Enson Inoue Returns On 4/25 In Japan, Takimoto Retires
Next month's ASTRA event in Japan, which is expected to feature the retirement fight of Japanese star Hidehiko Yoshida, today had a couple significant changes. For the first time since April 2004, Enson Inoue, an early Shooto champion who owns a 1998 victory over Randy Couture, enters MMA and meets New Zealand kickboxer Antz Nansen. Also, PRIDE and World Victory Road veteran Makoto Takimoto, expected to compete on 4/25, instead retired and will not compete, completing his career with a 6-5 mark.
DirecTV and Versus strike deal just in time for UFC on Versus 1
Versus, home to World Extreme Cagefighting and now the Ultimate Fighting Championship, was dropped from the satellite-cable company's lineup on Sept. 1, 2009, after a dispute over carrier fees.
DirecTV boasts approximately 18 million subscribers and – thanks to some exclusive offerings such as the NFL Sunday Ticket – is popular with sports fans.
Terms of the new deal were not disclosed, though Versus has already been reinstated on the channel lineup.
"We are pleased that both sides were able to work out a satisfactory deal to bring this programming back to our customers," DirecTV executive Derek Chang stated.
A Versus executive echoed that sentiment while playing up the cable station's upcoming UFC on Versus 1 event, which airs this coming Sunday (March 21) live from Broomfield, Colo.
"We're excited that we were able to come to a fair agreement that puts Versus back in millions of homes with DirecTV in time for our busy spring programming schedule," Versus president Jamie Davis stated. "We look forward to super-serving these fans with NHL regular-season and playoff coverage, our first live UFC event and much more."
Three Legends to be in PS3 Version of UFC Game
Royce Gracie, Dan Severn and Jens Pulver will be playable characters exclusively for the Playstation 3 version of the UFC Undisputed 2010 video game.
MMA Fighting can also confirm Carlos Condit is a new addition to this year's game, and returning are Martin Kampmann, Demian Maia, Keith Jardine and Nate Marquardt.
Gracie and Severn haven't competed for the UFC in years, but are two of seven members in the UFC Hall of Fame. Pulver, the UFC's first lightweight champion, currently competes under the WEC banner. Last year's game, which didn't feature a legends roster, included the TapouT crew as the only playable characters not under the UFC fighting roster.
Bellator CEO says Eddie Alvarez vs. Josh Neer "super fight" set for Bellator 17
The long-expected non-title fight between Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez (19-2 MMA, 3-0 BFC) and UFC veteran/recent signee Josh Neer (27-9-1 MMA, 0-0 BFC) now has a date.
While a guest on today's edition of MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio), Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said the fight takes place May 6 at Bellator 17.
Bellator announced last month that the fight was being targeted for a May card, though an exact date wasn't mentioned. It's now set for the Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre in Boston, which is a half day's drive from Alvarez's Philadelphia home.
As with all the organization's shows, Bellator 17 airs live on FOX Sports Net, and highlights packages air the following weekend on NBC and Telemundo.
Bellator confirms signing of Roger Huerta for season-two lightweight tourney
Former Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight Roger Huerta officially has joined Bellator Fighting Championships.
MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) first reported the expected signing over the weekend, and during a press conference that today streamed live on www.bellator.com, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney made the official announcement.
Huerta (21-3-1), one of Bellator's highest-profile signings to date, joins the season-two eight-man lightweight tournament field. His first fight takes place at Bellator 13 on April 8 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla.
Gray Maynard Calls Out Florian-Gomi Winner
The UFC's lightweight division basically comes down to B.J. Penn and everyone else, but Gray Maynard has a plan for getting to the top of the "everyone else" pile: He wants to fight the winner of the Kenny Florian-Takanori Gomi bout that will serve as the main event of UFC Fight Night 21 on March 31.
Maynard made his statement on Twitter Monday morning, tweeting, "florian vs gomi. I want to fight the winner!!" Maynard later told a fan that he's picking Florian to win.
Maynard is a logical next opponent for the Florian-Gomi winner, and it's a fight that I would like a lot. I also agree with Maynard that Florian will win.
Ryo Chonan Ready for DREAM Debut
Ryo Chonan makes his return to the Japanese big show when he takes on Andrews Nakahara at DREAM.13 on March 22 in Yokohama, Japan.
Before the longtime PRIDE veteran makes his DREAM debut, MMA Fighting caught up with Chonan to talk about his experience in the UFC and bringing his career back to Japan.
Nate Quarry promises barnburner at UFC Fight Night 21, eyes contender status
The month of March is loaded with high-quality MMA fight cards, and with a number of exciting matchups planned, it's difficult to look forward to just one.
UFC middleweight contender Nate Quarry (12-3 MMA, 7-2 UFC) thinks you'd best not sleep on his bout with Jorge Rivera (17-7 MMA, 7-5 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 21 on March 31.
"I think this is really just a fan-favorite kind of fight," Quarry recently told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). "Both of us just go in there and throw."
Quarry and Rivera meet on the Spike TV broadcast portion of the North Carolina card, and with 18 knockouts or TKO wins between them, fireworks seem imminent.
"Every fight I've had in the UFC, no matter what it is, I come to fight," Quarry said. "I come to win every minute of every round. I've had two 'Fights of the Night.' The last fight against Tim Credeur, we were ranked No. 3 best fight of the year for two guys just going out there and beating on each other for 15 minutes. We're going to get the same thing with Rivera.
"[Rivera and I] just move forward and like to throw and like to finish fights. He's been fighting a long time for the UFC. This is a great opportunity, and I'm really looking forward to it."
Quarry comes into the fight on a two-bout win streak. In addition to the win over Credeur, Quarry also had a first-round win over Jason MacDonald at UFC 97.
But despite the recent success, "Rock" said he's still adding to his game.
"It's funny, I'll be talking with my coaches – and this was as recent as a few months ago – and he'll be telling me to feint the jab and throw a hook or something," Quarry said. "I said, 'Coach, why would I throw a jab that I wasn't looking to land and knock him out with?' He looks at me and says, 'So you can knock him out with the next punch.'
"It was like there was this huge light bulb over my head – like, 'What? Throw something to distract him so I can knock him out with the next one? Wow.' I've only been doing this for like 14 years now. You think I might pick this stuff up, but no. It's still brand new for me."
At nearly 38 years old, it might seem odd that Quarry is picking up such basic tactics. But the Team Quest fighter explained that the high-level training of mixed martial artist wasn't always quite as specialized as it is today.
"For most of my career, I really didn't have specialized coaches," Quarry said. "It was kind of the MMA training, which for the longest period of time was just watered-down jiu-jitsu, watered-down Muay Thai, watered-down boxing.
"Even back in the day when I would try to get specific training, I would go to a boxing gym, I would train there three or four times, the coaches would love me, and they'd see I was a hard worker that had potential. They'd come up to me and say, 'OK, we want to set you up with a fight.' I'd go, 'No, no, no. I'm doing this NHB stuff, this no holds barred where you fight in a cage.' They'd go, 'Oh, OK. Well, you're not welcome here anymore.'"
Of course, now that MMA has exploded in popularity, some of those coaches have changed their tune.
"Here we are years later, and those exact same coaches have come up to me and said, 'Hey, I'd love to work with you,'" Quarry said. "I'm like, 'You know what? My dance card is full. When I needed your help, you could have been there. You could have believed in me, but you missed the boat.'"
A popular cast member of the first-season of "The Ultimate Fighter," Quarry received a title shot against Rich Franklin in 2005. Things didn't go exactly well for him that night, but the slugger is 4-1 since that time.
The Oregonian hopes a win over Rivera will get his name once again mentioned among the 185-pound title contenders.
"My record in the UFC is 7-2," Quarry said. "I've had a lot of knockouts in the UFC. I've had a lot of exciting fights. I hope that my name stays in the mix for those type of things."
But regardless of where he's ranked in the division, Quarry promises to continue putting on exciting fights.
"Have you ever seen me get tired and lay in somebody's guard and not punch him?" Quarry asked. "It won't happen."
Brazilian lightweight Charles Oliveira offered multi-fight deal with UFC
Undefeated Brazilian lightweight Charles Oliveira (12-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will soon be the UFC's newest commodity.
MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) today learned from sources close to the promotion that Oliveira has been offered an exclusive agreement and is expected to debut in the near future.
Though the contract has yet to be finalized, the process appears to be a mere formality at this point.
An exact date for the 20-year-old Oliveira's first UFC fight has not been determined, and an opponent has yet to be named.
Oliveira, who has fought predominantly in Brazil during his budding career, made his professional debut in March 2008 in an eight-man tournament under the Predador Fight Championship banner. Oliveira earned three victories on the night to take the tournament title, and all three wins came via stoppage.
Oliveira has since been able to earn two more tournament victories – a four-man Korea Fight title in December 2008, and a four-man Warriors Challenge bracket this past February.
Oliveira has earned 11 of his 12 victories by stoppage. Six of the wins have come by knockout or TKO, while five have come via submission. His lone U.S. appearance to date came in a first-round submission of Dom Stanco in a Ring of Combat fight in April 2009.
An announcement is expected shortly regarding Oliveira's first fight. In the meantime, he's expected to train in Houston alongside Jorge "Macaco" Patino and in Brazil with Ericson Cardoso.
Mir says Carwin more dangerous than Lesnar, OK if Velasquez gets first crack
After splitting a pair of bouts with UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, former title holder Frank Mir has made little effort to hide his current motivation.
As such, some have labeled Mir a "stalker" because of his singular focus on a rubber match with the champ.
Nevertheless, Mir carries on in search of facing Lesnar once again. But standing in his way at UFC 111 is undefeated challenger Shane Carwin, who Mir says may actually be a tougher opponent.
"I think he's very similar to Brock Lesnar," Mir told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "He's somebody that's strong, and he's a good wrestler. But I think that Carwin, in a lot of ways, is actually more dangerous for me."
The similarities between Carwin and Lesnar are evident with just a cursory glance. The two massive wrestlers have changed the face of the heavyweight division in short order with their powerful builds and overwhelming strength.
But Mir believes Carwin possesses something extra.
"Brock and Carwin are both better wrestlers than I am," Mir said. "Most likely, they'll both be able to take me down. Most likely, they'll both be able to win the fight if I get stuck against the cage on my back with my head jammed up. But with that being said, with Lesnar, on my feet, I have no real anxiety about standing there and boxing. He's knocked people over because he clubs people with his hands, but he's not really a knockout artist. Carwin has actually knocked people out.
"In a fight with Lesnar, the goal is to keep it on the feet, and I'll win the fight. With Carwin, if I say just keep it on my feet and I fall asleep on him while looking for the shot, I can easily go to sleep if I get caught. He's shown the ability to knock people out. To me, he's a dual threat."
With the interim title on the line in the March 27 matchup, an eventual shot at the champ hangs in the balance. But UFC president Dana White has said that a fight between the winner and Lesnar isn't a guarantee.
Top contender Cain Velasquez, who turned in an impressive performance against MMA legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in February, could leapfrog the newly crowned interim champ if injuries prove a factor.
Mir once again stated his desire to face Lesnar but also said he would understand if he was forced to wait.
"The competitor in me wants to face Lesnar as soon as possible and be the first one in line," Mir said. "As far as if it worked out, I don't feel like holding the heavyweight division hostage. If after, if I'm victorious on March 27, and I had an injury that didn't allow me to fight, and Brock wants to take a risk to fight Cain first before he fights me, more power to him."
Mir admits he views Velasquez as a credible threat. In fact, he thinks Lesnar might feel the same way and should probably avoid that particular confrontation.
"I think [Velasquez] is a dangerous fight for [Lesnar]," Mir said. "I would be willing to bet that maybe he would be more comfortable waiting for me."
Ray Mercer vs. Ron Sparks set for April 16 King of the Cage event in Michigan
Olympic gold medalist and former world champion boxer Ray Mercer (1-0) will put on the four-ounce gloves once again on April 16 and face undefeated super heavyweight Ron Sparks (5-0) at a recently announced King of the Cage event at Cobo Arena in Detroit.
The matchup was announced on the most recent edition of HDNet's "Inside MMA," and the same network will air the event's main card.
UFC on Versus 1's Paul Buentello talks "huge move" to Grudge Training Center
Heading into his UFC 107 contest with Stefan Struve, much of the talk surrounding Paul Buentello's training camp – or rather, his lack of one.
Forced out of his normal routine at California's American Kickboxing Academy, Buentello (27-11 MMA, 3-2 UFC) scrambled to find a suitable training home.
But as his UFC on Versus 1 bout with Cheick Kongo (14-6-1 MMA, 7-4 UFC) approaches, little word has escaped about where "The Headhunter" was getting ready. Buentello recently said there's a reason for that.
Bellator calls Monday press conference, expected to announce signing of Roger Huerta
Former Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight Roger Huerta (20-3-1 MMA, 0-0 Bellator) is set to test his mettle in Bellator Fighting Championships' season two eight-man lightweight tournament.
Sources close to the situation confirmed to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that the popular lightweight received his formal release from the UFC this week, which opened the door to finalize a deal with the upstart promotion.
Bellator has called a video press conference for Monday at 3 p.m. ET that will stream live at Bellator.com.
Huerta is the seventh 155-pound competitor added to Bellator’s second season, which kicks off April 8 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The twelve-week season airs live on FOX Sports Net affiliates on Thursday nights, and highlights packages air on NBC and Telemundo over the weekend. Tournament participants in the featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, and middleweight classes battle for the right to face season one's tournament champions.
Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz still on for 115
Former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin (25-5) will not face Chuck Liddell (21-7) at UFC 115 on June 12 in Vancouver despite numerous reports that surfaced earlier today.
On the contrary, "Ace" will headline the show opposite former heavyweight and light heavyweight champion, Randy Couture, in a 205-pound showdown, according to UFC President Dana White.
In addition, White assured fans that "nothing happened to Tito" and the he and the "Huntington Beach Bad Boy" are still "cool," indicating that he is still set to battle nemesis Chuck Liddell as planned at the conclusion of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 11.
More on this breaking news as soon as possible.
In addition to Couture vs. Franklin, UFC 115 is expected to feature a heavyweight mash-up between Mirko Cro Cop and Pat Barry while welterweights Martin Kampmann and Paulo Thiago make their case for 170-pound contendership.
Stay tuned to MMAmania.com for future updates on this still-developing fight card.