Fight Biz: UFC conquers North America, but education top priority overseas
The crowd of 21,451 that turned out for UFC 97 in April not only set a North American attendance record for MMA, it also topped this year's average home attendance of four Major League Baseball teams.
The Washington Nationals, Florida Marlins, Pittsburgh Pirates and Oakland Athletics are each averaging less than 21,400 fans for their home games through this past Saturday.
Welcome to the new normal in sports, where MLB is struggling to draw fans amid the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, yet the UFC is playing to large, raucous crowds wherever it travels. As recently as earlier this decade, no one in sports would have fathomed the possibility that an MMA event could draw a crowd larger than the average home attendance of one big-league baseball team, let alone four.
Ricardo Arona Returns to MMA Competition in Brazil on Sept. 12
From Fightbomb's translation of a Portugese interview:
Ricardo Arona: Well, what I have confirmed by now is the ADCC in Barcelona, Spain. I'm confirmed to fight in there. It's gonna happen in September 24th. Also I've spoken with Amaury Bitteti who is promoting a large MMA event in Rio de Janeiro, Bitteti Combat. I'm signed with this event, it'll be in September 12nd.
Carano On Couture: 'He's A Master Game Planner'
When it came time for Gina Carano to assemble a fight camp that would prepare her for her toughest career challenge, Randy Couture was a no-brainer.
“There’s not a lot of people that can put it straight and organize you like Randy,” she said during a Thursday teleconference promoting her headlining fight with Cris “Cyborg” Santos on Aug. 15 at Strikeforce.
NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer says instant replay possible by end of year
While much of the post-UFC 99 fallout has focused squarely on Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic's apparent snub of the UFC, the Croatian striker's path to victory over Mostapha Al Turk has been relatively ignored.
While difficult to pick up live, replays of the action from Saturday's main-card bout in Cologne, Germany clearly show a single poke to both of Al Turk's eyes led directly to the ensuing TKO win for Filipovic.
While Al Turk was left without recourse based on current MMA regulations, Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer on Tuesday told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that change could be quickly coming in the form of instant replay.
"We're trying to find out if there's a way to do limited instant replay," Kizer told MMAjunkie.com's George Garcia and John Morgan on Tuesday's edition of "GoodSports," co-hosted by Garcia. "We're hoping to find a way to do that."
When the UFC ventures abroad to countries lacking an athletic commission, the organization and its Vice President of Regulatory Affairs (and former NSAC Executive Director), Marc Ratner, turn to the NSAC's regulations for guidance.
The good, the bad and the (very) ugly: Quick thoughts on a busy month in MMA … and we’re not done yet
Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of watching WEC 41: “Brown vs. Faber 2,” another outstanding WEC card from the Zuffa sister promotion. Top to bottom this organization produces great shows. I like the announcing, the crowd was electric and the fighters really put on some fascinating bouts.
We can go on and on about the main event and how tough Faber is, but I was also impressed with Donald Cerrone and Jose Aldo, who I believe should be the next one to face WEC featherweight kingpin Mike Brown.
The champ is on a roll and it is going to take someone who possesses much more than just speed to topple him. His strength is amazing and he just does not make the kind of mistakes that another fighter can capitalize on. He fights an intelligent game on top of everything else.
Hello, Japan: Sengoku Gold Cup Match-Ups, Shooto and Pancrase Title Bouts Announced
Pairings for the opening round of the Sengoku Gold Cup were revealed on yesterday's episode of SENGOKU-G.
Here's what they look like:
Daisuke Endo (3-3 / Wajyutsu Keisyukai Suruga)
vs. Takeshi "Ken" Numajiri (1-1 / Kiguchi Dojo)
Makoto "Shin" Takenaka* (1-4 / P's Lab Tokyo)
vs. Ryosuke Komori (3-1 / Yoshida Dojo)
Takayuki Kishi (1-2-2 / X-One Gym - Team ZST)
vs. Shigeki Osawa (2-0 / Yoshida Dojo)
Toru Harai (6-2 / Mori Dojo)
vs. Makoto Sannai (1-1 / Gutsman)
Koji Ando (2-0-2 / Wajyutsu Keisyukai Tokyo)
vs. Kohei Maruyama (2-0 am. / SK Absolute)
Ikuo Usuda (4-0 / Kiguchi Dojo)
vs. Kota Okazawa (5-1-2 / Team ZST - AXIS)
Sacrificing the Young
At UFC 99, I watched a worthwhile prospect in Ben Saunders outmatched in a pointless bout designed to trick and fool spectators. I watched a great prospect in Cain Velasquez diligently work on his craft in the cage, but with a sense of finitude for that luxury. Needless to say, I was a sad purist panda.
As verbose as I am, I'd like to write a 4000-word tome on all the inane ideas people have about developing prospects in MMA. However, because my editors think you're all ADHD-addled adolescents whose brains melt after 1200 words, I can't. So, let us stick to the more specific and pointed question of whether or not it's feasible for Zuffa to allow blue chippers to blossom in the UFC.
I've already dedicated radio hours and column inches to the fact that as a sport, MMA maims, rapes and kills its young. However, prospect development is an extremely foxy issue for Zuffa specifically. Because regional MMA is still a work in progress, prospects who can draw a major audience as a local star -- like Eddie Alvarez in his early career -- are few and far in between, and limited by the lack of stalwart promoters. Therefore, it's often attractive for sterling young fighters and their managers to get them big show deals, because it represents not only adequate purses but also a level of competition that can foster their development -- or, of course, completely railroad them.
However, the design for the UFC (or WEC for that matter) is at odds with the true development of prospects because the entire business is built around funneling fighters toward the top to fight for titles. Fans are already debating how Velasquez fares against elite heavyweights. Worse for fighters, it's often in Zuffa's interest to risk pushing prospects quickly in the off-chance they're able to develop like as B.J. Penn, Georges St. Pierre or Brock Lesnar, which gives the promotion another star.
This structure exists only to support itself. It holds any average prospect to an unrealistic standard: We all acknowledge that Penn, St. Pierre, Lesnar and others like them are freakish anomalies and that their ability to adapt to the sport is virtually without parallel. How then can this be the standard? How can we expect any 5-0 kid out of the Midwest with some game to do exactly as Penn, St. Pierre or Lesnar have done? Imagine taking a test on which your professional livelihood hinged, and because a select group of brilliant individuals had previously tested so well, the passing mark was now a 95.
Some fighters -- notably Roger Huerta -- have gotten the proper treatment as developing fighters. However, these instances are the exception rather than the rule, and worse, it tends to be the up-and-comers who’ve shown flashes of brilliance that get victimized.
The most bizarre truth about prospects developing within the UFC is that early mediocrity is a blessing in disguise. If you impress fans and the brass from jump street, you're going to get fast-tracked, and likely to your detriment. If you can manage to win as sterilely as possible, you'll actually get to face a greater number of opponents, different stylistic tests and you'll evolve into a better fighter because of it. (cont'd)
New York Government Turmoil Could Sidetrack MMA Regulation
Just a week ago, it seemed like mixed martial arts was on the fast track to regulation in New York.
Not so fast.
A bizarre series of events in the state's capital that have been characterized as "turmoil" and a "coup" by various New York newspapers, has left the state senate in disarray, leaving the actual governing of the state on the back burner.
Mcfedries Kicked Out Of MFS Gym, Hopes To Reconcile
Drew McFedries’ comments at UFC 98 have cost him his place in Pat Miletich’s gym.
The hard-slugging middleweight Wednesday told MMAWeekly.com he has been kicked out of MFS Elite’s flagship training center in Bettendorf, Ia.
Following a 37-second destruction of Xavier Foupa-Pokam last month, McFedries said his work with Matt Pena and the H.I.T. Squad, headed by former MFS regulars Matt Hughes and Robbie Lawler, was a key factor in his victory.
“I really didn’t get a lot of support from my own team at MFS,” said McFedries. “Which is sad, that’s my hometown.”
McFedries said Miletich contacted him after the fight and told him it was “time to move on.” After returning to Bettendorf, McFedries attended a meeting with the gym’s regulars, including Miletich, and the decision was made final.
Milwaukee Sports Writer Claims MMA is "The End of the World"
In a column that appeared on the front page of OnMilwaukee.com, "award-winning" sports columnist Dave Begel reported that at some point "the other night", he was "channel surfing and inadvertently saw the END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT!"
What is this apocalyptic catalyst? The collapse of the American economy? North Korea's nuclear weapons? The two Milwaukee police officers shot in their heads today in Milwaukee?
Of course not. It's the sport of mixed martial arts.
Medical suspension following Strikeforce loss postpones Andrei Arlovski June 27 boxing debut
Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski will not be medically cleared in time to make his professional boxing debut on June 27 at The Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, on the undercard of the Victor Ortiz vs. Marcos Maidana fight on HBO according to Sherdog.com.
Under the tutelage of world renowned boxing trainer Freddie Roach, who has been working with “The Pitbull” over the past year or so to help him improve his striking, Arlovski had signed with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions to take a crack at the sweet science after coming up short in his WAMMA world title fight against champion Fedor Emelianenko back on January 24 at Affliction: “Day of Reckoning.”
With former boxing champion Michael Moorer by his side, Arlovski accepted a short-notice bout against Strikeforce heavyweight wrecking ball Brett “The Grimm” Rogers at the June 6 “Lawler vs. Shields” event to satisfy the last fight on his Affliction contract (Affliction sponsored his appearance).
Glazer Training MMA With Leinart Seems A Little Too Close for Comfort
So, how has Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart been spending his offseason? Why, he's doing some MMA training with FOX Sports' NFL reporter, Jay Glazer, of course.
Above is video evidence of one of Leinart's intense training sessions at Arizona Combat Sports. Even UFC fighters, Ryan Bader and Aaron Simpson, make an appearance to talk about Leinart's passion for MMA training.
TapouT announces training center for r&d
TapouT, the premier mixed-martial arts apparel, gear and lifestyle brand, is officially opening the doors of the new TapouT Research & Development Training Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Grand Opening weekend is set to take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 19 and June 20 at 4040 West Hacienda Avenue, Las Vegas, NV.
The flagship TapouT R&D Training Center in Las Vegas is a 13,000-square-foot facility and the first of its kind to be built by the company, whose brand has become synonymous with the attitude and prominence of mixed martial arts. TapouT's distinctive, authentic logo graces everything from clothing, accessories, and gear, to nutrition products and a magazine.
Herschel Walker to MMA?
For years we have heard rumors about Herschel Walker crossing over into mixed martial arts. It looks like Herschel is finally ready to set a date.
In Peter King's MMQB, King reports that Walker will make his MMA debut this fall.
Herschel Walker said the other day on our radio gig that he's making his MMA fighting debut in November. "I told them I don't want to fight a bum. I want to fight a contender," he said.
Tim Sylvia confident he could take Brock Lesnar
Former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia says he would jump at the chance to fight current UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.
"I want to fight a couple of times and get some wins, get some momentum again but if the UFC called and said 'We want you to fight Brock in three months', I would do it," he said to Fighters Only recently.
The former heavyweight boss thinks Lesnar got his title shot too early, although he believes he has justified that opportunity since.
MMAjunkie.com Fight Biz: On cusp of historic show, what's in store for UFC's next 100?
UFC 100 – it is a milestone few thought possible when the organization was fighting for its survival in the mid-1990s.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship was deemed too heinous for even pay-per-view and on its way to becoming but a footnote in American sports.
"I knew they were going to shut it down," said Guy Mezger, one of the early "ultimate fighters," who competed at UFC 4 and 5. "The reason that I fought in UFC 4 in the first place, I wanted to see how I would do in such a challenge because I thought they were going to shut this down, with it being a no-rules contest. And, we were right. The original Semaphore Entertainment Group held on for as long as they could, but they weren't willing to change with the times and the flow of, let's say, the politics, and they became nonexistent and Zuffa took over."
It's largely because of the change in ownership that the UFC will celebrate a seminal moment in its history on July 11 in Las Vegas with its 100th show. With the "UFC Fight Night" series added to the count, the promotion topped the century mark some time ago, but that's beside the point. UFC 100 takes on special significance because of what the organization – and the sport – has endured to get here.
"The sport had to shake its old renegade image, back in the head-butts and groin-shot days," Showtime MMA analyst Stephen Quadros, who served as a judge at UFC 8, told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "It had to clean itself up, but I've always believed in the athletes and the sport. It's already rivaling primetime sports like NASCAR and the NBA, and people know what mixed martial arts are today and what the UFC is."
It took 16 years to get to this point, and with the pace the UFC now schedules major shows, UFC 200 will arrive on a much faster timeline. So what will the UFC look like then, nine to 10 years from now? Will the promotion and MMA truly be mainstream, as much a part of the American sports lexicon as the NFL, college football or the NBA finals?
For all its strides thus far, MMA isn't there yet.
"It's not mainstream," Mezger said. "We get a lot of attention, it gets a lot of hype, but I don't think we're mainstream, mainly because you don't see GSP (Georges St. Pierre) with the multimillion dollar Nike contract, the Gatorade contract and selling Cadillacs."
The UFC's lack of a network TV deal is one of the main reasons that MMA still sits on the sporting fringe in the U.S. For hordes of casual fans, the UFC is MMA. The organization has the most recognized fighters, the biggest marketing budget and the promotional edge over its rivals. Most casual fans can't even spell Sengoku, much less articulate what it is. The UFC has a significant advantage over all competing promotions, enabling the UFC to draw more new fans to MMA than even EliteXC could with its breakthrough exposure on CBS. However, until the UFC establishes a consistent presence on national network TV, its growth will be tempered.
Josh Barnett: ‘Rock Em, Sock Em’ Reilly will vote for MMA when he can get rich from it
"New York is a very big legislative district and there’s a lot of money going through here … [MMA] is an easy target for a politician to make it seem like he’s working for the money he’s gobbling up into his pockets through special interests and greasing palms, the old-boys network. Politicians aren’t really there to serve us, they’re there to serve themselves and to work and live in the political circle that it is and live off the political money that is in that circle. When the day comes that it’s more beneficial for them to have MMA (in New York) instead of attacking it, then things will change. Until they think they can get rich off it, they’re going to use it as their Rock’Em, Sock ‘Em Robot."