Home > Uncategorized > UFC 70 Preview; Other Thoughts on Recent MMA Happenings

UFC 70 Preview; Other Thoughts on Recent MMA Happenings

UFC 70: Nations Collide WILD BOYS

PRELIMINARY BOUTS:
WELTERWEIGHT BOUT – Edilberto Crocota (168; 10-0-1) vs. Paul Taylor (169; 7-1-1)
WELTERWEIGHT BOUT – Denis Siver (167; 10-3) vs. Jess Liaudin (168; 10-3)
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT – Victor Valimaki (203 9-3) vs. Alessio Sakara (204 14-4)
LIGHTWEIGHT BOUT – Junior Assuncao (155; 5-2) vs. David Lee (155; 5-2)
LIGHTWEIGHT BOUT – Matt Grice (155; 9-0) vs. Terry Etim (154; 9-0)

TELEVISED BOUTS:
HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT – Assuerio Silva (229; 32-4) vs. Cheick Kongo (241; 19-3-1)
HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT – Andrei Arlovski (238; 12-5) vs. Fabricio Werdum (233; 9-2-1) Interesting fight. If Arlovski wins, he gets the next shot at the Heavyweight Title after Cro Cop. Okay, okay, “whoever wins the Cro Cop vs. Gonzaga fight.” There. On the other hand, Werdum’s a world class fighter on the ground and if it goes there, Arlovski’s in a lot of trouble. Arlovski’s one of those guys that looked impressive a few years ago, but the quality of competition in the UFC’s Heavyweight Division at the time was almost non-existent. He’s still a solid all-around fighter, though, so this is more of a push than anything else.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT – Michael Bisping (204; 13-0) vs. Elvis Sinosic (205; 8-9-2) Yes, Sinosic is still fighting. And yes, Bisping’s going to most likely destroy him. Talk about feeding opponents to a fighter.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT – David Heath (205; 9-0) vs. Lyoto Machida (199; 9-0) From what little I’ve seen of Machida, he’s awesome. Supposedly Heath is decent, but I haven’t seen a single one of his fights. Machida’s weight is pretty low, though Lord knows how that will affect him.
HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT – Mirko Cro Cop (225; 22-4-2) vs. Gabriel Gonzaga (243; 7-1) Gonzaga’s underrated, but Cro Cop is determined and Hungry Like The Wolf. In an Ordinary World, Gonzaga could take Cro Cop down and submit him. But Cro Cop does not live in an ordinary world, and The Reflexes of Gonzaga won’t be enough to counter Mirko’s striking. I predict Gonzaga will Come Undone, and Mirko will hit him with a roundhouse kick so hard it sends him seven miles above Planet Earth, at which point he’ll descend and land in Rio. Yeah, screw you, I know that was lame…but Cro Cop’s coming to the ring to “Wild Boys!” That’s fucking AWESOME!

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THOUGHTS ON OTHER RECENT MMA NEWS FROM A NON-EXPERT

* Though not signed, UFC President Dana White is assuring everyone that the first HBO special will air this Summer, and will not be the Belfast show in late June. In addition, White has revealed that UFC has conceded production to HBO – meaning HBO will bring in the announcers, so no Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan. I’m sure there’s some haters that absolutely LOVE that decision. To ease any fears, White has also assured the press that Larry Merchant and Jim Lampley will not be announcing. No kidding. Though HBO Executives are high on the UFC, supposedly HBO Sports is less than happy that they’re “dirtying” themselves with MMA. The bottom line, though, is that money’s money and HBO Sports isn’t going to tank a UFC event just to prove a point and show loyalty to the boxing industry.

* Speaking of which, on the most recent flare-up between boxing promoters/fighters and Dana White: this is ridiculous. There’s a lot of people who hate Dana White, and he’s been absolutely brutal on boxing, but everything he’s said about the industry is on the money. What brought boxing down over the past twenty years was greedy promoters and putting cards with low-level fighters on top on pay-per-view, and as long as boxing fans and those in the industry continue to slam the UFC they’ll continue to appear as if they’re on the defensive and feel threatened by the UFC. The fact of the matter is that there’s room for both industries to exist in the United States, which is evidenced by the fact that both the UFC and boxing had banner years on pay-per-view in 2006. They’re both combat sports, but in terms of the rules and styles in place, they’re night and day. It’s sort of like arguing that the NFL and the NBA are competitive rivals, and even then there’s a lot more fan overlap between basketball and football than there is between MMA and boxing.

* On a somewhat related note, Floyd Mayweather has recently called out UFC fighters during press interviews for his fight with Oscar De La Hoya on May 5th. Talk about fucking stupid. Instigating something like that plays perfectly into the hands of someone like Dana White, who responded by saying that he’d be crazy not to book Mayweather against Sean Sherk and said he had a huge purse waiting for Mayweather if he accepted. Mayweather would be a fool to take that fight, just as much as Sean Sherk would be a fool to accept a boxing match against Mayweather. But now Mayweather’s in a position where the offer will be on the table and it’ll appear to the casual fan as if he’s all talk and is ducking fights against UFC talent.

* The combined EXC/StrikeForce/K-1/Cage Rage/Bodog/EveryPromotionOnThePlanetButUFC show on June 2nd at the Los Angeles Coliseum is, amazingly, still on. They’re counting on filling a 90,000 seat arena, which is absolutely ludicrous. There’s a lot of people who point at K-1 for misunderstanding the American audience and going under the mistaken impression that the Asian-American population in the Los Angeles area will fill the arena, but there’s so many egos involved in this undertaking that it’s hard to blame any one organization. Brock Lesnar, who was on top in WWE right after their last boom period, makes his MMA debut taking on Korean giant Choi Hong-Man. This was never in danger of pulling in a huge buyrate by itself, but it’s been hurt by the fact that Choi looked real heavy at 365 (and terrible) in his last bout in K-1, where he was knocked out by Mighty Mo. Then there’s Royce Gracie. Gracie’s got a lot of respect from fans and was able to pull a huge buyrate out of his fight with Matt Hughes last Summer, but the result of that fight proved more than anything that, unfortunately, his time has passed. This calls into question his ability as a draw, but now there’s preliminary talks of his opponent for the show being none other than Kazushi Sakuraba. I’m a little skeptical, since if the California State Athletic Commission gets wind of Sakuraba’s health problems after fights over the past year they’ll put him under intense scrutiny. It’s to the point where Sakuraba suffered brain damage after a fight last year, and I’ll be floored if any Commission in the United States lets him fight. By the way, even if that fight does happen, there’s no way they’re even going to come close to filling that fucking building.

* The card for UFC 73 on July 7th is absolutely stacked. Tito Ortiz will take on Rashad Evans in the main event. As usual, Ortiz has gone into full pro wrestling mode. Rashad Evans apparently doesn’t know any better, so he’s let it get under his skin, which is fucking great. In addition, two titles will be defended – Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva takes on Nate Marquardt and in what will most likely be fight of the night, Sean Sherk will defend the UFC Light Heavyweight Title against Hermes Franca. This is going to be an awesome, awesome show.

* More on Pride under the Fertittas (majority shareholders for UFC’s parent company Zuffa) from a recent conference call Dana White and Mirko Cro Cop had with media to promote UFC 70. Pride fights will be contested under what’s being termed as “Unified MMA Rules,” meaning rules established by the New Jersey State Athletic Commission in the late nineties and uniformly adopted by other SACs in the United States. White also said that he’ll be bringing in American referees for the bouts (he must’ve had the same reaction everyone else had when Frye took 40 unanswered punches and several knees to the head from Josh Thompson at the last Pride show). Most if not all of the production, in particular the live presentation, is going to be kept intact. The vast majority of the Japanese staff is going to be kept around, though mum’s the word on Pride’s US office. I’m going to go out on a limb (sarcasm) and say that Jerry Millen is gone, and good fucking riddance. The English broadcast announce team (in particular Frank Trigg) is most likely finished as well. White also said that Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira‘s new contract with fights split between UFC and Pride is an anamoly, and was done because his Pride contract at the time was running out. The current plan is to keep any and all Pride fighters currently under contract out of the UFC, and would only appear against UFC fighters during the proposed annual cross-promotional show.

* As it stands, Fedor Emelianenko is still under Pride contract. The problem is that the contract is non-exclusive, and the new owners want nothing to do with it. Negotiations are still ongoing. Long story short – Dana White would rather let Fedor go than allow him to fight for other promotions while under contract with Pride. The question then becomes whether Fedor considers money or competition a higher priority. He’s competitive by nature and could still get some big money from the Fertittas. On the other hand, despite potential fights that could draw big buyrates (Fedor/Couture or Fedor/Cro Cop 2), he’s proven to be unbeatable over the past several years and doesn’t have anything to prove to himself or the industry. That being said, the only organization that could match what Fedor would make in cuts of the live gate and pay-per-view revenue by signing an exclusive deal with Pride would be the Calvin Ayre cash cow Bodog Fight, and Lord knows how long that’s going to last. It’s all up in the air, and anyone who gives a definitive forecast of how this will all turn out is talking out of their ass almost as much as I am.

* Bob Sapp is off the Cage Rage show in England (that goes head-to-head with UFC 70 tomorrow) and has been replaced by Tank Abbott. Sapp is expected to make an appearance and explain why he’s not fighting. What happened was that Cage Rage made the assumption that with the new “alliance” they’ve formed with K-1 to assist in promoting the 6/2 show at the Los Angeles Coliseum, they had K-1’s blessing to use Sapp despite his ongoing lawsuit with K-1 to get out of his contract. However, earlier this week K-1 contacted Cage Rage and said there must have been some miscommunication, as they never intended to allow him to fight on the card. The fact that they waited so long to inform Cage Rage of Sapp’s non-involvement seems to indicate that there’s even less to this “MMA alliance” formed for the 6/2 show than previously thought. It was pretty dick of K-1 to wait so long to inform Sapp, but it’s hard to feel sympathy for Cage Rage. Assumptions should never have been made on their end, and considering the legal situation, they should’ve had their lawyers all over this from the beginning.

Wow, did I get bored tonight or what?

More later…

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