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Tag: Fight Master

Bellator Faces a Pivotal Crossroad Heading Into the Next Season


(The high point for Bellator. Photo via Tracy Lee/CombatLifestyle.com)

By Matt Saccaro

The ninth season of Bellator demonstrated what the Viacom-owned promotion is capable of when it’s given a platform on a stable, popular network—but can what season nine showed us elevate Bellator to the top while simultaneously revitalizing the stagnating MMA market in the United States?

It’s tough to tell, though we can glean a semblance of an answer when we look at an event that was simultaneously the high point and low point for Bellator during its ninth season: Bellator 106, the PPV that wasn’t. The card encapsulated everything that was right and wrong with Bellator.

What was wrong:

-Focusing on well-past-their-prime talent—Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz—and the “these guys used to be in the UFC” marketing line in order to sell a PPV. The cancellation of the PPV because Ortiz suffered yet another injury.

-The conclusion of the knock-off Ultimate Fighter, “Fight Master,” being won by Joe Riggs, another peaked-in-the-mid-2000s, ex-UFC fighter.

-The dubious interim title fight between King Mo and Emanuel Newton that defied the “title shots are earned and not given” mantra that made Bellator special.

What was right:

-Bellator’s homegrown talent like Michael Chandler, Daniel Straus, and Pat Curran being proudly put on display for the MMA world to see.

-Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez was one of the best fights of the year.

-The card being free on Spike TV meant it was the most-viewed in the promotion’s history with 1.1 million viewers.

These takeaways from Bellator 106 can be applied to the promotion’s efforts as a whole.

Bellator’s reliance on ex-UFC fighters in concerning. Rampage drew the second-highest ratings in Bellator history with 793,000 viewers in his fight against Joey Beltran, but banking on older, expensive fighters isn’t sustainable. At 35 years old, Rampage has a limited time left in the sport. The same goes for 38-year-old Tito Ortiz, who hasn’t even fought for Bellator yet since he can’t stay healthy. Placing the weight of a promotion’s future on surgically reconstructed knees and necks is a terrible idea.

Bellator apologists might argue that Rampage and Tito were brought in to garner the casual fan’s attention and in doing so promote the lesser-known, Bellator-made fighters…

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Post-Bellator 106 News Roundup: Bjorn Rebney Plans Another PPV, Alvarez Tweets Picture of F*cked Up Eye, and More


(The purple hue really brings out the chestnut color of Alvarez’s eyebrows. / via twitter)

The best Sundays are post-event Sundays. There’s tons of great articles to read about the valiant, violent displays of physical fortitude that occurred the night before.

Usually, there’s not enough interest in a Bellator card to warrant a slew of interesting sound bites and pictures. But Bellator 106 was different. Bellator 106 was the canceled PPV that became one of the most important free, non-UFC televised cards in MMA history. Let’s look at some of the fallout, the crucial and the just plain cool.

Dana White, predictably, had nothing positive to say about Bellator 106 (but that’s not just because he’s a jerk; the show really wasn’t that great). Bjorn Rebney responded to Dana’s comments about karmic justice like a shady Winnebago salesman, saying “If karma is that we just put on the best mixed martial arts fight I’ve ever seen, that’s karma I’ll take big boatloads of.”

Rebney had some other important statements. He pessimistically dismissed the future of Bellator’s “Ultimate Fighter” knockoff “Fight Master.” Typical of post-Viacom buyout Bellator, Rebney didn’t do this without taking a shot at the UFC.

“Reality fight TV is having its difficulties now. You can see it in the UFC’s ratings, they’re having the lowerst-rated TUF they’ve had in the history of the show,” he said (he was right, by the way).

Read about Bellator’s next PPV, King Mo’s surprising salary, and more after the jump.

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Joe Warren Deemed “Medically Unfit” for Bellator 98 Tomorrow, So Let’s Speculate Why


(Joe Warren: Former Bellator champion, Fight Master Coach, Unconscious Nazi.)

I know, I know, we already agreed to stop caring about Bellator, but hear us out for a second. For reasons that have not yet been divulged, Joe Warren has been deemed medically unfit to compete at tomorrow’s Bellator 98 event. Said Bjorn Rebney:

I’ve been fortunate to work with one of the best commissioners in the sport in Mike Mazzulli, and after carefully reviewing Joe’s medical documents, everyone agreed to err on the side of caution with the goal of ensuring our fighters safety.

It was determined Joe would be unable to compete this Saturday at Mohegan Sun. Joe’s been with us  since the beginning and as is the case with every fighter here, it’s incumbent on me to ensure Joe is 100% healthy and medically cleared to fight before he steps into the Bellator cage.

While this is an interesting development in and of itself, it only becomes more intriguing when you consider that Warren was deemed unfit by the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation. As Old Dad said, “It’s not a good sign if an Indian casino won’t clear you to fight,” so let’s use this time to speculate as to why Warren wasn’t cleared to fight, shall we?

Conspiracy Theory #1: Obviously, this is just a transparent ploy by Bellator to move one of their more popular fighters (and the only Fight Master coach currently competing in MMA) to their pay-per-view card in November. Obviously.

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[EXCLUSIVE] For Prize & Pride: Joe Warren on MMA, Wrestling And Doing What is Needed


(Photo via USA Today)

By Elias Cepeda

MMA fighters are typically quite good at talking about participating in the sport in philosophical terms. It is human chess, it is the ultimate competition, they feel peace in the cage or ring after the bell sounds, they get a thrill out of it, it is the most pure sport expression of martial arts, etc.

Most MMA fighters are pretty smart and since they participate in a constantly attacked and judged sport, many have come to see themselves as ambassadors for the sport on the whole.

It is important to remember, however, that professional fighters are prize fighters. That is, no matter what auxiliary benefits they get for fighting other trained athletes, they do it for money.

Fighters fight to put food on their plates and roofs over their heads. Joe Warren never forgets this.

The former Greco Roman wrestling world champion is in his car driving to his home state of Michigan on a recent afternoon. In tow, are the reasons he fights – his family. After winning a world championship, Warren was focused on making the U.S. Olympic team in 2008 and going to Beijing and winning gold.

A failed marijuana test and ensuing two-year suspension slammed that door shut for Warren. It was only then, at the relatively ancient age of thirty two, that he decided to follow in the footsteps of other world-class wrestlers turned fighters like Mark Coleman, Dan Henderson and Matt Lindland and fight MMA.

“I was training to win a world championship, I won a world championship and then didn’t get to wrestle in the Olympics,” Warren tells CagePotato on the ride to Michigan.

“While training for wrestling, some of the best fighters ever were in the room. Guys like Randy Couture, Matt Lindland and Dan Henderson. So, it was always in my mind. I started to do a little bit of color commentary but I didn’t have any credibility in fighting because I hadn’t fought. So, I decided to take some fights. I had some babies now and I needed to keep making cash.

So, I called Dan [Henderson] and they got me a fight instantly. In a month, I was in the Featherweight World Grand Prix. I flew out there starting fighting.”

Not only did Warren jump right into the fire against champions like Chase Beebe, “Kid” Yamamoto and Bibiano Fernandes in his very first three fights back in 2009, he did so with only a month of MMA training in his pocket. “I went in there strictly a wrestler,” Warren says.

“I flew out to Team Quest maybe a month before my first fight in Japan. I didn’t have a chance to learn the fighting aspect of it. It was just about safety – keep my hands up.”

Despite his lack of experience and, frankly, skills, Warren did well. He beat Beebe and Yamamoto before losing by submission to Fernandes. Then, he moved on to Bellator and won their featherweight title.

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[EXCLUSIVE] Greg Jackson Discusses New Challenge of Coaching on Bellator ‘Fight Master’


(Greg poses with two of his bitter rivals, who he definitely did *not* split a basket of hot wings with later that evening. / Photo via Getty)

By Elias Cepeda

Bellator’s Spike TV reality fight competition show, Fight Master, debuts tonight (10 PM / 9 PM Central). On the show, fighters compete for $100,000 and a Bellator contract as a part of a team led by one of four coaches. Looking towards tonight’s premiere, we sat down with one of those coaches — Greg Jackson — to discuss the unique challenges the show posed to him as a coach and more.

CagePotato: Why did you decide to take part in Fight Master?

Greg Jackson: I think it’s because I do MMA all the time. It was just something different. There are different rules. Not so much the rules in the cage but in terms of the whole structure of the tournament and this amount of time to prepare fighters.  I look at it as a challenge — can I still do well with all these new parameters and this new structure? You give me a new challenge and I’m the type of guy who likes to figure it out, like a puzzle.

CP: There are four of you main coaches on Fight Master (Jackson, Joe Warren, Randy Couture, Frank Shamrock) but each of you brought assistants along. Who did you bring with you as assistant coaches for the show?

GJ: I brought two coaches — Joey  Villasenor and Damacio Page.  They are two guys with lots of experience. Not only are they excellent coaches but they come from Albuquerque like I do. They come from the same neighborhoods and they can help give it an Albuquerque feel.

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Video Preview: Bellator’s ‘Fight Master’ Is Kind of Like ‘The Voice’ With a Bad Case of Cauliflower Ear

Fight Master: Bellator MMA

By Elias Cepeda

You never know with this MMA reality competition show stuff. Sometimes it hits gold (many *cough*mostly early*cough* seasons of The Ultimate Fighter, for example) and sometimes you get The Iron Ring. Major media companies getting behind these reality-show endeavors is never a guarantee of compelling and convincing fight television content and neither is past success – as evidenced by several dud seasons of TUF (Ed note: *makes “watching you” gesture toward TUF 16*.)

That said, we were kind of interested to see what Spike TV was doing with their second go at MMA reality television, especially after the cast was announced. Fight Master is the network’s first foray into post-UFC MMA reality programming and features Randy Couture, Frank Shamrock, Joe Warren, and Greg Jackson coaching aspiring Bellator fighters. The show debuts next week on Spike, but we got a sneak peak at the first episode Wednesday afternoon. After the jump, we’ve provided a little bit more info about the show’s structure, as well as the good and not-so-good aspects of the production, thus far.

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‘Fight Master: Bellator MMA’ Cast Announced With 32 Welterweights, Including Joe Riggs and ‘Lelo’ Aurelio


(I’ve got some bad news — Joe *is* the show’s token hot chick. / Photo by Esther Lin)

Spike TV has just released the full cast list for Fight Master: Bellator MMA, the upcoming reality show in which 32 fighters compete under the direction of four well-known coaches — Randy Couture, Frank Shamrock, Greg Jackson, and Joe Warren — for a spot in an upcoming Bellator tournament. The inaugural welterweight season will premiere on Wednesday, June 19th at 10:00 PM, and features a few notable names among the lesser-known prospects. For instance…

Joe Riggs: By far the most experienced fighter in the field, Riggs has competed extensively for the UFC, WEC, and Strikeforce. His sole Bellator appearance in May 2011 resulted in a knockout loss to Bryan Baker. Riggs is currently on a five-fight win streak.

Marcus “Lelo” Aurelio: The Capoeira expert’s flashy kicks have resulted in some must-see knockouts. Six of Aurelio’s career wins have come within the first minute of the fight. However, his Bellator debut last November resulted in a decision loss against Chris Franck.

Chris Lozano: The “Cleveland Assassin” has competed in three different Bellator welterweight tournament seasons since 2011, but has been unable to progress past the semi-finals. In a way, this is like a Comeback season for him.

Andy Uhrich: Good to see you again, buddy!

Several of the other cast-members have also competed previously in Bellator, including Josh Quayhagen (who’s already gone 3-1 for the promotion), Darryl Cobb, Frank Carrillo, and Jason Norwood. Check out the full cast-list after the jump, and click here to watch a teaser video for the show featuring the coaches and fighters.

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