Jon Fitch. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Jon Fitch’s journey back to the top of the UFC’s welterweight division started off with a win on Saturday night as the former collegiate wrestler grinded out a unanimous decision over Japanese pioneer Akihiro Gono in UFC 94’s most high-profile preliminary bout.
After a spectacular and somewhat odd walk to the Octagon by Gono (29-14-7), the PRIDE veteran spent the first few minutes of his bout against Fitch (18-3) defending constant takedown attempts. Fitch, an American Kickboxing Academy product, was eventually able to bring his opponent to the mat, where the majority of the fight took place.
The former UFC welterweight title challenger nearly finished the fight in the second round with an armbar just before time expired, and survived a last-minute comeback effort from Gono on the feet to win a clear-cut decision on the scorecards.
Georges St. Pierre. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The official weigh-in results for tomorrow night’s UFC 94 event, which takes place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, are below. All fighters successfully made weight.
The event is headlined by a highly-anticipated rematch for the UFC welterweight title between reigning champion Georges St. Pierre and UFC lightweight king B.J. Penn. Undefeated light heavyweights Lyoto Machida and Thiago Silva will collide as well.
Georges St. Pierre (170 lbs) vs. B.J. Penn (168 lbs)
Lyoto Machida (206 lbs) vs. Thiago Silva (206 lbs)
Karo Parisyan (170 lbs) vs. Dong-Hyun Kim (171 lbs)
Nate Diaz (156 lbs) vs. Clay Guida (156 lbs)
Stephan Bonnar (206 lbs) vs. Jon Jones (206 lbs)
Jon Fitch (171 lbs) vs. Akihiro Gono (171 lbs)
Manny Gamburyan (155 lbs) vs. Thiago Tavares (155 lbs)
Chris Wilson (170 lbs) vs. John Howard (171 lbs)
Jake O’Brien (205 lbs) vs. Christian Wellisch (206 lbs)
Matt Arroyo (171 lbs) vs. Dan Cramer (171 lbs)
The UFC yesterday released #3 ranked welterweight contender Jon Fitch for failing to sign a document that gives lifetime rights to his likeness in any future video games. The story, first broken by MMA Mania, is developing very quickly. Apparently, Christian Wellisch has also been cut and fellow AKA treammates Josh Koscheck and Cain Velasquez are also on the chopping block following their upcoming fights.
Fitch, who was defeated in a 5 round war with champion Georges St. Pierre in his last turn in the octagon, was completely taken by surprise by this move. According to MMAWeekly...
“This is like over the course of two days, three days,” Fitch explained about the release. “It had to do with Dana (White) calling my managers and immediately saying, ‘we need to get him to sign this contract’ and ‘it’s a big favor to me.’ Then we asked him, ‘Why do you need this contract signed?’
“Then we finally asked, after reading through the contract, why can’t we negotiate for different terms? Because it asked me for a lifetime contract for the video games, so they would have exclusive rights to use our likeness for these video games and we couldn’t go and do any other video games ever again in our lifetime.”
Before anything was decided, Fitch says his managers tried to re-negotiate a different deal from the lifetime contract, but an ultimatum was soon made.
“So basically we said we weren’t cool with that deal and why can’t we do it for five or 10 years? Why does it have to be a lifetime deal? Their next response was, ‘either you guys are in or you’re out’ and ‘sign this or you’re going to get dropped from the UFC,’” said Fitch. “So we hear that and we didn’t even think they were serious. Why would you want to release fighters at our level over something like that? Doesn’t make any sense.
“Within two phone calls, it got to ‘sign this or you guys are out.’”
Dana White’s response was pretty typical of him. On Yahoo Sports.
“We’re looking for guys who want to work with us and not against us, and frankly I’m just so [expletive] sick of this [expletive] it’s not even funny. Affliction is still out there trying to build its company. Let [Fitch] go work with them. Let him see what he thinks of those [expletives]. [Expletive] him. These guys aren’t partners with us. [Expletive] them. All of them, every last [expletive] one of them…. I’m not a douche bag and I do a lot for these guys, a lot more than any of you will ever know. We’re in a horrible time in the economy now, and every guy with two nickels to rub together is making a run at us. We’ve worked too hard, given too much, to let certain guys come in and [expletive] with that.”
White later toned down thhe rhetoric on the “Carmichael Dave” radio show.
“No, no, no. It has nothing to do with an agreement. It doesn’t have to do with Jon Fitch either. I like Jon Fitch. I’ve never had a bad word with Jon Fitch. The problem is with the idiots that run AKA. I won’t use any names; the idiots know who they are.”
I’m sure there will be a lot more to this story in the upcoming days.
Jake O’Brien. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
A heavyweight bout between former standout collegiate wrestler Jake O’Brien and American Kickboxing Academy product Christian Wellisch may reportedly take place at UFC 94 on January 31 in Las Vegas according to MMA Junkie. The bout is in the process of being finalized per sources close to the fight.
After bursting onto the UFC heavyweight scene with three straight victories and a surprising upset of former PRIDE standout Heath Herring, O’Brien has gone on to lose his last two bouts. After suffering a second-round TKO loss to former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski at UFC 82, O’Brien was brutally stopped with strikes by rising prospect Cain Velasquez at UFC Fight Night 14 on July 19.
Wellisch has fought sparingly since making his UFC debut over two years ago and has posted a 2-2 record inside the promotion thus far. His two-fight winning streak was snapped back in May after being knocked out by Shane Carwin in the first round of their heavyweight bout at UFC 84. Wellisch has not fought since.
I’d love to have the Octagon mat from UFC 30 in my backyard too. Check out this cat’s collection of stuff.
News and Notes
- Despite various reports that were made over the weekend, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza has not signed a contract with the UFC according to Sherdog:
“I have not signed with Zuffa, unlike what people have said on the Internet,” Souza said after his fight. “I was close to signing and fighting in WEC, but nothing is settled right now.”
- The California State Athletic Commission released the drug test results of 6 of the 18 fighters that were tested after UFC 76. Christian Wellisch, Scott Junk, Matt Wiman, Jeremy Stephens, Diego Saraiva, and Michihiro Omigawa all passed. The results of the other 12 fighters are expected to be released at some point this week.
- It seems that Shaq has been using MMA to prepare for the upcoming NBA season:
At seven foot one, Shaquille O’Neal is an intimidating enough opponent on the basketball court but the Miami Heat center has been testing his athleticism in one of the most violent of sports, Ultimate Fighting. Questioned on Monday how he had spent his time during the NBA off-season, O’Neal said he had been in the caged ring taking on challengers in the combination of boxing, martial arts and wrestling.
“I’ve been doing a lot of fighting, a lot of swimming, a lot of hunting and a lot of school work and a lot of reading,” O’Neal told reporters at the Heat’s pre-training camp media day.
Asked what he meant by fighting, O’Neal said: “UFC fighting, Ultimate Fighting, yeah, I’m serious. Every day. You have headgear and so on, it is basically like boxing with wrestling rules. I’m a fan of the sport. I started doing it and then some guys challenged me,” added O’Neal who is reported to earn around $20 million a year with the Heat.
Touch of gloves to Fight Opinion for the find.
- Sam Caplan has announced that he has been hired as the new lead writer and editor of ProElite.com. Congrats Sam.
- UFC Daily has added three new writers to it’s staff.
The year of the upset continues…
Keith Jardine proved that those who participated in The Ultimate Fighter reality series can hang among the best in the world when he beat former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell at his own game and earned a close split decision in front of the estimated 16,000 in attendance at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA.
Liddell looked to win the first round by sending Jardine scrambling away from flurries of punches. Jardine began to score with his first few of numerous leg and body kicks but it wasn’t enough to prevent the judges from scoring the round in Liddell’s favor.
The second and third rounds were a different story however. Jardine continued to press the action while his opponent looked to land one of his patented counter-punches. Jardine (13-3-1) even knocked Liddell (20-5) down with a right hand midway through the second round, a shot that Liddell was able to absorb as he sprang back up to his feet and right back into the fight.
A number of leg and body kicks bruised and battered Liddell’s body and Jardine’s unorthodox style continued to stifle any opportunities the former champ had to get into a rhythm on the feet. When the 15 minutes was up, it was known that the judges had to make a close decision but it was also obvious that Jardine had won the fight, based on the reaction the crowd gave when Liddell raised his hands in possible victory.
Marcos Rosales was the lone judge that scored the fight for Liddell, giving him the edge by a 29-28 margin. Cecil Peoples and Richard Bertrand scored it the same but gave the victory to Jardine and ruined any chances we had of seeing a Liddell-Wanderlei Silva showdown in December.
After the fight, Jardine tried to put his win into perspective.
“The win feels great,” Jardine said. “Chuck is the greatest fighter in the history of the UFC as far as I’m concerned.”
A news filled Coffee and Kick Ass today folks…
News and Notes
- Our rumors section has been updated…
- Mark Cuban will be holding a press conference and conference call concerning his new HDNet Fights venture. We will have a full report later today.
- If you haven’t already, please check out Randy Couture’s signed gloves from UFC 74 that are currently up for auction by the Ryan Bennett Memorial Fund. Bidding ends on Thursday night.
- K-1 Hero’s parent company FEG announced a rematch between PRIDE veterans Sergei Kharitonov and Alistair Overeem at the K-1 Hero’s show taking place on September 17th.
- Duane Ludwig will now face Mario Stapel at this Saturday’s Ring of Fire event after his original opponent, Dragan Baklua, broke his hand during a recent training session. Despite all of this, Ludwig has trained hard and is ready to face whomever is standing in front of him:
“I was getting ready to face a stand up guy, but Mario is much more well rounded,” stated Ludwig. “He is more of a true MMA fighter. I changed my game plan accordingly. For this fight, I tightened up my game by training at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas. The training was great and I feel prepared for whatever happens. I love fighting at home and can’t wait for Saturday.”
- Jeff Monson, Matt Horwich, and Tara LaRosa all won medals in last weekend’s World Grappling Championships in Turkey.
- Spike TV announced yesterday that UFC 75 was the most watched MMA event in the history of North America:
UFC 75 was the most watched mixed martial arts event ever in North America, drawing 4.7 million viewers, Spike TV officials said in a news release Tuesday.
The Sept. 8 event from the O2 Arena in London, England, featured UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton Jackson’s win over PRIDE champ Dan Henderson in a title unification bout. Airing delayed on Spike, the telecast peaked at 5.6 million viewers during Jackson’s battle against Henderson. The show’s ratings were particularly strong among men age 18-34 and men 18-49. For those audiences, UFC 75 beat everything on television, Spike officials said, including ABC’s NASCAR race and Michigan vs. Oregon college football game, as well as ESPN’s Virginia Tech vs. LSU and Notre Dame vs. Penn St. games.
Spike TV said its telecast of UFC 75 had an overall rating of 3.1 (3.0 million homes), including a 5.7 rating for men 18-34 (1.6 million), 4.5 for men 18-49 (2.5 million) and 6.2 for men 25-34 (1.0 million).
- The Honolulu Star Bulletin is reporting that Justin McCully has been forced to pull out of his scheduled bout against Christian Wellisch for undisclosed reasons. Wellisch will now face Scott Junk”
Kailua’s Scott Junk will make his UFC debut Sept. 22 against Christian Wellisch in a heavyweight fight at UFC 76: Knockout in Anaheim, Calif.
“It’s 100 percent going to happen,” Junk said. Wellisch (8-2) was originally scheduled to face Justin McCully.
Junk was notified about the fight yesterday, just 11 days before the event. He has put together six consecutive wins, including a TKO victory over Jimmy Ambriz back in June.
“It caught me off guard, but it’s good because I have been training this whole time,” Junk said.
Touch of gloves to UFC Mania for finding that interesting piece.
- The Governor of Illinois has signed legislation that will legalize MMA starting in 2008
- Michael Bisping’s father was apparently attacked in the parking lot of the O2 arena after the event.
Hat tip to Fight Opinion for that one.
- Sam Caplan of Five Ounces of Pain is reporting via Tagg Radio that Gilbert Melendez will be taking on Shooto’s Tetsuji Kato at Strikeforce’s Playboy Mansion event on September 29th.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission has released their official list of medical suspensions from UFC 66: Liddell vs. Ortiz II.
- Chuck Liddell is suspended until June 30th (or until receiving doctor’s approval) due to a knee and hand injury.
- Tito Ortiz is suspended until March 2nd.
- Forrest Griffin is suspended until January 31st.
- Marcio Cruz is suspended until January 31st.
- Eric Schafer is suspended until March 2nd due to a lip laceration.
- Tony De Souza is suspended until March 2nd.
- Rory Singer is suspended until June 30th (or until receiving doctor’s approval) due to a right elbow injury.
- Christian Wellisch is suspended until January 31st.
- Anthony Perosh is suspended until March 2nd.
Here are the weigh-in results for UFC 66: Liddell vs. Ortiz II.
Chuck Liddell (205) vs. Tito Ortiz (205)
Forrest Griffin (205) vs. Keith Jardine (205)
Chris Leben (186) vs. Jason MacDonald (184)
Andrei Arlovski (236) vs. Marcio Cruz (236)
Michael Bisping (205) vs. Eric Schafer (205)
Thiago Alves (170) vs. Tony DeSouza (171)
Gabriel Gonzaga (244) vs. Carmelo Marrero (220)
Rory Singer (185) vs. Yushin Okami (284)
Anthony Perosh (236) vs. Christian Wellisch (235)
Here’s a few links to fill you in on what sports writers around the country are saying about UFC 66: Liddell vs. Ortiz II…
LA Daily Times: UFC finds ultimate success
St.Petersburg Times: It’s not all fun and games
UFC: Chuck Liddell: the Last of the Mohicans
Globe and Mail: Liddell, Ortiz meet the media
UFC: Liddell lingers as the Last Piece in the Ortiz Puzzle
OC Register: UFC 66: Liddell vs. Ortiz preview
LA Times: Liddell confident he’ll beat Ortiz
LV Review Journal: Trainer on top with Liddell
UFC: Jardine Ready for A Blue Collar Battle on Saturday
ESPN: UFC 66 Makes ESPN’s Top 100 Sports Events for 2006
UFC: The MMA Resurrection of Jason MacDonald
UFC: Chris Leben – Revenge Now, Redemption Later
FOX: Does Ortiz Believe He Will Win?
Keith Jardine and Forrest Griffin
Carmelo Marrero and Gabriel Gonzaga
Jason MacDonald and Chris Leben
Thiago Alves and Tony DeSouza
Christian Wellisch and Anthony Perosh
Marcio Cruz and Andrei Arlovski
Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell
Eric Schafer and Michael Bisping
UFC 66 Press Conference - Ortiz and Liddell
UFC 66 Press Conference - Jardine, Griffin, Schafer, Bisping
Liddell vs. Ortiz II Predictions