(The Fireball Kid returns on Saturday; Diaz may be ringing in ’09 overseas.)
— Though most of us want to see him return to the UFC eventually, Nick Diaz‘s next fight will likely be in Japan. Diaz’s manager Cesar Gracie told MMA Weekly that he’s already been contacted by Fight Entertainment Group (Dream’s parent company) and Sengoku, and Diaz will be competing either on FEG’s K-1 Dynamite! card on New Year’s Eve, or Sengoku VII on January 4th. Diaz’s EliteXC contract states that he can compete in Japan as long as it doesn’t interfere with his EliteXC duties — so, no problems there.
— According to MMA Fighting, former IFL lightweight standout Chris Horodecki will return to action on November 24th at the Shootboxing “S-Cup 2008,” a one-night eight-man tournament that will go down at the Saitama Super Arena; the tournament will also feature PRIDE vet Luiz Azeredo. Known as “standing vale tudo,” Shootboxing doesn’t incorporate ground-fighting, although throws and standing submissions are allowed. Horodecki is still penciled in to compete at Affliction’s “Day of Reckoning” show on January 24th.
Add Nick Diaz to the list of EliteXC refugees who Dana White may be looking to pick up. During an appearance on TapouT Radio Live, the UFC prez was complementary of Stockton’s favorite son, though he made it known that he doesn’t approve of Diaz’s confrontational antics:
“I think Nick Diaz is a bad ass. Nick Diaz is a tough kid. Nick Diaz doesn’t handle himself right all the time in public. I like him — I respect him as a fighter. I love his attitude. I love the way that kid fights. But you can’t do the stuff that this kid does in public. You can’t get into fights when the fight is over … you can’t do that stuff.”
Of course, we immediately think of Diaz’s in-cage taunts of KJ Noons and his father at EliteXC: The Return of the King in June — and the obscene gestures he makes at the crowd after his fights, which is something of a Diaz family tradition. But Dana White is likely also referring to a bizarre incident that took place after Diaz’s UFC 57 fight against Joe Riggs in February 2006. As Wikipedia retells it:
(Jenna, you shouldn’t have. You really, really shouldn’t have.)
Holy crap! CagePotato.com turns one year old today, y’all! Many thanks to those of you who have stuck with us since the beginning — or the close-to-beginning, at least — and helped build this little site into what I believe is the most entertaining and energetic MMA community on the Internet. Lots of bigger and badder things to come, so stay tuned and tell your friends. To honor this day, let’s take a trip in the way-back machine, and revisit 25 of CagePotato’s all-time greatest moments. Enjoy…
(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.
(See, Japan? Dana White knows what you’re into. You guys are still into samurai swords, right?.)
The UFC is headed back to Japanese TV sets via a new two-year deal with the Japanese subscription-based broadcaster WOWOW. They’ll be broadcasting all UFC pay-per-views starting with this Saturday’s UFC 89 from England on a tape delay. From the press release:
“The Japanese market has always been important to the UFC, and we want to bring MMA and all of its biggest stars back to Japan,” said Dana White, UFC President. “We are thrilled to be back with WOWOW.”
“WOWOW is extremely pleased to announce that UFC is back on WOWOW, starting with the UFC 89 event in Birmingham, UK,” said Mr. Kazuyuki Omura, Chief Producer, WOWOW. “The UFC will telecast in High Definition on WOWOW’s popular “Timely-on-Air” format, a limited delay broadcast adjusting the airtime to a time that will be convenient for the sports fans in Japan. After airing over 50 UFC shows from 2001 to 2007, we are excited to once again provide our subscribers with the most prominent mixed martial arts program in the world.”
There, Japanese MMA fans, does that take some of the sting out of Zuffa buying Pride only to dismantle it? No, probably not, but what can you do. At least you’ve still got Dream, and at least they finally paid Nick Diaz for a fight that happened last spring.
This TV deal is just one more box checked in the UFC’s global domination plans. Now look the fuck out, Phillipines.
Elite XC’s Jared Shaw takes a little shot at yours truly in this MMA Rated interview, calling me Ben “UFC” Fowlkes, which I suppose is an implication that I’m pro-UFC and anti-Elite XC, although I like to think that my record as an equal opportunity critic speaks for itself. If an organization does dumb things, it’s my job to point it out. If one organization does more dumb things than others, they’re going to receive more criticism. That’s just how it works. If it makes me a hater, I can live with that. But since when do we all have to like everything?
$kala says he just wants some love for his fighters, not himself. Fair enough, Jared. You do have some good fighters in your organization. Guys like Jake Shields, Robbie Lawler, Wilson Reis, Nick Diaz, and “Ninja” Rua, just to name a few. These are all fighters that I enjoy watching. But your fighters aren’t what you’ve been criticized for, and I think you know it.
Let’s take the event you’ve got this Saturday, for example. On the undercard you’ve got a few interesting scraps between guys like Paul Daley and Jake Shields, Benji Radach and “Ninja” Rua, and a sweet little co-promotional joint between Affliction fighters Andrei Arlovski and Roy Nelson (nice work scoring that, by the way, whether you had anything to do with it or not).
But your main event features a 3-0 fighter in Kimbo Slice, who has yet to face an opponent coming off a win, taking on a forty-four-year-old legend of the sport who hasn’t won a fight or even made it out of the first round in over four years. And that’s your main event.
(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.
Just when KJ Noons was starting to focus on the boxing career he wants so badly, Elite XC has decided to lighten his luggage for him by stripping him of the lightweight title. From a release sent out late last night:
“We are stripping KJ of his championship belt for refusing to defend against Diaz,’’ Lappen said. “It’s a very unfortunate situation but we cannot have belt-holders who refuse to fight the top contenders. We want champions who will fight anyone, anytime, anyplace. That’s the mentality all champions should have.
“I feel very bad for KJ because I like him a lot on a personal level and have always thought he could be a big star. He’s charismatic, has a very exciting fighting style and is a top level fighter. So I’m obviously disappointed that he has chosen to take this stance.
“I don’t understand why he would turn down a chance to be a headliner on CBS on Oct. 4. KJ then turned down the fight again when we offered him a headlining spot on our next SHOWTIME date against Nick. From my view, it is a fight against a top-named opponent in Diaz (someone who beat the No. 1 fighter in the world in his weight class), a fighter KJ has bad blood with and most definitely a fight the fans really wanted to see. It seemed like a great opportunity for KJ to me.
“Personally, I do not think it was a smart career move, but I’m sure he sees it differently. KJ has two more fights remaining on his contract, so we are still looking forward to having him fight for us again soon, but not as our world champion.’’
Aside from the awkward phrase “top-named opponent” — which seems like the worst possible way of saying that a guy isn’t ranked in the top ten but people know him anyway — Elite XC actually makes a firm case here. Even if Noons doesn’t feel that Diaz deserves the shot, and even if he isn’t satisfied with the money he’d get for it (at the rate he agreed to when he signed the contract), the fact is that it’s the fight that both the Elite XC brass and the fans most want to see.
If you want to be the champ, that’s the fight you’ve got to take. If you go out and beat Nick Diaz on network TV, that can only help your popularity and your fight purses down the road, right? For whatever reason, Noons doesn’t see it that way. Enjoy your boxing career, young man.