Trainer Juanito Ibarra to coach UFC signee James Toney in transition to MMA
Boxing champion James Toney (72-6-3 Boxing, 0-0 MMA) already has a trainer to shepherd him into the world of mixed martial arts.
Juanito Ibarra, a 30-year veteran of boxing and MMA who once trained champions Oscar De La Hoya and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, is training Toney in his Southern California MMA gym.
Ibarra told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) on Wednesday that he's been working with Toney for the past month and will act as head coach for the boxing champion's first MMA fight.
"James and I have good personal chemistry," Ibarra said. "That's what it takes. I just don't jump in with anybody. We respect each other's knowledge."
Toney's UFC signing today came as a shock to many MMA fans who have heard UFC president Dana White rail at aging athletes such as Herschel Walker for turning the sport into a "freak show."
And until now, a deal between Toney and the UFC was thought to be dead in the water. The boxing champion crashed the UFC 108 post-fight press conference on Jan. 2 and confronted White about a possible contract. Before a group of reporters, White was skeptical about bringing Toney into the octagon.
"Listen, let me tell you what: I got blasted this week? Let me make this fight (with Toney)," White said after Toney accosted him. "That will get me [expletive] blasted. I'm the first guy out there going, 'This is a [expletive] freak show. Who would put on a fight like this?' I'm the first guy that would say that. I'm always saying it when freak shows happen."
Afterward, Toney brought cameras to his meeting with White and made his pitch once again.
Days later, Toney called the UFC's offer "laughable" and trashed White in subsequent interviews on various media outlets. As recently as last week, he appeared anything but confident a deal would happen.
"Dana White is a straight up ho!" Toney told Fighthype.com. "He makes me a five-fight offer for chump change and said I can't box anymore if I accept it. He must have lost his damn mind."
The UFC has yet to make an official announcement on the signing, although White has confirmed the deal to multiple media outlets.
Ibarra said he'd like to see Toney make his UFC debut in June, but said that was just his wish.
In the coming weeks, he expects to bring in several well-known fighters to coach Toney in wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, though he declined to give any names.
Ibarra is encouraged by what he's seen so far in the gym.
"He's a student of the fight game," Ibarra said. "He's a born fighter, and I believe in him. I think I can teach him more about his body, his athleticism – how to fight better as an MMA combatant."
To teach Toney, he said, is simply an honor.
"We'll put in the work and see what happens," Ibarra said. "He's starting to get in shape, and he's in it.
"If I can be an asset to somebody, that's fantastic. It's another great opportunity. Hopefully my team will help him and we can go in there and get some victories."
UFC Signs Boxing Champion James Toney, Debut Date Uncertain
After a long period of off-again, on-again courtship, the UFC has pulled the trigger and signed 41-year-old boxing champion James Toney.
UFC President Dana White confirmed the signing to MMA Fighting after it was first reported by FiveOuncesofPain.com.
Toney had actively campaigned for a contract from the UFC, following White around the country to several events and eventually meeting with him. Toney reportedly turned down at least one contract offer before signing.
Asked when Toney would debut, White said he had "no idea."
With a professional boxing record of 73-6-2 with one no contest, Toney is among the great boxers of his era, winning titles in six different weight classes ranging from middleweight to heavyweight.
In the past, White noted that he'd have some trouble passing Toney off as a legitimate mixed martial artist after criticizing other late career changers like Herschel Walker, but he always voiced an interest in Toney as a "real fighter" capable of making the transition.
Toney has reportedly been training in MMA for some time in hopes of making his octagon debut. Now it appears he'll finally get the chance he's campaigned for.
Georges St-Pierre on Dan Hardy: I want to take him out as quickly as I can
While UFC welterweight title challenger Dan Hardy (23-6 MMA, 4-0 UFC) continues to remain in the headlines due to ongoing verbal conflicts with some of his past opponents, the British slugger's date with Georges St-Pierre (19-2 MMA, 13-2 UFC) at UFC 111 later this month is fast approaching.
St-Pierre, the popular French-Canadian champion, hasn't yet found himself as much of a target for Hardy's famed trash talking, but that doesn't mean "The Outlaw" isn't firmly in the sites of "Rush."
"The longer a fight is, the more you can get hurt," St-Pierre recently told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). "I want to take him out as fast as I can and go home."
St-Pierre currently carries a six-fight win streak, and the 28-year old has fought into the championship rounds in three of those six fights. St-Pierre dominated the latter stages of each of those contests. Nevertheless, he said he has little desire to give Hardy a chance to connect on any of the powerful punches that have quickly become his hallmark in MMA.
And while many MMA observers have questioned Hardy's readiness for such a challenge, St-Pierre believes his own previous victories over many of the division's other top contenders make the Brit a perfect opponent.
"He deserves it," St-Pierre said. "He's undefeated in the UFC, and he's a great challenge for me. He's a top-10 guy, and we haven't fought yet. Most of the contenders at 170 pounds are guys I've already fought.
"It's a mathematics problem. It's a new problem that I'm going to solve. It's going to make me a better fighter. I'm going to grow from that."
St-Pierre has already dispatched the welterweight division's perennial top-three contenders in Thiago Alves, Jon Fitch, and Josh Koscheck, he avenged his lone career losses to Matt Hughes and Matt Serra, and he's beaten lightweight champion B.J. Penn twice. Because of his success at 170 pounds, many believe there are simply no challenges left in the welterweight division. But St-Pierre refuses to speculate where his next step might lead until after he's made it through his upcoming challenge.
"It all depends on the outcome of the fight," St-Pierre said. "I want to fight the best guy that deserves it. I don't want to fight for nothing.
"I'm the kind of guy that the reason why I fight mostly three times a year – I don't fight anymore five times a year – is that every time I fight, it's a big fight. I prefer it like this because I want to get the big fish. I want to get the best fighter. At the same time, it give me the opportunity to improve more between fights because I have more time to train. I become a better version all the time than the guy that I was in my last fight. That's why I like it that way."
And while most fans believe St-Pierre is a notch above Hardy, the Team Rough House product does own UFC wins over Mike Swick, Marcus Davis, Rory Markham and Akihiro Gono.
St-Pierre believes in the skills of his foe, and he knows that an impressive victory is necessary for him to reach his ultimate goal: to be the best.
"I always want to fight the best guys because I want to be the best," St-Pierre said. "By fighting the best guy, you improve more. I don't want to fight too often, but when I fight, I want to fight the best guy.
"I don't want to fight guys that don't deserve shots. I want to fight guys that are on top of the food chain, and when I fight, I want it to be worth it."
Quinton Jackson Has To Get In Shape Just To Get Into Shape
And according to the latest smack talk from UFC 114 foe Rashad Evans, it's not just any camp. "He's in the UK right now training. He's doing a Forrest camp, so that's how fat he is. Rampage gotta get in shape just to get in shape. He's in rough shape right now. He's been sitting on the set for a while, in the trailer, waiting to do scenes and getting served food and everything else." Rashad refers to the time Rampage spent filming the upcoming movie "The A-Team".
Report: UFC 115 In Vancouver In Jeopardy
MM-Eh in May could wind up becoming MM-Nay, at least for UFC. Former fighter-turned-analyst Paul "The Mauler" Lazenby, a Vancouver resident, was on hand at yesterday's meeting of the Vancouver Athletic Commission to inquire about obtaining his promoter's license as well as get more information about the upcoming Zuffa event. And according to a post on his blog, paullazenby.com, it didn't go well. Says Lazenby, "In spite of Vancouver City Council's approval of a two-year trial period for MMA, I found out that there are still no regulations in place to promote the sport professionally within the city. The problem lies in the fact that the city is still expressing grave concerns about legal and financial liability, while movement toward a resolution of those concerns appears to have been extremely sluggish. At one point, newly-elected VAC chair Mirko Mladenovic (a supporter of properly-sanctioned MMA) asked Mr. Hammel when the legal issues might be resolved, to which Mr. Hammel replied, "About two months" in a manner that indicated to me that it may be even longer."
Brock Lesnar Rooting for Frank Mir Over Shane Carwin
Former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir drew a lot of attention for comments about wanting to break current UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar's neck and see him die in the Octagon. Lesnar says he welcomes the opportunity for Mir to back up his words.
In an interview on KFAN 1070 (courtesy of SportsRadioInterviews.com), Lesnar said that he's rooting for Mir to beat Shane Carwin this month at UFC 111 so that Lesnar can fight Mir for a third time -- and beat him, he hopes, for a second time.
"I'd really like to fight Frank Mir again," Lesnar said of the man he lost to in his UFC debut at UFC 82 and then beat at UFC 100. "I don't want to go into the Octagon and kill somebody but I do wanna do whatever I can to win. Maybe that's what he was saying, I don't know. The guy should focus on the task in front of him which is Shane Carwin because if Shane Carwin beats his ass he won't be fighting me."
Lesnar said he was surprised that Mir doesn't show much respect for him even after Lesnar thoroughly defeated Mir in July.
"Hopefully he gets past Shane Carwin so I can put another beat down on him," Lesnar said. "For a guy to take an ass whooping like the one I gave him, for him to get up and keep running his mouth, I just gotta laugh at it. I gotta go back to a quote that he said before my second fight. He said, 'If Brock Lesnar beats me, he will be the greatest mixed martial artist ever.' I guess he's eating his words and he doesn't want to admit that I'm that much better than him. I am truly hoping that Frank wins this fight so it sets us up for July."
The UFC is no doubt hoping that Mir wins as well. Although a Carwin-Lesnar fight would be big, a Mir-Lesnar fight, with all the hatred these two have expressed for each other, would be gigantic.
Grappling ace Ricardo Almeida welcomes Matt Brown's striking aggression at UFC 111
UFC welterweight Matt Brown (11-7 MMA, 4-1 UFC) quickly turned heads as one scary, aggressive guy on "The Ultimate Fighter 7" and has kept that reputation intact since the show. He's shrugged off a pedestrian record to emerge as a serious threat to the 170-pound division with three TKO wins in five post-"TUF" fights.
Ricardo Almeida (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC), Brown's next opponent at UFC 111, is impressed by the Ohio fighter's run in the UFC, which includes a 4-1 mark and a lone split-decision defeat. But aggression plays right into his hand.
"I always like fighting aggressive guys," Almeida recently told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "I think it makes it a little bit easier than fighting someone who's going to play a very tactical approach."
Of course, easy is a relative term in the fight game, and for a highly decorated grappler such as Almeida, a well-established play against a fighter such as Brown is to take the fight to the mat.
Almeida, though, said he'll try to avoid the easy path. In other words, he's not simply diving for Brown's shoelaces when the punches start flying.
"I think my game's going through a little bit of an evolution right now," Almeida said. "Before, everyone knew I could finish fights on the ground only, and I think in the past two fights, I've shown improved wrestling and stand-up."
The 33-year-old New York City native came up short on the scorecards against Patrick Cote at UFC 86 and afterward, he rededicated himself to striking to make sure he could hold his own if the fight stayed up.
He isn't there quite yet; in his most recent appearance against Kendall Grove at UFC 101 this past August, Almeida won the day by taking the action down and maintaining top position.
Almeida has enlisted top UFC welterweight contender Frankie Edgar in his quest to become a more well-rounded fighter. He's working takedown defense with the Rutgers University wrestling team, which Edgar assistant coaches, and boxing with trainer Mark Henry.
It's a slow process, but he feels he's becoming a better all-around fighter.
"I don't really prepare for a fighter," Almeida said. "I prepare for techniques. Like, if there are certain techniques I want to use in a fight, I'll focus more on that."
And boxing, it seems, is at the top of Almeida's priorities. Brown is known for his heavy hands and skill in keeping takedown artists at bay. As with many of the welterweight division's best fighters, a wrestling base allows him to keep the action on its feet.
Almeida long ago resigned himself to fighting opponents who want to stand at all costs. He said he's waited for this kind of test against a fighter such as Brown.
"It's going to tell me what I need to do to get to the top of the welterweight division," he said.
If he can weather the storm, he said, he'll be a little better the next time out.
"I'm having a good time with it," Almeida said. "The key is getting that next win so it gives you time to get better and come back stronger."
Yoshiyuki Yoshida vs. Mike Guymon official for UFC 113 preliminary card
A long-rumored welterweight matchup between Yoshiyuki Yoshida (11-4 MMA, 2-2 UFC) and Mike Guymon (11-3-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) is now official for May's UFC 113 event.
The fight is part of the night's un-aired preliminary card.
UFC 113 takes place May 8 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and features a pay-per-view headliner of UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
Yoshida and Guymon, both 35 years old, find themselves in a must-win situation.
Yoshida, who suffered a KO loss to oversized late replacement Anthony Johnson (who weighed 176 pounds for the 170-pound contest) at UFC 104, looks to avoid the first back-to-back losses of his career since he dropped majority decisions to Yoshitaro Niimi and Keita Nakamura in his second and third pro fights.
Yoshida signed with the UFC in 2008 and scored a submission victory over War Machine (formerly Jon Koppenhaver) before a KO defeat to Josh Koscheck. He then rebounded for a submission victory over Brandon Wolff before the Johnson defeat.
Guymom, a longtime King of the Cage fighter and belt-holder, posted a five-fight win streak to earn a UFC contract in late 2009. He made his promotional debut in January at UFC Fight Night 20 and suffered a first-round submission loss to Rory MacDonald in an initially back-and-forth bout.
Guymon, who runs the Jokers Wild Fighting Academy in California, has posted 11 stoppages (six via submission) in his 11 career wins.
Dana White Unexpectedly Gives Donation To Brain Tumor-Stricken Girl
While he might look and talk like a typical foul-mouthed coprorate head honcho, UFC President Dana White indeed has a gentler side to him. That became more evident recently when White donated 5000 pounds (about $7500 US) to the family of a 2-year-old girl who has a brain tumor and needs to raise 250,000 pounds for life-saving treatment in America. It should be noted that White has never met the girl or her family.
SportsBusiness Journal: UFC Sets Company Merchandise Sales Record in Australia
UFC 110, headlined by the Antonio "Minotauro" Nogueira vs. Cain Velasquez heavyweight bout, grossed $540,000 in merchandise sales at Acer Arena in Sydney, breaking the previous record of $498,000 for UFC 83 at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Total sales also topped the previous arena record held by Iron Maiden.
Acer Arena doesn’t release concessions figures. The arena, built for the 2000 Summer Games, is the largest indoor venue in Sydney and has hosted acts such as Coldplay and Britney Spears.
All 16,500 tickets for the Feb. 21 fight were bought on the first day of sales back in December, trailing only the UFC’s debut in Montreal in 2008 as the fastest sellout ever. The $2.5 million gate for an international event was second only to the fight in Montreal.
Chris Lytle: UFC's All-Time Bonus Winner
A handful of the UFC's biggest stars get six-figure guarantees for all their fights and a cut of the pay-per-view revenue. Those guys are the promotion's highest-paid fighters.
For the majority of UFC fighters, the standard payday is in the five figures, and winning a bonus check for Fight of the Night, Knockout of the Night or Submission of the Night can actually make up the majority of their income. And in that category of fighter, no one has cashed in more than Chris Lytle.
Cage Potato has put together a great UFC performance bonus leaderboard, and Lytle comes out on top with seven bonuses that paid him a combined $310,000. No one else even has six career bonuses.
Obviously, being the all-time leader in performance bonuses in no way makes Lytle even close to the best fighter in UFC history. He's been pretty mediocre in his UFC career, has bounced around between the UFC and smaller promotions, and has a record of 7-9 inside the Octagon.
But I still think Lytle has a special place in UFC history. I've heard some people denigrate Lytle by saying he fights like he'd rather earn a bonus than a win, but in fairness to Lytle, only two of those bonuses were for fights he lost: He got the Fight of the Night check at UFC 78, when he lost to Thiago Alves because the fight was stopped when he suffered a nasty cut, and he got it at UFC 93, when he lost a split decision to Marcus Davis. It's not like he wasn't trying to win those fights.
The 35-year-old Lytle is never going to be a UFC champion, and he's never going to be one of those guys with a six-figure guarantee or a cut of the pay-per-view proceeds. But he'll always be a fighter the fans will want to see, and he has certainly earned that $310,000 in extra income.
UFC targeting Michael Bisping vs. Dan Miller for UFC 114 in Las Vegas
A middleweight bout between Michael Bisping (18-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) and Dan Miller (11-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC), established contenders both desperately in need of a win, is likely to take place in May at UFC 114.
Multiple sources close to the event today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that UFC officials are working to sign the bout and that at least one competitor has agreed to the matchup.
If signed the fight would likely be part of the main card for UFC 114, which takes place May 29 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and airs on pay-per-view.
As of Monday, though, bout agreements have not been distributed.
It'd be another solid addition to a card, though not officially announced, that's expected to feature Rashad Evans vs. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Forrest Griffin vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and John Hathaway vs. Diego Sanchez.
Both Bisping and Miller, who were both once on the verge of top title contention, look to rebound from recent losses.
Bisping's losses came to Dan Henderson (vicious knockout at UFC 100), and then after a rebound TKO win over Denis Kang at UFC 105, to Wanderlei Silva via close unanimous decision last month at UFC 110. Bisping thought he won the fight, but Silva knocked him down in the final 10 seconds of the co-main-event fight to take the final third round on the judges' cards and the decision win (via scores of 29-28).
Prior to the recent 1-2 skid, "The Ultimate Fighter 3" winner's only loss came to Rashad Evans via razor-thin split decision at UFC 78 in 2007.
Meanwhile, Miller's two consecutive losses both came via unanimous decision to top contenders Chael Sonnen (UFC 98) and Demian Maia (UFC 109). Prior to the defeats, the former IFL middleweight champion went undefeated over a 10-fight span that included UFC victories over Rob Kimmons, Matt Horwich and Jake Rosholt in his first three UFC appearances.
Introducing The Ultimate Fighter 11 Cast - All 28 Middleweights
For the first time Spike TV has officially announced the full cast of the 28 middleweights fighting for a chance to become the next Ultimate Fighter. TUF 11 premieres March 31.
Nick Ring (10-0), Jordan Smith (10-0), Josh Bryant (10-0), Charley Lynch (6-0)
Kris Mccray (5-0), Warren Thompson (5-0), James Hammortree (4-0), Brad Tavares (4-0)
Joseph Henle (3-0), Court Mcgee (9-1), Victor O’Donnell (8-1), Norman Paraisy (5-1)
Costantinos Philippou (5-1), Brent Cooper (5-1), Greg Rebello (9-2), Kyle Noke (16-4-1)
Jacen Flynn (8-2), Lyle Steffens (5-2), Chris Camozzi (11-3), Charles Blanchard (7-2)
Cleburn Walker (9-3), Ben Stark (3-1), Rich Attonito (7-3), Woody Weatherby (7-3)
Seth Baczynski (11-5), Clayton Mckinney (4-2), Jamie Yager (2-1), Kyacey Uscola (18-15)
Cain Velasquez: I'm ready for a shot at Brock Lesnar
"Yes. I'm ready. I think I've been ready for a while. The way this sport works is you've just got to prove yourself when you get the chance. I want to fight the best so I can be the best ... I don't know what I do better than (Lesnar) but I do know I'd be ready. I know what I can do, I know I train with really tough guys, and I know I'd prepare myself to give him a really good fight"
B.J. Penn, Tito, Kimbo Head Next Round 5 Series
Like most sports today, mixed martial arts has its fair share of fans that also fancy themselves collectors. One of the first companies to really fill that niche for MMA aficionados was Round 5, a Markham, Ontario, Canada based company that specializes in collectible figures.
Ultimate Fighter International Coming Soon
Over the last three years, the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s plan for global domination has been in full swing, hosting events on three continents and in five different countries, six if you include its home base of the United States. Its first trip to the United Arab Emirates is scheduled in April chalking up another continent and another country.
Kendall Grove Ready To "Make History" Against Mark Munoz
But there are no bad words between the Middleweight fighters facing each other, and both are looking forward to their UFC 112 fight in Abu Dhabi-and perhaps a few rounds at the bar afterwards. According to Grove, "I can't wait to go out there and fight. We get to do it in Abu Dhabi. We're making history; the first outdoor event in the Middle East. We're going to have war in war. Right when I got the word that we were fighting, I shot him a Tweet saying, 'Hey man, I respect you a lot. Good luck and let's put on a show.' He responded back, 'Likewise, it's an honor to fight you and we will give these guys a good show.' To me, that's just how our business is. At the end of the day, I can honestly say no matter if I'm on the positive or negative side of it, I will be the first to shake his hand and say, 'Let's go grab a beer or do something.' There are no hard feelings because business is business."