Has UFC Found Its Transcendent Star?
You can watch it a dozen times and not believe it. The first man cinches his arms around his opponent's waist from behind, bucks forward and then simply dead-lifts him up and drops backward with him, tracing an arc of perhaps 140 degrees so that they land together, their weight on the neck of the man being thrown.
As they grapple for leverage on the mat, the first man catches onto the second man's left leg, working down toward the ankle as they rise, and then drops it, spinning to his right and catching his opponent flush with an elbow to the head that knocks him down to the mat, helpless again. From impact to impact, the whole fluid sequence lasts 10 seconds
"I've never seen anyone throw anything like that," said the second man, a tough veteran fighter named Stephan Bonnar. "I didn't even know it hit me. I was laying there thinking someone from the audience threw a bottle or something."
The fight was a test, Jon Jones's eighth in less than a year and his second in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the leading mixed martial arts promotion. Five fights, four wins and just more than two years later, Jones, 23, is preparing for his first chance at a UFC title.
Saturday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., he is scheduled to fight Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, champion of the 205-pound division, a feared Muay Thai artist and Brazilian jiu-jitsu player who has finished two-thirds of his 24 professional fights by knockout or technical knockout.
At stake, though, is more than a championship. Since first gaining purchase on the American consciousness five years ago, fighting has won a hard sort of semi-legitimacy as a sport. Major televised bouts draw around six million viewers, top fights regularly sell more than a million pay-per-view orders and an upcoming show in Toronto has, according to the promotion, sold about 55,000 tickets, with an estimated gate of $11 million.
The gap between a status as underground freak show and grudgingly tolerated niche sport, though, may be smaller than the one between fighting as it is now and as it aspires to be. If it is ever to become anything near a major sport, it will have to present a transcendent athlete. Jones may not be that man, but he's likely closer than anyone yet has been—which in its way just shows how far fighting has yet to go...
Bobby Lashley re-booked to face John Ott on March 25
The finalized lineup just announced by Titan Fighting includes a late change to the night's main event, which will feature former WWE superstar Bobby Lashley. Kansas City-based heavyweight James Jack (6-2) had been scheduled to fight Lashley but has been pulled from the show and replaced by John Ott (9-7).
Jack's departure from the card comes under questionable circumstances.
Gina Carano Visiting New York Next Week to Promote ‘UFC Personal Trainer’
The UFC’s ongoing tour of the East Coast includes a public press conference at Radio City Music Hall in New York tomorrow, UFC 128 in Newark on Saturday, and the TUF 14 tryouts next Monday. But there’s one more little surprise in store for fight fans — Gina Carano will be doing an appearance in New York next Wednesday to promote “UFC Personal Trainer,” a fitness game slated for a June release on the Xbox 360 Kinect, PlayStation Move, and Nintendo Wii.
Strikeforce champ Henderson anticipates summer return, interested in Emlianenko
Dan Henderson says he'll give it one more go early this summer before taking time off to be with his family.
Then it's back to the gym in the fall and a possible fight at the end of the year, if all goes well.
Who's next on his list? Henderson today told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio) that a fight with the winner of Gegard Mousasi vs. Mike Kyle is logical. But the new champ said he's also open to a future meeting with his favorite fighter, Fedor Emelianenko.
Edit: Milestone post! :D War Hendo! War Legalizing!
Heath Herring Wants MMA Return, but Only on Own Terms
Away from MMA competition for nearly three years, UFC heavyweight Heath Herring says he definitely wants to return to the cage -- but only under the right circumstances.
"It would have to make sense not only business-wise, but financially as well and I just don't know if that's in the cards at this moment," Herring told Ariel Helwani Monday on MMAFighting.com's The MMA Hour.
On the show, Herring said he has not been training MMA full-time and would need to devote the majority of his time towards training if he wants to be fight in today's competitive landscape.
New Jersey commission: Emelianenko will honor suspension, not fight in sambo tourney
Fedor Emelianenko (31-3 MMA, 1-2 SF) will pass on competing in combat sambo to honor a medical suspension issued to him by the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board.
NJSACB legal counsel Nick Lembo today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that Emelianenko's camp has assured him the heavyweight won't participate in a national sambo tournament to be held this weekend in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Sambo is a martial art system originally developed for the Russian military and bears many similarities to MMA in its emphasis on both striking and grappling. It's considered a national sport in Russia, and many competitions are held worldwide.
Emelianenko, a longtime sambo devotee, received two medical suspensions following a TKO loss to Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva in the quarterfinals of the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix, which was held Feb. 12 at IZOD Center in East Rutherford, N.J. He was suspended indefinitely pending a clear CT scan of his head and facial bones and also suspended 90 days for strikes to the head, as MMAjunkie.com previously reported.
Keith Hackney: Where Is He Now?
Held on Sept. 9, 1994, UFC 3 had some notable tweaks from its two predecessors. It remained in a one-night, tournament format but with an eight-man field, instead of 16. The canvas, previously white, was replaced with a more viewer-friendly blue. It was, in a sense, a social phenomenon coming to terms with its own success, which was accompanied by an equal dose of notoriety.
Naturally, that was exactly when Art Davie, then co-owner of the UFC, made the call to Keith Hackney. It came during the peak time for Hackney’s primary business, a heating and air conditioning company he founded in 1980 and still runs today.
His background included boxing, tang soo do, five years of kenpo and a year of high school wrestling, in which he made the state tournament as a 98-pound sophomore. After Hackney responded to a magazine ad, event organizers told him the roster was full but that, perhaps, a future slot could be in the works.
“He said somebody backed out and they had a space for me. It was one week before the fight,” Hackney says. “I thought if I said no, they wouldn’t call me back in the future, so I said, ‘I don’t care. I’ll fight. Get me on a plane.’ Art said, ‘Whoa! Let me tell you who you’re competing against.’ I didn’t care. I wanted to fight.”
Rich Franklin Gets Tattooed After Losing UFC 126 Bet With Forrest Griffin
This one's gonna leave a mark.
Prior to their UFC 126 co-main event fight, Rich Franklin and opponent Forrest Griffin joked about the loser getting tattooed. At least it seemed like a joke.
But don't ever say Rich Franklin isn't a man of his word. True to his promise, Franklin -- who lost the fight via unanimous decision -- visited a tattoo shop on Friday to begin the process of getting inked.
UFC site coordinator Burt Watson: "I like it when it's wacky, baby. It's what we do."
If you've ever attended a live UFC event or other pre-fight activities, you may recognize the man – but may not know his name.
He's most visible at the official weigh-ins. He's the first man on stage revving up the crowd before UFC commentator Joe Rogan grabs the microphone to introduce the UFC management, octagon girls, and shortly thereafter, the fighters.
He's Burt Watson – UFC site coordinator, part-time hype man, part-time counselor, part-time disciplinarian, jack of all trades.
Despite a laundry list of responsibilities, his main focus centers on monitoring the weight of fighters throughout any given fight week to ensure they are able to compete.
"Making weight is a part of what we do," Watson recently told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). "It's what these guys know they need to do. It's disrespectful if they don't. It shows me they're not trying.
Gilbert Melendez: “I Really Truly Believe I’m the No. 1 Fighter in the World”
Now that he has a new contract in place, Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez is ready to get back to the business of fighting, and he’s ready to prove he’s the top 155-pounder in the world.
Melendez hasn’t set foot in the cage in nearly a year following his win over Shinya Aoki last April. Since that time, Melendez welcomed a new baby into the world and recovered from a thumb injury, but now he’s healthy and ready to dominate again.
Scott Jorgensen vs. Ken Stone Added to TUF 13 Finale Show in June
Scott Jorgensen will look to get back on the path to the top of the bantamweight division when he faces Ken Stone at the upcoming “Ultimate Fighter” 13 finale show in June.
The bantamweight bout is the latest edition to the growing card taking place on June 4 in Las Vegas. Sources close to the negotiations confirmed the fight to MMAWeekly.com on Monday. Heavy.com initially reported the booking.
Martin Kampmann Expecting "Old School" Diego Sanchez at UFC Live on Versus 3
Danish striker Martin "The Hitman" Kampmann is looking to erase a previous setback against Jake Shields and make his way back to the top. Standing in his way is original TUF winner Diego "The Nightmare" Sanchez who is also fighting for a return to contention.
They are slated for a showdown at UFC Live on Versus 3 in Louisville Kentucky on March 5th and with the fight quickly approaching I caught up with "The Hitman". In his Bloody Elbow Exclusive interview we talked about squaring off with Sanchez and earning his shot at welterweight gold.
Ex-UFC Welterweight Jeremy Jackson gets 25 years-life
A Ventura County, Calif. judge today sentenced ex-UFC welterweight and "The Ultimate Fighter 4" cast member Jeremy Jackson to 25 years to life for sexual assault.
Jackson, 28, pleaded guilty in 2010 to charges that he raped his ex-girlfriend during an attempted burglary.
He was arrested in June 2008 and charged with seven felony offenses, including two counts of forcible rape. He has sat in a Ventura County jail since his arrest.
Jorge Santiago Confirms UFC Talks, But Says No Deal Is Official Yet
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- Free agent Jorge Santiago on Saturday night refuted reports that he has signed a contract with the UFC.
Santiago told MMA Fighting that he had not yet signed a contract with any promotion, but that he hoped to finalize a deal very soon. Santiago did confirm ongoing talks with the UFC.
Several MMA sites have reported that Santiago has agreed to a deal and will fight Brian Stann at UFC 130 in May, but he insisted that he has yet to ink his name to any contract.
"Maybe tomorrow," he said with a smile.
Santiago was the reigning Sengoku middleweight champion when he asked for and was granted his release. He holds a record of 23-8 after winning 11 of his last 12 fights.
Matt Hamill replaces Thiago Silva, faces "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 130
With Thiago Silva's status in doubt, the UFC isn't taking any chances.
MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) has confirmed with sources close to the UFC that the promotion has pulled the Brazilian from a planned UFC 130 matchup with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (31-8 MMA, 6-2 UFC), and Matt Hamill (10-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) has stepped in to fill the void.
Verbal agreements for the contest are in place, and bout agreements are expected to be finalized shortly.
Hamill had been expected to face Phil Davis at April's UFC 129 event. It's currently unknown if Davis will receive a new opponent for the card or be shifted to a later date.
MMA Fighter passes away from cancer
Wrestling has lost one of their own. Jose Cortez, 25, father, son, brother and friend passed away on January 29, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Jose, an accomplished wrestler and mixed martial arts fighter, died last weekend after a two-year battle with germ cell cancer. His six-year old daughter, mother and father, two brothers, a sister and countless friends and supporters survive him.
Jose was a graduate of Maryvale High School in Phoenix where he placed 4th in the state in 2002, 3rd in 2003 and won the state championship during his senior year in 2004. In addition, he was a three-time All American in freestyle and Greco-Roman and an Honorable Mention All-American in Wrestling USA Magazine.
After high school, Jose began a successful career in mixed martial arts. He won his last fight in November 2008 by unanimous decision over Drew Ficket that yielded a pro record of 6-1. Shortly after defeating the decorated UFC veteran, Jose began his fight against germ cell cancer.
Angel and Henry Cejudo, both graduates of Maryvale High School, were close friends with Jose Cortez. Jose and Angel shared a mat while in high school; the two families have been close for many years. The Cejudos are among the many friends and teammates who will miss Jose Cortez, cherish his memory and carry him in their hearts forever.
For more information on Jose Cortez and how to donate to his family, please visit www.fightyourwayout.org
Jones signs signature deal with K-Swiss, FORM
K-Swiss announced a multi-year endorsement deal with UFC light heavyweight contender Jon “Bones” Jones for K-Swiss and FORM Athletics. Jones’ deal includes collaborating with K-Swiss on a signature shoe.
According to Jones’ agent, Malki Kawa, he is the first MMA star to have his own shoe.
Via K-Swiss press release:
The Jones deal with K·Swiss will include appearances, ad campaigns and representation in the company’s growing fitness category. He joins Jeremy Shockey of the New Orleans Saints, Patrick Willis of the San Francisco 49ers, and Urijah Faber, the MMA Fighter and WEC Champion, in representing the TUBES training footwear category. Jones will also be collaborating with K·Swiss on a signature shoe.
FORM Athletics will release a Jon Jones Signature Collection of performance and lifestyle apparel for both in and out of the ring.
Jones will begin representing K-Swiss in the Octagon at UFC 126...