Shawn Tompkins, head trainer at Xtreme Couture, has confirmed to The Fight Network that Vitor Belfort has signed on to fight Fedor Emelianenko August 1st at the Affliction ‘Trilogy’ event in Anaheim, California. Belfort was originally scheduled to fight Jorge Santiago on the same card in a middleweight bout. The main event was forced to be changed after Josh Barnett failed a pre fight drug test by the California State Athletic Commission.
Affliction VP Tom Atencio did not make reference to this replacement — or make any other earth-shattering announcements — on today’s conference call, which you can get a summary of here. Meanwhile, undefeated bruiser (and actual heavyweight) Brett Rogers did in fact throw his name out as an option. A source told SI’s Josh Gross that the Grim was asking for "a purse approaching at least the $800,000 Affliction Entertainment paid Sylvia to fight Emelianenko." Affliction, it seems, respectfully declined.
"I left [a contract negotiation session in Las] Vegas thinking the fight with Henderson wouldn’t materialize. I found out by being woken up by a text (message) yesterday…I was taking a nap on the couch and had about 50 messages when I woke up…The UFC had announced it without telling me. My group of people were some of the last to know."
Nice, Dana. Luckily, Franklin is being a good sport and going along with it, even if he still doesn’t know which weight class the fight will be contested at. Said Franklin: "I’m assuming (it’s at) 205…I haven’t spoken to anyone about it, so anything I say is only speculation…Even if [Henderson] lost to me at 205, it shouldn’t affect his standing at 185 pounds. So I’d assume the UFC would do this fight at 205."
But why stop with the merely implausible or ill-advised possibilities? Clearly, this is a total shit-show of a problem that requires a total shit-show of a solution. Allow us to examine the possibilities…
(Hieron vs. Jason High at Affliction: DoR. Don’t worry, it doesn’t take long.)
Xtreme Couture welterweight Jay Hieron takes on Paul "Semtex" Daley on the August 1st Affliction: Trilogy card (which is, as far as we know at this point, still happening) and we checked in with him to see how his preparation is coming, what he thinks of the recent disparaging remarks made about his gym, and what he’ll do if there isn’t an Affliction: Tetralogy show in the somewhat near future.
The fight’s a little over a week away. How are you feeling?
Great, man. Training’s been great. I’m in tremendous shape. I just have to get through this last hard week and then let my body heal up and I’m ready to fight.
Have you done much scouting on Paul Daley?
Yeah, I’ve seen a few of his fights. I think he’s a good striker. He’s explosive. But I’m definitely more well-rounded and that’s what MMA is all about.
You’re an Xtreme Couture fighter so I assume you heard Kit Cope’s recent comments about your gym. He said it’s a place where guys who are already good can get a workout, but that it doesn’t actually make fighters. What do you think of that?
It’s a small comfort in light of the canceled main event, but at least Affliction: Trilogy (if it is indeed still happening) will feature an important light-heavyweight bout between Renato "Babalu" Sobral and Gegard Mousasi. The above video promo paints the two fighters as polar opposites: Sobral is the hardy veteran who’s fought everybody and seen it all; the dangerous grappler who’s just as interesting outside of the ring. Mousasi is the young and confident striker who responds to every interview question with a deadpan shrug. It’s a clash of styles that will either solidify Sobral’s status as one of the best 205-pounders in the world, or prove that Mousasi can be dominant in a new weight class. "I’m the guy who wants to hurt him," Mousasi says, "[Sobral] only wants to submit me." Babalu responds with some of his trademark craziness: "If he talks shit, he gonna pee in the ring. If he doesn’t, he’s gonna pee anyway." Yikes. Gegard’s Bladder, you’ve just been put on notice…
("Mostly-natural, baby!" Photo courtesy of MMA Mania.)
Bad news for MMA fans — and disastrous news for Affliction’s MMA promotion. Sherdog is reporting that the California State Athletic Commission will not license Josh Barnett for his fight against Fedor Emelianenko at next Saturday’s Affliction: Trilogy event due to a "positive test result." We’re assuming that means steroids and not Hep B or something, though the CSAC promises to release a detailed statement today. Barnett, who was stripped of his UFC heavyweight title in 2002 for anabolic steroid use, was surprised by the news:
“I took my test three weeks ago. I would have thought I would have heard something by now…No matter what happens with this, I can assure you I will clear my name. This will not be something that I am defined by.”
(‘Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated, you pussies.’)
The bad news is, we’ve been duped. The good news is, we can now resume making insensitive jokes about Kimo Leopoldo. Yes, it turns out that Kimo isn’t really dead after all, or at the very least has been resurrected to walk the earth as some kind of terrifying zombie. Despite premature eulogies from the New York Daily News, the Orange County Register, and us, among many others, Leopoldo is said to be alive and reasonably well, though that’s about as much information as anyone seems to have or need about him and his current whereabouts.
This means he’ll miss a second straight fight because of his street fighting antics, and the Strikeforce heavyweight strap that he won back in 2007 and has yet to defend will stay on the shelf…or will it?
"I must point out that his victory is a defeat for the sport as such. Don’t get me wrong, Lesnar is a fearsome and very dangerous opponent, but I am old school, I prefer skill and technique. This win was a defeat of martial skills. Much of what he achieved in the fight is a result of pure power… Of course, Lesnar has quality sparring partners, is an experienced wrestler and a man who learns very quickly. But he is yet to have a real struggle. He does not have many fights in his career and I would love to see how he would react to two or three good low kicks."
I guess the question here is, should we see it as a positive sign of increased awareness in the mainstream that a legitimate story on the UFC gets mentioned on a highly-rated, non-sports, fake cable news show? Or does the fact that it came on just after a bit about a taekwondo fighter who opened a brothel in New Zealand suggest that maybe this isn’t such a huge step forward?
This isn’t officially confirmed yet, but we thought we’d pass on the news that multiplesources are reporting this morning claiming that former UFC fighter Kimo Leopoldo has died from complications resulting from a heart attack. Details at this point are still rather hazy, but if true this marks a sad end for the fighter with an often tumultuous life in and out of the cage. He was 41 years old.
(In the animal kingdom, playing dead can be considered an intelligent defense. In an MMA fight, not so much. Photo courtesy of Sherdog.)
Yesterday’s event may have been low on spectacle, but DREAM plans to come back strong for their next show. Here’s what’s on the card for DREAM.11 (October 6th, Yokohama):
— The long-awaited rubber-match between Shinya Aoki and Joachim Hansen. The two top-ten lightweights first met at PRIDE Shockwave 2006, where Aoki took out Hellboy via gogoplata. But Hansen got revenge last July, scoring a brutal TKO over Aoki at DREAM’s lightweight GP finals. Hansen has been inactive since that fight, while Aoki has gone 4-1, earning victories over Eddie Alvarez and Vitor Ribeiro, with his only loss to Hayato Sakurai in an ill-advised welterweight match.
The WEC’s next title bout will go down August 9th in Las Vegas, with undisputed bantamweight ruler Miguel Torres (37-1 confirmed record, 5-0 WEC) making his fourth belt defense against exciting contender Brian Bowles (7-0, 4-0 WEC). Despite the large difference in experience, the above promo video does its best to convince you that Bowles is a serious threat. "If I have to pick anybody out there, if I was Miguel Torres’s manager, who I would want to avoid, it would have been Brian Bowles," says WEC analyst Frank Mir, proving why he’s paid to fight and do color commentary, not manage careers. "To beat me you have to kill me," Torres says. "To beat me, you gotta take my heart out of my chest, and stab me with a knife." Luckily, Bowles has been training with MMA legend Mola Ram.
Judging by the announcement on the UFC website, the official justification for this move is that the first fight was so close it “split the mixed martial arts community,” which is true to the extent that it is with any close fight (Akiyama-Belcher, Hardy-Davis, Franklin-Wanderlei) but it’s not as if a passionate mob of fans has been clamoring for a rematch since the first fight went down.
Last week we posted a video interview with Fedor Emelianenko where he said he didn’t see himself signing with the UFC as long as the contract, and the way in which that contract is offered, remains unacceptable to him. Now here’s Dana White on Steve Cofield’s radio show to remind us exactly what Fedor was talking about.
According to DW, Fedor isn’t any good, hasn’t beaten anyone worth a damn in years, and is a fraud because he refuses to sign with the UFC. There, that should solve that perceived lack of respect issue, though it kind of makes you wonder why Dana would have ever offered a guy like that a bunch of money to come fight for him.
The light-heavyweight match between Matt Hamill and Brandon Vera — which was scheduled to open the broadcast of UFC 102 (August 29th, Portland) — has been canceled, as Hamill was forced to pull out of the fight due to a torn meniscus in his knee. Luckily, TUF 8 standout Krzysztof Soszynski was available to fill in, and he’ll be taking on Vera in Hamill’s place.
It’ll be gut-check time for both fighters. K-Sos has looked fantastic in his current 3-0 run in the UFC, taking out Shane Primm and Brian Stann by kimura and knocking out Andre Gusmao at UFC 98, but he needs a win over a bigger-name opponent to establish himself as a true contender in the division. Meanwhile, Brandon Vera has gone from hot heavyweight prospect to 205-pound question mark during his time in the Octagon. He most recently chopped down Mike Patt with leg kicks at UFC 96, which got him back to the W column after a previous split-decision loss against Keith Jardine. A win against Soszynski would prove that the Truth is still a factor; a loss solidifies his status as a gatekeeping can-crusher.
“We fixed the thing in Hawaii. We’re going to go to Hawaii. They had that crazy f’n tax going on…the only place we can do it is in the Aloha [Stadium]. All the other venues are too small.”
Hawaii’s other venues might be too small, but the Aloha Stadium is freakin’ gigantic. With a 50,000+ capacity, it could theoretically host the most well-attended UFC event in history. (UFC 97, held at Montreal’s Bell Centre, currently holds the record with 21,451 fans.) Of course, at least one mega-fight would need to be booked for the UFC to roll the dice on an outdoor stadium show. If BJ Penn gets by Kenny Floriannext month, could we see him take on Diego Sanchez on his home turf?
Okay, Marius Zaromskis surprised the hell out of us by winning the Dream welterweight tournament thanks to consecutive head kicks. So does that mean it’s worth our time to try and learn a little about this guy? Probably, yeah, and we say that despite being incredibly lazy. After a minimal amount of internet sleuthing, here are some things worth knowing about your new top dog in the Dream welterweight ranks:
(Alas, Rampage Jackson’s cry of "Look the hell out!" came just a moment too late.)
Now that Michael Bisping is upright again and has finally watched the video that explains why he can no longer recognize patterns or do long division, he seems eager to get back in the Octagon and implement the lessons he learned from his brief time in the Underworld. Bisping has vowed to “kick someone’s backside” at UFC 105 in Manchester, England this November, but the question remains, who’s backside will be presented for potential kicking?
We should have known there would be trouble after Hayato "Mach" Sakuraineeded seven and a half extra hours to make weight for today’s DREAM’s welterweight GP finals. The tournament favorite might have been fighting through exhaustion when he met Marius Zaromskis in the semis, in a bout marked by wild striking exchanges. Sakurai absorbed the more damaging blows, and the fight was halted about four minutes in so that doctors could check on a spurting gash under Mach’s left eye. When it was finally restarted after a long break, Zaromskis measured up Sakurai then threw a high left kick that put his lights out. A few more punches on the ground, and it was game over.
On the other side of the bracket, Jason High scored an upset of his own, handing jiu-jitsu juggernaut Andre Galvao his first MMA loss in a very close decision fight; one judge gave it to Galvao for his submission attempts in the first round, while the other two saw it for High due to his superior striking in the second. But the thrill of victory wouldn’t last long for High, as Zaromskis scored another head kick knockout — this time with the right leg — in their finals match.
In non-tournament action, Shinya Aoki outpointed Vitor Ribeiro in a disappointingly dull 15-minute bout, Dong Sik Yoon had to quit just a minute into his fight against Jesse Taylor after suffering a foot injury, and Paulo Filho survived a brutal striking assault from Melvin Manhoef and won the fight via armbar in what might be the leading contender for comeback fight of 2009. Complete results and more DREAM.10 fight videos are after the jump.
Coming off a painful loss against Rashad Evans in December, you’d think that Forrest Griffin would want a tune-up match before stepping into a another dangerous fight. Yet Griffin sees his meeting with Anderson Silva at UFC 101 (August 8th, Philadelphia) as "an opportunity to really test yourself, just as a person, as a man, as anything." Griffin’s gameplan will rely on some pace-pushing and "intelligent aggression." As for his chances against the Spider, Forrest is reliably humble: "Am I the guy to beat Anderson Silva? Why not? Somebody’s gotta do it. Might as well be me."
After the jump:BJ Penn discusses coming back after his own devastating loss, and says he should have poisoned Kenny Florian‘s food when he had the chance.
(Try as he might, the referee could not focus on the fight as long as he was haunted by his dying mother’s wish that he do whatever he wanted with his life, as long as it did not bring upon his family the shame of the bow tie.)
The finals of Dream’s welterweight tournament goes down in Japan on Monday, and if there’s anything we’ve learned over the years it’s that betting on Japanese MMA is like buying heroin in a strange neighborhood. You never know for sure what you’re getting, or whether it’s even halfway legitimate, but damn if it isn’t a rush. Dream.10 betting odds come to us courtesy of BestFightOdds.com:
Shinya Aoki (-200) vs. Vitor Ribeiro (+175) Hayato Sakurai (-600) vs. Marius Zaromskis (+475) Andre Galvao (-360) vs. Jason High (+300) Melvin Manhoef (+105) vs. Paulo Filho (-130) Andre Amade (+145) vs. Katsunori Kikuno (-160) Dong Sik Yoon (-225) vs. Jesse Taylor (+190) Seichi Ikemoto (-150) vs. Tarec Saffiedine (+125)
At the risk of giving too much love to the sport that frustrated white dudes so much they had to invent something entirely new in order to make themselves feel better, we thought we’d go ahead and mention that HBO will be airing the trilogy of fights between Mickey Ward and the late Arturo Gatti tonight, with an encore performance on Saturday. If you are a consumer of news, you probably heard that Gatti was found dead last weekend under circumstances that were, let’s just say, suspicious. A damn shame. If you haven’t seen his battles with Ward and if you have HBO, do yourself a favor.
Now, to make amends for all this boxing news, allow us to offer the following.
"It takes true skills to be in the sport of boxing, and mixed martial arts is for beer-drinkers. Boxing is for everybody. I mean, you can’t take my shoes off and take my shirt off and just throw me in a cage. You do that with animals, you don’t do that with humans…In boxing, we know who’s dominating. Black fighters and Hispanic fighers is dominating in this sport. And this is not a racial statement but [Ed. note: Here comes the racial statement] there’s no white fighters in boxing that’s dominating, so they had to go to something else and start something new." — Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
What’s ironic is that even in MMA, the two best fighters in the world are Quinton Jackson and King Mo. Also in the interview, Money Mayweather says that his duckery of Manny Pacquiao is due to the fact that Pac-Man isn’t his own boss, and that the recent murders of Steve McNair and Arturo Gatti have scared him off women for a while.
As for Money’s criticisms of MMA, what can you say, really? There’s some people who will never appreciate our sport because it’s done by shoeless people in a cage, and because an MMA match has less rounds than boxing, and because the only thing in the world that requires skill is punching, and because MMA was invented by frustrated white boxers, apparently. When the criticisms are lobbed by boxers themselves, or people who discuss boxing for a living, you can’t really take it too personally.
Two comments in particular made us LOFL this week, earning their authors Hall of Fame shirts from our dwindling supply. (Get ‘em while they’re still outdated!) Coincidentally, they were both Cris Cyborg-related…
PurplePickle on "Kit Cope Says He Has a Gina Carano Sex Tape, Continues to Be a Total Asshole": I don’t know about this Gina sex tape shit, but I had one of Cyborg Santos on Tivo. It showed Cyborg totally raping the shit out of this little Japanese girl for like nine whole minutes. If you look closely in the background you could see Josh Barnett yelling and cheering. It was fucking sick I tell you. I can’t believe they showed that shit on Showtime. Sad times we live in, sad times.
If you won, please send your name, address, and shirt size to email@example.com. We’ll be passing along your addresses to Mrs. Santos, because she told us she’d really like to visit you guys sometime. How exciting!
ALSO: "Ben vs. Ben" hits the airwaves later today for an encore performance on SIRIUS Fight Club (channel 127, or 104 for XM subscribers), beginning at 6 p.m. ET. Join us as we discuss the major themes coming out of UFC 100′s aftermath, as well as how much Gina Carano’s aforementioned sex tape would be worth to us, hypothetically speaking.
“Most of the guys that fought Lyoto… found a problem with patience, with finding the right moment to attack, or to counter-strike him. Some guys try to rush it too much; some guys try to stay too patient, (and) they start to get nervous because of that. …I think the key is the timing of the fight, to get the feeling of when to engage and when to counter-strike him. This is likely the key, to find the pace and the rhythm, mostly the timing of the strikes to be able to connect and to make it a fight. For sure, I’m going to concentrate on that and develop a good strategy.”
Cut the bullshit, Shogun. You have no idea what you’re going to do against this guy, do you?
Here’s a newsflash for you: online sportsbooks favor Fedor Emelianenko to beat Brock Lesnar in a dream match that may never actually happen. They’re even giving you the opportunity to lay some money down on it now, despite the fact that you don’t know anything about the conditions of this fight or the fighters at the time of the bout, and if it doesn’t happen by October 3, 2010, you get your money back. Of course, you could just wait until the bout is actually scheduled to take place (if ever) and bet then, but that’s not as fun, is it? This is like betting on who’s going to win the Super Bowl next year, and choosing between two expansion teams that haven’t been accepted into the NFL yet.