Sources: EliteXC considering Lawler versus Villasenor for Nov. 8
Despite EliteXC middleweight champion Robbie Lawler (16-4) stating he might take the remainder of the year off after a July victory over Scott Smith, MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) has learned that Lawler may return as soon as November.
Sources close to the bout today revealed to that a rematch between Lawler and Joey Villasenor (26-6) is "pretty much a done deal" for EliteXC's Nov. 8 card. The event is scheduled for broadcast on premium-cable network Showtime.
EliteXC Vice-President Jared Shaw's recent comments to MMAjunkie.com would seem to confirm the possible match-up.
"Joe [Villasenor] will definitely be appearing sometime in the fall," Shaw said. "And he's definitely in line for a world title shot."
Although Villasenor recently lost the opportunity to fight in front of his hometown after the cancellation of EliteXC's Sept. 20 show in New Mexico, the Albuquerque-native may now have an opportunity for both a title and revenge.
Lawler and Villasenor have faced each other once before. In Oct. 2006 Lawler stunned Villasenor with a flying knee en route to a 22-second TKO victory. Villasenor recently told MMAjunkie.com he would love a second opportunity with Lawler.
"[Lawler] caught me with his first right, he dazed me, and the rest is history," Villasenor said. "Ever since that night I think about it and him all the time. ... I would really like the opportunity to compete against him again."
Lawler has won five-straight bouts and is currently WAMMA's fifth-ranked middleweight. The fight would be Lawler's third title defense in less than six months.
Lawler's potential early return to action could signal EliteXC's commitment to building momentum within the financially-burdened ProElite brand. Recent SEC filings have shown huge financial losses for the company.
With heavyweight champion Antonio Silva out following a drug-test failure and lightweight champion KJ Noons unwillingness to fight Nick Diaz, the company was in need of another title fight to market after their Oct. 4 CBS broadcast.
Former UFC star Ortiz signs with rival Affliction
It seems that former UFC light heavyweight champion, “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz, has finally signed with rival promotion Affliction in time for their next PPV event on October 11th.
Although no details have been released at this time about the size of the contract, the promotion must surely have talked Ortiz’s terms down from the massive figures originally discussed.
Although just a rumour a few weeks back, this deal seems to have been finalised and according to mmapreview.com, an announcement is due in the next couple of days.
With no creditable victories in the past few years and seemingly being more interested in a celebrity lifestyle, UFC President Dana White will not be losing any sleep over Ortiz’s decision to fight for a rival promotion.
"JZ" Calvancante Hopes to Return by Year's End Against Joachim Hansen
American Top Team lightweight Gesias Calvancante will soon resume training following a four-month layoff due to surgery, and according to a rough translation of an interview published this week on DREAM's official website, the Brazilian has his eyes on a late 2008 return against newly crowned DREAM Lightweight Champion Joachim Hansen. "JZ" also seems to leave the door open for a rematch with Shinya Aoki ("because we would not like to be defeated by anyone, don't you think?"). Calvancante sustained a severe knee injury during his DREAM.2 decision loss to submission wizard Aoki, who in turn was dismantled last month by tournament alternate Hansen in the final match of the promotion's inaugural lightweight grand prix.
New Randy Couture Interview
Hey everyone. Hope you're well. To all the UFC fans out there here is my latest interview with Randy Couture talking about his current lawsuit, moving over into the acting and entertainment realm, his thoughts on Kimbo Slice, and a few other things.
You can read and listen to the interview at the link below:
Thought this would be worth sharing with all you hardcore MMA fans.
IFL refugees Dan and Jim Miller anxious for UFC debuts
For IFL refugees and brothers Dan Miller (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and Jim Miller (11-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC), the chance to fight in the UFC can't come soon enough.
"My brother and I, we quit our jobs a couple weeks ago," Jim recently told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "Now we're training full-time. I'm anxious to get in there. It's tough going into it the first couple fights before you have a little padding in the wallet."
Jim, a lightweight, was scheduled to make his debut for the UFC at April's Ultimate Fight Night 13 against Marcus Aurelio. The then-struggling IFL held Miller's contract, and the organization blocked Jim from accepting the fight.
That decision left 24-year-old Jim with bitter feelings about the organization.
"I wasn't too happy with what was going on with [the IFL] at the moment," Jim admitted. "I really didn't get treated that well personally. So I was pretty happy when we got out of [the IFL contract].
"We were actually supposed to be out of it when I got called for the (Marcus) Aurelio fight (in the UFC). Then [the IFL] kind of hosed me."
For 27-year-old Dan, who earned the IFL's middleweight title with a submission win over Ryan McGivern in his final bout for the ill-fated IFL, the experience was equally upsetting.
"[The IFL's demise] was pretty frustrating," Dan said. "To win the title and not get to defend it? That's what makes a champion -- being able to defend the title. That is frustrating, not being able to defend my belt."
Fortunately for both, the UFC came quickly calling. In fact, stunningly quick.
"My manager had been in talks with the IFL," Jim explained. "(He was) asking them what was going on, when we were getting out, all that stuff. Then it all happened so quickly. It was like one day. It was like, 'Oh, you're released from the IFL.' A day later the UFC's calling up. It was pretty crazy."
Now in the sport's premier organization, the three-year veterans are excited to display to the world the advantages that training with each other has provided.
"We push each other really hard -- if it's rolling or just doing striking and conditioning," Dan said. "We really push each other. No one can push you like family. You can get under each other's skin, but it never gets into anything bigger."
Jim echoed his brother's sentiments.
"I think [training with a brother] is a huge advantage," Jim said. "Dan and I are really competitive, but we've never gotten into fights or anything like that. We joke around with each other. We're competitive with each other. We push each other. He likes to tap me out. I like to tap him out. But it's more just like rubbing it in the other guy's face."
Of course training is one thing. Competing at the same time can prove a difficult challenge.
"On nights when we've fought on the same card, it can get a little hairy," Jim said. "We've been lucky that most of the time nothing's really happened. The last two fights that we fought on the same card were a little tough.
"The one we fought in November at Ring of Combat, it was the third round and Dan was fighting before me. He took a mean right hook and ended up breaking the bone in his face. He takes the punch and it doesn't even wobble him, and he wins the fight. But then he comes back and he's got this divot in his face.
"So then the doctors are like, 'Oh, you broke a bone. You've got to go to the hospital.' Then I've got to sit there and see my older brother put on a gurney. So he's going to the emergency room 45 minutes before I'm supposed to step in the ring. He's been there every day with me training. He's been in my corner for every other fight. And then to have to wish him luck as he goes to the hospital was tough. It was really difficult to keep my head in the game."
While both fighters are still waiting on their first bout with their new organization, it is the type of grit and determination displayed that November evening that the brothers believe will lead them to continued success in the UFC.
"I like to push the pace," Dan said. "I go hard for all three rounds. When you see me fight the fight is going to end up on the ground. And it's going to be a war on the ground."
Jim sees himself in much the same manner.
"I'm not the best wrestler," Jim admitted. "I'm not the best jiu-jitsu guy. I'm not the best striker. But my style is just to keep advancing. Get my opponent into a scramble and take something.
"And I'm really not going to leave anything for the after-party. There are guys out there that like to pace it out so they feel the same in the third round as they did the first round. That just doesn't sit well with me. I'm going to go out and I'm going to push as hard as I can.
"If it comes down to me now being able to stand up after the third round, then I've got three cornermen in my corner to carry me out."
Chuck Liddell looks to remain in UFC another "two to four years"
Although Chuck Liddell (21-5 MMA, 16-4 UFC) may have lost two of his previous three fights and be turning 39 years old this December, don't expect the 10-year UFC veteran to be calling it quits anytime soon.
The ex-UFC-light-heavyweight champion said he still has a few years left 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).
"(I still have) two to four years depending on how my body's feeling," Liddell said. "I'm hoping in two years I'll still be saying 'two to four years.' I still feel like fighting now and my body is still working now."
While many of the sport's newer fighters enjoy moving from camp to camp in order to evolve their techniques, Liddell feels he has been served well by remaining with John Hackleman at The Pit throughout his career.
"We have people come in and train with us," Liddell explained. "And I work out with different people from time to time. But changing actual camps all the time, and doing that travelling thing, I don't think that's advantageous."
Another growing trend among today's fighters is the choice to bounce from organization to organization in order to seek out the highest pay. While several contenders such as EliteXC and Affliction would certainly love to have the exposure "The Iceman" would bring to their organization, the veteran of 20 UFC fights feels comfortable remaining with the UFC.
"The UFC has been very good to me, and I don't see me fighting anywhere else," Liddell said. "At this point they have all the best fighters in my weight, so that's where I want to be. I'm trying to prove I'm the best at what I do. That's what I'm out there doing. So I don't see me changing anytime soon."
And though speculation continues to grow around a possible move to heavyweight, Liddell feels there are still too many quality opponents in his own division to set his sights on another.
"Going up (in weight) is always a possibility," Liddell admitted. "But there's still a few guys I need to fight at my weight. And until then I'm not going to worry about going up or down.
"I've thought about (moving to heavyweight) before, but until I get done with some of the things I want to get done at light-heavyweight it doesn't make sense to move."
And with Liddell's UFC 88 main-event clash with undefeated Rashad Evans looming just two weeks away, the 38-year-old understands the importance of victory. And with a win Liddell feels a title show should follow.
"I think I have a good chance (for a title shot) after this fight," Liddell said. "I need to go out and win, and win impressively. And then I think it would make sense."
Liddell also discussed his thoughts about his previously-scheduled bout with Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, his opinion of Lyoto Machida, and why he feels his style has been so successful in the UFC. To hear the full interview download Thursday's edition of "The Lights Out Show," available for free in the TAGG Radio Network archives.
Josh Thomson vs Ashe Bowman Strikeforce fight booked for Playboy Mansion
Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson will take on team Lion’s Den member Ashe “The Machine” Bowman (6-4) in a three-round, non-title match at “Strikeforce at the Mansion II” at the world-famous Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, Calif., on September 20.
Strikeforce Vice President Mike Afromowitz confirmed the news today to MMAmania.com, which was first reported by Ariel Helwani.
Bowman has won six of his past seven contests after beginning his career with three straight losses. He’s competed five times under the Ken Shamrock Productions banner, winning each time.
Take that for what it’s worth.
He certainly comes as a surprise opponent for the champ — most fans were probably expecting someone with a little more notoriety. But that doesn’t mean Bowman isn’t capable of pulling off the shocker … anything can in mixed martial arts, right?
This will be The Punk’s first fight since winning a unanimous decision in June over then highly-regarded champion Gilbert Melendez. Thomson was a significant underdog in that fight. And after pulling off the upset he earned himself a place amongst the big dogs in terms of the top fighters in the world.
Therefore, it would be an upset of epic proportions if Thomson loses this fight. Bowman just isn’t on his level when it comes to talent or experience. This is most likely a showcase fight for the champ — perhaps to keep him busy and at the same time rest his still-healing shoulder.
In short, don’t be surprised if he takes this one in impressive fashion.
Some were expecting this fight to take main event status after Thomson’s opponent was announced, but given the caliber of opponent and it being a non-title fight, it’s possible that one of the other matches will take center stage.
The light heavyweight championship fight between champion,Bobby Southworth and challenger Renato “Babalu” Sobral is the likely choice.
Drew Fickett vs. Jay Hieron Affliction fight likely October 11
It appears Drew Fickett may have finally been able to move ahead and put his personal problems behind him.
Sherdog.com has been able to confirm that former International Fight League welterweight champion Jay Hieron (15-4) has verbally accepted an offer to fight “The Master” on October 11 at Affliction: “Day of Reckoning”.
Fickett (35-6) has competed as recently as August 8, submitting Joe Manzello at Silver Crown Fights (SCF) in round one. He had aligned himself with EliteXC earlier this year, but his much ballyhooed bout with Jake Shields never materialized to due injuries and scheduling conflicts on both sides.
From there, Fickett was plagued with personal problems including a messy contract dispute with Canada’s Maximum Fighting Championship. After eventually parting ways with EliteXC, Fickett fought twice for Rage in the Cage, going 1-1 before his most recent match at SCF.
Now he has his stiffest test in quite some time against the venerable Hieron.
The former IFL warrior is coming off a first round drubbing of Mark Miller at IFL: ‘New Jersey’ last April. When the troubled company went belly-up shortly thereafter, Hieron settled on a three-fight contract with Affliction after being courted by the UFC, Elite XC and Strikeforce.
Affliction “Day of Reckoning” takes place on October 11 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring the main event of Josh “The Babyface Assassin” Barnett (23-5) vs. Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski (13-5).
Hieron Agrees to Fickett at Affliction 2
Former International Fight League welterweight champion Jay Hieron (Pictures) has verbally accepted an offer to take on Drew Fickett (Pictures) at Affliction 2 “Day of Reckoning” on Oct. 11 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Fickett’s manager, Alexander Oxendine of 2 A-T Media, confirmed his client had been made an offer and negotiations are ongoing.
“We’re in discussion with a few organizations and Affliction is one of them,” said Oxendine. “They are at the top of our list. As far as Drew is concerned, he’s made a great turnaround with his life and training. He is ready to move forward.”
Since his last UFC bout in April 2007, Fickett’s career has seemed to be a rollercoaster ride outside of the cage.
An on-again off-again title bout against EliteXC welterweight champion Jake Shields (Pictures) never got off the ground due to injuries to both participants, which led to scheduling difficulties later down the road.
After a handful of failed attempts, EliteXC representatives said Fickett’s “personal problems” had taken a toll on their relationship with the wayward fighter, and they planned to release him from his contract.
In June, Fickett attempted to step in and fight Luke Stewart (Pictures) for a Strikeforce event in San Jose, Calif. However, a battle over Fickett’s contract obligations with Canada’s Maximum Fighting Championship and its owner Mark Pavelich spilled onto the Internet, as the fighter had supposedly already been booked for a July 25 MFC card.
“He’s ready to move forward and handle himself professionally,” says Oxendine of Fickett’s last few months. “He wants to take his fighting career seriously and to the next level.”
KJ Noons versus Nick Diaz "definitely not happening"
The very-public feud between EliteXC Vice President Jared Shaw and 160-pound champion KJ Noons' manager Mark Dion has now led to the official cancellation of the proposed bout for EliteXC's October return to CBS.
Shaw today informed MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) of EliteXC's decision.
"KJ Noons versus Nick Diaz is definitely not happening on Oct. 4," Shaw said.
Voice your opinion on MMA rules & procedures
I recently spoke with Nick Lembo, the legal counsel for the New Jersey Athletic Control Board and recently appointed chairperson of the Association of Boxing Commissioners' MMA committee, which includes representatives from all the major sanctioning bodies.
Mr. Lembo is in the process of gathering input from those within the MMA industry, as well as the media and fans of the sport, to help guide the committee on important decisions that will affect the rules of MMA.
That includes you, our CBSSports.com readers.
Mr. Lembo asks that readers submit their opinions and comments in writing, no later than September 17, 2008. Comments should be mailed to the following address:
DAG Nicholas Lembo
NJ State Athletic Control Board
Hughes Justice Complex
P.O. Box 180
Trenton, NJ 08625-0180
The committee is reviewing the unified rules of MMA for potential changes, most notably the amendments discussed at the ABC Convention in Montreal in July. Key areas of discussion include, but are not limited to:
* Strikes to the back of the head (more specifically, the question of how wide the foul area is... this would be the "headphones" interpretation vs. the "mohawk" interpretation).
* Downward elbow strikes
* Knees to the head of a grounded opponent
* Weight classes
Lembo told me he welcomes comments on all aspects of the rules, so if you have an issue you would like the committee to address other than those listed above, by all means, include it. You never know -- if others have the same feedback, you could inspire change for the better in this still-evolving sport.
Chuck Liddell Wants Title Shot After UFC 88
Former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell takes on undefeated "Sugar" Rashad Evans at UFC 88 at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta. If Liddell wins, he wants an opportunity to regain the title against current champion Forrest Griffin.
Liddell is confident that a win over Evans on Sept. 6 will result in a title shot. "I think it should," he told MMAWeekly.com. "I think I should have a shot at him. I don't see why I wouldn't. Who else sells as much? But I'll fight whoever.
"I think it seems to make sense for (the UFC). But that's not something I concern myself with right now. I've got to get past Rashad before any of that makes any sense."
Fans have shown interest in seeing him against UFC middleweight titleholder Anderson "The Spider" Silva, but Liddell made it clear what fight he wants if he's victorious against Evans. "I want the title shot, of course," said the former champion. "I'd like to get that and everybody else can fall in after that."
Liddell gained the UFC light heavyweight crown by defeating Randy "The Natural" "Couture at UFC 52 in April of 2005 and held the belt for more than two years. He defended the title four times before being dethroned by Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 71.
Top 49 Most Influential Men of 2008 (VOTE: including Dana and Spider)
Who have been the most influential men in 2008? Over the past 12 months, which guys have had the biggest impact on the way other men behave, buy and think? We at AM have a good enough idea to have assembled the shortlist of candidates youll find below. Now we need your help in determining the final 49. Follow the steps outlined below to build and submit your own Top 49 list. Your picks will be combined with those of other AM readers and our staff to produce the final list: the Top 49 Most Influential Men of 2008.
Wagnney Fabiano signs w/ WEC
The last remaining International Fight League champion, Wagnney Fabiano, has signed on with a new organization. The IFL's only ever 145-pound champion will now compete in World Extreme Cagefighting, according to the fighter in an interview with Tatame.com.
The Brazilian stand out was dominating during his time with the IFL, actually making it to the finals of the promotion's Grand Prix tournament in the lightweight division. Instead of him competing in that weight class, the organization allowed him to move to his natural 145-pound division and compete for a title there.
Fabiano defeated L.C. Davis to win the title and then went on to decimate highly touted youngster Shad Lierley in his only title defense.
Now the former IFL fighter will step into possibly the best featherweight class of any organization in the world, including current champion and recognized No. 1 featherweight Urijah Faber.
“Faber is the best of the world now,” said Fabiano in the interview with Tatame. “To beat him, I think you have to be in a good shape. He’s an expert fighter and he has good gas. It’s complicated to beat a guy like him. You have to set a good gameplan and be calm and watch the elbows, because if he hits you it can change the whole fight.”
No official word on when Fabiano could possibly debut with the organization, but with the next WEC show slated for Sept 10, he may have to wait until a proposed show currently dated for Dec. 3.
EliteXC’s ‘Impending Doom’ Averted for Now
Though its coveted spots on CBS and Showtime rival any other broadcast deals currently enjoyed in the sport, it’s unlikely any promotion is envious of EliteXC this week.
Nearly nineteen months into operation, Pro Elite -- the parent organization to EliteXC, ShoXC, King of the Cage, Cage Rage, and ICON events –- has found itself centerstage following a recent succession of incidents that have put the company’s ability to get the job done in question.
Last week, EliteXC’s welterweight champion Jake Shields, who’s clocked in under nine minutes for his trio of victories in the cage, went public with his intentions to accept a more challenging bout with a top-five middleweight through another promotion.
Just a few days later, news prematurely leaked out that a scheduled Sept. 20 event at the Pit in Albuquerque would be cancelled –- this before main event draw Joey Villasenor had even been notified.
On its heels, private negotiations between Mark Dion, manager to EliteXC lightweight champion Karl James Noons, and the promotion have gone public and seem to get uglier by the day.
The icing on the cake came with Thursday’s announcement that EliteXC heavyweight champion Antonio Silva had tested positive for the steroid Boldenone following his July 26 title victory.
SEC filings this week show Pro Elite is almost $55 million in the red, largely due to operating expenses incurred from its 15 flagship events to date, as well as its investments in other organizations (still running events themselves) that the company purchased to bolster its stable of fighters. In comparison, the UFC spent $44 million in four years before it struck oil with “The Ultimate Fighter” reality TV series.
EliteXC has certainly seen better weeks, and the memory of their May 31 debut of “Saturday Night Fights” on CBS in primetime -- which garnered heaping amounts of press and the most eyeballs of any live MMA event ever broadcasted with an average 4.9 million viewers –- seems to be fast fading.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, if Pro Elite can get to it in time. If changes were ever needed in the organization it would be now, and changes are being made.
Chris Horodecki vs. Dan Lauzon Affliction fight likely October 11
Up-and-coming lightweights Chris Horodecki (12-1) and Dan Lauzon (10–2) are expected to tangle at Affliction: “Day of Reckoning” at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 11.
Sherdog.com was today able to confirm that the long-rumored has been agreed to by both fighters and is just awaiting signatures on the bout agreements.
Cheick Kongo: ‘Nothing worries me too much with Brock Lesnar’ if UFC 91 fight is booked
“…. If the UFC wants me to fight Lesnar, I’ll do it for sure…. Lesnar was impressive [against Heath Herring at UFC 87]. He showed confidence in his standup striking and completely dominated Heath Herring…. I try to never underestimate any of my opponents but there’s really nothing that worries me too much with Brock Lesnar. I know it could be a tough fight, but, you know, I train hard and I will be ready for this one too. I am hungry.”
Cheick Kongo talks about a potential heavyweight showdown with Brock Lesnar at UFC 91 in Portland, Ore., at the Rose Garden Arena on November 15. In short, he’s not scared of the mammoth former highly decorated collegiate national wrestling champion. Let’s just hope the “French Sensation” has polished his takedown defense since the loss to Carmelo Marrero at UFC 64: “Unstoppable” back in 2006.
UFC Quick Quote: Dan Henderson is pissed
“I think this is a good match up for me. I’m going to be the guy that’s a lot more dangerous on my feet and it’s somewhere he doesn’t want to be with me. So it’s going to be his task to get me into his world on the ground. I’m not the easiest guy to take down, you know—so the determining factor of the fight is who can defend takedowns, who can get their takedown and if I can knock him out coming in or whatever. [Pretty] much all Palhares has is submissions. I try to come up with a game plan not to fight right in the guy’s strengths, so obviously I’m going to be trying to stay up on my feet with him. I just see myself knocking him out. I was pretty pissed at my last performance and I’m probably going to be a little bit pissed when I go out there and fight this guy. I’m ready to do a 15-minute grappling match with him if I have to, but I’m not going to lose.”
– Former PRIDE champion Dan “Hollywood” Henderson talks to UFC.com about fighting grappling phenom Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares at UFC 88 in Atlanta, Georgia on September 6. “Hendo” has his back against the wall after dropping his first two UFC matches (against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 75 and Anderson Silva at UFC 82). Has time run out on the 37 year-old superstar? Or is he going to wreak havoc on the up-and-coming Palhares? We’ll know soon enough.
Fedor's New Year's Eve Freak Show Fight
Satoshi Ishii, the 21 year old judoka who just took home the gold medal in Judo is calling out Fedor Emelianenko. From Dave Meltzer:
In Beijing, China, after winning the gold medal in the superheavyweight division in judo this past week, Japan’s Satoshi Ishii said he wanted to fight "Emelianenko Fedor," as the legendary Russian fighter is known in Japan.
Ishii, 21, has never fought MMA style. The idea of the match may sound laughable to MMA aficionados, but New Year’s Eve in Japan is traditional for gimmick performers, whether they be Japanese entertainment personalities, giants, or athletes who were successful in other sports, doing fights. With Ishii becoming a national hero in Japan and the sport fading in popularity, such a match would draw the kind of interest that Emelianenko against a top fighter could never do.