Zuffa Lawsuit Against DSE to Head to Court

From the press conference to announce Zuffa’s purchase of PRIDE in March 2007. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The lawsuit that Zuffa, under the name PRIDE FC Worldwide, the financial holdings company created by Ultimate Fighting Championship owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta following the purchase of the assest of PRIDE Fighting Championships in March of last year, filed against former PRIDE parent company Dream Stage Entertainment will likely head to a Las Vegas court room in the coming months.

The news comes from Zach Arnold of Fight Opinion, who reports that PRIDE FC Worldwide’s counsel filed a motion that demands a trial by jury in their case against Nobuyuki Sakakibara and DSE.

Arnold also stated that neither Sakakibara nor the company have responded to the lawsuit as of yet, just as an attorney has not been named to represent them.

The lawsuit centers around Zuffa’s claim that they were “defrauded” out of millions of dollars following the purchase of the Japanese promotion nearly a year ago. The lawsuit has since been confirmed as being filed on February 1st.

Rumors have also been circulating that Sakakibara is preparing to file his own lawsuit against Zuffa amidst claims that their decision to shut down the PRIDE brand late last year is a breach of the contract they agreed upon prior to DSE selling the rights to the brand.

FEG and DSE Combine to Create “DREAM”

Photo courtesy of FEG.

Rumors that Fight Entertainment Group and Dream Stage Entertainment were working together to create a new mixed martial arts promotion were confirmed earlier today as officials from both sides gathered at the Metropolitan Edmont Hotel in Tokyo, Japan to announce the creation of “DREAM”.

The promotion, which will also be run by officials involved with Yarennoka! and promoted by the Tokyo Broadcasting System, will now serve as the official successor for the PRIDE and K-1 Hero’s brands. K-1 announced plans for the discontinuation of Hero’s events late last month.

“Now that PRIDE and Hero’s are gone, we’ve wanted to put on new mixed martial arts shows that would continue the dream that was achieved on New Year’s Eve,” FEG President Sadaharu Tanikawa stated at the press conference. “We wanted to create a show that would be enjoyed by the fans and would make for an exciting live event. We received a petition including over 3,000 signatures from fans who requested that we find a replacement for PRIDE. We’ve answered their calls and we plan to put together something that no one has ever seen before.”

Matchmaker Keiichi Sasahara’s first order of business will be putting together the promotion’s first card, which will apparently feature a lightweight grand prix. The only announced bout for the event was a long-awaited showdown between Shinya Aoki and Gesias Calvancante, who were booked to face each other at Yarennoka!. The bout was scrapped after Calvancante re-injured his recently surgically repaired knee during training.

Additional participants for the tournament that were also announced included the following: Andre Dida, Mitsuhiro Ishida, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Caol Uno, Joachim Hansen, Gilbert Melendez, Kotetsu Boku, Artur Oumakhanov, Luiz “Buscape” Firmino, Jung Bu-Kyung, and Kazuyuki Miyata.

The event is currently slated to take place on March 15th at the Saitama Super Arena. Five other events including the remainder of the lightweight grand prix and a middleweight tournament were also announced.

The biggest surprise of the day came when heavyweight star Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic was introduced on stage. The native Croatian was recently under contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, where he had lost two of his last three bouts, including a brutal knockout at the hands of Gabriel Gonzaga.

Filipovic assured fans that he was not “running away” from the UFC, but simply doing what was best for his career.

“I had a hard time losing my last two fights in the UFC,” said Filipovic. ” I don’t want anything to think that I’m running away from the UFC but I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with the rest of my career lately and right now I believe DREAM is the right place for me. I never liked fighting in the cage, always in a ring. Japan is also like my second home. Many reasons have brought me back here.”

The UFC has yet to make a public statement about the UFC’s departure. Various rumors concerning Filipovic’s contract status with the promotion have been floating around lately. Some have speculated that the UFC asked the Croatian to either restructure his contract or that they would release him. MMA Weekly reports that sources have said the split between the two sides was amicable.

Aside from Filipovic, a number of potential participants in future events were revealed. Kazushi Sakuraba, Kiyoshi Tamura, Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto, and Hayato “Mach” Sakurai are all expected to be fighting inside the promotion in the coming months. Royce Gracie and Fedor Emelianenko also appeared via satellite to make their intentions to compete at a future event known.

So how do the weight classes break down?

Surprisingly, they are strikingly similar to those that are currently used in the United States. The heavyweight, light heavyweight, and middleweight classes are exactly the same. Welterweights will compete at a maximum of 168 lbs while lightweight will be capped off at 154 lbs. Plans for lower weight classes are said to be discussed in the future.

Zuffa Files Lawsuit Against DSE

Lorenzo Fertitta and Nobuyuki Sakakibara shake hands at a press conference to announce Zuffa’s purchase of PRIDE in March 2007. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Zuffa, under the name PRIDE FC Worldwide, the financial holdings company created by Ultimate Fighting Championship owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta following the purchase of the assest of PRIDE Fighting Championships in March of last year, has filed a lawsuit against former PRIDE parent company Dream Stage Entertainment.

The news was first reported yesterday by Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer, who states that the lawsuit centers around Zuffa’s claim that they were “defrauded” out of millions of dollars following the purchase of the Japanese promotion nearly a year ago:

Pride FC Worldwide Holdings (basically the dummy company set up by UFC after the Pride purchase) have filed a lawsuit against Dream Stage Entertainment, Dream Stage Holdings and Nobuyuki Sakakibara claiming they were defrauded millions of dollars in the purchase of the Pride and Pride Bushido brands.

The lawsuit has since been confirmed as being filed on February 1st.

Zach Arnold of Fight Opinion points out that Zuffa’s due diligence done after the purchase of PRIDE most likely catch many of the potential problems during the evaluation of the PRIDE’s assets. Be sure to check out his post for more words of wisdom on the matter.

Even more interesting, a source close to DSE has told Sherdog that former PRIDE President Nobuyuki Sakakibara is preparing to file his own lawsuit against Zuffa amidst claims that their decision to shut down the PRIDE brand late last year is a breach of the contract they agreed upon prior to DSE selling the rights to the brand.

We will definitely be following this story and will post any new information as it becomes available.

CKA: Jan 28, 2008

Tito Ortiz turns 33 and celebrates in style at Catwalk in the above video courtesy of RawVegas.

Catching up on this past weekend’s news…

More Rumored TUF Participants

Even more potential cast members of the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter have come to light thanks to MMA Junkie and Five Ounces of Pain. Those added to the list (which already includes Luke Zachrich and Mike Marrello) are the following:

Prince Mclean
Steve Byrnes
C.B. Dollaway
Aaron Meisner
Matt Brown

Couture Likes Sylvia Over Nogueira

In a recent interview with Jose Rodriguez of the Calgary Sun, current UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture revealed that he expects Tim Sylvia to defeat former PRIDE champ Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 81: Breaking Point this weekend.

“I think it’s going to be a good fight. I’m a fan of the sport first and foremost. I think it’s an interesting matchup. Nogueira’s strenght tends to be on the ground and in the submission game and Tim is just a long, strong hard to take down guy who’s got great striking abilities. It’s a classic matchup and for the interim title so they both have a lot on the line. I like Tim’s chances in that fight given Nogueira’s performace against Heath Herring in the last fight. I like Sylvia in a stoppage of some kind.”

Miscellaneous Notes

Former PRIDE producer Hiromichi Momose was found dead in his Tokyo, Japan apartment yesterday morning. He was 67. Countdown to UFC 81 premieres Wednesday night while UFC All-Access with Brock Lesnar will air for the first time on Thursday. Jason Miller will be holding a seminar in Hamilton, Ontario in February.

Radio Schedule

Jarry Park: Tyson Griffin Is Mr. Fight Of The Night

12-1 PM EST - TAGG Radio
1-3 PM EST - The Savage Dog Show
3-5 PM EST - The Beatdown
3-4 PM EST - The Fight Network Radio
9-10 PM EST - MMAWeekly’s Sound Off
11 PM EST - Knockout Radio

Liddell-Silva: The Biggest Fight Ever

Whether you want to admit it or not, tomorrow night’s fight between Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva is the biggest in the history of mixed martial arts.

It’s going to stay that way until and or if Randy Couture and Fedor Emelianenko even meet in the future.

The hype for this fight couldn’t be any greater. Not a day has gone by that I can remember for the past couple of weeks where I haven’t seen a commercial for UFC 79 somewhere. I’ve seen posters in stores, billboards in the city. Tonight’s UFC All-Access and Countdown to UFC 79 is only going to create more excitement.

It’s a matchup years in the making. Originally planned to happen in 2003 during PRIDE’s Middleweight Grand Prix, the UFC lent Liddell to the Japanese only to have him upset for the first of two times by Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. UFC President Dana White hoped to make the dream match come to fruition last November but talks with PRIDE officials fell apart. So Dana and company went ahead and bought PRIDE which in turn ended up securing Wanderlei for them as well.

For years, a potential fight between these two has been debated back and forth between fans and MMA experts alike. If you’re a “nuthugger” of the UFC or PRIDE, you are salivating over this fight as it presents the ultimate UFC vs PRIDE situation.

As if all of that wasn’t already enough, one only has to look towards the styles of each fighter to know that this fight has the makings of an absolute war on the feet. It’s a fantastic bout pitting the aggressive striker against the counter-puncher. Doesn’t get any better than that.

All I know is that I’m getting more and more excited for tomorrow night with every passing minute and I’m sure that many others are sharing similar feelings. For those that still don’t realize or can’t comprehend what’s going down tomorrow night, those feelings will change as we count down the hours until Liddell and Silva finally clash.

It’s the biggest fight in mixed martial arts history. Can’t tell me different.

Kawajiri-Azeredo Added to Yarennoka!

Officials running the mega New Years Eve event Yarennoka! held a press conference yesterday at Hayato “Mach” Sakurai’s newly opened gym to announce two additional bouts for the event.

Gilbert Melendez going up against Mitsuhiro Ishida was one of the announced fights. We reported on this fight being signed last week.

The other fight that was revealed was former Shooto welterweight champion Tatsuya Kawajiri facing off against Luiz Azeredo.

Kawajiri is coming off of an unanimous decision loss to Gilbert Melendez at PRIDE Shockwave 2006 which took place last New Year’s Eve. Before the loss, Kawajiri had won nine out of his last ten bouts. Azeredo has not fought since winning a decision over Paul Daley at Cage Rage 19 in December of 2006. Azeredo owns a win over current UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva.

DEEP official Shigeru Saeki expects the fight to be a war on the feet:

“I expect Kawajiri’s fight with Azeredo to be an aggressive fisticuff style fight,” Saeki said. “It will be exciting.”

Report: Melendez, Hansen to Compete on NYE

Former PRIDE standouts Gilbert Melendez and Joachim Hansen will both be competing at Yarennoka!, an event produced by officials associated with Dream Stage Entertainment, DEEP, K-1, and M-1 Global, that will take place on New Year’s Eve at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

The news comes from separate reports by TAGG Radio and MMA Weekly.

Melendez was interviewed by Frank Trigg and company over the weekend where he revealed that he will be fighting Mitsuhiro Ishida at the event. While Hansen confirmed his participation with MMA Weekly, he was unable to provide any news on a potential opponent.

Two Bouts Added to Yarennoka!

Officials running the Yarennoka! show scheduled to take place at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan held a press conference earlier today to announce two additional bouts for the event.

Reigning K-1 lightweight tournament champion Gesias Calvancanti will face Shinya Aoki for the first time in their respective careers.

Calvancanti had a monster year in 2007, stopping Nam Phan, Vitor Ribeiro, and Andre Amade in consecutive fights to win the K-1 Hero’s lightweight tourney for the second straight year. Calvancanti’s lone career loss came at the hands of Joachim Hansen at a Shooto event in 2004.

Aoki is 2-1 so far in 2007, submitting Brian Lo-A-Njoe at PRIDE 34 in April and earning a close split decision win over highly touted welterweight Akira Kikuchi at Shooto’s first “Back to our Roots” show in February.

The second bout announced at the press conference was Hayato “Mach” Sakurai returning to action against Hidehiko Hasegawa.

Sakurai last fought at PRIDE 33 where he knocked out current Ultimate Fighter contestant Mac Danzig.

Sakurai’s confirmed participation as this event should dispel the rumor that he had signed with the UFC to compete at welterweight. The UFC even showed him as a UFC welterweight during a PPV broadcast earlier this year but I’m assuming that contract talks thought to be a done deal may have fell apart. Either that or Sakurai is being lent to the show by Zuffa.

Hasegawa has been fairly active in 2007, earning a majority decision win over Jutaro Nakao in his first bout of the year. Hasegawa then faced Dong Hyun Kim in consecutive fights; Kim defeated Hasegawa in August by TKO before the two fought to a draw last month.

An official opponent for Fedor Emelianenko was not announced at the press conference. Officials present included M-1 Global CEO Monte Cox, FEG president Sadaharu Tanigawa, former PRIDE official Nobuhiko Takada and DEEP president Shigeru Saeki.

Coming Back From Three Straight Losses

Next month’s showdown between Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva will finally answer the age-old question that has been haunting the minds of MMA fans for years as to who would win between the two if they ever fought.

The winner of the fight will receive a huge momentum boost going into the twlight of their career. The loser? Well they will have lost three fights in a row. The list of fighters that have lost three fights in a row is astounding in terms of size. The list of notable fighters that have dropped three straight bouts is pretty big as well.

So what does it take to come back from nearly falling into obscurity? Here’s a look at some well-known fighters that came out on the wrong end of the stick three or more consecutive times and managed to turn things around and get back on the winning track.

Hermes Franca: After a stint where he went 2-2 in the UFC, Franca left the promotion to try and work on his skills in smaller promotions before returning to the big show. However Franca ended up dropping three consecutive fights to Yves Edwards, Koutetsu Boku, and Ray Cooper before the end of 2005. Franca rebounded with an 8 fight winning streak and found himself challenging Sean Sherk for the UFC Lightweight Title this past July.

Nick Diaz: After knocking out touted prospect Robbie Lawler at UFC 47, Diaz found himself being advertised as the future of the UFC’s welterweight division. Diaz ended up struggling for the rest of his UFC career and ultimately lost three straight fights to top competition in Sherk, Joe Riggs, and Diego Sanchez before finding himself out of a Zuffa-owned promotion.  Diaz was brought back towards the end of 2006 for two fairly easy fights but ended up heading to PRIDE where he pulled off a huge upset over Takanori Gomi before the fight was changed to a no contest.

Tengiz Tedoradze:The Eastern Europe native became one of England’s top heavyweight prospects by 2004. Tedoradze then ran into a brick wall when he lost to Jeff Monson, Antonio Silva, and then Monson once again in three straight fights. Tedoradze turned his fortunes around by racking up a respectable 10-2-1 record while establishing himself as the best fighter over 205 lbs that the U.K. has to offer.

Mark Coleman: Coleman tore through the UFC in his first six fights, knocking off Gary Goodridge, Don Frye, and Dan Severn along the way. Then Coleman gassed in a heavyweight title opportunity against Maurice Smith. The infamous knockout at the hands of Pete Williams followed and a decision loss to Pedro Rizzo forced Coleman to travel to Japan in hopes of jumpstarting his career. “The Hammer” did just that when he won the 2000 PRIDE Grand Prix in impressive fashion.

Denis Kang: Kang struggled greatly in the first few years of his career and dropped three straight fights to mediocre competition at one point. Kang’s inconscitency continued until he found himself at home in Spirit MC where he became the promotion’s heavyweight champion. Two years later Kang found himself nearly becoming PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix champion and currently is widely regarded as one of the top middleweights in the world by many.

Chael Sonnen:Sonnen had acquired a solid reputation as being a skilled middleweight during the first couple years of his career that found fighting mainly on the West Coast for the most part. The Team Quest product ended up losing three fights in a row in 2004, two of them to MMA veteran Jeremy Horn. Sonnen rebounded and worked his way into a stint in the UFC. Undefeated since leaving the home of the Octagon last year, Sonnen now finds himself challenging an undefeated Paulo Filho for the WEC Middleweight Title on December 12th.

Dennis Hallman: The man they nicknamed “Superman” had racked up an eye-opening record of 10-1 before falling to a trio of creditable middleweights in the form of Caol Uno, Paul Rodriguez, and eventual UFC Middleweight Champion Dave Menne in sequential bouts. Hallman ended up turning things around and ended up putting together a respectable career that included three separate stints in the UFC and was highlighted by the second of two quick submission wins over Matt Hughes.

Saitama NYE Event Press Conference Notes

A press conference was held earlier today in Japan to officially announce a New Year’s Eve MMA event that will take place at the Saitama Super Arena, in Saitama, Japan.

Now I can’t speak a lick of Japanese so I can’t tell you who exactly the promoter is behind this whole thing but I’ll be able to find out later today.

Zach Arnold at Fight Opinion has an awesome recap of everything as always. So awesome in fact, that M-1’s Russian site has decided to re-write it and post it.

The press conference was attended by a load of former PRIDE and DSE officials, including Nobuhiko Takada. Many of them will be involved in the running and production of the event. The event will be broadcast on SkyPerfecTV PPV and as of right now, there are no plans to have anything other than a Japanese-only broadcast.

Fighters that have been announced as officially competing at the event are Fedor Emelianenko, Hayato Sakurai, Shinya Aoki, Tatsuya Kawajiri, and Mitsuhiro Ishida. Other fighters that were mentioned as possibly competing at the event were Kazuo Misaki, Joachim Hansen, Ricardo Arona, Gilbert Melendez, Luiz Azevedo, and Hidehiko Hasegawa.

There was no mention of Hong Man Choi in any forum, leading more credibility to The Fight Network’s Brian Knapp and his report via Monte Cox that Hong Man Choi is not signed to fight Fedor and is nothing more than an option as of right now.

Cox mentioned a few details in terms of the lending out of Fedor by M-1. Fedor is set to be paid $1.5 million by the Japanese promotion and they are also responsible for choosing Fedor’s opponent:

“Part of the deal is that they choose the opponent,” Cox said. “They’re choosing an opponent that makes sense for the Japanese market.”

I’ll update this post whenever I receive more information on the press conference.

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