Frank Shamrock interviews Cung Le after his win over Sam Morgan at Strikeforce: Four Men Enter, One Man Survives. Photo by Jon Swenson.
Assuming that the reports are true and the potential fight between Frank Shamrock and Cung Le actually goes down, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Shamrock will be facing his toughest test yet since returning to active competition a little less than two years ago.
In his three bouts since March 2006, Shamrock has faced Cesar Gracie, Renzo Gracie, and Phil Baroni in consecutive fights.
Well I think we can write off Cesar Gracie from the start. His fight against Shamrock was his first professional fight in mixed martial arts and it was clear that was the case when Shamrock knocked him out only seconds into the fight.
Renzo Gracie has the credentials without a doubt. He’s one of the most talented ground specialists in history and has fought many a tough opponent. However this isn’t the Renzo Gracie of the 1990’s that was submitting his opponents left and right. While he’s still capable of holding his own against anyone, he’s not the fighter he used to be. He was doing well against Shamrock but most likely would have lost a unanimous decision had Shamrock not been disqualified.
That brings us to Phil Baroni. While Baroni is as heavy-handed as any striker in the game, he’s a one-dimensional fighter and his ground game is relatively non-existent. Even worse, Shamrock beat him at his own game in the fight, even going as far to tell Baroni that he was going to put him to sleep before he knocked him down with a combination.
So why is Cung Le, a guy with only five professional fights to his credit and whose toughest test came against an aging Tony Fryklund, Shamrock’s biggest test this time around?
Dave Meltzer of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that Frank Shamrock and Cung Le will meet in a middleweight bout on March 29th at the second co-promoted show between Strikeforce and Elite XC, which will take place at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.
Since returning to active competition, Shamrock has submitted Phil Baroni and knocked out Cesar Gracie. His lone loss since that time came last February when he was disqualified for illegally kneeing Renzo Gracie while he was on the ground in their bout. Le, a San-Shou expert and former K-1 kickboxer, is undefeated thus far in his mixed martial arts career. His last fight was a win over former UFC middleweight Sam Morgan in November.
Gilbert Melendez and Jake Shields are also expected to compete on the card according to Meltzer.
Photo by Jon Swenson, Sharkspage
Jorge Santiago needed less than three minutes in order to capture the state of California and Strikeforce’s first-ever four-man mixed martial arts tournament last night.
Santiago scored victories over Sean Salmon and Trevor Prangley in front of 8,233 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA.
Both Santiago and Prangley headed into the tournament in relatively good shape considering they had each fought earlier in the evening. They decided to keep the bout on the feet during the opening moments of their fight. Santiago battered Prangley with a flurry of leg kicks early on, connecting with one that knocked Prangley to the ground.
Santiago continued to stalk Prangley connecting with a number of unanswered punches and kicks. Santiago connected with a knee to the body and followed it up with a right hand that sent Prangley to the canvas. Santiago pounced on him and following up with another right hand but referee Jon Schorle decided that Prangley had enough and stopped the fight.
After the fight, Santiago admitted that sticking to his game plan ultimately won him the fight:
“I’ve been studying his game for a long time and I knew that he was a tough guy,” said Santiago. “I knew that he was probably going to try and take me down and drop some bombs. I just stuck to my game. I saw the best time to go and I took over.”
Strikeforce has announced that they will be streaming their upcoming show, Strikeforce: Tournament Series, live on Yahoo! Sports Friday, November 16 beginning at 11 PM EST.
Available to all internet users located beyond a 150 mile radius of San Jose, the live stream, free of charge to viewers, will begin at 8 PM PST (11 PM EST) and include the entire Strikeforce four-man, single-elimination tournament, featuring middleweight (185 lb. limit) stars Trevor Prangley (16-4), Falaniko Vitale (24-7), Yuki Sasaki (21-13-1), and Jorge Santiago (14-7). Each tournament bout will consist of two, five-minute rounds.
Also included in the stream will be the Strikeforce heavyweight title fight between Paul “The Headhunter” Buentello and Alistair Overeem, Cung Lee vs. Sam Morgan, Bobby Southworth vs. Anthony Ruiz and Brian “The Mad Stork” Schwartz vs. Lemont Davis.
A lottery ball drawing, which will take place immediately following the fighter weigh-ins at the HP Pavilion’s The Grill restaurant on Thursday, the eve of Strikeforce’s mixed martial arts mega-card, will determine the tournament brackets for Friday’s historic, four-man middleweight (185 lb. limit) tournament.
Tournament competitors Trevor Prangley (16-4), Falaniko “Niko” Vitale (24-7), Yuki Sasaki (21-13-1), and Jorge Santiago (14-7) will each draw one of four balls, numbered “1” through “4,” and, then, one by one, choose which location in the single-elimination tournament draw they wish to occupy. The first choice will be given to the fighter who draws the ball numbered 1, the second choice to the fighter who draws ball number 2, and so forth.
Each tournament bout will consist of two, five-minute rounds. The victor of the first-ever sanctioned mixed martial arts tournament in the state of California will potentially be awarded the opportunity to challenge Strikeforce World Middleweight Champion, Frank Shamrock.
MMA Junkie has learned of two more fights that will take place at Strikeforce: Four Men Enter, One Man Survives on November 16th at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA.
UFC veterans Dennis Hallman and Sean Salmon will meet for the first time in an alternate bout for Strikeforce’s middleweight tournament that night.
Hallman has not yet fought in 2007. He was originally slated to take on Ricardo Almeida at CFFC 6 but the event was abruptly cancelled last month. Hallman’s last fight was a victory over Jeff Quinlan at IFL: Gracie vs Miletich in September of last year.
Salmon has been a busy man thus far in ‘07, racking up a record of 5-3. Salmon is currently on a hiatus from the UFC, who has allowed him to fight in smaller shows in order to improve his skills before returning. He is also scheduled to fight Jason “Mayhem” Miller at HDNet Fights II in December.
The card will also feature Cung Le trying to keep his perfect record intact against TUF alumnus Sam Morgan.
Le has been perfect so far in his MMA career, sporting a record of 4-0. All of Le’s fights have taken place under the Strikeforce banner. His last fight was a stoppage win over Tony Fryklund at the Strikeforce/Elite XC co-promoted Shamrock vs Baroni event in June.
This will be Morgan’s first fight of the year. Morgan last dropped an unanimous decision to Forrest Petz at UFC Fight Night 6 in August 2006.
News and Notes
- ProElite.com will be streaming Randy Couture’s press conference live at 4:30 PM EST.
- A roundup of coverage of last night’s TUF episode:
UFC: The Ultimate Fighter Serra vs Hughes - Episode Six Recap; Matt Hughes’ Blog - Week Six
Sherdog: Sherdog.com’s Guide to TUF 6
The Fight Network: Controversy Strikes TUF 6
Inside Fighting: Paul Georgieff; Tommy Speer
Chicago Sun-Times: John Kolosci’s TUF diary, Episode 6
OC Register: Mac Danzig’s Ultimate Fighter Blog (Episode 6)
MMA Junkie: “The Ultimate Fighter: Team Hughes vs. Team Serra” — Episode No. 6 Recap
UFC Mania: Ultimate Fighter 6: Episode 6 recap and discussion
UFC Daily: The Ultimate Fighter Season 6: Episode 6 Recap
Five Ounces of Pain: TUF 6: Episode 6 Thoughts/Recap
- Strikeforce originally stated that two-minute rounds would be used during their inaugural middleweight tournament next month but the California State Athletic Commission has stepped in and changed the bout duration to five full minutes.
- Some other numbers from UFC 79…
Official attendance - 16,054
Total live gate - $2,519,850
- Sean Salmon has revealed through MMA Junkie that he will be fighting at Strikeforce next month against an opponent yet to be determined and at the next HDNet Fights event on December 15th against Jason “Mayhem” Miller:
Now, onto upcoming fights (or what I am permitted to say, anyway): I am “for sure” fighting on the Strikeforce card on Nov. 16. However, Eugene Jackson (my original opponent) is injured and can’t fight. I know Cung Le’s opponent has fallen through, and I would like nothing more than to fight him. Here we go again:
Either way, I have been assured that I am on this card, but I’m most likely an “alternate bout” to the tournament. I can’t complain about that, as I would be honored to fight anyone in that four-man field.
Next up, I have been given permission to announce that I will be fighting Jason “Mayhem” Miller on the Dec. 15 HDNet Fights card.
- Last night Brian Knapp of The Fight Network announced that James Thompson and Jon Murphy were set to clash at EliteXC: Renegade on November 10th. However Sam Caplan and Five Ounces of Pain are reporting that the fight is not signed and Murphy was never even approached about a potential fight against Thompson:
When contacted by Five Ounces of Pain, Murphy indicated that no one with EliteXC has contacted him about the possibility of fighting Thompson. He went on to add that he’s currently suffering from a serious shoulder injury and does not believe he’d be able to take the match even if it is offered.
Murphy went on to indicate that a match with Thompson is one he’d welcome in the future and that he hopes it’s a bout available to him once he’s healthy again.
- Herb Dean recently sat down for an interview with The Winnipeg Sun and discussed his controversial decision to stop the Frank Mir-Tim Sylvia heavyweight title bout at UFC 48 after Sylvia suffered a broken arm:
That experience was never more evident back in 2004, when Dean was the referee in UFC 48. In the heavyweight championship fight between Tim Sylvia and Frank Mir, Sylvia broke his arm in the first round. Dean, understanding the headstrong mentality of some of the fighters, saw this and jumped in right away, stopping the fight. He knew if he didn’t, Sylvia would have kept going and possibly suffered more damage.
“He was upset, the crowd was upset,” Dean remembers, “but it turns out they caught in on video, they had a good angle of it, so I was vindicated. For a minute I was wondering where I was going to hide. I was looking for a good hiding spot or a large police officer.
“It’s happened more than once, but that was my defining match as a referee.”
I give this guy an A for effort. Hopefully the UFC considers him at least.
News and Notes
Everyone is excited about the return of Gilbert Melendez…
Sherdog: Melendez Makes 2007 Debut in Strikeforce
MMA Weekly: Melendez Returns More Determined Than Ever
Yahoo! Sports: Melendez the best fighter you might not know
Bloody Elbow: The World’s #1 Lightweight Fights Saturday at the Playboy Mansion
CBS Sports: Q&A with Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez
- Jordan Breen says that the UFC is trying to secure another TV deal in Japan with WOWOW:
In the most recent issue of the Japanese combat sports periodical Gonkaku, Zuffa co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta said he hoped to ink a new deal with Japanese satellite channel WOWOW next year. He added that an agreement could be accomplished sooner rather than later.
While a deal is far from complete, this is good news for Japanese MMA fans. As of March 2007, WOWOW has just over 2.43 million subscriptions in Japan. After the channel’s UFC 70 telecast in April, network executives had officially announced that they could not reach a contractual agreement with Zuffa to continue broadcasting UFC events.
- Din Thomas will most likely be out for at least four months according to MMA Weekly.
You may remember that Thomas injured his knee while attempting to take Kenny Florian down in their fight at UFC Fight Night 11. It turns out that Thomas suffered a torn meniscus, stretched anterior cruciate ligament, bruised femur, and a damaged tibia and will be required to undergo arthroscopic surgery within the next two weeks.
- Falaniko Vitale has been added to the Strikeforce card for this Saturday and will make his Strikeforce debut against Ron Fields.
- 411 Mania has confirmed with B.J. Penn’s camp that he is booked for UFC 79 in December.
- Tonight’s episode of Human Weapon on The History Channel will feature Strikeforce welterweight Cung Le.
- The second installment of Inside MMA will be broadcasted tonight at 9:30 PM EST on HDNet. Tonight’s episode will feature a segment on Shane Carwin, a visit to Duke Roufus’ MMA school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, highlights, and rankings. Hosts Kenny Rice and Bas Rutten will be joined by guests UFC referee “Big” John McCarthy, Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson, and Chris Bruno.
- Still looking for something else to watch? Spike TV will be airing a replay of UFC Fight Night 11 tonight starting at 9 PM EST.
- Zach Arnold is reporting that Kazuhiro Nakamura and his management team, J-Rock, plan to file an appeal with the CSAC:
J-ROCK, the management team of Kazuhiro Nakamura, fired back at the California State Athletic Commission in the Japanese press on Thursday. The company released a statement on behalf of Nakamura, denying that he was guilty of using marijuana and that they are appealing the ruling. They want a drug test re-examination and are considering the current ruling a mistake. (In the statement, J-ROCK claims that they talked to Nakamura after the news of the failed drug test came out. Nakamura stated that he had no motive whatsoever for using marijuana and has not used marijuana.)
- Sam Caplan has an excellent interview with UFC light heavyweight contender Houston Alexander at Five Ounces of Pain. A single father taking care of six kids while fighting in the UFC, hosting his own radio show, and traveling the country to lecture on the culture of hip hop. Holy shit.
NEW YORK - After months of deliberations, one of the most anticipated showdowns in mixed martial arts history will finally come to fruition when former UFC middleweight champion, Frank Shamrock, battles fellow knockout artist and consummate showman, “The New York Badass” Phil Baroni, for the vacant Strikeforce world middleweight (185 lb. limit) championship during the main event of “Judgment Day,” a live, Pay Per View televised Strikeforce-EliteXC cage fight card that will take place at San Jose, California’s HP Pavilion on Friday, June 22nd.
Also returning to action during “Judgment Day,” undefeated world San Shou kickboxing champion and middleweight mixed martial arts contender, Cung Le, will battle UFC veteran, Tony “The Freak” Fryklund. Strikeforce’s latest recruit, 2003 K-1 North America tournament champion, Carter Williams, will face the hard-hitting Paul Buentello in a heavyweight matchup. Off the heels of his stunning knockout victory over KJ Noons, Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett, will take on Victor “Joe Boxer” Valenzuela.
Joey Villasenor and former Pride star, Murilo “Ninja” Rua, will lock horns with the vacant EliteXC middleweight title at stake. On February 10th, Villasenor pulled off a stunning upset by outmaneuvering and, eventually earning a unanimous judges’ decision over David “The Crow” Loiseau. Villasenor’s career is highlighted by a 15 fight winning streak that he put together between December 2002 and April 2006. A member of the famed Chute Boxe fight squad in Brazil, Rua was last seen in action on September 30th when he submitted British kickboxer, Mark Weir, with an arm triangle choke in the second round of their meeting.
Strikeforce Fighting Championship has announced that undefeated world San Shou kickboxing champion, Cung Le will face off against UFC veteran Jason “Livewire” Von Flue on the upcoming Strikeforce: Triple Threat card.
Cung Le currently sports a mixed martial arts record of 2-0 with both of his victories coming by TKO/KO in Strikeforce.
Jason Von Flue is coming off of a win over Eric Wray at the lastest Strikeforce show. He is currently 12-6-1 with the majority of his victories coming by submission.