Yahoo Sports is reporting that the UFC has finalized the top three fights for their New Year’s Eve weekend show. Its long been known that the fight for the interim heavyweight title between Antonio Nogueira and Frank Mir would take place. But the two fights below that fight are main event quality themselves. For the UFC Light Heavyweight belt, champion Forrest Griffin will take on undefeated Rashad Evans. And for the third time in their illustrious careers, former UFC champ Quentin “Rampage” Jackson will battle former Pride champion Wanderlei Silva.
As recently as Monday, UFC president Dana White said there were “lots of moving parts” as he tried to complete the company’s end-of-year fight cards.
On Wednesday, he at least got the top three fights of UFC 92 finalized. The co-main events will feature the interim heavyweight title match between champion Antonio Rodrigo and Frank Mir. Forrest Griffin will defend the light heavyweight title against Rashad Evans and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson will meet Wanderlei Silva, who defeated him twice when they fought in PRIDE.
The Jackson-Silva card had been considered for UFC 91, when the card was slated to be in Portland, Ore., as well for UFC 94, which will be Jan. 31 in Las Vegas.
But White said he wanted to “stack” the UFC’s traditional New Year’s Eve weekend card and managed to do so by putting four of the company’s most popular fighters on the card.
Randy Couture. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Randy Couture has returned to the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
After a year-long feud between Couture and the UFC saw both sides battle it out in court and in the media, UFC President Dana White announced today that the promotion has inked Couture to a new multi-fight deal that will have him take on former professional wrestler and upstart contender Brock Lesnar at UFC 91 on November 15.
The mega-fight will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas instead of Portland, Oregon’s Rose Garden as previously expected and will be for Couture’s UFC heavyweight title.
“We’ve had problems with Randy over the last few months, but we’ve resolved them all,” White said on a media conference call this afternoon. “Randy has always been our heavyweight champion. We can basically put on fights that fans want to see now. Mark my words, Couture vs. Lesnar will be the biggest fight in UFC history.”
Frank Mir. Photo by Tracy Lee. Courtesy of CombatLifestyle.com.
Former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion Frank Mir and the organization’s current interim title holder, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, have been selected to serve as the coaches for the upcoming eighth season of “The Ultimate Fighter”.
SpikeTV officials confirmed the previously rumored news this afternoon in a press release sent out to the media.
Mir will try to continue a successful road back from a near career-ending motorcycle accident when he takes on Nogueira at the conclusion of the show, which will begin taping later this week. He was originally slated to take on Team Punishment member Justin McCully in July, but was abruptly removed from the card once the UFC decided to use him on the popular reality show.
Mir is now riding a wave of two straight impressive performances. He slowly crept back into title contention after his submission win over former professional wrestler turned mixed martial artist Brock Lesnar at UFC 81: Breaking Point in February.
Meanwhile Nogueira became the first mixed martial artist in history to hold championship gold inside the confines of both the UFC and PRIDE Fighting Championships as he submitted former two-time champion Tim Sylvia to win the interim UFC heavyweight belt in February as well. With current champion Randy Couture all but finished with the promotion, the winner of the showdown with Mir later this year will almost surely become the sole title holder.
Mir has already made it known that he’d love to be a coach during a future season of the show and he’ll get his chance now. He wanted it to lead to a rematch with Tim Sylvia, but now that the Miletich Fighting Systems product has been released from the UFC, that won’t be happening anytime soon.
His fight with Nogueira will pit two of the world’s top heavyweight grapplers against each other. While Mir might be marketable because of his win over Lesnar and WEC color commentating job, casual fans aren’t all that familiar with Nogueira, who has only fought twice inside the promotion. It could be the making of a potential negative hit to ratings but rumor has it that the UFC has a plan to showcase the Brazilian and expose his personality to fans.
The winter season will mark the first time that the reality show has ever featured two heavyweights as coaches. It will also return to the show’s original format of featuring two separate weight classes - eight lightweights and light heavyweights (155 lbs and 205 lbs) will compete for the coveted six-figure UFC contract. The cast is expected to be announced sometime in September.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (left) talks with Joe Rogan. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Update 1:30 PM ET: MMAJunkie is reporting that according to a source from the show itself, the coaches have not been chosen yet. However, while the coaches have not been picked, Big Nog and Mir are among the finalists for the coaching slots. - Bill Reger
Frank Mir has already made it known that he’d love to be a coach during a future season of “The Ultimate Fighter”. He wanted it to lead to a rematch with Tim Sylvia, but now that the Miletich Fighting Systems product has been released from the UFC, it looks like it isn’t going to happen, at least with Sylvia as his counterpart.
According to a report from our friends at Cage Potato citing an unidentified source, Mir has been tapped to serve as one of the coaches for the eighth season of the show along with current interim UFC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
It will be the first time that the reality show has ever featured two heavyweights as coaches. While it seems that Nogueira would ultimately defend his belt against Mir at the conclusion of the show, Mir is currently scheduled to face McCully in July. Filming for the show apparently starts in June.
Sam Caplan also points out that Mir and Nogueira aren’t exactly the most personable fighters to ever coach the show and I’d tend to agree. While Mir might be marketable because of his Lesnar win and WEC color commentating job, fans outside of the hardcores aren’t all that familar with Nogueira. It could be the making of a potential negative hit to ratings.
Some brief thoughts and notes from last night’s UFC 82: Pride of a Champion…
Official news and numbers
Let’s get straight down to the facts. The official attendance inside the Nationwide Arena was 16,431. The live gate is expected to be somewhere around $2.2 million.
Fight of the Night honors went to Anderson Silva and Dan Henderson, who each received $60,000. Silva also earned $60,000 for submission of the night. Chris Leben won the same amount for his stoppage of Alessio Sakara.
Josh Koscheck and Yushin Okami both suffered separate hand injuries in their fights. Both Koscheck and Andrei Arlovski completed the last fights on their respective contracts with the UFC and are now officially free agents.
Silva looks unstoppable
I said before last night that if Anderson Silva dispatched of Dan Henderson easily, then I’d go ahead and claim that he is unstoppable. He is. He’s completely cleaned out the entire middleweight division. I was long a proponent that guys using the Team Quest style of fighting were bad matchups for Silva but obviously that isn’t the case. Silva shows us an entire new dimension of his game every time out.
While a rematch against Okami (who is now pretty much the top contender unless the UFC plans on bringing someone else in or creating a new plan) is intriguing, it’s pretty much set in stone that Silva would pick him apart on the feet. I don’t necessarily agree with Dana White’s constant statement that Silva is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport completely, but I will say that he’s getting dangerously close to achieving that honor.
Kimbo Slice discusses his original date to fight against Tank Abbott that was cancelled and how he feels about EliteXC’s upcoming “Street Certified” event being in his hometown of Miami in the above video courtesy of Pro Elite.
Some news for you this morning…
Sean Sherk Still Not Fighting in California
Right after his suspension for a positive steroids test was reduced instead of being overturned by the California State Athletic Commission, Sean Sherk said that he would never fight in the state of California ever again. Over three months later, he still feels the same:
“There’s no reason for me to ever fight in California again. The way they treated my case and the way they handled everything was so unprofessional that there’s absolutely no way I’ll ever fight in the state of California again, unless they get rid of the entire commission and hire a whole new commission,” Sherk told MMA Weekly.
Speaking of the CSAC, they have suspended Luke Hartwig after he tested positive for marijuana following his bout at Strikeforce “Young Guns” event on February 1st. Hartwig has been sidelined for three months (can return on May 1st) and was fined $500.
Fedor Dominates at Russian Combat Sambo Championships
Fedor Emelianenko will be competing at the 2008 Russian Combat Sambo Championships in St. Petersburg, Russia over the weekend.
So how did he do on his first day? MMA Ninja says pretty damn good.
As predicted, Fedor Emelianenko easily won all of his three fights. In his first fight, Fedor quickly attacked, after a combination of strikes he took his opponent down and submitted him. The fight was 35 seconds long. His second fight was even shorter - Fedor broke his opponent’s nose in 10 seconds.
The final fight against Stanislav Shushko took a little bit longer. Stanislav tried to keep Fedor at a distance using his height advantage, but Fedor closed the distance with a combination, went for a throw and a hold-down. The sequence of events happened once more and Fedor finished off Shushko in just over a minute.
Fan favorite Paul Buentello revealed his desire to take on former boxing heavyweight champion Tommy Morrison in one of Morrison’s “MMA rules” bouts in The Underground. Touch of gloves to our friends at Bloody Elbow for the find. Luiz Alves, Muay Thai trainer for Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, claims that he believes Tim Sylvia greased up for their title bout last weekend in a recent interview with Tatame.
Jarry Park: Carlo Prater Is Ready For The Fight Of His Life
Some thoughts and notes from this past weekend’s UFC 81: Breaking Point.
I was right and wrong
I did pretty well in the predictions department. I knew going into the fight that Tim Sylvia was going to give Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira fits and that’s exactly what happened. However Nogueira has been tough to finish off all throughout his career and this fight didn’t turn out to be any different. No shame in losing for Sylvia. He hung in there with one of the best heavyweights in history.
I had a feeling that if Brock Lesnar was going to be submitted, it might have been by way of a leg lock/kneebar. Wrestlers always have been notorious for being too stationary with their legs while posturing up and working some ground and pound although a lot of fighters don’t really take advantage of it. It just goes to show how intelligent of a ground specialist Frank Mir is to keep his composure while getting pounded and still be able to pull off a smart move.
The only fight I took issue with was Rob Emerson’s split decision over Keita Nakamura. I actually thought that the fight was dead even at the end. I thought that Nakamura won the third round convincingly and that the first round was even.
More thoughts on the fights
Marvin Eastman surprised me while Tim Boetsch did not. While Eastman’s fight against Terry Martin wasn’t necessarily the most exciting, I was a tad happy to see that Eastman was able to take some power shots and still stay on his feet. Boetsch did exactly what I thought he would do against an average fighter in my opinion in David Heath.
Ricardo Almeida, Tyson Griffin, and Chris Lytle all did what I thought they would do. I talked to someone after the event who truly thought that Tibau beat Griffin, which is absurd. I wasn’t expecting that quick of a stoppage from Lytle but a stoppage win nonetheless. What’s going on with Jeremy Horn? I’ll have a piece on him up later today.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira throws a right hand at Tim Sylvia during their championship fight at UFC 81: Breaking Point. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira became the first mixed martial artist in history to hold championship gold inside the confines of both the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the PRIDE Fighting Championships as he submitted former two-time champion Tim Sylvia to win the interim UFC heavyweight belt at last night’s UFC 81: Breaking Point.
The 10,583 inside the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas saw an eventful first round where Sylvia shook off a right hand flush to his face to knock Nogueira down with a right of his own. Sylvia pounced on Nogueira but was unable to finish him off. The Brazilian maintained his composure and scored a swift combination and a late takedown during the final seconds of the first round.
The pace slowed considerably heading into the second stanza. Sparing a near takedown by Nogueira, the round took place on the feet the entire time. Each fighter landed their fair share of jabs and combinations throughout the five minutes. Sylvia looked to land a pair of rights that hurt Nogueira with under two minutes left in the round but the slow pace provided very little opportunity to capitalize on.
A right hand by Sylvia caused Nogueira to pull guard at the beginning of the third round. The skilled ground specialist quickly swept Sylvia, transitioned to side-control, and then locked in a guillotine as his opponent tried to stand up. Sylvia didn’t put up much of a fight and quickly tapped out, giving Nogueira the interim title.
“He’s a true heavyweight,” Nogueira said of Sylvia during a post-fight interview. “He’s a giant. I got in many hard punches in this fight. I was waiting for a good opportunity to put him on the ground. I always try at least one submission. If that doesn’t work, I go for a second and it worked tonight.”
Although visibly discouraged after the fight, Sylvia showed a good amount of respect for his opponent’s efforts.
“It’s Nogueira,” Sylvia said. “Every fight he’s in, he gets his ass kicked for the first ten minutes. You start getting comfortable fighting him and next thing you know, he catches you in something. The guy is a legend in the sport.”
Nogueira also pleaded for current champion Randy Couture to return from his resignation from the promotion in order to unify the belts and put on a great fight for the fans. Only time will tell if Couture will continue his stance or give in to the demands of Nogueira and many other UFC officials.
Antonio Nogueira def. Tim Sylvia - Submission (Guillotine)
Frank Mir def. Brock Lesnar - Submission (Kneebar)
Nate Marquardt def. Jeremy Horn - Submission (Guillotine)
Ricardo Almeida def. Rob Yundt - Submission (Guillotine)
Tyson Griffin def. Gleison Tibau - Unanimous Decision
Chris Lytle def. Kyle Bradley - TKO (Strikes)
Tim Boetsch def. David Heath - TKO (Strikes)
Marvin Eastman def. Terry Martin - Unanimous Decision
Robert Emerson def. Keita Nakamura - Split Decision
Frank Mir weighs-in for UFC 48: Payback. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The official weigh-in results for tomorrow night’s UFC 81: Breaking Point are below. All fighters successfully made weight.
The event is scheduled to take place tomorrow night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
UFC 81: Breaking Point features a total of nine fights including a battle for the interim UFC heavyweight title between former champion Tim Sylvia and former PRIDE star Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira as well as the UFC debut of one-time professional wrestler and WWE superstar Brock Lesnar as he goes up against former champion Frank Mir.
The weigh-ins went smoothly for the most part except for a near scuffle between Marvin Eastman and Terry Martin. The two got nose-to-nose during the staredown and had to be separated by UFC President Dana White. Martin was able to shove Eastman just before they were broken apart.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (237 lbs) vs. Tim Sylvia (261 lbs)
Frank Mir (255 lbs) vs. Brock Lesnar (265 lbs)
Jeremy Horn (185 lbs) vs. Nate Marquardt (185 lbs)
Ricardo Almeida (185 lbs) vs. Rob Yundt (185 lbs)
Tyson Griffin (155 lbs) vs. Gleison Tibau (156 lbs)
Chris Lytle (170 lbs) vs. Kyle Bradley (170 lbs)
David Heath (205 lbs) vs. Tim Boetsch (205 lbs)
Marvin Eastman (185 lbs) vs. Terry Martin (186 lbs)
Rob Emerson (155 lbs) vs. Keita Nakamura (155 lbs)