UFN 20: Escudero Now Facing Dunham
After being pulled form his scheduled UFC Fight Night 20 fight with Nik Lentz for still-unknown reasons, it now appears Efrain Escudero will face Evan Dunham at UFN 20 instead. Lentz is now facing Jeremy Stephens.
Martin Kampmann vs. Rory Markham targeted for January's UFC 108 in Las Vegas
A potential slugfest is currently in the works for UFC 108 as Martin Kampmann (15-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) and Rory Markham (16-5 MMA, 1-1 UFC) have been targeted for a welterweight contest at the event.
MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) has learned from sources close to the event that both fighters have verbally agreed to the contest, though bout agreements have yet to be signed.
While the UFC has yet to officially announce the event, UFC 108 is expected to take place Jan. 2 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Almeida explains Fitch fight cancellation
“My knee popped during training at Renzo (Gracie’s) this week and right away I knew it wasn't good. (I) got an MRI and the results were a sprained and partially torn MCL and a tear also of my meniscus.
“(I) went to an orthopedist, who has treated many pro athletes from hockey through baseball and football here in the tri-state area, (and) we discussed surgery, but he said that (the) MCL tends to heal pretty well. (As a result of his diagnosis) I will be wearing a brace and doing physical therapy three times a week over the next four weeks.
“I was really scared about possibly having to sit out 6 months or more, so I'm stoked I don't have to go through surgery and a long rehabilitation period. My goal is to be back training in four weeks and hopefully fighting again late February or March.
“It is heartbreaking to have to pull out of such a big fight. I hate to leave the fans hanging and the UFC scratching to find a replacement. I was really looking forward to this fight.”
No secrets for Ben Rothwell at UFC 104
LOS ANGELES – There was no shade of secrecy in Ben Rothwell’s pre-fight hype talk with reporters.
After 10 years working his way to the top of the mixed martial arts world, Rothwell, 28, was serious as a heart attack about what he was going to do to UFC 104 opponent Cain Velasquez – and what Velasquez was going to try to do to him.
“It’s no secret that he’s working to become a kickboxer who has a wrestling background, and if he gets in trouble, he’s going to take me to the ground, try to control me on the ground, grind out a decision,” said Rothwell, staring straight forward. “Basically, my game plan is to show him that he’s not the better kickboxer, stop his takedowns, and if it does go to the ground, beat him there too.
Dana White considers futures of Mirko Filipovic, Quinton Jackson and Chuck Liddell
LOS ANGELES – A trio of recently departed MMA superstars may not actually be any closer to returning to the promotion, but UFC president Dana White refused to rule out a return trip to the octagon by Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson or Chuck Liddell.
Filipovic, Jackson and Liddell have all recently been considered defunct parts of the organization for a variety of reasons.
White addressed all three fighters' status following Thursday's UFC 104 pre-event press conference.
"I haven't talked to Mirko since he left the last fight," White said. "He's one of those guys, when he starts thinking about what he wants to do, he'll call me."
UFC update: UFC 105 sold-out, Mexico likely in April, Virginia next new domestic market
LOS ANGELES – The UFC's ventures abroad continue to earn financial success, and UFC president Dana White today declared November's "UFC 105: Couture vs. Vera" in the U.K. an official sell-out.
MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) was informed by additional Zuffa officials that less than 1,000 seats remain for the Nov. 14 event at Manchester Evening News Arena in Manchester, England. All are expected to be gone by fight time.
White also said the UFC is targeting an April trip to Mexico, while confirming the organization's recently rumored trip to the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va., for UFC Fight Night 20 on Jan. 11 was also official.
While the UFC 105 trip to the U.K. is already a success, White said traveling internationally presents some unique financial challenges.
Bas, Miletich & More talk Shogun v Machida
Bas Rutten – “Its going to be a great fight! Shogun is the better striker (hands), kicking wise I think he has the same skills as Machida he might kick harder though plus he has those crazy knees. Shogun is wilder than Machida, Machida is great at staying outside the opponents distance and countering the attacks that are thrown at him. The trick to beating Machida is to let him attack you and counter him, since he's a counter fighter you will take that away from him. Machida is more accurate then Shogun with his strikes but Shogun has a wider arsenal of strikes. Difficult one to predict, from what I hear from EVERYBODY who trains with Machida, they can't touch him. If he plays that game (thank God for 5 rounds) and counters the strikes from Shogun, he wins the fight. If one of those crazy combinations from Shogun comes through though, he will win. No prediction from me, I just break down the fights, I suck at predictions! Godspeed and party on!”
Despite issuing 3,300 free tickets, Dana White happy with UFC 104 sales
LOS ANGELES – When the UFC first visited Los Angeles' Staples Center for UFC 60 in May 2006, the event was considered by many as a bit of a disappointment at the gate after it attracted just 10,347 paid attendees.
Just two days away from the organization's return to the venue, UFC president Dana White said he's content with the sales this time around.
And that's despite the fact that White said he has distributed 3,300 complimentary tickets in recent fan giveaways.
Jon Fitch likely to rematch Thiago Alves at UFC 107 in December
Late Wednesday UFC welterweight contender Jon Fitch (19-3 MMA, 10-1 UFC) announced his UFC 106 fight had been canceled because of a knee injury suffered by opponent by Ricardo Almeida (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC).
However, another bout – a rematch from 2006 – may be on the way.
A source close to the UFC today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that Fitch likely will instead fight fellow contender Thiago Alves (16-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) in December at UFC 107; Alves' rumored opponent on that card, Paulo Thiago (11-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC), would instead be booked for another bout.
After UFC 103 and UFC 104 specials, Spike TV may air additional pay-per-view prelims
Mixed-martial-arts fans rejoiced last month when the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Spike TV announced two bouts from UFC 103 would air for free on the cable station.
Used to dishing out $45 for pay-per-view events, fans got two preliminary fights for free – and they'll get two more on Saturday when Spike TV again broadcasts two bouts from the UFC 104 preliminary card.
While a guest on Wednesday's edition of MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio), Spike TV Vice President of Sports and Special Brian J. Diamond didn't count out the possibility of the station airing additional preliminary-card bouts on future cards.
After "dark days" of career, UFC 104's Shogun Rua doesn't care what you think
LOS ANGELES – For a man who not too long ago was widely considered the best light heavyweight fighter in the world, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (18-3 MMA, 2-1 UFC) isn't being given much of a chance in his UFC title bout with current champ Lyoto Machida (15-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC).
But as the all-Brazilian main event of Saturday's "UFC 104: Machida vs. Shogun" pay-per-view card nears, Rua has a simple message for those who may doubt him: Don't believe the hype.
"I don't care really about the criticism and all that talk," Rua told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) through his manager, Eduardo Alonso. "Whatever people want to say, they're entitled to their opinions. It's a matter of me taking care of what I say and what I do and showing my work."
Machida says Shogun will be 2 or 3 steps behind
UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida isn’t buying Mauricio “Shogun” Rua’s promise to be patient when they face off Saturday at UFC 104.
Rua, 27, in July told MMAWeekly.com that Machida’s past opponents had gone wrong by rushing to the attack. He would wait for the right moment to strike at the champion.
“This is likely the key, to find the pace and the rhythm, mostly the timing of the strikes to be able to connect and to make it a fight,” said Rua.
Couture insists he is not thinking of retiring soon
Randy Couture says he has not been thinking of retirement any time soon, even though he is the oldest active fighter on the UFC roster. Having recently signed a new six-fight deal, he could find himself fighting all the way up to his 49th birthday.
"I'm not in the illusion that I'm going to fight forever, but I'm having a blast. I'm still getting better as an athlete and a fighter and will take one fight at a time,” he told The Sun. "But it's not really about achievement anymore, or accolades or any of that. It's more about doing what I have a passion for and doing what I love.
"I love to train and I love the competition, and I love to do it. Achievements and winning titles and all the other stuff is the icing on the cake."
Cain Velasquez: There is nothing Ben Rothwell can do to me
"He’s a normal person, just like me. Whatever he’s willing to do to me, you know, I’m willing to do the same to him. [I plan on] controlling him on the feet, making openings, taking him down. Just beating him up real bad, and picking my shots and really exploding on him; Letting him know that there is nothing that he can do to me.”
UFC heavyweight contender Cain Velasquez talks about his upcoming fight with former IFL champion Ben Rothwell at UFC 104 from the Staples Center this Saturday, Oct. 24.
UFC 104's crowd-pleasing lightweight Spencer Fisher wants a shot at B.J. Penn
The last time the UFC visited Staples Center was for UFC 60 in May of 2006.
With the organization's return to the arena on Saturday night for "UFC 104: Machida vs. Shogun" just three days away, one fighter from that UFC 60 card is again readying himself for a fight at the Los Angeles venue: Spencer Fisher (23-4 MMA, 8-3 UFC).
Fisher earned a highlight-reel knockout of Matt Wiman in his first trip to Staples Center, and "The King" told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio) that while he'll bring a new look to the cage on Saturday night, he expects similar results.
Pyle vs. Ellenberger latest additon to UFC 108
UFC 108's quickly filling fight card got another addition with a booking that pits Mike Pyle (19-6 MMA, 1-1 UFC) vs. fellow welterweight Jake Ellenberger (21-5 MMA, 0-1 UFC).
Sources close to both competitors told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) verbal agreements are in place and bout agreements will be signed shortly.
The event takes place Jan. 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and airs on pay-per-view.
Stephens, Not Escudero, Likely Facing Lentz At UFN 20
It seems the rapid-fire pace of UFC Fight Night 20 fight announcements has gotten to be a little too fast. Intiially there were reports that Efrain Escudero would face Nik Lentz at the January event, but now sources close to negotiations say it's actually Jeremy Stephens that will likely face Lentz. No reason given for the change, but Escudero is expected to remain on the card.
Brad Blackburn plans UFC return in 2010
Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight "Bad" Brad Blackburn recently signed a new multi-fight deal with the organization and expects to return to UFC action in early 2010.
“I am going to be fighting in January or February,” he told MMAWeekly.com. “I already called them. I called the UFC last week. I said, ‘I can fight January 30th on.’ I’m trying to fight for a living now, and give it 100-percent. I’m not trying to be a spectator. I’ve been feeling like a spectator lately.”