Bellator announces “Fight Master” reality show for summer debut on Spike

Randy Couture. Photo by Ken Pishna/MMA Weekly.

Bellator's anticipated trek into the world of reality television will air on Spike this summer and will be led by some legendary company.

UFC hall of famer Randy Couture, former multiple-promotion champion Frank Shamrock, renowned coach Greg Jackson and former Bellator featherweight title holder Joe Warren will serve as coaches on the inaugural season of "Fight Master: Bellator MMA".

Bellator and Spike officials held a press conference on Tuesday to formally announce the project. The show will feature 32 up-and-coming welterweight prospects vying for a spot in a Bellator welterweight tournament this fall.

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UFC 156 prelims net highest UFC-related ratings ever on FX

Ratings report: UFC sets FX viewership record with UFC 156 prelims
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Saturday’s UFC 156 prelims drew 1,897,000 viewers, topping the previous UFC on FX record of 1,860,000 viewers set two weeks earlier for the Vitor Belfort vs. Michael Bisping card from Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The number was a huge increase from the prelims on FX on Jan. 26 before the FOX network special from Chicago’s United Center which did 1,208,000 viewers.

The largest previous audience on FX for prelims before a big show came on July 7 when the UFC 148 prelims did 1.8 million viewers. But that was to be expected, since there was more interest in UFC on that day with the Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen middleweight title rematch than any day over the past two years.

So a new level for ratings was set with Evan Dunham vs. Gleison Tibau as the featured fight. Was this reason? No. For the first time since UFC 154, the UFC's marketing team was going balls to the wall.

I'm not sure how much of the prelims crowd transitioned over to the PPV as those numbers are weird sometimes, but I'm willing to bet it made somewhat of a difference. PPV buys from the Super Bowl weekend shows are traditionally strong regardless.

Dana White has said that the UFC marketing machine will be going all out for Ronday Rousey's debut and I'm excited to see what they can do. The promo they released over the weekend is a good start.

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Zoila Gurgel inks multi-fight deal with Invicta FC, makes promotional debut in April

Zoila Gurgel signs multi-fight deal with Invicta FC for April debut
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The 115-pound women’s champ recently signed a multi-fight agreement with Invicta FC, sources close to the event confirmed to MMAjunkie.com.

Gurgel will face a to-be-announced opponent at the all-female promotion’s fifth event, which takes place April 6. Though a venue and location have not been announced, and prevoius reports indicated the promotion’s hope to expand its horizons, potentially for an event in California, the plan is for Invicta FC 5 to take place in Kansas City, Mo.

Bellator and Invicta officials could not be reached Monday evening for comment on the move. Gurgel most recently competed at flyweight for the tournament-based promotion at Bellator 83, where she was choked unconscious in 58 seconds by Jessica Eye.

We're still in the middle of the battle between Bellator and Eddie Alvarez so I'm dying to hear a response from Bellator on this. It might end up being no big deal, they let Zoila walk after a loss, or her contract expired and they decided not to match. Or it could be a huge deal.

If the former is the case, it's a move that benefits both sides. For Invicta, they get their hands on an elite strawweight that has name value. Bellator now gets an out of women's MMA if they want it. I'm not sure if they do, but they haven't run a women's tournament since season three and no longer have the roster to do so, at least at the moment.

With Invicta going full steam and the UFC testing the waters when it comes to the females, Bellator now has three options - it's time to either go all in, get out completely, or use them as local attractions during the preliminary fights, and that's it.

UFC releases first set of fighter rankings

Anthony Pettis. Photo property of the UFC.

The UFC made public their inaugural set of fighter rankings on Tuesday. 

The rankings include the eight current men's divisions as well as a pound-for-pound list. A ranking of the women's bantamweight division was not included for obvious reasons. 

You can check out the full set after the jump. The UFC's official page as well as a list of the panel of media members and their individual lists can be seen here.

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Anthony Pettis to drop down to 145 pounds, challenge Jose Aldo on August 3

Anthony Pettis. Photo by Scott Peterson/MMA Weekly.

Anthony Pettis will indeed make the drop down to 145 pounds in order to challenge Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight title on August 3.

The news was first reported by USA Today, which confirmed the matchup with UFC president Dana White. A venue for the bout has not yet been selected. UFC officials are reportedly looking at Texas, Chicago, Las Vegas and Rio de Janeiro as options.

Pettis had stated over the weekend following Aldo's title defense over Frankie Edgar that he would be interested in shedding weight to challenge the Brazilian, even though he is currently on the cusp of a shot at the UFC lightweight belt following Ben Henderson's defense against Gilbert Melendez this spring.

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Watch the UFC 156 weigh-ins at 7 PM ET on MMA on Tap

Be sure to drop by here at 7 PM ET for the UFC 156 weigh-ins. All 22 fighters will hit the scale to make their fights official for tomorrow night's event, including main eventers UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo and former UFC lightweight king Frankie Edgar.

All “TUF 17” cast members will be offered a fight in the UFC

UFC 156 fight week notebook: All TUF fighters to get a chance in UFC, Super Bowl predictions and more
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In recent years, those numbers have waned as the ballooning size of the UFC roster has made it more difficult for the promotion to offer such opportunities. But according to UFC president Dana White, this season’s fights are so good and so competitive, he couldn’t bring himself to cut a single competitor. Not one. When the season finishes airing on FX, each man will get at least one more chance to compete in the UFC.

“This season is so f———good, and I was so happy with the guys, I told them, every one of you guys are going to fight. You’re going to get one more chance in the UFC,” White said. “Every guy here is going to get one more chance in the UFC. [Matchmaker] Joe Silva wants to f———kill me. ‘It’s impossible. It mathematically doesn’t work.’ I said, ‘Mathematically make it work.’”

White said whatever the UFC would have to do to make it happen, they would do, including adding one extra fight on each card until each contestant gets his opportunity. So while that make take away some of the drama of the show, at least it’s one sign that the finished product is indeed better than last season’s version.

I can't remember the last season in which every contestant, win or lose, was offered the chance to fight in the UFC, whether it be the finale or a regular event. If I had to guess, the last time may have been "TUF 8" with Frank Mir and Big Nog as coaches.

Either way, it just goes to show how much the show has improved overall in recent years. From the format to the filming to the scouting of the talent themselves, this season has been a success thus far and for good reason.

UFC 156 predictions

Alistair Overeem. Photo by Esther Lin/AllElbows.com.

The UFC returns for its third event in consecutive weeks and it's a big one - the promotion's annual Super Bowl weekend event in Las Vegas.

This year's edition features a "superfight" of sorts as UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo will defend his title, welcoming former UFC lightweight king Frankie Edgar to the division. Alistair Overeem will also return to action for the first time after a year-long layoff. He will face fellow Strikeforce import Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva for a shot at Cain Velasquez and the UFC heavyweight belt.

My predictions are after the jump.

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Bellator 93 hits Maine with native son Marcus Davis, welterweight tournament finals

Marcus Davis. Photo by Jeff Cain/MMA Weekly.

Bellator will make their promotional debut in the state of Maine on March 21 with the finals of the season eight welterweight tournament as well as the Bellator debut of former longtime UFC veteran Marcus Davis for Bellator 93.

The event will emanate from the Androscoggin Colisee in Bangor. Davis will face an opponent yet to be named as will undefeated English prospect and former kickboxer Michael Page, who also be making his Bellator debut.

The final round of the latest Bellator welterweight tournament will take place as well, pitting the winners of upcoming semifinal bouts featuring Douglas Lima vs. Brent Weedman and Ben Saunders vs. Raul Amaya.

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Rickels grinds out decision win over Woodard, Brooks impressive again at Bellator 87

David Rickels. Photo courtesy of Bellator MMA.

In a meeting between two of Bellator's more exciting fighters, it was David Rickels that got the better of Lloyd Woodard to the tune of an unanimous decision win in the main event of Bellator 87 on Thursday night.

The bout was one of four lightweight quarterfinal matches that crowd at the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant, Michigan witnessed.

Woodard did not go down without a fight, however. The Montana native took control early on with an early slam and a mix of ground and pound and submission attempts from top position. Woodard also hurt Rickels late in the final round and landed a pair of timely takedowns that ended up not being enough to sway the scorecards.

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