Dana White breaks the news around the six minute mark. Props to NBCsports.com for the video.
When the news first broke that the UFC was going to hold an event in Japan on the same day as an event in Las Vegas in 2012, many of us were confused as to how this was going to work. Some of us pictured a Flintstones-esque scenario where Dana White and Burt Watson frantically try to be in two places at once, leading to various shenanigans. Even though specifics are still up in the air at this point, last night Dana White cleared the air a bit with how the UFC intends on handling the situation.
According to Dana White, the UFC event in Japan will take place on February 26, while the PPV card in Las Vegas will take place on February 25. Due to time zone differences, the plan is that the UFC Japan card will air live for free (presumably on Fox) immediately before the PPV broadcast in Las Vegas. So for those of you who guessed that that was going to happen, feel free to gloat in the comments section.
Well, Steven Seagal made it out to the festivities Saturday night in Denver and it’s beginning to seem like either he’s some kind of mixed martial arts guru or he’s a senile old man who is way out of touch with reality. My bet’s on the latter.
Our friends Karyn Bryant from MMA H.E.A.T. and Ariel Helwani from MMAFighting caught up with Sensei Seagal before and after the event, respectively, and let’s just say old cockpuncher had a few yarns to spin.
Check out the videos and the bullet points of the world according to The Glimmer Man after the jump.
As we all know, Chael Sonnen occasionally says things about Brazilian fighters, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and the country of Brazil that are less than complimentary. You ever wonder what the fans of Brazil think about Chael Sonnen?
Us neither. But Ariel Helwani was at the open workouts for UFC Rio, and there were a few fans there, so why not? Turns out, while there are a few that recognize Sonnen’s promotional efforts for what they are, mostly the Brazilian fans just plain don’t like the gangster from America. Go figure.
Check out five minutes of Brazilians talking about Sonnen. It’s worth it.
If we didn’t know better, we’d say that the folks at Sportsnet commissioned an AI robot from Round 5 in the “likeness” of Dana White to put the fighters he interviews at ease. But sadly, it’s just Canadian MMA talking head “Showdown” Joe Ferraro asking Chael Sonnen questions in an unnatural radio announcer timbre and inflection in the videos above and below.
Even Chael seems taken aback by Twiki’s voice at first, or maybe it was just because the interviewer’s opening of, “Talk a bit about your next opponent Brian Stann,” left “Showdown” open for a predictable Wikipedia-worthy account of Stann’s fight bio.
As Chael Sonnen’s utterly superfluous PR agent/hype man (because really, he can do that himself), i had to share this. Ariel Helwani sat Sonnen down last week to talk to him about his suspension and Hormone Replacement, and he wound up with 20 minutes of comedy. If you don’t understand why some people love Sonnen after watching this, i do not know what to tell you.
The interview starts off with a few fairly serious minutes of PED discussion, but as soon as UFC 132 and Wanderlei Silva come up, Sonnen’s voice gets louder and the gold starts pouring out of him. (Maybe the Jack and Coke kicked in.) After that, just hold on and enjoy the ride.
One note to Sonnen though: Batman would absolutely beat Superman. He’s got a Kryptonite ring that Superman gave him just in case Supes went off the deep end and started nuking cats with his heat vision and soccer kicking babies into the Sun. This is elementary stuff, player; it’s the titular example of a popular trope in fiction. How does he not know that?
Well, we can add Tito Ortiz’s name to the growing list of UFC fighters who have accused MMA Fighting reporter Ariel Helwani of starting shit in recent months.
During today’s UFC 132 press conference, Helwani asked Tito’s upcoming opponent Ryan Bader what he thought about Ortiz saying he had weak wrestling and before he had a chance to answer, “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” interrupted to inform Ariel that he said no such thing.
In the interview we posted earlier today on the site, Ariel asked Tito if he saw any holes in Bader’s game that he was looking to exploit Saturday night, to which he replied, “His takedowns and his takedown defense,” before describing how he saw some holes in both areas that could leave openings for him to capitalize. He didn’t actually use the term “weak wrestling,” but he did point out that certain aspects of Bader’s wrestling game were lacking in his opinion.
“I never said he had weak wrestling. What are you starting shit for, dude? I never said that. I never said he had weak wrestling. I said I seen holes in his game, but I never said he had weak wrestling. Don’t be putting words in my mouth, dog.”
Tito Ortiz‘s matchup with Ryan Bader at UFC 132 this Saturday didn’t come without a price. When the Huntington Beach Bad Boy begged for another fight following his loss to Matt Hamill last October, the UFC eventually gave in, but not under the same terms of his former contract. As Ortiz explained to Ariel Helwani:
“I guess it was negotiation on their part of paying me less. And I took it. I want to compete. And that shows how much I want to compete, to take a big, big, big pay cut. It is what it is, man, I’m gonna fight my ass off on Saturday night and I get my contract back, and I’ll be fighting some more.”
For reference, Ortiz earned a $250,000 salary for his last two losses against Hamill and Forrest Griffin, and $210,000 for his previous three fights against Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, and Chuck Liddell; those figures don’t include points on the pay-per-view revenue that may have also been included in his contract. Early next week, we should have a clearer sense of just how “big, big, big” that pay cut was.
Ortiz also discussed the full-frontal Twitter photo that was allegedly sent from his phone by a hacker earlier this month. Here’s how it went down, to Ortiz’s best understanding…
Quick head’s up, Nation. While Nate Marquardt has been mum since a series of unfortunate events over the weekend about what exactly is going on, it’s been announced that he would be addressing his issues today. Well, surprise, surprise: the Barbara Walters of MMA (and we mean that in the most complimentary way possible) landed the interview, with Marquardt scheduled to appear on The MMA Hour today at 1pm.
Greatest comeback knockout in UFC history? Last night‘s main event clash between Cheick Kongo and Pat Barry is certainly up there with previous shockers like Scott Smith vs. Pete Sell and Mike Russow vs. Todd Duffee, considering how close it came to being stopped. Kongo earned himself a $50,000 Knockout of the Night bonus for his efforts. The other performance bonuses went to Joe Lauzon, who picked up the Submission of the Night award for his first-round kimura over Curt Warburton, and Nik Lentz and Charles Oliveria, who were awarded the Fight of the Night despite the fact that an illegal knee from Oliveira near the end of the match may result in the fight being declared a no-contest.
After the jump: An excerpt from the night’s other epic battle — Rampage vs. Ariel.
Rick story, blatantly holding back his true feelings regarding Nate Marquardt.
In preparation for UFC on Versus 4 this Sunday night, Ariel Helwani has been busy interviewing fighters. Since you probably have a major concerns regarding his interviews, I’ll address it now: Nobody gets slapped. For those of you still here, Nate Marquardt and Rick Story don’t exactly speak highly of each other, Christian Morecraft talks beer and Black Sabbath and John Howard talks about the Boston Bruins winning the Stanley Cup.
For more of Ariel Helwani, be sure to check out the pre-fight and post-fight shows on Versus Network, beginning at 8 PM ET and 11:30 PM ET, respectively. You’ll get analysis from Ariel, Todd Harris and Stephan Bonnar. You’ll also get a special appearance by our favorite reader (No, not Cheick Kongo). And also watch the other videos after the jump.
“You know what, it was not the most exciting, but in terms of from where I was at, it was perfect. Basically, I put him on ground, and after I started feeling him out, feeling his energy underneath me, I knew that he had a lot of umph, he had a lot of guts, he had a lot of gusto, so any opening, any transition, any big movement, it was going to be met by a lot of explosive force.
We could then end up in some scrambles, spend energy I don’t want to, it’s unnecessary, so instead, get him bucking, get him using that energy. And I have quite heavy hips, which is a very common staple of catch-as-catch-can [wrestling], wearing people out — not just with strikes or submissions or holds — but with your overall body positioning.
Brett Rogers has been publicly M.I.A. since February, and it was starting to worry us a little bit. So it was a relief to see this interview he did with Ariel Helwani yesterday, in which the Grim appears to be in a healthy but reflective state of mind before his match with Josh Barnettthis Saturday. Discussing his two-fight losing streak at the hands of Fedor Emelianenko and Alistair Overeem, Rogers said:
“I was moreso in that mindset of my amateur days, you know, I was kind of like ‘just give me a date and I’ll be there,’ and hope for the best. The proof is in the pudding, I can’t always flow with that mentality. That attitude will get me in a hole.”
Ariel is *still* asking fighters about beefs. Some guys never learn. VidProps: Ariel Helwani
Donald Cerrone is one of those guys that will apologize for not kicking a guy’s ass thoroughly enough, even when no drunk frat guys are booing in the crowd. After failing to put away a one-legged Vagner Rocha, Cerrone was visibly disappointed with his performance. Knowing Cowboy, though, no one is in a hurry to give him a hard time about it, including our boy Ariel Helwani.
Helwani caught up with Cerrone to ask him about the fight, his feuds with Mac Danzig and Cole Miller, and who he’d like to fight next. Pretty standard stuff that we’ve covered before, until they start talking matchups. Cerrone hasn’t forgotten about Danzig, whom Cowboy had previously insinuated faked an injury to get out of fighting him. “I’m just talking shit, that’s what I do.” Cerrone says of Danzig. “I hope he’s not injured, I hope he can fight.”
In an unofficial sequel to “People Like That Get Slapped,” Ariel Helwani attempted to interview Quinton “Rampage” Jackson yesterday, and barely escaped with his life. After some warm-up insults about Helwani’s tie and shoes, Jackson realized who he was talking to, and the vibe immediately became hostile. Apparently Jackson didn’t appreciate that Helwani asked him about “Queen Mo” during a recent MMA Hour appearance — while Rampage was eating, no less — when ‘Page just wanted to discuss his UFC 130 fight against Matt Hamill. Plus, his peoples told him that Ariel had been hatin’.
Ariel offers to squash the beef at the 2:52 mark. Unfortunately, that phrase means the exact opposite in Memphis than it does everywhere else, and Jackson raises up on Ariel, who does his best to change the subject. Rampage gets upset again later when Helwani brings up nutritionist Mike Dolce, who wasn’t with Rampage for this training camp. (“I’m fighting Matt Hamill, I’m not fighting Mike Dolce. What’s Mike Dolce got to do with me winning or losing a fight?”)
The interview ends in a more cordial fashion, but Jackson clarifies that if it wasn’t for his friend Anthony Evans, who’s a friend of Ariel’s, “I probably would have smacked the shit out of you.”
(“I’m sorry, Chael’s not here right now. I’m his protector personality, Buck the beer-swilling Vietnam vet. Pic: ProMMANow)
Admit it, you missed this crazy son of a bitch. Fresh from his sentencing in federal court in Oregon last week and a few days further removed from what sounded like a contentious initial meeting with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Chael Sonnen made his first extended public appearance in recent memory on Monday on the MMA Hour over at MMA Fighting. Sonnen’s nearly 40-minute discussion with Ariel Helwani centered mostly on his continued efforts to reapply for a license to fight in Las Vegas, but also touched on many things UFC.
Listing back and forth between his two dominant personalities — sober, straight-talking manly-man and over-the-top middleweight contender — Sonnen admitted his main focus hasn’t been on fighting these last few months, but said he hopes to return to the Octagon sooner than later. The more human side of Sonnen admitted he still needs to “clear the air” with NSAC before moving forward with his athletic career, while his batshit crazy side couldn’t resist simultaneously tossing a few verbal barbs at most of the rest of the UFC roster. It’s not a mystery which quotes we’ll hit you with first after the jump …
Dana White’s long-held opinion of Nick Diaz goes something like this: He’s a talented kid, but he won’t be welcome back in the UFC until he learns how to “play the game.” Just before Diaz’s first-round TKO victory over Paul Daley on Saturday, White spoke to Ariel Helwani in more detail about Strikeforce’s anti-social welterweight champion (discussion starts at the 3:24 mark, translation via FightOpinion):
“When I listen to Nick Diaz talk, you know, this kid’s talented, he’s well-rounded, I like his attitude and the way that he carries himself…to a point. He always crosses the line every time he gets out there and talks publicly and…he can be such a big star. This kid could be a big star if he would just calm down a little bit and not so be so angry with everybody. I mean, seriously, who the fuck wants to beat up Ariel Helwani, man? Other than other reporters, who wants to beat up Ariel Helwani? Nick has this talent and he talks about the big money and all the other things. He can make this big money. He can do that. He can be that guy. He could fight GSP. He could have all these opportunities. He’s got to tone it down a little bit, you know, and I don’t think that many people out there would disagree with me and I’m not asking Nick Diaz not to be Nick Diaz. I like Nick Diaz. I like the way he is and it’s part of the appeal of him, you know. But you gotta tone it down just a little bit…if we could get Nick to a point where he doesn’t cross the line and he doesn’t get so crazy all the time, he could be a big star. People like him. And people dislike him, too. That’s not a bad thing.”
To this, we would ask: Tone what down, exactly? It’s been three years since the last time Diaz let weed affect his MMA career, and one year since the last time he participated in an in-cage brawl on national television; he’s actually been on his best behavior for a long damn time. Is a tense interview with Ariel Helwani really evidence that the UFC can’t work with one of the most talented fighters in the world? Can’t we just let Nick be Nick? And then you see Diaz’s post-fight interview with Helwani, and you’re like, “oh, right.” See what we mean after the jump…
Nick Diaz is a man of contradictions. He’s a BJJ black belt who usually prefers to keep the fight standing and throw hundreds of punches. He’s a chronic weed smoker who’s somehow motivated enough to compete in triathlons when he’s not competing in mixed martial arts. And he clearly hates doing interviews, yet his interviews are comedy gold, 100% of the time. Case in point: His latest run-in with Ariel Helwani, which follows the classic three-part Nick Diaz interview format:
1) Show blatant hostility toward the interviewer. Usually that just means looking the other direction while answering questions and giving short, mumbled responses for the first couple of minutes. And he does that here, obviously, but the tension is especially high in this one. “I wasn’t gonna do this interview but they told me I had to,” Nick says as an opener, before laying into Ariel personally. “I feel like you instigate fights quite a bit…that’s your job, but where I come from, y’know, people like that get slapped.” Ariel tries to get the proceedings back on track, saying something about mutual respect, and Nick says “it’s all good, I see how you are.” Great. Only seven minutes to go.
(Shaw talking to Helwani prior to Ariel’s plaid phase.)
Although he wouldn’t get into debating Frank Shamrock’s version of events, former EliteXC VP and matchmaker Jared Shaw spoke with CagePotato.com today to clarify comments he made during a recent interview with Sherdog’s Jeff Sherwood about the former UFC light heavyweight and Strikeforce middleweight champion’s offer to fix a fight with Kimbo Slice.
For being one of MMA’s more tried-and-true institutions, there is always something a little awkward about those postfight confrontations in the cage between champion and challenger. Emotions are running high and the heat of the moment has a way of testing fighters’ grasp of the English language, spawning hilarious internet memes and sometimes even sparking enormous, embarrassing brawls. Still, we’re not sure our sport has ever seen an in-ring altercation as hard-to-watch as Jon Jones and Rashad Evans at UFC 128. Both dudes looked more like they were entering into a suicide pact than agreeing to face-off in a professional sporting contest as they mumbled halfhearted “trash” talk into Joe Rogan’s microphone and then sealed their impending friend-vs.-friend fight with the world’s least enthusiastic handshake.
(Talk of “disrespect” and “walking the walk” begins about the four-minute mark. Vid: MMA Fighting)
So, when confronted with the fact that Jon Jones has apparently been tagging his signature with the phrase “UFC Champion, 2011” during autograph signings and public appearances leading up to UFC 128, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua – who is still the champ, remember – seemed none too pleased. Unfortunately, Rua has never been known as a particularly fiery orator (and was speaking through an interpreter, anyway) so when asked for comment by Ariel Helwani on Thursday, he ended up saying some corny ’80s shit that sounded like he was aiming for “don’t let your mouth write checks your ass can’t cash,” but didn’t quite get there.
Unfortunately, things only got more banal from there: Hearing of Shogun’s criticism, Jones essentially played dumb, acting like he couldn’t possibly understand why signing his name as the future UFC champion would piss off the current UFC champion and the man he’s supposed to fight this weekend. Point of fact, Jones said it’s Shogun who’s been disrespectful headed into this fight, not him. Then Jones said some bullshit about “The Law of Attraction” that actually made us slump back in our office chair and sigh, “C’mon son.”
All the silliness that’s fit to print is after the jump …
Sometimes it feels like nearly every middleweight fighter not crippled, crazy or comatose has gone on record in the last few months expressing a desire to fight Wanderlei Silva. At the risk of turning this post into a glorified game of MMA telephone, the reconstructed timeline looks something like this … buckle up, because this is going to get complicated …
This week Leben reiterated his desire to fight Wanderlei and then Wanderlei supporters allegedly launched a Twitter revolution directed at Dana White, urging him to make the fight between the two sluggers. Guess what, though? White ain’t even trying to hear that, see. He wants Wanderlei to fight Belfort, maybe in a big money fight at UFC Rio later this year. But NOW guess who may not want to fight Vitor? That’s right, Wanderlei. Wait, what? An attempt to make sense of it all after the jump …
All we know is that in the wake of Bisping blasting Rivera with an illegal knee and then spitting at/on one of Rivera’s corner men following their grudge match, White says the British toolbox “didn’t get a bonus.” We assume that he doesn’t mean the ol’ run-of-the-mill, FOTN-KOTN-SOTN bonuses either, instead referring to the long-rumored, under-the-table bonuses that are sometimes alleged to make up the bulk of a UFC fighter’s pay. So, yeah, that seems … vague. Whatever he did though, White assures us it was a pretty big deal.
“Who has two thumbs and rules the entire MMA universe? This guy!”
The landscape of MMA has once again changed forever. Just like the UFC’s purchase of Pride, the UFC has enveloped another key competitor and solidified their stronghold on the MMA marketplace beyond what was previously thought possible. In his exclusive twenty-one minute interview with star reporter Ariel Helwani , Dana White sticks to the mantra “business as usual”, insisting that Strikeforce will continue to operate as its own entity. Sound familiar? Fortunately, running Strikeforce won’t entail dealing with the Yakuza. In fact, Dana casually likens the deal to purchasing a house. A house full of dudes that beat the shit out of each other for a living on national television.
Excerpts and notes from the interview are after the jump, but do yourself a favor and watch the whole thing.
Forrest Griffin interviews make me feel good. Not because Forrest is a funny dude, but rather because they make me realize that not only was he a dick to me when I interviewed him for the first time last summer; he’s a dick to every reporter that interviews him.
Don’t believe me?
Check out the recent clip above of Forrest telling an interviewer that his hair is terrible and calling him racist for assuming Griffin was referring to Alistair Overeem when he referenced Cro Cop giving up during a fight in which he got kneed in the groin repeatedly. The reporter was right. Overeem did foul Mirko during a DREAM bout, but Forrest assumed he thought our boy Cheick Kongo looked like "The Demolition Man" and he called him on it.
When I interviewed him after he spent four hours signing autographs at the Toronto MMA Expo, I assumed he was simply being ornery because of the long day he had.
Just before we began the interview, which I waited to conduct after a one-hour delay in which Griffin signed a few extra autographs, he tossed aside the Cage Potato t-shirt I gave him to a girl working the booth, told me he had no idea what CP was and then proceeded to "X" out the devil horns symbol on my shirt, informing me that I now had his autograph. Needless to say, I wasn’t overly keen on doing the interview after the way things got started.
That seems to be Forrest’s MO: insult the reporter at the beginning of the Q&A session and make him feel uncomfortable for the whole interview. The end result is usually an awkward and strange exchange that ends with Griffin smirking and the reporter red-faced and wishing they hadn’t wasted their time talking to him.
(Does this look like the face of a man who is pumped for Wrestlemania? PicProps: BloodyElbow)
Right on schedule, the Internets are in full-on meltdown mode this Monday morning concerning all things Brock Lesnar. Lesnar fans who talked him up as an unstoppable juggernaut as late as Friday afternoon are now backtracking, suddenly focusing more on his inexperience than his otherworldly physical prowess. Cain Velasquez supporters are getting their gloat on, as well they should, after Velasquez put a king sized beating on Lesnar at UFC 121. We blogging scumbags are attacking the former champ’s striking skills, his game plan and his training camp. Many of us are wondering aloud about Lesnar’s future in the sport, how he’ll rebound from this and what in the bejeezus is going to happen to our precious heavyweight rankings now.
For his part, UFC President Dana White is insinuating that the whitetail deer population of southwestern Minnesota might be a bit inflated come spring, since he believes Lesnar will cancel much of his planned time off in order to get back in the gym and back in the Octagon ASAP. Then there’s this goddamned Undertaker thing, which is threatening to take on a life of its own.
At this point, MMA interviewer/analyst Ariel Helwani is more famous than a lot of the people he interviews. If you’ve ever spotted him at an MMA event, you know that he can’t get ten feet without being swarmed by another group of fans, who follow his work intently at MMAFighting.com and Versus. Keep in mind that Ariel Helwani is not a fighter. He’s just a dude who started with a dream and went on to become the most well-known interviewer in our sport. To put it simply, he’s come a long way since Andrei Arlovski’s pee-pee-pee.
So here’s something special for all the Helwannabes in the house: Ariel stopped by the CagePotato.com booth at the UFC Fan Expo on Saturday and spent some time on the other side of the microphone. Watch the video above to learn about Ariel’s journey from sports fan to "liver of the dream," his love of Howard Cosell, and of course, why he thinks we’re so awesome. Many thanks to Ariel for giving us his time and, at least for one moment, lending the CagePotato.com carnival booth some measure of legitimacy.
Note: Keep your eyes peeled around 2:41 and 2:56 to watch some amazing background work from ReX13. Yep. That’s what I had to deal with all weekend.
There must be something in the water in Boston that’s making the fighters turn on Ariel Helwani. First BJ Penn questioned the MMA Fighting reporter about whether or not he liked him and now we have James Toney wrestling the microphone from Helwani after asking him if he dislikes boxing and calling him a clown. "This guy’s a clown right here…Give me the goddamn mic….Give it to me," Toney said as he struggled to pry the microphone from Helwani’s hands.
When he finally did get the mic from Helwani, Lights Out tried to sign off from the interview.
"This is James Toney Reporting for this goddamn station, whatever it is," Toney deadpanned. "I’m outta here."