History will be made this weekend. It doesn’t even seem like it right? Where the hell is the hype for UFC 75? I wish I knew…
Anyway, the UFC has been gracious enough to at least promote this event as part of the UFC vs PRIDE battle that we were all promised back in March. UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton Jackson and PRIDE Middleweight Champion Dan Henderson are to fight to unify the titles this Saturday.
Now let’s all be honest here. Even if Henderson wins, which I think he will, the UFC title is still going to remain just that. The PRIDE belt will most likely be absorbed into it unless the UFC has some kind of plan that we don’t know about.
So is UFC 75 the last we are going to see or hear about PRIDE? I’m not so sure. There’s always that remote chance that White and company somehow find a way to salvage the company and strike a TV deal over in Japan. My point is about the three other PRIDE belts that fighters still hold. It seems that PRIDE Lightweight Champion Takanori Gomi is going to stay in Japan and sign with K-1 Hero’s. The UFC could always vacate the title or they could give it to another former PRIDE fighter and then unify it that way.
Henderson still has PRIDE’s Welterweight Title as well. White has already said that he’s not sure if Henderson would get an immediate shot at Anderson Silva or Rich Franklin after the Jackson fight, making it seem like he is going to have to put the welterweight strap on the line too.
Then there’s always Fedor. Has he signed with the UFC or not? You know as much I do right now. I guess we’ll find out Saturday. If so, that’s yet another PRIDE belt that needs to be unified.
My guess is that the PRIDE label isn’t going anywhere, at least for the next few months…
News and Notes
- According to his management team, it seems that Fedor is going to sign with a promotion very soon:
That situation isn’t likely to remain so for much longer though, as speculation has swirled around Fedor’s contract status, or lack thereof, as of late. The hot rumor over the past few days has been that he has inked a deal with the UFC.
Not so says Reed Wallace, President of White Chocolate Management, who represents Fedor Emelianenko in the United States.
“Fedor has not signed anything [as of Tuesday afternoon],” Wallace informed MMAWeekly. “He’s going to do something soon. They can’t negotiate forever.”
So Wallace and company are getting fed up with waiting, just like the rest of the MMA world. It’s nothing surprising, but Apy Echteld sayng that contract talks with the UFC are going well certainly is:
Fedor’s managers, Vadim Finkelstein and Apy Echteld, met with the UFC late last week, but a signed contract has yet to materialize. “UFC discussions went very well according to Apy,” said Wallace in reference to the meeting. Initially it seemed the UFC was unwilling to make any modifications to their contract, but it now appears there has been some movement.
“I can say that they are very close to a deal, but some last minute players have stepped up as well,” he said.
One of those players as we all now know is Mark Cuban. The other is assumed to be K-1 Hero’s.
- Sherdog is reporting that Rumina Sato will take on Hideki Kadowaki at Shooto’s Back to our Roots show on September 22nd:
Shooto charisma Rumina Sato (Pictures) will fight Wajyutsu Keisyukai grappling ace Hideki Kadowaki (Pictures) on the Sept. 22 installment of the “Back to Our Roots” series, a source confirmed to Sherdog.com.
Leading Shooto promoter Sustain is expected to officially announce the Sato-Kadowaki bout later this week. The match-up will be the ninth, and likely final bout added to Sept. 22’s fight card.
- MMA Weekly has released their latest set of rankings...
Sherdog: Dan Henderson Training Pictures
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Bloody Elbow: Lift the Ban Watch
Fight Opinion: Wednesday war room: BMA and Big Brother
Fightlinker: Dana White treats people like shit
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has confirmed that he has signed Guy Mezger to run the day-to-day operations of his MMA project. Mezger will be responsible for things such as managing fight cards and signing fighters.
“We have already started,” Cuban said. “Our first hire was Guy Mezger, who will be responsible for managing fight cards, attracting and signing fighters.”
It looks like Cuban is taking MMA seriously with the hiring of Guy Mezger and his discussions with Reed Wallace in regards to signing PRIDE heavyweight ace Fedor Emelianenko.
“Mr. Cuban has a strong interest in MMA,” White Chocolate president Reed Wallace said in the press release. “He is very serious about Fedor and is entering the MMA business with very serious partners. Mr. Cuban is widely known to treat his athletes with great respect and care, and there were discussions regarding health insurance and many other areas for supporting MMA athletes and their families.”
News and Notes
- Sherdog is reporting that Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and HDNet, is currently in discussions with officials connected to Fedor Emelianenko about signing the heavyweight free agent:
“I am in ongoing discussions with some of his people,” Cuban revealed in an e-mail interview that will be published on Sherdog.com later this week.
Cuban plans on possibly using Fedor in many of the MMA promotions he currently broadcasts events for on HDNet:
“We would work with his promoters to place him in fights from affiliated promoters or in fights we promote ourselves,” said Cuban, who plans on partnering with established MMA organizations to fill the weekly quota of bouts HDNet would need for its successful Friday Fight Night series.
- Sergei Kharitonov’s contract with K-1 states that he will be able to compete in both K-1 kickboxing matches and Hero’s MMA bouts.
- Masakazu Imanari and Zelg Galesic have both been removed from the Cage Rage 23 card set to take place on September 22nd.
Imanari was forced to pull out after suffering a shoulder injury during a recent training session. He will be replaced by Chris Brennan. Galesic pulled out of his bout after signing a new contract with K-1. Matt Ewin will be taking his place against Alex Reid. The bout will still be a title fight while Brennan-Silva will now take place at 155 lbs.
- The scheduled preliminary bout between Nate Quarry and Pete Sell at UFC Fight Night 11 has now been moved to the televised portion of the event after Mike Swick was forced to bow out of the event due to injury. Swick’s scheduled opponent, Jonathan Goulet and his fight against new opponent Dustin Hazelett, has now been changed to a prelim fight.
News and Notes
- Everyone and their mom is reporting that talks between Fedor and the UFC didn’t go so well:
Sherdog: Fedor Reps Say Long Way to Go on Deal with UFC
MMA Weekly: Fedor Still Has Not Signed to Fight
CBS Sportsline: White says Emelianenko meeting ‘didn’t go well’
Five Ounces of Pain: Rumor Killer: Fedor not close to signing with the UFC
Only a couple of links but you get the picture…
- The Fight Network is reporting that Randy Couture’s broken arm is healing well:
X-rays taken on the broken left arm of UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture Friday showed that the 44-year-old’s bone is aligning properly and healing as anticipated.
Doctors informed Couture (16-8) that he had suffered the break during his TKO stoppage of Brazilian Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 74 “Respect” Aug. 25 in Las Vegas, Nev. He sustained the injury blocking a right high kick with his left forearm in the opening seconds of the third round. The kick cleanly separated the ulna bone with a “nightstick fracture,” a break common in law enforcement circles. Couture’s arm will likely remain in a splint for at least five more weeks.
- UFC Junkie has found out through Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer that the UFC issued $35,000 bonuses for those fighters that won the UFC’s usual post-fight awards.
Fight of the Night - Randy Couture vs Gabriel Gonzaga
Knockout of the Night - Patrick Cote
Submission of the Night - Thales Leites
- The Sun Herald of Southern Mississippi is reporting that Alan Belcher has signed a new four-fight deal with the UFC:
Alan “the Talent” Belcher of Biloxi just signed another four- fight contract with the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). His overall record is 10-3, two of which went to a decision). He has had four fights in the UFC within the last year.
- The legal dispute between Brandon Vera and his former manager Mark Dion will finally be settled by an arbiter for the CSAC on September 17th.
- Former UFC Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin has landed a role as host of a new TV series titled “American Fighter”:
Ultimate fighter Rich Franklin wants to bust out of the ring. The three-time Ultimate Fighting Championship title winner from West Chester Township has shot a half-hour pilot for a TV series, “American Fighter.”
Franklin, 32, a former Oak Hills High School math teacher, will tell inspirational stories about people fighting against the odds, says J.T. Stewart, his publicist. The pilot features Joe Garvey, 21, of Bright, Ind., learning to walk after a crippling ATV accident seven years ago.
I wonder if there is any connection between the show and Franklin’s sponsor of the same name…
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Fight Opinion: Sunday media slate: Rizzo remains on his winning ways
UFC: Michael Bisping: England Expects
News and Notes
- Kultar Gill has been forced to pull out of his scheduled bout against Caol Uno in the K-1 Hero’s Middleweight Tournament after suffering a shoulder and neck injury according to The Fight Network. Gill stated that he is unable to live his arm over his shoulder at the moment:
“I finally took off two months from work to train for the first time in my life. I was on a roll and was training super-hard for Caol Uno,” says Gill. “My jiu-jitsu had improved tenfold. Training with Pele has been awesome. I finally have a guy that can strike with me who I don’t knock out. We’ve had some wars. I was looking and feeling so good but now I can’t lift my arm over my shoulder. I can’t even do one push-up. But you know, shit happens.”
- Sam Caplan has heard from a source that contract talks between Fedor and the UFC did not go well on Thursday:
I didn’t hear the show but I’ve read in several places that Tagg Radio reported today that the show heard from a reliable source in Fedor Emelianenko’s camp that he’s been offered a four fight deal worth $2 million per bout that would also allow him to fight in Russia. The reports I am reading suggests that Fedor is close to accepting.
If that story is in fact being reported I can tell you that a reliable source I spoke to from the UFC left me with a completely different impression of Thursday’s meeting. I did not ask the source specifically about Tagg Radio’s report and simply asked about how the meeting on Thursday went. The answer was not good and no indication was given that a deal was even close to being agreed to.
- The CSAC has laid down the law on two more fighters that have tested positive for marijuana.
Ty Montgomery has had his license revoked in the state and has also been fined $2,500. His license revocation is the result of three separate incidents that the CSAC has had to discipline him for - a prior positive test for marijuana in September 2006 and for an altercation with a promotion’s matchmaker in March 2007. Montgomery will be eligible to apply for reinstatement in one year in front of the CSAC.
Mongtomery’s opponent at a recent Galaxy Productions event, Virgil Zwicker has been suspended for three months and fined $500 after testing positive for marijuana as well.
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Sherdog: Gearing up for “Art of War”
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UFC Junkie: UFC 75 Weigh-Ins Airing Via Tape Delay
Fight Opinion: Saturday surprise: K-1 interested in Asashoryu?
Fightlinker: The Nandrolone Myth
UFC President Dana White hosted a conference call earlier today in preparation for the upcoming UFC 75: Champion vs Champion event set to take place on September 8th from London, England. The fighters featured on the call were UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton Jackson, PRIDE Middleweight and Welterweight Champion Dan Henderson, Michael Bisping, and Matt Hamill through the use of an interpreter.
UFC officials are set to meet with Fedor Emelianenko and his management team in hopes of striking a deal that will finally land MMA’s top free agent with a specific promotion later today in Las Vegas.
Apy Echteld, one of Fedor’s agents has apparently told Sherdog via email that the UFC has made the best offer so far during the process:
Having visited the City of Angels since Monday, Emelianenko’s representatives will return to Europe Friday afternoon deal or not. Following negotiations with the International Fight League, Strikeforce, K-1 and UFC, it is the Zuffa-promoted UFC that has to this point made the best offer to secure Fedor’s services, Echteld told Sherdog.com through e-mail.
So why has it taken Fedor so long to sign with an organization? Fedor has long been asking whatever organization he signs with to be permitted to compete in Sambo tournaments in his native country of Russia. Only recently has he requested that some of his Red Devil Fight Club teammates also be signed to UFC contracts.
According to Echteld, it’s basically UFC or bust at this point:
“Our trip is not to shop between the organizations but to come to a final solution,” Echteld said. “Unless we go for the UFC, Fedor will be a free agent.”
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.
News and Notes
- Dana White and company held the official press conference for UFC 74 yesterday. The most interesting thing to come out of it? Probably something that many of us have known for a while now - When asked about Brandon Vera’s next opponent, White responded with “most likely Tim Sylvia.”
Some press conference coverage:
- UFC Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture will be featured on ESPN’s Rome is Burning later today at 4:30 PM EST. Couture is expected to discuss his preparation for his title defense against Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 74, his bout with former champ Tim Sylvia at UFC 68, and Gonzaga’s brutal knockout of Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 70.
- Wild Bill’s Fight Night has become the latest MMA promotion to earn a television deal:
Wild Bill’s Fight Night, the biggest and most successful MMA event series in the state of Georgia, recently acquired a television deal with Comcast On Demand. Past MMA events from Wild Bill’s Fight Night are available now through Comcast’s On Demand service. All future Wild Bill’s Fight Night cards will be televised on Comcast.
- ION Television has announced that it will no longer be broadcasting BodogFight programming beginning in February 2008. ION stated that MMA is no longer appropriate for the channel’s new style of family programming.
- Apparently George Foreman loves mixed martial arts:
“I love the UFC. I love it,” Foreman said. “If they had had that back when I was coming up, in 1966, it would have been my sport. Man, I love it. And you know what? Nobody would have pulled the rope-a-dope on me.”
- CBS Sportsline writer Sam Caplan has joined the ranks of UFC Junkie.
Roger Sportsnet: Gonzaga on my Mind
MMA Weekly: Randy Couture on Steroids in MMA
Sprawl ‘n Brawl: MMA History Lesson: The Fight That Almost Was
CBS Sportsline: Five Ounces of Pain: Fedor’s next destination should be the UFC
MSNBC: Soft-hearted ‘Rampage’ ready to bring the heat
Fight Opinion: Friday fight notes: A bad week just got worse for K-1