e premte, 22 qershor 2007

Survivor/Apprentice Producer Teams With EliteXC

Move over TUF, here comes EliteXC. Earlier this week, ProElite, Inc., the parent company of EliteXC, filed a current report with the Securites and Exchange Commission disclosing that it had entered into an agreement with Emmy award winning producer Mark Burnett to create a new mma reality show. For those of you who don't know, Burnett is the man responsible for the shows Survivor, the Apprentice, Rock Star and the Contender. Basically, EliteXC joining forces with Mark to create an mma reality show is the equivalent of an mma organization joining forces with Martin Scorsese to create an mma motion picture.

Details of the actual agreement were limited, but what we do know is that Mark will have ultimate control over the series and there is a possibility of Mark producing ppv events based on the series. Burnett is set to receive 17,000,000 shares of ProElite common stock exercisable at $3.00 per share in exchange for his services. As of June 21, there were approximately 43 million shares of ProElite common stock outstanding trading at $12.00 per share.

So after trumping the UFC/Xenergy partnership by allying with Rockstar energy drink, and trumping UFC 72 with the Baroni v. Shamrock Strikeforce card, EliteXC appears to have just trumped TUF as well. Looks like we got a fight on our hands.

UPDATE: Looks like EliteXC just snagged LHW contender Sokoudjou from underneath Zuffa as well.


e mërkurë, 20 qershor 2007

Fedor: The Best Ever.

For years pundits have debated who the greatest fighter of all time is. Depending on who is asked, this issue is likely to elicit a multitude of contrasting responses. Ask a fan of the sweet science and the popular choice would likely be Muhammad Ali. A martial arts practitioner may point to Bruce Lee. A historian? Perhaps Alexander the Great.

At first glance, the wide spectrum of replies would seem appropriate considering the often repeated belief that it is impossible to compare icons of different eras. In the world of fighting, however, the answer to this age old question is quite easily put to rest. The greatest fighter to have ever walked foot on this planet is alive and in his prime today. His name is Fedor Emelianenko, and he is unanimously credited as best heavyweight mixed martial arts fighter in the world.

At first glance, Fedor’s appearance is rather uninspiring. His constant demeanor is that of a person who just woke up from a long nap and his physique is that of a person who consumed a bucket of ice cream and six pack of beer just prior to that nap. But looks can be deceiving and as the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover. Inside that “gooey” exterior lies an advanced core of explosive power, speed and ass-kicking fury, which is part of the reason why his fans have long suspected him to be a cyborg- it truly is what’s inside that counts.

Fedor may be the greatest athlete you have never heard of in the fastest rising sport that by now, unless you live under a rock, you undoubtedly have heard of. He is the current Pride Fighting Championship heavyweight champion, holding a record of 27-1-1, which, in the world of mixed martial arts where there are so many different ways to lose, is quite an accomplishment. Fedor’s one loss came as a result of an illegal elbow seconds into his fight with Tsuyoshi Kohsaka in a now defunct Japanese event back in December of 2000. The elbow caused a small cut above the eye of Fedor, forcing the doctor to stop the fight before any serious blows were thrown. When Fedor got his chance to revenge his one “loss”, he spattered Pride’s virgin white canvas with crimson pools of TK’s blood. Ironically, the rematch was also stopped due to a cut – in fact, many of them, all over battered face of Fedor’s opponent.

Besides that one blemish on his career (and a no-contest resulting from, you guessed it, a cut from an accidental clash of heads during the finals of the Pride HW Grand Prix in 2004), Fedor has systematically destroyed nearly every opponent that has stepped into the ring with him. He has defeated NCAA wrestling champions, kickboxing champions, Olympic medalists and a 400 lb mountain of a man known simply as Zuluzinho.

The reason Fedor has been able to sustain his success while so many other great fighters have fallen is largely due to his expansive repertoire of fighting tools, which allows him to fight effectively in all ranges. Whereas most elite fighters, while competent in many forms, typically specialize in one or two particular arts (i.e., wrestling, boxing or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), Fedor is truly a master of all styles. As evidence of Fedor’s almost inhuman versatility, he has thoroughly dominated both the best mma grappler in the world, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and the best mma striker in the world, Mirko Filipovic – and he beat both at their own game.

So how do we know that Fedor is the greatest ever and not just the greatest today? In order to answer that question, we need to step back to November 12, 1993, when a skinny Brazilian kid by the name of Royce Gracie took the world by storm and proved what the most effective single style of martial arts was – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Royce tested his skills in a laboratory of flying fists and teeth displacing kicks and he always came out on top. In fact, Royce defeated all of the early on comers- wrestlers, Muay Thai fighters, kungfu and karate practitioners, boxers, judokas - while hardly breaking a sweat.

Royce taught the traditional martial artists of that time a painful lesson - that their theories of effective martial arts were just that, a bunch of theories. And soon thereafter, fighters began to realize that in order to beat Royce, they would need to learn his game. It was at that point when the hyper-acceleration of the evolution of martial arts began. Wrestlers learned to box. Boxers learned to submit. Submission experts learned to wrestle. It was as if the entire world suddenly became fluent in everyone else’s language and was finally able to exchange thousands of years of handed down martial arts knowledge. It was the birth of mixed martial arts as we now call it to be.

These days, all of the top-level mma fighters have become adept at utilizing various styles of martial arts. The old dinosaurs that have insisted on focusing primarily on one art (see the Hammer House and the Gracie family) have been passed over by a new breed of hybrid fighters whose martial arts foundations are difficult to trace. If you try to punch with them they will beat you with kicks. If you try to kick with them, they will beat you with wrestling. If you try to grapple with them, they will beat you with striking.

Emelianenko Fedor is the embodiment of the new age hybrid fighter. He is the culmination of centuries of passed down martial arts knowledge. He is the renaissance man of the renaissance era of martial arts. Fedor has displayed elite level skills in all facets of the mma game – striking, wrestling and submission, and the scary thing is that he is still improving. Claiming that anyone is the “best ever” is quite a bold statement that in most cases is impossible to support. In this case of fighting, however, we know with certainty that Fedor is the best ever because we have reached the pinnacle of martial arts knowledge and Fedor is the one person sitting on top of that pinnacle. Try to think of one person, in the history of the universe, that could beat Fedor in mano-e-mano hand to hand combat. That silence is your resounding answer -Fedor is the greatest fighter to have ever walked on this planet and we are all privileged to bear witness to history in the making.


Connecting the Dots: Armando Garcia

How does one make the “lateral” leap to go from being a lowly boxing referee in a state not known for marquee boxing matches (Florida), to the executive director of the athletic commission of one of the most populous, economically profitable and athletically-inclined states in the nation (California)? According to fightnews.com, its all about the Benjamins – reportedly, Garcia landed his esteemed position with the CSAC with the simple promise to the Governator California of “mo money, mo money, mo money”.

So, exactly how does the CSAC make its bread? Well, according to the California Code, there’s the event fee, the matchmaker’s license fee, the assistant matchmaker’s license fee, the booking agent’s fee, the fighter’s license fees, the manager’s license fees, the fighter’s corner fees, the judge’s license fee, the referee’s fee, the timekeeper’s license fee, the sparring permit, the simultaneous telecast permit fee, the gate fee and the television broadcast fee. When you add it all up, a single event can produce hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue for the CSAC. And when you consider the fact that by far the two biggest fees charged by the CSAC are the gate and television broadcast fees, it becomes blatantly clear who the #1 cash cow for the CSAC coffers is – the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

And for that reason, it’s not surprising that allegations have been floating around claiming that Garcia has been exhibiting regulatory favoritism for the UFC at the expense of competitor mma organizations, especially considering Armando's bold promise to the Governator. And when you take into account Dana White’s reknowned tough-guy business tactics, it is not out of the question that Zuffa would use some of its muscle to exert influence over the Commission. Some examples of apparent favoritism follow:

  • CSAC initially denies Pride rules allowing for knees on the ground at the bequest of UFC representatives. Now that Pride no longer exists, Armando states that he is open to allowing knees.
  • CSAC prohibits Vernon “Tiger” White from fighting Raphael Davis in an IFL event due to “disparity of records” for the fighters.
  • Shannon Rich and IFL fighter Brian Ebersole are suspended due to the CSAC’s judgment that their September 2006 fight was worked.
  • CSAC prevented certain fighters with limited experience from fighting 3X5 rounds , but allowed the UFC to do the same “because it was the UFC.”
  • Diego Sanchez tests positive for marijuana in a December UFC event, but this information is not publicly released until later March of the following year.
  • Garcia publicly announces Johnnie Morton’s positive test for steroids.
  • Garcia publicly announces Royce Gracie’s positive test for steroids.
  • Garcia publicly announces Tim Percey’s positive test for methamphetamine.
  • CSAC publicly announces that the K-1 June show featuring Brock Lesnar in Los Angeles is in jeopardy due to licensing issues, causing ticket sales to decline.
  • CSAC prevents Hong Man Choi from fighting at K-1’s mma event in LA.
  • CSAC prevents Antonio Silva from fighting at K-1’s mma event in LA.
  • CSAC prevents Gabe Ruediger from fighting at K-1’s mma event L.A. due to Armando’s “diagnosis” that Gabe was psychological unfit to fight based on Armondo’s viewing of The Ultimate Fighter reality show.
  • The CSAC threatens to pull K-1’s promoter’s license if it allowed Hong Man Choi to fight in an event in Hong Kong.
  • CSAC initially prevents Ninja Rua from fighting in this weekend’s Strikeforce event.
  • Rumors have it that the CSAC contemplated barring Phil Baroni from fighting on this weekend’s Strikeforce card due to medical tests sent to the CSAC from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
  • CSAC suspends IFL fighter Joe Martin for punching his January 19th opponent on the back of the head.
  • CSAC suspends Strikeforce fighter Josh Thompson for wearing a T-shirt stating "Frank Glamrock is my bitch."
Granted, there is no smoking gun in this laundry list of events which have taken place in Garcia’s short tenure with the CSAC. However, the conventional wisdom is that in most cases of governmental corruption, there never is a smoking gun. Instead, what usually happens is the corruptive influences are appeased with a handshake here and a wink and a nod there. What we do know for sure is that (1) there is no evidence that Armando was in any way qualified to be the executive director of the CSAC, (2) the UFC is the organization that could potentially produce, by far, the most revenue for the CSAC (3) Dana White is known for using strong arm business tactics and the UFC has the freedom to shop around its events anywhere else in the world and (4) the CSAC appears to be making things awfully difficult for the UFC’s main competitors.

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e hënë, 18 qershor 2007

Ken Shamrock : Starmaker

No. Ken Shamrock has not become an mma agent. But when you have a budding mma talent that is on the brink of super-stardom, there is no better man to call to elevate the status of that budding talent than Mr. Kenneth Wayne Shamrock. Dana must have the brawling/leg-locker on speed dial.

The Fight Network is reporting that Ken is coming out of the grave retirement to fight TUF poster boy Michael Bisping at UFC 75 at the O2 Arena in London, England – Bisping’s hometown. Take a wild guess who Zuffa wants to win. After what happened to the TUF season 1 poster boy, Forrest Griffin, versus Keith Jardine, it is readily apparent that Zuffa isn't taking ANY chances with the porcelain jawed Brit.


e diel, 17 qershor 2007

The Diaz Brothers Bonding

Family reunions are always a source of good times full of warmth and love. For your typical family, such occasions call for scrumptious foods, healthy conversation and caring hugs.

As you might imagine - the Diaz's are NOT your typical family. Instead of all of those usual niceties, in the Diaz household, they just stab each other with fucking sais. That's right sais - the weapon of choice of the ninja turtle Raphael. And from the sound of it, these are REAL fucking sais. And if you look closely, someone that appears to be mother Diaz casually walks by while her kids are fighting each other with fucking sais. Amazing.

Ahhhhhh - those wacky Diaz brothers. Nothing like some good ole' fashion sibling bonding. So sweet, it almost brings a tear to my eye. And from what I hear, sai-fighting is only the beginning of the family fun. I hear that later in the day, Uncle Diaz lets loose a baby antelope in the yard for the younger Diaz's to chase down, kill and eat. Good times.

UPDATE: Fighting with nunchuckoos. Next up, bo staff, then katana swords.


e premte, 15 qershor 2007

Karo Parisyan: Armenian Gangsta?

If you live in L.A., chances are you've run into some Armenian Gangstas. What do they look like? Basically just like Karo's family that was sitting cageside during one of his recent fights in the UFC. In last night's episode of TUF, Karo got into a bit of a chest-puffing match with Nate "I ain't no punk bitch part II" Diaz. Due to SpikeTV's editing, however, it was difficult to discern who was at fault. Was Karo playing the superstar role by being condescending to the TUF noobies? Or was it just a matter of the old Diaz Baghdad Stockton mentality rearing its ugly head?

Based on J-lau's summary of week 11, it looks like it is probably the former. According to Joe:
After one of my fights, Karo gave me a hard time, too. He came over and yelled cross the mat something to the extent of, “Hey, nice fight,” and I just said, “Thanks.” He starts saying, “Oh, is that all you have to say to me? ‘Thanks?’ Speak up and say a little more next time.” Wfhat more do you say, though, without coming off as cocky, when someone congratulates you? “Oh yeah, I’m the man. I just won my fight with ease and killed that guy. I rule!” That’s not my style. The incident with me happened before the problems he had with Nate, so I could see where Diaz was coming from. I don’t think Karo had any problems with me, it’s just his attitude and how he comes off can rub people the wrong way.

If someone is giving shit to Joe "under the radar" Lauzon, you got to figure that someone probably has some issues.


"Royce should be ashamed"

Wow. The Gracie Train is falling apart faster than Amtrack. On an interview with taggradio, cousin Renzo does not mince his words, stating that Royce should be "ashamed" of 'supplementing' the Gracie Diet and commenting that Royce has been distancing himself from The Family.

We do not disagree with Renzo's sentiment, but it is quite shocking to hear a Gracie family member (and a Brazilian person at that) turn on one of its own. I guess Nandralone is thicker than blood.


e enjte, 14 qershor 2007

Hoids Disgracie

Two K-1 fighters test positive for roids. Neither of them was Brock Lesnar. Shocking. And that sound you hear? It's the cries of thousands of blue belts all over the world on a suicide watch.

All about leverage? Technique over power? Since when did the Gracie diet include Nandrolone? I guess experiencing true farmer strength firsthand is sometimes enough to change your life's philosophy.

Royce will always be a legend in mma, but this definitely puts a damper on his legacy.


DSE Attorney Refutes Rampage's Allegations

A few days ago, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson made some startling revelations during a video interview with Gofish. In short, Jackson claimed that prior to his 2001 fight with Pride legend Kazushi Sakuraba, a couple of DSE officials informed him that he would receive $2000 to lose by KO or sumbission (without tapping) and $0 if he won. The implication was clear - Rampage was claiming that Pride was giving him an incentive to lose.

The Fight Network now reports that DSE attorney Tawnya Wojciechowski has the signed contract proving that while it is true that Rampage would be paid a bonus ($2,500) if he lost by submission or KO without tapping, he would also be paid a bonus ($4,000) if he won.

It is highly unlikely that an attorney would lie about the contents of a verifiable legal document that is in her possession, so we tend to believe that the contract is exactly as she states. And it is a very serious thing to throw around a false accusation of an mma organization working a fight. Giving Rampage the benefit of the doubt, however, it is also very unlikely that he actually ever read the contract or had anyone who could understand it read it to him (remember at the time, he was an unknown fighter on the verge of being “homeless”) – so its very possible that his conversation with the Japanese officials did take place, despite the terms of the contract. Hopefully Rampage or his people will clear this up in the near future.

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The demise of the IFL?

The IFL created quite a buzz when it began broadcasting shows on Fox Sports Net back in May of 2006. It created an even bigger buzz when the IFL was prominently featured on a 60 Minutes episode which aired in December of 2006. That show ignited a storm of interest in the emerging company, causing its stock price to skyrocket from $3 per share to a whopping $17 per share in a matter of a couple months.

Lately, however, things have not been going so well for the fledgling, team-based organization. On May 29 of this year, an IFL registration statement went effective, allowing its shareholders to legally sell their stock to the public. Like lemmings running for the cliff, everyone started dumping and as a consequence, IFL’s stock price has gone down faster than a Tijuana crack whore on Cinco De Mayo. As of June 14th, IFL's stock is sitting at about a buck a share.

And just when you thought things could not get worse, it appears that their contract with Fox Sports Net may not be renewed. Back in January of this year, the IFL signed a letter of intent with Fox, which set forth a proposed plan for a three tier television and media alliance. Tier 1 centered around extending the contract for IFL to be broadcast on Fox Sports Net for additional three year terms. Tier 2 involved extending the contract for IFL to be broadcast on MyNetwork through 2008. Tier 3 (the big one) was a joint venture between IFL and Fox whereby Fox would obtain a significant stake in the company and the IFL would get a $6 million investment, among other things, in return.

But back in May, while announcing semi-publicly that the MyNetwork deal had been extended (tier two of the letter of intent), nothing was said about tiers 1 or 3, which were the real moneymakers. The odd timing and manner of the announcement seemed to signal that something was wrong. Although the IFL had consistently announced official press releases for pretty much any minor and insignificant activity of the company that could possibly construed as newsworthy, for some reason, they did not disseminate this news fully to the public. The silence was deafening.

Today our fears were confirmed. The IFL filed a current report with the SEC announcing that although the deal with MyNetwork had been extended, they were unable to reach a definitive agreement with respect to tiers 1 or 3. Pursuant to their letter of intent, Fox was only obligated to negotiate tiers 1 and 3 through May 31. In addition, their current contract to be broadcast on Fox Sports Net expires this month. And while the current report states that “the company and the Fox Entities are continuing to negotiate definitive agreements and are continuing to telecast IFL programs”, this surely cannot be a good sign for the IFL fan fans out there.

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e mërkurë, 13 qershor 2007


You don't f--- with Dana "it's good to be" White. You just don't. He's scorched earth. Crossing Dana White is like dangling a plump baby dipped in gravy in front of a rabid pitbull - you just do not mix the two unless you want a bloody massacre on your hands.

Perhaps that's why Bodog CEO and billionaire entrepreneur Calvin Ayre is choosing his words very very carefully when talking about Mr. White. Dana calls Calvin a criminal and Ayre responds by referring to Dana as "his friend" and a "very talented guy" - even going so far as to say that he wishes he could be like Dana.

If you listen closely, however, it becomes pretty clear that Calvin is coyly taking snipes at Dana - just in an indirect way. Calvin "thanks" Dana for his assistance in removing Pride as competition and making Bodog "the #2 [mma organization] in the world". He also is quick to point out that Dana White's style, and likewise, the style of the UFC, is one which caters to the American audience, but would fail in Asia due to its lack of "respect" and "honor". And it is this subtle and seemingly benign comment that may actually hold the key to Calvin's strategy to make a dent in the impenetrable fortress of the Zuffa empire.

It has been almost 3 months since we first learned that the UFC was purchasing Pride, and at the time, the buyout appeared to secure Zuffa's pathway to inevitable worldwide domination. But the last Pride show was back in February and we still haven't heard a peep of when the next event is set to occur (and at the same time it seems like there is a Zuffa based event happening on TV nearly every day). Then there are the reports of contracted Pride fighters launching a class action lawsuit, seeking to be released from their obligations to the new ownership of Pride. And now, the UFC appears to be raiding Pride's stable of most of its top talent, which doesn't seem to jive with Dana's stated plan to sustain Pride as a rival mma superpower.

In the meantime, Calvin lured away the best heavyweight fighter in the world, and now it looks like he may lure away one of the best middleweight fighters in the world in Dennis "Super (half) Korean" Kang - both posterboys of former Pride glory. Bodog has also enlisted the services of Japanese legend Yuki Kondo. Incidentally, the heavyweight and middleweight divisions are the weakest divisions in the UFC, so these missed opportunities couldn't be considered a negligible loss for Zuffa.

Is Calvin Ayre attempting to make a move in Asia by filling the huge void left by Zuffa's buyout of Pride in Japan? At this point, we can't be sure. What we do know is that Cavlin is playing it smart. He hasn't launched a full frontal assault against Zuffa, but instead, he's decided to dance, sidestep and flick out a couple of jabs. Is he biding his time for a huge haymaker? And will it be enough? Only time will tell. Calvin certainly has the arsenal to go toe to toe with the Fertitta brothers, but is he willing to pull the trigger? Stay tuned and we will keep track of this saga as it unfolds.

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Vitamin S: Does a body good?

Poor Johnnie Morton. Famed USC and NFL wide receiver makes his "triumphant" return to the LA Coliseum only to get smoked by relative unknown Bernard Ackah in a mere 38 seconds and carried out on a stretcher for his troubles (watch the fight here). Now, Sherdog reports that Johnnie has tested positive for steroids - LOTS of them. According to California State Athletic Commission Executive Officer Armando Garcia, Johnnie-boy had a testosterone (TE) level of 83.9. The industry standard is a TE level of 6. You do the math.

It was pretty obvious that something was up when Johnnie refused to take his piss test after getting the piss beat out of him by Ackah. What's mind boggling, however, is why he refused to take the urinalysis AFTER the fight when he underwent a urinalysis just PRIOR to the fight. Perhaps Johnnie gave himself one last healthy injection during his 30 minute golf-cart chariot ride to the ring before the fight.

And to top it all off, the CSAC is withholding the $100,000 purse Johnnie was set to receive for his short-winded shellacking. Well, at very least Johnnie can say that he went out looking good.


Lightening Lee Murray Update

According to Sky News, the fate of our favorite bad boy of mma will be determined in a couple of days when the Moroccan Supreme Court decides whether to extradite Lee to the UK for his alleged involvement in the infamous Securitas Raid in February of 2006. Alternatively, the Court has the authority to order that Lee be tried by the Moroccan legal system for the same crime. While it unclear whether the filthy cells of London are any more unpleasant than the filthy cells of Morocco, we can safely assume that any punishment rained down upon Mr. Murray in the UK would likely to be stiffer than Tito Ortiz's body after he was lit up by Lee at the after party of UFC 38 (we take it that the Queen will not look favorably upon a person who helped (allegedly) commit the biggest bank heist in the history of the UK).

Lee is quickly becoming one of the most legendary and iconic mma fighters to have ever stepped into a cage - although for reasons totally unrelated to anything that he has done inside the cage. Besides stealing (allegedly) 53 million pounds (approximately 104.5 MILLION dollars) from the Securitas Depot in England and beating Tito's head like a pinata stuffed with candy in a royal rumble of the who's who of mma (it was the dress shoes!), Lee has also been nearly shanked to death outside of the Funky Buddha club in London and arrested in Morocco for "[c]ommitting violent crime and beating and humiliating members of the security forces." Lee even posted on The Underground Forum while elite British forces were seeking out his capture. Now that's gangster.

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e martë, 12 qershor 2007

Color Me Bad

Until recently, it had become pretty obvious who the target market for the UFC was just by looking at its fighters. 18-34. Male. Vanilla. Goatee. Tattoos. Tapout Beanie. You get the picture.

Lately, however, we've noticed that the UFC has begun to make use of the other colors on its palette and yesterday's UFN was no exception. By our count 7 of the 9 bouts included a fighter of color or different culture, which is something that we applaud, not from a political standpoint, but from a standpoint of wanting to see the best fighters in the octagon. You can't claim to have the best fighters and "world" champions when your pool of talent is limited to the northwest hemisphere. We will keep our fingers crossed for this trend to continue.

Of particular note, we were truly impressed by Brazilian product Thiago Tavares, who thoroughly dominated the very tough Jason Black during round one and then pulled off a beautiful triangle choke to close things out in round two. His stand up, wrestling and submissions all looked top-notch and we couldn't help but notice that he strikes an eerie resemblance to another young Brazilian phenom that burst onto the UFC scene 10 years ago. Hopefully in ten years we will not be asking ourselves where the "old Thiago" went.

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