Can CBS bring Fedor to the masses?
The new CBS commercial featuring Fedor Emelianenko drew a mixed reaction from the MMA faithful this week – a slick product, yes, but late in the game.
The 33-year-old Emelianenko, who faces heavyweight hopeful Brett Rogers Nov. 7 at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Rogers on CBS, has been the people’s champion for legions of fans who live and breathe the sport.
Most of them, however, know that those outside their circle will spell success or failure for the network event.
CBS had some of both when they promoted three MMA cards last year under the banner of the now-defunct EliteXC. The first and last events, bolstered by Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano, were unqualified ratings triumphs. The second, void of fighters with crossover appeal, drew poorly.
Advertising for the Strikeforce event began a little over a month ago, leading many to question the network’s commitment to the promotion, and by proxy, the sport.
CBS Senior Executive Vice President Kelly Kahl said his network will put its best foot forward in the buildup to Nov. 7, but asked the faithful to help CBS hit a home run.
“MMA fans seem to seek a greater acceptance, and nothing helps better than calling your friends and saying ‘you’ve got to check this out,’” he said.
The network ran several 10-second spots for the event during the past two weekends of NFL coverage, the first salvo in what Kahl said was the start of a comprehensive campaign. He said the network was assembling footage for new promotional spots and said the volume – and scope – of advertising would be increasing shortly, expanding to cable, radio, and the web.
Henderson, UFC Fail To Come To Terms
Dan Henderson’s career with the Ultimate Fighting Championship has ground to a close in a contract stalemate, and the former two-division PRIDE champion appears on the verge of signing a deal with the rival Strikeforce promotion.
Henderson, 39, devastatingly knocked out Michael Bisping in the second round of their heavily hyped fight on July 11 at UFC 100 in Las Vegas, in the final fight of his contract.
UFC Newcomer Alexander Gustafsson Proving Scandinavian MMA is Growing
Scandinavian countries such as Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland haven't been hotbeds of MMA talent. Over the years, there have been a few quality fighters coming out of the region that most hardcore fans would recognize instantly, but there hasn't been a large progression over the last few years in the talent being pumped out of these countries.
Norway's Joachim Hansen is probably one of the most recognized names on the list, but among casual fans -- Denmark's Martin Kampmann would fit the bill as one of the more successful Scandanavian fighters. Sweden brought two prospects to the UFC in Per Eklund and David Bielkheden, and other prospects such as Iceland's Gunnar Nelson, Swedish light heavyweight Bobby Rehman, welterweight Diego Gonzalez, lightweight Reza Madadi, and Finnish welterweight Janne Turilinta will all likely see a bright future with bigger promotions soon.
Junie Browning Apologizes, Promises to Improve Himself
Former UFC lightweight Junie Browning spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday, exactly one week after he reportedly consumed 16 pills of the anti-anxiety medication Klonopin in an attempt to overdose and allegedly assaulting three nurses when treated at the St. Rose Dominican Hospital in Henderson, Nev.
Browning spoke to the media at former Xtreme Couture trainer Shawn Tompkins' house to issue an apology to the nurses, his supporters and Tompkins, who drove Browning to the hospital and had taken the fighter under his wings.
"I'm going to continue working on the problems I have, but again I want to apologize to everyone that was involved," Browning told Raw Vegas in the video above. "It was a horrible thing that happened."
Ben Rothwell Living on the Edge of a Dream
"Had it not been for therapy, Ben Rothwell might never have found MMA.
He fought plenty outside the ring, lashing out at a suddenly uncertain world as a 17-year-old in Kenosha, Wis. In a short period, he had lost his grandmother on his mom’s side, his grandfather on his father’s side, and his best friend. His grades started to slip. His parents were going to kick him out of the house."
Junie browning no longer with UFC
Junie Browning, who was a standout on “The Ultimate Fighter: Team Nogueira vs. Team Mir” more for his antics than his in-cage performance, was arrested Tuesday night in Henderson, Nev., after allegedly assaulting three nurses at St. Rose Dominican Hospital, according to a report by Lawrence Mower of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The report states that two friends took the 24-year-old Browning to the hospital after he overdosed on anti-anxiety pills. After being taken to a room at the hospital, he reportedly tried to leave and became angry, pushing a female nurse, punching a male nurse and kicking another male nurse.
Browning was charged with three counts of battery on a health care worker.
UFC president Dana White on Wednesday told Yahoo! Sports that, upon learning of the arrest, he terminated Browning’s UFC contract.
“He was given an amazing opportunity, but he has some serious issues that are beyond me and what I can do,” White told reporter Kevin Iole. “I’m there for guys and I realize nobody is perfect and guys are going to get into trouble. When that happens, I want to try to help and do something for them. But he needs more help than I can give him. I did what I could for him.”
Matt Serra's Road Back to UFC Welterweight Title Begins in February
If you're wondering why Matt Serra hasn't been booked to fight since his UFC 98 clash against rival Matt Hughes in May, it's not because he's been injured or taking the loss too hard. No, Serra has simply been busy working on his new 83,000 square foot MMA gym that will be opening soon.
"It's going to be a beautiful martial arts facility," Serra told FanHouse on Thursday. "It's going to be the best one on Long Island, that's for sure."
Cain Velasquez Chasing UFC Heavyweight Title ... And Perfection
In few sports is true perfection attainable. In baseball, a pitcher can retire 27 batters in a row (it's only been done 18 times in over 100 years). A bowler can reach perfection with strikes in 12 straight frames. In football, a quarterback can somewhat illogically boast of a perfect passer rating even in a game where he does not complete all his passes (and even in a game that his team loses).
So the concept of perfection in sports is difficult to quantify, explain and achieve. Nonetheless, it's what motivates rising heavyweight star Cain Velasquez, who faces Ben Rothwell (30-6) at UFC 104 on Oct. 24.
Despite his 6-0 record with five stoppages, Velasquez remains his own worst critic as he continues his ascent to what he hopes will soon be a date with the heavyweight championship on the line. The new father of 4 1/2 month old daughter Coral recently took some time to talk to FanHouse about his demanding personality, switching opponents from Shane Carwin to Rothwell, and his response to critics.
Ryan Couture Maps Out Plans to Go Pro
"Having one of the most famous surnames in mixed martial arts, there's been a lot of attention paid to Ryan Couture's amateur fighting career. Son of legendary UFC fighter Randy "The Natural" Couture, Ryan has had five amateur bouts. With his first round submission victory over Nick Albert at Sportfight 26 on Oct. 2, Couture is eying turning pro and planning his professional MMA debut in 2010."
Chuck Liddell Sounds Like a Man Who Wants to Fight
The last time I talked to Chuck Liddell, in August, he wasn't ready to say whether he would retire from the UFC. Two months later, he still isn't ready -- but I got the sense then, and I still get the sense from a TV interview he gave Monday, that he's itching to get back into the Octagon. Video below.
Bobby Lashley in Talks With Strikeforce
Bobby Lashley, the former WWE champion turned MMA fighter, is currently in talks with Strikeforce to compete for the San Jose-based organization, FanHouse has learned.
The MMA rookie hasn't fought since his June 27 victory over Bob Sapp on the Prize Fight Promotions "Ultimate Chaos" pay-per-view, and still has two fights left on his contract with that organization. However, talks have heated up over the last few weeks with Strikeforce about Lashley making his debut on the Nov. 7 CBS show, headlined by Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brett Rogers. As of Thursday morning, though, no deal has been signed.
MFC Champ Antonio McKee: 'I'm the Best Wrestler in MMA'
Antonio McKee has been known to fight a methodical (safe) style due to small paydays, but now that there's more money involved, he plans on shedding his reputation of decisions at Friday's MFC 22 against Carlo Prater in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
"You're going to get a standup war in this fight," said McKee, who has been undefeated since a 2003 decision loss to Karo Parisyan. "If I lose this fight it's because I stood up and I tried to bang and I got caught."
In this exclusive interview with FanHouse, McKee explains his safe fighting style in the past that sacrificed entertainment, and why he believes there is no lightweight out there that can beat him – including UFC champ BJ Penn.
Rashad Evans Discusses Kimbo Slice vs. Roy Nelson: I Wanted Roy to KO Kimbo
The Kimbo Slice vs. Roy Nelson fight that will air Wednesday night on Spike TV was set up by former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, Nelson's coach this season on The Ultimate Fighter. And Evans said in an interview with FanHouse that he set up that fight for one reason: He wanted to see Kimbo get knocked out, and he thought Nelson was the man to do it.
That wasn't intended as a slight toward Kimbo, whom Evans says he likes. It was intended as a slight toward Rampage Jackson, Evans' coaching rival, whom Evans says he desperately wanted to beat on the show -- just as he desperately wanted to beat him in the Octagon before Jackson walked away from the UFC to pursue an acting career. Jackson made Kimbo his first choice when the coaches picked their teams, and Evans said he thought Nelson was just the man to whip Jackson's first-round draft pick.
Herschel Walker challenges Dana White to fight, forgets to plug Strikeforce on ESPN2
To the casual sports fan, Herschel Walker's appearance on today's edition of "ESPN First Take" was probably a bit confusing.
On ESPN2's daily morning sports show, the 47-year-old NFL veteran championed mixed martial arts and made some boastful claims about his talent level – but forgot to mention a single time that he had been signed by Strikeforce.
Instead, the conversation mostly focused on the UFC and Walker's open challenge to fight company president Dana White.
Liddell, St.Pierre, Evans Among Six Initial Figures Round 5 UFC Series
Its landmark marketing partnership freshly in place, Round 5 is pleased to announce the members of the first series of collectible figurines under the UFC brand, a group of six accomplished fighters, as announced today by Barron Lau, Round 5 CEO and co-founder and Damon Lau, president and co-founder. Figurines for stars Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, George “Rush” St. Pierre, “Suga” Rashad
Evans, Kenny “KenFlo” Florian, Clay “The Carpenter” Guida and Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida are scheduled to be available at retail and at www.Round5MMA.com early next year.
The six collectibles will be presented in a new UFC-themed packaging that includes action photos of each respective fighter’s memorable moments as well as a short biography.
“These six athletes provide a strong, varied base for our first UFC series,” said Damon Lau. “There are established champions like Chuck Liddell and George St. Pierre, popular up-and comers like Rashad Evans and Kenny Florian and guys like Clay Guida and Lyoto Machida who have loyal, growing followings.”
“We think fans will really connect to these collectibles through their detail and the enhanced packaging,” said Barron Lau. “We want them to feel that by owning a Round 5 figurine, they, in a sense, own a piece of that fighter.”
The issuance of UFC Series 1 signals the discontinuation of the previous Round 5 Series. The remaining inventory from the 17 figurines issued in the previous four Series under that brand will continue to be available while supplies last. Limited editions and other special versions of the UFC Series 1 athletes are also in the planning stages.
Payment Due: Kimbo's Time has Come
'“I’m not a mixed martial artist, I’m a fighter. I’m gonna fight him, win or lose.”
Such were the words of Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson when his fight against Roy Nelson was announced for this week’s episode of “The Ultimate Fighter: The Heavyweights.” And perhaps this simplicity is the appeal of the man who built his initial reputation in backyard brawls on YouTube."
'Rampage' Leaves Evans in Limbo
"When rumors of Quinton Jackson’s withdrawal from their highly hyped Dec. 12 bout reached Rashad Evans, he hoped against hope the news was nothing but Internet banter.
It was not. Evans and the rest of the mixed martial art world received the news that Jackson would indeed shirk his commitment to fight Evans, his fellow coach on this season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” at UFC 107 in Memphis, Tenn. "
Interview with Roger Huerta
"Lightweight Roger Huerta is in Austin, Tex., spending time with his family and healing up from his fight with Gray Maynard at UFC Fight Night 19. MMAWeekly caught up with him recently to discuss his future plans.
MMAWeekly: Were you happy with the fight last week?
Huerta: I was really happy with my performance. I think I’ve improved a lot, dramatically, where I don’t fight too wild. I was really focused on Gray and what he does good, which is obviously his wrestling and his striking. I felt that the fight could have gone the either way, but then again, it’s my fault for not finishing when I had chances and letting it go that far."