Thursday, February 28, 2008

YAMMA Pit Fighting: No Country for Old Men

Bob Meyrowitz is about to learn an expensive lesson. On April 11th, his return to the world of MMA promoting, YAMMA Pit Fighting, will debut at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, and the event will feature an single-night eight-man heavyweight tournament plus a pair of "Masters" superfights with Don Frye, Oleg Taktarov and Gary Goodridge. If Meyrowitz can pull it off, he has a potential goldmine with YAMMA's eight-man tournaments, for they both captivated fans and made stars in those early UFCs (as well as in events like the IFC's 2003 "Global Domination", which saw Jeremy Horn knock out Forrest Griffin and Renato "Babalu" Sobral submit Mauricio "Shogun" Rua before the two met in the finals). However, YAMMA's Masters superfights... um, not so much. The IFL threw away a ton of money putting old schoolers like Maurice Smith, Marco Ruas, Pat Miletich and Carlos Newton in the ring, and it's doubtful they saw any worthwhile returns on that investment. Meyrowitz is about to learn, at the expense of whatever pile of money he's throwing at Frye, Taktarov and Goodridge, that this is no country for old men.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

EliteXC and CBS: There Will Be Blood

The Internet rumor mill sprang to life today, grinding out a doozy in the form of EliteXC teaming up with CBS for some live prime time shows. If this rumor is true, it means EliteXC will reach a greater number of viewers than the UFC ever has, and Gary Shaw's promotion will have a decent shot at usurping the long-standing industry giant as the face of mixed martial arts. Somewhere, Dana White is losing the last of his hair. Industry insiders (insiders who have been around longer than Zuffa themselves) have long held fast to the belief that White has done a great job getting MMA to where it is now, but that someone else needs to be at the UFC's helm to take the sport to the next level. Prime time television is without question the next level. If EliteXC is the first to make it to prime time on a major network while the UFC is left stubbornly clutching its creative control and ancillary rights... well, one thing is likely: within Zuffa's heavily-fortified underground lair a mile beneath Nevada's harsh desert, there will be blood. Oh yes, there will be blood.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Top Bantamweights/Featherweights in the Northeast

Fighters that compete at 145 and/or 135 pounds are sparse around these parts, but as the sport has grown more popular, so too has the ranks of these bantamweights and featherweights. There are by no means a lot of the "little guys", and not enough to pick five in each weight class, so here are the best at both weights. -Wilson Reis- A jiu-jitsu warrior transplanted from Brazil to US soil, Reis is an aggressive grappler and rising star in ShoXC. Expect him to wind up facing a top fighter in the WEC sooner rather than later. -Zack Makovsky- Utilizing solid wrestling and strong striking, Makovsky has dismantled two Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts and earned a Combat in the Cage belt in the process. Reis submitted him at the last ShoXC, but it's doubtful any other fighter in the Northeast could repeat that feat. -Steve DeAngelis- Scrappy. Well-rounded. Frankie Edgar protege. BCX champ. DeAngelis is all of these things, and he's putting his belt on the line at the next BCX event against another tough fighter in Blair Tugman. -Tihn Tupy- A frenetic and fast-paced fighter, Tupy took out two solid opponents in 2007, and his exciting grappling style will serve him well when he graduates to the national stage.

The Top Heavyweights in the Northeast

The gap between the "good" heavyweights and the "okay" heavyweights is pretty vast. That said, among the good ones, nobody is undefeated, and each one could beat the other on any given day. -John Murphy- A boxer-turned-mixed martial artist, Murphy is a knockout artist and huge crowd-pleaser. His only loss came at the hands of UFC fighter Houston Alexander, and this Combat in the Cage champ and Extreme Challenge and ShoXC veteran has rebounded nicely. -Shane Ott- A teammate of Murphy, Ott is an enormous ground-and-pound and kimura machine. He's suffered a couple losses in the IFL, but those were against the league's best guys. -Carlos Moreno- Imagine Tank Abbott, only Latino. That's Moreno, who, with his sprawl and KO power, has established himself as a fan-favorite in New Jersey. Don't let the former ROC champ's two recent losses fool you, though: the man is a killer. -Bryan Vetell- Vetell is a Greco-Roman wrestling specialist and absolute behemoth, and like Ott, his losses have come from the top guys in the IFL. Honorable mention: Braden Bice, who usually manages to outlast his opponents and get the win.

The Top Light-Heavyweights in the Northeast

The 205-pound weight class is mostly full of tough, brawler-types who could defeat each other on any given day. The lone exceptions to that rule, however, are IFL stars Andre Gusmao and Jamal Patterson. -Andre Gusmao- A capoeira stylist with some Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu thanks to Renzo Gracie, Gusmao is an explosive striker and one-man wrecking crew. Want to see a sweet KO? Gusmao is your man. -Jamal Patterson- Patterson is an elite jiu-jitsu practitioner, and has shown off some solid submission chops by submitting four out of five opponents within the first round. He took a beating against Reese Andy, but seemed to emerge from that bout stronger than before. -Ricardo Romero- Heavy hands and wrestling. That's what enabled Romero to win the ROC "Beasts of the Northeast" tournament, and that's what's going to keep him on the winning track. -John Doyle- Cut from the same cloth as Romero, Doyle is a former Combat in the Cage champ and Beasts of the Northeast runner-up (he lost to Romero by TKO). Doyle just lost last weekend at the ShoXC event in Miami, but he's no less of a badass for it. -Brendan Barrett- Great on the ground and even better on the feet, Barrett is good for a three-round battle or a quick KO, and his only losses have come at the hands of Doyle and UFC fighter Tim Boetsch. Honorable mention: Philadelphia submission specialist Tim Carpenter.

The Top Middleweights in the Northeast

Only one of the Northeast's top middleweights is undefeated, and he's not so much a true middleweight as he is a fighter who competes at a catch-weight of 175 pounds (the cutoff for welterweight is 170). Yes, I'm talking about ROC and IFL veteran Lyman Good. -Lyman Good- Great on the feet and awesome on the ground, Good is Team Tiger Schulmann's most promising MMA prospect right now, and if he keeps steamrolling over opponents, will likely be the first from his camp to make it on to a UFC pay-per-view. -Mike Massenzio- The winner of the ROC "Beasts of the Northeast" tournament, Massenzio has evolved from a high-level wrestler trying his hand at MMA into a well-rounded mixed martial artist. He's also beaten three top 185 pounders in Dante Rivera, Lance Everson and Dan Miller. -Dante Rivera- As Ricardo Almeida's star pupil, Rivera's got some big expectations to live up to, but with solid submissions and ever-improving striking, this IFL veteran has done so nicely. Rumor has it Rivera is on the upcoming season of "The Ultimate Fighter", so he might be out of the local mix soon. -Lance Everson- Everson is a scrappy veteran, and with his boxing, wrestling and submission skills, made it to the final round of the Beasts of the Northeast tournament. He's always dangerous. Always. -Dan Miller- The brother of Jim Miller, Dan is also a wrestler and badass jiu-jitsu guy, and he's risen to the top by employing his almost flawless ground game to submit the hell out of people. Honorable mention: Muay Thai specialist and TUF 7 competitor Aaron Meisner, boxer/wrestler Alexis Aquino, and "Tournament of Champions" winner Marc Stevens.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Top Welterweights in the Northeast

In no particular order, the best 170-pounders in the NY/NJ area are: -Eddie Alvarez- A former MFC star and BodogFIGHT champ, and now a jewel in the EliteXC/ShoXC crown, Alvarez is a slugger who's one hell of a crowd-pleaser. He's allegedly moving down to lightweight, but all of his bouts have been at welterweight, hence his spot here. -Delson Heleno- Heleno's an IFL star and an ace grappler, and is what you get when you give a Brazilian special forces jungle assassin a work VISA. -Charlie Brenneman- Don't like getting ground-and-pounded into oblivion? Then don't get in the ring with Brenneman, who used his unstoppable takedowns and fists to win the ROC "Beasts of the Northeast" tournament. -Greg Soto- A wrestler-turned-jiu-jitsu man, Soto rose up the ranks like a rocket, but has been sidelined with injuries since KO'ing Sergio Vinagre at a BCX show. Hopefully, he'll return 100% and kick more butt. -Tom Gallicchio- Scrappy. That's the word that best describes Gallicchio, who's parleyed his wrestling background into an MMA game that's seen him batter oponents before submitting them. Honorable mention: the always-dangerous Doug Gordon, Beasts of the Northeast runner-up Mark Berraciol, ROC "Tournament of Champions" finalist Phillipe Nover, and promising up-and-comer Matt Makowski.

The Top Lightweights in the Northeast

It's time once again for MMA Journalist's list of top fighters in the Northeast, and this post will focus on the lightweights. This list was compiled with the help of a giant supercomputer, a Ouija board and some 20-sided dice, and it's based on 2007 performances only. Also, fighters who've made it to the UFC are excluded. In no particular order, the best 155-pounders in NY/NJ are: -Jim Miller- A badass grappler and all-around scrapper, Miller's racked up wins everywhere. His only loss is to superstar Frankie Edgar. -Deividas Taurosevicius- Tough as nails and skilled as hell on the ground, this IFL fighter has beaten nearly everyone he's faced. Taurosevicius and Miller are far and away the best in their weight class, but they've never fought each other and probably never will, as they share the same Renzo Gracie jiu-jitsu lineage. -Brian McLaughlin- The winner of ROC's "Beasts of the Northeast" tournament, McLaughlin is a submission wizard with a deadly guard. -Kevin Roddy- Another submission stud with a deadly guard, Roddy is a BCX champ who's unafraid to throw leather. -James "Binky" Jones- Binky is a fantastic grappler, and he utilized those grappling skills to win the ROC "Tournament of Champions". He's had some losses since then, but you run that risk when you jump to the next level in competition. Honorable mention: Combat in the Cage champ Jim Bova, Beasts of the Northeast runner-up Dave Sachs, and the well-rounded Eddie Fyvie.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Kimbo Slice Hype Approaching Critical Mass; Internet Meltdown Imminent

Saturday's EliteXC event marked another successful outing for the promotion thanks to Kimbo Slice's marquee bout against aged veteran Tank Abbott - a bout which has generated so much hype that bloggers and webreporters alike have come dangerously close to overloading the Internet. With an estimated 2.1 million pre-show essays posted on various websites, and an estimated 6.4 billion webreports subsequent to the Kimbo/Tank fight, the former bare-knuckle boxer's hype is approaching critical mass. "A meltdown is imminent if this doesn't subside soon," said Eugene Booker, who helps maintain the Internet. "After Kimbo's 2004 fight against Sean Gannon, three of the six big, black boxes that house the Internet started smoking. Since this Saturday, all the black boxes are smoking. One even caught fire, but I poured a Mountain Dew on it and put it out." Added Booker: "If this Kimbo hype goes on for much longer, we're definitely going to lose the Internet."

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Truth Comes Out: Mark Cuban is the Other Woman

Mark Cuban's HDNet Fights filed suit against Zuffa in a Texas court this week, a move that reveals Cuban as the "other woman" in the bitter divorce between Zuffa and Randy Couture. Okay, not really. There's no evidence to suggest HDNet Fights has tried to bed Couture while the legendary champ is under contractual lockdown with his UFC masters. But the suit, which asks the court to render a declaratory judgment on the merits of the promotional contract between Zuffa and Couture (the suit Zuffa filed against Couture only focuses on the employment contract and avoids the promotional contract issue), is a pretty good indicator of where Cuban is coming from and what he's trying to do. How so? Well, clue number one is Cuban's standing for the lawsuit (i.e., his right to sue), while clue number two comes from his comments in interviews regarding the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act and whether its protections for boxers should apply to mixed martial artists. Cuban is a promoter who wants fighters, and he wants to test the chains binding some of the sport's top talent. MMA Journalist would have to read a copy of the Cuban's complaint to give a more detailed assessment, but from a distance, this is one is a no-brainer: Cuban wants to reshape the UFC-dominated market, and he's not afraid to use the courts to do it.

Kimbo/Tank Duel Set for Dawn on Saturday; Pistols Optional

Gentlemens Kimbo Slice and David "Tank" Abbott have finally agreed upon their terms and are now set to duel at dawn this coming Saturday, with pistols at 20 paces a possibility but fisticuffs the most likely method. The duel is a result of Mister Tank's confronting of Mister Slice following Mister Slice's victory at CFFC 5 last year. At that time, Mister Tank removed his gloves and threw them down, demanding satisfaction from some perceived offense, though it is unclear just what that offense was. It is expected that Mister Slice will be seconded by Sir Bas Rutten. The field of honor will be the Bank United Center in Miami, Florida, though curious bystanders may tune in to the broadcast on Showtime's EliteXC programme.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Observations from My Couch: WEC 32

-Former UFC Heavyweight Champ Frank Mir is a knowledgeable and articulate commentator and an asset to the production. However, when he interviews these bantamweights who are a fraction of his size, I often wonder how many of them he would have to eat before feeling full. -Miguel Torres wrecked Chase Beebe with such technical prowess, for minute there I thought I was watching a jiu-jitsu instructional. -Jamie Varner kicked some serious ass in an exciting bout, and the newly-crowned WEC Lightweight Champ is now the number-one 155-pounder not good enough to fight in the UFC. -Carlos Condit successfully defended his welterweight title against Carlo Prater. Meh.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Did Dana White Sell the UFC's Soul for 250,000 Pieces of Silver?

At UFC 81, Brock Lesnar was paid $250,000 just to show up for a bout lasting only a minute and a half, and when former champ Frank Mir submitted the pro wrestler with a kneebar, it marked the end of weeks of hype and anticipation - and the perhaps the end of an era. For while fight fans and fake-fight fans likely tuned in in droves, the "Superbowl of Mixed Martial Arts" was suddenly about a co-main event featuring a man who was 1-0 when he set foot in the Octagon. Yes, Lesnar's record consisted of but one fight. Did Dana White sell the UFC's soul for pay-per-view buys? And if so, was it worth it? When the Mir/Lesnar bout was announced, I thought about January 10th, 2002 - the night before UFC 35 - and the Zuffa-hosted press dinner. I had the filet mignon, Joe Silva had a cheeseburger, Lorenzo Fertita had a martini, and Dana White promised those of us in attendance (Josh Gross, Jeff Sherwood, Kirik Jenness, et al.) that the UFC absolutely did not want to court pro wrestlers as potential fighters. Something about credibility and wrong demographics and "We'd rather have pro boxers - what's Shannon Briggs up to?" My how times have changed.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Charges Pending in Boetsch/Heath Assault

Fans watching UFC 81 on Saturday night got more than they bargained for when the preliminary bout between Tim Boetsch and David Heath was aired. In the bout - which was Boetsch's Octagon debut - the newcomer battered his opponent repeatedly and threw him head-first against the cage, then continued the beating until the referee called a halt to the fight. Adding insult to injury, the former Lock Haven wrestler subsequently rifled through the fallen Heath's pockets, taking credit cards and an undisclosed amount of cash. It was nothing short of a mugging, and according to sources within the Clark County district attorney's office, criminal charges are now pending. "We are reviewing the tape," said a spokesman for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. "If Mr. Boetsch did in fact commit a crime, he will be brought to justice." Said UFC President Dana White, who was no doubt pleased with Boetsch's action-packed performance: "Do you want to be a fucking mugger?"