Every once in a while, videos come out that you wish were a little longer. Usually, they include this chick. Others, however, contain candid and inside looks into the lives and mindsets of top fighters. A new one released by Fuel TV called “UFC Roundtable Welterweights” is one of those videos.
Our favorite fitness guru and MMA coach Jay Glazer sat down with four legends — BJ Penn, Renzo Gracie, Georges St. Pierre and Matt Serra — to discuss the psychology of pre-fight moments like stare downs, warm ups, and the walk to the cage/ring. Given all the heat and history between most of these guys, it was cool to see them sit next to one another and seemingly enjoy what the others had to say.
St. Pierre, for example, waxed sports-psychologist philosophical about how he turns his fear into courage, and even his two-time nemesis Serra was impressed. Penn gushed about how Renzo was the one guy who didn’t look away from him during a stare down. I guess time and everyone being rich has a way of healing old wounds.
According to a New York State Assembly “insider” quoted in a new report by NY Daily News reporter Kenneth Lovett, “It’s getting harder for [Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver] to keep blocking this,” referring to the bill partially crafted by the UFC to sanction MMA in New York.
“Resistance to it is getting less,” Speaker Silver admitted.
Lovett went on to explain in his report that Assemblyman Robert Reilly — better known around here as “Bob,” and one of New York’s most passionate, confused, and dishonest opponents of MMA sanctioning — is miraculously retiring this week (!!!) and that his departure should take a good deal of steam out of the opposition to MMA in New York. The ban on professional MMA in the state was signed into law by then-Governor George Pataki in 1997, but now even he is calling for the sport’s legalization.
Sources tell The Daily News that if the bill to legalize and regulate professional MMA in New York were brought to a vote in the general assembly right now, it would be passed. However, hurdles remain for the sport and its largest promotion, the UFC. Members of the NY Assembly including Deborah Glick and Daniel O’Donnell still oppose MMA’s legalization, the report says, and they might be able to prevent the measure from getting through committee and to the general assembly for voting.
In addition, the Culinary Workers Union — MMA’s most powerful arch-nemesis in the fight for New York MMA regulation — continues its loud propaganda campaign against the UFC, slamming everything from Dana White’s language to Mandy Moore’s judgment. (Funny story: If you go to the Culinary Union’s anti-UFC website UnfitforChildren.org right now, the lead story is a screen-cap of a CagePotato article. Wisely, they didn’t reprint the article’s first line, which refers to the Union as “two-faced, propaganda pushing arseholes.”)
Nevertheless, UFC President Dana White seems to be as optimistic as ever that his organization will soon put on an event in New York. After UFC 155, the promoter told assembled media that he hoped to host a UFC 20th Anniversary event in Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden this coming fall. “We have a date, and we have a match,” White revealed.
Shoot us your own favorite TUF guys in the comments section, and if you have a topic for a future Roundtable column, e-mail us at email@example.com
Has there been a more unlikely TUF champion than Amir Sadollah? In 2008, the Persian-Irish surgical technologist came out of nowhere — or in his case, Richmond — to win the seventh season of the show by beating All-American wrestler C.B. Dollaway. Sadollah armbarred Dollaway not once, but twice. Before that, he triangled Matt Brown, who oozed tough. And before that, he TKOd Gerald Harris, who certainly looked tough. At the time, Sadollah had never had a pro fight. Not one. I liked him immediately. Not because he was an upstart, a little doughy around the middle and a bit of a lumberer. There were purer reasons that drew me to a fighter who walks out to Iranian techno music.
For one, he had a mullet. This wasn’t the unaware bumpkin coiffure found in many stretches of this country. Rather, it was a curated flange of keratin that complemented the smirk often playing on Sadollah’s face. It was a mullet that, like its owner, didn’t take itself too seriously. A mullet that grasped irony. And irony has always been in short supply on TUF. The premise of the show — quarantine 16 fighters for a month in a house stocked with unlimited amounts of booze and see what happens — is absurd, although I guess you could say the same about all reality television. As much as I enjoy TUF, the only way I can fully appreciate it is at a sardonic remove. Sadollah allowed me to do that.
With the recent announcement that Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin have been named as the coaches for the next installment of The Ultimate Fighter series, the MMA universe immediately launched into a full-blow orgasmic ticker-tape parade complete with tons of flying confetti and a marching band belting out death metal tunes. Once I heard the news, it was as if my life instantaneously turned into a beer commercial and the entire Potato Nation was invited. There was a rad pool-party, barbeque, a plethora of hotties, endless alcohol, and an overall quest for fun.
Well . . . . . actually, none of that happened. In fact, when word spread that Nelson and Carwin would helm the next season of TUF, it was officially filed under “WTF?” Judging from the comment section, most of the CP brethren didn’t care for the choices either. TUF is coming off a season that saw the ratings dip lower than they ever had, which could partially be blamed on the move to FX and the dreaded Friday night time slot. Regardless of the variables for the ratings drop, something drastic needs to be done, but is anybody really convinced that Carwin and Nelson are the answer to TUF’s slow and painful demise? Let’s start from the beginning and take a look back to see if this runaway train can be coaxed back onto the main rail.
The Season That Started it All
The inaugural season of TUF featured future Hall of Famers Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture as the competing coaches who would go mano y mano at the PPV after the season finale. For fans of the UFC, that was good enough for most to initially tune in for the Fertitta-funded experiment. It still remains the best crop of young talent and personalities to ever grace the show; future stars like Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar, Josh Koscheck, Chris Leben, Diego Sanchez, Mike Swick, Kenny Florian, and Nate Quarry were all complete unknowns vying for stardom in a fledgling sport. You mix in the whole “fatherless bastard” angle and the show was off and running even before the awe-inspiring climax between (pre TRT) FoGrif and The American Psycho. Even before that, we were treated to the greatest speech of all time that has since been condensed into a few words. “Do you wanna be a fighter?” Though there were other memorable moments from the seasons that followed, Zuffa should have quit while they were ahead because it would never be this good again. The unrefined personification of immature talent, undeniable aspirations and gonzo-sized balls oozed from the boob tube during every episode.
(FoGriff: A laid back guy in every sense of the word.)
Watching Matt Serra and Forrest Griffin discuss anything from their past fights to the condition of Griffin’s car (which makes me feel a hell of a lot better about the condition of my own) is kind of like watching an Abbott and Costello movie, minus the mythological creatures and slapstick hijinks, of course. The two effortlessly riff off one another like a pair of old pals, which makes Serra’s recent trip to Vegas to film his ongoing series for the UFC, Fight Camp Insider, all the more entertaining.
Taking the typical “light on actual fight discussion, heavy on pizza discussion” approach that Serra has mastered in previous outings, the pair of former champions also make sure to discuss such topics as the shrinkage caused by an ice bath (which I can only assume must be insane), FoGriff’s Ted Bundy-esque mode of transportation, and the ability of Ray Longo to clear a house using only the power of his mighty deuces. Oh yeah, and they manage to find enough time to briefly hype Forrest’s upcoming trilogy match with Tito Ortiz at UFC 148.
(Were you the country bumpkin that called me a Guido, or was it Hughes?)
It might be just me, but every time I see or even hear Matt Serra on camera, I expect him to have a trio of deli meats clenched in one fist and a bottle of Patron in the other. He exudes the Long Island Italian meathead stereotype more than any other professional fighter out there, and although I normally despise those people, I can’t help but laugh when he launches into his shtick. It’s kind of like how if you were to take Sofia Vergara’s voice and implant it into anyone else but her, the results would be gratingly annoying rather than hilarious and enthralling.
Whether you agree or not with the above statement will likely impact your excitement to learn that “The Terra” recently…hosted (?) a video blog for the UFC called Fight Camp Insider. And wouldn’t you know it, Serra managed to not only snag fellow wordsmith Chael Sonnen for an interview, he ended up spending the whole day with him. Needless to say, a good time was had by all.
Video and a recanting of the events after the jump.
With tomorrow night’s UFC 145 main event slated as a 4-1 squash match, the CP gang is talking upsets for today’s installment of the CagePotato Roundtable. If you have a topic-suggestion for a future Roundtable column, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and share your own MMA-upset testimonials in the comments section…
While I normally disagree with that crazy fanboy (hey Sodak) explaining to me how Fedor is an intelligent machine, sent back in time to destroy craniums and assassinate Andrei Arlovski, I completely wrote off Werdum here. Like, no way a guy who hung out in Minotauro Nogueira’s guard for six days is going to get tapped by a dude who calls himself “Go Horse” and smiles like this, right? So yeah, I gave him no chance of pulling out a victory. I could be on tape somewhere saying that he had no chance, in an obnoxiously opinionated manner. I may also be credited with one of the worst predictions in CP history.
Georges St-Pierre might want to re-examine his choice of training partners for his upcoming UFC 137 bout with Carlos Condit on October 29. You would think he would be picking the brain of his friend and teammate Rory MacDonald, who was seven seconds away from upsetting the former WEC welterweight champ at UFC 115 before getting TKO’d by “The Natural Born Killer.” Instead, “Rush” is thinking outside the box and has brought in Dan Hardy, who hasn’t won a fight since 2009, to help him prepare for the only guy to have knocked “The Outlaw” out. Makes sense, right?
Matt Serra, and his bucket of rigatoni, make their way to the cage.
Earlier this week UFC fighter Krzysztof Soszynskimade the bold statement that the vast majority of MMA fighters—somewhere between 85-96%–are getting some sort of illegal chemical boost in the training room. Yesterday a bigger, more easily-spelled name in the sport spoke out in support of those allegations. In an interview with MMA Weekly, Matt Serra weighed in on what he considers to be a serious problem in the fight game.
“It’s wrong man, it’s really wrong. Let me tell you something. I got to the title without doing anything. I didn’t use anything,” Serra commented. “Me and BJ Penn are in that small percentage that don’t do (expletive). There’s a lot of guys that are considered legends, and they’re doing the GH and doing this and that, and it’s obvious, it’s freaking obvious.”
A couple of weeks before UFC 133 in Philadelphia, Dana White made an appearance on Philly’s Preston and Steve show on WMMR to promote the show. Preston and Steve, being the wacky morning radio show duo they are, invited local comic and YouTube star Ed Bassmaster down to meet the Baldfather as one of his many alter-egos. Dana obviously had no idea who this guy was, as he completely bought that Skippy was just your average TUF fan in khakis and comically thick glasses.
So what happens when you ask Dana why he frequently seems upset and angry?
Well, Dana was so amused that he decided to have Ed wander the locker rooms and hallways at the event, doing interviews and trying to put some moves on Chandella. Of course, what he really wanted to do was get Skippy in the same room with Lorenzo Fertitta and sit back and watch the big guy squirm.
(“I’d rather lose the best fight of my life than win the worst.” Photo courtesy of Sherdog)
On August 14th, Chris Lytle will step into the Octagon for the 20th time in his career, when he squares off against Dan Hardy at the aptly-named UFC Live: Hardy vs. Lytle in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It will be Lytle’s first-ever headlining bout for the UFC — as well as an opportunity to re-claim the title of “Most Bonus-Worthy Fighter in UFC History.” (He currently shares the honor with Anderson Silva and Joe Lauzon.) We recently spoke to “Lights Out” about some of his most memorable UFC fights, his upcoming scrap against Hardy, his crowd-pleasing style, and the tough lessons he’s learned along the way. Enjoy…
CHRIS LYTLE vs. BEN EARWOOD — Lytle’s UFC debut UFC 28, 11/17/00 Result: Defeat via unanimous decision
“I’d been fighting for less than two years at the time, but as soon as I started training, I got really involved in watching the UFC. I knew who all the key guys were and I knew it was the pinnacle of the sport, so it was my goal to be there. We only fought two five-minute rounds [at UFC 28], and they’d started having fighters wear gloves not too long before, so it was just way different. Earwood was more of a wrestler — he just tried to hold me down. I don’t think they stood us up once.
Back then I was training with Jason Godsey and a few other guys maybe two or three times a week. Every one of us had real jobs, full-time jobs, and this was something we did for fun. I definitely felt like we were good fighters — Jason was King of Pancrase, and beat a lot of good guys — but we didn’t train every day. And after that fight I kind of realized…I didn’t feel like Earwood was any better of a fighter than me, I just felt like he had a better gameplan than I did, he stuck with it, and he trained more than I did.
One of our favorite online obsessions over the last month has been awesome people hanging out together, a tumblr photo blog devoted to celebrities mingling in unexpected combinations. (I mean, seriously: Dylan and Ali?Alice Cooper and Colonel Sanders? Epic.) Since there are aren’t any MMA fighters represented on the site, we decided to do some online crate-digging of our own and put together a CagePotato version of the “awesome people” photo-phenomenon. Enjoy these rare and classic MMA photos, which continue after the jump, and shoot us some links in the comments section if we’ve left out any of your favorites.
(Actually, make that the "9 MMA Fights That Were Over Before They Started.")
Your average Mixed Martial Artist devotes three months of his life to preparing for a fight. That’s ninety days of rigorous training and dieting; ninety days of mental preparation and time spent away from friends and family. That great sacrifice becomes worthwhile the moment the bell rings and he gets to show the world what ninety days of commitment can bring. There are few better ways of displaying your hard work than to shut down your opponent in theblink of an eye. After months of speculation, hype, and anticipation, you could say that such fights were over before they even began. You could say that, but you’d be wrong. That ignoble distinction belongs to a whole other category of fights. Fights that didn’t end with a winner and a loser. Fights that didn’t make the sacrifice of training worthwhile. Fights that were truly over before they began.
As we recently learned, the next season of The Ultimate Fighter will be coached by a grumpy mountain man who probably won’t spend any more time on set than he absolutely needs to, and a Brazilian dynamo whose grasp on the English language is limited to simple phrases like "I believe too much in my boxing" and "tub you are a cold — so we’re not expecting a verbal rivalry on par with Tito/Ken or Rampage/Rashad. Still, it’s TUF, so somebody’s gonna get told at some point. Can this season’s insults possibly stack up to some of our past favorites?
#5: "You’re like an expert swimmer who’s never been in a pool."
Matt Serra’s epic dress-down of Marc Laimon was his star-making moment — and a firm bitch-smack to every sideline-hater who talks tough without any intention of actually backing up his words. A year later, Serra was coaching that damn show.
Like a Katy Perry song, it’s annoying as hell, and yet you can’t get it out of your head. "Bro, you’re a male nurse" — I say that to all my friends now, no matter what their professions actually are. And it aggravates them too.
If TUF 6 graduate Matt Arroyo’s fighting career doesn’t pan out, he may have a future as an impersonator.
The 28-year-old who was dropped by Zuffa after back-to-back losses has been inactive as a fighter since his last Octagon appearance against Dan Cramer at UFC 94: St-Pierre vs. Penn 2 in January of 2009. He has competed in BJJ competitions since then, but it seems like he’s been spending the majority of his time away from the cage working on ‘is riddum.
More MMA notables’ doing some other impressive impersonations after the jump.
Sure, we tune in for the fights at the end of each episode, the trash-talk between the coaches, and Dana White occasionally showing up to kick somebody’s ass out of the house. But over 12 seasons of The Ultimate Fighter, it’s the peripheral characters that are responsible for the show’s best moments. Take this season, for example — would it be nearly as interesting if Coach GSP didn’t bring in a special guest every week to shake up his team? With that in mind, here’s our tribute to the under-appreciated minor players that have kept TUF on its toes for the last six years…
In an effort to inject some eye candy into their new reality show, the UFC cast model/singer/actress Willa Ford as the host of The Ultimate Fighter‘s first season. (Her main duty was to introduce those weird elimination challenges that marked the show’s early days.) Willa was gone by season two, leaving us with fond memories of a time when TUF‘s non-stop sweaty dudeness was occasionally broken up by a pretty face.
After frantically skimming through the 473 (!) entries that came in for this week’s caption contest, we’re happy to announce a winner. So who will pick up the duffel bag stuffed full of gear from Tokyo Five? We can’t tell you that just yet. First, the honorable mentions:
Here’s another story that illustrates why the Potato Nation is awesome.
Jason Wright (or J-Dog as he is known around these parts) contacted us about a month ago to see if we needed a photographer to cover UFC 119 for us. Since CagePotato had never been credentialed, we figured with the success of our UFC Fan Expo booth (which was due largely to the help of CP’ers ReX13 and Viva Hate) now is as good a time as any to apply.
(They don’t like smiling. Put that in your little notebook.)
Dana White confirmed with MMAFighting.com over the weekend that Brock Lesnar‘s expected title defense against Cain Velasquez will come at UFC 121, slated for October 23rd at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The meeting will come nearly four months after Lesnar’s comeback submission win over Shane Carwin at UFC 116, and eight months after Velasquez stormed through Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 110.
Now this is more like it. Dan Hardy and Georges St. Pierre alone might lend themselves too easily to pre-packaged storylines, but Matt Serra is a born freakin’ entertainer over here. This clip is forty seconds long and still he manages to do/say more interesting things than either Hardy or GSP managed in the entirety of the first episode. You gotta love the guy for that. It’s almost enough to make me want to watch this one live instead of on my DVR tomorrow morning while eating leftover Chinese food and nursing a severe hangover. Almost.
Just in case this short clip isn’t enough entertainment to make the afternoon pass more swiftly, follow me after the jump for some totally gratuitous old school Wanderlei Silva ass-kicking action. There’s no real reason for it. Except that it’s awesome.
Unlike Mark Coleman, Trigg says he’s not sure yet whether he’ll try to land a gig fighting outside the UFC. He has some on-camera experience and can probably land a job of some sort in broadcasting, or maybe he’s had enough of working for other people and will resurrect the Triggonomics brand as MMA’s next clothing giant. Changing the name so it no longer "sounds like a lemonade stand" might be a good first step.
In this talk with Fox News’s "Fight Game" it’s difficult to tell whether Phil Baroni is drunk or just on the downward slope of a career spent getting punched in the head. It’s like that time you did a terrible karaoke rendition of "Little Red Corvette" before throwing up all over your girlfriend’s shoes. There’s only one acceptable explanation, and it’s ‘I was drunk.’ Let’s hope the seven-dollar beers at the Mandalay Bay were to blame for how this interview turned out, and not ten years worth of abuse in the cage.
The catalyst for this particular discussion is the UFC 109 victory by fellow New Yorker Matt Serra over one of Baroni’s Xtreme Couture training partners, Frank Trigg. Apparently, gym loyalties are nothing compared to regional ones. Plus, Serra goes into the Starbucks where Baroni’s mom works and gives her good tips, while all Trigg has ever done is make an awkward pass at her at Baroni’s wedding. Yet another situation where ‘I was drunk’ is the only explanation that will suffice.
After the jump, Eddie Bravo discusses his path to jiu-jitsu, and subtly overstates his own importance.
(Serra’s recent training with striking coach Brad Ferro is already paying dividends. Photo courtesy of Sherdog.)
The UFC handed out $1,184,000 in disclosed salaries and bonuses for Saturday night’s show, with Randy Couture and Matt Serra‘s $200,000+ checks leading the pack. Check out the numbers below, and keep in mind that the figures don’t include additional income from sponsorships, undisclosed locker room bonuses, and cuts of the pay-per-view (Couture), or deductions for taxes, insurance, licensing fees, and monthly Life Alert payments (Coleman).
Randy Couture: $250,000 (no win bonus) def. Mark Coleman: $60,000
Chael Sonnen: $124,000 (includes $32,000 win bonus, $60,000 Fight of the Night bonus) def. Nate Marquardt: $105,000 (includes $60,000 Fight of the Night bonus)
Paulo Thiago: $90,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus, $60,000 Submission of the Night bonus) def. Mike Swick: $43,000
(Chael Sonnen explains that it’s the Ultimate *Fighting* Championship, not the Ultimate Mitt-Hitting, High-Altitude Training, Flipping a Tire Around, Screaming the Word "Yes" Championship. Props: MMA Fighting)
Following an expectation-exceeding night of action at UFC 109, the UFC handed out $60,000 pay-bumps to the following competitors:
Fight of the Night: Chael Sonnen and Nate Marquardt, for their bloody 15-minute grind, in which Sonnen survived a nasty choke attempt in the third round to secure the decision victory and earn a middleweight title shot.
Knockout of the Night:Matt Serra, for beating down Frank Trigg and proving that his hands are always dangerous, even if they’re on the end of very short arms.
Submission of the Night: Paulo Thiago, for putting Mike Swick to sleep with a D’Arce choke after knocking him to the mat in the second round of their fight. Thiago: 2, AKA: 1.
(Couture vs. Coleman hype video by Genghis Con. Respect your elders, son.)
ATTENTION, POTATO NATION: It’s Friday afternoon, which means there’s still time to join MMA FightPicker and submit your predictions for tomorrow night’s UFC 109 card. For the thousands of players who have already signed up, we thank you, and we want you to know that we’ll be battling alongside you. In fact, BF and BG have both joined "Palooka Pool 30 #173" in an effort to determine a house champion. (Ed. note: The loser of this challenge will have to get a tattoo on his ass that says "Ben owns this. Not me, the other Ben.") So please join a FightPicker pool if you haven’t already, then take a look at how we’re answering the questions this week…
1. Randy Couture vs. Mark Coleman at UFC 109: Who will win? BF: Randy Couture. If Couture can only beat one type of fighter on the UFC roster, it’s the type that Coleman happens to be: old, a little bit slow, and too dependent on his wrestling ability. BG: Randy Couture. Couture is the master of the gameplan. Coleman drives around Vegas for two days with his low-fuel light on because he’s always late to practice, and runs out of gas on the 215 even though he "put that little extra in there" to begin with. Difference in mental preparation, is what I’m saying.
2. Randy Couture vs. Mark Coleman: Who will score the first takedown? BF: Randy Couture. This is a little tougher to call, because sometimes the first takedown is determined in part by who’s gunning for takedowns right out of the gate, which should be Coleman. I still think Couture can stifle him until he’s ready to work for something out of the clinch, maybe early in the second round. BG: Randy Couture. Ditto to all that. You might see these two guys try to prove a point by slugging for a couple rounds, but the Natural will eventually put Coleman on his back from the clinch.
Remember when Toby Imada pulled off that awesome inverted triangle choke in the Bellator tournament last year? Of course you do. Your brain isn’t so clogged with Snickers bars and "Golden Girls" reruns that you could go and forget a thing like that. It was by far the best submission of the year. Now that we’ve moved on to a new year and Imada no longer has to worry about all you jokers biting his style, he’s going to go ahead and show you how it’s done. Forget about Blanche and Sophia and the gang for just a few minutes and pay attention.
After the jump, check out round two of Matt Serra‘s video blog, and listen as Don Frye shares a very special memory from the Pride days, just for the hell of it.
(Looking good, Matty! Photo courtesy of Tokyo Five.)
Long Island’s Matt Serra may love to crack jokes, but he wants you to know that it’s not all he’s doing as his fight with Frank Trigg at UFC 109 grows closer. In our exclusive interview, Serra gives us his thoughts on his opponent, his career in the UFC, and why he spends so much time in the barbership.
This fight comes at a time when you and Frank Trigg are both coming off losses and both in your mid-thirties. Where do you think this is going to leave you if you win or if you lose?
I don’t really know, and I don’t care. That’s up to whoever does those rankings or whatever. Technically, I’m coming off two losses. Do I feel like that? No, because I don’t even feel I lost my last fight. They offered me Frank Trigg, and I don’t look at as my chance to move up or anything like that. I see this as an entertaining fight and an exciting fight, on paper, and a good match-up. That’s basically how I look at it. I had the belt, and if my career leads back there then great. If it doesn’t, I’m looking for exciting fights.
Since you are coming off two losses, even though, as you said, the fight with Matt Hughes could have gone either way, do you worry about your job security if you lose this fight?
Colorful Long Island resident Matt "The Terror" Serra — who has competed at a blistering pace of one fight per year since 2005 — may have already booked his 2010 UFC appearance. According to MMA Fanhouse, Serra has verbally agreed to a bout in Las Vegas on February 6th. Though Serra wouldn’t confirm who his opponent will be, Fanhouse says Frank Trigg is a strong possibility. Which makes sense, since they’re both in their mid-30s and coming off losses and not really factors in the division anymore. The loser of that fight would probably be retired by Joe Rogan in the post-fight interview, while the winner would pretty much have to take a rematch with Matt Hughes, considering that Hughes doesn’t have any better ideas.