John Chandler here to break down UFC 81: Breaking Point fight-by-fight, including detailed predictions along the way.
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.
It’s pretty easy to say at this point that Tim Sylvia is a winner. He even admits it himself in this recent interview with ESPN where he discusses his upcoming fight against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira this Saturday at UFC 81: Breaking Point.
Tito Ortiz turns 33 and celebrates in style at Catwalk in the above video courtesy of RawVegas.
Catching up on this past weekend’s news…
More Rumored TUF Participants
Even more potential cast members of the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter have come to light thanks to MMA Junkie and Five Ounces of Pain. Those added to the list (which already includes Luke Zachrich and Mike Marrello) are the following:
Couture Likes Sylvia Over Nogueira
In a recent interview with Jose Rodriguez of the Calgary Sun, current UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture revealed that he expects Tim Sylvia to defeat former PRIDE champ Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 81: Breaking Point this weekend.
“I think it’s going to be a good fight. I’m a fan of the sport first and foremost. I think it’s an interesting matchup. Nogueira’s strenght tends to be on the ground and in the submission game and Tim is just a long, strong hard to take down guy who’s got great striking abilities. It’s a classic matchup and for the interim title so they both have a lot on the line. I like Tim’s chances in that fight given Nogueira’s performace against Heath Herring in the last fight. I like Sylvia in a stoppage of some kind.”
Former PRIDE producer Hiromichi Momose was found dead in his Tokyo, Japan apartment yesterday morning. He was 67. Countdown to UFC 81 premieres Wednesday night while UFC All-Access with Brock Lesnar will air for the first time on Thursday. Jason Miller will be holding a seminar in Hamilton, Ontario in February.
Jarry Park: Tyson Griffin Is Mr. Fight Of The Night
In a battle of former UFC and PRIDE champs, Tim Sylvia will meet Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for the interim UFC heavyweight title at UFC 81: Breaking Point on February 2nd at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
UFC President Dana White made the official announcement on last night’s PPV broadcast of UFC 79: Nemesis.
According to White, the winner of the fight will then challenge current champion Randy Couture in order to unify the belts. Whether or not Couture will accept will remain to be seen for some time. Couture hinted earlier this month that he was content to wait out the remainder of his contract in order for a chance to fight Fedor Emelianenko.
Sylvia is coming off of an impressive unanimous decision over Brandon Vera in a fight many thought he would lose after coming off of back surgery. Nogueira was victorious in his UFC debut in July when he pulled out a decision over long-time rival Heath Herring.
The UFC is certainly starting 2008 with a bang in terms of all of the fights they’ve put together already. Here’s some news on three more potential matchups that could be announced in the near future.
Sherdog’s Greg Savage is reporting that Michael Bisping will make his debut at middleweight against “Chainsaw” Charles McCarthy at an upcoming UFC event in London, England on March 8th. That gives us two UFC events in the month of March and both just six days apart. (UFC 82 is currently slated to take place on March 2nd at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio)
While we all know what Bisping has been up to these days, McCarthy has not fought in the UFC since submitting Gideon Ray with an armbar at The Ultimate Fighter 4 Finale last year. McCarthy was stopped in his debut by David Loiseau at UFC 53: Heavy Hitters in June 2005.
The Fight Network is reporting two things of interest in the UFC’s heavyweight division.
According to Loretta Hunt, the UFC has offered Justin McCully a bout against Cheick Kongo for UFC 81 in February. McCully has apparently not yet made a decision on the offer but is expected to make one at some point this week.
It seems that the UFC was originally leaning on having Kongo take on fellow contender Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira but that all fell apart once Randy Couture resigned from the company.
Speaking of Nogueira, Hunt has also learned that he and former champion Tim Sylvia have both been sent bout agreements to face each other for the vacant UFC Heavyweight Title on February 2nd.
According to Sylvia’s manager Monte Cox, Sylvia has signed his paper:
“Tim signed the contract, and we haven’t heard anything else about it—if Nogueira has signed his contract or what,” said Cox.
Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia has announced that he will be fighting at UFC 81: Breaking Point which is set to take place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
Sylvia made the announcement on his official website:
Just found out I’m fighting February 2nd, on the Super Bowl show in Las Vegas. I can’t say who I’m fighting yet, but I’ll let you all know as soon as I can.
Although Sylvia opted not to reveal his opponent, rampant speculation suggests that he will be fighting Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for the vacant UFC Heavyweight Title at the event. Current champion Randy Couture declined a title defense against Nogueira earlier this week in a meeting with UFC President Dana White and will likely be stripped of the title.
UFC Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture has turned down a proposed title defense against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 81 according to a report from MMA Weekly.
Couture was apparently offered the bout during a meeting with UFC President Dana White. While Couture ultimately decided to turn down the offer and will now most likely be stripped of the title, he has noted that talks went well and that he hopes into continue a relationship with the UFC in the future:
“We’ve cleared the air, and hopefully we’ll move forward with some sort of relationship,” Couture said. “I’ve got a lot of fighters and a lot of things that hinge around mixed martial arts and the UFC as well. I want to continue to work with them and I think that they want to continue to work with me, so we’ll figure out how that happens.”
Various reports from this past week have suggested that Nogueira will now most likely face former champion Tim Sylvia for the vacant title at some point early next year.
The UFC held a press conference earlier today with the media to in order to “protect” themselves from any false claims that UFC Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture made during his own press conference last week.
UFC President Dana White, UFC Co-Owner Lorenzo Fertitta, and the UFC’s Chief Financial Officer John Mulkey were all on hand to share their thoughts on the situation involving Couture, to challenge some of the claims that Couture made, and to answer any other questions that the media had.
White started off the press conference by mentioning that he hated that the whole situation was going on that the UFC never wants to have to do anything like this again, but they felt as a company that they wanted to protect themselves. White said that he still considers Couture a friend and that the UFC wasn’t holding the press conference to belittle him.
One of the first counters that White made was to a statement made by Couture’s wife Kim, who said that the UFC did not market her husband. White reminded everyone that Couture was one of the first coaches on The Ultimate Fighter, was involved in the 2nd and 4th seasons of the show, and also had his own day of programming on Spike TV, an idea created by White himself.
White said that he was proud of the fact that Randy claims he makes just as much money outside of the UFC as he does competing in the organization. White said that is the long-term goal for the fighters – that they can continue to profit from their success long after they stop fighting in the Octagon.
Fertitta, who was making a rare press conference appearance, revealed that he had negotiated Couture’s new contract that he signed in January with him. He said that after the talks were done, Couture seemed relatively happy with the results and what he had agreed to. Fertitta also noted that he was hurt by many of the comments that Randy made last week and feels that he put on that press conference in order to attempt to hurt the UFC.
We all wanted to know what the numbers were and here they are:
Couture made a base salary of $200,000 for his fights against Tim Sylvia and Gabriel Gonzaga. Couture also asked for and received a signing bonus of $500,000. $250,000 of that bonus was given to Couture up front and the final $250,000 was given to Couture following his fight against Sylvia at UFC 68. Couture received this check on January 15th and cashed it on January 30th.
On top of his salary, Couture was also paid a $200,000 employment fee, a commentating fee of $56,000, and the PPV bonus for UFC 68 was $936,000. Not counting the signing bonus, Couture made $1.186 million for fighting at UFC 68. Couture has received $936,000 to date from his UFC 68 earnings.
For UFC 74, Couture received a $35,000 bonus for fight of the night. He is also expected to earn $787,000 in PPV bonuses for UFC 74. He is expected to earn $1.072 million for UFC 74. The UFC has not yet been paid for UFC 74 but when they do, Couture will be paid 10 days after that. The UFC expects Couture to have grossed $2.9 million by years end.
All of the numbers were reported by Mulkey. Mulkey also stated that the discretionary fees Couture talked about are not just determined by Dana White but by all those involved in the management of the UFC. Mulkey said that Couture was off by $436,000 in his bonus claims.
- White says that the UFC is the only company he knows of that pays fighters more than what is stated in their contracts. White says that they do not pay guys under the table in reference to Couture’s multiple “off the book” claims from last week.
- White says that the UFC is not a monopoly, they just happen to be the best at what they do. White says that a monopoly is impossible because there are more opportunities now for fighters to be able to compete than ever before.
- Fertitta spoke to Randy the day before his press conference and said that he had a nice conversation with him, not knowing what he was about to say the next day.
- Both Fertitta and White sat down with Couture before UFC 76 and heard and discussed Couture’s problems that he had. White said that the meeting abruptly ended early after Fertitta was forced to leave but that he told Randy that they would finish talking at a later date. Couture claimed that two weeks went by and he didn’t hear an answer. White says that he didn’t know he had a time table of two weeks before Randy would resign.
- This is the last time that White or any other UFC officials will discuss the Randy Couture situation.
- White and Fertitta seemed to not have a definitive answer when asked if Couture’s contract would expire in nine months or if he was definitively locked in for his next two career fights. White responded with “We’ll find out”, “We expect Randy to honor his contract”, and “We aren’t going to discuss the contracts.”
- White says that he doesn’t consider Fedor Emelianenko the number one heavyweight in the world and that he considers Couture the number one heavyweight today. He mocked Fedor’s last four opponents and called him a “farce”. White also said that he wouldn’t even consider Fedor among the top five heavyweights in the division.
- Both White and Fertitta agreed that they don’t things to play out in court. However they did say that they would take any means necessary in order to protect themselves.
- There are no plans to report numbers for revenue or anything like that in the near future.
- White plans on offering Couture a fight most likely this week. He mentioned Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira as an opponent. He said that if Couture did not take the fight, he would take that as Randy retiring.
As you probably already heard, the UFC has officially announced the signing of former pro wrestler Brock Lesnar.
Lesnar is expected to make his UFC debut in February.
Ricardo Almedia’s signing with the UFC has also been made official by the company.
No formal announcement of Wanderlei Silva’s next opponent was made, despite claims that Silva was set to do so himself.
MMA Junkie ran into Silva at the event and asked him about the rumored matchup:
MMA Junkie bumped into the former PRIDE champion in downtown Cincinnati on Saturday, and the fighter couldn’t help smile when we asked him about a rumored fight with Liddell.
“Dec. 29 I go into the ring and finally beat (Liddell),” Silva said. “Unless Chuck (is) scared, we fight then.“
Tim Sylvia challenged fellow heavyweight Cheick Kongo after his victory over Brandon Vera:
“We don’t know what’s going on with Randy [Couture] right now,” Sylvia said. “He’s a little bit in limbo. I don’t want to sit my ass down and wait for him, so I think Cheick and I should fight.”
However White has stated that Sylvia will most likely fight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for the UFC Heavyweight Title early next year.
UFC President Dana White announced the winners of the usual performance bonuses at the post-fight press conference:
Knockout of the night - Anderson Silva
Submission of the night - Demian Maia
Fight of the night - Jason Black vs Matt Grice
Each fighter will receive a bonus of $40,000, the highest that has ever been given out.
White also announced that UFC 77 broke the official gate record at the U.S. Bank Arena, bringing in a total of $2.54 million.
Randy Couture will hold a public press conference this coming Thursday to discuss his depature from the UFC.
White mentioned that the UFC would return to Ohio next March. He also said that Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta are all being considered to host shows next year.
Alex Marvez of FOX Sports is reporting that Franklin is expected to consider retirement.
Yushin Okami’s contract with the UFC apparently expired after last night’s fight with Jason MacDonald.
When asked about a future opponent for Silva, White threw Thales Leites, Ricardo Almeida, and David Terrell out there as possibilities.
Former PRIDE heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira recently spoke to GRACIEMAG.com about Randy Couture’s departure from the UFC and as well as the possibility of him fighting the winner of Vera-Sylvia for the vacant title.
“I am realy sad. I realy wanted to fight him. I hope there’s a chance he comes back.” Minotauro also said that there’s been a change of plans with Couture’s decision. “My strategy will change, once I will no longer have to face such a experienced and skilled guy to get to the title. My next fight is set to take place on February 3rd, but I’m uncertain about the opponent. If it’s kongo, it will not be for the title; If it’s Vera or Sylvia, the belt will be for grabs. I’m flying to the USA to watch Anderson Silva’s bout and I’ll probably know who’s going to be my adversary,” completed the former Pride champion.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira made his UFC debut in July at UFC 73: Stacked against Heath Herring. Despite being in serious trouble early after eating a head kick, Nogueira fought his way back to earn an unanimous decision victory. Minotauro sports a mixed martial arts record of 30-4-1 with victories over the likes of Josh Barnett, Sergei Kharitonov, Fabricio Werdum, Mirko Filipovic, Semmy Schilt, and Mark Coleman. Nogueira has also gone the distance with PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko twice despite dropping an unanimous decision to the Russian heavyweight both times.