be able to conquer this match. Not sounding selfish at all, [but] I fight for myself. I fight to prove something to myself, to feel good about myself when I walk outside.”
Karo Parisyan talks about how important his next fight is against Yoshiyuki Yoshida at UFC 88: “Breakthrough” at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga., on September 6. “The Heat” is coming off a technical knockout loss to Thiago Alves back in April, which dashed his near-term title chances. And it was just the second time ever he had ever been finished in more than 20 professional fights.
UFC Quick Quote: Chris Leben might want to rethink his UFC 89 gameplan for Michael Bisping
“I read that he said I might him with 20 punches to his one punch because I’m faster but he only needs one punch to knock me out. All I’d say to that is he’s going to need a very good game plan to agree to let me stand there and punch him in the face 20 times!”
– Michael Bisping questions the gameplan his opponent at UFC 89: “Bisping vs. Leben,” Chris Leben mentioned in a recent MMAmania.com interview in a new interview with The Sun. Both bangers are set to clash at The National Indoor Arena (NIA) in Birmingham, England, on October 18. It’s a 185-pound scrap that has already received a ton of attention even though we are still more than one month away. Here’s to hoping that Leben doesn’t change his gameplan … let the sluggers slug.
Who Are the Losers if Randy Couture Re-Signs With the UFC?
Zach Arnold thinks beyond Couture's image and Mark Cuban's MMA efforts, there are others who won't fare so well either:
* Third, Affliction could be facing the prospects of not being able to book Couture vs. Fedor in their ring. You would have to assume that booking Couture vs. Fedor was going to be a major part of their business plan. After all, the two men shook hands at Affliction’s debut event in Anaheim.
* Unless Fedor agrees to fight the winner of Arlovski vs. Barnett (10/11 Las Vegas), WAMMA has to be prepared to strip the Russian of his title belt if he goes to UFC. Dana White will not allow any mentions of WAMMA whatsoever or even have that belt shown on PPV or TV.
* Out of all of the fighters in the MMA business, Randy Couture was in the best position to challenge parts of UFC’s somewhat controversial fighter contracts in regards to the clauses inserted into them. Now that Couture reportedly is back in the UFC fold, UFC will be able to breathe a big sigh of relief that none of the contractual provisions they make fighters sign (e.g. the retirement clause, the champion’s clause) will face a legal challenge any time soon.
What Couture vs. Lesnar Means for the UFC Heavyweight Division
This weekend has brought an absolute storm in the blogoland, with rumors flying of Randy coming back to face Lesnar at UFC 91, in what will almost certainly be a title match, as the first fight in a three-fight deal. This matchup, and the other rumors about Randy's return, suggest all sorts of interesting possibilities.
Scenario 1: Couture beats Lesnar
If Couture beats Lesnar, this sets up two possible matchups for Randy. First is the unification match with the winner of Nogueira/Mir. The second and more interesting matchup is the rumor of a fight with Fedor:
The long-rumored heavyweight superfight between UFC champion Randy Couture (16-8 MMA, 8-5 UFC) and WAMMA champion Fedor Emelianenko (28-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is currently being discussed for an as-yet-unspecified date in January or February of 2009.
I suggested in a previous fanpost that the matchup would never happen. Both my own and other people's analysis has been that the UFC would never build up Fedor just so he could fight elsewhere. But the UFC has access to better numbers than any of us. Its quite possible that they have run the calculus and concluded that the UFC is now untouchable by any upstart company grabbing top fighters: the cost of the top fighters would make it impossible to build brand equity and achieve break-even before going under. I figured it would be a few more years before this would be the case, but the struggles Affliction has encountered suggest that perhaps the day is already here. If it indeed is, the UFC doesn't have to worry about Fedor going elsewhere, because he costs too much for upstart promotions to survive his paycheck.
If a Randy/Fedor fight comes to fruition, the winner of Nog/Mir might be able to fight Werdum in the meantime. Afterwards, the title could be unified, or Randy's piece of the title could be retired if Fedor wins and then leaves.
Lesnar beats the crap out of Cheick Kongo in his rebound fight.
Gonzaga Could Return At UFC 91
Trying to start another winning streak and get back in the UFC Heavyweight Title picture, Gabriel Gonzaga is expected to return to the Octagon at UFC 91. Josh Hendricks (14-4, 9 straight wins) is the likely foe.
Five promotions could be gone in 18 months
What a depressing headline for an article this is. Sadly, the headline reflects the current situation that the MMA business is in right now.
Think about the climate of the industry at the start of the year and what the climate looks right now, nine months after the first of the year. There are five — count them — five promotions that could go belly-up in the timespan of 18 months. Elite XC, DREAM, Pancrase, Sengoku, and Affliction. The IFL is already finished, and more layoffs in the MMA industry amongst various promotions are expected to take place shortly. These trends indicate that the bottom is about to fall out of the business and that we will be stuck in 2009 with a top-heavy industry, much in a similar vein to professional wrestling.
There has been talk, since his release from jail, that convicted felon Kazuyoshi Ishii is trying to either consolidate or buy out the two smaller players in MMA (Sengoku and Pancrase). Ed Fishman was once approached about investing money into Pancrase, but the company reportedly had 7-figures in debt. The rumors at this time claim that World Victory Road, the parent company of Sengoku, has bought a stake or a controlling interest in Pancrase. If so, Pancrase will basically become a feeding system for Sengoku. However, Sengoku looks to be a money-losing proposition itself and it may get swallowed whole by K-1 if Ishii perceives that there is some value to consolidation in the business. All of this could be taking place while DREAM is on its last legs. I’ve long predicted that once Ishii got out of jail that DREAM would be finished and that K-1’s Godfather would create a new MMA project in 2009.
Palhares Sees Title Shot In Future
Rousimar Palhares is already talking of a UFC middleweight title fight with Anderson Silva - despite having fought only once in the organisation.
Palhares made his debut at UFC 84 in May with a slick armbar victory over Ivan Salaverry that made many sit up and take notice.
This weekend, the Brazilian finds himself facing another veteran in the shape of 39-year-old former Olympian Dan Henderson.
"He is a great fighter, and he will demand a lot of attention from me during the fight," he told the UFC website.
A win "would be a huge step in my career... it will make it easier for me to have a chance to fight for the belt".
MFC adds featherweight class, drops HW
EDMONTON -- The MFC is shifting focus away from the one weight class and into a new one. The Edmonton-based organization announced this week the addition of a featherweight division and the retirement of its heavyweight belt.
"There is such an impressive field of 145ers out there that we felt it was very important to add this weight class and this group of exciting fighters," MFC owner Mark Pavelich said in a news release.
The MFC expects to announce the signing of several featherweights in the very near future and could even have its first meaningful 145-pound bout at MFC 19: Long Time Coming, which takes place on Nov. 28. Pavelich hopes to develop a stable of strong prospects and have its featherweight championship on the line by mid-2009.
What To Do About Big Nog ?
With all of the speculation surrounding Randy Couture's potential return to the UFC, lost in the shuffle is current interim heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo (Minotauro) Noguiera.
Couture is rumoured to be making a return in November against Brock Lesnar, in the main event at UFC 91. The questions surrounding the situation are coming from all angles.
With the UFC still pronouncing that Couture is their champion even after he resigned and having never stripped him of the title, would a potential fight against Lesnar actually be a title fight? Does Lesnar already deserve a title fight in the UFC? Would this be a non-title fight and if so why?
So many questions and with a variety of angles that the UFC could steer the ship, my fingers point to Nogueira, the man who should be next for Couture if he returns to the UFC.
Cooper-Speight Finalizes Affliction II Card
A welterweight bout between IFL veteran Brett Cooper and undefeated prospect Patrick Speight will reportedly finalize Affliction’s “Day of Reckoning” card, which will take place on October 11th at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of UNLV according to a report by MMA News.
Affliction VP Tom Atencio was said to have confirmed Cooper vs. Speight as the final bout to be signed for the event yesterday. Both fighters were originally scheduled to be part of Affliction’s “Banned” show on July 19 but were removed from the card due to unknown reasons.
Cooper last competed in June, knocking out Dusty Arden in the first round at a PureCombat show in California. He scored consecutive TKO wins over UFC veterans Jason Von Flue and Rory Markham in December of last year. Cooper’s training partners Jason High and Chase Gormley will also be on this card.
The complete card for the event is as follows:
Andrei Arlovski vs. Josh Barnett
Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Pedro Rizzo vs. Ben Rothwell
Chris Horodecki vs. Dan Lauzon
Matt Lindland vs. Trevor Prangley
Jay Hieron vs. Drew Fickett
Roy Nelson vs. Paul Buentello
Mike Pyle vs. Jason High
Jay White vs. Chase Gormley
Antonio Duerte vs. Albert Rios
Brett Cooper vs. Patrick Speight
ON THE RISE: MARLON SANDRO
Name: Marlon Sandro
Professional Record: 11-0
Discipline: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai
Notable Wins: Daiki Hata, Miki Shida
Brazil’s team Nova Uniao has produced some of the best fighters in the world including former Shooto Champion Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro, UFC fighter Thales Leites and IFL Champion Wagnney Fabiano Santos. Another name that may find its way onto the list is undefeated featherweight standout Marlon Sandro.
The Rio de Janeiro athlete started fighting at a young age of seventeen. Sandro practiced Capoeira early on and then transitioned into Jiu-Jitsu under the tutelage of Andre Pederneiras and Rafael Carino.
Is Hermes Franca Calling Out American Top Team?
The news that Marcus Aurelio is replacing an injured Gleison Tibau against Hermes Franca at UFC 90 is being reported, but not analyzed.
It strikes me as curious that first one, then a second American Top Team Fighter has signed to fight Franca, a former ATT fighter himself.
Is there a feud brewing? This rumor was out there a couple years ago, from a source I don't trust much. Is there anything to it?
Here's the story, according to a source of mine... Kurt Pellegrino trained at Franca's ATT Jupiter school for his fight against Kazuki Okubo, which took place on the Euphoria: 'USA vs. Japan' card on November 5th, 2005. Pellegrino won the fight by KO, and when he got back to Florida, Franca then awarded Pellegrino his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.
Ricardo Liborio, the leader of ATT, told Franca that all ATT black belts are only given by Liborio to qualified BJJ brown belts. He supposedly went on to say that Pellegrino was not qualified to be an ATT black belt and that he should demote Pellegrino back to brown belt. This supposedly did not sit well with Franca.
Franca and three other members of ATT then took a photo in front of the main ATT building in Coconut Creek, Florida, with an ATT flag held upside down and a middle finger salute. They sent the picture to Liborio, who was supposedly furious and then took away the ATT name from Franca's school.
The UFC is Holding a Press Conference Tomorrow to Announce the Return of Randy Couture
Steve Cofield reports that the UFC is holding a press conference tomorrow at noon PT:
After 11 months of fighting in the courts it looks like the UFC and Randy Couture have buried the hatchet. The promotion is holding a press conference on Tuesday at Noon PT to announce a new deal with the heavyweight champion.
Couture is expected to face Brock Lesnar at UFC 91 in Portland in what could be the biggest pay-per-view show in the UFC's history.
Let's cross our fingers and hope nothing falls apart. This is potentially the beginning of a very big run for the UFC and MMA in general.
Randy Couture Looking At Three Year UFC Contract Extension
As we previously reported. Randy Couture had been offered and was considering a three-fight contract with the UFC. MMARated.com then reported over the weekend that a three fight extension was on the verge of being agreed to which would see the popular UFC champion return in a fight against Brock Lesnar at UFC 91 on Nov. 15.
The new and improved Punisher
As a 5 foot 10 heavyweight, nothing was ever going to be easy for Jason Lambert. But as he began his pro mixed martial arts career in 2001 and started battling it out with the big boys, he found out that more often than not, he was able to not only hold his own, but win.
Tito Ortiz still in search of record contract
Former UFC light heavyweight Champion Tito “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz was a guest on HDNet’s “Inside MMA” this past Friday to discuss his future in the fight game.
There were reports a week or so ago that placed Ortiz as the newest addition to the Affliction MMA roster. Apparently those reports were a little premature because Tito’s asking price was a little too high for the t-shirt company-turned MMA promotion.
So where does that leave perhaps one of the biggest draws in the history of the sport?
Well, he’s still a free agent … for now.
Ortiz — ever the business man — played the fence on where he could land, listing almost every organization as a possible destination — even the UFC.
Here’s a snip:
“EliteXC — possibility. Affliction — possibility. UFC — a small chance of that happening. The things between me and Dana White, I’m shoving it off and moving on with my life.”
So after all the back-and-forth, is it possible we haven’t seen the last of Ortiz inside the Octagon after all?
It’s obvious at this point in Tito’s career that he’s trying to get one last big pay day. It’s like a 28-year-old NFL running back trying to cash in one more time before hitting the dreaded 30.