Urijah Faber. Photo property of World Extreme Cagefighting.
“Four years ago I had so many videotapes that I was running out of room to store them,” he said. “But now, since the advent of YouTube, I’ve moved my VCR out and I just spend a whole lot of time on YouTube. It’s indispensable. It’s incredible. Before I had to try really, really hard to find tapes and go through fighters’ reels. Now with YouTube it’s cut way down on the amount of work you have to do to see fighters. A guy gets a fight, puts it on YouTube, sends an e-mail with a link and that’s it.”
— WEC matchmaker Sean Shelby discusses his preference of YouTube over VHS these days when scouting fighters for Zuffa in a recent interview over at MMA FanHouse. While the UFC and a few other of the bigger organizations are vehemently against their copyrighted video showing up on video-sharing websites, almost all of the smaller regional shows aren’t, giving Shelby and Joe Silva easy access to a budding prospect’s latest fights.
Anthony Johnson. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Here are your fight announcements for the evening of April 23, 2009.
— A welterweight bout between rising contenders Anthony Johnson and Matt Brown has been confirmed for the main card of “The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale”, which will take place on June 20 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Johnson was last seen earned a first-round TKO of Luigi Fioravanti at UFC Fight Night 17 in February while Brown recently scored a brutal stoppage of Pete Sell at UFC 96 last month. [UFC.com]
— ShoXC veteran Jared Hamman has been tapped to replace Renato “Babalu” Sobral against rising Brazilian light heavyweight prospect Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante at Strikeforce’s “Lawler vs. Shields” event on June 6 in St. Louis, Missouri. Sobral was forced to withdraw from the bout after learning that the expected birth of his daughter was going to fall too close to the date of the fight. Former UFC heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman reportedly turned down an offer to face Cavalcante. [Sherdog.com]
— Takeya Mizugaki, who received loads of praise after his showing against Miguel Torres at WEC 40 earlier this month, is reportedly likely to face former featherweight title challenger Jeff Curran in a bantamweight bout planned for WEC 42 in August. The fight has not yet been signed, but the promotion as well as the fighters are said to all be interested in the matchup. [MMA Fanhouse]
Gina Carano. Photo by Esther Lin/EliteXC.
Gina Carano isn’t officially set to return to action just yet. Despite Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker’s wishes, he has not yet been able to ink MMA’s biggest female star to a contract. What’s the hold up? Reported interest in Carano by Zuffa.
The UFC isn’t expected to promote any fights involving women anytime in the near future, but the possibility is real, and UFC President Dana White has said so. More feasible seems the option of the WEC adding a women’s division following the folding of it’s light heavyweight, middleweight, and welterweight divisions over the past six months.
So if the choice had to be made, where would Gina go? It seems she’s leaning towards Zuffa:
Let’s just say that you were a real free agent and not tied to any organization. Do you think you would have decided to sign with Zuffa instead of Strikeforce?
I think that I would probably pick Zuffa because that’s the big show, you know? To be a part of that would be amazing, but you know, here comes Strikeforce and they’ve got this CBS and Showtime deal and they are working their way up into being good competition. They have been respectful and haven’t tried to push it too far in terms of being competitors with the UFC. They’ve built their company on some good roots and now they are ready to branch out on Showtime and CBS. But as of right now, the UFC is the big show, and for a female, it would be an amazing opportunity.
Gina also mentions in the interview with Ariel that interest by White and company isn’t the only thing holding up talks with Strikeforce. Should she sign with the UFC or WEC, a potential court battle with Coker and Strikeforce could ensue due to her EliteXC contract being owned by them. On top of that, the chances of a long-awaited fight with Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos would continue to dwindle.
Frank Mir. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
In case your TiVo exploded, here’s a recap: Mir, routinely celebrated as a stellar technical analyst, ignores any and all offense from Joseph Benavidez and Takeya Mizugaki in otherwise brilliant fights while butchering the names of any and all brave enough to step into the cage with the UFC’s interim heavyweight champ on the mic (though I suspect Jameel Massouh may be used to it.)
Along the way, Mir confused grappling legend Saulo Ribeiro, who has no recollection of giving Jeff Curran his BJJ black belt (see: Pedro Sauer), before leaping into the cage during the main event to give Miguel Torres a sponge bath between the third and fourth rounds, though it may be hard to imagine why MMA’s bantamweight king would have needed one. According to Mir, he didn’t have to break a sweat over his 25-minute war with Mizugaki.
I’ve noticed Mir’s continual mistakes during WEC broadcasts long before Sunday night… so much so, that I essentially zoned him out during the Torres-Mizugaki fight. His bias towards fighters that he enjoys watching - Torres, Urijah Faber, and Jeff Curran for starters - is extremely clear and ultimately his biggest fault as a color commentator.
It’s one thing to point out a fighter’s strengths and assets, but to do it over and over again is tiring to listen to. And doing it to the point where it’s starting to blind your view of how a fight is going is when it has to stop, for both Mir and his listeners’ sake.
Sunday night obviously wasn’t Mir’s best performance, but it hasn’t destroyed his reputation. His past work still makes him one of the better commentators out there, at least in my opinion. Maybe Jens Pulver stepping in for Mir while he is training for a fight and vice versa could be the answer for the WEC’s color woes.
Mike Thomas Brown. Photo property of World Extreme Cagefighting.
American Top Team product Mike Thomas Brown will defend his WEC featherweight title in a rematch against former champion Urijah Faber at WEC 41, which takes place on June 7 at the ARCO Arena in Faber’s hometown of Sacramento, California.
World Extreme Cagefighting officially announced the event and the bout this afternoon. Brown and Faber originally fought at WEC 36 in November of last year, where Brown shocked the MMA world with a surprising stoppage of Faber in the first round.
“I’m really excited to get this title shot,” Faber said in a press release today. “I had the belt for a long time and I’m eager to get some redemption. I think the biggest thing is I have to be a little more careful. The last time I got caught for being careless. I sort of live by the sword and die by the sword. He’s one of the best fighters in the world, so I need to be on my game and not his game and not make mistakes.”
Since their first meeting, Brown made a successful defense of his title with a quick submission win over Leonard Garcia earlier this month while Faber earned his second straight victory against former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver in January.
While the WEC’s eventual move to pay-per-view has been prominent news lately, the promotion has reportedly been working on a new multi-year deal with Versus, which has been the exclusive broadcaster of WEC events for nearly two years now:
Versus is about to sign a multiyear rights extension with World Extreme Cagefighting, an important renewal for the mixed martial arts property. The long-term extension, which should be finalized in the next few weeks, will have Versus televising more WEC fight cards in 2009. Last year, it had six WEC events on its schedule.
Versus is paying a rights fee for the programming, but details were not available. The extension will be for more than two years. The deal will give Versus some broadband rights as well, allowing Versus.com to carry some WEC bouts not telecast on the network, sources said. The bouts will not be streamed live.
It’s clear that the WEC isn’t ready to hold a PPV event that would generate financial success just yet. They might not even be ready before the end of this year, which is why having Versus dedicated to them for the near future is extremely important.
Other than that, the potential of Versus.com being able to host some of the non-televised preliminary bouts is another step in the right direction. It’s obviously not going to gain the popularity of the “UFC Vault” but should allow fans to be able to watch fights they haven’t seen and follow some lesser-known fighters.
Urijah Faber. Photo property of World Extreme Cagefighting.
World Extreme Cagefighting has been rumored to be eventually transitioning to holding pay-per-view events in the near future for quite a while now. The change is inevitable, but even after two successful years of promoting shows, questions still remain concerning whether or not it would be a smart decision for Zuffa to go forward with their plan.
Can the WEC actually be a success on PPV? Paul Kocoras wonders:
Initially, it appears that the headwinds faced by the WEC in its move to pay-per-view are just too strong for it to have anywhere near the success of UFC. But is this really a good yardstick? Probably not, as gate revenue and sponsorship alone is likely enough to support much of the lower cost structure of WEC. Even Zuffa is not immune to the hurdles of MMA promotion and cannot instantly replicate UFC’s success.
Most likely, Zuffa will not be overly worried about the initial buy rates. The WEC is a growth engine, and essentially a first-mover claim on the potential that is lower-weight MMA. If Zuffa is correct, and MMA continues its impressive growth pattern, it only makes sense to stake their claim on the premium product in featherweight and bantamweight MMA, and begin charging for it as such. Whether it becomes a UFC-level cash machine seems doubtful at the present, and almost entirely swings on the fans’ acceptance of smaller fighters and MMA growth in the Latin American market. To deny its long-term potential would be foolish, and Zuffa will be ready with a pay-per-view product should those headwinds reverse to tailwinds.
The jury is still out on whether or not the WEC can do well on PPV, even in my own head. At the moment, I think it’s doubtful that the WEC will achieve anywhere near the success that the UFC does in terms of buyrates. I don’t give the WEC very good chances of breaking the grasp that the UFC brand name has on the sport right now, even if they do feature different weight classes.
The hardcore fans will always be there, but it’s the casual fan that is going to make or break the WEC for Zuffa. I have a good amount of friends that I would consider “casual fans”. Do they know when the next UFC is going to be? You bet. The next WEC on Versus? Not so much…
Johny Hendricks. Photo property of World Extreme Cagefighting.
Johny Hendricks and Alex Serdyukov received “Fight of the Night” honors for their three-round welterweight battle at World Extreme Cagefighting 39, which took place on Sunday night in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hendricks defeated Serdyukov via unanimous decision.
“Knockout of the Night” honors went to Damacio Page for his brutal 18-second stoppage of former top-ranked bantamweight Marcos Galvao. Mike Thomas Brown’s successful WEC featherweight title defense over Leonard Garcia by way of an arm-triangle choke earned him “Submission of the Night”.
All of the aforementioned fighters received $7,500 bonuses.
Mike Thomas Brown. Photo property of World Extreme Cagefighting.
Mike Thomas Brown made a successful defense of his WEC featherweight title Sunday night, dispatching of top contender Leonard Garcia with relative ease after blasting the hometown hero with an early right hand and then eventually submitting him with an arm-triangle before the completion of the first round.
On the undercard, newcomer Ricardo Lamas spoiled Bart Palaszewski’s shot at the lightweight belt in the near future by grinding out a split decision victory despite coming into the bout on just a few days notice. Former WEC lightweight champ Rob McCullough also got back into the win column, earning a lackluster decision over Marcus Hicks.
Complete results from the event are below. More coverage to come.
Mike Brown def. Leonard Garcia - Submission (Arm-Triangle Choke), R1
Ricardo Lamas def. Bart Palaszewski - Split Decision
Jose Aldo def. Chris Mickle - TKO (Strikes), R1
Rob McCullough def. Marcus Hicks - Majority Decision
Danny Castillo def. Phil Cardella - Split Decision
Damacio Page def. Marcos Galvao - KO (Punches), R1
Johny Hendricks dex. Alex Serdyukov - Unanimous Decision
Kenji Osawa def. Rafael Rebello - Split Decision
Alex Karalexis def. Greg McIntyre - TKO (Strikes), R1
John Franchi def. Mike Budnik - Split Decision
Mike Pierce def. Justin Haskins - TKO (Strikes), R3
Bart Palaszewski. Photo property of World Extreme Cagefighting.
This Sunday’s WEC event lost a little bit of its luster yesterday when Rich Crunkilton was forced to withdraw from his co-main event bout against Bart Palaszewski. In place of Crunkilton will be undefeated Brazilian newcomer Ricardo Lamas, who will enter into the fight with Palaszewski a winner of his first five professional fights.
Palaszewski has taken Crunkilton’s injury pretty hard and feels that regardless of whether or not Lamas is a worthy opponent, their matchup on Sunday presents a “lose-lose situation” for the former IFL standout:
“That kind of sucks, he doesn’t have the exposure in the WEC that Rich did,” Palaszewski said on Tuesday, four hours after hearing the news. “So I don’t know if I’ll have to have another fight in the WEC before I get a shot at Jamie. It’s almost like a lose-lose situation. It’s like when I fought Ivan Menjivar. If he would have beaten me then people would have been like, ‘Oh that guy got beat by a 145 pounder. When I won the fight it was like, ‘Oh Bart beat a 45 pounder (laughs).’ So this kid is 5 and 0 and he’s a solid fighter but he doesn’t have the exposure, he doesn’t have the experience that I do. If he goes the distance it will be like, ‘Oh he went the distance with Bart for three rounds.’ But if he beats me I’m kind of screwed. So I have a lot more to lose than to gain from this fight.”
The only bad part about this whole situation for Palaszewski in my opinion is that he has a chance of getting upset by Lamas. In all likelihood, Donald Cerrone and Jamie Varner are going to rematch for the lightweight title later this year, leaving Palaszewski having to fight Crunkilton for a title shot when he’s healthy again anyway.