K-1 parent company FEG held a press conference earlier this week to officially announce that Kazushi Sakuraba and Masakatsu Funaki will meet for the first time in their careers on New Year’s Eve at K-1 Premium 2007 Dynamite!! at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka, Japan.
Rickson Gracie was originally rumored to be on the card but will now most likely fight early next year according to FEG officials, against the winner of Sakuraba-Funaki:
“I want to have Rickson fight as soon as possible next year,” said FEG President Sadaharu Tanigawa. “Even if it is not in our ring, even in another organization, I would send these champions to fight.”
Gracie was originally set to take on Funaki for the second time in his career at the event but it was Funaki who decided that he would rather face a different opponent:
“I’ve already lost once to Rickson, so Sakuraba is the better choice,” Funaki said.
Other fighters Tanigawa mentioned as possibilities to fight on the card include Hidehiko Yoshida, Kid Yamamoto, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Ikuhisa Minowa, Katsuyori Shibata, and Masato Kobayashi.
News and Notes
- Be sure to check back later tonight when we go live at 8 PM EST with our live blog for UFC 77: Hostile Territory.
- If you haven’t already, make sure you cast your vote on our latest Rock the Vote: Sylvia or Vera?
- MMA Weekly has former UFC Welterweight Champion Carlos Newton facing Dong Sik Yoon at K-1 Hero’s 11 on October 28th while my notes have him taking on Shungo Oyama. I’ll try and figure that one out.
- Marco Antico of MMA Weekly is also reporting the following matchups for TKO 31 in December:
Jesse Bongfeldt vs T.J. Grant for the TKO Welterweight Title
Chris Clements vs Stephane Dube
Mark Hominick is currently in talks to face Justin Tavernini
Steve Bosse is set to headline the card in the main event
- Ken Shamrock is holding open tryouts for anyone interested in being a member of the IFL’s Nevada Lions or joining his Lion’s Den gym. Tryouts will be held at The Stadium Sport and Fitness Club in Reno, Nevada. They will consist of several drills and sparring in the various MMA disciplines. For further information, contact Lance Foreman at 530-252-8071 or email at email@example.com.
- Pancrase has announced that it will adjust it’s weight divisions to fall in line with those currently designated by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
- FEG apparently does not see World Victory Road, Japan’s newest MMA organization, as a potential enemy:
“As for the Japanese MMA market, fans have been dwindling since the loss of PRIDE. No part of me sees this new organization as an enemy, and I would like to find places in which we can cooperate,” said FEG Representative Director Sadaharu Tanigawa.
- Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz has been cast in the new celebrity version of “The Apprentice” on NBC. Ortiz’s fellow cast mates potentially include Omarosa, John Cena, Lennox Lewis, Stephen Baldwin, Gene Simmons, Carol Alt, Vinny Pastore, and Marilu Henner according to TMZ.
- The Fight Network is reporting that representatives from HDNet Fights have confirmed that the promotion is planning to hold it’s second event on December 15th at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
Mixed martial arts powerhouse Bodog Fight is teaming up with an organization founded by two of the biggest names in the sport.
Bodog Fight will sponsor the next event by Oregon-based SportFight, an up-and-coming MMA promotion founded by Team Quest marvels Randy “The Natural” Couture and Matt “The Law” Lindland.
Bodog Fight Presents: SportFight 20, The Homecoming will take place October 27 at the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. The co-main events will feature Bodog Fight’s Chael Sonnen (20-8-1) and Kyacey “Ice Cold” Uscola (13-9) in a middleweight bout, and a welterweight battle between Chris “The Professor” Wilson (13-3) and Derrick Noble (22-9-1).
“We are delighted to be working with SportFight,” said Bodog Fight’s billionaire creator Calvin Ayre. “Joining forces will allow us to bring some of the world’s best mixed martial arts fighters to fans in the Portland area.”
Mark “The Machine” Hominick is a Muay Thai and submission specialist who sports a mixed martial arts record of 14-7-0. Training with Team Tompkins in London, Ontario, Hominick is a 9 time TKO featherweight champion and a UFC veteran. Hominick holds victories over the likes of Yves Edwards, Jorge Gurgel, Ben Greer, and Stephane Vigneault.
Yesterday, Hominick fought and defeated Ben Greer at TKO 30: Apocalypse throwing himself back into contention for the TKO featherweight title which is currently held by Shooto veteran Hatsu Hioki.
Ilya Woronowski def. Sean Thompson - Submission (Rear-Naked Choke)
Adrian Wooley def. Adam Kastner - TKO (Strikes)
Bob Landry def. Ray Noel De Tilly - TKO (Strikes)
Samuel Guillet def. Yves Lemelin - Submission (Armbar)
Dan Chambers def. Marcus Celestin - TKO (Strikes)
Justin Tavernini def. Syd Barnier - Techincal Submission (Armbar)
Mark Hominick def. Ben Greer - TKO (Strikes)
TJ Grant def. Stephane Dube - Submission (Ankle Lock)
Jesse Bongfeldt def. Chris Clements - Submission (Rear-Naked Choke)
Steve Bosse def. Jody Burke - TKO (Strikes)
Sam Stout def. Martin Grandmont - TKO (Strikes)
MMA on Tap has learned that Syd Barnier (1-0) will face Mitchell Kay (0-1) at TKO 30: Apocalypse.
Syd Barnier is a tough Muay Thai fighter who possesses excellent hand speed and vicious knockout power. Barnier made his TKO debut in June at TKO 29: Repercussion defeating Eric Leclerc by TKO early in the second round.
Mitchell Kay made his professional debut in June losing to Ryan Brigham by armbar at UCW 8: Natural Invasion.
Showtime hosted a conference call earlier this afternoon in preparation for the upcoming EliteXC: Uprising event scheduled to take place on September 15th in Honolulu, Hawaii. The fighters featured on the call were ICON Middleweight Champion Robbie Lawler, EliteXC Middleweight Champion Murlio Rua through the use of an interpreter, Jake Shields, and Gina Carano. Other officials participating in the call were EliteXC President Gary Shaw and ICON Sport President T. Jay Thompson.
The WEC has announced through the notification of a new contract extension with Versus that WEC Featherweight Champion Urijah Faber will defend his belt against Jeff Curran on December 12:
The next live fight will air December 12 and will feature featherweight champion Urijah Faber (19-1-0) as he defends his title against Jeff Curran (16-6-1). Additional fights on the card will be announced as information becomes available.
Faber (19-1) originally won the title from former WEC Featherweight Champion Cole Escovedo at WEC 19. Since then he has defended the title three times, defeating Joe Pearson, Dominic Cruz, and Chance Farrar respectively.
Curran is a UFC and WEC veteran who sports a professional MMA record of 28-8-1. Curran made his WEC debut at WEC 29 where he won an unanimous decision over Stephen Ledbetter.
Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto is slated to return to the K-1 Hero’s ring at the promotion’s September 17th event against newly signed featherweight Bibiano Fernandes according to Sherdog.
Fernandes stated that he and his camp had been in contract talks with K-1 for almost a year and that he is now ready for the challenge that Yamamoto will bring:
“I am focused,” he said. “Already I have trained sufficiently for a long time and I will be ready to face anyone. Yamamoto is a great fighter, but I’m going there to make a great presentation and be successful.”
K-1 is expected to formally announce the bout to the public at some point next week.
While Zuffa has signed a wealth of talent over the past few months, they haven’t locked up every top fighter just yet, including the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter. Here’s your guide to the top ten fighters that currently aren’t under contract with Zuffa (UFC/WEC) courtesy of Scott and myself…
1. Fedor Emelianenko (26-1-0-1) – The best fighter in the world, period. He has beaten a who’s who of heavyweights from around the world and is looking pretty much unstoppable at this point. The only thing we have against him is that he doesn’t fight often enough but it’s technically not his fault anyway. Both K-1 and the UFC are vigorously attempting to sign the hottest free agent on the market right now. Old rumors had him going to the UFC while the latest set has him staying in Japan. Only time will tell where Fedor is going to end up.
2. Josh Barnett (20-5) – Probably the second biggest FA on the market, Barnett hasn’t ruled out signing with any organization. He’s an extremely talented heavyweight and a former UFC Heavyweight Champion at that. Has split a pair of fights with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. His ‘Achilles’ heel’ seems to be Mirko Cro Cop - Barnett has lost to him in three straight tries. Has the skill set to beat anyone in the world. Has said that he would love to return to the US but the guy is a legend in Japan.
3. Matt Lindland (20-5) – The one fighter that the UFC should have never let go. Lindland was set to challenge Rich Franklin for the UFC Middleweight Title until the UFC terminated his contract because of an unapproved sponsor being on his shorts. Lindland has won 5 out of 7 fights since then - his only losses have been against Quinton Jackson and Fedor who both compete in higher weight classes than “The Law”. Has said that he currently does not want to be locked up by a single organization.
4. Takanori Gomi (27-3-0-1) – Gomi was the top ranked lightweight in the world for what seemed like forever until he was submitted by both Marcus Aurelio and Nick Diaz in less than a year. His losses have come against the cream of the crop and he’s beaten just about everyone else out there. Gomi is the current PRIDE Lightweight Champion as well the winner of the PRIDE Lightweight Grand Prix in 2005. He has stated that he has no interest in leaving Japan to compete at this time and has publicly said he is interested in signing with K-1.
5. Denis Kang (27-8-1-1) – Reports have Kang signing with K-1 any day now. If he does indeed ink a deal with K-1, he is expected to take on Kazushi Sakuraba in September in what could possibly be Saku’s final fight. Kang put himself on the map by fighting his way to the finals of the PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix, defeating Akihiro Gono, Murilo Rua, and Amar Suloev before ultimately losing a split decision to Kazuo Misaki. He is widely considered one of the most well-rounded middleweights in the world today.