Respect the tights, people. If nothing else, this fight proves that Shinya Aoki knows how to stick to a game plan. When his butt-scoot attack didn’t pan out, he used an Alvarez kick to turn this into a grappling match. Alvarez’s hip toss was pretty sweet, but it might have been a mistake to think he was going to mount Aoki so easily. That’s where things start to go wrong for him, and once they start they only get worse.
Give him credit, Aoki is slick. He’s also the first WAMMA lightweight champ, for what that’s worth. They might as well etch onto the belt "Best Lightweight Not Currently in the UFC." We all know that’s what it means, anyway.
Gegard Mousasi puts a serious hurting on Musashi, plus more after the jump.
(Now that I think about it, Kinnikuman would fit in perfectly with the TapouT crew. Somebody get Punk-Ass to bring the bus around and pick him up.)
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you really want to bet on K-1 Dynamite 2008 tonight, which you probably won’t get to watch until tomorrow and which may or may not turn out to be a total shitstorm. First, you’re a crazy son of a bitch, you know that? Second, we got you covered. Here are the best odds on the ‘net, courtesy of BestFightOdds.com:
Joachim Hansen (+150) vs. Gesias Cavalcante (-105) Kazushi Sakuraba (-125) vs. Kiyoshi Tamura (+120) Eddie Alvarez (-105) vs. Shinya Aoki (+120) Semmy Schilt (-531) vs. Siala Siliga (+450) Hong Man Choi (+160) vs Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (-155) Daisuke Nakamura (-110) vs. Hideo Tokoro (+135) Alistair Overeem (+270) vs. Badr Hari (-250)
Cross your fingers that it actually comes together. Simply put, Aoki vs. Alvarez would be the most important lightweight fight you’d find outside of the UFC, as well as one of the best grappler vs. striker showcases in any weight class, in any organization. Though Alvarez hasn’t competed since the DREAM tournament, Aoki snuck in a quick submission victory over Todd Moore at DREAM 6 in September; his loss to Hansen snapped a three-year-long undefeated streak that saw him go 12-0 with one no-contest.
Hansen is slated to appear in a headlining bout at Dynamite!! against JZ Calvancante, alongside bouts between Kazushi Sakuraba and Kiyoshi Tamura, and Mousasi vs. Musashi. According to MMA Weekly, other rumored participants include Tatsuya Kawajiri, Mitsuhiro Ishida, Masakazu Imanari, Nick Diaz, Hayato Sakurai, and Ikuhisa Minowa.
According to a translation done by Robert at betwxx (via Brawl Sports), Mirko Borkovic (aw, cute, same first name!) was arrested in Zagreb as a “serial armed robber.” He’s charged with robbing twenty-five “betting agencies,” making off with over 250,000 Croation Kuna, a little over $45,000 in U.S. dollars.
Don’t worry though, it was just to finance his cocaine addiction, so it’s not like he’s a scumbag or anything. Apparently he did some time for possession in 2003, and said he used the drug as a performance-enhancer to aid his kickboxing training. My ex-girlfriend tried that same story. Six months into the relationship I realized she didn’t even have a gym membership. Or a job. And then I noticed my wallet was missing. But I digress.
Also snuck into the report is this little nugget about Cro Cop’s other associations these days:
Only a month earlier Cro Cop was forced to deny having sparred with Robert Matanic a local crime figure and suspect in the murder of Ivo Pukanica. In a interview with Nova TV, Cro Cop disassociated himself from Matanic claiming not to ever have met or sparred with Matanic.
In Cro Cop’s defense, roughly 80% of Croatians are involved in organized crime. You spar with enough people, eventually one of them is going to be a suspected murderer. Just kidding, Croatian readers. Please don’t murder me.
(Will act coquettishly adorable and sexy for food?)
While none of us may be positively heartbroken or even surprised to see Pro Elite shut down its operation, the thing to keep in mind is that the MMA marketplace just got smaller. That means fewer opportunities for fighters and, at least for most, meager paychecks in the near future. Former Icon Sport promoter Patrick Freitas reminded us of this fact with a post to the UG that read, in part:
I Just wanted to say that as everyone here is dancing on the Elitexc’s grave, I think its important to remember that a shitload of good fighters (and great people) just saw their contracts disappear into the ether.
That’s the truth. Whatever you think of Pro Elite’s demise and the reasons behind it, one thing we can all agree on is it isn’t the fault of the fighters they employed. But now that those fighters find themselves without an organization to call home, where do they go? The answer, of course, depends on who they are. Most will end up in local promotions. But what about the big fish?
Jake Shields: If the UFC could only pick up one of the newly unemployed EliteXC fighters, Shields should be that one. He was probably the most talented guy on their roster, and something tells me Zuffa could scoop him up relatively cheaply. If he comes in and makes an impact on the UFC’s welterweight division right away, great. If he doesn’t, the UFC can claim it as proof that their fighters are far and away the best in the industry.
Kimbo Slice: The EliteXC collapse couldn’t have happened at a worse time for Ferg. Coming off an embarrassing loss and with a half a million dollar price tag, he does not look like a good investment right now. We know the UFC isn’t interested. Affliction has enough heavyweights to do something with him, but he’ll have to take a major pay cut. Even then his shelf life is a question, as is his desire to continue on as a pro fighter. Don’t be surprised if we’ve seen the last of Kimbo’s MMA days.
(Eddie Alvarez celebrates after defeating Joachim Hansen at DREAM 3.)
With KJ Noons stripped of his lightweight strap, EliteXC is trying to establish a new ruler of its 160-pound class, and the front-runners should come as no surprise. As rising star Eddie Alvarezrecently told MMA Weekly, “We’re about 90-something percent positive I’ll be fighting Nick Diaz for the EliteXC title at 160.” Bout agreements have yet to be signed, but Alvarez has reportedly inked a new six-fight contract with EliteXC, and is ready to return to the U.S. after an outstanding run as a 154-pounder in DREAM’s lightweight grand prix. “I like 160,” the 23-year-old Philadelphia native said. “I feel like at 160 I’m stronger, I’m faster, I’m not as depleted as I am at 155.”
While competing in Japan this year, Alvarez came out on the winning end of two fight-of-the-year candidates, a wild 15-minute battle with Joachim Hansen at DREAM 3 in May, and an absolute slugfest against Tatsuya Kawajiri in the grand prix semi-finals in July. Unfortunately, an eye injury prevented him from advancing to the finals, and Joachim Hansen was able to take his spot as an alternate and defeat Shinya Aoki to win the tournament. Though a second fight against Hellboy would truly determine who deserves to wear DREAM’s lightweight belt, Alvarez now says that DREAM is behind him
If it comes together, the fight between Alvarez and Nick Diaz would most likely go down at EliteXC’s November 8th event (name and location TBA), which will be broadcast on Showtime.
Even though they’ve stripped him of the title, the door is not yet closed on KJ Noons’ relationship with Elite XC. The company reportedly gave Noons a Monday deadline to determine whether, and under what circumstances, he’ll continue to work for them. After all this drama it’s hard to imagine that we’ll be seeing Noons back in the Elite XC cage unless he gets a significant pay raise. Even then, you have to wonder what they would do with their ex-lightweight champ.
He refused to fight Nick Diaz even though it’s the only bout for him with any real heat at the moment. His manager, Mark Dion, said previously that the fight Noons really wants is one with Eddie Alvarez. Trouble is, rumors are now circulating that it will be Diaz who faces Alvarez for the vacant Elite XC title. Now that’s got to sting if you’re Noons. Not only does Diaz get more money, he also gets the fight KJ wants and maybe even his belt. What’s next, his bike?
If that happens, Noons can wait out the Diaz-Alvarez bout, hoping that Alvarez wins and he’ll finally get his shot at him. Even then, there’s still the sticky issue of money to sort out. If Diaz pulls out the victory Noons will be almost forced into a rematch with him for the belt that was his to begin with.
After everything that’s happened, however, it seems more likely that Noons is looking for the door at this point. He still has two fights on his contract, though he could decide to focus on boxing for a while in the hopes that Elite XC will crumble and he’ll be free and clear to sign a new MMA deal when they do. That is, assuming there is an organization who will be willing to pay him what he thinks he’s worth even after he’s been out of the game for a while.
Sounds like refusing a much-hyped rematch on network TV maybe wasn’t the best career move after all. Weird.
(“Yeah man, so this is like, one of the *actual tires* that came off of Rampage’s truck. No shit. Got it off Craigslist.” Photo of The Grim by Esther Lin.)
Nick Diaz and Brett Rogers won’t be sitting on their hands waiting for their arch-rivals KJ Noons and Kimbo Slice to become available — MMA Junkie reports that both fighters have been scheduled to appear at EliteXC’s November 8th event, which will be broadcast on Showtime. Their opponents haven’t been announced yet, but EliteXC’s Jared Shaw confirmed that Joey Villasenor will also be part of the event; rumor has it that he could face Robbie Lawler for the middleweight title.
Speaking of the Showtime card, FiveOuncesofPain reports that EliteXC wants to add Eddie Alvarez to the lineup, and build up to a fight for the vacated lightweight title if him and Nick Diaz win their fights and KJ Noons continues to be a problem. Side note: Before Diaz competes again for EliteXC, he’ll head to Japan to battle Hayato “Mach” Sakurai at DREAM.6 (September 23rd; Saitama, Japan) for DREAM’s welterweight title. In other EliteXC news…
— A fight between Cristiane “Cris Cyborg” Santos and Yoko Takahashi has been officially added to the undercard of Saturday Night Fights III on October 4th. If time permits, the match will be shown on the broadcast on a tape-delay basis. Cyborg vows to improve on her last performance by knocking Takahashi out three times in the first round.
(Alvarez vs. Kawajiri: Fight of the Night. Props to MMA-Core.)
Chaos rules when it comes to single-night tournaments, and today’s DREAM.5 show in Osaka was marked by an unexpected twist — lightweight grand prix alternate Joachim Hansen defeated crowd-favorite Shinya Aoki in the finals to become DREAM’s first lightweight champion, following an eye injury suffered by Eddie Alvarez in his semifinal match.
The first semifinal bout was dominated by Aoki, who threw his entire bag of submissions at Caol Uno, threatening Uno repeatedly with chokes, leglocks and armbars. Uno hung in like a champ, but the judges made the obvious choice when the clock ran out, and an exhausted Aoki advanced to the finals.
In the second semifinal, the Philadelphia-based Eddie Alvarez proved that he should be counted among the world’s best lightweights, getting the best of Tatsuya Kawajiri in a thrilling slugfest. Alvarez suffered a cut under his right eye early by Kawajiri’s nasty power punches, but Alvarez dropped Kawajiri with his own. After time was called for Alvarez’s eye to be checked out, the fight-restarted with Kawajiri taking control again, punching Alvarez to the mat and swarming him from the top. Alvarez eventually got to his feet, taking heavy damage in return. But Alvarez battled back, throwing his fists until Kawajiri succumbed. Unfortunately, it was later announced that Alvarez wouldn’t be able to continue to the finals because his eye was swollen shut.
The tournament’s alternate bout saw Joachim Hansen withstand an early assault by Indian fighter Kultar “Black Mamba” Gill; Hellboy quickly regained control and put away his outmatched opponent via armbar at the 2:33 mark. Hansen, who had lost to Alvarez at the lightweight GP quarterfinals in May, would now be replacing him in the finals.
Whoever’s in charge of video editing at Triumph United has incredible taste in music (though we would have probably chosen this jam for the soundtrack instead). If you’re not interested in seeing Kimbo Slice and Bas Rutten do some synchronized striking drills during a recent meet-and-greet at Elite MMA, we’d suggest skipping to the 1:54 mark to get your first taste of Kimbo workin’ it on the ground. Props to BloodyElbow. Also…
(James Irvin prepares for his UFC 85 fight against Rashad Evans at Fairtex Bangplee in Thailand. Props to MMAMania.)