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

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— 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?

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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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UFC 82: Liveblog of a Champion

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Guest Liveblogger Ben Fowlkes of The Fighting Life here, all set and ready to go for UFC 82. I’m looking forward to a good night of fights, which I’m warming up for by watching Dana White swear through the countdown show. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Click the “MORE” link and refresh the page every few minutes for round-by-round updates.

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Week in Review: Time to Go to Work

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(Rampage, Randy, Hendo, and Trigg at the day job.)

— On the BetUS Radio show, Damon and I debated which news story was bigger: Kimbo Slice on CBS or Spuds McKenzie on the center of the Octagon.

— Bob Sapp defended his crown as the worst pound-for-pound fighter in MMA history.

— Joe Riggs busted his back and played a piss-prank on a paraplegic.

— A simple, innocent video list on illegal knockouts turned into a total fucking fiasco. In retrospect, we should have replaced Huerta/Halvorsen with Herring/Nakao/”I’m not gay.” Commenter Matt Tatt sincerely hoped we die for publishing such an inaccurate feature. Sounds like my last editor!

— Taking a last-minute fight against Jon Fitch at a reduced pay rate? Chris Wilson is crazy like a fox.

— During our UFC 82 preview coverage, we explained why Anderson Silva is still going to be the champion on Sunday morning, wondered if Josh Koscheck’s Octagon days are numbered, and took wild guesses at who’ll be walking around with a little more spending money.

— We saluted MMA’s style pioneers.

Bill Goldberg currently leads Mike Goldberg 62% to 38% in our current poll on which Goldberg should never be allowed near a microphone again.

Don’t forget to watch the IFL’s season opener tonight, and come back here tomorrow night at 10 p.m. for our rip-roarin’ UFC 82 liveblog. Our prediction? PAIN.

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There Will Be Cash: UFC 82 Bonus Predictions

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(Andrei Arlovski could be one paid motherfucker tomorrow.)

Our monthly roundup in which we express fight predictions via the UFC’s customary “Of the Night” payouts. Last time didn’t go so hot, but we have a good feeling about UFC 82. Again, here’s the lineup:

MAIN CARD
Anderson Silva vs. Dan Henderson
Heath Herring vs. Cheick Kongo
Chris Leben vs. Alessio Sakara
Yushin Okami vs. Evan Tanner
Jon Fitch vs. Chris Wilson

PRELIMINARY CARD
Andrei Arlovski vs. Jake O’Brien
Luke Cummo vs. Luigi Fioravanti
Josh Koscheck vs. Dustin Hazelett
Diego Sanchez vs. David Bielkheden
Jorge Gurgel vs. John Halverson

Fight of the Night: How could it not be Silva vs. Henderson? It’s rare that the Octagon hosts this much combined talent. We see this one going into the championship rounds, with both men pounding the hell out of each other along the way. As you know, we’re leaning toward Silva.

Knockout of the Night: Andrei Arlovski. Other MMA pundits have said that the undefeated O’Brien will grind his way to a lay-and-pray victory, but Arlovski is coming into this fight with the combined rage of 10,000 insulted Soviets, and he’ll be looking to prove that undercards are beneath him. There’s a chance this could be his last fight for the UFC, so putting an exclamation point at the end of his Octagon career would be a priority; we’ll say KO/TKO, round 2. Dark horse: Jon Fitch. His fight against Chris Wilson may look like a mismatch, but Wilson’s ground skills are underrated. Still, we see Fitch putting Wilson out on his feet early.

Submission of the Night: Josh Koscheck. Speaking of mismatches…Koscheck’s recent performances haven’t been awe-inspiring, and he knows he needs a dramatic win against the gift-wrapped Dustin Hazelett, who’s never faced an opponent as skilled as Kos; it’s looking like a first-round armbar. Dark horse: Sanchez over Bielkheden. Same deal as with Koscheck — Bielkheden is being brought in for his UFC debut to build Sanchez’s confidence, and on paper, Sanchez’s ground game scores much higher. But if Ali Sonoma is still fucking with his concentration, we’ll stop short of saying this is a guaranteed win for Nightmare…

See it differently? Let us know in the comments…

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IFL Drops ‘Xtreme Couture’ Name From Tonight’s Event

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(Tompkins at work.)

The first round of the UFC/Randy Couture legal dust-up was scored 10-9 for the UFC, as Xtreme Couture has asked the IFL to remove their name from tonight’s 2008 season opener (more on that later) due to Randy’s ongoing litigation with the UFC. MMAPayout reports that the camp will instead use the name Team Tompkins, named for Xtreme Couture’s head trainer Shawn Tompkins, who has been coaching the team. Team Tompkins will feature last year’s contenders Chris Horodecki and Benji Radach, and reigning welterweight champion Jay Hieron. According to Joe Favorito, the IFL’s Senior VP of Communications, “The IFL is not in any way involved in this litigation, we are doing this out of professional courtesy for Randy and his group.” According to FightOpinion, judge Jennifer Togliatti ruled for further proceedings in terms of discovery (whatever that means), with the next hearing set for March 6th.

Though this move seems like a major concession to the UFC’s complaint that Couture is promoting other MMA organizations, he still has that “false and injurious statements” thing to deal with, which won’t be as easily solved as a name change. But at least it looks like Couture won’t be stonewalling for stonewalling’s sake; he’s willing to bend on the small stuff in order to free himself from his contract. More on this as it comes…

Previously: Shawn Tompkins Gets Knocked Out Four Times

And also: Inside Xtreme Couture Episode 2

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UFC Originally Had Gators – Seriously


(The future centerpieces of the UFC.)

I don’t make a habit of reading askmen.com unless I’m researching how to properly organize my closet or how taking a cooking class can make me a better lover – my closet has never looked better by the way – but MMA News is directing attention to askmen’s article, 5 Things You Didn’t Know: The UFC. The piece digs up some absurd stuff we knew and some we didn’t about the organization. Case in point:

1- It was supposed to involve alligators
If nothing else, you can’t successfully accuse the original promoters of the UFC of failing to think big. Specifically, in addition to such outrageous ideas as putting electric fences around the ring, one of their many schemes was to include live alligators thrashing around in moats. Fortunately, UFC doctors were a bit more practical in their thinking, advising against such plans because of the potential harm these could do to the fighters.

Was Bob Meyrowitz behind the curtain on this one? It doesn’t give an exact date as to when the gators were to make their appearance, but I’m guessing YAMMA’s showman had crocs and gators as an idea for a new “surface”.

Point number two details John McCain’s flip-flop on his stance concerning MMA, specifically the UFC. That we are well aware of – as we are of point number five, which is that Dana White kept Tito in the UFC in 2006 by offering to go three rounds with him – a ploy that likely won’t work this time around.

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So Long, Mickey’s Big Mouth

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(Pour one out…)

It’s kind of sad that it’s taken this long for the UFC to get a non-malt-liquor beer sponsor. But after years spent presenting Rock Paper Scissors tournaments, the Phoenix Suns’ official blog, the New Jersey State Barbecue Championship, and countless games of Beirut, Bud Light has decided that the UFC is finally respectable enough to bear its name. From today’s press release on UFC.com:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Feb. 28, 2008) – This spring, millions of Ultimate Fighting Championship® fans will see a new heavyweight take the center of the Octagon™. Today Anheuser-Busch and UFC® announced that Bud Light, the world’s best-selling beer, will become the new exclusive beer sponsor for the UFC.

Bud Light’s three-year deal with Zuffa, LLC, owner of the UFC brand, makes the American-style light lager with superior drinkability the exclusive beer sponsor of the UFC – the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization…

“Landing Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light is huge for us, our fighters and especially our fans,” said Dana White, UFC president. “We’ve got the number one selling beer in the world and one of the top marketers in all of sports as our sponsor. If our TV ratings, pay-per-view buys and venue sell-outs weren’t enough, this definitely cements UFC as a major player in sports business.”

So, starting with UFC 84 in May, the Bud Light logo will be in the center of the Octagon and on the vertical bumpers, and will be featured during press conferences and weigh-ins. It will also be the presenting sponsor for two UFC pay-per-view events per year. And beginning June 1, Bud Light will also be the official beer sponsor of World Extreme Cagefighting events on VERSUS.

Update: An source who wishes to remain anonymous has revealed to CagePotato that EliteXC has just locked down Coca-Cola to sponsor its live events on CBS, and that an enraged Dana White has killed two people in his office. We’ll keep you posted on this shocking turn of events…

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‘Pride of a Champion’ Betting Odds; CagePotato Endorses Anderson Silva

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MMA Betting Blog has the odds for Saturday’s UFC 82, and breaks down a few of the match-ups here. Their current numbers for the main card (favorites followed by underdogs) are:

Anderson Silva (-150) vs. Dan Henderson (+120)
Cheick Kongo (-175) vs. Heath Herring (+145)
Chris Leben (-165) vs. Alessio Sakara (+135)
Yushin Okami (-220) vs. Evan Tanner (+170)
Jon Fitch (-550) vs. Chris Wilson (+350)

I’ve flip-flopped on my prediction for the main event, which is one of the most evenly matched and toughest-to-call in UFC history. At first, I bought into the oft-repeated line of “Silva’s never faced as good of a wrestler as Henderson.” Which is absolutely true, but now I don’t think that will be the deciding factor in the fight. For me, it comes down to this: Which will each man’s strategy be, and how likely is the success of that strategy?

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