Rebney: MTV2 ‘Very Happy’ with Bellator
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney (Pictured) joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Savage Dog Show” on March 25 to talk about his promotion’s current season.
Other topics of discussion included how Bellator’s television deal with MTV2 is working out, pay-per-view possibilities and the role of Bellator in the MMA marketplace after the UFC’s purchase of Strikeforce.
Rebney on MTV2’s reaction to Bellator’s ratings: “They were real happy with the first and second weeks. Last week of course we battled ‘March Madness’ and an earlier start time, so the numbers dipped a little bit, but that’s to be expected. … That’s just the nature of the game. Saturday nights have some great advantages to them, but there’s a lot of action going on Saturday nights, specifically during the March timeframe.
On the relationship with MTV2: “They’ve been great. They’re very excited about the programming. … They know the space. The MTV network guys have been in charge of and running Spike since its infancy. They get MMA better than anybody in television. They know how to shoot it, they know how to produce it, they know how to promo it. … They’re an awesome partner.”
On the importance of MTV2 and weekly shows for building Bellator: “That’s the catalyst. If you look at where the UFC was and where the UFC has gone, you can argue back and forth, but the single greatest catalyst they’ve had is ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ on Spike. … That week-in week-out same-time same-place channel development and partnership is the key to building a mixed martial arts organization.”
On how the Bellator-MTV2 partnership differs from UFC-SpikeTV: “We’re drawing a much different demographic on MTV2 than what the UFC is drawing both to the pay-per-views and to their Spike programming. And it’s a very attractive demo. It’s a socioeconomically impressive young male demographic that skews younger than the demographic watching ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ and tuning into pay-per-views.”
On whether Bellator can succeed in the UFC-dominated market: “When you have content, you have a show that can week-in and week-out deliver hundreds of thousands of young male consumers -- which is kind of your key, key, key consumer that advertisers are trying to reach in this country and across the world -- there’s not reason to believe that we couldn’t live in great harmony, leveraging the expertise of the people at MTV networks, who have helped build the UFC out to where it is, and build this brand out under the same corporate umbrella.”
On the status of Bellator: “We are in a spectacular position right now as a company, as a corporate entity because we’re not bleeding. We had great investors behind us when I launched this company in 2009. Those investors believed in the business model I put in front of them in terms of how long it would take to get to a cash flow break-even position where we wouldn’t require any more capital to continue putting on shows and putting on events. We got there. We actually got there literally about 60 days before I had projected we would get there.”
British Promotion Cage Warriors Inks Deal For Free TV in the UK
British fight promotion Cage Warriors Fighting Championship recently announced that it his inked a new television deal with Premier Sports in the U.K.
The deal means Cage Warriors will be available on a free-to-view and delayed basis on the channel following each of the eight events it has planned for the rest of 2011. Cage Warriors 41, which will be held on April 24, will become the first event to be broadcast free-to-view on Premier Sports that operates on the Sky platform, channel 433. Live streaming will continue to be available free through the Cage Warriors website.
This announcement follows the successful broadcast and worldwide live streaming of the Cage Warriors 40 show on the Cage Warriors website. That event comprised of six televised CWFC bouts, which included a successful CWFC bantamweight title defense by Paul McVeigh. The show was headlined by a women’s super-flyweight showdown between Bellator, EliteXC, and BodogFIGHT veteran Rosi Sexton and Japan-based American Strikeforce veteran Roxanne Modafferi.
“This is a great partnership for Cage Warriors Fighting Championship and a great opportunity for fighters worldwide to get the exposure they deserve as professional athletes,” commented Cage Warriors Director Graham Boylan. “The fighters put so much time and effort into this sport they deserve this exposure. I’m very excited for them.”
Premier Sports operates on the Sky platform, channel 433 and features NRL, NASCAR, South American Football and regular boxing from around the world.
Brock Lesnar’s Motive For Doing TUF 13 Was All About Fighting for the Title
There are a lot of reasons that someone would accept a slot as a coach on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series. Maybe it’s a grudge that needs to be settled, like in the case of Rashad Evans and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, or maybe it’s just for the exposure the show provides.
For TUF 13 coach Brock Lesnar the motivation to go on the show was pure and simple.
It earned him a fight that will get him closer to regaining the UFC heavyweight title that he lost last year.
The former NCAA champion is already one of the most well known figures to ever compete in the UFC, but Lesnar admits that there are certain things that haunt him about the fight with now champion Cain Velasquez. He’s looking to exorcise those demons with the reality show and the fight with Junior Dos Santos.
“I was healthy physically, but mentally probably not so,” Lesnar said about his fight with Velasquez. “I don’t think it really registers to the general public on my year last year. From being sick and losing 42 pounds and just getting my ass to the gym to recover. Then have a title fight and on top of that, while I’m training for a title fight, a new baby boy, and then fighting Shane Carwin and I was expecting some time off.
“I really needed it mentally more than anything and physically. Then I booked the fight against Cain. If there was one thing that I could learn from that is to maybe spread title fights out a little farther than what I did.”
Hindsight is 20/20, but Lesnar is now focused on the goal of getting ready for the fight against Dos Santos in June at UFC 131, and then facing Velasquez with the title on the line.
The Minnesota resident admits that was the biggest reason for him to do “The Ultimate Fighter.” He hopes that motivation serves him well in June. He also knows that he would have had to fight Dos Santos eventually, so this all works out pretty well.
“Analyzing my loss against Cain, if I had won that fight I’d be fighting Junior, so I’m right back in the same position, but absolutely, it’s the closest thing to getting me a title fight, and getting my UFC heavyweight title back,” Lesnar commented.
One thing that won’t likely be showcased on this season of “The Ultimate Fighter” is a standing grudge between Lesnar and Dos Santos. In past seasons, with coaches like Evans and Jackson or even Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping, there always seemed to be a fuse just waiting to be lit any time the coaches interacted with each other.
Lesnar threw water on that idea right away because simply put, he didn’t spend enough time around Dos Santos to build a grudge during the show.
“I don’t know what them guys are referring to. I probably spent a total of 30 minutes with Junior on the show. I didn’t make it a point to run into him or anything of that nature. I saw very little of him other than what we were doing for television,” Lesnar disclosed.
Regardless of any pent up aggression boiling over from six weeks together on the show, Lesnar and Dos Santos are battling for a shot at the UFC heavyweight title when they meet in June, and that needs no extra build up.
“The Ultimate Fighter Season 13? debuts this Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Spike TV.
UFC Fight Night 24 Medical Suspensions
The Washington State Department of Licensing on Monday released the post-fight suspensions for UFC Fight Night 24: Nogueira vs. Davis.
Every fighter on the card received at least a seven-day precautionary suspension. Six of the fighters on the card received a lengthier layoff.
DaMarques Johnson, who submitted to an onslaught of strikes from Amir Sadollah, was handed a 30-day suspension. Jon Madsen, TJ Waldburger, and Mario Miranda were the other fighters tagged with a 30-day suspension following their losses.
Kris McCray received a 42-day suspension after a tough split decision loss to John Hathaway. Nik Lentz, one of two victorious fighters to receive lengthy suspensions, also received 42 days on the sidelines.
Michael McDonald, also victorious with a unanimous decision win over Edwin Figueroa, received an indefinite medical suspension.
Emmanuel Newton Out, Zak Cummings In Against Ryan Jimmo at MFC 29
The “Hardcore Kid” is broken.
Maximum Fighting Championship officials announced the news Tuesday morning.
Strikeforce veteran Zak Cummings (13-2) has agreed to take his place against Jimmo at MFC 29: Conquer on April 8 at Caesars Windsor in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
It doesn’t leave Cummings much time to prepare, but he doesn’t care. He wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity.
“I’m a gamer. I don’t pick and choose easy fights. It would be amazing to come into the MFC and win the title,” said Cummings.
“I’m going to get in there and do my thing. I’m excited to be on HDNet and to get the opportunity to show the fans what I can do.”
Cummings enters the bout on a three-fight winning streak, including a one-fight stint for Bellator, where he defeated Rudy Bears.
Jimmo (14-1) won the belt in his last fight, against Dwayne Lewis at MFC 28 in February. His current streak sits at 14 straight, his only loss being his professional debut in early 2007.
The fight is the co-main event of MFC 29, where the promotion’s welterweight champion, Douglas Lima, will defend his belt against UFC veteran Terry Martin.
John Howard Responds to Anthony Johnson: “It’s About to Get Real Ugly”
After his win at UFC Fight Night 24, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson expressed his dislike for John “Doomsday” Howard in what bordered on genuine hatred for another human being. Simply put, Johnson despises Howard, but the only explanation he could give referenced Howard as a part of the female anatomy.
John Howard at UFC 94
The mystery remained as to why there is such a passionate beef, but MMAWeekly.com caught up with Doomsday to add some clarity to the situation. According to Howard, the source of the problem stems from a proposed fight that never happened.
The two welterweights were set to square off at the inaugural UFC on Versus show in March of 2010. Ultimately, Johnson had to pull out of the fight due to injury, but when the bout was originally offered, Howard had his reservations because he wanted to slowly work his way through the division before jumping into a big match-up.
“He started the beef about a year ago,” Howard explained. “What happened was, (the UFC) offered the fight to me for my second fight in the UFC. And I told them, ‘no, I don’t think it’s a good idea. I’m still new in the UFC and I still want to be making some money out of it, and don’t want to be fighting some of the top 20 guys already.’ He took it like, oh, I was scared, I’m a (expletive), I’m a (expletive) and all this. And then call me a ‘cotton picker.’
“I got really uptight about that.”
Johnson apparently thought that Howard’s reservations made Doomsday a coward, but it was the use of the term “cotton picker” that fueled Howard’s rage, blanketing him with the feeling of being disrespected in one of the worst ways he can think of.
It’s because of this, Howard now detests “Rumble” Johnson.
“The beef is real,” Howard confirmed. “I can’t stand that cat. I hate that kid. The feeling is mutual.”
Despite pulling out a win this past weekend in Seattle, Johnson has been criticised for not putting more emphasis on his stand-up striking ability, and instead choosing to utilize his wrestling attributes during the fight. One of those critics is Howard.
Apparently, Howard believes Johnson made a point to say he was going to trade shots on the feet with Hardy, but did nothing of the sort during the bout.
“He talks all this (expletive), ‘yo, I’m going to stand and bang,’” he said. “What’d he do? He (expletive) out and took him down. I’m not saying it wasn’t a smart strategy. Maybe it was, but don’t come up like, ‘oh, I’m going to stand and bang. I’m a hardcore mother (expletive).’ And then when push comes to shove, you take down and you go the (expletive) way out.
“At least, when I fought Thiago, yes, Thiago beat me, but I stood and banged with a mother (expletive).”
With so much beef and tension, Howard explains that he would welcome an opportunity to take on Johnson. He would prefer it happens in the Octagon, but made a notion that he would open the doors to his gym in Boston if necessary. It’s a fight that has little to do with making his way up the rankings, and more so to do with hurting Johnson. Win or lose, Howard just wants to make sure he gets his shots in.
“Yeah, I definitely want to shut that dude up, man,” he said. “It’s one of those fights where I don’t care about winning or losing. I just want to smash this dude. I think it’s better to (have it) happen in the UFC before it gets to the streets. That’s how bad it is between me and him. I don’t like this kid.
In addition, Howard feels Johnson’s determination to cut so much weight to fight at 170-pounds stems from wanting to pick on people smaller than him.
“I think he’s a big bully. That’s why he cuts so much weight,” Howard said of Johnson. “That’s why he fights guys five times smaller than him. Unfortunately, with me, I’m not that small. Where I come from, I don’t give a (expletive). The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”
Although there are no clear plans in the works for a Johnson-Howard showdown, it’s clear the two would like to fight each other. As days go by, tension will grow and attitudes will show, making the possibility of this match-up stronger and stronger. For now, Howard says he’s lifting weights and staying in shape, but knows that the more Johnson talks, the rougher the situation will become.
“It’s about to get real ugly.”
Strategic Call-Outs Alert: Hardy Wants Lytle; Johnson, Hendricks Would Also Like to Pick Their Next Opponents
Well, this is getting pretty goddamned transparent. First everybody and their dog wants a coin-flip fight against Wanderlei Silva, then Ryan Bader responds to the first loss of his career by calling out Tito Ortiz and now – fresh off his own third consecutive defeat in the Octagon — Dan Hardy is suddenly very interested in fighting Chris Lytle. You know, just for the purposes of putting on “an old school shootout with a guy that wants to throw down” and stuff like that. We’re sure it has nothing to do with Hardy desperately needing a win.
“Screw the rankings, records are for DJs,” Hardy tweeted on Sunday, as part of a Twitter barrage expressing his frustration with losing a “boring” fight to Anthony Johnson at UFN 24. Once again the whole “mixed” part of mixed martial arts bit another standup-oriented fighter in the ass as Johnson first toppled Hardy with a head kick, then dominated him with his wrestling skills en route to a unanimous decision. After the trio of losses, Hardy’s job was saved only by the fact Dana White “******* loves that kid” (his words) and now Hardy just so happens to fancy a matchup with one of the throw-downiest guys who ever threw down, yet doesn’t have a ton of knockout power. Must be coincidence.
Anyhow, after the jump we took the liberty of condensing Hardy’s irritation into one easily-digestible quote. Plus, find out what fights Johnson and Johny Hendricks also envision for themselves …
“Feeling very frustrated today,” Hardy tweeted. “No excuses, sometimes you just don’t win. I hate having boring fights though … I want to fight again. I feel like I’ve been robbed of the reward at the end of training camp … (I want to) win in a blaze of glory or go out on my shield (against) someone like Mr. Lytle …”
Speaking of DJs, we’re starting to feel like a broken record here ourselves: If you don’t like to be outwrestled, dudes, learn to be better wrestlers. ’Nuff said.
As Hardy was trying to cherrypick a sweet matchup for himself, the man who beat him still can’t get over his distaste for John Howard. Johnson told MMA Weekly on Monday that he would welcome a bout with Howard, despite that fact you’d think he should be on to bigger and better after his win over Hardy. Especially since Howard has now lost two straight. Who knows, maybe handing guys their third straight loss will become Johnson’s thing.
And finally: Hendricks, who rebounded from his first career loss with a TKO over Anthony Waldburger on Saturday, is requesting a leap forward in competition, with a fight against Diego Sanchez.
“I am wanting to fight Diego Sanchez next and need all my fans to help let the UFC know that is a fight you want to see,” Hendricks tweeted this week. “Please post on any MMA message boards and help me get that fight.”
Welterweights, man. They all want something …
Satoshi Ishii’s Strikeforce Debut Postponed Due to Visa Problems
Though he was slated to face Scott Lighty in a featured light-heavyweight matchup at this Friday’s Strikeforce Challengers event at the Stockton Arena in Sad City, Olympic gold-medalist judoka Satoshi Ishii has been forced to withdraw from the fight. Strikeforce announced this morning that due to the recent natural disasters in Japan, Ishii was unable to acquire a visa permitting him to leave his homeland in time for the event. Stepping in for him will be Lorenz Larkin, an undefeated knockout-artist who is currently 9-0 as a pro, following a 7-0 amateur career.
The Stockton Challengers show — headlined by a lightweight meeting between Justin Wilcox and Rodrigo Damm — would have been Ishii’s first MMA appearance in the United States. After losing his MMA debut in a decision to Hidehiko Yoshida on New Year’s Eve 2009, Ishii went 4-0 in 2010, with notable victories over Ikuhisa Minowa and Jerome Le Banner. Maybe when his visa issues are sorted out, a judoka vs. judoka bout between Ishii and fellow Strikeforce light-heavyweight Rhadi Ferguson is in order.
Strikeforce Women’s Middleweight Champ Cris Cyborg in Contract Limbo
Strikeforce hasn’t announced when Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos will next defend her belt, and according to the dominant women’s middleweight champion, it’s not because she isn’t ready. It’s because she doesn’t have a contract.
Cyborg told Tatame recently that her contract ran out after her last fight with Jan Finney last June and she hasn’t spoken with Scott Coker and company about re-signing with the recently Zuffa-acquired promotion in the nine months since the bout.
“Currently I don’t have a contract signed, but on my former contract there was something saying that for a year I’m connected to the [promotion] but we might sign a new one. I believe the fact that the UFC bought Strikeforce is a good thing for women, because we have two years to do a good job and prove them our value — to prove it to Dana White,” she explains. “I’m not anxious and I’m not worried. I’m happy and I keep on training.”
Cyborg’s agent, Ken Pavia, says that the “one-year term” Santos is referring to is a standard champions clause Strikeforce adds to its contracts to ensure its belt holders don’t fly the coop after winning a title. Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields had a similar proviso on his expired deal with the San Jose organization, but was granted his full release by the promotion when the two sides realized they were unlikely to come to terms and that that Shields was willing to sit out the negotiation period so he could move on the the UFC. Although he says that there haven’t been any discussions about Santos’ future with the promotion, Pavia tells us that he’s confident that Cyborg will come to terms with Strikeforce in the coming weeks.
Cyborg isn’t the first female Strikeforce champion to have a contract expire. Former welterweight champ Sarah Kaufmann revealed prior to her July 2010 fight with Roxanne Modafferi that her contract expired after her win over Takayo Hashi five months earlier. Strikeforce director of communications, Mike Afromowitz told MMAFighting.com that by winning the title against Hashi, Kaufman was essentially locked into a deal via her contract’s champions clause.
Though she says she is letting Pavia and his MMAAgents team handle her contract negotiations, Santos points out that the key to securing a home for women’s MMA if and when Strikeforce’s anticipated merger with the UFC happens after its broadcasting deal with Showtime and current batch of fighter contracts expire in around 2013, will be to keep on putting on exciting fights, something she’s never had a problem doing.
“I believe we have to put on good shows. We need more women to come and fight. Our market is small when compared to men, but I believe we’ve been proving ourselves to be good at [fighting]. Lately Strikeforce has been supporting female MMA a lot,” Cyborg says. “My fight with Gina [Carano] was a good one, and there are lots of other good female fighters in MMA.
She also points to her former foe and ally, Carano as being a person who will play an important role in ensuring WMMA’s longevity.
“I believe it’s pretty important [for Gina to come back to the sport] because she’s always been there and people got to know it better because of her. There are many fans that enjoy watching her fighting and I believe that, for us to grow on the sport, we can’t think only about ourselves,” Santos says. “We have take one for the team. I cheer for her and for all women on the sport. I think we must get together and make the sport grow.”
Round 5 Releases Another Series of MMA Action Figures That *Vaguely* Resemble Fighters They’re Modeled After
Keeping with its tradition of producing head-scratchingly non-resembling miniature renditions of MMA fighters and personalities, Round 5 announced today the release of its sixth series of action figures.
Instead of posting a photo of the latest wave of figures, who, besides their hairstyles and accessories, really don’t capture the likenesses of the people they’re based on (at all), we figured we’d let you decide who they *really* look like.
Give us your best guesses.
SEE THE LINK FOR THE PICTURES
As far as we can discern, their catalogue includes: Ryan Gosling, Dexter, Gabriel Gonzaga, John Lithgow, Roger Lodge, Samuel Jackson from Black Snake Moan, Rick Dees, Marlon Brando, Kirby Puckett, Meatloaf, Miguel Torres, Brett Favre, Ray-J, Paulie from Rocky, Gabriel Gonzaga, Eddie Van Halen (or Jeff Cain), Chris Klein, Wesley “Cabbage” Correira, the dude from Avatar, Gabriel Gonzaga and a blow-up doll…
Johny Hendricks, Lil’ Nog Lead UFC Fight Night 24 Salary List
The competitors at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 24: Nogueira vs. Davis card earned a total of $757,000 in disclosed salaries and bonuses, according to figures released by the Washington State Department of Licensing. Preliminary card fighter Johny Hendricks actually walked away with the biggest check of the night, earning $99,000 for 95 seconds of work against TJ Waldburger. Check out the full salary list below; keep in mind that the figures don’t include deductions for taxes, licensing fees, or insurance, or additional revenue from sponsorships and undisclosed “locker room bonuses.”
Phil Davis: $34,000 (includes $17,000 win bonus)
def. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: $90,000
Anthony Johnson: $40,000 (includes $20,000 win bonus)
def. Dan Hardy: $25,000
Amir Sadollah: $40,000 (includes $20,000 win bonus)
def. DaMarques Johnson: $14,000
Chan Sung Jung: $65,000 (includes $5,000 win bonus, $55,000 Submission of the Night bonus)
def. Leonard Garcia: $18,000
Mike Russow: $28,000 (includes $14,000 win bonus)
def. Jon Madsen: $10,000
Mackens Semerzier: $12,000 (includes $6,000 win bonus)
def. Alex Caceres: $8,000
John Hathaway: $26,000 (includes $13,000 win bonus)
def. Kris McCray: $10,000
Michael McDonald: $65,000 (includes $5,000 win bonus, $55,000 Fight of the Night bonus)
def. Edwin Figueroa: $61,000 (includes $55,000 Fight of the Night bonus)
Christian Morecraft: $12,000 (includes $6,000 win bonus)
def. Sean McCorkle: $10,000
Johny Hendricks: $99,000 (includes $22,000 win bonus, $55,000 Knockout of the Night bonus)
def. T.J. Waldburger: $8,000
Aaron Simpson: $30,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus)
def. Mario Miranda: $10,000
Nik Lentz: $30,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus)
def. Waylon Lowe: $12,000
Underpaid: It’s nice that Chan Sung Jung has picked up bonuses in two of his three fights for Zuffa, but his $5,000 to-show salary seems almost exploitative, especially for a guy who has to travel halfway around the world to get paid. Mario Miranda, Kris McCray, and Sean McCorkle all get double the guaranteed money that Jung gets, and the Korean Zombie actually puts asses in seats. Go figure.
Overpaid: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira hasn’t performed like a star since his UFC debut against Luiz Cane, 16 months and four fights ago. The UFC may decide he’s not worth the cost. Also, I’m not sure what makes Waylon Lowe special enough to demand $12,000 in show money, which puts him ahead of guys like Jon Madsen and the aforementioned Korean Zombie.
UFC's Chael Sonnen receives new sentencing date in real-estate case
Chael Sonnen will have to wait a little bit longer before he can start his career anew.
A sentencing hearing expected to serve the UFC middleweight with two years of probation, a $10,000 fine and the revocation of his real-estate license has been rescheduled from today to April 8 at the U.S. District Court building in downtown Portland, Ore.
In January Sonnen pleaded guilty to a federal charge of money laundering stemming from a shady real estate deal in 2006. His UFC contract subsequently was frozen.
Government officials said Sonnen took part in a scheme to illegally net more than $69,000 in loan proceeds through the submission of a falsified repair order, according to a report from "The Oregonian."
Prior to Bellator 38, Richard Hale never even practiced an inverted triangle
Richard Hale drilled for months and months on the inverted-triangle choke, set up a game plan to use it, and then executed with precision the submission hold to put Nike Fekete to sleep this past Saturday at Bellator 38.
Actually, that's a lie. He saw the move the night before weigh-ins on YouTube and thought it would be cool to give it a go. (Watch Hale's inverted-triangle choke.)
"I've never even thrown an inverted triangle before," Hale (16-3 MMA, 1-0 BFC) today told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio).
Ironically, he's now in the company of the fighter he scoped that night, Toby Imada, as the video clip of his stunning submission makes Internet rounds.
To top it off, he gets a ticket to the semifinals of Bellator's season-four light heavyweight tournament, where he'll meet D.J. Linderman at Bellator 42.
Bellator 38's Inverted Triangle Courtesy Rich Hale
I'm late to the party on this in terms of posting this, but at Bellator 38 over the weekend lightning appeared to strike twice. First there was lightweight Toby Imada landing an inverted triangle on favorite Jorge Masvidal. Now there's light heavyweight Rich Hale doing the same to favorite Nik Fekete. To wit:
Jake Shields to Train With Chael Sonnen During UFC 129 Prep for GSP
As he prepares for his UFC 129 main-event fight with Georges St. Pierre, former EliteXC welterweight champion and former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields will spend some time training with Chael Sonnen. Jake Shields comments on Spike TV:
"So far things are going great, camp's going good. We just had Court Mcgee out here ... you've got Chael Sonnen coming out this week, things are going good. I'm pushing, in great shape. I'm just excited, I'm ready to go."
9 Fights Signed for Strikeforce Challengers 15
Undefeated light heavyweight prospect Lorenz Larkin will make his promotional debut against Scott Lighty (Pictured) in a featured matchup at Strikeforce Challengers 15 on Friday at the Stockton Arena in Stockton, Calif. Nine fights have been signed for the event, which will air on Showtime.
A combined 15-0 as a professional and amateur, Larkin last appeared under the MEZ Sports banner in February, when he stopped Maximum Fighting Championship alum Mike Cook on second-round punches at the Riverside Convention Center in Riverside, Calif. The 24-year-old Californian has secured six of his eight professional victories by knockout or technical knockout, five of them inside one round.
The once-beaten Lighty has not fought since Fight Militia MMA “Fight for Wrestling 2” in August, when he knocked out Shawn Frye at the Icardo Center in Bakersfield, Calif. A John Hackleman protégé, the 32-year-old has trained extensively with UFC hall of famer Chuck Liddell. In seven professional appearances, Lighty has gone the distance just once.
A lightweight battle pairing American Kickboxing Academy representative Justin Wilcox with Sengoku Raiden Championship veteran Rodrigo Damm will headline Strikeforce Challengers 15, along with a showdown between Cesar Gracie disciple David Douglas and AMC Pankration prospect Caros Fodor.
Strikeforce Challengers 15
Friday, April 1
Justin Wilcox vs. Rodrigo Damm
David Douglas vs. Caros Fodor
Lorenz Larkin vs. Scott Lighty
James Terry vs. Josh Thornburg
Damian Douglas vs. Wayne Phillips
Rafael Rios vs. Anthony Avila
Robert Escalante vs. Raul Sandoval
Tristan Arenal vs. Tom Peterson
Adam Antolin vs. Ronald Carillo
Windy vs. Yamaguchi Set for First Female Pancrase Headliner
For the first time in its 17-year history, Pancrase will offer up a female main event at its April 3 “Impressive Tour” stop in Tokyo’s Differ Ariake.
Set to square off in the 115-pound “Athena division” headliner are longtime Pancrasist “Windy” Tomomi Sunaba and promotional newcomer Mei “V.V.” Yamaguchi.
Sunaba, 34, is one of the best-established names in women’s mixed martial arts, having competed against some of the toughest female competitors in more than 10 different promotions during her nine-year career. The karate stylist has experienced a career resurgence of late, busting a five-fight winless slump from 2008-2009 with four straight wins in 2010. Sunaba’s current streak includes decisions over former boxing champ Monica Lovato and fellow Japanese vet Masako Yoshida.
Formerly known as “V-Hajime,” Yamaguchi is the current 115-pound champion of Greatest Common Multiple-run women’s league Valkyrie. The 28-year-old claimed gold in February 2010 by defeating Yuka Tsuji via first-round rear-naked choke, simultaneously avenging her 2008 loss to the women’s MMA pioneer. In fact, Yamaguchi has reclaimed both defeats on her 6-2-1 ledger, having also bested former Smackgirl standout Emi Fujino in April 2009.
Anthony Johnson Hates John Howard, Would Gladly Accept Chance to Beat Him Up
Anthony “Rumble” Johnson did what he had to do to get a win on Saturday night in Seattle at UFC Fight Night 24: Nogueira vs. Davis. Through three rounds, he wrestled his way to a win, getting the decision nod over Dan Hardy in their co-main event match-up.
The fight was Johnson’s first since December of 2009. The 16 months Johnson spent away from fighting was more than enough time to survey the UFC’s welterweight division. Now, having come off a win in the organization’s first trip to the Emerald City, “Rumble” is able to wait and see who the UFC will pair him with next.
When asked who he’d like to take on in his next trip to the Octagon, Johnson explained that the division is deep enough to make his choice of opponent difficult, but one name sticks out to him.
“The welterweight division is so stacked that if you call out one person, you got to call everybody out,” Johnson said shortly after his UFC Fight Night win. “There’s only one person who I really hate – John Howard.”
Johnson made it clear that he detests Howard, but doesn’t feel “Doomsday” is capable of dealing with a “rumble” after getting dealt with by Thiago Alves so efficiently.
“But he got beat up by Thiago, so he ain’t ready for me yet,” he said. “So, we’ll see. Whoever they give me I guess I just have to be ready for it.”
If given the opportunity, however, Johnson would accept a fight with Howard in a heartbeat. When asked how he would feel if the UFC granted him the opportunity to fight him, Johnson explained it would be perfectly okay with him.
“That’s fine, I’ll beat him up,” he said.
And why does Anthony Johnson want to beat up John Howard? The answer is simple – he feels Howard is a coward.
“He’s a (expletive),” he said.
Cruz vs. Faber 2 Booked for UFC 132 in July
The UFC announced on Saturday that the bantamweight title fight between Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber will go down at UFC 132, July 2nd at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Since taping for TUF 14 is expected to take place sometime this summer, it seems unlikely that Cruz and Faber will be tapped as coaches for The Ultimate Fighter‘s first bantamweight/featherweight season.
The two former WEC stars have shared some bad blood since the lead-up to their first fight at WEC 26 in March 2007. Upset that he wasn’t featured on the event poster, Cruz signed his name over Faber’s face — which the California Kid perceived as a sign of disrespect. Faber went on to score a guillotine choke victory in just 98 seconds, retaining his featherweight title.
Cruz dropped to 135 pounds the following year and has since racked up a 7-0 record in that division, winning the bantamweight belt from Brian Bowles and defending it twice against Joseph Benavidez and Scott Jorgensen. Faber made the drop to bantamweight last year after an ugly loss to current 145-pound champ Jose Aldo, and his since scored dominant victories over Takeya Mizugaki and Eddie Wineland.
The current lineup of UFC 132 is…
Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber (for bantamweight title)
B.J. Penn vs. Jon Fitch (WW)
Melvin Guillard vs. Shane Roller (LW)
George Sotiropoulos vs. Evan Dunham (LW)
Dennis Siver vs. Matt Wiman (LW)
Tito Ortiz vs. Ryan Bader (LHW)
Increasing Speculation That He Will Fight at UFC Rio: Royce Gracie Reportedly Pulls Out of UK Seminar Tour to Focus on Training for Fight in August
CagePotato.com received word over the weekend from a source close to the situation that Royce Gracie has cancelled the European leg of his spring seminar tour and that the official reason given to the group organizing his UK appearances (NJM promotions) is that the UFC Hall-of-Famer has accepted an offer from the promotion to fight on its August 27 card in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
According to NJM, Gracie’s manager, Mike Kogan revealed the news to them, which was relayed to the seminar host gyms in an effort to explain why the 44-year-old UFC 1, 2 and 4 tournament winner would not be able to make his scheduled appearances in England.
When contacted by us today via email to ask if Royce has indeed signed on to fight on the card, and if so, whom he will face, Kogan did not deny the stated reason for his client pulling out of his European tour, but said that nothing is official YET.
“We are talking about fighting in August,” Kogan confirmed. “Nothing is locked down, no.”
No potential opponents have been named for his possible return to the Octagon, but a few names come that with pre-built story lines would make sense.
Following his UFC 60 loss to Matt Hughes in 2006, Gracie expressed his desire to rematch the former UFC welterweight champ, explaining that he overtrained for the bout and didn’t perform as expected as a result, so a rematch would make sense, but there are at least two other opponents that would make sense, especially for a card set in Brazil.
With BJ Penn’s past history with Royce’s cousins Ralph, who calls “The Prodigy” a traitor for leaving him to train at Nova Uniao before calling out his brother Renzo for a 2005 K-1 bout, that’s another grudge match that wouldn’t take much marketing to sell. A third possible scenario would see the UFC sign Kazushi Sakuraba to face Gracie in a heavily-anticipated rubber match. In their last fight — a June 2007 Dynamite!! USA bout in California, Royce defeated “The Gracie Killer” by unanimous decision, but subsequently tested positive for the anabolic steroid Nandralone. He has disputed the test results for the past four years, claiming that the accusation that he uses PEDs is preposterous as he weighs just two pounds more than he did when he made his UFC debut in 1993. Sakuraba defeated Royce in 2000 by TKO and has beaten Royler, Renzo and Ryan Gracie, which is how he earned his nickname.
Considering that the show is nearly five months away and that there are a number of other suitable opponents from Dan Hardy to Mike Swick whose stock in the Octagon would benefit from a fight with a legend like Gracie, it’s likely that we won’t know until April or May if and whom Royce will fight on the card.