Rebney: Alvarez’s Next Defense Likely In August
Bellator boss Bjorn Rebney sat down with Sherdog.com’s Greg Savage after watching his golden boy Eddie Alvarez defend his title against a very tough Pat Curran. Rebney wasted no time in stating that he hoped to have his top property back in the cage by August, to face the winner of this season’s lightweight tournament.
Imada OK after Violent Bellator KO
“Well,” Toby Imada said, “s--t happens.”
Not long after he was dismissed from the Bellator Fighting Championships Season 4 lightweight tournament in a violent knockout loss to Patricky “Pitbull” Freire, Imada (Pictured) faced the music. The 32-year-old Los Angeles native was left unconscious by a flying knee, two follow-punches and a left hook 2:53 into round one of his semifinal matchup with Freire at Bellator 39 on Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
Mei Yamaguchi Victorious in Pancrase's First Women's Main Event
Pancrase, the sport's second oldest promotion, broke new ground on Sunday night at Differ Ariake, Tokyo, as they finally held their first women's main event after 17 years of fights.
A hotly contested bout between one of the sport's best young stars in Mei "V.V Mei" Yamaguchi and fan-favorite "Windy" Tomomi Sunaba headlined Pancrase's first event since the devastating Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11.
Bellator 39 Results
Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez scored a unanimous decision over Pat Curran to retain the 155-pound belt in his first title defense in Saturday’s Bellator 39 main event in Uncasville, Conn.
Rick Hawn edged former champ Lyman Good by split decision to advance to the finals of the season four welterweight tournament, while Patricky “Pitbull” Freire moved to the lightweight finals with a first-round knockout of Toby Imada.
Ronny Markes Shines in Shooto Brazil 22 Title Tripleheader
BRASILIA, Brazil -- The crowd that showed up in force at the Nilson Nelson Gymnasium in Brazil's capital witnessed heavy fighting at Shooto Brazil 22, where three Shooto South American titles were on the line. No one was more impressive in capturing gold than hot light heavyweight prospect Ronny Markes.
Bellator boss unconcerned with ratings decline, insists brand continues to grow
It's hard to ignore numbers.
Bellator Fighting Championships, which earlier this month kicked off its fourth season of tournament action, has seen sagging TV ratings in recent weeks despite success out of the gate in key viewership demographics with its new broadcasting partner MTV2.
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney believes that early success will soon build traction with overall viewership for the promotion's live televised events.
Bellator on Saturday stages its first title fight of the season with arguably its biggest star, lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez, who meets Pat Curran at Bellator 39. The event takes place at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., and airs live on MTV2.
There have been plenty of challenges so far. Rebney said the promotion's earlier start time, which was adopted to avoid a head-to-head challenge with three UFC events scheduled this month, may have actually hurt viewership numbers with a show of inconsistency. Added to the strain was the March Madness basketball tournament that may have drawn away casual fight fans.
Although Rebney did not mention it specifically, it couldn't have helped that the UFC upped the number of free fights available on its Facebook page this past Saturday for UFC Fight Night 24.
But as Rebney also noted, Bellator drew over half a million viewers over two airings of Bellator 36 when the supposed slide started.
"What we're doing in terms of building out this brand and this partnership with MTV2 and MTV networks, this is a marathon – this is not a sprint," he said.
So, the executive is not sweating week-to-week fluctuations.
"What I'm getting drawn up in is improving the quality of our production, increasing the quality of our fights, and trying to make this bigger and better," Rebney said. "The fights we've got coming up over the next four weeks are just blistering, so I'm looking forward to seeing what happens and what kind of impact that has both in terms of live event attendance and the ratings we do."
YouTube videos featuring Bellator highlights continue to be a counterpunch to the challenges in building an audience. The most recent win for the promotion on that front was this past Saturday's clip of Richard Hale's inverted triangle submission over Nik Fekete, which Rebney said is around 140,000 hits on the video channel.
"I love it as a vehicle," he said. "The bottom line is we all forget because we've been around this and talking about and thinking about Bellator for the last couple of years, but we're still a relatively new brand in terms of general market crossover.
"MTV2 helps change that dynamic very quickly. The more you can feed out there in terms of YouTube or you can get out there vis-a-vis social networking ... the better of you are. It's a vehicle and it's a tool that we'll continue to use. I think it's been instrumental in building the brand and it will help push more people to MTV2 live and free on Saturday night."
While the promotion could definitely use a good turnaround at Bellator 39, Rebney said the event is not a make-or-break situation.
"I'm just hoping this Saturday night comes close to being what the last three weeks have been, and I'm hopeful about next week, when we get to watch champions and superfights and other semifinal fights," Rebney said. "I don't know that it has that more significance to us as a company, but it has an enormous amount of significance to the gentlemen on this call and 16 other fighters who are getting ready for Saturday."
James Krause Plans More of the Same After 41-Second KO
Admittedly, when James Krause has had opportunities to shine on the bigger stages of MMA, things didn’t work out for one reason or another.
Losses in two WEC bouts followed by a loss in Bellator forced Krause to step back, take a year off, and re-evaluate himself.
“I think the WEC, I had two really tough fights right off the bat – which I’m not complaining about – tough fights are tough fights and I don’t mind them,” he told MMAWeekly.com. “The (Toby) Imada fight I took on short notice and cut 30 pounds for it, so I physically wasn’t there.
“People assume that you just take time off and you’re not really doing anything; that’s definitely not the case. I was working hard the whole time.”
Krause continued, “I think the main thing I’ve done is starting to have fun with it again. I had a lot of fights early and I just kind of quit having fun with it, and I just got back to that and just being myself and not worrying about politics and all that crap.”
Krause returned from his year away with a bang, knocking out Nathan Schut in just 41 seconds at Titan FC 17 this past Friday.
“I hadn’t planned on knocking him out that quick, but my game plan was perfect,” he stated. “The plan was to run from him for 30 seconds and stay away from him, feel the range and frustrate him.
“In all his fights he engages fast, so we wanted to stay away from him and find the right timing. He kept coming in a little bit closer each time, and I managed to put him out.”
Krause feels he’s matured over the last year and now intends on taking his career at a much different pace than it started out.
“I don’t want to put any pressure on myself, and I just want to take it as it comes,” he commented. “I don’t want to rush myself too much, which was my big problem with the WEC. It’s not that I wasn’t mentally prepared, but looking back on it; it was too early for me.
“You could be correct in saying I wasn’t ready for it. I’m a much better fighter now than I was then. I’m getting back on the horse and I’m getting ready to do it again and I’m in no hurry.”
After taking time off in May to get married, Krause is looking to return at mid-year and take the steps needed to face top competition.
“When I come back I would really like to fight somebody with a name: A UFC vet or an Ultimate Fighter vet and really gauge where I’m at and go from there,” he stated.
“I just want to be an exciting fighter. I’d rather lose an exciting fight than win a boring one – I really mean that. Fans want to see hard punches, exchanges and knockouts, and I want to put on those kinds of fights.”
Having reassessed the way he does things, Krause feels he’s a more mature fighter and will be all the better for it as he makes his way back to the big time.
“I want to thank Posterboy Clothing and Team Grindhouse,” he concluded. “We’ve got a lot of good guys and we all train hard and you’re going to start seeing our names pop up and people are going to start recognizing us as a really solid team in the Midwest.”
AMA Fight Club owner steps behind the curtains for New Jersey-based fight promotion
Usually, you see Mike Constantino in the locker rooms holding a pair of Thai pads, following his fighters to the cage, or yelling at them at AMA Fight Club.
Next time you see him, he'll probably be all dressed up.
Constantino told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that he's accepted a new advisor position with the New Jersey-based Urban Conflict Championships for an event April 22 featuring the return of UFC vet Rolles Gracie.
The event, dubbed "UCC 4: Supremacy," takes place at the Mennen Sports Arena in Morristown, N.J., and streams live on the promotion's website. Headlining the card is a bout between "The Ultimate Fighter 11" cast member Andy Main (5-1) and Felipe Arantes (13-3). IFL veteran Jamal Patterson (5-3) is also featured.
Constantino will continue to train fighters such as UFC standouts and brothers Jim and Dan Miller, but he's now adding his expertise to the promotion side of the business.
That's allowed him to take what he's learned from the fighter's side of the game and apply it to the production side. He hopes that expertise will make both better.
"I've been a manager/trainer/fighter at every level, from your local rinky-dink show to the UFC," he said. "I see all angles of the game, and I feel like I'm in a unique position.
"There's trainers like Greg Jackson that are great trainers, there are guys like Malki Kawa, who's a great manager. Very few and far between are great trainers and managers. I eventually want to create my own category."
There is, of course, some crossover between those roles when it comes to shows on the regional scene. Gyms and trainers often hold events which feature fighters under their banner, and there are managers who employ fighters they represent in shows they promote.
Constantino is aware of the potential conflict of interest and said he is not a promoter of the April 22 event. Although AMA fighters are competing at the event, he will not corner them.
"Anybody that I spoke to knows I own AMA and that I'm a trainer, so they know the deal going into it," he said. "My guys are not getting any favorable matchups.
"Andy Main is the main event, and he's my guy, but he's fighting Felipe Arantes, who has seven victories in a row. So it's not like it's like, 'Hey, it's a lopsided fight and [the promoter] is training him to beat me.' Everybody knows who everybody is."
Gracie returns to the cage for the first time since an unsuccessful outing in the UFC. The grappling ace took on Joey Beltran at UFC 109 and was stopped with strikes in the second frame.
Main most recently picked up a submission win this past January in regional competition.
This time, Constantino won't be waiting for Main between rounds with a spit-bucket.
Imada-Freire Semifinal Joins Bellator 39, Completes 9-Fight Bill
The bill for Bellator Fighting Championships 39 is now set, as the promotion Tuesday announced the full nine-bout lineup for Saturday’s show.
While the majority of the card shaped up as expected, there was one late addition. Previously thought to go down at next week’s Bellator 40, a lightweight tournament semifinal between two-time runner-up Toby Imada and heavy-handed Brazilian Patricky “Pitbull” Freire has been shifted to this Saturday’s main draw.
Bellator 39 goes down April 2 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., and will be headlined by a lightweight title bout between champion Eddie Alvarez and second-season tournament winner Pat Curran. Also featured will be a welterweight tournament semifinal pitting unbeaten Olympic judoka Rick Hawn against former titleholder Lyman Good. Additionally, UFC veteran Ben Saunders will make his Bellator debut against Massachusetts-based veteran Matt Lee.
Highlighting the undercard will be a pair of lightweight tilts showcasing former Zuffa talent, as WEC veteran Dave Jansen meets Team Alpha Male product Scott McAfee, and one-time UFC competitor Matt Veach will lock horns with the undefeated Rene Nazare.
A product of the Philadelphia Fight Factory, Alvarez ranks among the best in the world at 155 pounds. A veteran of BodogFight, EliteXC and Dream competition, Alvarez has won six straight fights since succumbing to a Shinya Aoki heel hook on New Year’s Eve 2008.
“I need to live up to my own expectations. More than any fight in my career, I just want to completely dominate,” said Alvarez in a release. “It has nothing to do with Pat; it’s just what I feel like I have to do, regardless of whom I’m fighting, in order to earn my rank of No. 1 in the world. I won’t be happy with anything less than complete and total domination.”
Curran rides a four-fight win streak of his own into his confrontation with the champion. The 23-year-old has finished half of his career victims and owns notable victories over Roger Huerta and the aforementioned Imada.
“I’ve been dreaming every night about this Bellator world championship fight with Eddie Alvarez. I think about it in the morning, all day, when I go to bed, and in my dreams,” said Curran. “I’m coming out there to shock the world. I’m going to stand right in front of Eddie, and I’m going to let my hands fly. I have all the confidence in the world that I can beat Eddie Alvarez, so now it’s up to me to go out there and do it.”
Bellator 38 ratings dip again, event averages 150,000 MTV2 viewers
Bellator ratings dipped for a second week, and this past weekend's Bellator 38 event drew a season-low 150,000 viewers on MTV2.
MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) today confirmed the ratings information with an event source.
The March 26 event, which took place at Harrah's Tunica Hotel and Casino in Tunica Resorts, Miss., aired at a special start time of 7 p.m. ET/PT to avoid overlapping with Spike TV's broadcast of UFC Fight Night 24.
Report: 205-Pound Tournament Semifinals Booked for Bellator 42
Richard Hale will reportedly take on D.J. Linderman, while Tim Carpenter will meet Christian M'Pumbu in the semifinals of Bellator Fighting Championships’ first-ever light heavyweight tournament.
Hale (Pictured) reported the pairings to MMAJunkie.com on Monday, along with the fact that both semifinals will take place April 23 at Bellator 42. The event airs live on MTV2 from the Lucky Star Casino in Concho, Okla.
The winners of the 205-pound matchups will square off later in Bellator’s ongoing fourth season for $100,000 in total pay and the mantle of inaugural Bellator light heavyweight titleholder.
All four competitors advanced to the semifinals with wins at last Saturday’s Bellator 38 at Harrah’s Tunica Hotel and Casino in Tunica, Miss.
Hale, 25, made the biggest splash in his Bellator debut with a stunning inverted triangle-choking of previously unbeaten Nik Fekete. On Monday afternoon, an official YouTube video of the technical submission had been viewed over 80,000 times.
Linderman also caused an upset in his first outing at 205 pounds, stopping tournament favorite Raphael Davis on third-round punches. The 27-year-old former SportFight heavyweight champ improved to 9-1 with his fourth consecutive victory.
Carpenter, a 30-year-old product of Philadelphia’s Balance Studios, upped his unbeaten record to 7-0 with a split decision over Daniel Gracie. It was Carpenter’s second win under the Bellator banner, his first coming last October against former International Fight League standout Jamal Patterson.
M’Pumbu punched out Chris Davis in the third round of their hard-fought quarterfinal scrap. It was the first fight for 33-year-old “Tonton” since his semifinal elimination from Deep’s light heavyweight grand prix in April 2010.
Rebney: MTV2 ‘Very Happy’ with Bellator
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney (Pictured) joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Savage Dog Show” on March 25 to talk about his promotion’s current season.
Other topics of discussion included how Bellator’s television deal with MTV2 is working out, pay-per-view possibilities and the role of Bellator in the MMA marketplace after the UFC’s purchase of Strikeforce.
Rebney on MTV2’s reaction to Bellator’s ratings: “They were real happy with the first and second weeks. Last week of course we battled ‘March Madness’ and an earlier start time, so the numbers dipped a little bit, but that’s to be expected. … That’s just the nature of the game. Saturday nights have some great advantages to them, but there’s a lot of action going on Saturday nights, specifically during the March timeframe.
On the relationship with MTV2: “They’ve been great. They’re very excited about the programming. … They know the space. The MTV network guys have been in charge of and running Spike since its infancy. They get MMA better than anybody in television. They know how to shoot it, they know how to produce it, they know how to promo it. … They’re an awesome partner.”
On the importance of MTV2 and weekly shows for building Bellator: “That’s the catalyst. If you look at where the UFC was and where the UFC has gone, you can argue back and forth, but the single greatest catalyst they’ve had is ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ on Spike. … That week-in week-out same-time same-place channel development and partnership is the key to building a mixed martial arts organization.”
On how the Bellator-MTV2 partnership differs from UFC-SpikeTV: “We’re drawing a much different demographic on MTV2 than what the UFC is drawing both to the pay-per-views and to their Spike programming. And it’s a very attractive demo. It’s a socioeconomically impressive young male demographic that skews younger than the demographic watching ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ and tuning into pay-per-views.”
On whether Bellator can succeed in the UFC-dominated market: “When you have content, you have a show that can week-in and week-out deliver hundreds of thousands of young male consumers -- which is kind of your key, key, key consumer that advertisers are trying to reach in this country and across the world -- there’s not reason to believe that we couldn’t live in great harmony, leveraging the expertise of the people at MTV networks, who have helped build the UFC out to where it is, and build this brand out under the same corporate umbrella.”
On the status of Bellator: “We are in a spectacular position right now as a company, as a corporate entity because we’re not bleeding. We had great investors behind us when I launched this company in 2009. Those investors believed in the business model I put in front of them in terms of how long it would take to get to a cash flow break-even position where we wouldn’t require any more capital to continue putting on shows and putting on events. We got there. We actually got there literally about 60 days before I had projected we would get there.”
British Promotion Cage Warriors Inks Deal For Free TV in the UK
British fight promotion Cage Warriors Fighting Championship recently announced that it his inked a new television deal with Premier Sports in the U.K.
The deal means Cage Warriors will be available on a free-to-view and delayed basis on the channel following each of the eight events it has planned for the rest of 2011. Cage Warriors 41, which will be held on April 24, will become the first event to be broadcast free-to-view on Premier Sports that operates on the Sky platform, channel 433. Live streaming will continue to be available free through the Cage Warriors website.
This announcement follows the successful broadcast and worldwide live streaming of the Cage Warriors 40 show on the Cage Warriors website. That event comprised of six televised CWFC bouts, which included a successful CWFC bantamweight title defense by Paul McVeigh. The show was headlined by a women’s super-flyweight showdown between Bellator, EliteXC, and BodogFIGHT veteran Rosi Sexton and Japan-based American Strikeforce veteran Roxanne Modafferi.
“This is a great partnership for Cage Warriors Fighting Championship and a great opportunity for fighters worldwide to get the exposure they deserve as professional athletes,” commented Cage Warriors Director Graham Boylan. “The fighters put so much time and effort into this sport they deserve this exposure. I’m very excited for them.”
Premier Sports operates on the Sky platform, channel 433 and features NRL, NASCAR, South American Football and regular boxing from around the world.
Emmanuel Newton Out, Zak Cummings In Against Ryan Jimmo at MFC 29
The “Hardcore Kid” is broken.
Maximum Fighting Championship officials announced the news Tuesday morning.
Strikeforce veteran Zak Cummings (13-2) has agreed to take his place against Jimmo at MFC 29: Conquer on April 8 at Caesars Windsor in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
It doesn’t leave Cummings much time to prepare, but he doesn’t care. He wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity.
“I’m a gamer. I don’t pick and choose easy fights. It would be amazing to come into the MFC and win the title,” said Cummings.
“I’m going to get in there and do my thing. I’m excited to be on HDNet and to get the opportunity to show the fans what I can do.”
Cummings enters the bout on a three-fight winning streak, including a one-fight stint for Bellator, where he defeated Rudy Bears.
Jimmo (14-1) won the belt in his last fight, against Dwayne Lewis at MFC 28 in February. His current streak sits at 14 straight, his only loss being his professional debut in early 2007.
The fight is the co-main event of MFC 29, where the promotion’s welterweight champion, Douglas Lima, will defend his belt against UFC veteran Terry Martin.
Bellator 38's Inverted Triangle Courtesy Rich Hale
I'm late to the party on this in terms of posting this, but at Bellator 38 over the weekend lightning appeared to strike twice. First there was lightweight Toby Imada landing an inverted triangle on favorite Jorge Masvidal. Now there's light heavyweight Rich Hale doing the same to favorite Nik Fekete. To wit:
Windy vs. Yamaguchi Set for First Female Pancrase Headliner
For the first time in its 17-year history, Pancrase will offer up a female main event at its April 3 “Impressive Tour” stop in Tokyo’s Differ Ariake.
Set to square off in the 115-pound “Athena division” headliner are longtime Pancrasist “Windy” Tomomi Sunaba and promotional newcomer Mei “V.V.” Yamaguchi.
Sunaba, 34, is one of the best-established names in women’s mixed martial arts, having competed against some of the toughest female competitors in more than 10 different promotions during her nine-year career. The karate stylist has experienced a career resurgence of late, busting a five-fight winless slump from 2008-2009 with four straight wins in 2010. Sunaba’s current streak includes decisions over former boxing champ Monica Lovato and fellow Japanese vet Masako Yoshida.
Formerly known as “V-Hajime,” Yamaguchi is the current 115-pound champion of Greatest Common Multiple-run women’s league Valkyrie. The 28-year-old claimed gold in February 2010 by defeating Yuka Tsuji via first-round rear-naked choke, simultaneously avenging her 2008 loss to the women’s MMA pioneer. In fact, Yamaguchi has reclaimed both defeats on her 6-2-1 ledger, having also bested former Smackgirl standout Emi Fujino in April 2009.
Bellator 38 results
Tim Carpenter def. Daniel Gracie via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) (light-heavyweight tourney quarterfinals)
D.J. Linderman def. Raphael Davis via TKO (strikes) - Round 3, 2:44 (light-heavyweight tourney quarterfinals)
Richard Hale def. Nik Fekete via submission (inverted-triangle choke) - Round 1, 1:55 (light-heavyweight tourney quarterfinals)
Christian M'Pumbu def. Chris Davis via TKO (strikes) - Round 3, 3:34 (light-heavyweight tourney quarterfinals)
Austin Lyons def. Jimmy Van Horn via submission (armbar) - Round 1, 2:10
Jake Underwood def. Tim Galluzzi via submission (triangle choke) - Round 1, 1:04
Cody Donovan def. Brian Albin via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Blagoi Ivanov def. William Penn via TKO (strikes) - Round 1, 2:58
Amaechi Oselukwue def. Abe Wilson via unanimous decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28)