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.
NEW YORK – In less than seven months, ProElite’s respected live fight division, EliteXC, has gained the reputation for delivering consistently competitive, thrilling and memorable live Mixed Martial Arts events that showcase the world’s top fighters.
Under the watchful eye of Live Events President, Gary Shaw, EliteXC and SHOWTIME already have produced many significant accomplishments and has made MMA history on a couple of occasions; the most noteworthy of which: EliteXC is the first and only MMA organization on premium television.
On Saturday, Sept. 15, at Oahu, Hawaii, EliteXC will establish another first when it presents the most significant MMA event in Hawaiian history and the initial collaboration between EliteXC and Hawaii-based promoters and former rivals, ICON Sport and ROTR (Rumble On The Rock). The remarkable event will feature an explosive five-fight telecast airing live on SHOWTIME at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) followed by four fights streaming live at the premier mixed martial arts social networking and entertainment site, ProElite.com.
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.
Elite XC, ICON Sport, and Rumble on the Rock announced their official partnership earlier today at the Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Elite XC President Gary Shaw commented on the importance of the three promotions working together:
“It really is a major step,” said Director of Live Events for EliteXC Gary Shaw with ICON promoter T. Jay Thompson seated to his right and ROTR’s J.D. Penn on his left.
The new alliance’s first event will take place on September 15th at the Blaisdell Arena. Dubbed Elite XC - Uprising, the event will feature Elite XC Middleweight Champion Murlio Rua defending his title against ICON Middleweight Champion Robbie Lawler. The event will be broadcast on Showtime.
“September 15 will be the biggest MMA event Hawaii has ever seen,” said Thompson, however the longtime Hawaii promoter predicted “it won’t be the biggest MMA event Hawaii will see in the future.”
Shaw also talked about future Elite XC-promoted events that will take place in Hawaii:
“Coming to Hawaii was important to EliteXC,” said Shaw. “As I said before, I believe this is really the home of mixed martial arts. Next year we’ll be back. We won’t be back in ‘07, but I guarantee to you … we’ll be back here in ‘08.”
The complete card for the Uprising event was also announced during the press conference:
Murilo Rua vs Robbie Lawler - EliteXC Middleweight Championship
Nick Diaz vs Mike Aina
Joey Villasenor vs Riki Fukuda
Renato Verissimo vs Jake Shields
Gina Carano vs Tonya Evinger
Jaw Suk Kim vs Brandon Wolff
Kala Halohe Hose vs Jeff Cox
Mark Oshiro vs Nui Wheeler
Mark Kurano vs Jose Diaz
Justin Bucholz vs Kolo Koka
Tyson Nam vs Albert Manner
The preliminary bouts will be streamed for free at Pro Elite’s official website. The main card will be broadcast on Showtime.
Update 1:33 PM: The Fight Network is reporting that Pro Elite, the parent company of Elite XC, is currently in serious discussions regarding the possible purchase of ICON Sport.
Icon Sport promoter and matchmaker Patrick Freitas confirmed Thursday that Pro Elite, parent company of EliteXC, were still in serious discussions regarding the purchase of the Hawaii-based mixed martial arts promotion. Freitas stopped short of calling any deal imminent, but the conceded the two promotions have been in negotiations for months.
“I think it’s no secret that Pro Elite and Icon are talking about the acquisition of Icon, but anything could happen,” Freitas said.
According to Freitas, should the deal be consummated, Pro Elite would purchase the rights to the company and would hire Icon Sport president T.J. Thompson and Freitas to run events as consultants. The Icon Sport brand would remain intact. The relationship between Pro Elite and Icon Sport began in March when Proelite.com streamed the Icon Sport middleweight championship bout between Robbie Lawler and Frank Trigg.
MMA Weekly is reporting that Nick Diaz will be competing this weekend at Shooto’s debut show in the US.
Diaz will apparently be facing Shinji Sasaki in a submission grappling match during the event. Diaz is still scheduled to take on Mike Aina in Elite XC’s next event on September 15th.
Update 8/17 1:30 PM: Shooto sent out this press release discussing Diaz’s grappling match with Sasaki:
MMA superstar Nick Diaz has been added to Saturdays much-anticipated Shooto event at The No Limits Event Center in Irvine. Diaz will face Shinji Sasaki in a submission grappling match that he hopes will send a message to Sasakis’ training partner Shinya Aoki about his jiu-jitsu prowess. Diaz is coming off an electrifying submission victory over Pride Fighting Champion Takonori Gomi and looks to continue his winning streak Saturday night.
GracieFighter.com is reporting that Nick Diaz will make his return to the ring September 15th when he faces Mike Aina.
Diaz (14-6) is still serving the 6 month suspension he received for testing positive for marijuana. Diaz still has about a month remaining on his suspension.
Mike Ania sports a mixed martial arts record of 8-5-1 with victories over the likes of Rick Screeton, Rosco McClellan, Albert Rios, and Kaleo Kwan.
MMAWeekly is reporting that Paul Daley and Nick Diaz could be fighting for the EliteXC 160 lbs title in the near future. Daley told MMAWeekly that he was offered Jake Sheilds or Diaz and Daley choose Diaz. Due to scheduling conflicts it does not look like the fight will be happening at the EliteXC show on September 15th in Hawaii.
“I originally had my hopes quite high about flying to Hawaii when I read the Diaz piece, but everything is straight now and I won’t be fighting Diaz on the 15th of September” stated Daley clarifying that he won’t be Diaz’s opponent for this date, but he didn’t rule out fighting him in the future. “I will be fighting on the November Elite XC show as a prelude to Diaz, after that it’s me and Diaz for the belt”. Before Daley runs riot stateside again he has his hands full with a Muay Thai fight coming up in Nottingham on Saturday and obviously the challenge of Pride/UFC veteran Mark Weir to deal with at Cage Rage.
Today Pro Elite and Showtime held media conference call promoting their new show “ShoXC: Elite Challenger Series” which is scheduled to debut Friday, July 27 at 11 PM EST live from the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, California.
Present for the call was Doug DeLuca, Gary Shaw, and Ken Hershman.
Summary of the conference:
• Showtime plans on holding four ShoXC events before the end of the year. There were no specific dates mentioned for final three shows but they did say they would like to hold one in August, October and December.
• The main event this weekend will be K.J. Noons vs. Edson Berto. Also on the card will be a King of the Cage/Gladiator Challenge welterweight championship unification match between Jeremiah Metcalf and Aaron Wetherspoon.
• EliteXC plans on holding a card September 15th in Hawaii. The card is expected to feature an EliteXC middleweight title bout between Murilo Rua vs. Robbie Lawler. Shaw stated numerous times that the bout agreement has not yet been signed.
• Shaw was not sure when Frank Shamrock would be returning, but he did say that Shamrock won’t be fighting Nick Diaz in September. Diaz recently went on the record calling out Frank Shamrock saying “I watched his last fight and no disrespect intended, but I think I would whoop his ass.” Diaz is currently serving the suspension he received from the NSAC after testing positive for Delta-9-THC following his gogo-plata victory over Takanori Gomi. Due to the positive test the NSAC decided to change the result of the fight to a no contest.
• Gina Carano’s future is bright with EliteXC, she signed a multi-year contract with the company. The face of female MMA.
• There has been interest in bringing Frank Trigg into the mix at 185 lbs.
• Jeremy Lappen was involved with the Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou deal. EliteXC thought they had him as they flew him into the last event and treated him very well and then at the last minute someone threw him a large offer that Shaw was not willing to match. Rumor has it K-1 offered Sokoudjou “significantly more money” than the $200,000 per-fight that Pro Elite offered.
• Gary Shaw hinted at implementing a 160 lbs. weight class. Shaw stated that through his experience in boxing he knows that there are guys who fight at 160 lbs. that cannot get to 155 lbs. so it provides them with another option. Nick Diaz would be a perfect fit for the potential division.
News and Notes
- Our rumors section has been updated once again…
- Remember to cast your vote on our latest poll: Rock the Vote - Favorite UFC 73 Fight
- MMA on Tap would like to congratulate UFC Junkie’s Eric “Performify” Foster on being hired as a columnist for Fight! Magazine.
- For those of you that haven’t already heard, Wesley “Cabbage” Correira has been forced to withdraw from his scheduled bout with James Thompson at Cage Rage 22 this Saturday after suffering a broken ankle during a recent training session. Cage Rage has also announced that Correira will be replaced by Kimo Leopoldo in the bout.
- Full Contact Fighter is reporting that former UFC Heavyweight Champion Ricco Rodriguez has been forced to withdraw from his scheduled bout against Ron Waterman at HCF: Unfinished Business on July 21 because he has been denied admittance into the country of Canada:
Hardcore Championship Fighting promoter, Keith Crawford, informed FCF this afternoon that Ricco Rodriguez will not fight Ron Waterman on the July 21st, “Unfinished Business” card, in Edmonton, Alberta, as had been advertised. The fight was to be the card’s main event, which will take place at the River Cree Resort and Casino in Alberta’s capital city. According to Crawford, Canadian authorities have denied Rodriguez entrance into the country.
“Mr. Rodriguez’s bond to get into Canada has been revoked due to recent situations.” said Crawford, which was the extent to which he cared to comment. As of last week, Crawford had maintained in correspondence with FCF that he believed all American fighters that were scheduled to compete on the card would be granted entry into Canada.
Rodriguez’s lawyer and agent, James C. Gallo, told FCF this afternoon that “I’m not an expert in Canadian law, but I’m unaware of any reason as to why Rodriguez would be precluded from leaving the U.S. to enter Canada.”
- The Fight Network is reporting that Mirko Cro Cop has hired a talented group to be used as sparring partners in preparation for Cro Cop’s upcoming bout against Cheick Kongo at UFC 75. Sergei Kharitonov, Ricco Rodriguez and Zelg Galesic will all be participating in Cro Cop’s training camp.
- Randy Couture and Quinton Jackson fell short of their bid to become the first mixed martial artist to receive an ESPY for Fighter of the Year as Floyd Mayweather Jr took home the honor.
- Gracie Fighter is stating that Nick Diaz has been released of his contract with PRIDE and Zuffa because of his ties with Elite XC:
We will be running a series on a seldom seen look at the behind the scenes workings that ultimately lead to the ouster of Nick Diaz from the new Pride organization. In our opinion this ouster had everything to do with Nick’s participation in the EliteXC organization and nothing to do with Zuffa’s technical grounds. Everyday this week we will post corresponding emails and let you the reader be the ultimate judge.
MMA Weekly: This Thing is a Unification Bout
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CBS Sportsline: A look ahead at UFC championship picture
Fight Opinion: Thursday trash talk: Trigg and Toughman
Bloody Elbow: California and Oversaturation
411 Mania: Where Do The UFC 73 Fighters Go From Here
GracieFighter.com is reporting that Nick Diaz has requested a fight with Frank Shamrock. Earlier this year Gary Shaw had announced that his promotion had signed Nick Diaz and his debut was expected to come sometime in May. Obviously things changed as Diaz took a fight with PRIDE against Takanori Gomi. Now it finally seems like Diaz’s EliteXC debut will be coming in the near future.
“I watched his last fight and no disrespect intended but I think I would whoop his ass.”, stated Diaz. A formal offer of intent has been delivered to the promoters to set this fight up and now we await their response.
Diaz is currently serving his 6 month suspension he received after he tested positive for marijuana. With the suspension came a $3,000 fine and his gogoplata victory over Takanori Gomi was changed to a no contest. Diaz still has about 3 months remaining on his suspension.