UFC reverses course on Thales Leites and Tamdan McCrory, both returning to octagon
Thales Leites was stunned on Saturday when he heard that judges had come to a split decision in his fight with Alessio Sakara at UFC 101 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. He was even more stunned when he came out on the short end of the verdict.
But the really shocking news came on Thursday, when he learned he was being dropped by the Ultimate Fighting Championship only four months after competing for the middleweight title.
It turns out, though, that Leites still has a job with the UFC.
Josh Neer and Kurt Pellegrino Comment on Their Fight at UFC 101
Hey guys I figured I’d come on here and explain my fight a little. 1 thing I wish I would have done is just try to get up. The reason I didn't was because when he stood up, he was waiting for me to do so. Soon as I would of, he would of spun around and take my back. If I had it to do over again I would have just took the risk. I was complaining about the ref standing us up because c'mon he can't stand us up 1 time? But I guess you can't when you’re basically from the same town as my opponent. I watched the same ref being buddy buddy with all the guys on the card from New Jersey. My main problem with Kurt was b4 the fight he talked how it was going to be a war and he was going to leave it all out there and blah blah. Well in my opinion he didn't at all. If you’re going to play it safe and stick to a game plan just say that. Don’t talk like it's going to be a great fight.
BJ Penn wants Diego Sanchez sooner rather than later
“It’s gonna happen, hopefully within the next two, two-and-a-half months. I’m 30 now and I’m hoping to get a couple of more fights in. I know they say that in MMA, people peak later, but who knows? My whole career, fighting from age 20 to 30, I’ve gotten into real good shape and gotten out of shape and started getting back into shape again. I don’t want to do that anymore. Here I am. I’m in shape. I want to have fun for a couple of days, take some time off, eat some good food, and then I want to get right back into all that stuff…. [Diego is] really good; he’s really explosive. He’s shown that he has some knockout power and he’s a very good grappler. He’s very hungry; he’s shown that he wants to be a champion someday. This is an important fight…. I’d like to get a fight with St. Pierre again, but now that Diego Sanchez is next, once we get the word from Dana White, that’s what we’re gonna be thinkin’ about.”
THALES LEITES SURPRISED, UPSET ABOUT UFC RELEASE
Following a controversial loss to Alessio Sakara at UFC 101, Brazilian fighter Thales Leites received word that he would be released by the promotion. He was surprised by the move.
"My manager received one e-mail from the UFC telling that I was out of the UFC," Leites told MMAWeekly.com in an exclusive interview. "Personally, I think (it’s) unfair."
Despite neither competitor finishing the fight, most felt that Leites did enough to notch the win, but the judges in Philadelphia saw it different and handed the decision to Sakara instead.
"I didn't understand what the two judges saw," Leites commented. "Unreal."
With the news still fresh in his mind, Leites is quick to point out that he doesn't plan to sit on the sidelines for very long.
"Still training hard, looking for new proposals for a fight," he said about his immediate future.
The motivation of being cut seems to be all Leites needed to drive him to work that much harder, and the Brazilian will do exactly that to get back to the top promotion in the sport.
"I was upset about the fight and much more about being cut (from) the UFC," Leites said. "I didn't fight well, but I know that I won that fight. This gives me more motivation to train more and one day come back stronger than ever to the UFC."
Leites will continue his training in Brazil while waiting for his next chance to step back in the ring and prove he belongs among the elite middleweights in the world.
Welterweight Phil Baroni released by Strikeforce; reportedly "likely" to sign with UFC
Following a June defeat at the hands of Joe Riggs, welterweight slugger Phil Baroni (13-11) was today officially released from his contract with Strikeforce.
Baroni fought just twice for the organization, compiling an 0-2 record.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said he wasn't ruling out a future relationship with the "New York Bad Ass," providing Baroni can put together a win streak in the welterweight division.
"We wish Phil the best of luck and hope he can revive his career," Coker said. "If he can, maybe one day he can return and fight for us."
A former middleweight, Baroni made his Strikeforce debut in June 2007. Facing MMA pioneer Frank Shamrock for Strikeforce's first-ever middleweight title, Baroni was choked unconscious in the second round.
The loss to Shamrock started a three-fight skid for the hard-hitting Baroni, a run that ultimately inspired the 33-year-old to drop to the welterweight division, where he put together a three-fight win streak before the loss to Riggs.
A report from Sherdog.com cites the UFC as Baroni's likely new employer. Baroni's agent, Ken Pavia of MMAAgents.com, was unable to comment on the matter when contacted by MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
Would MMA fans ‘love to see’ Chuck Liddell vs Tito Ortiz III?
According to the “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” they would:
“I have no more pain, no more soreness, no more numbness going down my legs; I’m back in to fighting shape again. I just started working with Freddie Roach out of Los Angeles, the ‘Wild Card,’ and I’m excited. For once I’m gonna be 100 percent, and hopefully the fans get to the see the champion I was before, ’cause the last time I was 100 percent, when I was the world champion, and I defended my world title five consecutive times … I gotta give the respect to Chuck Liddell, he was a great champion. Too bad he retired, a rematch with him would be nice, and I think the fans would love to see that.”
The former light heavyweight champ talks via SportsRadioInterviews.com about his ‘comeback’ under the tutelage of famed boxing coach Freddie Roach. Ortiz is coming off major spinal fusion surgery to correct a back problem that plagued him in his most recent bouts. His last appearance was in May 2008 — a unanimous decision loss to now 205-pound champion, Lyoto Machida. Speculation has swirled that Ortiz could return to competition at UFC 106 opposite Mark Coleman, but nothing is official at this time. Is a win over the aging wrestler going to propel him back into the mix? Or would any fans out there rather see him tangle with “The Iceman” for a third time instead?
Randy Couture expresses interest in a possible fight with current UFC Middleweight Champion
Chad Dukes: Would you ever consider [dropping to light heavyweight] and facing [Silva]?
Randy Couture: Yeah, are you kidding? I think he's one of the best fighters in the world. Those are the kinds of guys I want to fight. That would be an interesting fight.
I think the guy with a wrestling background that can get their hands on him, tie him up and smother him is definitely a guy that's going to give him fits and make him have a rough night.
Houston Alexander Possible For Adrenaline 4
In the rather rare case of a fighter still under contract to Zuffa yet fighting elsewhere, UFC star Houston Alexander, coming off a recent injury, is tentatively set for the 4th Adrenaline event to be held September 18. He's scheduled to face Sherman Pendergarst in the co-main event.
Anderson Silva Set to Draw Big on His "Final Run"
Throughout his dominant UFC career, the knock on Anderson Silva has been his drawing ability, or lack thereof. His two fights with Rich Frankin did buyrates in the 300,000 range, and his fight with Dan Henderson did only slightly better. Then in July 2008, the UFC put together a monster campaign on his behalf leading into his fight with James Irvin, and Silva came through with a memorable highlight knockout. The show did a big rating for Spike TV, and everyone thought Silva was on the path to being a big draw. Then Patrick Cote happened.
Chuck Liddell: 'Hard for an Athlete to Quit What He's Done His Whole Life'
Four months after his most recent fight, a loss to Shogun Rua at UFC 97, Chuck Liddell is relaxing and enjoying life. But he's not ready to say he's retired.
In an interview Wednesday with FanHouse, Liddell said that he doesn't know if he'll fight again, and he doesn't know when he'll be ready to retire. Liddell wants to determine the future of his career on his own schedule, and he's only going to decide for sure after he gets back in the gym and tests himself again.
Liddell also talked about connecting with the fans, dealing with a Twitter imposter, and his acting career. The full interview is below.
KURT PELLEGRINO SCORES A UFC TRIFECTA
Over a brief period of time it looked like UFC lightweight Kurt Pellegrino may be on his way down the 155-pound ladder, or worse yet, out of the company.
Losses in two out of three fights, to Joe Stevenson and Nate Diaz, had Pellegrino reeling, looking for a way to rebound and get his career back on track.
Enter fellow UFC lightweight contender Kenny Florian.
After moving back to his native New Jersey and making a decision to join Florian’s camp in Boston, Pellegrino has flourished, winning three straight fights, including this past Saturday’s win at UFC 101 over Josh Neer.
UFC Gives Thales Leites His Walking Papers
Thales Leites, who less than four months ago competed for the UFC middleweight title, was given his walking papers in a meeting Wednesday afternoon with the UFC, FanHouse confirmed with a source close to Leites.
Leites (14-3) had exclusively fought for the UFC since The Ultimate Fighter 4 Finale in November 2006, where he lost his promotional debut to Martin Kampmann, but would bounce back with five straight wins to earn a shot against champion Anderson Silva. However, after the two turned out a lackluster and tentative five-round performance, both faced heavy criticism and required a strong follow-up outing to restore their reputation.
MATYUSHENKO RETURNS AT UFC 103
The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Wednesday confirmed the return of Vladimir Matyushenko to the promotion, announcing a bout between the Belarusian and Croatian fighter Igor Pokrajac.
They will meet on the undercard of UFC 103 in Dallas, which features a main event pitting Rich Franklin against Vitor Belfort.
Forrest Griffin’s speedy exit at UFC 101 ‘wasn’t really a big deal’
“He wasn’t injured. He’s an emotional guy and he just didn’t feel like sticking around. He’s done that before. After the Jardine fight, they kind of surrounded him a little bit, but he said a couple of things into the mic and left the cage pretty quickly. Just the emotions of…here is a guy who is very confident that he could win this fight and he just never had a chance to get off. He’s an emotional creature, so he left the cage. It wasn’t really a big deal. I think people are making a bigger deal about it then it really is. It wasn’t anything left to see anyway. Anderson had beaten him and it wasn’t like it was going to a decision. We already knew what happened, so he decided to go into the back and get his tape off and get changed and everything else. I think he was kind of comforting us more than anything else because we were all down and bothered and you know, that’s that.”
– Xtreme Couture boxing coach Ron Frazier tells FightHype.com that the hoopla surrounding Forrest Griffin’s mad dash for the locker room following his knockout loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 101 was much ado about nothing — and that most of what people wanted to know in his post-fight comments was already covered in the few minutes he spent getting manhandled by “The Spider.” Do fighters have an obligation to their opponents to stay for the official announcement? Or is it okay to split if they’re not in the right frame of mind? Sound off, Maniacs.
Anderson, Ideals and Atychiphobia
by Jordan Breen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Anderson Silva is a great fighter.
No, I know, that's not a startling revelation, let alone an interesting one. After his three-minute mauling of Forrest Griffin on Saturday night, the ever-fickle MMA public has decided that Silva is to be celebrated once again, and in the strongest of terms.
That's to be expected after a performance with such a violent and skillful aesthetic. Griffin threw 35 strikes at Silva's head and landed literally one. Silva knocked Griffin on the mat three times. In case you're not mathematically inclined, that means Silva actually knocked Griffin down triple the amount of times that Griffin even touched his face. However, what's been overlooked in discussion of Silva's superlative skills is his equally lofty accomplishment.
Silva's complete sonning of Griffin is not just a technical sign of the times or an acid test that portends a successful light heavyweight run. It's actually set a particularly impressive standard for pound-for-pound achievement: With the victory, Silva has become the first fighter in this sport's short modern history to defeat top-five opponents across three weight classes.
Of course, Silva became a superstar when he became MMA's first pantheon-level middleweight. However, long before he ever eviscerated Rich Franklin, even before his Pride tenure, Silva was one of the sport's best welterweights. Eight years ago, he rolled into Osaka and took the Shooto world 168-pound title from Hayato "Mach" Sakurai, who was widely seen as the sport's top pound-for-pound fighter at the time.
In fact, on the back of that victory, Silva was actually slated to make his UFC debut at UFC 34 to face then-champ Carlos Newton. The exclusive deal that Zuffa wanted for Silva didn't jive with "The Spider," though, or his Chute Boxe handlers, who wanted to keep doors to Pride and Meca Vale Tudo open. Just think how radically different history might be if Silva got into the Octagon in '01 and Matt Hughes didn't unconsciously powerbomb his way to glory. Maybe there's a Marvel Comics-style "What If?" concept brewing.
Nonetheless, it is strange that the victory over Sakurai gets glossed over historically when it was Silva's first great moment and it is an accomplishment that stands the test of time. How often does any fighter dethrone the pound-for-pound king? Surely when Silva loses, the world won't forget about it in eight years -- at least I hope not.