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.
Frank Trigg offers to "retire" Frank Shamrock
UFC, PRIDE and Strikeforce veteran – and co-host of MMAjunkie.com Radio – Frank Trigg (19-6) is currently on a four-fight win streak, yet he doesn't know where or when his next bout will take place.
But on Wednesday's edition of MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio), Trigg identified one opponent he believes would be easy prey: Strikeforce middleweight Frank Shamrock (23-10-2).
"They can have me fight him any time they want up there," Trigg said. "Put it back at 180 (pounds) again, and I'll put him into retirement. It's not that difficult. Frank Shamrock's only got like two or three fights left in his life."
Trigg fought once for the California-based organization, defeating Falaniko Vitale in October 2008. The 36-year-old said he would love the opportunity to return to the organization in a chance to prove just how far Shamrock has fallen in recent defeats to Nick Diaz and Cung Le.
"How much [expletive] can you talk to Frank Shamrock?" Trigg asked. "He's not that good. The sport has passed him by.
"Do you really want to be seen training on Lamaze balls? Is that really what you want to do? That's what he does. Half of his techniques are done on Lamaze balls. I'm like, 'OK. That's really interesting. That's great. Who's teaching you your takedown defense?'"
Trigg questioned Shamrock's commitment to preparation for his April 11 main event with Diaz at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.
"You live in [expletive] San Jose," Trigg said. "There's like 75 great wrestlers that live right down the street from you. You don't train with any of them? That doesn't make any sense to me.
"You're a great striker, you're incredibly athletic, you have a great ability to talk before the fights, you've got a great ability to sell the fight. But then you're striking hasn't changed. Your ability, your flexibility, your ability to hit your punches hasn't changed. You haven't learned – knowing full well against a guy who's going to do takedowns – how to stop a takedown and how to keep it on your feet where you would have had a shot to win.
"But then, you're on your feet and you got out-punched by a jiu-jitsu guy. It doesn't make any sense."
While Trigg's career has been filled with bouts against the world's top competitors, he last fought in a unanimous-decision win against an unheralded Danny Babcock. While the win certainly wasn't a career-builder, Trigg insists Shamrock's current 1-3 streak proves he's no longer relevant.
"The sport's just passed [Shamrock] by," Trigg said. "It's the same thing I said to Ken (Shamrock). It's the same thing I said to Mark Coleman. It's the same thing I said to Tito Ortiz: The sport has passed you by.
"You haven't adjusted. You haven't learned. You haven't spent the time being in the academy every day trying to learn. You're out there [expletive] around doing other stuff when you're not training. It's not smart anymore for this sport...
MacDonald Inks Round 5 Deal
The Fight Network has the info on Jason MacDonald signing a figurine deal with Round 5:
Pavelich Sports Entertainment is pleased to announce that Jason “The Athlete” MacDonald has signed a deal with toy manufacturer Round 5 MMA to create his very own action figure.
MacDonald, a native of Edmonton, Alberta, will now join a very exclusive and elite group of fighters that have all collaborated with Round 5 to produce some of the most detailed and unique MMA action figures in the world.
“Since we are based in Ontario, I am particularly excited that Jason MacDonald is the first Canadian to sign with Round 5,” said Damon Lau, Round 5 President and Co-Founder. “He is one of the most successful and popular MMA stars in the country and enjoys a strong following across North America.”
It is interesting that Round 5 is now reaching into the mid-tier level with their signings. The initial signings have been high profile: Couture, Matt Hughes, Wanderlei, Rampage, etc. When looking at the mid tier fighters, Round 5 may look to hit those fighters that have some degree of tenure with the UFC, giving them name recognition if not superstar status. Other factors like being a regional draw (MacDonald’s Canadian roots) may also be taken into consideration.
Dodging bullets and prison visits keep Houston Alexander focused for UFC 98
After opening his UFC career with two first-round TKO wins, Alexander has now dropped three-straight contests. But despite the struggles, "The Assassin" recently told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio) that he's not worried about losing his place in the UFC.
"I'm not feeling any pressure at all," Alexander said. "When you have children, the only pressure you feel is taking care of your kids. As far as the world, or pleasing anybody else, I don't feel any pressure from that."
It's not that Alexander isn't working to turn his situation around. In fact, the Nebraska native is focused on doing exactly that when he daces Andre Gusmao (5-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) at UFC 98 in May.
"I've kind of stepped up a little bit," Alexander said. "We've been going to different camps and dealing with different bodies and different individuals. It's been working out really good."
Orange County DA Clears "MasK" Of Drug Use During Fatal Crash
According to the Orange County, CA DA's office, toxicology tests done by the Orange County coroner's office following the crash that killed TapouT founder Charles "MasK" Lewis have come back, and the tests reveal that Lewis did not have drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of the crash. This reaffirms testimony from family & friends that Lewis did not drink or take drugs.
Funeral services are Tuesday morning in California beginning at 11 AM PT and will be open to the public.
Anderson Criticizes Wanderlei’s Move to 185
They have the same surname, grew up in the same Brazilian city and trained together for years at Chute Boxe. But things have changed, and destiny has put Wanderlei Silva and Anderson Silva on different sides.
“I always helped Wanderlei in training,” Anderson explained in a November 2007 interview with Tatame magazine. “We were really close.”
Anderson eventually left Chute Boxe, though, and in the Tatame interview he said that the team’s coach, Rudimar Fedrigo, forbid him from fighting in Pride, where Wanderlei was a champion.
“Wanderlei didn’t say anything to help me,” Anderson said. “He even knew that I had four children to raise. If it were not for ‘Minotauro’ putting pressure and bringing me to Pride, I would certainly be retired.”
At UFC 79 in December 2007, however, Anderson couldn’t hide his support for Wanderlei against Chuck Liddell. After the fight, he visited Wanderlei’s locker room with Lyoto Machida to congratulate him on a gutsy performance.
I’m free now, whenever you want to train,” said Wanderlei, who had also left Chute Boxe by then and was happy to have the support of Anderson and Machida.
But now the relationship has soured again. Fifteen months after they shook hands in the locker room, Anderson learned that Wanderlei is on his way to the UFC middleweight division, where Anderson is king.
Exclusive Frank Shamrock Interview
Frank Shamrock has a lot to say in this interview, including what he thinks of his brother, his upcoming opponent, and why he isn't regarded as one of the legends of the sport.
Frank also unveils what his plan will be to celebrate once he knocks Nick Diaz out.
Check it out.
Press Release: UltimateBet Official as UFC Sponsor
UltimateBet earns the sponsorship rights to the upcoming Ultimate Fighting Championship®97 event in Montreal, where UFC® legend Chuck Liddell will bear the UB logo.
Miami, FL (PRWEB) April 7, 2009 — UltimateBet (”UB”) announced today that it has inked a deal with Ultimate Fighting Championship®(”UFC®”) that will deliver a kickass presence for the leading online poker site’s logo and brand at the upcoming UFC®97 event in Montreal, Canada on April 18, 2009.
A highlight of the UFC®97 deal for UltimatBet is the signing of mixed martial arts (”MMA”) legend Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell. The former UFC® light heavyweight champion will don the UB logo when he squares off against Brazilian Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in what promises to be one of the most explosive match-ups of 2009, and one of the most watched Pay-Per-View UFC® events in the history of the world’s leading combat sport.
“The Iceman”, one of the most popular and charismatic fighters in the organization and one of its major box office draw cards, is widely credited for bringing MMA into the mainstream of American sports and entertainment. Liddell’s star status and broad public appeal have won him fans even in Hollywood, with guest turns on cult TV dramedy Entourage, and cameo appearances in films including 300 and Drillbit Taylor amongst his credits.
The 39 year-old, all-American UFC® icon faces his most challenging role ahead of him, when he enters the Octagon™ looking to reclaim the magic that saw him notch up a spectacular 15-14 win-loss record from 1999 to 2006. On a mission to kick start another winning streak during the hotly-anticipated showdown against Rua, Liddell guarantees priceless brand exposure for UltimateBet and inestimable marketing value for the online poker room in over 100 countries and territories where UFC®97 will be telecast.
Along with opening billboards, in-venue commercials, and the stellar sponsorship of Liddell, fans will also see an additional four contenders on the fight card sport the UB logo in the UFC’s return to Canada. The 27 year-old Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Thales Leites, who takes on Anderson “The Spider” Silva in the headlining event, Krzysztof “The Polish Experiment” Soszynski , Dutch kickboxer Antoni Hardonk and Franklinville, New Jersey native Eliot Marshall will also be waving the UltimateBet flag on fight night, adding even more clout to the sponsorship’s appeal.
UltimateBet has netted the marquee sponsorship contract with UFC® ending several weeks of intense industry speculation, sealing a partnership between two camps that genuinely share a passion for champion competitors and a respect for the sporting ideal.
Securing the UFC® agreement is a triumph for UltimateBet, who will have their second outing in the Octagon™ at the “Redemption” event that is set to rock the capacity Bell Center crowd in Montreal.
Coloring MMA Badd
When I settled on a topic for this latest post-event opining, I thought I might have some 'splainin' to do as to why I was so sickened with Frank Mir's color commentary for WEC 40. However, after a quick peek into my inbox and a cursory glance at the Sherdog forums, I feel as though my objections are justified.
In case your TiVo exploded, here's a recap: Mir, routinely celebrated as a stellar technical analyst, ignores any and all offense from Joseph Benavidez and Takeya Mizugaki in otherwise brilliant fights while butchering the names of any and all brave enough to step into the cage with the UFC's interim heavyweight champ on the mic (though I suspect Jameel Massouh may be used to it.)
Mino and Stallone together?
The news broke today in the ‘O Globo,’ newspaper that Sylvester Stallone will be inviting Rodrigo Minotauro to participate in a moving being shot in Rio de Janeiro.
As discerned by GRACIEMAG.com, contact was made through Rodrigo’s adviser, Fernando Flores.
Mino, who is in Miami, arrives in Rio tomorrow, when he may meet with the star of “Rambo” and “Rocky.” Stallone’s team also expressed interest in meeting other well-known fighters, like Lyoto Machida and Rogerio Minotouro.
Actor, producer, director and screenplay writer of “The Mercenaries,” Stallone, 62, has already called upon Randy Couture for the full-length action movie, as reported by GRACIEMAG.com last December 18th. Yesterday, at a press conference in Rio, the Hollywood star said he is an MMA fan and spoke about the city.
He justified his choice in having Randy Couture, 45, in the film. Couture has already appeared in “Redbelt,” the 2008 movie by David Mamet.
“Couture will participate in this movie because he looks like a gladiator,” said Stallone. “I like fights and even know some Brazilian fighters; who knows maybe some of them will be in the film.”
“I came to shoot in Rio because the script called for a tropical setting and I found the city ideal for it. The movie shows mercenaries for a cause, and doesn’t intend to harm Rio’s image,” stated the debuting director. Although Stallone tend to surprise, the story of “The Expendables,” with Forest Whitaker, Gisele Itie and a large cast, isn’t too original at the outset: it is the story of a group trying to overthrow a Latin American dictator.
Paulo Filho: “I’m more focused now”
"I’m 100%, training hard with the Master Distak, who is giving a great base, and the Master Oswaldo Alves, who has helped me on the ground, a totally different vision of Jiu-Jitsu. I found a cool girl that gives me support. My father is in good health, everything is perfect for me. I think this is the best stage of my life", said Paulo.