(Jake O’Brien: Too boring for the UFC? Photo courtesy of UFC.com)
— The debut of Strikeforce on NBC on Saturday night was hindered by a lack of participation by major NBC affiliates. In Houston, Without a Trace aired in the timeslot Strikeforce was supposed to have; in New York there was just a black screen for 30 minutes. Steve Sievert reports that Strikeforce purchased the late night/early morning timeslot from NBC, meaning the show is closer to an infomercial than a network sports broadcast. Hopefully it’ll help harvest some new fans for Strikeforce, because the March 29th Showtime broadcast of “Shamrock vs. Le” only pulled in a 1.2 rating (287,00 viewers), which is lower than Showtime’s viewership for “Street Certified” (1.9) and Shamrock’s previous two headlining fights against Cesar Gracie and Phil Baroni (1.6, 1.7). If you missed Strikeforce on NBC‘s premiere, click here.
— Following the first loss in his eleven-fight career (against Andrei Arlovski at UFC 82), the UFC has cut ties with Jake O’Brien; he had two fights left on his current contract. Reportedly, the UFC simply had too many fighters under contract, and are in the midst of a talent purge. We can only assume that O’Brien’s last three fights, in which he bored audiences with dull wrestling and lay-and-pray tactics, soured his image in the eyes of the UFC top brass. O’Brien’s manager Ken Pavia confirmed that O’Brien has agreed to a two-fight deal with the Palace Fighting Championship organization. “Had we known that his tenure with [the UFC] was at risk when we were presented with the Arlovski fight, we may have approached it differently,” Pavia said. “I don’t think they’ve seen the true Jake. He’s still a kid, and he’s still learning.” Before he joined the UFC, all of O’Brien’s fights ended in first-round KO/TKO victories.
— Masakazu Imanari, who defended his Cage Rage featherweight title last month by submitting Jean Silva, will attempt to defend his other championship belt at DEEP 35 on May 19th in Tokyo. Imanari is slated to fight Dokonjonosuke Mishima, who most recently went 0-2 in the UFC getting choked out by Joe Stevenson and Kenny Florian. DEEP 35 will also feature a four-man tournament to decide the league’s new middleweight champion.
— Though some MMA fans view Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira as the current #1 heavyweight in the world due to the recent inactivity of Randy Couture and Fedor Emelianenko, Couture still has no interest in fighting Minotauro. In an interview with 15Rounds, he said “I want to fight the best guy in the world and be considered the best guy as well. [Fighting Emelianenko] is the only way that will happen…I have a lot of respect for Nogueira, I think he’s a great fighter, but he’s been beat by Fedor twice. That fight doesn’t make sense for me right now. If I have more fights left in me after Fedor, maybe I’ll fight Nogueira then, but right now, it just doesn’t make sense.”