|MMA News Feed - UFC 91, Tito Ortiz, Affliction and Much More
By Matthew Degonzaque (Nov 15, 2008) Doghouse Boxing
How’s it going Mixed Martial Arts fans? Welcome to another news feed update. In this week’s addition we have the results of WEC 36 and predictions of this weekend’s UFC 91 card, said to be the biggest MMA card of the year. We also have a little drama in the news feed this week with Kim Couture, wife of Randy, putting a restraining order on Todd Beard, President of Affliction. We also have an update on Tito Ortiz who says he’ll be back in July and it could be with the UFC…
WEC 36: Faber upset, Pulver knocked out, Filho listless
Last week, WEC held its 12th event under the Zuffa brand and its 36th event overall. The event took place live from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa, Florida. 5,227 fans were in attendance, a $563,578 gate, in what was the second time the WEC tried to hold this event. Originally scheduled for September 10th but was cancelled due to Hurricane concerns, the event was headlined by Urijah Faber vs. Mike Brown for the WEC Featherweight title and would’ve been co-headlined by a WEC Middleweight title rematch between Paulo Filho and Chael Sonnen, but Filho missed weight by four pounds and it became a non title three round bout. Here are the results of the show:
-WEC Featherweight title: Brown defeated Faber via TKO (punches) at 2:23, RD 1
-Chael Sonnen defeated Paulo Filho by Unanimous Decision (30-27,30-27,30-27)
-Leonard Garcia defeated Jens Pulver by TKO at 1:12, RD 1
-Jake Rosholt defeated Nissen Osterneck by TKO at 3:48, RD 2
-Donald Cerrone def. Rob McCullough by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-27)
-Aaron Simpson def. David Avellan by KO at 0:18, R1
-Jose Aldo def. Jonathan Brookins by TKO at 0:45, R3
-Carmelo Marrero def. Steve Steinbeiss by Split Decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
-Danny Castillo def. Rafael Dias by TKO at 2:54, R2
-Rani Yahya def. Yoshiro Maeda by Submission (guillotine choke) at 3:30, R1
WEC 36 this past Wednesday was truly a night of controversy and upsets. It all started on Tuesday at the weigh ins when WEC Middleweight Champion Paulo Filho registered 192lbs at the scales missing weight by 7lbs. Rules state that for a title fight that you have to be the exact weight for the title to be on the line. So Filho tried to lose the extra weight to get down to 185 but could only get down to 189lbs. Sonnen, who made weight, agreed to go forward with fight and picked up 25% of Filho’s purse as a result. But the fight was no longer going to be for the title and was also going to only be a 3 round fight now.
During the fight, Filho looked nothing like the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu monster and middleweight contender that had fans hoping for his eventual inclusion into the deep waters of the UFC Middleweight Division. Instead Filho looked like his head was somewhere else, barely throwing punches during the entire fight, going for sloppy takedowns, randomly staring outside the cage during the fight and spending the entire first round laying on his back throwing weak kicks at Sonnen’s legs. Sonnen, for better or worse, was content to stand and throw jabs at Filho, most of which had no power behind them and barely connected, and coast to an easy decision win.
Despite winning, Sonnen was hardly impressive but he has likely earned a second chance at fighting in the UFC. Sonnen originally had 3 fights in the promotion from 2005-2006, going 1-2; losing fights to Jeremy Horn and Renato Sobral and defeating Trevor Prangley. He has since gone 7-1, with his only defeat being his controversial loss to Filho last year. Good for Sonnen, he gets to make some good paydays and gets back on the big stage. But I don’t see him having any more success in the division, he’s a good fighter but think he can defeat the elite in the promotion; Anderson Silva, Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin, Nate Marquardt, Yushin Okami etc.
The real story coming from this fight was Paulo Filho, regarded by most as the #2 ranked Middleweight in the world, hitting rock bottom fight-wise. In the past year, Filho has looked nothing like the undefeated middleweight who defeated Murilo Rua, Kazuo Misaki, Amar Suloev, Yuki Kondo, Joe Doerkson and Ryo Chonan. After missing weight so drastically and then following that with such a horrible performance brings to question what state of mind exactly Filho is in right now. After the first fight with Sonnen, they were scheduled for a rematch in the spring. But only days before the fight Filho withdrew from the fight. This coming only days before Filho and his manager released conflicting statements on whether or not Filho would actually fight at the event; Filho said he was pulling out, his manager said otherwise. It was later discovered Filho had checked into rehab for substance abuse problems and was suffering from depression.
It’s obvious from his performance on Wednesday that Filho isn’t completely rid of his problems and needs to take more time away from competing. It’s a black eye to the sport that someone in this kind of condition would be allowed to compete under these kinds of circumstances. Filho staring blankly at Sonnen and looking around the area while being attacked was eerily reminiscent of the 1997 heavyweight title fight between boxers Lennox Lewis and Oliver McCall when the latter began to break down and sob right in the middle of the fight. McCall was clearly in no condition to be in the ring that night, just like Filho was clearly in no mental or physical condition to be in the cage last Wednesday. It’s a disgrace to the sport; it’s a disgrace to the WEC for allowing this to happen in their promotion. It’s also disgusting that Filho’s management, which is supposed to be looking out for his best interests, allowed for their fighter to compete like this. After conflicting public statements when he pulled out of his last fight and now allowing him to fight like this, Filho needs to consider replacing his management team. They have clearly proven to be either incompetent or not truly having his best interests at heart.
Filho needs to take time away from the sport and get whatever help he needs because if this kind of behavior continues, he will put his health in danger and no one wants to see that. People want to see a healthy Paulo Filho, whether or not he is fighting. He needs to do whatever possible to make himself healthy and happy.
Also on the card veteran Jens Pulver was TKO’d 72 seconds into the first round in his bout against Leonard Garcia. From the moment the fight started, Pulver looked a step behind the faster Garcia. Garcia was also able to land several hard blows including a right hook that caused Pulver to use the cage for support. Garcia immediately jumped on the veteran and pounded on him. Pulver was defenseless until the referee jumped in and stopped the fight.
The win immediately erased the stigma of Garcia’s recent arrest and made him an immediate top contender in the division. Garcia wasted no time and called for a title shot against the winner of Faber/Brown later in the night. After such a dominating performance and with a lack of big names in the division, I don’t see why Garcia wouldn’t get the next title shot either.
After a decade of fighting though, it appears that this might be the end of the road for Jens Pulver. It was hoped that moving down permanently to 145lbs would resurrect the former UFC Lightweight Champions career and give him the chance to make another run at the gold. But it appears the move has been too little too late. In his last 5 fights Pulver has gone 1-4, with 3 of those losses coming within the first 3 rounds. Pulver was once one of the most well rounded fighters in the sport, but as the sport evolve he seemed to de-evolve and instead went from a wrestler with great stand up skills and could fight wherever the fight needed to be to an Arturo Gatti-style puncher who would just stand directly in front of his opponent and trade, kill or be killed. Pulver seemed to just forget about the ground aspect of the sport and paid for it when he tried to punch it out with much bigger and stronger fighters. Pulver seemed to realize this in the past couple of years or so and began to work on evolving himself and making himself a permanent fixture at 145lbs, where he undefeated and the same size as everyone else.
A quick win over Cub Swanson in December of last year gave hope that the old ‘Lil Evil’ was back. Pulver then fought Urijah Faber for the feather weight title and, despite losing every round on the cards; he received credit for hanging in there with the champion and giving him problems throughout the fight. Because Pulver was one of the few names in the promotion, WEC officials were banking on another fight between Faber and Pulver to happen down the road, possibly on WEC’s first attempt into the PPV market. It was also hoped that training under Matt Hume, who also trains Rich Franklin, Chris Leben, Hayato Sakurai and Josh Barnett, would improve Pulver’s skills. But against Garcia he looked always two steps behind and he quickly wilted under Garcia’s power.
At this point, it’s clear that Pulver’s body can’t handle the punishment at this stage of his life and it’s best that he look for something else to do in his career. After his success as a trainer on the 5th season of The Ultimate Fighter, it would be an obvious choice if Jens went into coaching. He is already a mentor for TUF 5 alum Corey Hill. Pulver’s team dominated the show and his skills as a coach showed that he can still be a part of the sport by helping train the next generation of talent. It’s a shame that Pulver was at his best during the dark years of MMA, as now when the sport is growing and the lighter weight classes are beginning to receive attention as Pulver is now heading downward. But as a coach, or and a commentator, Pulver could still play a major part in the next wave of MMA.
No one is ever going to forget his 15 second knockout victory over John Lewis, a staple of highlight reels. He also defeated Caol Uno (regarded as the best lightweight in the world at the time), Dennis Hallman, Joe Stevenson, Rob Emerson, Cub Swanson and Cole Escovedo. I’ll also never forget his fights with Takanori Gomi; a fight of the night brawl in front of 35,000 fans in Pride or fighting Hayato Sakurai, and almost knocking him out, with one eye at Bushido 9. Without a doubt though, Pulver’s greatest moment was at UFC 35 in 2002 when he battled BJ Penn for 5 rounds and, after having trouble early, made an amazing comeback and defeated BJ Penn on both the feet and on the ground to retain the UFC Lightweight Championship. Pulver was a massive underdog and even now, 6 years later, it’s still one of the best fights I’ve ever watched. Chances are Pulver will fight on; more fighters do, at least for one more fight. But it is a travesty for fans to have to watch the shell of a fighter compete. Pulver is an easy pick for the Hall of Fame and in his prime; he was one of the best.
Without a doubt though, the biggest shock of the night came from Mike Brown who in just 2:33 defeated Urijah Faber by TKO to win the WEC featherweight crown. Riding a 13 fight win streak, Faber was widely considered the big favorite in his fight against Brown. Brown, who defeated Jeff Curran by decision to get this title shot, never gave Faber the chance to get into his game. Brown used his power, clinch skills and takedowns to control Faber during short fight. The end came when Faber had his back against the cage and tried to throw a wild back elbow at Brown, who countered with a stiff straight right hand to the face that dropped Faber. Brown pounced on Faber and unloaded a barrage of strikes to get the stoppage win less than 3 minutes into the fight.
The win comes as a huge blow to the WEC, who Faber was their biggest and brightest star. Faber, now 21-2, was expected to be the face of the WEC banner for the next several years to come. Now after such a one sided and quick defeat those plans have obviously been derailed. I doubt we’ll also see an immediate rematch because after such a one sided defeat; Faber’s credibility needs a victory or two before WEC can even promote a rematch.
Mike Brown has overnight become a name in the sport. Originally the 33 year old American Top Team veteran was thought to be cannon fodder for Faber and now has several big money possibilities in front of him that were originally reserved for Faber. Brown could fight Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto, widely considered the top 145lb fighter in the world. But as was the case with Faber, the fight is unlikely as Yamamoto spent his entire career fighting for K1 and that doesn’t look to change anytime soon. There is also the possibility of a fight with Miguel Torres, who is defending his 135lb title on the next WEC card in January. But I think Brown’s next fight is going to be a title defense against Leonard Garcia, possibly in the spring.
While it was a good night of fights overall, I’d say WEC took a hit in their biggest ones. The promotion saw its two biggest stars, Faber and Pulver, knocked out in a combined 3:35 seconds. It immediately killed off the unstoppable image of Urijah Faber, killed off Pulver’s possibility of still being viewed as a credible challenger, killed off WEC’s hope of a Faber-Pulver rematch and killed off the idea of Faber being WEC’s first PPV star for the time being. The show also saw one of the worst fights in the year with Filho-Sonnen II and at the same time neglected to show the fight between Donald Cerrone and Rob McCullough, a fight that is being called a fight of the year candidate. The fight was said to be a #1 contender’s bout to a WEC lightweight title shot, held by Jamie Varner. Cerrone won the amazing fight, which no one saw, and now most viewers will have no idea who Cerrone is when he (likely) fights Varner for the title at WEC 38.
Note: MMApayout.com is reporting that the ratings for WEC 36 were 0.5, about 497,000 viewers. Slightly up from WEC 35 but still a far cry from WEC 34.
Tito Ortiz 'Guarantees' He'll Fight in July for UFC or Affliction
In May, Tito Ortiz fought for the UFC for what both he and UFC President Dana White said would be the last time. Over the last five months, Ortiz has come out of the woodwork several times to say he was "close to signing" or "about to sign" or "a week away from signing" a big-time contract to fight for some MMA organization or another. It hasn't happened yet.
In an appearance at last weekend's Rumble in the Park in Fresno (broadcast today on HDNet's Inside MMA), Ortiz said, "It's either going to be with the UFC or it's going to be with Affliction, but guaranteed, you guys will see me fight -- no matter what -- by July."
He's also optimistic if he thinks Affliction will still be in the MMA business in July. And he's optimistic if he thinks UFC will still be willing to do business with him. Bottom line, Ortiz is an optimistic guy. (mma fanhouse.com).
Ortiz has come off looking like a fool since leaving the UFC. He has been going around talking about how he is going to get a big time contract signed for himself and how it’s going to be a precedent for fighters in the future. But now, after swearing off the UFC, it looks like Tito could be looking to get back into Dana White’s good graces.
The problem is that Ortiz’s “big time contract” is likely too big for most promotions to afford. Originally it looked like Ortiz was going to head to Affliction, with even Donald Trump (who worked with Tito on the celebrity edition of The Apprentice and owns a piece of Affliction) gave hints that Tito would be signing with Affliction. But that all came apart when the president of Affliction came out and said that Tito would not be fighting for them.
Then Ortiz showed up on the EliteXC: Heat on CBS and said that he was a week away from signing with the promotion. Then EliteXC went out of business less than two weeks later. All this unfortunate luck with Tito is a result of two reasons (not counting EliteXC’s poor business decisions):
The first is that most of these promotions cannot afford to pay Ortiz’s “record breaking” contract. Affliction already is said to have lost four million dollars on their July show and had to cancel their October show due to poor ticket sales. Affliction has already said that they are going to scale back the big pay checks they handed out for future shows ($800,000 for Tim Sylvia?!!) and signing Ortiz to a deal that would likely eclipse any other fighter in the promotion wouldn’t exactly be helping their cause. EliteXC was throwing money at Kimbo Slice so I don’t think they would’ve had a problem giving Ortiz whatever he wanted, but they collapsed under their own weight. Ortiz said that Affliction could still be a promotion that he would fight for, but they already rejected his deal once before and their overall future as a promotion is in doubt depending on the business they do with their January show.
The second reason is that Ortiz is a not a top 10 level fighter anymore. I know he has said that back injuries have plagued the last few years of his career and that he will be 100% after he completely recovers from this surgery. But the fact remains that Ortiz has won a fight since October 2006 and has not won a meaningful fight since April of that very same year. In his last 3 fights he is 0-2-1 and was completely dominated in his last fight, in May, against Lyoto Machida at UFC 84.
Ortiz still has a name, but he his credibility has lost some of its luster due his lack of victories recently. I mean, who wants to pay a fighter a big 7 figure contract, when their already losing money, to a fighter who hasn’t a won in years and has a history of problems with promoters?
So that brings us, or at least Tito, back to the UFC. At this point, the UFC is still the only major player in MMA right now. The only problem is that Tito probably won’t get anywhere near the guaranteed contract that he is trying to get right now, but at the same will likely make more money than any of the other promotion’s could’ve afforded to give him. Despite Dana White’s very public stance against Ortiz, the fact is that the UFC would still bring Tito back into the promotion to fight again. Ortiz has already admitted that Lorenzo Fertitta tried to re-sign Ortiz to a contract the night before UFC 84 took place. Ortiz can still make money for the promotion, which is what it’s all about in the end.
But if Ortiz is really looking to establish an identity outside the UFC, where he has had all of his pro fights, then he needs to get off his high horse with this huge contract that benefits only him and win a couple of halfway meaningful fights before he tries to get himself such a large deal right now.
Denis Kang signs with the UFC
Veteran fighter Denis Kang has agreed to terms on a four-fight contract with the UFC, American Top Team announced today.
The 31-year-old Kang has fought throughout the world and at one time had one of the longest unbeaten streaks in MMA, going 22-0-1 with one no decision from April 2003 to November 2006 before finally dropping a split decision to Kazuo Misaki.
He holds notable wins against Akihiro Gono and Murilo "Ninja" Rua, among others.
Kang holds a lifetime record of 31-10-1 with one no contest.
His signing should help the UFC take another step in penetrating the South Korean market. UFC President Dana White has voiced a hope of running an event there in the near-future. In the last few months, UFC signed former Sprit MC Fighters Dong-Hyun "Stun Gun" Kim and Steve Bruno.
Kang has been that organization's heavyweight (80kg and up) champion since 2004. He will fight as a middleweight in the UFC (NBC sports/MSNBC.com).
Kang is a name who immediately helps bolster the middleweight division, which has been lacking in legitimate title contenders, resulting in lackluster title matches (see: Cote, Patrick). Although he lost his last fight at Middleweight to Gerard Mousasi, the winner of the DREAM Middleweight Grand Prix, Kang is still a legitimate contender and it will be interesting to see his take a run at Silva’s title. His first fight is supposed to be against Alan Belcher on the UFC 93 undercard in Ireland, Belcher is solid but I don’t think Kang will have too many problems in this one.
Kim Couture gets restraining order against Affliction President
Las Vegas Justice Court Judge Douglas E. Smith on Wednesday issued an order of protection barring Todd Eugene Beard, the president of Affliction Inc., from “contacting, intimidating, threatening or otherwise interfering” with Couture’s wife Kim. The restraining order prevents Beard from attending the weigh-in of UFC 91 on Friday and from being at Randy Couture’s fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday when he defends his title against Brock Lesnar.
In her request for protection from stalking, aggravated stalking and harassment against Beard, a convicted felon who in October pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of making criminal threats to another man, Kim Couture said Beard became upset when she asked for accountings of monies owed to her and her husband from the use of Randy Couture’s name and likeness on Affliction t-shirts.
Kim Couture said in court documents that during a telephone call last month between herself, her attorney, Samuel Spira, and Beard, Beard launched into an obscenity-filled tirade and threatened to “get” her when she requested access to the company’s books.
Couture’s complaint also noted that Beard has a history of violence against women, allegations Beard’s lawyer also denied. Beard served 30 months in a federal prison from 1993-95 after pleading guilty to three felony counts, of conspiracy, wire fraud and mail fraud. Those felony convictions may end billionaire Donald Trump’s association with Affliction’s MMA promotional company. Trump holds a gaming license in New Jersey and gaming licenses are not permitted to do business with felons (Yahoo Sports).
Well, more bad news for Affliction. This isn’t surprising in the least to me though. Beard has put shown in the media to be a very unprofessional person in the past. After Couture resigned with the UFC back in September, Beard went on satellite radio and told the world that he hoped Lesnar f***ing kills Couture. He is also the man that allegedly threatened Lorenzo Fertitta during a business meeting not too long ago.
Beard’s shady past seems to lend credibility to Couture’s claims. This is obviously going to kill the business deal between Affliction and Xtreme Couture to market their exclusive T-Shirt brand. It’s more bad news for the Affliction brand in general which could use some good news after their clothing brand was banned from the UFC, their first pay per view lost millions and they had to cancel their October show due to bad ticket sales.
But more importantly, hopefully this situation is resolved safely between the Couture’s and Beard doesn’t try to follow up on any of his alleged threats.
Update: Todd Beard has resigned from Affliction.
Questions or comments,
e-mail Matthew at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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