Thomas Gerbasi of UFC.com has announced that the UFC has signed PRIDE veteran Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou and his debut will come against Ryoto Machida at UFC 79: Nemisis.
“Sokoudjou is an explosive athlete with heavy hands and great judo who is coming off huge back-to-back knockout wins over two top ten guys in Ricardo Arona and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira,” said UFC President Dana White. “Bringing him in just makes the stacked 205-pound division even stronger, and there are endless great matchups for him here in the UFC.”
“The African Assassin” (4-1) stormed onto the MMA scene in February when he destroyed top ranked light heavyweight, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, at PRIDE 33: Second Coming. Sokoudjou solidified his status as a top ten light heavyweight two months later at PRIDE 34: Kamikaze when he defeated BTT’s Ricardo Arona early in the first round.
“I’m looking very forward to this fight,” said Machida. “I know Sokoudjou doesn’t have a lot of fights, but the fights he’s had are big, and he has beaten some very big names in this sport. I think this is going to be a great fight, and I am looking forward to winning this fight, and to moving on and fighting for the UFC title.”
Sokoudjou is a native of Cameroon who currently trains with Dan Henderson at Team Quest in Temecula, California. Sokoudjou is a highly regarded judoka who won the 2001 US Open.
HAC News recently sat down for an interview with PRIDE veteran Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou to ask him some general questions about his life and career so far. At the end of the interview, Sokoudjou states that he will be returning to action on December 29th:
I’ll be back not in the ring but in the cage Dec 29th in Vegas!
So is Sokoudjou admitting that he has signed with the UFC and will make his debut at UFC 79?
With the event only a little more than a month away, the UFC will be announcing the majority of the card pretty soon. I’d assume we will be finding out pretty soon.
The UFC is the only MMA promotion that has an event scheduled in Vegas on December 29th as the IFL Grand Prix finals are taking place in Connecticut. IFO-Steele Cage has an event the day before so hopefully Sokoudjou didn’t get his dates mixed up.
Update 7:15 PM: Dave Meltzer has the latest:
Regarding rumors of Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou fighting in UFC, there is no contract signed, but his deal with Hero’s did fall apart and UFC is interested in him and talks have begun. There are talks of a potential fight with Lyoto Machida on 12/29, but it’s nothing more than talk at ths point.
Gracie Mag is reporting that heavyweights Gabriel Gonzaga and Fabricio Werdum will fight for the second time in their respective careers in January at UFC 80 in Newcastle, England.
The two previously fought at the inaugural Jungle Fight show in September of 2003 where Werdum stopped Gonzaga with strikes in the third round. Since their careers have taken different turns.
Werdum went over to PRIDE where he racked up a 4-2 record with wins over the likes of Alistair Overeem and Roman Zentsov before signing with the UFC in early 2007. Werdrum dropped an unanimous decision to Andrei Arlovski his UFC debut at UFC 70.
It was also at UFC 70 that Gonzaga scored a career highlighting knockout of Mirko Cro Cop. The win over Cro Cop coupled with previous wins over Carmelo Marrero, Fabiano Scherner, and Kevin Jordan in the UFC earned Gonzaga a title shot against Randy Couture at UFC 74. Couture ended up stopping Gonzaga with strikes in the third round of their fight.
MMA Weekly is reporting that Joachim “Hellboy” Hansen will finally return to active competition when he takes on Eiji Mitsuoka on November 8th at Shooto: Back to our Roots 6.
Hansen lived in his own personal hell for close to nine month this year while he awaited the remainder of his acquired Zuffa contract to run out since they apparently refused to match the same salary he made while over in Japan. Hansen last fought at PRIDE 33 in February where he submitted Jason Ireland with an armbar in the third round.
Mitsuoka is 2-1 so far in 2007, defeating Brian Cobb and Takumi Nakayama while dropping a close split decision to Koutetsu Boku. Mitsuoka also owns wins over Gerald Strebendt and Gleison Tibau throughout the course of his career.
Hansen’s Shooto contract is only a one-fight deal.
Former UFC heavyweight contender Jeff Monson is currently in New Zealand as a special guest for Hextreme Events: Carnage in the Cage set to take place later tonight (Saturday in New Zealand).
Rogue Magazine was able to sit down with the MMA veteran and ask him a few questions, including the prospects of him fighting Fedor Emelianenko in M-1 at some point next year.
Monson believes that the fight is nearly official:
“Yeah it looks like a go,” said Monson. “I can’t wait to have a shot at who most call the best guy out there. It’s a good possibility at the moment but hopefully we get this fight official soon enough. The first time that I was supposed to fight him it didn’t happen but this time the possibility is great so I’m very excited.”
M-1 officials stated at a press conference earlier in the year that they were currently in talks with Monson. They also noted they are looking at PRIDE veterans Josh Barnett and Mark Hunt as well.
The UFC held a conference call with the media earlier today to announce a new television deal with Spike TV and to discuss the UFC’s recent acquisition of former pro wrestler Brock Lesnar and the much anticipated bout between Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva at UFC 79 in December.
Jennifer Wenk, the UFC’s head of public relations was the host of the call. Participants on the call included UFC President Dana White, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell, former PRIDE Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva, Brock Lesnar, and Spike TV officials Brian Diamond and Kevin Kay.
Right off the bat Dana was asked if he purposely planned a conference call at the same time Randy Couture was slated to hold his press conference.
“Am I putting on a press conference to fuck with Randy Couture right now?” asked White. “Is that what you’re asking me? No, it’s not intentional. I’m here to announce the Spike deal and discuss the Lesnar signing as well as talk about Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva and their fight, that’s it. Is it a coincidence that we got this deal done the same week that Randy decided to speak out? No.”
White let everyone know that he still likes Couture as a person and would love to have him back. He was also confident that Couture would return in the near future.
“He’s mine,” claimed White “He’s under contract to me and he can’t fight anywhere else. I don’t know what his people are telling him but resignation or not he won’t be permitted to fight anywhere else. Besides that I love Randy. Randy is pissed at me. We’re friends and friends get pissed at each other. However I’m real confident that we’re going to kiss and make up real soon.”
The details of the UFC’s new deal with Spike TV are as follows:
The contract is a four year deal. There will be five more seasons of The Ultimate Fighter. Two seasons will take place in 2008, two in 2009, and only one season in 2010. The UFC and Spike TV are also developing a new television show that will premiere in 2010. The show will feature live fights and fighters of a “higher caliber” than those currently featured on TUF according to White.
White also stated that the UFC will produce 12 live events on Spike TV for next year.
“We’re going to do 12 live fight cards for next year,” said White. “We’ll continue to do UFC Fight Nights. We’re back in bed with these guys. They’ve been so good to us over the years and we’re going to do a lot of good programs.”
Some notes from yesterday’s M-1 Global press conference which took place in New York City…
- Sibling Sports LLC is the name of the undisclosed American entertainment company that purchased M-1. The company is formed by Sibling Theatricals Inc and Garlin Holdings Limited. Mitchell Maxwell will serve as President of Sibling Sports while Monte Cox will serve as President and CEO of M-1 Global.
- Fedor Emelianenko’s contract is a two-year, six-fight, multi-million dollar deal. He has a clause in the contract that will allow him to fight in other organizations. If the UFC is able to bring Randy Couture back and would like to set up a mega-fight between him and Fedor, M-1 will send him over and also pay Couture and the winner of the fight an extra $1 million.
- M-1 Global is planning their first show to take place in the United States in February. They would also like to host shows in Russia, Korea, Japan, and the Netherlands as well. At least three of the promotion’s events next year will take place outside of the United States. The first show in Japan will most likely take place next summer.
- The company is still looking for a television deal. HBO, Showtime, and HDNet are said to all be among the interested parties.
- The new stable of fighters recently signed with the promotion will be revealed within the next 7-10 days.
- Fedor’s next opponent has not yet been named. Josh Barnett and Mark Hunt are said to be the favorites.
- M-1 Global will continue to use a rule set similar to the set that PRIDE used before it’s collapse. The promotion would like to adopt a set of rules that could be used anywhere in the future however.
- According to Fedor, the UFC apparently turned down an offer from PRIDE to have Fedor fight Tim Sylvia when he was the UFC Heavyweight Champion for unknown reasons. Fedor also added that a similar offer was made to match up Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva when they were champions as well.
- The UFC made a contract offer to Aleksander Emelianenko but the deal was apparently much lower than what Aleksander is worth according to his brother.
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.
Former PRIDE heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira recently spoke to GRACIEMAG.com about Randy Couture’s departure from the UFC and as well as the possibility of him fighting the winner of Vera-Sylvia for the vacant title.
“I am realy sad. I realy wanted to fight him. I hope there’s a chance he comes back.” Minotauro also said that there’s been a change of plans with Couture’s decision. “My strategy will change, once I will no longer have to face such a experienced and skilled guy to get to the title. My next fight is set to take place on February 3rd, but I’m uncertain about the opponent. If it’s kongo, it will not be for the title; If it’s Vera or Sylvia, the belt will be for grabs. I’m flying to the USA to watch Anderson Silva’s bout and I’ll probably know who’s going to be my adversary,” completed the former Pride champion.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira made his UFC debut in July at UFC 73: Stacked against Heath Herring. Despite being in serious trouble early after eating a head kick, Nogueira fought his way back to earn an unanimous decision victory. Minotauro sports a mixed martial arts record of 30-4-1 with victories over the likes of Josh Barnett, Sergei Kharitonov, Fabricio Werdum, Mirko Filipovic, Semmy Schilt, and Mark Coleman. Nogueira has also gone the distance with PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko twice despite dropping an unanimous decision to the Russian heavyweight both times.
Steve Sievert recently sat down with PRIDE Welterweight Champion Dan Henderson to collect his thoughts on the UFC’s current way of paying their fighters. It seems that Randy Couture wasn’t the only one unhappy about the situation:
“It seems like guys could be happier,” Henderson said. “Part of the problem is that they had a couple, three bad shows and got killed in Ireland (at UFC 72) on the money. And, possibly the fact that they spent a boatload of money buying Pride and didn’t do anything with it; they are trying to make some cutbacks, and the fighters aren’t overly happy about that.”
The most interesting excerpt from the interview was when Henderson revealed that he had actually turned down a proposed contract extension from Dana White prior to UFC 75:
The 37-year-old Team Quest fighter has one bout left on the Pride contract he brought with him to the UFC. White offered an extension, but Henderson didn’t bite. He thought the offer was low and chose to take the fight against Quinton Jackson at UFC 75 under the terms of his Pride contract, which left him with no opportunity for a fight bonus.
Despite assurances from White that he would be taken care of in the UFC, Henderson is waiting for what he thinks is an equitable offer.
“He was telling me that, ‘We haven’t had guys leaving. We take care of the guys, that’s why they’re happy. We don’t want guys that are unhappy,’ ” Henderson said about initial negotiations with White. “I haven’t seen that.”
At this point, though, Henderson isn’t ready to follow Couture out the UFC door. His preference is to stay with the organization and he wants to “give the UFC a chance” to bring another offer to the table.
So now it’s not only the disagreement of what weight class Henderson should fight in that’s holding things back, it’s his contract now too…