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
News and Notes
- Tony Loiseleur of Sherdog sat down for an awesome three-page interview with PRIDE Lightweight Champion Takanori Gomi. Be sure to check it out.
- Sherdog is also reporting that Hector Lombard may still have a chance to fight at UFC 78 after all:
On Monday, the fighter’s American representatives told Sherdog.com that in spite of Lombard’s difficulties they remain hopeful he will be granted a P1 visa, which is available to athletes and entertainers coming to the U.S. to participate in internationally recognized events for a U.S. employer.
- The Fight Network is reporting that the IFL has signed Jay Hieron to a contract extension:
Welterweight contender Jay Hieron confirmed today he has re-signed with the International Fight League through the completion of its 2008 campaign. A product of Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, Hieron holds four victories in six fights with the promotion.
- Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer fame has left FOX Sports for Yahoo! Sports...
- I hate to force publicity out there but a few members of the gym I train out of as well as other members of Team Balance will be competing in grappling matches at the 40th Anniversary of Sports at the Spectrum. The event will be held on October 19th at 7:00 PM at the Wachovia Spectrum of course. Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski is set to be a guest at the event.
MMA News has more on the event...
- Adam Morgan looks back on Chris Horodecki’s fall through the ropes during his fight with Bart Palaszewski earlier this year.
Two time HERO`S 154-pound tournament champion, Gesias “JZ” Calvancanti, took time to call out PRIDE lightweight champion Takanori Gomi following his tournament victory at the K-1 HERO’s Tournament Finals in Yokohama, Japan.
“I want to fight tougher opposition,” Calvancanti said. “I have to fight the best to become the best. I’d like other fighters from PRIDE to follow the footsteps of Kazushi Sakuraba and Ikuhisa Minowa and join HERO`S. I’d like to face current PRIDE lightweight champion Takanori Gomi if he joins HERO’S.”
“I know a lot about Gomi,” said the 23-year-old American Top Team product. “He has good hands and is one of the best in the world and has an exciting style. I studied his game since he fought my teammate Marcus Aurelio two times.”
Gesias “JZ” Calvancanti sports a mixed martial arts record of 14-1-1 with decisive victories over the likes of Vitor Ribeiro, Nam Phan, Rani Yahya, Hiroyuki Takaya, and Michihiro Omigawa.
Takanori Gomi sports a mixed martial arts record of 27-3 with victories over the likes of Hayato Sakurai, Luiz Azeredo, Marcus Aurelio, and Mitsuhiro Ishida. Gomi hasn’t fought since February when he was submitted with a gogoplata by Nick Diaz at PRIDE 33: The Second Coming. The fight was later ruled a no contest when Nick Diaz failed his post-fight drug test. According to the article, Gomi could join K-1 Hero’s when his contract with PRIDE expires at the end of September.
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.
History will be made this weekend. It doesn’t even seem like it right? Where the hell is the hype for UFC 75? I wish I knew…
Anyway, the UFC has been gracious enough to at least promote this event as part of the UFC vs PRIDE battle that we were all promised back in March. UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton Jackson and PRIDE Middleweight Champion Dan Henderson are to fight to unify the titles this Saturday.
Now let’s all be honest here. Even if Henderson wins, which I think he will, the UFC title is still going to remain just that. The PRIDE belt will most likely be absorbed into it unless the UFC has some kind of plan that we don’t know about.
So is UFC 75 the last we are going to see or hear about PRIDE? I’m not so sure. There’s always that remote chance that White and company somehow find a way to salvage the company and strike a TV deal over in Japan. My point is about the three other PRIDE belts that fighters still hold. It seems that PRIDE Lightweight Champion Takanori Gomi is going to stay in Japan and sign with K-1 Hero’s. The UFC could always vacate the title or they could give it to another former PRIDE fighter and then unify it that way.
Henderson still has PRIDE’s Welterweight Title as well. White has already said that he’s not sure if Henderson would get an immediate shot at Anderson Silva or Rich Franklin after the Jackson fight, making it seem like he is going to have to put the welterweight strap on the line too.
Then there’s always Fedor. Has he signed with the UFC or not? You know as much I do right now. I guess we’ll find out Saturday. If so, that’s yet another PRIDE belt that needs to be unified.
My guess is that the PRIDE label isn’t going anywhere, at least for the next few months…
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.
K-1 parent company FEG stated earlier this week that PRIDE Lightweight Champion Takanori Gomi has made it clear that he is interested in signing with the promotion in the coming months according to The Fight Network.
“I’m not sure on the progress of the contract,” Tanigawa said, “but he has stated his interest in transferring to HERO’S.” Gomi’s PRIDE contract ends in September, and it appears definite his move to HERO’S will follow soon after.
Gomi seems to remain committed to fighting in his home country of Japan. He wouldn’t be the lone former PRIDE competitor that has decided to stay in his native land - Kiyoshi Tamura and Ikuhisa Minowa both recently signed with K-1 as well. If he does indeed decide that K-1 is the right promotion for him, he will have the opportunity to face some good competition.
Well this is crazy…
Apparently Nick Diaz has failed the post-fight drug test he took directly after his submission win over PRIDE Lightweight Champion Takanori Gomi at PRIDE 33: The Second Coming. The Nevada State Athletic Commission stated that he has tested positive for marijuana.
Next comes the standard procedure that we are starting to become all too familar with…
Diaz will have to schedule a hearing with the NSAC if he decides to go against the ruling. He will most likely be suspended for six months, at least that’s what has happened for other athletes who have tested positive for the drug recently. The big question is whether or not this suspension will be issued along with his six month medical suspension or if it will be issued after that.
In case anyone was wondering, all of the other fighters passed their drug tests with flying colors…
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].”