According to Jarry Park’s recent interview with former UFC ring girl Ali Sonoma, her and Diego Sanchez have ended their relationship:
AH: Are you and Diego still together?
AS: No, we decided to call it quits based on our careers. I will be away for months…we are still best friends, though. We talk everyday. I do and always will love him. He is on a different level of any guy I have ever met.
Yeah, he’s on a different level than everyone else alright…
It’s interesting to note that according to Ali, she was never under contract with the UFC, she was just working on an independent basis. Rumor has it that she’s turned her career to acting these days.
This thing is a mess…
Well as I’m sure everyone already knows, UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Serra has been forced to pull out of his scheduled title defense against Matt Hughes at UFC 79 next month after suffering a pair of herniated discs in his lower back.
So what happens now?
Well one thing we know for certain - Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva are going to headline UFC 79.
Dave Meltzer of Yahoo! Sports leaked some information about what UFC officials are considering in terms of possibly finding Hughes another opponent:
According to a UFC official, if Serra is out for a long period of time and Hughes agrees to fight on Dec. 29, the two most likely candidates for an opponent would be Jon Fitch or Thiago Alves.
Fitch I can agree with, Alves I can not. In fact I think that Hughes and Fitch would be a great matchup. However we can throw it out the window according to MMA Mania because not only can Fitch not make it to the event, he won’t even be in his country:
MMA Mania can confirm that Fitch is not available to fight that weekend. In fact, he told us today, “I’m not even going to be in the country. I’ll be in Vietnam tending to some personal matters.”
Hughes will most likely only be fighting next month if Serra is going to be out of action for a long period of time. So if Serra is going to miss more than a couple months, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the UFC bust out the infamous interim title. But if Serra is only going to be out until February or March, Hughes would be wasting his time in taking a fight next month.
Alves should not be getting a shot at any kind of title in my opinion, not yet. He’s lost to Fitch and Spencer Fisher and needs to at least defeat a top 5-6 welterweight in the UFC before he gets a chance at the big dogs. The same goes for Marcus Davis in my opinion.
Josh Koscheck is coming off of a loss so that’s not going to happen. Diego Sanchez is coming off of two losses and probably won’t be fighting at 170 lbs for much longer. Karo Parisyan may have missed yet another title opportunity due to injury once again after revealing that he fought Ryo Chonan with a broken left hand last weekend.
So who does that leave? How about Georges St. Pierre?
If St. Pierre isn’t being considered to replace Serra, he’s going to be waiting a hell of a long time for a title shot, quite possibly almost an entire year. I think the idea of an interim title would be enough to get St. Pierre to agree to the fight on short notice. That and if he’s been active in the gym and not just sitting around waiting until a couple months before his next fight to get back into shape.
On top of that, it would finally settle the series between Hughes and St. Pierre. It would also make the welterweight title picture a lot more clearer. The winner of Hughes-St. Pierre would fight Serra in the spring if he is able to come back. If Parisyan and Fitch are matched up in March as rumored, that creates yet another number one contender.
The UFC will probably have a better idea on what have to decide after Serra meets with doctors this weekend. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens.
Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports picked up a Diego Sanchez quote that discussed a possible move to the lightweight division for the former TUF winner:
“I’m contemplating in my mind if I’m going to drop to 155 or not, because I’m a smaller welterweight. I could do more powerlifting and put some more weight on or I could lose some weight.”
It looks like Sanchez could make the weight so that wouldn’t be a problem. But is a move to lightweight a better move for Diego? Despite losses to Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch, Sanchez could certainly develop a strategy to beat both fighters. He hasn’t been tested by the likes of Matt Hughes or Georges St. Pierre but he owns wins over Karo Parisyan and Nick Diaz, that’s not exactly an easy task.
Sean Sherk, Clay Guida, Tyson Griffin, B.J. Penn, and Joe Stevenson could all give Diego a run for his money. Lightweight prospects Thiago Tavares, Roger Huerta as well as veterans Marcus Aurelio and Jason Black all could have a shot at handing Sanchez yet another loss on his record.
The point is that although Sanchez may have a slight size advantage at a lower weight class, a move from the welterweight division may not be the best thing for him.
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.”
Damon Martin of MMA Weekly made an interesting statement earlier today in his “Top Five Topics” column. He states that Karo Parisyan will most likely be part of the card for UFC 78 in November and that PRIDE veteran Hayato Sakurai has been mentioned as one of Parisyan’s possible opponents:
UFC welterweight contender Karo Parisyan has been quiet since his win in May over Josh Burkman, but he will most likely fight on the upcoming UFC taking place in New Jersey on November 17th.
One name that has been mentioned amongst possible opponents is Hayato “Mach” Sakurai, who would be making his return to the UFC at 170lbs. A few other names have been mentioned including Hector Lombard.
There has never been an official announcement concerning Sakurai signing a deal with the UFC. The promotion did however show him sitting in the stands at UFC 73 and his on-screen description read “UFC Welterweight”. Sakurai was heavily rumored to have been signed to fight Diego Sanchez at this weekend’s UFC 74 but that rumor was shot down by Frank Trigg in June.
Three big future UFC matchups are being reported by three different sites…
UFC Mania is reporting that Chris Leben may take on Mike Swick in a rematch of their January 2004 bout at WEC 9. Leben won that bout by knockout in the second round and it was the focal point of a good amount of discussion between Leben and Swick during the first season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Yesterday UFC President Dana White also mentioned the possibility of the bout during a Q&A session with UFC Fight Club members after the UFC 73 weigh-ins. The bout is expected to take place at either UFC 76 or UFC Fight Night 11. No word on whether the fight would take place at welterweight or middleweight.
UFC Junkie is stating that Diego Sanchez and Jon Fitch are expected to meet at UFC 76:
Rising welterweight contender Jon Fitch could put his spotless UFC record on the line with a fight against Diego Sanchez at UFC 76.
Early this morning, a reliable source close to one of the fighters told UFC Junkie that the fight is in the works and expected to take place at UFC 76 on Sept. 22. The bout would be on the main card, and according to our source, may even be billed as a co-main event.
Sherdog got into the announcing of future bouts this morning when they revealed that Marcus Aurelio will make his UFC debut at UFC 74 against Clay Guida. Aurelio signed a four-fight deal with the UFC last month and is widely known for his win over Takanori Gomi at PRIDE Bushido 10. Guida is coming off a pair of close decision losses to Tyson Griffin and Din Thomas respectively.
Sherdog is reporting that B.J. Penn and Diego Sanchez have agreed to fight at UFC 74: Respect which is currently headlined by a heavyweight title fight between Randy Couture and Gabriel Gonzaga.
B.J. Penn and Diego Sanchez have agreed to fight on the undercard of the heavyweight title fight between UFC champion Randy Couture and challenger Gabriel Gonzaga, Aug. 25 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, a source speaking on the condition of anonymity told Sherdog.com.
Penn’s most recent victory came on the finale at TUF 5 when he submitted his rival Jens Pulver partway through the second round. Diego Sanchez is coming off of a decision loss to Josh Koscheck at UFC 69: Shootout.
Update: 7:30 PM: Sherdog is now reporting that B.J. Penn’s camp has denied the report of an August fight.
Penn’s camp said the fight with Sanchez had not been offered by the UFC for August, and indicated many options are being discussed as far the fighter’s future inside the octagon, which includes the possibility of him remaining at lightweight.
News and Notes
- Nate Diaz and Manny Gambaryan were victorious on last night’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter 5. Diaz submitted Corey Hill with a triangle choke three minutes into the first round and Gambaryan pulled off a hard fought unanimous decision win over Matt Wiman. Diaz and Gambaryan now join Joe Lauzon and Gray Maynard in the semifinals.
- Josh Koscheck discussed his hacked MySpace account and the series of phone calls he had with Dana White with UFC Junkie after a bulletin posted by Koscheck’s account ranted on about UFC fighters not getting paid enough and made suggestions of forming a union between fighters.
- A New Mexico TV station is reporting that Diego Sanchez’s next fight will take place at UFC 74, possibly against top ranked lightweight Hayato Sakurai.
- Former boxing heavyweight champion Tommy Morrison makes his MMA debut this Saturday night at WFC: Rumble in the Red Rocks against John Stover…
- Just a quick reminder to check out the items that are currently up for auction by the Ryan Bennett Memorial Fund. The items currently available include autographed shirts by Chris Leben and Houston Alexander, an original UFC 7 poster with Ken Shamrock and Oleg Taktarov, Din Thomas’ autographed and UFC 71 worn gloves, a Poison tour used CC Deville autographed guitar, and Cole Escovedo’s WEC Featherweight Title belt autographed by the champ himself.
Video of the Day
EFC 18: Bike Week Beatdown
Total Combat 21
Combat in the Cage: Conquest
WFC: Rumble In The Red Rocks
NAAFS: Fight Night in the Flats III
Live Shows -
Earlier today UFC President Dana White held a conference call with various members of the media in order to discuss this weekend’s UFC 71 event. Many other topics were touched upon and just like our recap of the UFC 70 conference call, we’ve got everything covered…
White’s Thoughts on UFC 71’s main event: Chuck Liddell vs Quinton Jackson:
White came right out and said that he was very excited for the fight as is everyone. He said that the mentality of both fighters are going to make it an exciting fight. He said that Chuck’s striking is obviously going to give Jackson trouble but so will Jackson’s athletic ability for Liddell. White stated that style-wise, it’s a bad matchup for Liddell and that we were able to see that in the first fight between the two.
White pressed on the fact that Liddell has the opportunity in front of him to finally avenge every loss that he’s ever suffered. One of the most interesting things that White said was that Jackson usually “fights to the level of his competition”. He noted that Jackson beat Marvin Eastman but he did it in a fashion that nobody was really impressed by. White said that because Liddell is such a high-caliber fighter, Jackson’s game will be on that same level and he will look much better in this fight then when he fought Eastman at UFC 67.
White briefly touched on Liddell’s controversial segment on Good Morning Dallas a few months back where he appeared to be under the influence of something. White attributed Liddell’s state to the lifestyle that he lives due to being famous. White said that he and other UFC officials promptly took care of the matter when it arose and that everything is fine now concerning that situtation.
White Discusses Potential Signing of Mauricio Rua; Possible Addition of Wanderlei Silva:
It’s been rumored for about a week now that the UFC has signed Mauricio Rua. Well White went ahead and all but confirmed that Rua will be part of the UFC when he said that the winner of Saturday night’s Liddell-Jackson bout will then have to face a challenger that the UFC is bringing in. White also said that the challenger will be revealed during the UFC 71 broadcast.
When asked who that challenger could be, White said that it could be one of two people - Mauricio Rua and Wanderlei Silva. However White then talked into detail about Rua and how he will most likely be fighting Liddell within the next year, all but confirming that the UFC has come to terms with him. White also made the surprising announcement that the UFC “has to bring in Wanderlei Silva”. White said that the winner of Saturday’s fight could also possibly be facing Silva in their next fight as well.
White Gives an Update on PRIDE Sale:
The whole PRIDE ordeal was definitely the most asked question during the conference call but it was also the one topic that White couldn’t really give any definitive answers to. White blamed the reason behind his lack of a definite answer on his busy travel schedule - That doesn’t make any sense, I know but he said it. White assured everyone that the fans would still be able to see the marquee matchups between fighters of both organizations at some point this year.
White Talks Huerta Sports Illustrated Cover, Sanchez’s Thoughts on Retirement, Vera’s Status, and St.Pierre-Koscheck at UFC 74:
White praised Roger Huerta for making the cover of Sports Illustrated and went on to talk about how the sport of MMA is finally becoming mainstream and achieving the dream that White and the Fertitta Brothers had for it. He also made a mention of Chuck Liddell’s appearance on the cover of ESPN the Magazine.
The most shocking thing that was discussed during the press conference was White’s confession that Diego Sanchez nearly announced his retirement one day before UFC 69 because doctor’s thought that he had contracted Hepatitis C. Doctors ran multiple tests on Sanchez after that and they kept on coming up negative so they then ruled that he in fact did not have Hepatitis C and the test where he tested positive was faulty. According to White, the doctors still thought that something was wrong with Sanchez, but because they couldn’t figure it out, they let him fight anyway. The next day, Sanchez was diagnosed with a staph infection after an enormous hole developed on his leg.
White assured everyone that Brandon Vera was still with the company and will remain with the company for a long time to come. Vera is currently figuring out personal matters between him and his former manager before he starts actively fighting again. White stated that the winner of the fight between Josh Koscheck and Georges St. Pierre at UFC 74 would get the winner of the Matt Serra-Matt Hughes welterweight title bout at some point in the winter.
White Bashes the NJSAC, K-1, IFL, and Tito Ortiz:
White openly bashed the New Jersey State Athletic Commission for deciding to sanction the upcoming June bout between underground fighting legend Kimbo Slice and former heavyweight champion Ray Mercer. Despite the criticism, White mentioned that the UFC would most likely be returning to the state later this year. K-1 got just as much of White’s wrath for the strong possibility that their Dynamite!! USA show scheduled for June 2nd may be cancelled. White said that the promotion was insane for thinking that could fill up the Los Angeles Coliseum when in fact they have trouble filling up small ballrooms in Las Vegas for their kickboxing tournaments.
White’s bashing of the IFL and Tito Ortiz was pretty much the same as always: The IFL is “retarded” and Ortiz is a baby…
News and Notes
- The rumors section has been updated once again…
- Cage Rage has announced the card for it’s July 14th event, Cage Rage 22: Hard as Hell at the Wembley Arena in London, England:
Eric Esch vs Tengiz Tedoradze
Mario Sperry vs Lee Hasdell
Rob Broughton vs Gary Turner
Herb Dean vs Dave Legeno
Mark Buchanan vs James McSweeney
Paul Cahoon vs Mark Epstein
Ronnie Mann vs Robbie Olivier
Marius Zaromskis vs Ross Mason
Ross Pointon vs Dean Bray
Joe Mac vs Jeremy Bailey
Michael Johnson vs Damien Riccio
- Kazushi Sakuraba landed in Brazil earlier this week to train with the Chute Boxe team in preparation for his pending bout at K-1 and EliteXC’s event on June 2nd. An opponent for Sakuraba has not yet been named but rumors have been floating around for a couple of weeks now that he will be matched up against Royce Gracie for a rematch of their famous 90 min brawl in PRIDE…
- Spencer Fisher will take on Sam Stout at UFC Fight Night 10 on June 9th…
- KOAT, an ABC tlevision affiliate in Albuquerque, New Mexico is reporting that the city will host UFC 74 on August 25th at the University of New Mexico’s basketball arena which seats 18,000. They stated they received the information from Diego Sanchez who also said that he would be fighting on the card…
- The UFC apparently chose not to administer drug tests to the fighters that competed at UFC 69 and UFC 70 according to the Houston Chronicle.