John Chandler here, breaking down UFC 79: Nemesis fight-by-fight, including detailed predictions along the way.
UFC 79: Nemesis features ten fights including the third fight between Matt Hughes and Georges St. Pierre for the UFC Welterweight Title and the most anticipated fight in mixed martial arts history when Chuck Liddell takes on arch-rival Wanderlei Silva in a fight years in the making.
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.
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.
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.
Last Thursday we reported via Josh Gross of Sherdog that Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou inked a four fight deal with Elite XC. It seems that the news was a bit premature.
Ken Pishna of MMA Weekly is reporting that after speaking to members of Team Quest, Sokoudjou is not yet officially signed with Elite XC.
Sokoudjou has already made it well known that his number one choice would be Gary Shaw’s organization. Team Quest has stated that they are indeed in close contract talks with Shaw and company and that a deal will most likely be reached sooner than later.
Sherdog.com is reporting that PRIDE veteran Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (4-1) has agreed to a four-fight deal with EliteXC.
A source in Sokoudjou’s camp, who expressed pleasure with the deal, said they’ve received the contract from EliteXC and will comb it over during the next several days.
Sporting a mixed martial arts record of 4-1, Sokoudjou holds impressive wins over PRIDE veterans Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona. Sokoudjou’s sole loss came to the hands of Glover Teixeira at WEC 24: Full Force.
Sokoudjou became a free agent with the Fertitta brothers purchased PRIDE Fighting Championships from Dream Stage Entertainment.
News and Notes
- Our rumors section has been updated…
- Our coverage of UFC 72 is going to be great as usual. Expect an official preview, some tap selections (that includes celebrity predictions), weigh-in results, a media roundup, live blog, and much more…
- Nate Diaz and Manny Gamburyan defeated Gray Maynard and Joe Lauzon respectively last night to move on to The Ultimate Fighter 5 finals on June 23rd.
- Tagg Radio had PRIDE light heavyweight contender Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou on yesterday
to talk about fellow Team Quest teammate Dan Henderson’s remark about Sokoudjou getting a poor contract offer from the UFC:
I don’t deal with contract stuff, too much English for me. I just know from my manager and Dan that they were negotiating on my contract. I usually don’t want to get into too much detail. I tried to read my contract with Pride, it was too much for me so I let Team Quest handle that part of my career. They know better than me.
- Carlos Arias from the Orange County Register is reporting that UFC 76 will take place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
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News and Notes
- In a interview with the Boston Herald that was printed Sunday, Chuck Liddell has confirmed that his next UFC fight will be against former PRIDE Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva:
The road back to the belt will not be easy. It will begin with a long-awaited fight against Wanderlei Silva, probably sometime toward the end of the year. Silva, like Liddell, recently lost his Pride light heavyweight belt to Dan Henderson, in a fight staged in Las Vegas, shortly before the UFC bought the Japanese-based organization.
Liddell-Silva is a fight that UFC president Dana White has been trying to make for a while, going to the extreme of bringing Silva into the ring during a UFC card, asking him who he wanted to fight, and Silva responding that he wanted Liddell.
“It’s going to be a striking battle,” Liddell said of the matchup with Silva. “Who’s going to hit harder and throw more punches. I think from the things I’ve seen (of him) that’s what it will be.”
- Chute Boxe USA has stated that former UFC Middleweight Champion Evan Tanner will make his return to the Octagon in September.
Evan Tanner has been training hard and is determined to win the title from Anderson Silva. According to Coach Roberto, he will be fighting at UFC in September under the Chute Boxe USA banner. His opponent is still unknown.
- UFC Mania has posted an exclusive interview with Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou over at their site…
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UFC 75: Mathis vs Boucher
Just some random thoughts from this past weekend’s Pride 33: The Second Coming show.
It was a great show put on by DSE, which is great considering the amount of mismatches that most thought plagued the fight card. Stunning KO upsets (Lil’ Nog especially), an absolute war between Nick Diaz and the Fireball Kid Takanori Gomi that saw the UFC vet Diaz choke out Gomi with a gogoplata, and another highlight KO of Wanderlei Silva by Dan Henderson highlighted the event. While the production style of Pride may take some getting used to in the American market, the event was a much better representation of Pride than their first foray into the US this past October.
PRIDE 33 FULL RESULTS
Dan Henderson def. Wanderlei Silva by KO at 2:08, Round 3
Nick Diaz def. Takanori Gomi by Gogoplata at 1:46, Round 2
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua def. Alistair Overeem by TKO at 3:37, Round 1
Sergei Kharitonov def. Mike Russow by Armbar at 3:46, Round 1
Hayato “Mach” Sakurai def. Mac Danzig by TKO at 4:01, Round 2
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou def. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira by TKO at 0:23, Round 1
James Lee def. Travis Wiuff by Guillotine Choke at 0:39, Round 1
Frank Trigg def. Kazuo Misaki by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Joachim Hansen def. Jason Ireland by Armbar at 2:33, Round 3
That being said, there are some stories out there that claim the results of Pride 33 will hurt the promotion in the long run. The first one by Zach Arnold was first printed on BoxingScene.com.
PRIDE 33 will go down as an event that, on paper, had a fight card line-up that looked like a turkey but produced some exciting fights. Short-term, the event was successful. Long-term, however, major damage was done to several of PRIDE’s key Japanese assets.
There is no turning back to Japan now for PRIDE. *Read More*
Arnold goes on to intricately detail how the surprising results will hurt Pride, especially in their stronghold of Japan itself.
A few days later, Al Yu, a Japanese columnist for MMAWeekly who specializies in covering the Far East MMA scene for the site, offered very similar setiments to Arnold. He even called it a disaster, the same as Arnold.
Operating under financial turmoil, DSE continued forward with their second U.S. show in hopes to make a further impact in a market currently dominated by the UFC. Pride 33: The Second Coming produced many exciting fights and was easily one of the best events of the year. Of the nine scheduled fights, only one went to a decision. So why was it a disaster?
What makes an organization is its stable of fighters. Pride’s large roster consists of some of the best fighters in the world. Any time a marquee fighter loses, it can have an adverse affect on an organization. In this case, four of Pride’s stars faltered on a crucial night for the Japanese organization.
There is no question that the event itself was a huge success, especially fight wise. The key will be where the PPV buy numbers end up, especially considering how poor the PPV numbers for the October event turned out. Let’s hope for the best.
Finally, for the first time ever, Pride CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara made a comment that did not deny that Pride may be up for sale. In the past, he has always firmly denied the sales rumors. From Loretta Hunt’s article on the Fight Network…
“Maybe,” PRIDE CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara answered of rumors that the PRIDE organization could go up for sale. “Today[‘s] show is very good [though].”