Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center emerges as frontrunner for UFC on Versus 4
Two strong options for the UFC's fourth Versus-broadcast event have now narrowed to one.
Sources close to negotiations today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that Pittsburgh's 19,000-seat Consol Energy Center is a leading candidate to host UFC on Versus 4.
The event is targeted for June 26, though the promotion has yet to make anything official, and Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission said earlier this week that talks are still in the preliminary stages.
Previous UFC on Versus events have touched down in Broomfield, Colo., San Diego, and most recently Louisville, Ky.
The promotion hosted UFC 101 in Philadelphia, and the same city is rumored for a summer event this year. However, Pittsburgh, one of the nation's great sports cities, never has hosted a show.
As of now, two fights are targeted for the June 26 card: Pat Barry vs. Cheick Kongo and Matt Brown vs. Rich Attonito.
Barry comes into the fight with win over Joey Beltran in his most recent performance, and Kongo hopes to rebound from a draw against Travis Browne.
Meanwhile, Matt Brown is in a must-win situation after three consecutive losses, and Attonito is on the mend from his first octagon setback.
Carlos Condit Would Fight Teammate Diego Sanchez Under the Right Circumstances
As the time rapidly approaches when former teammates Jon Jones and Rashad Evans will square off for the UFC light heavyweight championship, the question about other top fighters training out of the Team Jackson camp facing one another continue to swirl.
One pairing that could be on a collision course one day is former WEC welterweight champion Carlos Condit and his teammate Diego Sanchez.
Condit is currently ranked in the Top 10 in the welterweight division, and with Sanchez’s recent win over Martin Kampmann, he isn’t trailing too far behind either.
Beyond just being teammates, Condit believes the hardest part of fighting someone you work with is figuring out how you’d train for each other.
“As far as teammates fighting each other, some different things arise like who’s going to train where for the fight? Are you guys still going to be at the same gym? Are you going to come in, in the morning? Is the other guy going to come in at night? It’s all something to be considered,” Condit said recently.
Condit is readying for a return to action after a knee injury forced him out of his scheduled fight at UFC 127 against Chris Lytle. While no date for his return has been set, Condit is likely to end up on one of the summer cards, possibly in June or July.
He returned home to New Mexico to train with Team Jackson, and Sanchez went back to his original camp as well after spending several years working in and around California.
While the pair of welterweights haven’t been asked to fight yet, Condit believes that if the right situation came about, he’d fight Sanchez, but not just for giggles.
“As far as fighting Diego, me and him are teammates and training partners. If it was a title fight, like a very, very big fight, we could put friendship and everything aside, and go scrap. But unless it’s something like that, we’d probably try to avoid it,” Condit stated.
Right now, both Condit and Sanchez are awaiting opponents, but they don’t seem to be in the position where the UFC would have to see them fight each other. But if both continue their climb towards the top of the division, it’s something that may happen sooner rather than later.
Should He Stay Or Should He Go Now? Does Dan Hardy Deserve Another Shot in the UFC?
Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy at UFC Fight Night 24 on Saturday night lost his third consecutive fight, to super-sized welterweight contender Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. At this level of competition consistency is key and back to back losses is a quick way to set your career back to the minor leagues. MMA, however, is an individual sport. Every fighter is different and needs to be treated differently.
It took four straight losses before Keith Jardine got the boot. While Todd Duffee, a promising up-and-comer, who holds the record for the fastest knockout in the UFC (7 seconds), was handed his walking papers after his first loss in a fight that he was winning until he got caught with his hands down. Duffee’s release was later attributed to more of an attitude issue than a performance problem, but the loss was all the excuse needed to send him packing.
Dan Hardy is not Keith Jardine nor is he Todd Duffee. Hardy’s case should and will be handled differently than anyone else. His situation is as unique as his mohawk is red. To determine “The Outlaw’s” future with the UFC, we have to evaluate what he’s selling and if he can still close the deal.
Hardy’s product is brash, fun and entertaining. He burst into the MMA mainstream and quickly became a love him or hate him character. In the past, his ability to start and sell a fight has been nothing short of impressive.
He fast tracked himself to the Top 10 by starting a fight with then contender Marcus Davis. He sealed his number one contender status with a good performance against Mike Swick. At the pre-fight press conference of the Swick fight, Hardy gave Swick a Runners Up trophy. It was one of the funniest moves in pre-fight banter in the history of the sport. There was no doubt about Hardy’s ability to entertain. In the past, Hardy walked the talk, backing up his words with his in-Octagon actions.
Hardy has not been the same “Outlaw” since his loss to UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, the fight that started his recent skid. Hardy was the first Englishman to get a title shot in the UFC. Going into that bout, he was certainly himself. He had plenty to say about what he was going to do to GSP. He was also very much himself when he was unable to compete with GSP when it became a grappling match. While a very competent striker, Hardy has never been known for wrestling or jiu-jitsu. The GSP fight was one that most never really expected him to win. The loss is respectable considering that GSP is in the top two on most pound-for-pound lists. Despite the loss, Hardy showed a lot of heart and resiliency against the future hall of famer and I don’t think anyone weighs the loss too heavily against him.
Hardy’s next fight was against Carlos Condit. Condit had a couple tough wins in less-than-dominant performances as well as a close decision loss in his first few UFC fights. Coming in, Hardy was the favorite, being a man who just had a title shot. Hardy seemed especially motivated for this fight because Condit asked for him specifically. That seemed to bother Hardy and really fire him up. While respect was given from both sides, Hardy, as usual, had plenty to say about his opponent. Despite his talk, this time he was unable to back it up and found himself on the wrong end of the Knockout of the Night.
Anthony Johnson putting the beatdown on Dan HardyIn his most recent outing against Anthony Johnson, there was very little talk. The usual amount of respect was given and a little fun was poked at Johnson’s weight issues, but other than that, Hardy was not very outspoken. Hardy lost this fight from bell to bell. After a feeling out process in the beginning of the first round, Johnson threw a high kick that Hardy blocked most of with his arm, but was knocked to the canvas regardless. The rest of the fight was spent with Hardy fighting off of his back, mostly playing defense and trying to get to his feet. It was not the stand-up war that everyone expected and it certainly was not a Fight of the Night candidate. Hardy failed to deliver on all of the things that fans have come to expect of him. He did not hype the fight with his usual trash talk, and, keeping in mind that it takes two people to make a fight, Hardy failed to deliver an exciting bout.
In his last few fights, Hardy hasn’t been the guy that made him popular. Can Dan still close the deal? Can he still get the fans to buy his product? Maybe you can attribute this recent lack of success to bad match-ups.
The fact is GSP has made a career out of being a bad match-up for anyone. Johnson was not a great match-up for Hardy either. Johnson is a much bigger guy who neutralized Hardy’s strength in striking with his own. He is also a much more skilled wrestler, which is what won him the fight. What about Condit? Hardy has always been known for his striking. He and Condit threw the same punch at the same time and Condit’s was faster and cleaner. Maybe Hardy’s frustration with Condit caused him to be reckless and he paid for it.
Despite his recent troubles, Hardy has done a very good job of selling fights and, typically, performing. Just barely one year ago, Hardy fought for the welterweight championship.
But, we’re not here to make excuses.
Can he get back to what made him such a huge success in the first place?
After three straight losses in the UFC, does Hardy deserve one last chance?
Matt Hughes Plans 1 or 2 Fights in 2011, But Retirement Looming
Despite coming off of a 21-second knockout loss at the hands of BJ Penn at UFC 123 last November, Matt Hughes isn’t exactly ready to hang up the gloves.
Yes, he’s been laying low since the Penn fight, but Hughes says he will return to the Octagon later this year, probably some time around the end of summer or early fall. He’s not, however, planning on fighting three times this year like he did in 2011. He says more like “one, maybe two fights tops.”
“I’ll be honest, I’m 37 years old, my competitors are around 28 years old. It’s about time for Matt Hughes to find something else to do,” Hughes revealed in an interview with HDNet’s Ron Kruck. “I don’t have a whole lot of fights left in me.”
Already a UFC Hall of Famer, having won the UFC welterweight title on two different occasions, defending said belt seven times, and racking up 18 victories in the Octagon, Matt Hughes won’t quickly be forgotten once he does hang up the gloves for the final time.
Report: Zuffa Not Intent On Signing Fedor to the UFC
Well it looks like Dana White is sending a message to fighters whose camps think they’re bigger than the UFC.
According to a report by LifeSports.ru, which cites “a source close to the fighter,” Zuffa has passed on a proposed deal with M-1 to sign the Russian management group’s biggest client, Fedor Emelianenko to a new UFC contract.
M-1's failed dealings with the UFC over the past few years have been well documented, which no doubt left a bad taste in White’s mouth and likely contributed to the UFC president’s decision to pass on locking in the former number one ranked pound-for-pound fighter.
The source from Fedor’s camp said that The Last Emperor’s back-to-back losses and the high salary demands led to the latest contract impasse with the UFC, who recently purchased Strikeforce.
Depending on how Emelianenko does in his next bout, the former PRIDE heavyweight champion may be reserved to finishing up the last three bouts on his current Strikeforce deal without ever setting foot in the UFC Octagon.
To clarify, Fedor still has a deal in place that was signed in Janary to ensure his participation in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, but it’s rumored that the UFC has already begun renegotiating new contracts with fighters in place of the promotion’s deals they had with fighters before the buyout.
Randy Couture’s Next Retirement Tentatively Scheduled for April 30th
During his 14-year MMA career, Randy Couture has ditched the UFC no less than three times — once in 1998 to pursue opportunities in Japan, the second time due to a short-lived retirement in 2006 following his second knockout loss to Chuck Liddell, and finally in 2007 due to a money disputes and a perceived lack of respect. Each time, the lure of competition has brought him back to his home in the Octagon. But there’s only so much a 47-year-old can take, and after a series of vague hints in recent months, it seems like Randy is preparing us for his final departure, seriously, for real this time.
Joey Beltran vs. Dave Herman added to UFC 131 in Vancouver
It's "The Mexicutioner" against "Pee Wee."
UFC executives today announced that Joey Beltran (12-5 MMA, 2-2 UFC) and Dave Herman (20-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will meet at UFC 131.
While not yet officially announced by the promotion, UFC 131 is expected to take place June 11 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
Herman was originally expected to face British slugger Rob Broughton. No reason was given for the change in plans.
Dana White Supports Overtime to Take Draws Out of the UFC
The UFC has already had two pay-per-view main events end in draws this year, with neither fighter getting his hand raised in the Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard fight at UFC 125, or the B.J. Penn vs. Jon Fitch fight at UFC 127.
UFC President Dana White wasn't satisfied with those decisions, and he'd like to do something about it: Add overtime to UFC fights.
Jon Fitch Out of UFC 132 Rematch With BJ Penn
Still 13 weeks out from his rematch with BJ Penn at UFC 132, Jon Fitch has pulled out of the fight due to a training injury.
Sources close to the UFC confirmed the news to MMA Fighting on Wednesday. Word of Fitch's withdrawal from the bout was first reported by MMA Weekly.
There is no word yet on a possible replacement for Fitch. The fight was expected to determine the top contender for the UFC welterweight title currently held by Georges St-Pierre.
Fitch and Penn fought to a majority draw at UFC 127 in Sydney last month when two judges scored the fight 28-28, giving Penn the first and second rounds, and a 10-8 to Fitch in the third. One judge scored the fight 29-28 in favor of Fitch.
UFC's Chris Lytle Answers Dan Hardy's Challenge; "Let's Do it!"
"I think it would be awesome. I know exactly how he feels. He wants to go out there and fight. Just get out there and bang. He didn't get to do that in his last fight and I'm all about it. Let's do it!"
UFC Welterweight scrap machine Chris Lytle tells Duane Finley that he accepts Dan Hardy's challenge with open arms. After Hardy lost a lopsided decision to Anthony Johnson he posted on his Twitter account that he was disappointed and wanted to face an opponent who was looking to actually fight him. He then went on to address "Mr. Lytle" directly and now "Lights Out" has answered back. Lytle has been vocal throughout his career that he is only interested in fighting opponents who come into the octagon with the intention to fight him and with Hardy having lost three straight, the British slugger's back is against the wall. A potential matchup between two of the division's most exciting stand-up fighters would certainly produce fireworks and now it is up to the UFC to make it happen.
April's UFC Fan Expo features training sessions with Liddell, Penn, Pettis
Mixed martial arts fans are invited to train with Chuck Liddell, B.J. Penn and Anthony Pettis.
UFC officials today announced that the three fighters will each host two-hour training and development sessions at April's UFC Fan Expo Toronto.
"This is the ultimate opportunity for fans to train alongside three of the UFC's biggest stars,” UFC president Dana White stated in an official release. "Liddell, Penn and Pettis are some of the most gifted athletes we've ever seen in the octagon, and we're really excited to give fans the chance to learn from them at the UFC Fan Expo."
UFC releases "UFC: Ultimate Royce Gracie" for DVD and Blu-ray on May 10
The Ultimate Fighting Championship is paying tribute to its first star.
UFC officials recently announced the promotion is planning to release "UFC: Ultimate Royce Gracie" on May 10.
Available on DVD and Blu-ray, the two-disc tribute to the UFC Hall of Fame member includes nearly six hours of content.
Gracie (14-2-3 MMA, 12-1-1 UFC) ushered in a new era in martial arts with his performances in the early days of the UFC. The grappling ace rattled off 11 consecutive submissions to open his career, and an event expected to serve as a one-time jiu-jitsu showcase became a sporting phenomenon.
"He is the godfather," UFC president Dana White stated in an official release. "He is the man who started it all, and we all bow down and kiss the ring of Royce Gracie. He kick-started the entire sport of mixed martial arts."
"UFC: Ultimate Royce Gracie" includes his most memorable fights, as well as behind-the-scenes footage and interviews. Gracie's UFC bouts with Ken Shamrock and Kimo Leopoldo, as well as his incredible 90-minute PRIDE match with Kazushi Sakuraba, are included.
Gracie hasn't fought since a June 2007 win over Sakuraba, but he's currently pressing for a return bout at the UFC's August event in his native Brazil.
"UFC: Ultimate Royce Gracie" carries a suggested retail price of $24.98 on DVD and $34.99 on Blu-ray.
Coach Thinks Wanderlei Should Fight Before Belfort Rematch
More than a year has passed since Wanderlei Silva last set foot inside the cage, and, despite outside pressures, “The Axe Murderer” has resisted the temptation to accept a rematch with Vitor Belfort upon his return. At least one person, longtime mentor Rafael Cordeiro, remains in his corner and steadfastly so.
Silva (Pictured), who underwent knee reconstructive knee surgery in July, has not fought since he earned a unanimous decision over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 winner Michael Bisping at UFC 110 in February 2010. He wants a tune-up fight before he meets Belfort again.
“I think Wanderlei is coming off multiple injuries, but, at the same time, he has a desire to make this fight. There is a desire as an athlete and a fighter to make this rematch with Vitor,” said Cordeiro, who runs the Kings MMA camp in Huntington Beach, Calif. “I think, at this point, in my opinion as a friend and coach, he should have a fight with someone else before Vitor. When I say someone, I mean anyone who gets him back to being active.
“This fight with Vitor will become very important in his life, and he really wants it,” he added. “For Wanderlei to be 100 percent for the fight with Vitor, it’s important that he get another fight before it.”
Belfort challenged Anderson Silva for the middleweight crown at UFC 126 in February, losing by first-round knockout at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Cordeiro believes participating in a fight of that magnitude would give Belfort a decided edge if the rematch were made now.
“Vitor just fought for the belt, and, thinking about the rhythm of the fight, he’s ahead of Wanderlei in that regard,” Cordeiro said. “I’m not saying that he’s better than Wanderlei, but Wanderlei needs to pick up his pace [before they fight].”
Belfort handed Silva arguably the worst defeat of his career in October 1998, as he blitzed his compatriot in a brilliant 44-second technical knockout. Silva went on to become one of the top stars in the Pride Fighting Championships promotion in Japan, winning the 205-pound title and defeating Japanese icon Kazushi Sakuraba (three times), former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton Jackson (twice) and two-time Olympian Dan Henderson in the process. Revered for his violent and aggressive style, Silva has lost five of his last seven fights. Fans have long yearned for a second bout between the now 34-year-old Brazilian and Belfort.
“I think he has the desire to fight with Vitor,” Cordeiro said. “Vitor already defeated him, and he has this desire to have revenge. However, the body says he stopped fighting a year ago and needs additional time to regenerate. He returned to training, with a focus on fighting, only 15 days ago. He was weight training, but he returned to fight training only recently. We’re still afraid to push him 100 percent. The most important thing is that the UFC wants him to fight, regardless of the time he’s been out.”
UFC Bantamweight Michael McDonald: “I’m 20 Years Old, I’ve Got a Long Ways to Go”
Already at this point in his UFC career even with only one fight, Michael McDonald may be the most grounded fighter in the promotion.
McDonald, who battled Edwin Figueroa at UFC Fight Night 24, walked out of his first UFC event with a $55,000 bonus check for “Fight of the Night” and a lot of people calling him the top prospect at 135lbs.
While he appreciates the accolades, McDonald isn’t ready to put the cart before the horse just yet. He likes the way his career is going, and doesn’t plan on calling out UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz tomorrow.
“I’m very real about realizing my age and I have a long way to go until I’m at my best. I think I’m definitely good enough to hang with the top level of competition in the world, but still in all reality, I’m 20 years old and I’ve got a long ways to go,” McDonald told MMAWeekly Radio.
It’s that very perspective that makes McDonald a rare breed in the sport. It’s hard for any athlete not to jump ahead after an impressive performance and everyone singing your praises after the job is done.
At only 20 years of age, McDonald knows he has a lot of room to grow in the sport, and he’s not trying to get ahead of himself before he’s ready for the challenge.
“I’m very content taking the slowest road possible to the top. Slowest road to the top means I’m going to be better when I get there,” said McDonald. “I’m definitely in no hurry, I just want to fight, get a few checks, make my name out there, just prepare my career. I’m not too focused on ‘oh I’ve got to get that title’ or anything. I’m very content with where I’m at.”
Following the fight against Figueroa at UFC Fight Night 24, McDonald also received the news via the internet that the Washington State Department of Licensing had issued him an indefinite medical suspension.
McDonald says medically he’s fine, and he’s not sure where that report came from.
“I don’t know what people are talking about with this ‘indefinite suspension’,” McDonald commented. “I didn’t sign anything for an indefinite suspension or anything like that. I really have no idea. My hand’s a little bit swollen, but it’s not broken. I really don’t know what people are talking about on that.”
Outside of a swollen hand, McDonald is already back teaching class and helping out other aspiring fighters. He won’t go full on into sparring until his hand is ready, but what he will do is wait for the UFC to call and offer him his next fight in a few months.
McDonald says it doesn’t matter who he fights, it’s always been a matter of when and where.
“My biggest thing isn’t really taking any time mentally off, I’m in the gym already, I’m teaching, I’m in there helping my teammates, this is what I love to do,” McDonald said. “It’s not a burden. I just can’t physically do anything yet cause my hand’s still a little bit swollen and I want to baby it.
“What the comfort zone for me is usually about 4 months for another fight.”
Look for McDonald to take his next step forward in the UFC’s bantamweight division this summer.
UFC Fight Night 24 Peaks at 2.4 Million Viewers During Johnson vs. Hardy Fight
The final numbers are in for UFC Fight Night 24 in Seattle. It is now the most watched UFC Fight Night telecast since September 2009.
The rating released on Tuesday revealed that the show reached a peak of 2.4 million viewers during the Anthony Johnson vs. Dan Hardy match-up. The welterweights promised to become the main event, and according to the numbers, they certainly fit the bill.
Overall the show averaged 2.2 million viewers for the Saturday night broadcast, and rated a 2.3 in males 18-34.
The card already pulled in some of the largest numbers ever for attendance and live gate, and now the ratings back it up with some strong pull from the television audience as well.
Javier Vazquez Makes His Long Awaited UFC Debut in June
It’s been a dream for a decade, but now Javier Vazquez will finally make his UFC debut. The featherweight fighter is expected to return to action in June.
While no date or opponent have been set, Vazquez confirmed to MMAWeekly Radio that he’s set to return in that time frame.
“I should be fighting hopefully sometime in June for the UFC,” Vazquez revealed. “I’m not sure who I’m going to be fighting yet, but that’s more or less the time frame that they gave me, sometime in June.”
There are three UFC events expected for June. First up is the TUF 13 Finale on June 4 in Las Vegas. UFC 131 is set to take place on June 11 and rumored for Vancouver. The other show taking place in June is UFC on Versus 4 on June 26, which may take place in Pittsburgh.
Vazquez says he was actually offered a fight before June, but a few nagging injuries forced him to stay out of action, but he is now healthy and ready to return.
“They offered me a fight back in March, but I was coming off of an injury. Nothing major, but just needed a little bit of time to heal, and so timeline wise it didn’t work out,” Vazquez said.
Prior to his time in the WEC, Vazquez had fought in several different organizations. He was originally set to come to the UFC around 2001, but the opportunity never materialized.
Before his fight happens in June, however, Vazquez will be offering young up-and-coming fighters a chance to experience his training camp firsthand with a new project he’s putting together starting in just over a week.
“We’re doing something new. I don’t know if anybody else has done it, but basically what I’m doing is an MMA camp,” said Vazquez. “Basically what we’re doing is five days of intensive training, guys come down from all over the country and they train with me, and they get to shadow my training for my fight.
“So we’ll go to the boxing gym I train at, going to the Bodyshop with Antonio McKee to train there, probably take them to Erik Paulson’s to train there. So basically they’re just going to shadow what I’m doing to see if they have what it takes to be an MMA fighter.”
The first camp will be from April 4-8, and then subsequent camps will take place May 2-6, and June 6-10.
MMAWeekly.com will have more information on Vazquez’s opponent when it becomes available