Monday, October 29, 2007
Back in September, MMA Journalist gazed into its crystal ball and tried to get a handle on the November 30th final round of the Ring of Combat "Beasts of the Northeast" tournament. Well, it turns out Eddie Fyvie would bang up his knee and have to drop out, Joe Aviles couldn't stop Charlie Brenneman's takedowns, and Marc Stevens failed to out-hustle Lance Everson. Go on. Say it. My crystal ball sucks. However, it doesn't take a crystal ball to see how things will play out now that the final match-ups have been determined. For example, in the lightweight bracket, Dave Sachs will test his ground game against Brian McLaughlin. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that McLaughlin will remove one of Sachs' limbs and beat him over the head with it. In the welterweight bracket, Mark Berraciol will square off against Charlie Brenneman. There will be no lay-and-pray in this one; expect Brenneman to put Berraciol on his back and pound on him for the duration. In the middleweight match-up, Mike Massenzio will take on the aforementioned Everson. Considering that Massenzio is a well-credentialed wrestler who walks around at about 300 pounds and cuts to 185, Everson will have his hands full. Rounding out the tournament, John Doyle will meet Ricardo Romero at light-heavyweight in a battle of mean dispositions. Whoever wins this one will most likely eat kittens and steal Christmas presents after the show. Fault the MMA Journalist crystal ball all you want, but you can take these predictions to the bank!
When Tom Velasquez and Anthony "Guido" LaDonna have a battle that ends up being the Ring of Combat 16 fight of the night, a wealth of jokes spring to mind. I mean, come on! Velasquez versus "Guido"? But MMA Journalist won't go there, because that bout - which saw Velasquez put LaDonna through the submission ringer in Round One, and LaDonna tear Velasquez up on the feet in the second round before getting caught with a lightning-quick heelhook in the third - should get nothing but praise. No satire, no sarcasm, no snarkiness. Just praise. Velasquez and LaDonna fought with heart, and their efforts when the chokes, armbars, fists and shins were flying deserve a heaping portion of accolades and a healthy serving of respect.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Yesterday's M-1 Global press conference in New York City was like many press conferences announcing the "next big thing". This time around it was Fedor Emelianenko being showered with roses and accolades, and there was the obligatory "we're all about the fighters" sweet talk mixed with promises of match-ups transcending organizations - all of which was tempered with a dash of "no TV deal as of yet". If you've been to one you've been to them all, and history shows us that these big-talkers always start strong and end up worse than the Hindenburg (a Hindenburg fueled not by hydrogen but by wildly-excessive fighter salaries and other combustible expenses). Yet one gentleman's presence gave me pause: M-1 Global's president and CEO, Monte Cox. Yes, the same Monte Cox who has managed dozens upon dozens of top-ranked fighters, and who has promoted dozens upon dozens of Extreme Challenge events (and even co-promoted a UFC). He's the real deal, and a shrewd-as-hell businessman - which tells me that M-1 Global isn't something that should be dismissed outright. Last night I heard talk of reverse-mergers to raise capital, financial backers in Mother Russia and an MMA version of "Rumble in the Jungle", and saw Gary Shaw of ProElite and Gareb Shamus of the IFL shaking some hands, but the real news? Monte Cox is driving this zeppelin; there's a good chance this one might actually fly.
After a tumultuous week that saw negotiations for Pride champ Fedor Emelianenko go down the crapper and the sudden resignation of UFC champ Randy Couture, Saturday night's UFC 77 seemed to be business as usual for the flagship promotion - with virtually no mention made of the two lost stars. In lieu addressing the news that had dominated the headlines leading up to the Cinncinatti event, Zuffa instead repeatedly cut to shots of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira giving the camera a "thumbs-up", and alluded to a possible match-up against former champ Tim Sylvia. It was a Jedi Mind Trick of the first order. In fact, when commentator Joe Rogan attempted to broach the subject, a cloaked and hooded Dana White waved his hand and said, "Randy and Fedor aren't the heavyweights you're looking for. Move along. Move along." Rogan complied, declaring with enthusiasm, "Tim Sylvia is an animal! That man is my hero!" Some of us, however, aren't so weak-minded.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Rich Franklin returns to the Octagon at UFC 77 to rematch with Anderson Silva and reclaim his belt, and he's determined to brutalize the champion with the same technique that very nearly finished the Brazilian in their last outing: headbutts to the knees. Yes, it's been over a year since UFC 64, when Franklin put his 185-pound title on the line and met the Muay Thai-specialist's dangerous striking with attacks aimed at Silva's shins and knuckles. That night, however, it was Franklin's headbutts to his opponent's knees that saw the most success - and you can bet that Franklin will employ that technique with fervor on Saturday night en route to snatching back his middleweight crown.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Watching Carlos Moreno fight is like watching a clip from "World's Scariest Police Chases". Why? Because no matter what happens, you know someone is about to get fucked up. This Saturday, at Battle Cage Xtreme III in Atlantic City, Moreno will turn on the siren and flashing lights, and his DWI-speeding-riding around in a pickup truck with two tires blown out and sparks cascading off the rims-opponent will be UFC vet Kevin Jordan. How's this one going to end? Well, Moreno's only loss was to a Matt Serra-trained submission specialist - and Jordan is no Serra-trained submission specialist. You can bet the dangerous Rhino Fight Team slugger won't be the one rolling his vehicle six times before it crashes into an embankment and bursts into flames.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Randy Couture, legendary competitor and current UFC heavweight champ, announced today that he is resigning from the promotion - a move that includes giving up his title, his gig as a commentator, and foregoing the last two bouts on his contract. It's a turn of events that comes as a shock to fans worldwide, and coupled with the news that the highly sought-after Pride champ Fedor Emeliankenko signed with M-1 and not the UFC, it's undoubtedly a blow to the uber-popular MMA organization. However, Couture's departure is neither unprecedented, nor entirely unexpected. In 1998, he left the organization (then owned by SEG, not Zuffa) over a contract dispute, returning to the Octagon in 2000, and he retired briefly in 2006 only to return in 2007. Also, at a recent press conference, Couture attempted to ask UFC president Dana White a question, but was assaulted by security guards wielding tasers. Besides acting and coaching, what's next for Couture? Where does this leave the UFC and how will they fill their now-vacant heavyweight champion slot? Sadly, for fans of the athlete and the promotion, only time will tell.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Contract renegotiations can be a real bitch, as the IFL found out recently when it came time to re-sign heavyweight star Ben Rothwell and light-heavyweight Mike Whitehead for the 2008 season. Apparently, this Monte Cox character is a tough customer in terms of managing fighters, and Rothwell and Whitehead did not sign on the dotted line at the appointed hour - prompting IFL head honcho Kurt Otto to go to "Plan B" and proclaim that he wouldn't let his November 3rd IFL Grand Prix event be held hostage. Mr. Otto, welcome to the business of mixed martial arts. With the loss of Rothwell and Whitehead, as well as the announcement that Andre Gusmao and Mark Miller are out with injuries, the much-anticipated Grand Prix has become more of a Petit Prix. Here's hoping the live one-hour broadcast goes off flawlessly.
Monday, October 8, 2007
The latest edition of the Underground Combat League - NYC's only MMA event - was last night. A film crew from Channel 2 News was there to capture all the fun.
Friday, October 5, 2007
Like the Galactic Empire, the New York State Athletic Commission has done its best to rule with an iron fist, quashing upstart MMA events wherever they can with Unconsolidated Law 8905(2) - the statutory equivalent of the Death Star. But the Rebel Alliance has survived thanks to the few promoters who have kept up the fight. Their efforts have helped countless aspiring fighters test themselves, as well as enabled jiu-jitsu black belt Emerson Souza, IFL heavyweight Bryan Vetell and UFC rising star Frankie Edgar get their first tastes of combat. How soon until the Death Star explodes while a million Ewoks watch and cheer? Sadly, that will take some wrangling in the Imperial Senate. But if the MMA event that took place on an Indian reservation in Upstate New York last weekend is of any indication, the NYSAC continues to remain powerless and impotent in the face of those who are truly passionate about mixed martial arts.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Despite what you might have heard, Kimbo Slice is not dead. After the Cage Fury Fighting Championship released a fight poster containing the image of a barefoot Kimbo walking with a priest, an undertaker and a gravedigger (see inset), rumors began circulating that the legendary streetfighter had passed away. However, MMA Journalist has confirmed with a CFFC spokesman that Kimbo - who is scheduled to face David "Tank" Abbott at the promotion's October 12th Atlantic City show - is indeed alive and kicking. The event, to air live on the Internet, features the "Kimbo vs. Tank" marquee bout as well as the long-awaited return of Ricardo Almeida and the MMA debut of kickboxing stars Duke Rufus and Derek Panza.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Frank Shamrock, hot on the heels of a dominant performance against Renzo Gracie and a victory over an injured Phil Baroni, dazzled fans with his razor-sharp wit at Saturday's "Strikeforce at the Mansion" - and proved he's still every bit as edgy and relevant as he was years ago. The old-school UFC champ pulled no punches when he declared Josh Thomson to be the first "openly gay fighter" in the sport. It was a remark that was comedic gold, and it enriched what would have otherwise been a mediocre Internet broadcast of the MMA event held at the Playboy Mansion. MMA Journalist tips its hat to Shamrock, a man who continues to be beacon of class in a sea of douche bags.