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April, 2008

Travis Lutter Gets Starnes’d By the UFC

TS
(He’s the one getting his ass kicked.)

Looks like the UFC was serious about that whole shedding dead weight thing: Travis Lutter has made history as the first Ultimate Fighter winner to get his contract shredded. Lutter made the announcement yesterday via a MySpace blog entry, which was later confirmed by FightTicker.com. The blog entry suggests that Lutter might have hit the bottle directly after getting the bad news:

I have been released from my UFC Contract.

Friday afternnon I was told by my manager that UFC matchmaker Joe Silza had left my him a message on his phone that I had been released from my UFC contract because of my 2 losses in a row.

And that’s it. At the time of this writing, the post had accumulated eight “kudos.”

Lutter made his Octagon debut at UFC 50 (10/22/04) with a knockout victory over Marvin Eastman, but lost his next two UFC matches against Matt Lindland and Trevor Prangley. After winning a couple of matches outside the Octagon, Lutter was chosen for The Ultimate Fighter 4 (“The Comeback”), where he defeated fellow middleweights Scott Smith and Pete Sell before submitting Patrick Côté via armbar in the final. But Lutter’s been skating on thin ice since he failed to make weight for his championship match against Anderson Silva at UFC 67, causing the card’s main event to be downgraded to an absolutely pointless non-title fight.

The last straw turned out to be his disappointing performance against Rich Franklin at UFC 83, where Lutter was so gassed by the second round that he barely had the energy to get to his feet after Franklin shook out of a leglock attempt. Following the loss, Lutter did an anger-venting interview with FightTicker where he notably said, “fans of this sport just suck…I definitely don’t fight for those people.” Lutter had four fights left on his contract.

The question is, who will get the ax next? So far, the UFC’s roster cuts are following a simple, cold logic: Boring fighting style + one or two losses + nobody likes you = fired. The most obvious upcoming win-or-leave matchup that comes to mind is Evan Tanner vs. Kendall Grove, which headlines the TUF 7 finale on June 21st. Tanner looked like a shell of his former self in his loss to Yushin Okami at UFC 82, and his personal stability is still a question mark; another loss for Grove would make it an unacceptable three in a row. But it would be very surprising if more cuts didn’t take place before that. Any predictions?

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Videos: MMA’s Nastiest Knee-Strikes, Kimbo’s ESPN Cover-Shoot

(“MMA Evolution: Using the Knee.” Randlemonster @ 1:18-1:32 FTW. Props to BloodyElbow.)

(Kimbo Slice will become the second MMA fighter after Chuck Liddell to appear on the cover of ESPN: The Magazine. Check out the footage from the shoot.)

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CagePotato vs. Fightlinker: The BetUS.com Squaretable Podcast!

BetUS

On Friday, Damon D of BetUS.com invited me back on his little radio show to talk about Kalib Starnes’s foot and Chuck Liddell’s durf, along with Ryan and Jake of Fightlinker.com. I may not have been able to keep up with the comedic tornado of those two, but there were a couple moments where I did sound halfway knowledgeable. (Well, you’ll have to be the judge.) Click here to listen, but first, some notes…

— We recorded the show just before news broke that Matt Hughes had been signed to headline UFC 85 against Thiago Alves, so a good deal of our conversation is now basically worthless.

— Near the beginning of the show, I announce that Ben Fowlkes (of IFL.tv and TheFightingLife fame) will be joining CagePotato full time starting this Thursday. He can introduce himself more thoroughly that day, but please feel free to give him a round of applause from wherever you’re sitting. It’s cool, because now when I use the word “we” on this site, I’m referring to Ben and I, not just me and the voices coming from the microwave.

— Damon asks me at the end of the show what we’ve got happenin’ on the site next week. At the time I was like “duhhhhhh,” but it turns out we actually do have something really special coming up. Tune in Monday for more details.

— Also at the end of the show, Fightlinker challenges CagePotato to a duel. Basically, Ryan and I will be betting on a particular fight, and the dude who picks wrong will have to do something humiliating. “Riding naked on a donkey” was just the first idea that was thrown out; those aren’t necessarily the terms of the bet. Will keep you all posted as this develops…

(BG)

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Dream Loses One TV Deal, But Gains Another

Shinya Aoki
(You haven’t really experienced the tights until you’ve seen them in High Definition)

Japan’s Dream organization seemed to be in trouble when news came that they’d been dropped from their primetime TV deal with the Tokyo Broadcasting System, but just like your overly optimistic aunt always says, God never closes a door without opening a window.

For Dream, that window is HDNet, which has reached an agreement to broadcast the forthcoming April 29 show on an edited tape delay basis.

Sherdog reports that the show will be broken into one-hour chunks to be aired in afternoon and late-night time slots. HDNet would have us believe that they’re counting on Dream sticking around at least through the summer. From the HDNet website:

As part of this exclusive broadcast agreement, HDNet will air DREAM 1 and DREAM 2 on May 2 and May 3 respectively, truly making the first weekend in May a ‘DREAM Weekend’ for MMA fans. Both broadcasts will begin at 10:30 ET.

HDNet and HDNet Fights will also bring the next four DREAM events – DREAM 3 on May 11, DREAM 4 on June 15, DREAM 5 on July 21 and DREAM 6 on September 23 – to American and Canadian audiences.

You have to give it to HDNet. They’re scooping up MMA coverage every chance they get, and have mostly resisted the urge to sink a lot of cash into starting their own promotion, which seems to be every company’s favorite way of burning money these days.

Not to mention, this promo almost makes you believe that Pride has risen from the dead. Almost.

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Unlikely Friends: Jay Hieron and Ron Paul?

Ron Paul
(‘Personal liberty and solid ground-and-pound, these are the principles this country was founded on.’)

For reasons that are still unclear, Ron Paul supporters recently sponsored IFL welterweight champion Jay Hieron in his title defense against Mark Miller on April 4. Why did a Texas congressman who no longer has any feasible chance in his presidential campaign sponsor a mixed martial arts fighter from Long Island?

We have no idea, but here are our three best guesses:

1. Only hardcore fans know who either of them are.

2. Ron Paul’s no-taxes-for-service-sector-employees stance fits right in with Hieron’s commitment to supporting local strippers, who work too hard for that money to give it away to a government that doesn’t truly respect the lap dance.

3. Both are fervent supporters of the right to bare arms (pun!).

Okay, that didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. My point is, the whole thing is strange. If anyone out there thinks they can come up with a better Jay Hieron-Ron Paul joke, I’d love to hear it. I’ll just warn you that it’s harder than it seems.

In the meantime, enjoy this video of Hieron putting a whipping on Mark Miller. Look close and you can catch Ron Paul’s name on the coveted ass-sponsor section of Hieron’s trunks.

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Hughes/Alves to Headline UFC 85

MH

Matt Hughes and Thiago Alves have confirmed that they will fight in a headlining match at UFC 85. As Hughes posted today on his website:

June 7th, in England, I fight Thiago Alves. The fight is confirmed, it will be the main event for the card. Dana just called me with the news. Chuck got hurt and couldn’t fight, so he needed a replacement and called me and I said yes. More news as I get it. No matter what happens in this fight, I’ve got Serra next.

Alves (14-3, 7-2 UFC) is coming off an upset victory of Karo Parisyan at Ultimate Fight Night 13, after which he was told by UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, rather prematurely, that he was second in line to get a shot at the welterweight title after Jon Fitch. According to MMAWeekly, Alves previously offered to fight Hughes at UFC 79 when Matt Serra dropped out due to back injury, but Georges St. Pierre got the nod instead.

The chance of UFC 85 being shown for free on SpikeTV is slipping away, but with this match headlining — and Bisping/Leben, Swick/Davis, Vera/Werdum, and Evans/Irvin already booked — it’s definitely a card worth paying for.

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Triumph United Comment Contest, Week 1: Victory!

TU1
(“Death Squad”: One of the designs available at Triumph United.)

Between Chuck Liddell’s leg injury and “Starnesgate,” it was a great week to kick off our Triumph United Comment Contest. Our most sincere thanks to everyone who makes this site a two-way exchange of information by posting opinions, tips, and punchlines in the comments section. But which comment was the most shirt-worthy this week? First, let’s give props to those who fell just short of the glory…

5th Runner-Up
“I told you I was hardcore.” — TheFeniX on New ‘Gladiator’ Loses Shit, Beats Husband

4th Runner-Up
I bet chuck took kimbo up on that bare knuckle fight and got demolished — Anonymous on F*ck! Chuck Liddell Injured, Out of UFC 85

3rd Runner-Up
If BJ licks sherk’s blood he may test positive for steroids in the post fight drug test. — steve-o-plata on “…and licking the blood off his face while I’m punching him…”

2nd Runner-Up
Would lube and a giant fake cock be too obvious? — Kimbo’s Lice on Chuck Liddell’s Injury is Disturbingly Real

1st Runner-Up
I don’t have health insurance at my place of employment so to show my boss up and to make a point I punched myself in the cock really hard, cried like a girl, then put the video on youtube. Take that you wanker!!! Go Starnes!! — KTFO on What’s to Become of Kalib Starnes?

And the winner is…

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Zuffa Is Saving, Affliction Is Spending

Dana White
(‘The bad news is, you’re fired. The good news is, now you’ll have plenty of time to work on that novel you’re always talking about.’)

Remember when Dana White used to brag in interviews about how many fighters Zuffa had under contract and about how big their organization was? Turns out, they’ve decided they don’t really need so many people after all.

After cutting Jake O’Brien and (more recently and understandably) releasing Kalib Starnes, Zuffa apparently has a taste for downsizing. Dave Meltzer and Adam Swift both report that Zuffa has plans to trim its fighter roster of around 200 down to as few as 150.

That’s still a lot of fighters under contract, even when split between the UFC and WEC. But it may be the case that Zuffa has figured out just how costly and unnecessary it is to keep lower-level fighters under contract, especially when the opportunity to fight on a UFC card is probably enough incentive for most of them to accept one-off deals.

Meltzer also reports rumors that a round of layoffs in the corporate office may be in the works as they try to trim the fat from the Zuffa juggernaut.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the tracks, clothier-turned-promoter Affliction is shelling out the dough for their July 17 show in Dallas. The Fedor-Tim Sylvia main event alone is bound to cost them, with a rumored payout for Big Tim of…(are you sitting down?)…$800,000.

Just imagine what Fedor’s making for that fight.

While no other fights have officially been announced for that card, names like Ben Rothwell, Andrei Arlovski, and Josh Barnett have been floating in the wind. MMA Payout believes that the total bankroll for the event may be in the neighborhood of $5-6 million, which may or may not include annoying extras like production costs and marketing of the event.

Now you know why those Affliction shirts are so expensive.

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Matthew Riddle on the ‘TUF 7′ Finale and More

MR
(“Chipper” and his infectious war-grin.)

In the latest installment of MMAJunkie’s “Ten TUF Questions” feature, freshly eliminated Ultimate Fighter castmember Matthew Riddle confirms our suspicions that the booking of so many contract fighters on the TUF 7 finale card means that most of this season’s castmembers weren’t worthy of another televised scrap:

Yes, I’m on the card. But I can’t tell you who (I’m fighting). [laughs] You’re going to like it, though. We’re not allowed to say, but I think it’s a fight everyone wants to see. I’m not saying s***, though. The people who didn’t fight up to par got the boot and got cut. I think the UFC’s just getting so big that they’re only going to take the best. A lot of the guys from the cast weren’t invited to fight at the finale.

Unless Riddle starts some drama with another one of his housemates, we’d have to assume that he’ll be taking on Dante “I’ll Retire If You Beat Me” Rivera. And yes, we do want to see that. Elsewhere in the interview, Riddle responds to criticism of his celebratory behavior after nearly killing Dan Simmler in episode two:

The first thing — and they don’t show it — but he was out for about 15 or 20 minutes after I knocked him out. I was stoked at first and putting my thumbs up and smiling. Then, he didn’t get up, and I kind of slowed down. When he woke up and started moaning, I felt bad. [The show's editors] don’t show that. They just show me with my thumbs up, but I don’t enjoy hurting people. I just like to compete. It’s part of the sport, and it happens.

So has the Ultimate Fighter experience convinced Riddle to ditch his two-bit fight camp and join up with a big-name team?

I’ve been [at Rat Pack Fighting Systems] like four months, and all the sudden I’m like their poster boy, but it’s about to end. I’m having a meeting tonight, and I don’t care if you put this in there, but I’m telling him off. It’s like they’re trying to use me. Yeah, it’s probably smart on their part because it puts them on the map, but they could have gone about it differently. I feel like I’m being taking advantage of, and I don’t like that. I’m probably going to train with (fellow castmate Mike) Dolce and all those guys at Team Quest North and then with Rampage at Big Bear (Calif.) with the high altitude and stuff to get ready for my fight… Rampage and I got along very well. I got along with Juanito, too, and all the coaches. They still call me to see what I’m doing.

Check out the rest of the interview here. And take this lesson to heart, aspiring fighters: They’ll forget your ground game and they’ll forget your heavy hands, but a great smile will always make an impression.

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‘Sensual Seduction’, Starring Dana, Chuck, and Joe

Just…wow. Did anybody else involuntarily dry-heave at the 0:45-0:48 mark?

(For the pimpin’ original, click here.)

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