Friends Fighting Friends
They say familiarity breeds contempt, but in the world of mixed martial arts, the lines are a bit more blurry. Promoters often pit teammate against teammate, friend against friend, in their pursuit of financial success. Some fighters refuse those advances, no matter the lure.
“We won’t fight each other,” says famed mixed martial arts trainer Greg Jackson when asked about a potential fight between two of his top protégés, Rashad Evans and Keith Jardine.
Former UFC light heavyweight champions Tito Ortiz and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson have pledged never to fight unless the money was “right.” Other competitors seem to have no trouble putting relationships on the back burner and going toe-to-toe with their friends. Karl James Noons and Yves Edwards come to mind.
Few dynamics can match friend-versus-friend in terms of piquing interest. One needs only to look at the clashes between Ortiz and Chuck Liddell to understand the hype such fights can generate. In the case of James Irvin and Scott Smith or Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin, mixing it up inside the cage can forge even stronger bonds and lead today’s modern-day gladiators to hone their games inside the same gym as their former opponents.
Here are some past, scheduled and potential bouts with thick plotlines...
"The Ultimate Fighter 8" ratings improve; Junie Browning to thank?
This past Wednesday's episode of "The Ultimate Fighter: Team Nogueira vs. Team Mir," which featured controversial cast member Junie Browning's quarterfinal fight with Roli Delgado, scored 1.7 million viewers, an increase of nine percent from the season's first five episodes.
Additionally, the Oct. 22 episode had an audience 35 percent larger than the season low of 1.1 million that tuned in for the third episode of the reality series on Oct. 1.
Spike TV today sent the ratings information to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) via email.
With the recent ratings revival, in doubt aided by the antics of Browning, the eighth season of the show is now averaging 1.6 million weekly viewers. The seventh season of the show ("The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rampage vs. Team Forrest"), which aired earlier this year, averaged 1.3 million viewers for its 11 regular-season episodes.
The only basic cable stations that beat Spike TV and "TUF" this week were Comedy Central (with "South Park" and "Chocolate News") and FX ("Son of Anarchy").
Wednesday's episode of "TUF" peaked with 1.9 million viewers for the Browning-Delgado fight, which took place in the final quarter hour of the show. Browning, whose drunken rampages and confrontations with other cast members have resulted in ratings jumps over the past few weeks, recently told MMAjunkie.com that his actions were the result of being locked in the "TUF" house.
"You're in Vegas, and you can't go anywhere or do anything, so you let loose a little crazier than I normally would." Browning said. "I don't necessarily act like that at home. I can go out to a bar and drink, but I don't mess with people or anything. Once you're in the house, it's almost like being in high school again. You're around a bunch of young guys, we're all crazy and drinking, and I don't like being messed with at all."
EliteXC fighter faces toughest test yet: unemployment
The past few weeks were exciting for middleweight Joey Villasenor. He had prepared vigorously for his rematch with Robbie Lawler.
Though Villasenor was stopped in 22 seconds the first time they met, he was confident things would end differently Nov. 8 in Reno, Nev. Villasenor, who turned 33 on Friday, was feeling good.
Where to now? Joey Villasenor founds himself without a job after EliteXC closed its doors.
In a little more than two weeks, he planned to enter the cage and exact revenge on one of mixed martial arts' top middleweights. Plus, he could earn a much-needed $60,000 -- $30,000 for the fight and $30,000 to win.
Just two more weeks and Villasenor would put a few bucks into his savings account that serves as a retirement fund. But two weeks is a long time when the event's promoter is struggling to make ends meet.
EliteXC’s Top 10 Moments
News of EliteXC’s demise shook the mixed martial arts world on Monday, as an entire stable of fighters suddenly found themselves without a place to work. Any number of reasons behind the 2-year-old promotion’s downfall could be chiseled into its tombstone:
Foray into mixed martial arts failed for boxing promoters.
Organization walked down the same green mile as the World Fighting Alliance, the International Fight League and Bodog Fight.
Promotion unraveled after scandal involving street fighter and UFC retread.
While EliteXC offered just as much controversy as excitement, it enjoyed many bright spots during its 20-month run.
Brock Lesnar on ESPN's "E:60" today
Former World Wrestling Entertainment champion turned UFC heavyweight contender Brock Lesnar will be featured during tonight's "E:60" episode on ESPN.
The newsmagazine show premieres at 7 p.m. ET.
Lesnar, who debuted earlier this year with a loss to former UFC champion Frank Mir, meets current heavyweight title-holder Randy Couture next month at UFC 91 -- an event UFC President Dana White predicts could be one of the organization's biggest ever.
The "E:60" piece will look at Lesnar's path from a high school state wrestling champion to a WWE superstar to an NFL hopeful to UFC contender. Lesnar also talks to E:60 correspondent Tom Farrey about his battle with alcohol and painkiller addiction.
Lesnar (2-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC), 31, made his UFC debut in February at UFC 81. Although he dominated the fight for all but a few seconds, he suffered a first-round submission loss (via kneebar) to Mir. However, he rebounded in August and scored a dominating unanimous-decision victory over Heath Herring at UFC 87 in August. Next month he fights for the title against Couture, the 45-year-old UFC hall-of-famer who returns from a 13-month layoff due to a contract dispute.
Top UFC 91 Fighters Test Negative in Out-of-Competition Drug/Steroid Tests
From Keith Kizer of the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), in an email to FightTicker.com:
The Commission recently tested Randy Couture, Brock Lesnar, Nick Catone, Amir Sadollah, Aaron Riley and Jorge Gurgel. All tests came back negative.
All six fighters are scheduled to fight at UFC 91 in November in Las Vegas.
The NSAC is currently the only commission that tests fighters randomly throughout the year, so the tests are commendable. On the other hand, so far the tests have only included fighters within a month or so of their next fight. What I'd like to see on top of this is testing fighters who may not have a fight scheduled in the near future.
I believe that if there are fighters cheating, they'll try to do it at less-than-predictable times of the year, for example when they believe the commissions won't be paying attention to them.
For fighters training for an upcoming fight, however, it'd be pure foolishness to take performance enhancers then.
‘Fighting Fedor’ Reality Show in Works
Affliction has partnered with M-1 Global, which is shopping around a reality TV series called “Fighting Fedor” that will feature a 16-man tournament with the winner eventually getting a shot at Fedor Emelianenko on an Affliction card.
The partnership was officially announced Thursday at Trump Tower, along with some details on the show.
A promo video presented by M-1 Global explained that participants from various countries will travel to St. Petersburg, Russia, where they’ll train at the Red Devil camp and compete in the tournament. The video said the show will be on “American TV,” though it doesn’t have a home yet.
“We’re currently having negotiations with many different networks and channels,” said M-1 Global President Vadim Finkelchtein through an interpreter.
Finkelchtein said networks are particularly interested because the show will focus on heavyweights. He also noted the international scope of M-1 Global, which through the M-1 Challenge has hosted events this year in Spain, Holland, England, Korea and Japan...
14 Questions for Marcus Davis
Coming off a loss to Mike Swick in June, Marcus Davis will try to bounce back Saturday against Paul Kelly at UFC 89 in Birmingham, England. “The Irish Hand Grenade” shared some old boxing stories with Sherdog.com, as well as his thoughts on various topics from music to alcoholism to his meeting with Kelly.
Sherdog.com: Have you ever been rocked or knocked down during training or ever reconsidered fighting?
Davis: Nope. I've never been knocked out ever in my life. A lot of people look at my boxing record and it says TKO on there -- they think it was from a knockout. It wasn't. It was from a cut. I've never been knocked out in sparring or anything. I've never ever once reconsidered fighting. I've always wanted to be a fighter.
Sherdog.com: You spent a lot of time in boxing. What are some of those old-time memories?
Davis: One that just popped into my head: We were all in the gym one time, and there was this guy that was supposed to come in and spar with Dana Rosenblatt, who was an undefeated Jewish boxer at the time -- and there weren't a whole lot of Jewish boxers period, you know? So bringing this kid in, he was 5-0, and so they come walking in and he's got like this entourage and they’re screaming out, "Mikey D! 5-0 Mikey D!" All cheery as hell. The kid comes in and gets his stuff on. They start sparring. Dana hit him so hard with a body shot that the guy s--t himself.
There's just s--t pouring out of this guy's trunks. He ends up crawling out of the ring, and they rush him to the bathroom and he was so embarrassed, he didn't come back into the gym to get his stuff. He left right out of the side door, and they came in and gathered his stuff and they left. Never saw the kid again. I don't even know what ever happened with his career. I never followed him. I probably should have; it'd be funny to hear if he did any well at all.
You know, we had lots of different stories like that. A guy came in and was kicking a bag, and back then … you don't kick bags at a boxing school. My coach said, "Don't kick the bag!" The guy kind of looked at him -- he was a bodybuilder, the guy was all beefed up -- and he starts hitting the bag again, kicked it again and my trainer walked over to him and just smashed him right in the face. The guy actually broke down and started crying. Big muscle-bound guy broke down and started crying, looked at my coach and made an apology. We just have so many crazy stories about back then when I was boxing. It was just a different time. It was 15 years ago. You know the stories of scumbag promoters and stuff like that. There's good memories and bad memories.
Joe Son Arrested on 1990 Gang Rape Charge
Joseph Hyungmin Son -- better known as UFC veteran Joe Son to diehard MMA fans -- was arrested Oct. 7 in Huntington Beach, Calif., on charges related to a 1990 Christmas Eve gang rape. Son, who was already in custody for an unrelated vandalism charge, was linked to the 1990 crime when he gave a DNA sample to authorities following a probation violation. A second assailant tied to the 1990 crime is still at large.
TMZ.com and the Orange County Register were the first to report Son’s arrest.
Son has been charged with five felony counts of forcible rape, two felony counts of forcible sodomy, two felony counts of sodomy in concert by force, seven felony counts of forcible oral copulations, one felony count of sexual penetration by foreign object by force, and sentencing enhancements for kidnapping to commit sexual assault, personal use of a firearm, use of a firearm during a sex offense, and great bodily injury to sexual assault victim.
Say it ain't so, Joe!
UFC 89: VERA READY FOR 205 AND JARDINE
Vera On Cutting Weight:
--“Cutting that much weight and performing was the problem,” he explained. “I didn’t think it was gonna be, but I hadn’t cut weight in nine years.”
Vera On His Opponent, Keith Jardine:
--“He’s got great hands and a super awkward style,” Vera said. “An unorthodox, offbeat style; that’s a problem for almost every fighter. But it’s just something we’ve been working on in the game plan. Just making sure I execute the game plan that’s been set forth by my coaches.”
--“Nobody ever respected him or gave him the time of day until he started putting people to sleep,” Vera said. “I’m glad I didn’t do the same before I have to fight him. I just look at him as somebody that could knock me out. So I’ve got to be on my p’s and q’s.”
IN HIS OWN WORDS: Back surgery spurs Tito on
This was the biggest decision of my career… back surgery
Since the Randy Couture fight, I have had lower back problems. Each fight it got worse. I have made it though the last eight fights by physical therapy, methylprednisolone pills, and spinal injections for last three fights.
I fought injured time and time again for the fans. After the Rashad (Evans) fight, I told the fight doctor I was having excruciating back pain. It was so bad that my security had to carry me from the Octagon to my dressing room to the press conference and back.
This continued for the next four months. If anyone has had back pain, you know the pain I deal with. It got to be so bad that I was barely able to get up off the couch or drive for longer than 20 minutes.
Now try to imagine training for eight hours a day and having to fight formidable opponents like Rashad, and (Lyoto) Machida. From November of 2007 to May of 2008, I did two separate injections and worked my ass off in physical therapy so I was able to fight Machida.
During the second round of the fight I felt the same pain as I did in the Rashad fight. After the fight, I told the fight doctor I was having back pain. It never got better. I didn't want to fall into the terrible life of having to take painkillers in order to be capable of making it through training.
I simply refuse to fall into that trap. I started to look into other ways to help my back pain. I have done everything from rehab to injections to make it better and nothing has succeeded.
Noons: 'I’m a Free Agent'
Karl James Noons is looking towards greener pastures, which may or may not include his return to the EliteXC cage, he says.
“I’m a free agent,” Noons told Sherdog.com Monday, the result of EliteXC taking back his championship belt.
Noons, 25, was stripped of his EliteXC 160-pound title on Sept. 19 after the promotion said he refused to defend his title against Nick Diaz.
Noons bested the mouthy Stockton, Calif. native with a first-round TKO on cuts in November 2007. Words between the fighters and their families ensued in the cage, and a rematch loomed.
EliteXC attempted to promote said rematch on three separate cards since July. But Noons took umbrage with Diaz’s pay scale, which was nearly three times more than his.
Private discussions spilled into the public forum when an EliteXC rep announced Noons had been given a 24-hour deadline to accept the bout.
Though Noons was subsequently removed from EliteXC’s champions mantle, he said a piece is missing from the timeline.
“We weren’t coming to agreements on the fight, so I gave them written notice that I’d give them the belt back five days prior before they stripped me,” he said, in the hopes of “working something out.” “I didn’t make it public, and I guess to prove a point, or maybe out of ego or whatever they want, they stripped me.”
Noons said his contract, of which two fights remain, only pertains to his reign as a titleholder.
"Since I’ve been stripped, I’m no longer the champion and I don’t owe them the fights," he said. "I owed them fights for being a champion.”
Jeremy Lappen, EliteXC’s Head of Fight Operations, doesn’t agree.
"KJ still has two more fights on his contract," Lappen said Monday. “I’m hoping we’ll work something out, but there’s really not much to work out. He’s still under contract with us.”
Seth Petruzelli Paid to "Stand and Trade"...Or Was He?
From Monsters in the Morning via BloodyElbow via CagePotato reader “Adam S”:
Seth Petruzelli: My original plan was to throw a lot of push kicks, they’re called teeps…have him think that I’m going to throw ‘em to try to rush in more, and then shoot in on him, obviously…I knew I would do alright standing up with him. The promoters kinda hinted to me, and they gave me the money to stand and trade with him. They didn’t want me to take him down. Let’s just put it that way. It was worth my while to try and stand up and punch with him.
Interesting...not surprising, but interesting.
But check this out from 5 Oz of Pain:
Upon being contacted by FiveOuncesOfPain.com for a followup, Petruzelli indicated that he felt his words during the 104.1 FM interview are being twisted and he categorically denied accusations that EliteXC somehow tried to influence his strategy through financial considerations.
“What was meant to be said was that I wanted to keep the fight standing for myself because I knew that was what the crowd, the promoters, and everyone wanted to see because that’s more exciting than just taking someone to the ground,” Petruzelli said. “That was my thing only. I wanted to keep it exciting so I decided to keep it standing. It had nothing to do with anybody else. That was all me.”
Upon being asked directly whether EliteXC officials had even hinted that he could receive a bonus by keeping the fight standing, Petruzelli clarified that no such act had taken place.
Escudero turns wrestling into MMA/UFC career
Efrain Escudero grew up in Somerton, Ariz., wanting to fight. Now the Grand Canyon University wrestler is doing it professionally.
Escudero, who is still attending the Christian university, was selected by Ultimate Fighting Championships for "The Ultimate Fighter," a Mixed Martial Arts reality show based in Las Vegas.
Dumbest … robbers … ever
“… two gunman held [Lloyd] Irvin, his son, wife and UFC light heavyweight contender Brandon Vera at gun point while demanding to be directed towards valuables like cash or jewelry. While one gunman held Irvin’s family hostage, another gunman directed Irvin to the the master bedroom. According to Irvin, he led the gunman toward his bedroom. Once in the bedroom, Irvin said he noticed the other gunman was far enough away down the hall to make a move to disarm the attacker in his bedroom. Irvin, an expert in Sambo defensive gun and knife techniques, was able to get a hold of the gun in the attacker’s hands, first separating the clip from the gun and then removing the gun from the attacker’s hands. At that point, the attacker in Irvin’s room ran yelling to his accomplice that Irvin had his gun and both gunman fled the house…. Police were called to the scene and have launched an investigation. According to Irvin, no one in his family was physically hurt, although the psychological trauma at this point is considerable.”
St. Pierre Joins Beckham, Jeter In Mainstream
Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre has signed with CAA Sports, a division of Creative Arts Agency, one of the largest entertainment and sports agencies in the world.
CAA Sports will work with St. Pierre, alongside manager Shari Spencer, to help build new marketing and endorsement opportunities along with using the agency’s resources to create new endeavors in movies, television, licensing and digital media.
“Beyond being a fierce competitor and a tremendously skilled fighter, Georges St. Pierre’s class, integrity and humility also make him a terrific ambassador for the sport,” said Howard Nuchow, co-head, CAA Sports. “We look forward to creating opportunities for Georges that cross international borders and build upon his widespread appeal.”
CAA Sports is a world famous agency currently representing over 400 professional athletes, including the last five NFL MVP’s, and other sports superstars such as New York Yankee’s captain Derek Jeter, and international soccer player and celebrity David Beckham.
“CAA Sports is the best talent agency in the world and an ideal partner to guide the professional growth of the world’s best fighter,” Spencer commented. “Georges’ appeal transcends the Octagon and I am confident that together we can introduce Georges, and the entire sport of MMA, to a wider audience.”
The addition of St. Pierre to the growing roster of athletes at CAA Sports is a huge move for both the fighter and the entire MMA industry. CAA is an extremely recognizable company worldwide and their reach will expand St. Pierre’s marketability in many different areas that MMA hasn’t seen yet.
The significance of the signing of St. Pierre with CAA may not be seen on the surface to the average MMA fan, but in the long run the deal could be huge for both the fighter and the industry.
Is free agency in the future for Gilbert Melendez?
Former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez is ready to get back to the top of his weight class, but with only one fight left on his current contract, he is welcoming his upcoming free agency.
Melendez has had a very successful career to this point, but the California based fighter has now dropped two out of his last three fights and he’s looking to get the best option for his future.
“I have one fight left with Strikeforce. I really do like Strikeforce, I think they’re a great organization and they took care of me,” Melendez told MMAWeekly.com “But I have other goals too, other dreams. I do want to get my payback against Josh (Thomson) and (Mitsuhiro) Ishida, that’s awesome that they’re there too, but I’m just going to make sure I do really good on my next fight and then I’m going to weigh out all my options.
“It’s going to feel good to be a free agent after this fight and see what I can do.”
The next Strikeforce show is set for Nov. 21, but Melendez says it is up in the air if he will end up on that card or not.
Arlovski-Nelson Tapped for CBS
At least two fighters will not sit on the sidelines following the postponement of Affliction’s Oct. 4 “Day of Reckoning” event in Las Vegas.
Former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski (13-5) and IFL kingpin Roy Nelson (13-2) have been offered a heavyweight bout at EliteXC “Heat” Oct. 4 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla. The event will be aired live on CBS.
Arlovski’s management team would not comment Wednesday on the proposed bout, while Nelson’s attorney, Rod Donohoo, also refrained from remarks. However, Sherdog.com has learned from separate sources that both fighters have agreed in principle to the match and that contracts have been issued for review.
The last-minute addition will be presented as an Affiction-EliteXC co-promoted fight, and adds a quite a punch to an already anticipated roster featuring a showdown between former Internet brawler Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson and UFC Hall-of-Famer Ken Shamrock. Female sensation Gina Carano is also on board to take on Kelly Kobald-Gavin in a 140-pound bout.