As UFC on FOX headliner looms, champ Cain Velasquez envisions he's underdog
When he walked into the UFC's Rosemead, Calif. gym some 13 months ago, Cain Velasquez was the best challenger the promotion had to offer heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar.
Now Velasquez (9-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) is the champ, and Junior Dos Santos (13-1 MMA, 7-0 UFC) sits on the horizon waiting to dethrone him.
Oddsmakers still see Velasquez as a slight favorite leading into his headliner with Dos Santos, which takes place Saturday at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., as the main event of UFC on FOX.
In so many words, the line says Velasquez is the champ and brings better wrestling to the fight and therefore has a greater ability to control where things go.
Velasquez, though, has the mentality of an underdog. Whether he's fighting for the title or defending it, as he is under the network lights, this is the part of him that never changes.
UFC 137 drug tests come back clean
All 17 fighters who underwent drug testing at this past month's UFC 137 event tested clean for performance-enhancing drugs and recreational/drugs of abuse.
Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer today e-mailed the drug-testing results to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
UFC 137 took place Oct. 29 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas with a Nick Diaz vs. B.J. Penn pay-per-view headliner.
The NSAC tested both of them, as well as Cheick Kongo, Roy Nelson, Scott Jorgensen, Hatsu Hioki, Donald Cerrone, Eliot Marshall, Brandon Vera, Chris Camozzi, Francis Carmont, Ramsey Nijem, Danny Downes, Bart Palaszewski, Tyson Griffin, Dustin Jacoby and Clifford Starks.
All tested negative for drugs of abuse (such as marijuana and cocaine), as well as anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancers.
UFC on FOX's Ben Henderson promises his fight will be on TV 'somehow, someway'
When UFC president Dana White says his company is focused solely on the promotion of Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos leading into this weekend's UFC on FOX event in Anaheim, Calif., he means it.
Unfortunately, that means a critical bout in the lightweight division between perennial contender Clay Guida (29-11 MMA, 9-5 UFC) and former WEC champ Ben Henderson (14-2 MMA, 2-0 UFC) has flown largely under the radar.
But if you listen to "Smooth," it won't stay that way for long. Henderson thinks his promotion will take place when the cage door shuts.
"Someway, somehow, this fight will make it to air," Henderson said at Thursday's pre-UFC on FOX media workouts in Rosemead, Calif. "If it is afterward or whatever, Dana White is going to want to put this one on primetime television. He's going to be like, 'Oh, wow. We need to get this on TV somehow, someway.' I'm going to make sure of that."
UFC and FOX officials, of course, elected to feature only the card's heavyweight title fight on the night's special one-hour "teaser" special. But hardcore fans will be forced to stream the fight via Facebook or FOXSports.com (or watch in Spanish on FOX Deportes).
UFC 137 officially draws 10,313 attendance and $3.9 million gate
This past month's UFC 137 event officially drew a 10,313 attendance figure and a $3,900,650 live gate.
UFC 137 took place Oct. 29 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas with a Nick Diaz vs. B.J. Penn pay-per-view headliner.
Of the 21 events the UFC has held to date at the Sin City venue, the gate figure ranks third all time.
Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer today emailed the officials figures to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
Of the 10,313 attendees, 8,179 paid for tickets, and 2,134 received complimentary admission. Additionally, 409 tickets went unsold, though UFC officials announced the show as a sellout. That produces an average paid ticket price of $476.91.
In addition to the actual event, Mandalay Bay hosted a closed-circuit feed of UFC 137. The event drew 723 attendees (523 paid) for a gate of $26,150.
The Mandalay Bay Events Center's all-time top UFC gates as compiled by MMAjunkie.com include:
UFC 100 (Lesnar vs. Mir II): $5,128,490 gate (10,871 attendance)
UFC 79 (St-Pierre vs. Hughes III): $4,994,000 (11,075)
UFC 137 (Penn vs. Diaz): $3,900,650 (10,313)
UFC 126 (Silva vs. Belfort): $3,600,000 (10,893)
UFC 57 (Liddell vs. Couture III): $3,382,400 (11,000)
Bellator 57's Ben Saunders to clash with 'teammate and neighbor' for tourney title
It's Florida vs. Georgia, but don't confuse it for the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party."
That doesn't mean there won't be plenty of cocktail consumption (albeit indoors around a cage) while a border war between Ben Saunders (12-3-2 MMA, 3-0 BFC) and Douglas Lima (20-4 MMA, 2-0 BFC) plays out inside it.
The two square off in the season-five welterweight tournament finale at Saturday's Bellator 57 event, which takes place on neutral ground at Casino Rama in Rama, Ontario, Canada.
The main card airs live on MTV2 (and in high-definition on EPIX) while Spike.com streams the prelims. Co-headlining the event, which airs at a special time of 7 p.m. ET/PT, is the middleweight tournament final between Alexander Shlemenko (42-7 MMA, 6-1 BFC) and Vitor Vianna (12-1-1 MMA, 2-0 BFC).
UFC boss suggests ex-ring girl Brittney Palmer is back with the promotion
It appears Brittney Palmer will be circling the cage once again.
A former WEC ring girl, Palmer took the same position with the UFC upon the January merger of promotions, but in July, she reportedly vacated her duties to pursue an art career.
But on Wednesday, White suggested Palmer will be back.
"Should we bring back [Brittney Palmer]? Vote now and let me know!" White tweeted late Wednesday night.
White, of course, already knew his answer. Palmer had a devoted following that long has campaigned for her return. So moments later, White announced his verdict.
"Done! The votes have been counted and [she] is back!" he stated.
White didn't state when she'll next don her UFC bikini, though as a Californian, she appears a possibility for this weekend's UFC on FOX event in Anaheim. Palmer hasn't worked an event since UFC 132 in July.
Anderson Silva Will Face Chael Sonnen Next
Anderson Silva has his next opponent.
On Wednesday, UFC President Dana White confirmed that the UFC’s reigning middleweight champion will indeed face heated rival Chael Sonnen in a rematch of their 2010 fight at UFC 117.
During an appearance on Jim Rome’s nationally syndicated radio show, White was asked point blank if Sonnen would indeed get the rematch he’s been seeking for months.
“It’s the fight that everybody wants to see, people want to see Chael vs. Anderson. Anderson is in this position where he feels like this guy is so disrespectful he doesn’t want to give him a shot, but Anderson will end up fighting Chael Sonnen,” White confirmed.
“The answer is yes.”
That puts any debate to rest about who will get the next crack at Anderson Silva, once he’s healthy enough to return to action...
Brock Lesnar to serve as analyst for debut UFC on FOX event
Brock Lesnar has intimate knowledge of Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos. Velasquez took his belt, and Dos Santos coached opposite him as a future opponent on "The Ultimate Fighter 13."
While the one-hour broadcast of UFC on FOX won't give out a teaser for next week's UFC 139, the show will talk about an upcoming heavyweight title eliminator.
That's where Lesnar comes in. The former heavyweight champ fights Alistair Overeem at UFC 140, and the winner gets a shot at the winner of the UFC on FOX main event. That's where champ Velasquez makes his first title defense against Dos Santos.
UFC on FOX takes place Saturday at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The one-fight main card airs live on FOX while preliminary action streams on Facebook.
UFC boss complimentary of Spike TV but up for challenge of 'going to battle'
Saturday night's UFC on FOX debut signals the beginning of an intriguing period for the Ultimate Fighting Championship and its broadcast partners.
As one era begins with the FOX family of networks, another will slowly come to an end as UFC programming is eventually replaced with Bellator Fighting Championships events on Spike TV.
UFC president Dana White today said he maintains the utmost respect for the operations team at Spike TV and realizes they have been instrumental in the fight promotion's expansion. That said, White said the gloves will come quickly off.
"You'll never hear me say anything bad about Spike or about the guys over there," White said following today's UFC on FOX press conference in Los Angeles. "They're getting into this business, and they're going to be competitors and everything else. But without Spike, I wouldn't be sitting on this stage right now and having this conversation.
"We're going to battle now, I guess, and I look forward to it. I'm up for the challenge."
Report: Alistair Overeem Files Lawsuit Against Former Managers
Alistair Overeem is preparing for his first fight in the UFC, but he's reportedly preparing for a legal fight as well.
According to TMZ, the decorated mixed martial artist who will debut in the octagon against Brock Lesnar on December 30 has filed a lawsuit against his management team for their alleged refusal to pay him money owed from their deal.
It's no small amount, as the lawsuit alleges that they're holding out on paying him more than $150,000 he's owed. He's also seeking a court order to break his management contract.
On Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, Overeem revealed that he had left his longtime home, Golden Glory, due to a "major breach of trust," moving his training camp to Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas. Overeem also called Golden Glory "harmful management" in his interview, suggesting that he was taken advantage of.
The lawsuit claims that Overeem agreed to give managers 35 percent of his pre-tax earnings. You may recall that in July, the UFC parted ways with most of the Golden Glory fighters they had under contract, with UFC president Dana White alleging that they insisted on business practices that made it impossible to work with them. Among them was an insistence on the UFC directly paying Golden Glory rather than its fighters, as is required by most state athletic commissions...
Joe Lauzon vs. Anthony Pettis Verbally Agreed for UFC Super Bowl Card
It looks like Joe Lauzon is getting his wish.
All signs are pointing towards a Super Bowl weekend fight at UFC 143 between Lauzon and former WEC champion Anthony Pettis.
Sources close to the match-up confirmed to MMAWeekly.com that verbal agreements are in for the lightweight fights to place on the Feb. 4 show. Bout agreements have not been issued for the proposed fight yet however.
Every UFC Fight Will Be Televised in 2012, With FUEL Hosting 2,000 Program Hours
Since signing a deal to bring programming to FOX networks for seven years starting in 2012, UFC president Dana White has repeatedly said that if you're an MMA fan, you're going to want to make sure you have access to the FUEL cable station. Until now though, the scope of FUEL's devotion to the UFC has been somewhat unclear.
No longer. On a Wednesday teleconference featuring executives of both FOX Sports and the UFC, it was revealed that FUEL will broadcast over 2,000 hours of UFC programming in 2012, devoting about 25 percent of their entire schedule to all things octagon.
It was just one of several details released regarding the future plans between the new partners. Among the other major revelations is that starting in January, every UFC fight that takes place anywhere around the world will be televised. In the recent past, most undercard fights have only been available online on Facebook.com.
UK News: UFC Velasquez vs Dos Santos to Air on Premier Sports, Virgin Media Customers Lose Out
Back in August I reported that the ESPN network in the UK -- a premium subscription service that includes live UFC content -- would not be airing the Dan Hardy vs Chris Lytle UFC on Versus card. The reason being ESPN had only contractually agreed to show a certain number of UFC shows per year which included numbered Pay Per View events and Ultimate Fight Nights. Because the UFC's U.S. Versus deal was made after the UFC's U.K. ESPN deal, this additional content would not be included on the ESPN programming schedule which at one point showed the preliminary fights of certain cards as well as a season of The Ultimate Fighter before dropping this coverage.
A last minute deal with another subscription channel 'Premier Sports' to air the UFC event as a Free View show was made, and UK fans were able to watch after all. But only if they were a Sky Television customer.
This weekend Premier Sports is again filling in for ESPN by airing the 'UFC on Fox' event as a Free View broadcast but again Premier Sports is only available through Sky Television.
As 50th fight approaches, Bellator 57's Alexander Shlemenko recharged after title loss
Vitor Vianna is the 50th opponent of Alexander Shlemenko's professional career, and he feels like he can fight another 100.
But the Russian said he's still improving, and nothing brought that into focus better than a loss to current Bellator middleweight champ Hector Lombard.
"Hector showed me weaknesses that I had, and all this time, I worked really hard to improve myself," Shlemenko recently told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio).
Shlemenko (42-7 MMA, 6-1 BFC) vs. Vianna (12-1-1 MMA, 2-0 BFC) takes co-main-event status at Bellator 57, which takes place Saturday at Casino Rama in Rama, Ontario, Canada. The event's main card airs live at a special time of 7 p.m. ET/PT on MTV2 (and in high-definition on EPIX) while preliminary-card action streams on Spike.com.
The UFC's new FOX Era will be defined by nationalism, globalism
It's fitting that on the 18th birthday of the Ultimate Fighting Championship this Saturday night, the UFC enters a new era: the FOX Era.
The octagon debuts on major network TV with a live one-hour special featuring a heavyweight title tilt between champion Cain Velasquez (9-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) and No. 1 contender Junior Dos Santos (13-1 MMA, 7-0 UFC).
The fight teases an upcoming seven-year deal that showcases the UFC four-times-a-year on FOX – with additional content on affiliates FX and FUEL TV – to the tune of an estimated $90 million per year.
Newcomer Alex Soto meets Michael McDonald at next week's UFC 139 event
With Johnny Eduardo (25-9 MMA, 0-1 UFC) scratched due to a shoulder injury, undefeated promotional newcomer Alex Soto (6-0-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) has taken his spot on next week's UFC 139 card.
He now meets fast-rising bantamweight Michael McDonald (13-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC).
MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) today confirmed the switch with event sources, though UFC officials haven't formally announced it. McDonald first hinted at the change via Twitter.
UFC 139 takes place Nov. 19 at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.
The latest UFC 139 card now includes:
MAIN CARD (Pay-per-view)
Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
Cung Le vs. Wanderlei Silva
Brian Bowles vs. Urijah Faber
Martin Kampmann vs. Rick Story
Stephan Bonnar vs. Kyle Kingsbury
PRELIMINARY CARD (Spike TV)
Ryan Bader vs. Jason Brilz
Tom Lawlor vs. Chris Weidman
Nick Pace vs. Miguel Torres
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Gleison Tibau
Michael McDonald vs. Alex Soto*
Seth Baczynski vs. Matt Brown
Shamar Bailey vs. Danny Castillo
Josh Rave steps into TPF 11 headliner with flyweight champ Ian McCall
Tachi Palace Fights champion and No. 1 flyweight Ian McCall (11-2 MMA, 3-0 TPF) has a new opponent.
Stepping in as an injury replacement for Will Campuzano (9-4 MMA, 0-0 TPF) is Josh Rave (18-8 MMA, 0-0 TPF), Tachi officials today confirmed with MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
They headline "Tachi Palace Fights 11: Redemption," which takes place Dec. 2 at Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino in Lemoore, Calif.
Rave, who's competed with organizations such as M-1 Challenge and EliteXC, is on a 3-1 run since an April 2010 loss to now-Bellator bantamweight champion Zach Makovsky. Twelve of the Nebraskan's 18 wins have come via stoppage (eight via submission).
UFC on FOX's 'baddest man on planet' Velasquez looks to recapture Anaheim magic
When Cain Velasquez seized the UFC's heavyweight crown more than a year ago, the American Kickboxing Academy representative seized another title from Brock Lesnar that night too: "baddest man on the planet."
Velasquez (9-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) returns to the octagon for his first title defense this Saturday at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. – the site where he captured the championship – to meet No. 1 contender Junior Dos Santos (13-1 MMA, 7-0 UFC).
The hype surrounding his bout with the Brazilian boxing specialist rolls off the former Arizona Sun Devil's back. Meeting the challenger, also undefeated in seven octagon appearances, in the UFC's debut on network TV on FOX is an honor. The distinctions, asserts Velasquez, are OK as long as they never become distractions.
"It feels good, but to me, the only thing that is in my head is the fight – not the stuff surrounding it, just what I have to do out there on that night," Velasquez told MMAjunkie.com
An inside look at Dana White
The face of the UFC is, quite literally, foaming at the mouth.
I am ushered into Dana White’s personal office by his charming public-relations guru, and before she can introduce us, he emerges: bald, beaming, suddenly and surprisingly charismatic, wearing hip-ripped jeans and a T-shirt and mumbling through the white madness, “Hi! Come in!”
All I see at first is white foam, bubbling at smiling lips, the kind of lather you might expect if you allow yourself to believe in the supernatural, particularly from a man crazy enough to go from hotel valet in Boston to instructor to, thanks to some nudging by the Boston ***** to get the hell out of dodge, a Vegas man.
And to, a few short years later, multimillionaire and face and force behind mixed martial arts, one of the country’s fastest rising sports.
I am too stunned to speak. And then I see the toothbrush. I exhale and realize the president of the UFC is, in fact, merely brushing his teeth.
Still, this candid look at a complicated man serves as the perfect introduction in a two-day blitz, on the verge of UFC 137, to Dana White and his fast-paced world. It will turn out that White, a 42-year-old mesh of controversy, cunning, charm, vision and intensity, is everything his newfangled PR machine wants you know about him — and everything they want you not to know.