Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz has revealed that the UFC plans for him to return to the Octagon in May of next year.
The news comes from a report by MMA Weekly.
Ortiz has only competed once in 2007, fighting to a draw against Rashad Evans at UFC 73 in June. Since then Ortiz has opted to take some time off in order to heal reoccuring injuries and film the next season of Donald Trump’s reality series, “The Apprentice”, where Ortiz will participate along with other celebrity contestants.
With his back injury apparently much better, Ortiz stated that UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta informed him that he would be fighting during the weekend of May 3rd:
“My last fight, before I fought Rashad (Evans), I wasn’t 100 percent, and I just wanted to make sure if I ever fight again I’m going to be 100 percent,” Ortiz said. “The back injury that I sustained kind of hindered me for fight time. Now it’s a lot better, and May will be my next fight. I spoke to Lorenzo Fertitta and it looks like they’re going to wait until May, so the next Cinco de Mayo weekend will be Tito Ortiz’s next fight.”
No word on a potential opponent for Ortiz at this point.
The UFC held a conference call with the media yesterday afternoon to promote this weekend’s UFC 78: Validation which is set to take place live from the brand new Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey this Saturday. UFC President Dana White was the host of the call. Featured fighters included Michael Bisping, Rashad Evans, and Houston Alexander.
- White stated that Randy Couture contacted him and requested a face-to-face meeting. White said that the meeting will most likely take place at some point this week. White also noted that Couture has been offered an official title defense against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for early next year. Couture has not given an answer as of yet. White says that there are no plans for an interim heavyweight title if Couture chooses not to accept.
- When it comes to Sean Sherk, White says that Sherk will now most likely be stripped of his title if the California State Athletic Commission refuses to overturn his positive steroids test next month. That means Penn and Stevenson would fight for the actual title at UFC 80 and that Sherk would become a mandatory challenger once his suspension was over.
- No decision on whether or not UFC 80 will be broadcasted on PPV or Spike TV.
- The UFC held a meeting with all of it’s fighters last week in Las Vegas where a variety of topics were discussed. Topics included the steroids problem, contracts, taxes, organization policy, and how to deal with the media. Rumor has it that White told fighters they no longer be permitted to participate in internet radio shows. That seems to be false however as Spencer Fisher was on Sherdog yesterday.
- White says that he is slated to meet with officials in the New York State Athletic Commission to discuss the possible legalization of MMA in the state.
- White noted that rematches of Tito Ortiz-Rashad Evans and Michael Bisping-Matt Hamill were originally supposed to headline UFC 78 but both Hamill and Ortiz claimed that they were injured and couldn’t compete.
- The next UFC Fight Night is scheduled for January 23rd. No word on a location or potential participants on the card yet.
- The UFC plans on returning to Florida at some point next year but the show will most likely be a PPV instead of the usual UFC Fight Night cards that have taken place in the state.
- While White did not reveal which major network he was currently in discussions with, he admitted that he was indeed in talks to have the UFC air on a “prime-time” network in the future.
- White has no idea concerning who is next in line to challenge Anderson Silva for the UFC Middleweight Title. White noted that he has attempted multiple times to try and get Dan Henderson to drop down to middleweight but Henderson seems to want to stay at 205 lbs.
In response to the rapid growth of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Round 5 has just released the first official line of MMA collectible figures. The collectibles are set to launch in North America in over 1000 different stores this holiday season. They will also be available internationally online.
“This first series showcases the most exciting championship fighters to date, in their most well known poses,” said Barron Lau, Marketing Director of Round 5. He continues to explain, “Series 1: Champions, will include fan favourites; Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, Tito ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ Ortiz, Matt Hughes, and Randy ‘The Natural’ Couture. Each collectible is expertly sculpted, stands 6” tall and is fully pose-able. Select characters even include accessories such Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson’s signature chain. Each fighter had direct input in the design and development of their own collectible figure including the look, feel and pose. We are honoured to be releasing these collectibles at a time when the sport has achieved so much success.”
The collectible figures are sculpted by famous McFarlane artist and owner of INU Art design studio, David Cortes. He is best known for sculpting comic-related and mainstream characters like Hellboy, Spawn, and the Incredible Hulk. Cortes takes great pride in the level of detail and likeness captured in the 6” tall caricature-style figures.
Interest in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts has grown dramatically over the past several years, surpassing both boxing and professional wrestling in popularity and Pay-Per-View sales in some areas of the world, to currently become one of the fastest growing sports around. “Due to the mainstream rise in popularity of professional MMA, the response from our website has been tremendous. These collectibles will be the hottest sellers for the upcoming Christmas season,” said Damon Lau, CEO Round 5.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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.
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
The UFC has won battles in the past.
All we have to do is look no further than the tale of how Zuffa came in and saved the promotion that was nearly driven into the ground by Senator John McCain and the idea that mixed martial arts was nothing more than human cockfighting. Fast forward almost seven years later and the UFC has become the driving force behind MMA’s giant growth in popularity in recent years.
Now the UFC is seemingly on top of the world. Yet they have another battle to take on.
Something a little different here…
Tito Ortiz’s girlfriend (Jenna Jameson) and best friend (Justin McCully) battle it out to see who knows Tito better for ESPN The Magazine.
No offense, but this is terrible. I’d rather watch McCully’s fight against Antoni Hardonk and that’s saying something.
News and Notes
- Palace Fighting Championship will be in talks with both Kimbo Slice and Tank Abbott this morning in an attempt to try and bring the bout between the two to PFC’s show on October 18th:
“I have spoken to both sides’ management,” said PFC’s Christian Printup. “I am submitting a formal offer (Wednesday) morning. If it satisfies their financial needs the fight will happen on Oct. 18 in the PFC. If it doesn’t, I can take comfort in knowing we made a very substantial offer nonetheless.”
- Speaking of Kimbo Slice, he is set to be profiled on ESPN’s newest venture, E:60:
The new sports news show from ESPN, E:60, will be taking a closer look into some of sports’ larger stories, much like 60 Minutes or Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. The surprising thing? Kimbo Slice will be profiled by Rachel Nichols in one of the segments, according to the October 8th edition of USA Today.
- Tonight’s episode of UFC Unleashed will feature Rory Singer vs Josh Haynes from UFC: The Final Chapter as well as Rich Franklin vs Anderson Silva from UFC 64.
- MMA Opinon discusses why Dave Meltzer’s move to Yahoo! Sports is going to revolutionize MMA media and slams others:
Meltzer’s ascension is not only deserved, but it could shape the way we read and digest thoughts and ideas on MMA. Coverage effects how we all view our MMA. The Sam Caplans’ and Todd Martins’ of the world are excelling because they understand the synergy and goals of business and entertainment as much as true sport. They are equally necessary. And somewhere in between Josh Gross and noted Negative Nancy Zach Arnold (great for community of MMA journalism, but often a malcontent when the sky isn’t falling) there is Dave Meltzer. Well, in between it all is Fight Linker, but that’s commentary.
Meltzer has waited a lifetime for compliments like the one given to him by famous sports writer Frank Deford this past summer. Often the object of disrespect, Meltzer (who writes a giant newsletter or two by himself, did radio shows, and covered ten times what anyone felt was required), was called the best sports journalist in the world by Deford. Here’s hoping he gets to make his mark at Yahoo Sports (he’ll dwarf Kevin Iole in months) and gets to retire from his newsletter. Dave deserves to watch his child grow up and not worry about losing another friend in pro wrestling.
Zach Arnold defends his work:
Who predicted the collapse of PRIDE before it was ever conventional wisdom in any media circles? I took two years of abuse for that one. The track record is good.
- UFC Daily is reporting that Frank Mir will definitely not be facing Fabricio Werdum at UFC 79 because he won’t be fighting until February or March of next year anyway.
- Fightlinker tells Dana White to not expect any favors from Tito Ortiz.
- Royce Gracie is teaching the Palm Beach, FL police department BJJ.
Forrest Griffin wishes you a good morning.
News and Notes
- Our rumors section has been updated…
- Luke Thomas of Bloody Elbow is reporting that the The Ultimate Fighter 7 will focus solely on the middleweight division:
UFC matchmaker Joe Silva made an appearance at the Combat Sports Challenge in Richmond, VA this past weekend where he announced to the crowd that the next season of The Ultimate Fighter will focus exclusively on the middleweight class. No further details are available at this time. However, if ultimately true, this would be a boon to a comparatively weak division. Stay tuned.
- Fight Opinion via MMA Movement is reporting that renowned grappler Rondalo “Jacare” Souza has announced that he has signed with the UFC.
Souza’s manager, Andre Cabral, apparently made the announcement at a recent Amazon Challenge event and was then later interviewed by a Brazilian news station.
Souza currently sports a professional MMA record of 5-1. He is a veteran of Jungle Fight, fighting in that promotion on four separate occasions. His lone loss came at the hands of Jorge Patino in 2003.
- Rafael Cordeiro of Chute Boxe has stated that Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos will fight at the next K-1 Hero’s event in October and then at Cage Rage 24 in December.
- MMA Junkie is reporting that Renato “Babalu” Sobral has signed Ken Pavia as his new agent:
Renato “Babalu” Sobral, who recently signed with Strikeforce after the UFC terminated his contract, has become the latest client of Ken Pavia’s MMA Agents sports agency.
Pavia told MMA Junkie of the signing late last night.
Other fighters that Pavia has recently added to his stable also include Cyrille Diabate, James Thompson, Carmelo Marerro, Todd Moore, and Carlo Prater according to the post.
- Fightlinker is passing along it’s own insider information concerning Tito Ortiz and his potential opponent at UFC 78:
I guess we’re at that size now where we start getting tips on stuff. On Saturday night, Tito Ortiz was at the Little Creek Casino in Shelton, WA. and got on the mic to say “Blah blah blah blah, my next fight will be against Wanderlei Silva or Rashad Evans”
Sherdog: PRIDE and Prejudice
MMA Weekly: Marines and Sailors use MMA as part of Training
Bloody Elbow: Rankings Roundup: Heavyweight
Five Ounces of Pain: Frank Shamrock to be sued?
FOX Sports: UFC’s light heavyweights carry the sport
Fight Opinion: A Look Behind the Curtain: Zuffa’s Finances Come Into Focus
Yahoo! Sports: Strikeforce proves it isn’t an all-UFC world
411 Mania: Punch Drunk Hangover
News and Notes
- Our rumors section has been updated once again…
- Sam Caplan of Five Ounces of Pain and CBS Sports fame has learned that Denis Kang has officially signed with K-1 Hero’s:
Denis Kang has revealed to FiveOuncesofPain.com that he has formally signed a contract with K-1 HERO’s. The deal between Kang and K-1 had been rumored for quite some time but was not finalized until recently.
The date of Kang’s first fight and his first opponent have yet to be determined.
- Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer is reporting that the UFC has signed Ryo Chonan, for real this time:
UFC has officially signed Ryo Chonan, a former Pride fighter
- A man was apparently shot and then ran away before medics could get to him at Minnesota’s first MMA event last night:
A man was shot during a martial arts competition at the Target Center late Saturday, according to witnesses.
Those in attendance told the Pioneer Press they saw a man at the top of a stairwell in Section 130 fire a shot from a handgun. As patrons scattered in panic, another man was seen falling or sliding down a stairwell.
A Minneapolis police operator said the victim ran off before officers could help, according to the Associated Press. No one was immediately taken into custody in the shooting, which was reported at 10:51 p.m.
Touch of gloves to Zach Arnold and Fight Opinion for that find.
- It looks like Tito Ortiz will be signing a contract extension with the UFC:
I’ll be re-signing with the UFC and they gave me what I want. I know a lot of other companies that are asking about me and I can’t count how many phone calls I’ve said “I can’t talk to you guys anymore,” because it’s against my contract. I’ve got guys literally who have called me and they’ve said, “Is this Tito?” And I’ve said, “Yes.” And they’ll say, “This is so and so.” And I’ll have to stop them right there and tell them, “Oh, let me stop you there. I can’t talk to you no more.”
- Caleb Newby OF 411 Mania is reporting that Roger Huerta has stated he will most likely be fighting at UFC 79 against an opponent yet to be named:
At Saturday evening’s WFC MMA event in Minneapolis, Roger Huerta announced to the crowd that he is looking to have his next fight on the UFC’s December 29 event. I was able to speak to Roger for a few minutes after. He said he’d recently returned from London and is finalizing the details of the Dec. 29 date with the UFC. Huerta also stated there is no opponent lined up as of yet.