Women's MMA: Potentially Dying in America, Thriving in Japan
The Queen of Pancrase. For those familiar with the testosterone heavy environment of the pioneering MMA promotion, it's something that's tough to wrap your head around. It's not just the MMA business that is changing, it's Japan. A once fiercely patriarchal society is welcoming women into the workforce in record numbers. The role of motherhood, at one time so lauded and respected, has shifted into the background as Japanese women have fewer and fewer babies. These two news items, of course, are connected at the hip. But that's a story for another time and another blog. The times are indeed changing - and that includes MMA as well.
Two Title Fights, UFC Veterans Anchor MFC 29 Lineup
Maximum Fighting Championship welterweight titleholder Douglas Lima will defend his crown against Terry Martin in the MFC 29 “Conquer” headliner on Friday at The Colosseum at Caesars Windsor in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. A 10-fight lineup has been finalized for the event, which will air live on HDNet.
Cole Konrad to Face Paul Buentello at Bellator 42
Bellator heavyweight champion Cole Konrad has been booked to face UFC and Strikeforce veteran Paul Buentello in a non-title superfight scheduled for Bellator 42 on April 23 in Concho, Okla.
Konrad, who made his MMA debut in 2010 and finished the year with a perfect record of 7-0, ran through Rogent Lloret, Damian Grabowski and Neil Grove during last season's Bellator tournament to win the heavyweight belt. At 27 years of age, Konrad is remains a prospect in MMA off his accomplishments as a two-time NCAA wrestling champion with the University of Minnesota.
Horodecki, Mein Star in Ontario's First Sanctioned MMA Event
ORILIA, Ontario -- After years of advocacy and campaigning in the province, MMA: The Reckoning, at Casino Rama in Orilia, Ontario, marked the first ever sanctioned mixed martial arts event in Canada's most populous province. It was a homecoming of sorts for former WEC lightweight Chis Horodecki, as the “Polish Hammer” submitted Utah's David Castillo in the first round.
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.