Brian Stann Likely To Meet Santiago, Not SIlva, At UFC 130
After recent reports of a potential return to the UFC, Sengoku middleweight champion Jorge Santiago appears to have an opponent: Brian Stann. Stann initially was slated to face Wanderlei Silva at the May 28 event, though Silva repeatedly has voiced a preference not to fight the fan favorite and military hero. Currently, bout agreements have not been signed. Additionally, Santiago's agent, Malki Kawa of Authentic Sports Management, said he couldn't confirm the fight or even if the veteran officially has signed with the UFC. Stann's rep also declined to comment. If the Santiago vs. Stann fight is signed, Silva likely will be shifted to another matchup, possibly against Vitor Belfort, whom he recently has been feuding via a series of interviews in the Brazilian media. Belfort recently lost a title fight with middleweight champion Anderson Silva at UFC 126.
UFC 129 sold out with 55,000 tickets, attendance and gate records will fall
For now, UFC 129 officially is sold out.
The small allotment of remaining tickets for today's public on-sale date have been depleted, and with pre-sale periods, the attendance for the event is expected to be approximately 55,000, a UFC official confirmed with MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
UFC 129 takes April 30 at Rogers Centre in Toronto.
The event, which is headlined by UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre vs. Jake Shields, airs on pay-per-view. The stadium show is expected to shatter both UFC and North American MMA attendance and gate records.
Approximately 42,000 tickets, which was the initial event allotment, were sold during the first day of sales this past Thursday, which were available only to members of the subscription-based UFC Fight Club. Today's initial estimate put the total figure at 52,000, though it went up to 55,000 after officials continued tallying today's sales.
The gate could top $11 million.
Rogers Centre previously has hosted events with up to 69,000 spectators. However, given the UFC's event-night layout, large video screens, and UFC president Dana White's commitment to maintain as much as the "intimate atmosphere" of a live UFC-show experience, officials initially expected 50,000 to be the absolute maximum capacity for UFC 129.
Montreal's UFC 124 event currently holds the organization's attendance record with 23,152. (The North American MMA attendance record has been in dispute; a FEG "Dynamite!! USA" event in 2007 reportedly drew 42,757 attendees, but more than 91 percent of the tickets were complimentary.) UFC 66 in 2006 set the UFC and North American gate records with $5.4 million.
Both records, though, will fall at UFC 129.
Miguel Torres vs. Brad Pickett at UFC 130 in Las Vegas
Fresh off a UFC-debut victory, Miguel Torres (39-3 MMA, 1-0 UFC) next meets fellow bantamweight Brad Pickett (20-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC) at UFC 130.
Torres overnight Tweeted that he was offered and accepted the fight, which HeavyMMA.com initially reported.
UFC 130 takes place May 28 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. It's the UFC's latest Memorial Day weekend show based in Sin City.
The night's main card, including a third fight between UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard, airs on pay-per-view. Torres vs. Pickett likely will be part of a preliminary card that will air or stream in some fashion.
Chael Sonnen: 'I Consider Myself 5-1 Against (Anderson Silva)'
Former UFC middleweight No. 1 contender Chael Sonnen made waves earlier this week when he spoke on Anderson Silva's UFC 126 win against Vitor Belfort, saying Silva "tipped [his] hand like a chump poker player at a $5 table in Atlantic City" to actor and former MMA fighter Paul Lazenby.
Now, Sonnen has followed up with even more comments to Lazenby. This is a doozy, folks.
Here's a little something for you "pocket protector/number cruncher" types: I hit Anderson Silva with more unanswered, undefended strikes than any fighter has landed on an opponent in the history of combat sports. Go count 'em up, Poindexters.
I struck him more times than Quasimodo struck the church bell at Notre Dame. I hit him so many times that I stopped fighting because my fists bouncing off his melon were ringing so loudly that it sounded like a bell, and I thought that the round, and the fight, were over. Actually, that's not true--I actually stopped out of mercy and boredom.
Matt Hamill replaces Thiago Silva, faces "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 130
With Thiago Silva's status in doubt, the UFC isn't taking any chances.
MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) has confirmed with sources close to the UFC that the promotion has pulled the Brazilian from a planned UFC 130 matchup with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (31-8 MMA, 6-2 UFC), and Matt Hamill (10-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) has stepped in to fill the void.
Verbal agreements for the contest are in place, and bout agreements are expected to be finalized shortly.
Hamill had been expected to face Phil Davis at April's UFC 129 event. It's currently unknown if Davis will receive a new opponent for the card or be shifted to a later date.
Wanderlei calls out Belfort for rematch
When UFC came to Brazil for the first time, in 1998, Wanderlei Silva debuted on the event, but was defeated by Vitor Belfort. After that fight, Wanderlei reached the top of the world on Pride, but never got his rematch.
With Vitor’s loss to Anderson Silva, on UFC 126, “The Axe Murderer” proposed the challenge, on a phone talk with TATAME. “And now, where are you running to?”, asked Wanderlei. “I’d give him the number one (place in line to fight me) easily, I’m challenging him … I want him”.
Thiago Silva Admits to Failing UFC 125 Drug Test
While NSAC executive director Keith Kizer wasn’t prepared to share who the mystery man was, Thiago Silva admitted to a popular Brazilian website one of his two urine samples registered a positive result. However, the light heavyweight claims he’s done nothing wrong.
“My blood is clean,” Silva told TATAME (Translated by USAToday). “I haven’t used anything.”
Darren Elkins Dropping To Featherweight
On the verge of returning from a knee injury that has kept him on the shelf, Darren Elkins will drop down a class when he comes back. Elkins, an Indiana-based lightweight who went 1-1 in his two UFC appearances last year, will drop to featherweight for his next bout in the promotion. Elkins said he recently was given clearance from a doctor to return, but does not yet have an opponent for his featherweight debut. He said making the drop is something he has been thinking about, though. "I've been wanting to make (the drop) for a while," Elkins said. "(At my size), 155 isn't much of a cut. I just feel like it's a better weight for me."
Robertson Released by UFC Following Loss in Debut
Welterweight Kenny Robertson has been released by the UFC after suffering a loss in his promotional debut to Mike Pierce at UFC 126 last week.
Robertson's release was first reported by Five Ounces of Pain on Thursday morning, and Robertson verified the news on his Facebook page shortly thereafter.
UFC 126 took place Feb. 5 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas and was headlined by a middleweight title tilt between longtime champion Anderson Silva and the resurgent Vitor Belfort. Silva knocked his fellow Brazilian out with a jaw-dropping front kick to the face in the first round to retain his title.
Brian Ebersole Replaces Injured Carlos Condit At UFC 127
UFC welterweight Chris Lytle will reportedly remain on the UFC 127: "Penn vs. Fitch" pay-per-view event on Feb. 26 in Sydney, Australia, now that Brian Ebersole has agreed to step in for the injured Carlos Condit. Fight News Australia brought word of the change in opponents earlier today. Ebersole (44-15) has racked up seven straight wins and is 11-1 since 2007 competing mostly "Down Under." His only loss during that span was a submission (strikes) defeat to Bellator big shot Hector Lombard under the Cage Fighting Championship (CFC) banner in September 2008. The "Bad Boy" will make his UFC debut on just over two weeks notice against one of the sport's most grizzled veterans.
Carlos Condit Injured, In Doubt for UFC 127
Welterweight contender Carlos "The Natural Born Killer" Condit is on the verge of withdrawing from his UFC 127 bout against Chris Lytle, sources tell Sportsnet.
Condit (26-5) has apparently suffered a knee injury and it looks as if it will hamper his performance in the bout.
Most UFC 125 drug tests come back clean, though one sample "still processing"
Fourteen of the 15 fighters who underwent drug testing at January's UFC 125 event tested clean for performance-enhancing drugs and recreational/drugs of abuse.
However, one unnamed contestant's sample has yet to be cleared.
Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer today e-mailed the drug-testing results to MMAjunkie.com, and he noted that the commission is "still processing another athlete's urine sample from that event."
Thiago Silva Out of UFC 130 - Rashad Evans In (Update)
Hearing the news, we contacted Thiago Silva by phone, and the fighter was surprised. "Injured? Me? I’m very healthy and looking forward to fighting Rampage. That’s not true."
"Nobody called us about anything, the fight is on" said Conan Silveira, one of the leaders of American Top Team.
Multiple sources confirmed with MMAjunkie.com that preliminary discussions with Rashad Evans to replace Silva are underway.
Of significant potential interest, the Nevada State Athletic Commission has yet to release the drug screens from the night of Silva's most recent fight, a UFC 125 win over Brandon Vera that took place Jan. 1 in Las Vegas.
Nevada State Athletic Commision executive director Keith Kizer confirmed with MMAjunkie.com that the commission is still investigating at least one sample from the event. While Kizer could not confirm whether or not one of those samples belonged to Silva, the NSAC executive did confirm that Silva was among the UFC 125 fighters who submitted a pre-fight screen.
White Says Future Is Here With UFC.tv, Online Pirates Should Prep For Jail Time
While this past weekend's "UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort" event will always be remembered for the front kick heard 'round the world, UFC president Dana White said the card might also be known as the launching point for the future of the company. In conjunction with the New York-based NeuLion, Inc., the UFC offered an enhanced pay-per-view broadcast at UFC.tv, and White believes the format is the wave of the future. While the UFC has long offered its pay-per-view broadcasts via online streams, the partnership with NeuLion includes options for fans to choose multiple camera angles from which to view the fight, as well as the option to listen to a variety of audio feeds, including direct feeds from each fighter's corners. The product will eventually feature additional interactive options such as live chatting with fellow UFC fans, as well as live scoring by viewers. "I think that's where everything is going," White said. "As technology grows, the world keeps getting smaller and smaller. As we go into all these countries, people all over the world love the UFC and love a fight. This thing always made sense to me."
This past weekend, White confirmed his commitment to fighting the uphill battle against online piracy. "The future is the Internet," White said. "That's why we're fighting. That's why we're taking such a strong stance. "You've got to understand, all this stuff is brand new. Even when the music thing happened with Napster and all that stuff, if I take your song and let people download the song, the song isn't ruined. People still want to hear that song or the album or whatever it is. When our event gets stolen, it's dead. It's over. You know the results. A live event is different than anything else." And while this past week's announcements focused on a handful of websites providing illegal streams, White confirmed his legal team will continue to press for enforcement at all levels of the piracy pipeline. "We're fighting it hard," White said. "Listen, I said it when we made this announcement, and I'll say it again, people are going to jail."
Relishing Underdog Status, Shields Plans to Spoil Silva-GSP Megafight
When Anderson Silva’s foot collided with Vitor Belfort’s face on Saturday at UFC 126, the long-running online chatter regarding a super-fight between the dominant Brazilian middleweight and welterweight kingpin Georges St. Pierre flared up again almost instantly. In the immediate aftermath, even UFC President Dana White expressed interest in promoting what he dubbed would be a “fantasy fight” and “the pound-for-pound championship.”
Before any of that can take place, St. Pierre will have to get through one of his sternest tests as a champion at UFC 129. His challenger, Jake Shields, has been pegged as a 6-to-1 underdog by the oddsmakers, but the former Strikeforce middleweight champion has designs on squashing the GSP-Silva dream matchup in Toronto on April 30.
“I love this role. I love getting looked past,” Shields said during a Tuesday press conference at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. “It’s exactly the same as [when I fought Dan] Henderson. Strikeforce was trying to throw me out on a loss, but I definitely had different plans. I went out there planning on spoiling it... and that’s exactly what I’m planning on doing here.”
Ask the Fight Doc: Did Jon Jones make a mistake taking UFC 128 title fight?
Just moments after his UFC 126 win, Jon Jones was rewarded with a UFC 128 title fight against light-heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
While certainly deserving of the shot, Jones now has just six weeks to prepare for a five-round title fight against a dangerous opponent – a proposition that first choice Quinton "Rampage" Jackson knew would be too much, too soon.
In our latest "Ask the Fight Doc" installment, MMAjunkie.com medical columnist Dr. Johnny Benjamin discusses, from a medical perspective, whether Jones made the right call to accept the bout.
* * * *
From a medical perspective, is it too soon for UFC 126 winner Jon Jones to fight six weeks later at UFC 128? – Anonymous
This is an intriguing question and a bit more complex than it may appear at first glance.
What is the minimum time necessary for fighter to recuperate between fights?
NSAC: No Vaseline-Gate At UFC 126 Main Event
Nevada State Athletic Commission officials who oversaw Saturday's Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort headliner at UFC 126 did not see any behavior that suggested foul play. Silva set some forums abuzz when he wiped his forehead with his hand just prior to the fight and then briefly wiped his chest. It was easy fodder for conspiracy theorists who thought the champion might be trying to give himself an unfair edge by using Vaseline from his face to make his body slicker. But the NSAC head said that's not the case. "If they thought it was advantageous, they would wipe it off," NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer said.
White: Despite stadium-show hesitation, UFC 129's going to "whole other level"
UFC president Dana White is acutely aware that he's straying into uncharted territory.
When UFC 129 hits Rogers Centre in Toronto, it will be the biggest venue the promotion ever has occupied for a live event.
Approximately 42,000 seats will be up for grabs – almost double the number available for three of the UFC's biggest gatebusters, which were all held in Canada.
The country is, as White often gushes, a second home for the promotion, and the demand appears to be there for a stadium event. But the sheer size of Rogers Centre will force him to confront an issue he thus has far tried to avoid: the fan who pays 50 bucks for a nosebleed to watch a pair of dancing ants.
White said today that he has a plan to combat the problem, though he is keeping details a secret for now.
"Nobody was more worried about that than me – believe me," he said at a press conference held today in Toronto in support of UFC 129, which is headlined by a welterweight title fight between champ and box-office goldmine Georges St-Pierre and challenger Jake Shields. "I've said for years that I don't know about doing stadiums. What I think has helped the UFC get as big as it has is the live-event experience. And the last guy on earth that wants to ruin that for anybody is me."
The UFC drew in excess of 20,000 fans in three out of four events it held in Montreal's Bell Centre. Two of those events – UFC 84 and UFC 124 – were headlined by champ St-Pierre and generated live gates in excess of $4 million. The venue is not unlike the arenas where UFC events are held; large video screens are placed throughout the upper decks to bring the action closer to fans seated there.
Still, it's a strain to see the fighters from upper decks, especially when they hit the mat. But when combined with the video screens, it's a fair deal.
White guarantees the live experience won't change for rafter-dwellers.
"I never want the fans to not only turn off their television and say, 'That sucked,' I don't want the fans to walk away who bought tickets to have a bad experience either," he said. "I'm actually pumped for the experience we're planning for you guys here in Toronto.
"We're going to do things in this arena that we've never done in any arena, ever before. People worrying the experience isn't going to be the same – it's not. It's going to be better. We're taking it to a whole other level, and I'm really excited about it."