Happy Halloween bitches!
News and Notes
- Officials at Team Link have confirmed that Gabriel Gonzaga will indeed take on Fabricio Werdum at UFC 80 in Newcastle, England.
- Sean Sherk, Phil Baroni, Adam Smith, and Kazuhiro Nakamura will all go in front of the CSAC this afternoon to try and get their original positive tests overturned by the commission. We will have full coverage throughout the day.
- FIghtlinker has all of the documents that were handed out at yesterday’s UFC press conference. (PDF)
- Adam Swift has a new article up on Sherdog where he dives into a standard Zuffa contract. What he found may tell us that Randy Couture’s contract certainly isn’t up after nine months:
The most infamous clause is the so-called retirement provision, which is largely responsible for the war of words—retirement versus resignation—between the UFC and Couture since his Oct. 11 departure from the company.
“If at any time during the Term, Fighter decides to retire from mixed martial arts or other professional fighting competition,” the clause begins, “then ZUFFA may, at its election, (i) suspend the Term for the period of such retirement; (ii) declare that ZUFFA has satisfied its obligation to promote all future Bouts to be promoted by ZUFFA hereunder, without any compensation due to Fighter therefore; or (ii) elect to provide Fighter with notice of an Acceleration.”
For all practical purposes, sub clause (i) allows Zuffa to retain the rights to a retired fighter in perpetuity. Sherdog.com has confirmed that this clause does not appear in every Zuffa contract; it is believed to be reserved for top fighters. The term of the contract may also be extended indefinitely for any period when a fighter is “unable, unwilling or refuses to compete or train for a Bout for any reason whatsoever.”
- Jess Liaudin has announced that he will sign a new three-fight deal with the UFC after his bout against Marcus Davis takes place at UFC 80:
“I will keep fighting for the UFC,” Liaudin said. “I need to go slow and build myself up, work on my weak areas. Training with Team Quest [before UFC 75] really improved my game. I need to keep doing stuff like that.”
- The IFL has announced that Vladimir Matyushenko has signed a contract extension that will keep him in the IFL through the end of 2008.
Sherdog: Matyushenko Meets Schoenauer for IFL Grand Prix 205-Pound Title
Fightlinker: Dana White’s personal heavyweight rankings
Five Ounces of Pain: Round 5 MMA figures on my Christmas list
MMA News: Exclusive Interview With Kevin Randleman [Pt. 1]; Exclusive Interview With Kevin Randleman [Pt. 2]
Bloody Elbow: Trevor Prangley Talks Strikeforce Middleweight Tournament
Fight Opinion: Wednesday war room: UFC winning the PR battle?
News and Notes
- Our rumors section has been updated…
- UFC Daily has a nice recap of yesterday’s UFC 77 conference call.
- Tito Ortiz sent out an official release yesterday stating that his next fight in the Octagon will come early next year:
As always, it’s been great to hear from so many fans who are eager to know about my next match. Right now I am totally focused on training. I have always had a reputation for being the best prepared fighter in any match I’ve ever entered, and I intend to maintain that reputation. I’m currently working very closely with the UFC to plan my next fight, which you can be sure will not disappoint my fans. It looks like I will fight again in early 2008, and when I do I will be 100% prepared to crush my opponent.
- Kazuhiro Nakamura’s appeal against the CSAC’s claim that he tested positive for marijuana will be heard on October 31st, the same day that UFC Lightweight Champion Sean Sherk’s appeal for a positive steroids test will be heard as well.
- Pro Elite announced plans for a new reality show in conjunction with famed reality show producer Mark Burnett yesterday:
The untitled initial reality series will focus on former professional athletes Jose Canseco and Herschel Walker, who will lead undisclosed sports stars to train mixed martial arts. The “team” of former greats will do battle with EliteXC talent, with the show’s finale touting a “famous celebrity athlete match up.”
- Jordan Breen has more on the new Japanese MMA organization set to debut itself on October 15th:
After six months of anxiety, vacancy and speculation ... your “new PRIDE” may be here.
A new mixed martial arts company named World Victory Road Inc., issued a notice Thursday of a news conference at Tokyo’s Prince Hotel on Oct. 15. The contact information on the release listed a cell phone number belonging to an employee of J-ROCK, the promotional group housing Hidehiko Yoshida and his stable of fighters.
Most importantly a source revealed that the company will use former Olympic gold medal judoka and Japanese superstar Hidehiko Yoshida as its main draw and that prized free agent Takanori Gomi is likely to join the company as well.
The company is reportedly aiming for February 2008 for its first event, which may be confirmed at the Oct. 15 news conference.
Luke Thomas gives his take on the Couture situation with Steve Cofield
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.
I only wish to be as cool as the Hammer House..
News and Notes
- The Fight Network is reporting that UFC veteran Drew Fickett has been added to the inaugural HDNetFights card on October 13th and will take on Anthony Lapsley. Lapsley was originally scheduled to face T.J. Waldburger. No word on why Waldburger is no longer set to compete at the event.
- If you haven’t already, don’t forget to place a bid on the shorts that UFC Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture wore while defeating Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 74. The shorts are also autographed and are being auctioned off as part of the Ryan Bennett Memorial Fund.
- MMA Junkie is reporting via Brazilian website RPC that Mauricio “Shogun” Rua fought against Forrest Griffin at UFC 76 with a torn ligament in his knee and will be out of action until early next year. MMA Junkie also pointed out at that no mention of the injury was made by the CSAC after a post-fight examination of Rua.
- We already know that MMA is banned in Vancouver, but so is MMA-related clothing too apparently.
- Sam Caplan has received word via Gilbert Melendez that Nick Diaz has been released from the hospital after receiving treatment for a staph infection and is currently recovering at his home in Stockton, CA.
- UFC Daily has learned that Heath Herring will be returning to the Octagon early next year according to manager Dean Albrecht:
UFC heavyweight Heath Herring will likely to return to the octagon in early 2008 according to his manager, Dean Albrecht, who confirmed the news with UFC Daily earlier today. According to Albrecht, Herring is taking some time off from fighting while continuing to train for his UFC return.
No definite plans have been established for Herring though there are several rumored UFC events in January and February which could host his return to the octagon from the extended break.
The Rock talks MMA:
“Well, I think that there is still great boxing out there, and there are fights coming up that I look forward to seeing. But mixed martial arts is just phenomenal. It is so hot, and it’s clear to me why it’s so popular. I have a ton of love and respect for those guys. I’ve become friends with a bunch of those guys and they have my support. I think mixed martial arts requires an amazing athleticism, and those guys must put together a strategy and a game plan every single time they go out and fight because it’s not one-dimensional, it’s not so predictable. On any given day, the greatest can go down. I think it’s really exciting to see the success that MMA is having right now. Everything that that sport provides and all the attention that people are diverting to that entity right now is well-deserved, and it’s—well, it’s a big deal and I’m excited about it.”
- Darren Rovell of CNBC ranks UFC President Dana White 80th out of 100
sports executives in terms of power.
Touch of gloves to Fight Opinion for that find.
- Speaking of Fight Opinion, Zack Arnold is wondering how the Japanese media is going to cover Kazuhiro Nakamura positive drug test.
- Ryan from Fightlinker is impressed with how well UFC 76 did compared to UFC 59 in California.
The California State Athletic Commision has announced that Kazuhiro Nakamura has tested positive for marijuana following the results of the UFC 76 post-fight tests.
Nakamura has been suspended until December 21st and has also been fined $500. Nakamura lost his UFC debut at the event against Ryoto Machida by unanimous decision.
All of the other 17 fighters were tested for drugs of abuse and passed.
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.”
PRIDE veteran Kazuhiro Nakamra will make his UFC debut on Sept. 22 at UFC 76: Knockout when he steps into the cage with Lyoto Machida.
Hiroshima’s Nakamura (11-6) will be making his UFC debut after fighting his entire career for the PRIDE organization. Owner of wins over Murilo Bustamante, Kevin Randleman, and Igor Vovchanchyn, this light heavyweight Judo standout has also locked horns with Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva, Josh Barnett, and Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, making him one of the most battle-tested veterans at the elite level of the game. He will be a tough challenge for the unbeaten Machida, who holds a stoppage win over Rich Franklin and who is 2-0 in the Octagon, with wins over Sam Hoger and David Heath.
“I’ve never hand-picked an opponent.”
Those words from the mouth of former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell were spoken in order to shoot down a slew of rumors that popped up last week concerning Liddell possibly hand-selecting Keith Jardine as his opponent at UFC 76.
Liddell discussed the Jardine rumors as well as the usual fight selection process he went through in the UFC with MMA Weekly:
“There would be no reason to hand-pick Jardine. The only time I’ve ever asked for a guy is when I asked to fight Kevin Randleman because I wanted to fight a guy that had a name at the time because they kept giving me guys as little known as I was. I think that’s the only time I’ve ever asked for someone specifically.”
“They talked to me about fighting Wanderlei in September, and I said, ‘Yeah, that’s fine. Cool. Perfect.’ Then I heard it fell out. I assumed they were going to put me with Shogun [Rua] because I knew he was on the same card. I figured they would put me with Shogun, but they came to me and said they wanted me to fight Keith. I’m not complaining. I don’t argue with people about who I’m going to fight. I fight whoever they tell me to,” explained Liddell.
Various sites reported that Liddell was offered a choice between Jardine, Mauricio Rua, Kazuhiro Nakamura, and Ryoto Machida.
PRIDE FC has officially announced two more fights set to take place on their upcoming April 8th show, PRIDE 34: Kamikaze. In a heavyweight bout fans will see Edson Drago (9-1) face off against Yoshihiro Nakao (5-1, 2 NC). Also on the card will be a battle between MMA legend Don Frye (17-5-1, 1 NC) and English brawler James Thompson (13-6).
Edson Drago made his PRIDE debut in 2006 when he fought Pawel Nastula at PRIDE: Critical Countdown Absolute. Drago was in tough in his debut losing to the Judoka fighter by armbar. Drago’s opponent, Yoshihiro Nakao, has a colorful past with two no contests on his record. Many fans will recognize Nakao from his infamous “kiss” incident with Heath Herring. Nakao is 1-1 in PRIDE with a victory over Eun Su Lee and a loss to Kazuhiro Nakamura.
James Thompson has a PRIDE record of 4-2. Thompson made his PRIDE debut in October 2004 when he was on the wrong end of a highlight reel knockout. Thompson shocked fans in his last PRIDE appearance when he beat Hidehiko Yoshida senseless leaving him motionless on the canvas. Though always dangerous Thompson has been a streaky fighter losing four of his last five. Don “The Predator” Frye has a record of 2-3 in PRIDE with victories over Ken Shamrock and Gilbert Yvel. Frye’s game has taken a hit with age as he has gone 3-4-1 (1 NC) in the last four years.
PRIDE FC has officially announced that James Lee will fight Travis Wiuff at PRIDE 33: Second Coming. James Lee is serving as a replacement for Kazuhiro Nakamura who was forced to withdraw after he injured his knee during training.
James Lee sports a mixed martial arts record of 8-3 with 1 NC. Lee is a veteran of Pancrase and KOTC and he has fought the likes of Vernon White and Dean Lister in losing efforts.