Chuck Liddell: War on retirement ‘blown way out of proportion’
“It’s like if you’re a kid and your parents don’t get along. They both called me up and talked to me, and they both love me and have my best interests at heart. I love both guys, and I’m not going to take sides. They’ve never liked each other. But they’ve always kept it quiet out of respect for me. Now that it’s going back and forth, it’s been blown way out of proportion.”
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell is uncomfortable with the public feud that he erupted between his longtime trainer, John Hackleman, and his boss and good friend, UFC President Dana White, over his retirement. White feels the “Iceman” — who has suffered three knockouts in his past five fights — “is past his prime, doesn’t need the money, and there is no purpose in risking permanent injuries.” Hackleman feels Liddell should be able to make up his own mind. Perhaps the only thing that will end this saga is a decision from Liddell, which is apparently still in the works.
Following back surgery, Goran Reljic takes up light training for UFC return
Goran Reljic's UFC debut couldn't have gone much better.
Pushing his professional career record to 8-0, the 25-year-old Croatian defeated Wilson Gouveia via second-round TKO and earned a $75,000 Fight of the Night bonus for his efforts.
Reljic (8-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) hasn't fought since that UFC 84 main-card bout a year ago, but his manager told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) the middleweight recently recommenced light training and hopes to return to the UFC later this year.
Reljic had been slated to make his second UFC appearance in October at UFC 90. However, a back injury forced him out of his scheduled bout with Thales Leites just two weeks before the Chicago event.
"Since then we had been trying different (forms of) rehabilitation to solve his back problems," Relic's manager, Zoran Saric, said. "Three months ago, doctors in Croatia decided to do lower back/disc surgery. Everything went well, and Goran started light training for a month."
Rashad Evans: Lyoto Machida is better than Rampage Jackson; Interested in Anderson Silva fight
“I thought Lyoto was more deserving than Rampage anyway. He’s better … actually, I like Rampage a lot. I think he’s really funny and charismatic. But I still want to beat his ass some day…. [My goal is to] get Anderson Silva’s record for the most consecutive wins in the UFC, with nine, keep the belt and then break that record…. I’d love to fight Anderson Silva.”
UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans — who has eight wins in nine attempts inside the Octagon (the “other” fight was a draw against Tito Ortiz — has no qualms defending his 205-pound title for the first time against Lyoto Machida at UFC 98 on May 23, because as he puts it, the undefeated Brazilian is more deserving. “Sugar” was expected to defend his belt against former division champion, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, however, he had to turn down the bout because of nagging injuries. He is expected to take on the winner of Evans-Machida later in 2009, which would no doubt be a blockbuster pay-per-view (PPV) event … especially if Evans can come out on top. And if Machida and possibly Jackson were not enough to handle, Evans also has middleweight champion Anderson Silva — who also competes at light heavyweight — in his cross hairs. Talk about a tough road ahead … can he pull it off?
Howard Davis Jr.: Chuck Liddell Should Take a Year Off, Retirement Decision Should Be His to Make
American Top Team boxing coach and Olympic gold medalist Howard Davis Jr. spoke with me about his work with Chuck Liddell prior to his UFC 97 loss against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Contrary to what some people believe, Davis said he really did work with Liddell for about two and a half months, and while he didn’t change his style he did try to add a couple tools to Liddell’s game. Here Davis talks about what Liddell’s recent loss means for his career, and whether he thinks the former UFC champ should call it quits like Dana White is insisting he do. He also touches on the addictive “drug” of being a world champion fighter, and why he thinks Liddell has seemed more vulnerable in recent bouts – and it’s not because he’s getting old.
Dana White: The man, the sport, and the money
Former street tough Dana White rescued the Ultimate Fighting Championship and transformed the mixed martial arts organization into the hottest sport in America. Get out of his way because he's not stopping now. And besides, you just might get hurt.
Most corporate titans don't look like this. It's hard to picture Donald Trump rolling into a shareholder meeting sporting a fresh shiner from one of his employees. And you definitely won't see Warren Buffett tossing up 300 pounds on the bench press. Thirty-eight-year-old Ultimate Fighting Championship(UFC) president Dana White may now have the boardroom cred of other business bigwigs, but with his round-shouldered build and two faint but permanent red lines along the edges of his nose (courtesy of a sparring partner), he mostly resembles just another fighter. And that's perfectly fine with him.
Indeed, White's tenure as the guiding force behind the rise of the UFC as the newest "fastest-growing sport in America" is best described as a knock-down, drag-out brawl in which he's now the undisputed champion. Nearly worthless and tainted by controversy less than a decade ago (the sport was not sanctioned by most states), White has helped elevate mixed martial arts (MMA) into the mainstream and transformed the UFC, the first MMA organization, into the biggest—and most surprising—success story in sports.
Acquired in 2001 for $2 million by White and other investors, the UFC now fills arenas in North America and Europe, produces a hit cable series (Spike TV's The Ultimate Fighter) and has smashed the all-time pay-per-view record. In 2006, the UFC generated more than $200 million in pay-per-view revenue, outperforming boxing and pro wrestling. Last year, Time magazine estimated the UFC's value to be over $1 billion.
MMA Quick Quote: Tom Atencio walks the walk, Dana White talks the talk
“I want to thank Prize Fight as well as Fight Force for putting on this card. I’ve been seen in front of the cameras before as far as the business side, but it’s time to fight. I’m doing something Dana White won’t do and that’s fight. He talks like a fighter, so why doesn’t he fight? I’m stepping up to the plate and win, lose or draw I attempted it. I don’t ever think he would fight.”
– Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio takes a rare stab at his UFC counterpart, Dana White, during the press conference to promote his upcoming welterweight fight against Randy Hedderick at “Ultimate Chaos,” which is scheduled for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Miss., on June 27. This will not be the first time that the 42-year-old steps into the ring — Atencio made his mixed martial arts debut back in 2005 and has competed sporadically ever since. He currently runs Affliction MMA, staging two major pay-per-view (PPV) events within the last year. During that time White — who was at one time an aspiring boxer — has been vocal about the “t-shirt” guys wasting gobs of money and running a poor operation. Atencio, for the most part, has bit his lip … until now.
Sean Sherk not overlooking Frank Edgar at UFC 98 en route to another title shot
He’s got a pretty good name. He’s done real well in the UFC; I’ve seen him in the top 10 before. I think it’s another step closer to a title shot, which is my main goal … I’m not looking for an easy title shot. I know Kenny’s not easy but if Kenny wins, I don’t want a shot just because I already beat Kenny. Give me BJ again, man. BJ beat me and for me that’s motivation, especially with everything before that lead into that fight with all the drama and stuff like that … I just want the best fighter to win [at UFC 101], and hopefully if I do my job on May 23, hopefully I can be next in line for a title shot … I mean Frankie is really tough; I never overlook anybody. I never have in my entire career and I’m not going to start now … as soon as you start overlooking guys, that’s when you run into a problem and I’m not going to do that.
Former UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk talks about getting another crack at the 155-pound strap he coughed up following a controversial drug test that pegged him as a steroid user. “The Muscle Shark” also anticipates a very stiff test at UFC 98 “Evans vs. Machida” in the form of lightweight standout Frank Edgar. A win could put him in line for a title shot against either BJ Penn or Kenny Florian following their championship bout at UFC 101 in August. Either way, it’s a rematch for Sherk. The question is, who would you rather see — Sherk vs. “The Prodigy” or Sherk vs. “KenFlo?”
Michael Bisping Is a Better Coach, Fighter, and Lover Than Dan Henderson
Okay, maybe he hasn't said he's better in bed. But Michael Bisping has been laying into his Ultimate Fighter rival coach Dan Henderson lately, for a number of other reasons. First there was this interesting bit in his new TUF blog for UFC.com:
As you saw in the episode, I made good on my promise to ensure my team were at peak fitness. The footage of us running through Vegas was taken early in the morning. Basically, each team had two sessions in the gym later in the day so, in order to make sure Team UK were getting their cardio in but without affecting their ability to train in the gym, we ran at 8am.
Some people were surprised I was going to the house at 8am to run with them, but that’s the kind of coach I wanted to be. Plus, under the rules, Team UK – or Team USA for that matter – couldn’t leave the house except with me or to be taken to the gym. So if I didn’t run with them, they’d not be running at all. Without me going there and actually getting my guys, they would have no roadwork, and as a coach that wasn’t an option. As far as I know, Dan didn’t take his team out running or doing any cardio except what my team dubbed “Ultimate Frisbee”, which I think says it all. That was Team USA’s cardio training.
Bisping also slammed Hendo's understated television persona and excuse-making:
I respect Dan and what he’s done in his great career, and I understand his gracious sentiment of “I’ll do my talking in the ring” but, ahem, he did sign up for a 12 week TV series. As far as I understood it, talking is kinda an important part of this audio-visual medium we call “television” but if things were left to Dan, TUF 9 would have had to been broadcast as a silent movie.
One of the few times Dan woke up was to moan about his team making weight “three times” for the fight whereas my team had enjoyed two weeks between their eliminator and the first fight. Dan was certainly getting his excuses in early here...ONE member of Team USA — Miller — had to make weight twice close together. One eliminator and one fight makes two times, not three as Dan tried to say.
Jon Jones: "Following his Destiny" (interview)
At 22 years of age, Jon "Bones" Jones has quickly become a rising young star to look out for in the UFC's light heavyweight division. With two wins under the organization's banner—including an impressive decision victory over TUF season one finalist Stephan Bonnar—he’s already making waves in one of the most stacked divisions in the entire sport. Jon sat down with me to discuss his past, his upcoming bout with Jake O'brien at UFC 100, and his plans for the future.
The full article is
Great interview! I had no idea he was only 22, definitely has a bright future in the sport IMO.
MMA Quick Quote: Gina Carano would ‘probably’ choose the UFC over Strikeforce
Frankly, I am absolutely unmotivated by money. And I know that maybe people take that and don’t understand what that means, but I am just not. What I am interested in is people that have respect. Not only respect for me, but people who have respect for women in MMA … I have sat down with Dana and (Zuffa co-owner) Lorenzo (Fertitta) and they have expressed interest and want to do something, but I am a little weary because I know that Strikeforce is signing women and the “Cyborg” fight is over there … I think that I would probably pick Zuffa (over Strikeforce) because that’s the big show, you know? To be a part of that would be amazing, but you know, here comes Strikeforce and they’ve got this CBS and Showtime deal and they are working their way up into being good competition … They’ve built their company on some good roots and now they are ready to branch out on Showtime and CBS. But as of right now, the UFC is the big show, and for a female, it would be an amazing opportunity.
Mir on Lesnar: "I Probably Wouldn't Like Me Either If I Made Myself Tap Out in Ninety Seconds"
A little less than three months out from his rematch with Brock Lesnar at UFC 100, and Frank Mir is already starting in on the trash talk and mind games in this Raw Vegas interview. He's decided to go the self-deprecating route, which means Forrest Griffin has a royalty check coming. Mir also isn't afraid to toss a few little burns in there just for the hell of it, even commenting at one point on the "penis" tattooed on Lesnar's chest. You can thank Dave Farra for bringing that up. Hey, we were all thinking it.
Aside from the Lesnar talk, Mir offers the best response yet to the inevitable Fedor questions. Instead of doubting his credentials and just refusing to talk about the guy, Mir says it's "not fair" that other heavyweights have gotten a chance to feel how hard Fedor hits and he might never get that opportunity. You have to admit he has a point. It's about time somebody called Fedor out on his discriminatory punching practices.
UFC Quick Quote: Matt Hughes now intends to take ‘bathroom breaks’ when Anderson Silva fights
“ Don’t have much to say about the fight. Thales obviously wanted to fight on the ground and even took Anderson down, but couldn’t keep him there. I really disliked it when Thales would just fall to his butt and expect Anderson to jump on top of him; but even more disappointing was Anderson’s lack of aggressiveness. He never seemed like he wanted to finish the fight. Halfway through the third round … we just decided to go home. It’s not the first time that Anderson has done this to me. When he fought Cote, it was about the same thing. Next time we have a party and Anderson is on the card…. Well, I’ll just say that at least I can expect to take a bathroom break or to go grab a refreshment when it comes time for him to fight. I heard Dana’s comments after the fight and how he was embarrassed. I don’t think Dana should be embarrassed all he can do is put the fighters in the octagon and once again I was a little surprised to hear Dana say this; but Dana White is a man who speaks what’s on his mind.”
Lost in translation
During the UFC 97 post-event confusion there was a lot of apologizing going on, specifically from Dana White to everyone and Anderson Silva to Dana White. But it turns out that Silva wasn’t as apologetic as his manager Ed Soares translated him to be. Here’s what Anderson apparently said in Portuguese:
Contrary to his manager Ed Soares’ translation after the fight, Silva did not apologize for his performance.
“I did well in the fight,” said Silva in Portuguese. “I can’t always make you happy.”
Silva continued his condemnation of Montreal’s vocal MMA fans.
“Not everyone understands what they are watching,” Silva said. “But hey, you guys can boo if you want. You are paying my salary.”
And here is how Ed Soares relayed that sentiment:
“It’s unfortunate that things sometimes turn out that way, but when you’re not in here, it’s hard to tell what going on sometimes,” said Silva. “Sorry.”
Hitomi Akano and Josh Barnett talk “Cyborg”
PDG: Megumi Fujii stated that: “After the ref stopped the fight, Cyborg didn't come over to check on Akano.” Was that more disrespectful or the fact that she showed up to weigh-ins 7 pounds over more disrespectful?
Akano: From the moment she missed the weight, I expected NOTHING from Cyborg.
Pros Picks: Liddell vs. Rua
A few years back, a showdown between Chuck Liddell and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua would have been a fight fan’s dream matchup. Liddell was the defending UFC light heavyweight champion and at the top of his game while laying out opponents like kitchen tile. Rua was on a meteoric rise through Pride Fighting Championships’ ranks, rivaling Liddell’s fistic floor masonry in Japan. Before Zuffa bought out Pride, it seemed like a full-scale tilt between these two explosive knockout artists would never materialize.
Thankfully the fight will finally come to fruition this Saturday at UFC 97 in Montreal, but like Liddell’s stellar conquest of Rua’s former Chute Boxe teammate Wanderlei Silva, the matchup is being purchased off the shelf a few years after its expiration date. Looking at his most recent bouts, Liddell’s age appears to be catching up to him and the 39-year-old icon just might be a bit past his fighting prime.
Rua, 27, has had a rocky transition to the cage, where his stamina has been harshly tested. Once feared for his heavy, looping punches, Liddell has been knocked out at the hands of Quinton Jackson and Rashad Evans in the last two years. Rua was soundly beaten by Forrest Griffin and nearly suffocated in a near hilarious, though triumphant, scuffle with fighting fossil Mark Coleman.
Luckily for the fans though, Liddell-Rua should still be an all-out war, a skirmish that could wind up being a “fight of the year” candidate when all is said and done. Will Liddell’s experience and hunger to recapture his title, along with a new striking coach, earn him another highlight-reel knockout? Will Rua have made the necessary adjustments to avoid exahaustion and finally get on the tear that UFC fans expected from him from the start?
Many professional trainers and fighters think they have the answer to those questions. Sherdog.com recently polled dozens of the pros in an attempt to get a read on the pulse of the MMA elite. Some were a little hesitant to comment on the fight, but the brave ones put their names and reputations on the line and boldly picked a winner.
Nate Quarry talks UFC 97 & Video Games!
PDG: UFC 97 in Montréal, Canada is a pretty stacked card; what fights are you looking forward to seeing that night?
Quarry: Any time that you get a chance to fight on a card with Chuck Liddell and Anderson Silva, it is a real treat. I have been a fan of Chuck's for a long time and we are also friends. So being able to be there and to say I fought on the same card as Chuck Liddell is a real honor. That is something that I will always remember.