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March, 2008

Matt Hughes Moving Way Up in Weight

You may have thought that Fedor’s bee story was the joke, but Matt Hughes is the one enjoying the April Fool’s Day hilarity. It’s not quite like Fightlinker’s pony tomfoolery, the Tommy Lee vs. Kid Rock UFC fight, or the bastard in the forums who kept Rick Rollin’ everyone — I got it twice and had to shut my computer down, Bastard — but here is Matt’s blog entry from today:

Well, for a long time I’ve talked about going up in weight class and I’ve decided to finally do it. Only I’m not going up to 185, I’m going up to 205 to fight Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in June. I’m bulking up now and packing on muscle and I’m thinking that it will be nice to not have to cut weight for a change. I think it’s a great match-up for me and I’ve told Dana that if I win this, then I want a shot at the 205 title next.

Sorry for the short blog this week, I’m here in Colorado helping Tommy get ready for his fight, so I’ll try to have more for you all next week. I just wanted to break the big news. -matt

You’d think Matt would’ve picked a fake opponent who hadn’t already backed out of a June fight because of injury for his “joke.” I also don’t want him to shoot me for pointing that out. So let’s take this a step further: imagine Matt going up even further in weight against, say the recently UFC-departed Tim Sylvia. I’d guess it would end in Matt running for his life.

Wonder what little Matty had in that backpack? Snacks, juice boxes, and the latest Harry Potter novel would be my guess. As for the other most hated fool from the UFC, it’s always fun to be reminded again about Big Tim’s fear of spiders and love of girlie drinks.

Happy Fool’s Day to all.

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Fedor Wins Money in Honey Debacle

Fedor Emelianenko has won $1.6 million because of the following video:

A Russian chief of a martial arts agency was nailed for fraud for using publicity rights of Fedor without permission. KoreaTimes has the scoop:

Emelianenko filed the suit early this month over a “shoddy” honey commercial that went on air on Korean cable television featuring his image. The world heavyweight champion sought 1.55 billion won ($1.6 million) in compensation from the president of Korea Sambo Federation and the head of a local apiculture agency whose honey product the commercial promoted.

The 19-second commercial starts with a victorious scene of Emelianenko in a wrestling ring, followed by footage of a bee landing on a yellow rape flower. Then the image of a plain, expressionless Emelianenko returns, as he drinks a bottle of the honey and says ” Seonyu Honey is good.”

In the complaint, his representative said, “Fedor is the sports star who commands the image of being the strongest fighter in the world… The defendants damaged Fedor’s image by producing commercials that do not fit his powerful image and were made with shoddy footage.”

Besides the compensation, his representative asked the advertisers to run an apology in mass-circulation newspapers in South Korea.

Dude, I don’t know about honey, but bees are pretty badass.

(Props to MMAMania)

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Are Oddsmakers Underestimating Tim Boetsch?


(That’s just mean, Tim)

The first time I met Tim Boetsch was one day before he took on Vladimir Matyushenko in the IFL semi-finals last summer. Boetsch had been called on as a late replacement and, despite having fought just five days earlier, he accepted a match with arguably the league’s toughest pound-for-pound fighter.

Here, I thought as I looked at him from across the room at the weigh-in, is a man who doesn’t know what he’s gotten himself into.

Imagine my surprise when Boetsch not only went the distance with Matyushenko, but even had “The Janitor” in trouble once or twice. This is why I wasn’t surprised when, at UFC 81, Boetsch spiked David Heath like football in the first round and then finished him moments later.

Now the UFC has decided to see just how many surprises Boetsch has in him, and they’ve matched him up with TUF standout Matt Hamill on tomorrow night’s UFC Fight Night card.

The betting line on this match has Hamill as a comfortable favorite (-200 for Hamill, +160 for Boetsch, according to Bodog), but when you take a moment to analyze this matchup, you’ll see that could very easily turn out to be a mistake.

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Behold “The YAMMA”

Ricco Rodriguez
(Ricco is about to get his YAMMA on)

YAMMA Pit Fighting just won’t give up. They’ve added former UFC champ and Celebrity Rehab star Ricco Rodriguez to their eight-man tournament, and they’ve also announced that Mark Kerr will take on Oleg Taktarov in a “Masters Superfight”. Exactly what Kerr and Taktarov are masters of is still unclear, though indications are that “Masters” is a kinder synonym for “old”.

But wait, it gets better. Details are emerging regarding the mysterious new surface upon which the fights will take place. The good news is, it’s every bit as ridiculous as we’d hoped:

The YPF surface, known as “The Yamma,” is an evolution of the traditional fighting structure and is designed to keep the fighting more explosive and continuous. In today’s MMA matches, fighters rush their opponents in the quest for a takedown, and the fight often ends up on the ground and pushed up against the fence. The action often stalls there, and must be stopped and moved back into the center of the ring. The Yamma’s design is specifically aimed at stopping this break in the action. The Yamma is a circular pit, shaped almost like a bowl, with a circular flat bottom that rises up around the edge. In this ring, if a fighter is pushed backwards towards the fence, he moves up the lip, gaining both a height and leverage advantage over his opponent. From this position, the fighter on the lip can use gravity and leverage to reverse his opponent, and take the fight back into the center without a break in the action.

If this is all a clever ruse by YAMMA founder Bob Meyrowitz to put on an event that is so strange and obviously ill-fated that people are too distracted to notice while he skips town with the fighters’ purses, then I think we can declare it a success. If the goal is anything else, then no.

Ignoring, for the moment, that “The YAMMA” sounds suspiciously like the surface in Chuck Norris’ World Combat League, I also have to doubt that it will work the way Meyrowitz thinks it will. The fact that he refers to fights that go to the ground and end up against the cage as ‘stalling’ is troubling in itself. That makes me think that he is not a man with a real appreciation of MMA.

If you like fights that never go to the ground or end up against the cage, Mr. Meyrowitz, you should really check out boxing. I think you’ll love it.

But beyond that, haven’t we reached a point where we can effectively declare that the possible “surfaces” for MMA competition are settled? You can have a cage, preferably with eight sides and an even, flat floor, or you can have a ring. Meyrowitz says The YAMMA is “about the evolution of a sport”, but if the intent is to limit groundfighting, how can that be considered evolution? Does anyone out there believe that what’s holding MMA back is the lack of a big, sloped bowl for guys to fight in?

Apparently, yes, someone does. That someone is Bob Meyrowitz, and he seems pretty confident that your mind will be blown when you see Butterbean and Gary Goodridge square off inside The YAMMA. My question is, does it really count as “evolution” if the newly-evolved organism dies almost immediately?

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“Pequeno” Slated for June 1st WEC Debut


(“Pequeno” gives thumbs up to WEC.)

Ex-Shooto champ Alexandre Franca “Pequeno” Nogueira is scheduled to make his WEC debut on June 1st at WEC 34. He will face Jose Aldo, as confirmed by Sherdog. “Pequeno” is 13-4-2, but is 1-2 in his last three. He has fought only twice since July of 2005, mostly due to injuries.

Nogueira won the Shooto featherweight title in 1999 and held the belt in dominating fashion for seven years. The title was taken from him due to injuries in May of 2006. The fighter had lost via KO to Hideo Tokoro at K-1: Hero’s 2 while still holding the Shooto belt and then followed his title-stripping up by losing via decision to Koutetsu Boku at K-1: Hero’s 6. He got back on track last July when he KO’d Shuichiro Katsumura in the first round of K-1 Hero’s Middleweight Tourney. He used to be mentioned as one of the best, but how things change when you lose two fights in a row (see: Chuck Liddell, Wanderlei Silva). It should be noted that the guy was fighting through injuries, lost his KO fight in the third and the other fight went the distance. If he’s finally healthy, he can still rock the cage.

Nog’s opponent is on a three-fight win streak, winning his last in July via decision at a Pancrase event. Aldo has a 9-1 overall and has been a journeyman for much of his career. His only loss was to Luciano Azevedo via RNC in 2005. It will also be Aldo’s WEC debut.

In related news, contender Jeff “The Big Frog” Curran and WEC newbie Mike Brown are rumored to also be going toe-to-toe on June 1st. While agreements have not been inked, Curran has told MMAWeekly that the wheels are in motion.

“I have been told and Mike has been told that we are facing each other, but we don’t have contracts yet,” Curran said. “That announcement will become official soon I am sure. I am just so ready to go fight again.”

WEC 34 will be headlined by feathers Urijah Faber and Jens Pulver in a title bout. Pulver — a former UFC lightweight champ — has never been beaten at featherweight, but “The California Kid” is on a 12 fight win streak since losing the only fight of his career. Jeff Curran was one of those victims. The night will also see 32-1 Miguel Torres defend his bantamweight belt against undefeated Manny “The Mangler” Tapia.

You gotta’ hand it to the WEC for stockpiling such a great group of little guys. With the signing of Nogueira and already having guys like Pulver, Faber, Torres, Chase Beebe, and Tapia, among others, not many organizations can boast that many top fighters that come in under 145.

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Trash Talk Tuesday: Liddell vs. Kimbo, Wandy vs. Rampage


(Rampage: Stokin’ the Silva-Jackson III fire?)

Lotta’ trash talk floating around the past few days and here are some select dishes from today’s war of words.

The Sun — which is apparently owned and operated by Chuck Liddell what with all the love they give him — has a piece today detailing The Iceman’s thoughts on Kimbo Slice. In a nutshell, Chuck doesn’t think Kimbo is worthy of the praise. The UFC light heavyweight fighter talks about how Kimbo has yet to be tested in MMA and mentions his first fight against Bo Cantrell — a guy who had already been KO’d twice before in under 30 seconds.

“So is that a real fight? I mean come on! The guy tapped before he hit the matt – he was tapping on the way down!”

“Gannon beat him didn’t he? And how long did Gannon last in the UFC?!!

“Kimbo’s one of those guys who doesn’t have any ground game. He’s training and he’s learning but he’s been built up as such a big star and that’s the thing that bothers me.

“People talk about him like he’s the next great thing when he really hasn’t done anything.

“He’s been built up because of the Internet and him beating a bunch of guys on the street.”

Using Kimbo’s loss to Sean Gannon in a ‘street fight’ as a prime example is something that a lot of people resort to. It’s also the same people that say Kimbo has no ground game. But mat work has nothing to do with Kimbo’s loss to Sean Gannon — that fight was a fist fight with an occasional lock-up. The only time it went to the ground was when both fighters were so gassed they collapsed on one another. And who fucking knows if Kimbo has a ground game or not. We’ve never seen him have to use one.

Chuck then talks about how he could make his own set of KO vids — although his plan would be to just go around punching people.

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Exclusive Interview: Ben Rothwell Talks Adrenaline MMA and More

Ben Rothwell
(Ben Rothwell is happy about his new contract, and yes, that’s what he looks like when he’s happy)

The last six months have been confusing times for Ben Rothwell. After leaving the IFL following an unbeaten run that spanned nine fights in fifteen months, he’s been waiting on the sidelines for a new contract and a new organization. Last week, Rothwell’s manager and former CEO of the short-lived M-1 Global promotion, Monte Cox, announced that Rothwell would be joining his new organization, Adrenaline MMA.

In this exclusive Cage Potato interview, Ben Rothwell discusses the details of that contract for the first time, as well as the very strong possibility that he may also fight for another organization later this year.

CagePotato.com: Tell us about the new organization that you signed with, Adrenaline MMA. What’s your contract with them like and how did you decide to go with them instead of one of the other companies that offered you a deal?

I was trying to find the best company to go with. M-1 had been talking to me, obviously Monte Cox was the head of it and he gave me an idea of what they were looking at. I was trying to hold out while they figured out their business with Fedor. I had other organizations looking at me, but I wanted to wait and see what the best deal would be. Fedor’s management was just impossible to deal with, so that hurt M-1, but Monte and everyone else there decided, ‘Hey, we can still be an organization’, so they created Adrenaline.

They’re not missing a beat, because they had everything planned and now they can still go ahead with it, minus Fedor and the Russians. As soon as that was decided I got the phone call to get signed and I said absolutely.

It’s a good deal. Three fights, non-exclusive, so it’s a very cool thing for two reasons. Number one, I’m getting paid a flat rate win or lose. Now I can go out and just throw everything I have without worrying because I know I’m getting paid. The second thing is the non-exclusive thing. If there’s a lot of time between shows or an opponent doesn’t come through, if I a get a call from Japan I can go over there and fight. It’s very cool and I’m very happy.

Can you talk about what kind of money you’re getting in this flat rate contract?

I don’t really want to talk about that, but I will say that it’s a lot more than what the IFL had offered. It’s the kind of contract that makes me happy, I’ll put it that way. It’s the kind of money that makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something and like I’m making it as a fighter.

After all the trouble with M-1, are you concerned about how solid the organization is and what kind of future they might have? It seems like they’ve already had a lot of difficulty without ever putting on a show. Does that worry you?

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Bob Sapp Mentioned In Connection With BALCO Steroid Case. Get Your Surprised Face On.

Bob Sapp
(All natural. Steroids are natural, right?)

The International Herald Tribune reports that occasional MMA fighter Bob Sapp’s name has surfaced in a case related to the BALCO steroid probe. If you’re surprised by this news, we can only assume that you’ve never seen a picture of Bob Sapp before today. What have you been doing with your life?

Inland Revenue Service agent Jeff Novitzky has apparently spent his days running down juicers, which makes him a busy man in court these days.

Novitzky said 30 athletes were called to testify before the grand jury in 2003. Novitzky didn’t identify any of the athletes, but testified there was “some evidence” that professional wrestler Bob Sapp — who briefly played in the NFL — bought steroids from Arnold.

What’s most interesting here isn’t just that out of all the evidence against all the other athletes, Bob Sapp is the one who gets mentioned, though that does make you wonder. No, what’s truly fascinating is the use of the phrase “some evidence” in this context. It’s vague enough that it could mean so many different things.

For example, Sapp’s physique, including traps that come straight out of his ears? Yeah, that’s some evidence. His tenure in pro wrestling and his Look-Like-Tarzan-Fight-Like-Jane approach to real fights? Also some evidence.

In the end, though, we tend to think that this video was the smoking gun:

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Ken-Flo Not Feelin’ the Lauzon Love


(“Disrespect me again and I snap the kid’s neck!”)

In our chat with Kenny Florian, he kinda’, sorta’ hinted that feels he’s being disrespected by BJ Penn and the Lauzons. He flat out says it in an interview with MMAWeekly:

“But now here’s a kid looking past me. He’s training with B.J. Penn and apparently he’s become B.J. or whatever it is and they’re looking past me. You know what? If they do that, B.J.’s going to end up sending Joe Lauzon to the slaughter, because I’m not going to have anyone disrespect me like that or anyone going into a fight thinking they’re just going to run right by me.”

And a similar statement from a Sprawl.tv interview:

I think he has been very disrespectful. I think Joe has been hanging out with B.J to much, and now he thinks he’s little B.J. Well little B.J is going to get taken care of on April 2nd.

Joe Lauzon didn’t do any disrespectin’ when we talked to him and judging by the video the Lauzons shot and posted over at Joe’s official site, they’re full of respect.

A lamp shade on a head — when not creepy — is comedy gold, no matter how you slice it. Lightweights Ken-Flo and J-Lau will battle it out in the main event on Wednesday during UFC Fight Night 13.

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Nelson, Schultz & McGivern Defending in May


(Ryan McGivern, on his back, will defend his title for the first time in May.)

The IFL‘s next event is this weekend, but the organization is already rolling out the card for its May event. The show is to go down on May 16th and mark a return to the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The fights will, of course, be live on HDNet, as always. Staying true to their word of multiple title fights at every event, the IFL has scheduled three title defenses — heavyweight champion Roy Nelson, newly-crowned middleweight champ Ryan McGivern, and lightweight title holder Ryan Schultz. This will be the second defense for Nelson and Schultz.

Two new camps are also joining the action — The Bomb Squad and Team Prodigy. The Bomb Squad is a Northeast-based camp that will do battle with Mario Sperry’s World Class Fight Center (Vegas). Team Prodigy is based in Ohio and will take on Matt Lindland’s Team Quest (Portland).

For the title fights, here’s a snip from the press release:

In the title bouts, Nelson will defend his heavyweight belt against UFC veteran Branden Lee Hinkle (Weirton, W. Va.). Nelson won the title in December at Mohegan Sun with a knockout of Antoine Jaoude, then defended with a decisive first-round TKO over Fabiano Scherner in Las Vegas in February. Schultz will battle Deividas Taurosevicius (Lithuania) for the lightweight crown. Schultz also won his title in his last visit to Mohegan Sun in December, bouncing Chris Horodecki from the ranks of the unbeaten, then earned a decision win over John Gunderson in Las Vegas in February to defend. McGivern, one of the most improved fighters in the IFL, took the middleweight belt from Matt Horwich in February and has won three of his past four bouts.

Team Quest’s three fighters will find out their Team Prodigy opponents soon, but we do know that Zac George, Matt Horwich, and Aaron Stark will be representing Lindland’s group. The Bomb Squad’s John Howard — a Boston fighter — will fight Mario Sperry’s Marcello Salazar, and WCFC’s Danillo Villefort will take on BS’s Mike Massenzio in other camp action.

Here’s the card so far:

World Class Fight Center vs. Bomb Squad
170 lbs: Marcello Salazar (7-1-2) vs. John Howard (8-3)
185 lbs: Danillo Villefort (6-2) vs. Mike Massenzio (10-1)
155 lbs: TBD vs. TBD

Team Prodigy vs. Team Quest
155 lbs: TBD vs. Zac George (12-2)
185 lbs: TBD vs. Matt Horwich (21-10-1)
205 lbs: TBD vs. Aaron Stark (5-4)

Championship Bouts
265 lbs: Roy Nelson (12-2) vs. Branden Lee Hinkle (13-9)
185 lbs:Ryan McGivern (12-5) vs. Dan Miller (7-1)
155 lbs:Ryan Schultz (19-9-1) vs. Deividas Taurosevicius (9-2)

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