We’re just moments away from the official start of Memorial Day weekend, a sacred American tradition in which people across the country drink beer at backyard barbecues in honor of the brave men and women who have given their lives defending this country. While you’re giving it up for the military, please take some time to consider those who have passed on in the UFC. And don’t forget to come back to CagePotato.com tomorrow night for our liveblog of UFC 130: Rampage vs. Hamill…
A one-time middleweight champion of the UFC, Evan Tanner struggled with addiction and financial problems during the later part of his career. Tanner got sober in 2008, but died just a few months later during a fateful adventure in the Southern California desert. And though he didn’t always treat himself kindly, Evan left behind a legion of fans and friends who revered him for his generosity and positive attitude — much like TapouT founder Charles “Mask” Lewis, who also happened to be fond of the word ‘Believe.’
If you haven’t heard the news, Anderson Silva has a new documentary called, “Like Water,” which set for release later this month at the Tribeca Film Festival in Manhattan. The name of the film is taken from a famous Bruce Lee quote as an homage to the world’s most famous martial artist who was a huge influence to The Spider’s MMA career.
If you’re looking for an excuse to get a little bit misty-eyed this morning, you should definitely check out the above trailer for the forthcoming documentary about the late Evan Tanner. Titled “Once I Was a Champion,” the movie – produced at least in part by Tapout Films, according to the trailer – is reportedly being submitted for review by film festivals this month, where hopefully it’ll get some widespread play. If there’s one dude from MMA who deserves to have a film dedicated to his life, it’s probably Tanner. The former UFC middleweight champion certainly had his fair share of adventures (and perhaps personalities) which helped shape a quirky public persona, prior to his untimely death in the fall of 2008.
The trailer is legitimately pretty stirring and it seems like the full documentary itself is going to be pretty awesome. There are a slew of MMA luminaries involved, sharing their mostly positive remembrances of Tanner, while giving a nod to the troubled fighter’s “natural frailty.” Then you get to Chael Sonnen’s brief appearance at about the two minute mark and you think producers must have taken these comments out of context, not even Sonnen is this big of a dick. Then you watch the expanded video of Sonnen’s comments and you realize, nope, he really is a dick. See Sonnen’s performance and a few more fighters talking about Tanner after the jump.
("When you put your focus on one thing, you tend not to focus on the journey. Once you get there, it’s not going to be as big of a deal as you thought it was going to be.")
This Saturday, Rich Franklin will step into the Octagon for the 18th time to face Forrest Griffin in the co-headlining feature of UFC 126. During his 12-year career, Ace has experienced everything from championship glory to bitter defeat, and now stands as one of the sport’s most revered statesmen. “I think that what people will remember me for is that I’m a tough competitor who’s put on entertaining fights for the fans all these years," Franklin tells CagePotato. "And I’m happy with that kind of legacy.”
Rich was generous enough to give us some phone-time recently, and instead of asking him about his gameplan for Forrest, we discussed Franklin’s career as a whole, from the moment he decided to pursue MMA as a full-time job, to the fight that changed his life, to every other notable moment that helped forge the fighter he is today. Let’s begin…
The Early Days, 1993-1999 Rich Franklin: “I started training in traditional martial arts in 1993, then I saw the first couple UFCs and started doing some jiu-jitsu. I was training at a Royce Gracie chapter here in Cincinnati, and the guy who was leading my class was a blue belt. By today’s standards, if the best you had in your area was a blue belt, you’d be way behind the times, but in 1994 it was a big deal to have that kind of a resource. So I was doing jiu-jitsu, working with kickboxing coaches, and of course I’d been watching the UFC, learning off instructional tapes and all those kinds of things.
I started fighting at these little local amateur shows out in Richmond, Indiana, and clearly at that point in time, I was just light-years ahead of the competition that was showing up at the event. The promoter told me, ‘These are amateur events, I don’t really have anybody for you to fight.’ But there was a gentleman there who said, ‘You know what, I run a pro show, and I’ll pay you to fight." And he offered me 200 bucks. I was like, ‘Wow, I can make money fighting? This is great. I’m gonna make 200 bucks." I was bankin’.
RICH FRANKLIN (5-0) vs. AARON BRINK (7-4) — Franklin’s first regional title fight IFC: Warriors Challenge 11, 1/13/01 Result: No contest due to accidental injury, after Brink’s leg slipped through the cage.
Addiction can make the toughest S.O.B. as powerless as this guy. While many MMA fighters have had their lives and careers derailed by drugs and alcohol, some were strong enough to find treatment and pull their lives out of the tailspin. Here’s our tribute to five of them…
Drug of choice: Alcohol, cocaine, heroin, meth, etc. Rock bottom moment: McGee began abusing drugs after falling in with the wrong crowd after high school, and was once pronounced dead following a heroin overdose. In 2006, McGee had managed to stay sober for five months. In order to test his willpower, he took a trip to Las Vegas and decided to order just one drink. He woke up four days later in Iowa, not wearing any pants. Recovery: McGee has been sober since April 16, 2006, two weeks after the Vegas/Iowa incident. He began training in MMA and rebuilding relationships with his family, which helped restore order to his life. "Crusher" came out of nowhere to win TUF 11 last June, and submitted Ryan Jensen in his follow-up fight at UFC 121.
Joe Rogan has a new tattoo (well a few months old) which took over 5 sessions to complete, but it’s pretty amazing. Aaron Della Vedova from Guru Tattoo is the artist who did all of this amazing work. Apparently the sleeve tattoo depicts Joe’s DMT (Spirit Molecule) trip where he hallucinated and saw an Alien Thai Buddha made out of energy telling him not to give into astonishment. If you look at the molecule in the center of the tattoo it’s the DMT, Dimethyltryptamine, molecule.
Don’t do it, Joe! DO NOT GIVE IN TO ASTONISHMENT!!!
I can’t imagine a bigger hippie move than tattooing your own psychedelic vision on your arm. He’s going to run out of body space if he keeps taking up real estate like this. What if he has another, even crazier trip the next time he goes DMT’ing, and one of those machine elves is like “I would love it if you tattooed our little adventure on your left arm, that would really make me happy.” Because he’s basically screwed at that point.
Spike.com has posted the last blog entries from Evan Tanner before his death in the southern California desert two weeks ago. If nothing else, the sentiments expressed in his last entry should effectively put to rest any suicide rumors, such as those put forth by the always-idiotic War Machine. The night before Tanner leaves on his journey into the desert, he seems anything but suicidal:
It’s Tuesday night. Tomorrow I go out into the desert. It has taken over a month to get all the gear together. The preparation for this adventure took far longer than I had expected. I’ve never done this before, so I took my time reading books, studying the land, and researching gear. A few weeks of solitude in the deep desert, and then back to civilization, and back to training.
Clearly, that’s a man who planned on coming back. The MMA world remains saddened that he didn’t.
As a reminder, a memorial service for Tanner is planned for this Saturday, Sept. 27 at 2 pm in the Amarillo Civic Center in Amarillo, Texas, for those of you who might be in the area and are interested in paying your respects. When they hold your memorial at a civic center, you know you’ve had an impact on people.
— Evan Tanner’s memorial will be held at 2 p.m. on September 27th at the Civic Center (401 South Buchanan Street) in Amarillo, Texas. Tonight’s Ultimate Fight Night broadcast will be dedicated to Tanner, and an Evan Tanner tribute show will be airing soon on Spike.
— Even though the ink on Houston Alexander’s new five-fight contract extension hasn’t even dried yet, Dana White admits that if the Assassin loses against Eric Schafer tonight, he’ll need to leave the UFC for a while to rack up some wins in other promotions.
— Roger Huerta’s loss to Kenny Florian last month was very hard on him emotionally, and he’s desperate for a rematch. In an interview with Fighters Only Magazine, he also seemed to imply that he’ll be leaving Greg Jackson’s team: “I would like to go back to the way I used to train, with the people I used to train with. Those guys were like brothers to me, not just trainers.”
— TUF 7 finalist C.B. Dollaway will reportedly return to the Octagon at UFC 92 (December 27th, Las Vegas) against middleweight veteran Jorge Rivera. Dollaway is officially 1-1 in the UFC at this point, after being submitted by Amir Sadollah via armbar at the TUF 7 finale in June, then submitting Jesse Taylor via Peruvian neck tie at “Silva vs. Irvin” in July.
In this interview done after Rashad Evans’s knockout of Chuck Liddell at UFC 88, trainer/strategist Greg Jackson discusses what he told Evans between rounds 1 and 2, Mike Winklejohn and Kieth Jardine’s contributions to the gameplan, and Nate Marquardt’s victory over Martin Kampmann. Props to Sherdog via Fans of Team Jackson’s.
Courtesy of MMAMania and MAR Clothing, here’s a video of Josh Koscheck interviewing Diego Sanchez and Chris Leben in a car while in Las Vegas for the taping of the Ultimate Fighter 1 reunion — which will air in segments during Saturday’s TUF 1 marathon on SpikeTV, beginning at 9 a.m. ET. The guys discuss their upcoming fights, a possible rubber match between Diego and Josh, Thiago Alves’s mysterious growth spurt, and how Chris Leben wants a rematch with Anderson Silva more than anything.
After the jump: Must-see interview footage of Evan Tanner explaining why he fights and his humanist worldview, from Potent: The Movie, via Bloody Elbow.
— Patrick Cote is tired of the American media disrespecting him by discussing who Anderson Silva should face after the Spider inevitably kicks the crap out of the Canadian challenger at UFC 90. You might not believe this, but Cote said he’s “ready to shock the world.” Wow…could we have been wrong about this fight all along?
— Melvin Guillard has been forced to drop out of his UFC 90 bout with Spencer Fisher for undisclosed reasons. Replacing him will be Shannon Gugerty (11-2), the City Boxing product who made his UFC debut at “Silva vs. Irvin” in July with a first-round choke-out of Dale Hartt.
— The UFC may have found its next light-heavyweight gatekeeper, reportedly signing Italian UWC/Cage Rage vet Ivan Serati (10-2) to a multi-fight deal; he’s expected to make his first Octagon appearance before the end of the year. Serati has won his last four matches, and started his career with five straight victories by stoppage (all in under a minute) before losing to Vitor Belfort via TKO at a Cage Rage event in April ’07.