Monday, March 29, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Earlier today, during routine medical tests for all UFC 111 fighters, a pre-fight CAT scan revealed a dangerous irregularity in the brain of, UFC welterweight contender and former title challenger, Thiago "The Pitbull" Alves (16-6). This precautionary procedure is not required by every state athletic commission, which means Alves was considerably lucky to be fighting in New Jersey where it is done regularly.
According to UFC president Dana White, this unusual injury could even be career-ending, which would be an incredible shame given Alves' crowd-pleasing style and nearly limitless potential in the 170lb. division. Obviously, the well-wishes of every MMA and UFC fan are with Thiago Alves today.
The UFC has already announced that, given the limited remaining time-frame in which to schedule a new opponent, Jon Fitch (21-3) will not appear in a replacement fight at UFC 111: St. Pierre vs. Hardy. Though his troubles are insignificant in comparison to Alves' condition, this is an unfortunate development for Fitch who would have preferred to stay busy in order to remain near the front of the welterweight title hunt. Fitch also probably liked his chances in this fight, having defeated Alves once before in mid-2006.
A lightweight battle between New Jersey's own wrestler-extraordinaire Kurt Pellegrino (14-4) and Brazilian grappler Fabricio Camoes (10-4-1) has been promoted to the main card to take the place of Fitch vs. Alves II.
Updated UFC 111 Fight Card:
170 lbs.: [-700] Georges St. Pierre (19-2, 14-2 UFC) vs. [+475] Dan Hardy (23-6, 4-0 UFC)
265 lbs.: [-160] Frank Mir (13-4, 11-4 UFC) vs. [+130] Shane Carwin (11-0, 3-0 UFC)
155 lbs.: Fabricio Camoes (10-4-1, 0-0-1 UFC) vs. Kurt Pellegrino (14-4, 6-3 UFC)
170 lbs.: Jake Ellenberger (22-5, 1-1 UFC) vs. Ben Saunders (8-2-1, 4-1 UFC)
155 lbs.: Jim Miller (16-2, 5-1 UFC) vs. Mark Bocek (8-2, 4-2 UFC)
Under Card (Live On Spike TV):
155 lbs.: Nate Diaz (11-5, 6-3 UFC) vs. Rory Markham (16-5, 1-1)
170 lbs.: Ricardo Almeida (11-3, 4-3 UFC) vs. Matt Brown (11-7, 4-1 UFC)
Preliminary Card (May Not Be Broadcast):
205 lbs.: Jared Hamman (11-2, 0-1 UFC) vs. Rodney Wallace (9-1, 0-1 UFC)
185 lbs.: Tomasz Drwal (17-2-1, 3-1) vs. Rousimar Palhares (10-2, 3-1)
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Now, according to reports from French-Canadaian MMA sit Riddum.com, it seems that may not be the case. They asked UFC president Dana White for an update on Jackson's contract status and received this update:
"Rampage and I are friends again now. I was mad at him because of what he's done, and he was mad at me because I was mad at him...we just renewed Rampage's contract...It's a 6 fight contract."This is good news for "Rampage" fans and also clears up what happens if Jackson wins the fight with Rashad. If the UFC didn't have him under contract it would have created an awkward situation in which a Jackson would devastate Rashad's marketability, but the UFC couldn't move Jackson into a title shot either because he was gone. It seems as though Rampage, being fully aware of the touchy situation he had created, intentionally fueled rumours that he would leave the UFC just to drive his value up. All's fair in the business of MMA.
Of course, until Dana or "Rampage" (re)confirms the existence of a new six-fight contract, this report must be considered less-than %100 trustworthy.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The bigger question coming out of UFC on Vs. 1: Vera vs. Jones was how the promotion would fare in the ratings game after having moved away from their usual free-TV home of SpikeTV and on to the Vs. network.
The answer seems to be, not too badly. The UFC averaged 1.24 million viewers this past Sunday night for a respectable 1.6 rating among men aged 18-34.
World Extreme Cagefighting events are commonly broadcast on Vs., so many industry observers looked forward to this weekend's event for it's ability to demonstrate the relative fan-base sizes of Zuffa's sister promotions. Now the the numbers are in, we can see that UFC on Vs. 1's mark of 1.24 million is much better than the average WEC show, and over three times larger than the recent WEC 47: Bowles vs. Cruz, which nabbed only 373, 000 pairs of eyes.
While it's now pretty clear, though not particularly surprising, that Vs. viewers are about three times more eager to tune in to a UFC card as compared to a WEC event, UFC On Vs. 1 still fell just short of setting a new Vs. record for MMA viewership. That honour still belongs to WEC 34: Faber vs. Pulver, which managed a viewership of 1.54 million in summer 2008.
The viewership number of 1.24 million for UFC on Vs. 1: Vera vs. Jones was also significantly lower than the average show on Spike, which can frequently hit numbers north of 2 million. The most recent UFC event on Spike, Ultimate Fight Night 20: Maynard vs. Diaz, managed an average viewership of 1.7 million, or roughly %30 more viewers than UFC On Vs. 1: Vera vs. Jones. This was the case despite the fact that UFN 20 was not nearly so stacked with top talent as UFC On Vs 1 and was a attention-testing three hour broadcast as compared to Vs.' more viewer friendly two-hour length. Of course, the flip-side of that is that SpikeTV is available in 99 million homes as compared to just 75 million for Vs.
It will be interesting to see how these trends continue to play out as the UFC seems committed to broadcasting free shows on both channels. SpikeTV, which will remain the UFC's primary cable home-base for now, gets its next event on March 31st when UFN 21: Florian vs. Gomi goes live ahead of the debut of TUF 11: Team Liddell vs. Team Ortiz. The next UFC show on Vs. is set for August, 1st in Oakland, CA.
Overall, it makes good sense for the UFC to court fans on more than one cable network in the hopes that reaching viewers from a variety of sources may help grow their fan-base. That is to say, SpikeTV's men's interests crowd is decidedly different from Vs.' extreme/alternative sports viewers. It also gives the UFC a leg-up in negotiations with individual stations when setting terms of their ongoing relationships if they can point to a competitor who is also willing to broadcast their events.
That said, all the SpikeTV's and Vs.' in the world of cable cannot add up to the power of a network TV giant like CBS or even a widely received cable station like ESPN. So far, the UFC has only convinced fringe players to allow them to control their own shows on the airwaves. They will have a difficult time being taken seriously in the same breath as organizations like the PGA, or NBA until they can change that. Strikeforce already has with their CBS arrangement, which gives them a distinct distribution advantage that the UFC should sensibly want to eradicate.
Monday, March 22, 2010
It was a wild and dangerous night to be a high-level MMA fighter in Broomfield, Colorado this past Sunday at UFC on Vs. 1: Jones Vs. Vera-- as you can see from this photo of Duane "Bang" Ludwig (19-11)'s backward-facing ankle, in a fight which failed to make the broadcast. The carnage didn't stop there, though, as the night featured (T)KO's in every single televised fight and finishes to nine of eleven fights. Interestingly, it was just the first two fights of the night's preliminary card that went the distance. From a fan's perspective, the night was pretty odd with some unusual stoppages and strange goings on during the televised broadcast, which made this card highly memorable if nothing else.
Sakara vs. Irvin
The night's festivities, broadcast across Canada on Sportsnet (HD), began with a middleweight scrap between noted strikers Alessio Sakara and James Irvin. The streak of odd occurances began right off the bat when Irvin removed his shirt and we got a look at his emaciated physique in his debut fight at 185lbs. He looked dangerously skeletal, and appeared to be one skipped calorie away from major organ failure. It's not clear why Irvin, who was never considered a small 205lb'er, decided to attempt this cut, but UFC President Dana White has publically stated that we won't be seeing "The Sandman's" hideously proturding middleweight cheekbones ever again in the octagon. Not that he's been cut, necessarily. The fight itself was fairly predictable given Irvin's condition: he was sluggish, kept up a meagre work-rate, and generally looked like a shadow of his usual self while eating numerous clean shots from a sharp, on-point Alessio Sakara. That basic pattern eventually resulted in the night's second strange televised moment when Irvin succumbed to a clean punch directly to the eyeball. I can only assume that, had the normal amount of skin tissue been present on Irvin's disturbingly gaunt face, he might usually have been able to take that punch without risk to his eye.
Kongo vs. Buentello
The wackiness continued in the Cheick Kongo fight, which was, in fact, barely a fight at all. As always, Buentello looked dangerous when he was able to get off with some of his strikes, but Kongo simply used his superior strength to haul Paul to the ground whenever Cheick felt threatened. The real story to emerge here was the unprecidented moment when a ring-side physician took it upon himself to reset Buentello's dislocated finger. Many have since pointed out that, as the unified rules of MMA are curently written, the fight should probably have been considered a TKO if Buentello could not compete, but, at the same time, I have few qualms about making an exception in the case of dislocated small joints that can so quickly be made as good as new. If a fighter can have a time-out for an eye poke or a groin shot, why not provide similar considerations for small joint dislocations, which are similarly outlawed if done on purpose? Ultimately, injuries of that nature are so rarely seen in MMA that we won't have to worry too much about it, but it was definitely a classic moment. However, it might not prove quite so memorable as "The Headhunter" tapping out to elbows-to-the-thigh in the third. I am not trying to criticize Buentello too much, but I had never seen anything like it before and it is pretty clear to me that this clip will be played in the run-up to every single Kongo fight in the UFC from now until he is fired or reitred.
Dos Santos vs. Gonzaga
Alright, so there wasn't a lot that was unusual about this fight, but it did feature a pair of fighters who were pretty clearly headed in polar opposite directons in their careers. For Junior Dos Santos, it was his fifth consecutive (T)KO in the UFC, while for Gonzaga it was his fourth loss in his last seven fights since "Napao's" career-defining victory, which, out of sympathy to the reader, I won't mention with specifics to save you the boredom of reading about it yet again. I thought Gonzaga looked in pretty poor shape and seemed about as listless as I've seen him since his TKO loss to Fabricio Werdum at UFC 80. More to the point, all that really needs saying here is that JDS hit Gonzaga with a crackling counter-left hook at about four-minutes of the first round that put Gabe to sleep and likely would have ended the night of nearly any other UFC heavyweight as well. There's talk that JDS will face Cain Velasquez in the near future, which is an idea I can heartily support.
BONUS FIGHT: Howard vs. Roberts
This fight is worth mentioning because it adds to the zany factor of the night's proceedings. It stands out in the UFC's pantheon of grizzly moments because for containing perhaps the two hardest, most brutal head shots, from Howard, ever inclicted upon an opponent, in Roberts, who was so clearly already knocked clean out. Really though, there's no sense in blaming Howard here, and the UFC rightly awarded him one of the night's three "KO of the Night Awards"-- an unorthadox move in itself. No, the real blame should be on the referee who was clearly not paying attention and could be seen casually, standing flat-footed in the background, directly behing Howard where he could not see the action. He was still hanging out there well after Roberts had taken the quick-boat to La La Land.
Jones vs. Vera
Alright people, I asked nicely when I predicted Couture to defeat "The Truth" and I am pleading again right now-- can we please finally put to rest the common myth that Vera is some sort of dormant volcano of ass-kickery that is somehow all coiled up in anticipation of his "big chance," at which point he'll undoubtedly start smashing every fool in his way en route to a title shot? It is not going to happen, and Jon Jones showed us why: Vera, despite his very best efforts, simply can't get his body into the type of condition necessary to be a physical match for the genetic freaks that populate the UFC roster at light heavyweight. He was out-muscled by a near-fifty-year-old in November, and by a near-minor just now, with close to equal ease in his last two fights and I just don't think there's much he can do about it. He also isn't nearly aggressive enough, especially against top-competition. Realistically, the only meaningful blow Vera landed in the whole fight was an illegal upkick from guard. Upon a reset in that same position, Jones quickly answered with a fight-ending, wide-sweeping elbow that instantly fractured Vera's skull in three places. Yipes. It was a rather poigniant moment, really, given the way Jones "lost" his last fight for illegal elbows. Instead of thrashing away wildly as he did in the past, the more-seasoned Jones simply lined up a finishing-shot and carried on with his evening. Great stuff.
Jones explaines the moves effectiveness here:
"That elbow is all Greg Jackson. He has a very distinct ground and pound system. If you realize that Georges St. Pierre does the same style elbow, it's a Team Jackson thing. I found my home. Everything is working"Yipes again.
Clay Guida def. Shanon Gugerty by Submission (Arm Triangle Choke), Rd. 2
Vladimir Matyushenko def. Eliot Marshall by Split Decision
Brendan Schaub def. Chase Gormley by TKO (Strikes), Rd. 1
Darren Elkins def. Duane Ludwig by TKO (Leg Injury), Rd. 1
Mike Pierce def. Julio Paulino by Unanimous Decision
Jason Brilz def. Eric Schafer by Unanimous Decision
Thursday, March 18, 2010
J.O.: Hey, it's Josh Oliveira from B.C.MMAFan.com and MMACanada.net.
Robin Black: Hey man, how are ya?
J.O.: Not too bad, you?
Robin Black: Doing great. Everything is going good her for the Aggression MMA thing and I work at The Fight Network too, so that's been really great.
J.O.: Okay, so are you a press relations/media guy for Aggression, then?
Robin Black: Yeah, I fought for them and I loved Harvey [Panesar] and Moin [Mizra], who are the two guys that run it. I loved their passion and drive so I just said, "I'm a guy with a unique skill set. If there's anything I can do for you guys, I'd love to be involved." So, they got me to take care of the publicity stuff. I'm friends with a lot of that crowd, anyway, and it's great to talk to you, too. I've met most of the people who write on MMA across the country and its just a relationship game. If you give people good information, they'll want to run it.
J.O.: Okay, for people who may not be familiar, can you explain a bit about how Aggression MMA got started and maybe talk a bit about what you guys have achieved in just your first two shows?
Robin Black: Aggression MMA was started by two very passionate mixed martial arts fans in Moin Mirza and Harvey Panesar who loved going to like events and loved MMA. They are very smart, savvy business guys who just wanted to put on the best shows possible-- first in the Edmonton area and then right across the country. So really, it was two guys armed with just their drive who have now put on two of the best cards, for sure, that western Canada has ever seen. So, it's been a learning curve for it to develop, but there's people who are so passionate about the sport involved. That's it's been so successful already, and it's only going to grow.
J.O.: When it was first announced that Aggression was planning to hold a show in B.C there was some initial speculation that they were attempting to get out of the crowded Alberta MMA market, but that has since been denied by the organization. Can fans expect that the majority of their shows in the future will still take place in Alberta?
Robin Black: Yes, mostly. In fact, we already have three more shows booked. We're excited about going to Vernon on May, 21st, though, so we've actually already booked a follow-up show. Really though, we just had a great opportunity to take this a little bit west and still put on a show with the kind of energy level that the Aggression shows have had. So, when Vernon came up, we jumped at it, but Edmonton is home for Aggression and it's going to continue to be. We have upcoming shows, July, 9th back in Edmonton at the Expo Centre, then August, 24th we're going to be returning to Vernon, and on October, 1st we'll have our Aggression 6 show back in Edmonton's Expo Centre again.
J.O.: Oh, okay. So you're kinda going to be bouncing back-and-forth between the two cities for the next little bit here, then?
Robin Black: Yeah, Edmonton is still the anchor and it's going to be home. There are the best mixed martial arts fans in the world there and a whole infrastructure for putting on shows there. Everyone in Edmonton understands what MMA is and it's been a long-running successful city to put on shows because it's filled with fans. But, we're going to move into other territories, too. There's been talk about going out east and taking it across the country to give people the type of shows that we think they want to see.
J.O.: From the initial Internet and early fan reaction, or any kind of market research you guys may have done, what kind of response do you expect from the B.C. fans to your upcoming show?
Robin Black: Well, often I find that the smaller or mid-sized cities, like Vernon or Victoria, will just have thousands of ravenous MMA fans who wouldn't necessarily have thought that there were going to be live events coming to them. Then, when they find out about it, they're just pumped. I guess, Vernon has probably had, what? Six or eight MMA shows before?
J.O.: That's probably about right, but there have been none so far that have been quite this size. I mean, they have been mostly "King of the Cage" and "XFC" shows, which are great, but just not really the same.
Robin Black: Yeah, we're going to try to put on something a little bigger and a little more high-energy. It will be a bit more of a show. We've already got a great main event for it, and a great semi-main event. To round out the show we're going to mix it between names people know and the best up-and-coming guys.
J.O.: How about yourself, do you think you might make an appearance? [Robin Black (3-3) fought at both AMMA I and AMMA II]
Robin Black: I'm definitely going to be in Vernon, but I'm looking to do colour-commentary along with Bas Rutten, and I'll be doing the in-ring interviews after the fights.
J.O.: Okay, sounds good, maybe I can just get a few of your comments about the announced matches. First off, the Matt MacGrath vs. Chris Brennan fight-- what are your thoughts on that?
Robin Black: That's a great fight. Matt MacGrath (8-3) is pretty high in the top-ten welterweights in Canada, but this is a big test. Chris Brennan (19-13-1) is a UFC veteran and a PRIDE veteran, who has been in there with some of the toughest fighters in the world. So, for MacGrath to beat him he's going to have to be on his best game, but when the two of them face each other it's going to be pretty serious. I mean, Matt MacGrath wants to take that next step to the UFC. In fact, Nick Hinchliffe (12-5), Jason Day (18-9), and Matt MacGrath are all guys on that doorstep. Jason Day was even told after his loss to Kendall Grove (11-6) that if he gets a couple of wins he would be right back in the UFC. Then here's Nick Hinchliffe in front of him who's also on the doorstep. So that's kind of where Matt MacGrath is sitting right now. He's a nice win or two away from moving to a huge show, but he's got "The Westside Strangler" in front of him and he's got to get through that.
Robin Black: Also, Matt's coming of a loss against Claude Patrick (11-1) [at AMMA II] where he looked great. I think that's the first time, other than Claude's one one loss to Drew McFedries (8-6), that Claude has lost a round in three or four years. MacGrath was able to really take control of the second round and looked great against Patrick who is now in the UFC.
But he's got Brennan, "The Westside Strangle," in his way, who, I think he has seventeen submissions, right?
J.O.: Yeah, I believe so.
Robin Black: Anyway, he just wants to add to that.So, MacGrath has to be on his game or he's gong to find himself strangled out on the west coast. Chris Brennan will be "The West Coast Strangler" if Matt MacGrath isn't careful.
J.O.: Still, there are a lot of unknowns about Brennan right now. Mostly because he hasn't fought much over the last couple of years and, when he has, he hasn't won much. So, he'll be looking to make a pretty big statement with a win in this comeback fight.
Robin Black: That's just it. Chris Brennan has been out of the spotlight for a while, but he's a seasoned veteran who wants his place back in the game. So he is going to be looking to make a big statement. Like I said, though, Matt MacGrath is looking to make a big statement, too. So I don't think this will go the distance. Somebody's getting strangled or knocked out.
J.O.: Then, in the main event, this is just sort of my observation, but Hinchliffe is pretty well-known around here in B.C. and lately, especially, he has been fighting exclusively against big-name fighters. So, he has been gaining a fair amount of momentum in this province. Then you have Jason Day who is obviously very well-known and loved in the Alberta MMA scene. So it seems like you guys have set up a bit of a west coast showdown between the arguably two of the best middleweights from the two main provinces out here. Was that your intention?
Robin Black: I think you're bang on with that-- Hinchliffe against Jay Day is a western Canadian showdown. I love it. We've got the guy who is the number one fighter in Alberta, except maybe Jason MacDonald (22-13)...
J.O.: But he's fighting everywhere now it seems...
Robin Black: Yeah, and Day has been an amazing fighter for a long time. Right now, he's coming off a really tough loss at the last Aggression. He lost to Jesse Taylor (14-5) pretty early in the first round and that changed his life. Had Day beat Jesse Taylor and won maybe one more fight he would have been right back in the UFC, which is where he's just dying to be. So, Jason Day is looking to really show people how tough he is by beating Hinchliffe who is one of the toughest guys at 185lbs. out there right now who's not in the UFC right now.
J.O.: Yeah, and he's had his own close brushes with the UFC. He was very close to being on The Ultimate Fighter 10, and when he fought Rory MacDonald there was some talk that whoever won that fight might get a UFC contract.
Robin Black: Right, and it turned out Rory did win. Did you see that card by chance? Was that in Vernon? I think it was King of the Cage...
J.O.: It was definitely a King of the Cage show. I didn't get a chance to see it live, but I think it was actually in Alberta [Macdonald and Hinchliffe met at KOTC: Disturbed in Edmonton, AB on Sept. 25th of 2009].
Robin Black: yeah, I think you could be right. I would have loved to see that fight and I agree that with a win over the young, talented Rory MacDonald, Nick could have been in the UFC. Even with the loss, right now, he's still maybe just a win away, but Jason day is nobody's stepping stone and he should make that pretty obvious on May, 21st. So, something's gotta break and it should be a really exciting fight.
J.O.: I definitely agree. I can't wait, personally, and I think that fight fans in B.C., if they're tuned in at all to the scene, should recognize that this is probably the biggest card to come here, if not ever, then certainly in the last several years. I think I can safely say that we're all looking forward to Aggression MMA III in Vernon, and it was great to talk with you about it today.
Robin Black: Yeah, excellent.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Nick Hinchliffe, a longtime resident of Nanaimo, has fought regularly on Vancouver Island since making his debut in October of 2006. In fact, he has averaged about two-and-a-half months between fights over that span. A former junior football player with the B.C. Champion 2003 Victoria Rebels, Hinchliffe began his MMA career with an eight-fight winning streak that included eight finishes with five (T)KO's and a win over the well-traveled Travis Galbraith (17-7). Since then, Hinchliffe has gone 4-5, but that stretch has included two losses to Galbraith in a rematch and a rubber match, as well as a loses to three other highly-respected fighters in Dan MacIver (6-1), Victor Valimaki (16-5), and Rory MacDonald (10-0), with the last fight contested at 170lbs where Hinchliffe has no other experience. In his most recent fight, at this month's Armageddon FC II in Victoria, B.C. Nick avenged his loss to MacIver and scored what was easily the knockout of the night in the process. With a few years experience now behind him and having learned some tough lessons from his difficult losses, Hinchliffe could be poised to make a run at Canada's top middleweights.
That quest will begin on May 21st in Vernon, when Hinchliffe faces Jason Day who is best known for scoring a TKO win over current UFC middleweight contender Alan Belcher (15-6) at UFC 83 in Montreal. Day then suffered defeats to Michael Bisping (18-3) and Kendal Grove (11-6), both by first round TKO, in his subsequent UFC fights and now finds himself back on the outside looking in. He is 1-1 since leaving the organization with his most recent fight being a submission loss to Jesse Taylor (14-5) at Aggression MMA II this February. Jason Day should deservedly be, and is, ranked ahead of Nick Hinchliffe among Canadian middleweights, but, in order to retain that position, Day will have to answer a tough challenge at Aggression MMA: Trilogy in Vernon this May.
B.C. MMA Fan.com will have updates regarding this event as they become available.
This fight is a welcomed chance for B.C. MMA fans to see one of Canada's most promising up-and-coming welterweights in MacGrath. He is coming off a tough loss to Claude Patrick (11-1) at A-MMA II on February, 5th 2010. In that fight, MacGrath forced Patrick into the third round for only the second time in Claude's career before eventually succumbing to a guillotine. It was the first time MacGrath had been stopped. Though he did not win, MacGrath still raised his stock in that fight by proving he could hang with an elite-level fighter-- Patrick is now bound for the UFC and is expected to debut in Vancouver on June 12th.
MacGrath's opponent in Vernon will be a PRIDE and UFC veteran in Brennan, who notably holds a win over Joe Stevenson (31-11) dating back to 1999. That being said, Brennan has lost four of his last five fights, dating back to March 2006, and fought for the majority of his career at lightweight. He will have an uphill battle ahead if his goal is to return to being considered relevant in MMA this decade. A surprising win over MacGrath would go a long way toward achieving that goal.
B.C. MMA Fan will have updates about the Aggression MMA: Trilogy card in Vernon as they become available.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Rumours of the signing had circulated for several days, but it was officially announced on Monday that former UFC lightweight contender Roger "El Matador" Huerta (20-3-1 1NC) has signed-on to enter the Bellator Fighting Championships Season Two lightweight tournament, which kicks of on April 8th. The show airs every Thursday thereafter until the finale on June 24th, with weekly highlight shows latenight on Saturdays on NBC.
The sophomore season of the thrilling cable-based promotion features tournaments at MMA's four standard weight classes from featherweight through middleweight (145lbs, 155lbs., 170lbs. & 185lbs) and will also feature regular super-fights showcasing the Season One winners.
The Huerta signing is sure to increase casual-fan interest in the already stacked lightweight tournament, which culminates in a title shot in the fall for the tournament winner against Bellator FC: Season One champion Eddie Alvarez (19-2). In Canada, the full second season will be broadcast on The Score.
Press Relaease by Bellator Staff:
CHICAGO, Ill. (March 15, 2010) — Roger Huerta, the top free agent in MMA and one of the sport’s brightest young stars, announced today that he has signed an exclusive contract with Bellator Fighting Championships and will compete in the promotion’s upcoming Season 2 lightweight tournament.
The 26-year-old Huerta (20-3-1) comes to Bellator in the prime of his career after a 3½-year run in the UFC, where he rose to international prominence with wins over top talents like Clay Guida, Leonard Garcia and John Halverson and became the first MMA fighter ever to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Huerta, also known as “El Matador,” joins a well-rounded 155 lbs. tournament field that also includes Season 1 runner-up Toby Imada, former Olympian Ferrid Kheder, undefeated Canadian phenom Mike Ricci, European stalwart Janne Tulirinta, the undefeated Chad Hinton and former All-American wrestler Carey Vanier. Each tournament fight will be broadcast live in prime time on FOX Sports Net every Thursday night beginning April 8th and replayed in special highlight shows on NBC and Telemundo every Saturday night beginning April 10th.
If Huerta can win the April-May-June lightweight tournament, he would win the chance to challenge the world’s No. 2-rated lightweight and reigning Bellator World Champion Eddie Alvarez in a title bout this fall.
“The chance to be a part of this year’s Bellator tournament was an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up,” Huerta said. “I think Bellator is the next big thing in this sport. I love the tournament format and the awesome talent that they have at 155 will give me a chance to prove myself as one of the top lightweights in the world.”
Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney, meanwhile, called Huerta “one of the most exciting and accomplished lightweights in the world.”
“Roger is truly a young man who has defied the odds to achieve greatness,” Rebney said. “Adding Roger to our 155 division and tournament is a great signing for Bellator that provides us the ability to showcase him on national television upwards of three times before summer (provided he wins). His personal story is inspirational. He has not had an easy road, but has fought hard and persevered. It’s hard not to root for a guy who has triumphed over adversity like he has.”
Huerta suffered through a heartbreakingly difficult childhood. He was born in Los Angeles to Lydia and Rogelio Huerta, but the couple’s rocky relationship and struggles with substance abuse and mental illness soon began to take a toll on their son.
When Roger was around 5 years old, Lydia discovered that Rogelio was having an affair and took out her anger on Roger, subjecting him to emotional abuse and regular beatings that left him covered in bruises. Soon, this was discovered by his teachers and Roger was placed in a foster home.
Despite being stripped of custody, Lydia somehow managed to flee with her son to her native El Salvador, where she lived with Roger for more than a year as that country was embroiled a brutal civil war. Eventually she returned with Roger to the U.S. and dropped him at Rogelio’s house in Dallas. Roger never saw his mother again, but his troubles were far from over.
Over the next six years, he bounced back and forth between his father’s drug-infested house in Texas – where he was again subjected to regular beatings, this time at the hands of his father’s new wife—and Mexico, where he lived with his impoverished grandparents and was forced to sell picture frames and rosaries on the streets for hours a day.
At around the age of 12, he was kicked out of father’s house and found himself homeless, sleeping on rooftops and in alleyways and running with a notorious local youth gang. He stayed in school, though—mostly for the free breakfast and lunch.
By high school, he had left the gang and began living with the families of classmates in Austin, Texas. He became one of his school’s most popular students, excelled at sports (particularly wrestling), and, with the help of his English teacher, Jo Ramirez and his wrestling coach Bryan Ashford, won a wrestling scholarship from Augsburg College in Minneapolis.
It didn’t take Huerta long, though, to realize that his brawler-style fighting skills were better suited for the cage. He became fascinated with MMA after watching an Augsburg teammate’s amateur fight and soon began training with former UFC middleweight champion Dave Menne.
He took his first professional fight in 2003 while still a teenager, just a few months after he was legally adopted by Ramirez, the English teacher who helped change his life. She will be among the millions watching when Roger makes his Bellator debut next month.
“My one and only goal right now is getting through the lightweight tournament,” Huerta said. “I’m in the best shape of my life and I just can’t wait to get back in the cage. I see nothing but good things to come for me and for Bellator.”
About Bellator Fighting ChampionshipsBellator Fighting Championships is a Mixed Martial Arts promotional company with offices in Los Angeles and Chicago. Bellator’s founder/CEO, Bjorn Rebney, is an experienced fighting sports and entertainment professional with a deep commitment to the purity and integrity of the sport of MMA and its athletes. Bellator Fighting Championships’ executive team is comprised of top industry professionals in the areas of live event production, television production, fighter relations, venue procurement, sponsorship creation/development, international licensing, marketing, advertising, publicity and commission relations.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
VANCOUVER, BC – MARCH 14, 2010 – Mixed Martial Arts Expo, Inc.
The Original MMA Expo since 2005 – has obtained approval from the Abbotsford City Council to hold amateur mixed martial arts competitions on the show floor of MMA Expo taking place at the TRADEX Exhibition Centre on April 10-11.
MMA Expo founder and president, Gerald Chopik, and his British Columbia supporters are
obviously pleased to have secured approval for this amateur card. “This is never an easy
process”, said Chopik. “When you mention MMA to government officials there are often so
many negative perceptions on the front-end that it takes time to deliver the necessary
education as to how this sport really is conducted with competitor safety in mind, especially
at the amateur level. And this is where our BC supporters did an outstanding job.”
As an Ontario-based company, MMA Expo relied heavy on BC-based relationships to present
its proposal to Abbotsford City Council.
“The real credit for getting this done goes to The TRADEX Exhibition Centre, who from the
very beginning saw no problem in adding this program to MMA Expo, and to the executives of
the BC Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Association – specifically Paul Lazenby and Bill Mahood –
who had already invested a tremendous amount of time developing a comprehensive set of
rules and guidelines that clearly demonstrated amateur MMA competition is in fact a tightly
controlled sport with fighter safety as its number one priority.”
Chopik also gives much of the Credit to the Abbotsford City Council and a final sign-off from
the Abbotsford Police Department.
“Admittedly they were initially reserved about the concept. But to their credit they kept an
open mind and took the time to meet with BCAMMAA representatives and other local
authorities and concluded that so long as the event was conducted under BCAMMAA rules, we
The irony of an Ontario-based company getting an amateur card approved for MMA Expo in
BC is not lost on Chopik. “We are obviously extremely pleased with Abbotsford’s decision. Allin
it took about five weeks to see this through.”
And the Province of Ontario? According to Chopik, five years plus and counting. “It really is incredible how far behind the times Ontario is on the legalization of MMA despite
all of the lobbying and public opinion. Sadly, this scenario is no different than a number of
other positions held by the province in the past. The best examples would be Ontario’s
decades long and expensive battle with consumers against the right for Sunday shopping, and
an option to have an alcoholic beverage with a meal. Years of protests! Retailers were fined
tens of thousands of dollars! And then one morning the province woke up and said – ‘Hey!
Why not.’ Can you imagine not having those options today? MMA is in the exact same
Saturday, March 13, 2010
First, both shows were chock full of early finishes and each featured one truly devastating knockout. In fact, the two cards both featured first round stoppages in all but two of their respective bouts. Results like that are enough to make one wonder if British Columbia's rapidly-growing MMA scene might soon become known for its apparent utter disinterest in the art of good defense-- not that many fans are complaining.
Easily the biggest knockout of last night's show came when 38-year-old Dan Laughy (2-2) was sent to the canvas at just 0:29 of round one via a punishing right hand (some say elbow) from Port McNeil, B.C.'s newest welterweight-to-watch Zach Bye (2-0). Laughy remained motionless on the ground for several minutes before medical attendants removed him from the cage on a stretcher. Believe it or not, that was only the third-fastest T(KO) at KOTC: Uprising II. The fastest, which simply must have been one of the quickest in KOTC history, came when Ryan Ballingal (3-3 [PICTURED BELOW]), a member of Nanaimo's Impact MMA fight team, stopped Surrey-native George Texiera (0-1) by KO in just six seconds. Both Bye and Ballingal made lasting impressions with the fans, though the latter was already well-known to Nanimo's MMA faithful. Honorable mention goes to Richmond's David Perron (2-0) who did not put his opponent to sleep, but opened a deep gash above the left eye of Surrey's Clint VanRossum (0-1) and pounded him out in just 0:29 seconds.
Another interesting parallel between AFC II and KOTC: Uprising II is that each event's biggest win was claimed by a resident of the other event's host city-- with Nanaimo's Impact Gym being the big winners at Victoria's AFC II when Nick Hinchliffe (12-5) defeated Dan MacIvor (6-1) via that event's most massive KO, while Victoria's Zuma training centre were the big winners at KOTC: Uprising II as main-event fighter Gavin Neil (7-1) claimed the KOTC Canadian Lightweight belt.
It was by no means and easy victory for Neil, however. He had his hands full with Revolution's Charlie Zak (4-3) throughout the fight and ended up with a deep facial laceration to prove it. Zak came out kicking effectively in the early goings, landing a head kick that was followed shortly by a stinging push kick, a decent body kick, and even a cleanly landed knee. At that point, Neil seemed understandably content to try his luck on the ground, as he quickly initiated a clinch and successfully completed a single-leg takedown. Neil would remain in Zak's full guard for some time after that, but was never far from danger as Zak utilized an incredibly active guard. Zak transitioned fluidly from throwing strikes from below, to heaving up a triangle attempt, to trying to force several scrambles. For his part, Neil played a cool game from on top, not being overly aggressive, but still landing enough clean shots from above to avoid a stand-up. After Zak's failed leg-lock attempt near the end of the third minute, he gave up his back and, not long after, Neil sunk in the fight-ending rear naked choke (RNC). It was a gutsy performance by Neil, the newly crowned KOTC Canadian lightweight champion, who took this fight on short notice.
That wasn't the only victory that Zuma had to celebrate at KOTC: Uprising II, either, as their trio of other fighters all came away victorious-- highly-touted lightweight prospect Tarek Gabali (4-0) finished judo practitioner Rob Bastone (2-1) by RNC in under one minute; middleweight Ryan Janes (3-1) coaxed a verbal submission due to strikes from Comox's Gordie McCredie (1-0) in a minute-and-a-half; and Zuma's Greg Church (1-0), who competed in one of only two fights to make it past the first round, made a successful 155lb. pro debut against Impact's Pendragon Smith (0-2) with a TKO at 2:01 of the second stanza. For Zuma, KOTC: Uprising II was, at least, the third flawless event in a row and marks eight consecutive wins by their gym since Sarah Kaufman (11-0) entered the cage to claim the womens' 135lb. world championship belt at Strikeforce: Challengers VI. Next week, Zuma head coach Adam Zugec hopes to continue their momentum with a big win for Ryan Ford (11-2) against TUF 6 finalist Tommy Speer (13-4) at The Fight Club 10 in Edmonton, Alberta.
Easily the highest-level fight of the night, in terms of both advanced offensive manoeuvrings as well as competent ground defense, including complex grappling counters, bridges, and sweeps, came in the night's co-main event. The fight was billed as an International Superfight between Belgian Bastien Huveneers (7-2) and Brazilian copoeira specialist Marcus Vinicios (6-6). The first round was incredibly difficult to score. Much of the action took place on the mat, but both men spent time controlling the action and each also pulled off impressive escapes from below. I gave a slight edge to Huveneers after the first, but the fight's defining moment came midway through the second round when Huveneers blocked a high kick attempt by Vinicios then held the Brazilian's foot above his head as he drove him to the canvas. From there, Huveneers unleashed an absolute barrage of at least thirty shots, though it went on for upwards of a minute and could actually have been more in the range of fifty unanswered strikes. To his credit, Vinicios blocked many of the incoming blows, but eventually the referee had seen enough and called a stop to the action at 4:00 of round two.
Other victorious fighters at KOTC: Uprising II included Dynamic's Garrett Davis (12-10) and Brendon Kornberger (1-1) who each scored a first round TKO's and, in the night's opening bout and sole amateur match, their own Dan Ring (1-0) pulled off a RNC, set up by strikes, at just 0:41 of the first round. Congratulations to that Vancouver-based team on their success-filled night. Bastien Huveneers also currently trains out of Dynamic.
If upcoming MMA events on Vancouver Island prove to be as thrillingly fast-paced as last weekends AFC II and yesterday's KOTC: Uprising II, a mandatory check of each patron's heart-health at the door may need to be instituted in the interests of public safety. In all seriousness, they were a pair of action-packed events that none who attended either one or both of are ever likely to forget.