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The UFC’s New York Seduction Drive: Day 1

MMAfacts
(Human cockfighters: They’re just like us!)

According to this New York Times article, today marks the beginning of the UFC’s public campaign to legalize MMA in New York State. Eleven years after it was banned by killjoy governor George Pataki, Zuffa has launched MMAFacts.com to massage NY lawmakers into realizing that MMA is safe family entertainment. And at no small cost: Prior to the launch of the site, Zuffa made a $25,000 donation to the state Democratic party, hired a political consulting firm used by current New York governor Eliot Spitzer for media relations, and has had the $10,000/month Albany lobbying firm Brown, McMahon & Weinraub on retainer since November.

Anyway, take a gander at the site, which combines positive news coverage (“Associated Press: Anheuser-Busch ad deal is milestone for Ultimate Fighting”), original fluff pieces (“MMA Events Draw Tourism and Tax Revenue to Host Cities”), explanations of the sport’s honorable history, and good old-fashioned charticles. But the best part is the athlete profile page, where dudes like Keith Jardine, Kenny Florian, and Joe Lauzon — awkwardly stuffed into button-down shirts — try to explain that MMA fighters are just as educated as you are, if not more so, and don’t turn to the sport because they can’t do anything else. (Lauzon’s an IT guy!) But unlike the other guys in their office-ready wear, Matt Lindland keeps it real in his IFL jersey. It’s very possible that no photos of him wearing collared shirts actually exist.

guys1
(Top to bottom: Most Likely to Succeed, Best Smile, Ugliest)

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Chuck Liddell Wants To Fight Everyone


(A black & white photo makes it uber classy, no?)

The Iceman has spoken about who he wants to fight next (after UFC 85) and it includes the usual suspects, plus a new entry. Liddell thinks he should be the one to take down Fedor Emelianenko. Chuck spoke to The Sun recently and had this to say about a possible match-up with the Russian badass:

“Fedor’s someone I want to fight because he’s someone I match up well with. He’s a ground and pound guy that doesn’t have a great shot. He doesn’t have a great game plan.

“I think I could take him. I think I match up well with him.

“As far as I know he’s never knocked anyone out from his feet and I think he’d have a hard time taking me down.”

Liddell goes on to say he might consider a move up to the heavyweight division once he’s done with light heavyweight. By “done”, we assume he means beating Rampage, Jardine, Wanderlei Silva again, and successfully defending the belt against someone like Dana-favorite Sokoudjou.

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The Terrifying Debut of ‘Jennito’

If you haven’t noticed yet, Tito Ortiz and Jenna Jameson are pretty damn good at marketing themselves. Since the gossip magazines haven’t cared enough about them as a celebrity couple to invent a cutesy hybrid nickname (i.e., Brangelina, Tomkat, EllenPagepotato [yeah, we've been trying to keep that one on the D.L., but we're happy, and we ask that you respect our privacy]), they’ve taken it upon themselves to invent one. Will it catch on? Fingers crossed!

Of course, there’s more to this Hollyscoop.com video than ‘tarded nicknames. Ortiz strongly reiterates that he’s done with the UFC, and also reveals that he’s come around on his Kimbo Slice-hate. Jenna, as always, plays the supportive g.f., smiling and nodding and biting the inside of her cheeks while the little voice in her head screams “SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP OH MY GOD YOU ARE SO BORING ARE YOU STILL TALKING YOU OGRE-HEADED LOSER FOR FUCK’S SAKE WRAP IT UP!”

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Booooooring! Chuck Liddell to Fight ‘Sugar’ Rashad

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(Yep, that’s Rashad Evans.)

Despite some of you suggesting that madman striker Houston Alexander should take on Chuck Liddell as a replacement for the injured Mauricio Rua — not a bad idea, and one we overlooked earlier — the UFC has gone with one of the safer options that we were expecting, booking Rashad Evans to face the Iceman. Sherdog confirmed last night that the undefeated Ultimate Fighter 2 winner will be meeting Chuck Liddell at UFC 85 on June 7th in London.

It seems like Evans was picked to fill-in because he’d be the least likely to make Liddell eat another loss. Chuck’s a banger, and if he stayed in the pocket with unpredictable brawlers like Alexander or Sokoudjou, he could easily catch a knockout punch. Thiago Silva would have been just as dangerous, as he’s a threat both standing and on the ground, and he’s won all but one of his fights by stoppage. But aside from the occasional head-kick, Rashad Evans sticks to takedowns and lay-and-pray, and it’s nothing that Chuck won’t be able to deal with. In fact, we see this one turning out a lot like UFC 82′s Arlovski/O’Brien farce.

I can’t imagine many people being psyched about this matchup. Evans has a reputation for dullness, and UFC fans aren’t going to want to see Liddell spend entire rounds on his back. And from a marketing perspective, it’ll be tough to sell — Rashad’s a much smaller name than Chuck, and there’s no personal rivalry between them. But it will give the Brits a chance to throw bottles at the man who edged out their beloved Michael Bisping in November. Let’s all hope for a quick and brutal knockout…

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“The Monster” Brawlin’ in May & June


(Does the carpet match the…never mind.)

Ex-UFC heavyweight champ and PRIDE personality Kevin Randleman has announced on MMAWeekly Radio that he’s “in” with two organizations and will battle very soon. “The Monster” confirmed that he’s joined up with Global Fighting Championships and said of his debut: “As of right now, I am fighting Jeff Monson, June 21 in North Carolina in Bobcat Arena.” Cool, but I’ve been to Bobcat Arena and the toilets are clogged 99% of the time, trust me. I’m just saying.

Jeff Monson and shit-stuffed North Carolina johns aside, Randleman will first jet over to a place he’s quite familiar with: Japan. The fighter battled in the country for years in PRIDE and will do so again:

“My first fight is going to be May 18 in the new Japanese organization, it is not Pride, (but) World Victory Road,” he continued.

Randleman, who hasn’t fought since October 2006 in a loss to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, has not yet been given an opponent for the World Victory Road fight.

World Victory Road held its first event on Wednesday and announced that both Randleman and Roger Gracie would be fighting on its May event, but it is not yet clear that they would be facing each other.

Glad he clarified that it’s not PRIDE because we were ’bout to get confused since PRIDE has been shut-the-fuck-down. Anywho, according to a Randleman rep an opponent has not been named for the WVR event and contract details are still being hammered out. “The Monster” was 4-6 in PRIDE and 4-3 in the UFC. He is a ho-hum 16-12 overall. Yes, I said ho-hum. It’s the new “sucks”, so get on-board. I was one of the first geniuses to break the term “bitchin”, so I know what I’m doing.

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Rampage & LeBron James in Nike Ad

UFC Light Heavyweight Champ Quinton “Rampage” Jackson’s trainer, Juanito Ibarra, has told Sherdog that his boy is helping MMA step into the mainstream. A Nike commercial called “Human Chain” shoots this weekend in Los Angeles and Rampage will be a part of it. Ibarra says the premise of the ad is “overachieving with victory, getting knocked down and getting back up.” NBA star LebRon James and others are also reportedly participating in the shoot.

According to the report:

“We have been working on it for quite a while, and things are just coming around now,” said Ibarra, who credited Jackson’s charisma for the fighter’s increasing notoriety.

“I’m sure the UFC brand helps, being the UFC champion,” the trainer said about his charge. “But when people meet ‘Rampage,’ they really get it.”

Ibarra also said that Rampage isn’t looking at this “like a Nike commercial.” Sure, he’s looking at it as a chance to bed the unassuming 19-year-old production assistant from Kansas, but it’s still a Nike commercial. Regardless of how Rampage views it, the ad is the latest in a string of mainstream moves for mixed martial arts. The EliteXC joining forces with CBS, Randy Couture shooting his own Nike ad, Tito Ortiz gettin’ fired, and Bud Light becoming a UFC sponsor, are all indicators that MMA has in fact arrived to the mainstream.

A source close to the costume designer of “Human Chain” claims Rampage will wear some sort of large chain and a scowl in the ad, while King James will again insult his hometown of Cleveland by wearing Yankee gear. Bravo, Boys.

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Blast Your Core With Matt Hughes

Even though it lacked late-night room service, the Holiday Inn where I slept after UFC 82 had free wireless Internet in the rooms. Connecting to their system took me to a homepage which featured this 15-minute workout video hosted by Matt Hughes, where the former UFC champ discusses the fitness program he uses to develop his core. If you’re like me, you have an ass like a veal and a spine bent from years of office jobs and astigmatism, so I was definitely interested in some core-blasting tips from Hughes. Unfortunately, he leaves the actual workout demonstration to his assistants, and just shows up to do the introduction and provide occasional encouragement like “You can do this; just picture those rock-hard abs you’ve always wanted.” His delivery, by the way, is as wooden as Pinocchio’s dick. If you’re interested, give it a look before Holiday Inn’s lawyers make us pull it.

After day 1, my ass is still rather veal-like, but I’ll keep you posted.

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More UFC 82 Notes: Arlovski Snubbed, Fitch Earns Title Shot

AA

— Further support for the “Andrei Arlovski is leaving the UFC” theory: Though he got a rapturous response from the crowd on Saturday, Andrei Arlovski wasn’t given the honor of a post-victory interview with Joe Rogan, like Jorge Gurgel, Diego Sanchez, and Josh Koscheck were granted in earlier undercard fights. As soon as he chalked up his win, a commercial for Harley-Davidson filled the jumbotrons. Nothing to see here, folks. Luigi Fioravanti was similarly snubbed after his win over Luke Cummo, but I just figured it was because nobody cared to hear him. Anyway, all appearances of civility are out the window.

— Speaking of the Pitbull, one of his current sponsors is do-it-yourself online print shop CafePress. So that’s another thing we have in common.

— In the press conference after UFC 82, Dana White said that Jon Fitch would be next in line for a title shot after “this whole Matt Serra and Georges St. Pierre thing gets figured out.” White implied that Fitch could have sat out and waited for his title shot, but instead he stepped up and took the fight with Wilson. Ouch, Karo! With his win over Chris Wilson, Fitch tied Royce Gracie’s ’93-’94 streak of eight-consecutive victories in the Octagon, which hadn’t been matched since.

— Also during that press conference, Dana White revealed that he recently made Randy Couture another offer to fight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. “We’re waiting to hear back from him,” White said.

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Lesnar vs. Coleman: Can We Talk?

JRMC

At “Pride of a Champion,” newly inducted Hall of Famer Mark Coleman announced that he would be returning to the Octagon to fight Brock Lesnar. The match is slated to go down August 9th in Lesnar’s adopted hometown of Minneapolis; it will be Coleman’s first fight since losing to Fedor Emelianenko in October 2006 at PRIDE 32, and his first UFC appearance since 1999.

This is kind of like the UFC’s version of Kimbo Slice vs. Tank Abbott — the much-hyped new crossover star against the faded veteran. The major difference is that Tank, even in his prime, wasn’t worthy of hand-washing Mark Coleman’s jock. And unfortunately for Brock Lesnar, his strengths are basically canceled out in this matchup. Brock was a dominant amateur wrestler? So was Coleman. Brock’s got scary ground-and-pound? Mark Coleman invented that shit. Lesnar’s only advantages are youth and athleticism. Does that trump Coleman’s 12 years of ring experience, during which he threw down with legends like Dan Severn, Don Frye, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mirko Cro Cop, and Fedor?

In retrospect, putting Brock Lesnar up against Frank Mir in Lesnar’s first UFC fight was a bad, bad idea, and this could be just as bad, if not worse. Coleman lacks Mir’s submission mastery, but he’ll test Brock’s chin with his heavy hands, and he won’t go to the ground as easily as Mir did.

We’ve given EliteXC a lot of grief for protecting Kimbo Slice with cut-rate competition, but at least they understand how to build up a franchise star — one can at a time. I’m starting to wonder if building Brock Lesnar as an MMA star was even the UFC’s intention to begin with. Was Dana White’s secondary motivation behind signing him (after the huge PPV buys) to prove that pro wrestlers would get stomped by skilled MMA fighters? I’m not saying I would have particularly enjoyed seeing Lesnar face Justin McCully, but what happens after he goes 0-2?

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Silva, Henderson, Leben Pocket UFC 82 Fight Bonuses

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Anderson Silva left the Nationwide Arena on Saturday night with the bank account of a champion, pulling in $120,000 in bonuses on top of his usual salary and win bonus (which were $60,000 each for his previous title defense at UFC 77). As announced in a press conference following the event, the UFC distributed its customary end-of-night bonuses like this:

Fight of the Night: $60,000 each for Anderson Silva and Dan Henderson.

Submission of the Night: $60,000 for Anderson Silva. It was the night’s only submission, unless you count the tapout-by-strikes that Diego Sanchez scored at the expense of David Bielkheden.

Knockout of the Night: $60,000 for Chris Leben.

So, another 1-for-3 performance on our bonus predictions, though we did call Arlovski for a KO/TKO in the second round. And Diego did technically win by submission. You know, I think we’ll just start predicting the outcomes from now on; we’d sound a lot smarter that way.

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