Ramsey Nijem vs. Anthony Njokuani targeted for UFC 141 in Las Vegas
A lightweight bout between Ramsey Nijem (5-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) and Anthony Njokuani (14-5 MMA, 1-1 UFC) has been targeted for next month's UFC 142 event.
Sources close to the event told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) verbal agreements are in place for the fight.
Featuring a heavyweight headliner between former UFC champ Brock Lesnar and recent Strikeforce titleholder Alistair Overeem, UFC 141 takes place Dec. 30 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The main card airs on pay-per-view, though Nijem vs. Njokuani likely will be part of the preliminary card.
Forrest Griffin Apologizes for Twitter Rape Joke, Donates to Rape Crisis Center
Forrest Griffin tweeting out a joke about rape became a big story given the timing of the UFC's Fox debut. The story of his tweet was picked up by major online media sources and it led to a questioning of the UFC's embrace of Twitter and associated reward system while refusing to hold fighters accountable for harmful tweets.
Forrest has now apologized to a local rape crisis center whose executive director said "The entire comment was disgusting and insensitive." Las Vegas ABC affiliate KTNV has Griffin's apology:
"I like to cause trouble, I like to stir the pot and I like to make a mess of things, but I really do not want to be mean or malicious to anyone. I feel bad, I want to apologize, I feel like a should be punished a little bit. Maybe other professional athletes or just guys in locker rooms can kind of be more sensitive towards the topic of rape. Once you take the comments in the light of day you feel disgusted by it, but at the time you don't think."
UFC on FOX's Guida vs. Henderson winner expected to face champ Edgar in Japan
Maybe fighting on Facebook isn't the worst thing in the world.
While many MMA fans and pundits have expressed their frustration that a key UFC on FOX lightweight matchup between Clay Guida (29-11 MMA, 9-5 UFC) and Ben Henderson (14-2 MMA, 2-0 UFC) has been relegated to the evening's Facebook-streamed undercard, it appears UFC brass is still dangling a rather large carrot in front of the winner.
MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) has learned from multiple sources close to the promotion that the winner of the Guida vs. Henderson matchup is expected to receive an immediate title shot against current lightweight champ Frankie Edgar (14-1-1 MMA, 9-1-1 UFC).
Guida and Henderson meet in the co-feature of Saturday night's UFC on FOX 1 event, which sees heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez defend his belt against Junior Dos Santos in Anaheim, Calif. The main event airs on FOX.
Rich Attonito meets newcomer Jake Hecht at UFC 140
Following a card shuffle brought by Rory MacDonald's recent injury, the UFC has patched a hole in the second event headed to Toronto.
Sources close to the event today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that Jake Hecht (10-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will meet Rich Attonito (10-4 MMA, 3-1 UFC) on the preliminary card of UFC 140, which takes place Dec. 10 at Toronto's Air Canada Centre. Facebook-streamed prelims serve as a lead-in for a two-fight card broadcast on Spike TV, which then heads to the pay-per-view main card.
Attonito was originally scheduled to meet Claude Patrick, who was promoted to a main card bout against MacDonald's original opponent, Brian Ebersole.
Hecht, a product of Fiore MMA, brings a three-fight win streak into the octagon and has earned five of his 10 career wins via submission. Most notably, he holds a decision win over "The Ultimate Fighter 13" veteran Charlie Rader in regional competition.
As UFC on FOX headliner looms, champ Cain Velasquez envisions he's underdog
When he walked into the UFC's Rosemead, Calif. gym some 13 months ago, Cain Velasquez was the best challenger the promotion had to offer heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar.
Now Velasquez (9-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) is the champ, and Junior Dos Santos (13-1 MMA, 7-0 UFC) sits on the horizon waiting to dethrone him.
Oddsmakers still see Velasquez as a slight favorite leading into his headliner with Dos Santos, which takes place Saturday at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., as the main event of UFC on FOX.
In so many words, the line says Velasquez is the champ and brings better wrestling to the fight and therefore has a greater ability to control where things go.
Velasquez, though, has the mentality of an underdog. Whether he's fighting for the title or defending it, as he is under the network lights, this is the part of him that never changes.
UFC 137 drug tests come back clean
All 17 fighters who underwent drug testing at this past month's UFC 137 event tested clean for performance-enhancing drugs and recreational/drugs of abuse.
Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer today e-mailed the drug-testing results to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
UFC 137 took place Oct. 29 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas with a Nick Diaz vs. B.J. Penn pay-per-view headliner.
The NSAC tested both of them, as well as Cheick Kongo, Roy Nelson, Scott Jorgensen, Hatsu Hioki, Donald Cerrone, Eliot Marshall, Brandon Vera, Chris Camozzi, Francis Carmont, Ramsey Nijem, Danny Downes, Bart Palaszewski, Tyson Griffin, Dustin Jacoby and Clifford Starks.
All tested negative for drugs of abuse (such as marijuana and cocaine), as well as anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancers.
UFC on FOX's Ben Henderson promises his fight will be on TV 'somehow, someway'
When UFC president Dana White says his company is focused solely on the promotion of Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos leading into this weekend's UFC on FOX event in Anaheim, Calif., he means it.
Unfortunately, that means a critical bout in the lightweight division between perennial contender Clay Guida (29-11 MMA, 9-5 UFC) and former WEC champ Ben Henderson (14-2 MMA, 2-0 UFC) has flown largely under the radar.
But if you listen to "Smooth," it won't stay that way for long. Henderson thinks his promotion will take place when the cage door shuts.
"Someway, somehow, this fight will make it to air," Henderson said at Thursday's pre-UFC on FOX media workouts in Rosemead, Calif. "If it is afterward or whatever, Dana White is going to want to put this one on primetime television. He's going to be like, 'Oh, wow. We need to get this on TV somehow, someway.' I'm going to make sure of that."
UFC and FOX officials, of course, elected to feature only the card's heavyweight title fight on the night's special one-hour "teaser" special. But hardcore fans will be forced to stream the fight via Facebook or FOXSports.com (or watch in Spanish on FOX Deportes).
UFC 137 officially draws 10,313 attendance and $3.9 million gate
This past month's UFC 137 event officially drew a 10,313 attendance figure and a $3,900,650 live gate.
UFC 137 took place Oct. 29 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas with a Nick Diaz vs. B.J. Penn pay-per-view headliner.
Of the 21 events the UFC has held to date at the Sin City venue, the gate figure ranks third all time.
Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer today emailed the officials figures to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
Of the 10,313 attendees, 8,179 paid for tickets, and 2,134 received complimentary admission. Additionally, 409 tickets went unsold, though UFC officials announced the show as a sellout. That produces an average paid ticket price of $476.91.
In addition to the actual event, Mandalay Bay hosted a closed-circuit feed of UFC 137. The event drew 723 attendees (523 paid) for a gate of $26,150.
The Mandalay Bay Events Center's all-time top UFC gates as compiled by MMAjunkie.com include:
UFC 100 (Lesnar vs. Mir II): $5,128,490 gate (10,871 attendance)
UFC 79 (St-Pierre vs. Hughes III): $4,994,000 (11,075)
UFC 137 (Penn vs. Diaz): $3,900,650 (10,313)
UFC 126 (Silva vs. Belfort): $3,600,000 (10,893)
UFC 57 (Liddell vs. Couture III): $3,382,400 (11,000)
UFC boss suggests ex-ring girl Brittney Palmer is back with the promotion
It appears Brittney Palmer will be circling the cage once again.
A former WEC ring girl, Palmer took the same position with the UFC upon the January merger of promotions, but in July, she reportedly vacated her duties to pursue an art career.
But on Wednesday, White suggested Palmer will be back.
"Should we bring back [Brittney Palmer]? Vote now and let me know!" White tweeted late Wednesday night.
White, of course, already knew his answer. Palmer had a devoted following that long has campaigned for her return. So moments later, White announced his verdict.
"Done! The votes have been counted and [she] is back!" he stated.
White didn't state when she'll next don her UFC bikini, though as a Californian, she appears a possibility for this weekend's UFC on FOX event in Anaheim. Palmer hasn't worked an event since UFC 132 in July.
Anderson Silva Will Face Chael Sonnen Next
Anderson Silva has his next opponent.
On Wednesday, UFC President Dana White confirmed that the UFC’s reigning middleweight champion will indeed face heated rival Chael Sonnen in a rematch of their 2010 fight at UFC 117.
During an appearance on Jim Rome’s nationally syndicated radio show, White was asked point blank if Sonnen would indeed get the rematch he’s been seeking for months.
“It’s the fight that everybody wants to see, people want to see Chael vs. Anderson. Anderson is in this position where he feels like this guy is so disrespectful he doesn’t want to give him a shot, but Anderson will end up fighting Chael Sonnen,” White confirmed.
“The answer is yes.”
That puts any debate to rest about who will get the next crack at Anderson Silva, once he’s healthy enough to return to action...
Brock Lesnar to serve as analyst for debut UFC on FOX event
Brock Lesnar has intimate knowledge of Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos. Velasquez took his belt, and Dos Santos coached opposite him as a future opponent on "The Ultimate Fighter 13."
While the one-hour broadcast of UFC on FOX won't give out a teaser for next week's UFC 139, the show will talk about an upcoming heavyweight title eliminator.
That's where Lesnar comes in. The former heavyweight champ fights Alistair Overeem at UFC 140, and the winner gets a shot at the winner of the UFC on FOX main event. That's where champ Velasquez makes his first title defense against Dos Santos.
UFC on FOX takes place Saturday at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The one-fight main card airs live on FOX while preliminary action streams on Facebook.
UFC boss complimentary of Spike TV but up for challenge of 'going to battle'
Saturday night's UFC on FOX debut signals the beginning of an intriguing period for the Ultimate Fighting Championship and its broadcast partners.
As one era begins with the FOX family of networks, another will slowly come to an end as UFC programming is eventually replaced with Bellator Fighting Championships events on Spike TV.
UFC president Dana White today said he maintains the utmost respect for the operations team at Spike TV and realizes they have been instrumental in the fight promotion's expansion. That said, White said the gloves will come quickly off.
"You'll never hear me say anything bad about Spike or about the guys over there," White said following today's UFC on FOX press conference in Los Angeles. "They're getting into this business, and they're going to be competitors and everything else. But without Spike, I wouldn't be sitting on this stage right now and having this conversation.
"We're going to battle now, I guess, and I look forward to it. I'm up for the challenge."
Joe Lauzon vs. Anthony Pettis Verbally Agreed for UFC Super Bowl Card
It looks like Joe Lauzon is getting his wish.
All signs are pointing towards a Super Bowl weekend fight at UFC 143 between Lauzon and former WEC champion Anthony Pettis.
Sources close to the match-up confirmed to MMAWeekly.com that verbal agreements are in for the lightweight fights to place on the Feb. 4 show. Bout agreements have not been issued for the proposed fight yet however.
Every UFC Fight Will Be Televised in 2012, With FUEL Hosting 2,000 Program Hours
Since signing a deal to bring programming to FOX networks for seven years starting in 2012, UFC president Dana White has repeatedly said that if you're an MMA fan, you're going to want to make sure you have access to the FUEL cable station. Until now though, the scope of FUEL's devotion to the UFC has been somewhat unclear.
No longer. On a Wednesday teleconference featuring executives of both FOX Sports and the UFC, it was revealed that FUEL will broadcast over 2,000 hours of UFC programming in 2012, devoting about 25 percent of their entire schedule to all things octagon.
It was just one of several details released regarding the future plans between the new partners. Among the other major revelations is that starting in January, every UFC fight that takes place anywhere around the world will be televised. In the recent past, most undercard fights have only been available online on Facebook.com.
UK News: UFC Velasquez vs Dos Santos to Air on Premier Sports, Virgin Media Customers Lose Out
Back in August I reported that the ESPN network in the UK -- a premium subscription service that includes live UFC content -- would not be airing the Dan Hardy vs Chris Lytle UFC on Versus card. The reason being ESPN had only contractually agreed to show a certain number of UFC shows per year which included numbered Pay Per View events and Ultimate Fight Nights. Because the UFC's U.S. Versus deal was made after the UFC's U.K. ESPN deal, this additional content would not be included on the ESPN programming schedule which at one point showed the preliminary fights of certain cards as well as a season of The Ultimate Fighter before dropping this coverage.
A last minute deal with another subscription channel 'Premier Sports' to air the UFC event as a Free View show was made, and UK fans were able to watch after all. But only if they were a Sky Television customer.
This weekend Premier Sports is again filling in for ESPN by airing the 'UFC on Fox' event as a Free View broadcast but again Premier Sports is only available through Sky Television.
The UFC's new FOX Era will be defined by nationalism, globalism
It's fitting that on the 18th birthday of the Ultimate Fighting Championship this Saturday night, the UFC enters a new era: the FOX Era.
The octagon debuts on major network TV with a live one-hour special featuring a heavyweight title tilt between champion Cain Velasquez (9-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) and No. 1 contender Junior Dos Santos (13-1 MMA, 7-0 UFC).
The fight teases an upcoming seven-year deal that showcases the UFC four-times-a-year on FOX – with additional content on affiliates FX and FUEL TV – to the tune of an estimated $90 million per year.
Newcomer Alex Soto meets Michael McDonald at next week's UFC 139 event
With Johnny Eduardo (25-9 MMA, 0-1 UFC) scratched due to a shoulder injury, undefeated promotional newcomer Alex Soto (6-0-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) has taken his spot on next week's UFC 139 card.
He now meets fast-rising bantamweight Michael McDonald (13-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC).
MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) today confirmed the switch with event sources, though UFC officials haven't formally announced it. McDonald first hinted at the change via Twitter.
UFC 139 takes place Nov. 19 at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.
The latest UFC 139 card now includes:
MAIN CARD (Pay-per-view)
Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
Cung Le vs. Wanderlei Silva
Brian Bowles vs. Urijah Faber
Martin Kampmann vs. Rick Story
Stephan Bonnar vs. Kyle Kingsbury
PRELIMINARY CARD (Spike TV)
Ryan Bader vs. Jason Brilz
Tom Lawlor vs. Chris Weidman
Nick Pace vs. Miguel Torres
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Gleison Tibau
Michael McDonald vs. Alex Soto*
Seth Baczynski vs. Matt Brown
Shamar Bailey vs. Danny Castillo
UFC on FOX's 'baddest man on planet' Velasquez looks to recapture Anaheim magic
When Cain Velasquez seized the UFC's heavyweight crown more than a year ago, the American Kickboxing Academy representative seized another title from Brock Lesnar that night too: "baddest man on the planet."
Velasquez (9-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) returns to the octagon for his first title defense this Saturday at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. – the site where he captured the championship – to meet No. 1 contender Junior Dos Santos (13-1 MMA, 7-0 UFC).
The hype surrounding his bout with the Brazilian boxing specialist rolls off the former Arizona Sun Devil's back. Meeting the challenger, also undefeated in seven octagon appearances, in the UFC's debut on network TV on FOX is an honor. The distinctions, asserts Velasquez, are OK as long as they never become distractions.
"It feels good, but to me, the only thing that is in my head is the fight – not the stuff surrounding it, just what I have to do out there on that night," Velasquez told MMAjunkie.com
An inside look at Dana White
The face of the UFC is, quite literally, foaming at the mouth.
I am ushered into Dana White’s personal office by his charming public-relations guru, and before she can introduce us, he emerges: bald, beaming, suddenly and surprisingly charismatic, wearing hip-ripped jeans and a T-shirt and mumbling through the white madness, “Hi! Come in!”
All I see at first is white foam, bubbling at smiling lips, the kind of lather you might expect if you allow yourself to believe in the supernatural, particularly from a man crazy enough to go from hotel valet in Boston to instructor to, thanks to some nudging by the Boston ***** to get the hell out of dodge, a Vegas man.
And to, a few short years later, multimillionaire and face and force behind mixed martial arts, one of the country’s fastest rising sports.
I am too stunned to speak. And then I see the toothbrush. I exhale and realize the president of the UFC is, in fact, merely brushing his teeth.
Still, this candid look at a complicated man serves as the perfect introduction in a two-day blitz, on the verge of UFC 137, to Dana White and his fast-paced world. It will turn out that White, a 42-year-old mesh of controversy, cunning, charm, vision and intensity, is everything his newfangled PR machine wants you know about him — and everything they want you not to know.