2011 13 Mar

M-1 Global Director of Operations Evgeni Kogan said he thinks nothing will change in the relationship between M-1 and Strikeforce/Showtime.

Fedor Emelianenko still has two fights left on his newly signed contract with Strikeforce, while M-1 have a TV deal with Showtime for five Challenge events.

Kogan on the ZUFFA deal for Strikeforce:

“Fedor’s contract is with Showtime Networks Inc. and we’re excited to be working with such a premium North American outlet.

The purchase of Strikeforce doesn’t affect M-1 at all.

Our TV deal is with Showtime and we’re happy. It’s business as usual for M-1 Global as we close into our March 25 event.”

More delusional commentary from M-1 to follow later this week as the story develops…

2011 13 Mar

Bellator CEO Bjorn RebneyIs Bellator Fighting Championships going to be the next block to tumble in the way of ZUFFA’s quest to own the sport of MMA?

Well, maybe not.

“No,” Rebney told MMAjunkie.com prior to Saturday’s Bellator 36 event on MTV2. “My answer to that is based on our entire philosophy. It’s one where fighters control their own destiny. The organization that puts the cage down and puts up the lights, and puts all the cameras together and puts on the show on MTV, has the same exact philosophy of the fighters who step into the cage.

“I am a big fan of controlling one’s own destiny. It’s what got me to this point. … It’s that type of control of controlling your destiny that is everything our organization is about. It’s our very, very core.”

2011 13 Mar

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16TH

UFC 128 Press Conference

With Dana White, Jon Jones, Shogun Rua, Urijah Faber, Eddie Wineland, Nate Marquardt and Dan Miller
12:30 PM (doors open at noon)
Radio City Music Hall
1260 6th Avenue (Ave. of the Americas)
New York, NY 10020
212-247-4777

THURSDAY, MARCH 17TH

New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade
With Chuck Liddell and subway hero Joe Lozito (marching with the NYFD)
11:30 AM
Starts at 44th Street and Fifth Ave, runs to 86th Street

UFC Best of 2010 DVD Signing
With Frankie Edgar and Stephan Bonnar
4 PM
Best Buy – Union Square
52-64 East 14th St
NY, NY 10003
First
500 people to buy the DVD or BluRay of  “UFC Best of 2010? at Best Buy
Union Square starting at 12:01 am on Tuesday, 3/15 receive a wristband
guaranteeing admittance – event streams live at liveatbestbuy.com

FRIDAY, MARCH 18TH

UFC Autograph Session with Frankie Edgar, Stephan Bonnar and Dominick Cruz
1-3 PM
AmeriHealth Pavilion at Prudential Center – enter through Verizon Tower on Mulberry & Lafayette
165 Mulberry Street
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 757-6000

UFC Fight Club Q&A with Chuck Liddell

2 PM
AmeriHealth Pavilion at Prudential Center – enter through Verizon Tower on Mulberry & Lafayette
165 Mulberry Street
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 757-6000
* Must be a UFC Fight Club member to attend; memberships will be sold on-site

UFC 128 Weigh-In
4 PM (doors at 3)
AmeriHealth Pavilion at Prudential Center – enter through Verizon Tower on Mulberry & Lafayette
165 Mulberry Street
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 757-6000

Dominick Cruz autograph session
5-7 PM
Boost Mobile SR
823 Broad Street
Newark, NJ 07103
(973) 444-1111

Demian Maia BJJ Seminar
6 PM
Marcelo Garcia NYC Academy
25 W. 36th Street, 6th floor
New York, NY
212.947.0300
* Call to register – $100 before March 15th, $120 at the door

Bud Light Party
With UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar
Brick City Bar and Grill (across the street from Prudential Center)
35 Edison Place
Newark, NJ 07102
973-596-0004

Post-Weigh-In Party
With Dan Miller, Jim Miller, Anthony Njokuani, Ricardo Romero and Charlie Brenneman
7:30 PM
3 East Bar and Grill
217 Route 3 East
Seacaucus, NJ
201-210-2094

SATURDAY, MARCH 19TH


With Brandon Vera, Dominick Cruz, Chuck Liddell and Stephan Bonnar – plus giveaways, food, Bud Light, booths, and cars on display from the Fast Five movie
3-7 PM
outside the Prudential Center
165 Mulberry Street
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 757-6000

UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones
doors at 6 pm; first bout at 7
Prudential Center
165 Mulberry Street
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 757-6000
* Tickets on sale  at Ticketmaster

TUESDAY, MARCH 22
MMA Seminar
With Shogun Rua
7-9 PM
Vitor Shaolin’s Modern Martial Arts
780 8th Ave (at 47th Street)
New York, NY 10036
212-957-4045
*Call to register – $120 in advance, $150 at the door

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2011 13 Mar

For bantamweight Joseph Benavidez (13-2), making his UFC debut at UFC 128 in Newark, New Jersey’s Prudential Center against Ian Loveland is no time for opening night jitters.

“It’s definitely a bigger stage than the WEC with the fan base and the exposure, but I’ve had big fights before,” Benavidez told UFC.com.  “I’ve fought in front of huge crowds in Japan, but the WEC was the biggest possible stage for my division before we merged with UFC, so while I’m motivated to make the best of my UFC debut, I’m not nervous at all. I’m ready. I’ve been here before. It’s a great opportunity that I’m not going to waste.”

In fact, a little more than four years ago Benavidez moved from Las Cruces, New Mexico with barely more than the clothes on his back, to Sacramento, California, where he hooked up with Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male and began his journey to the Octagon.

Faber took him in, and Benavidez earned his spot on the team by cleaning the gym and mopping the mats while training with the likes of Faber and Chad Mendes. Benavidez’s style of aggressive standup and solid submission game is often compared to his mentor Faber’s, but that’s by design.

“I fight with the best in the world every day,” he said. “My training partners are what make me who I am as a fighter. I can go in the cage with anybody knowing that I fight with the top fighters in the world every day. I am a decent wrestler and I’m probably the worst wrestler in the room.”

On his way up the MMA ladder, JoJo (as his close friends call him), fought in Japan’s Dream and other smaller promotions before joining World Extreme Cagefighting, the world’s premier organization for lighter weight divisions that was folded into the UFC late last year.

Benavidez was undefeated in his career, beating notables like Jeff Curran before suffering his first loss in a title elimination bout, a split decision against current UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz in 2009. He bounced back with a victory over former WEC champion Miguel Angel Torres by submission, but lost again to Cruz via split decision in their title bout rematch.

In November of last year, he stunned fans by submitting third degree black belt Wagnney Fabiano with a guillotine choke.

Benavidez says he’s looking forward to showcasing his skills to a larger audience, and is ready to prove that he too, belongs in the big leagues.

“Since the WEC fighters got into the UFC the lightweight division was going to be the big question mark,” he said. “But since we’ve been in, the WEC lightweights have done really well in the UFC, so the notion that the WEC guys are not ready for the UFC is wrong. We are all elite fighters.”

When Benavidez steps into the Octagon on March 19, it will be a dream come true for the one-time 103 pound New Mexico high school state wrestling champion.

“It entered my thought process long before I was sweeping floors in Urijah’s gym,” he said. “I’ve wanted to be a UFC fighter since I was a kid. And when it became even more popular I knew that it was something I had to do.  When I started training to fight I learned I could be really good at this, and when I moved to California it was always my goal to make this happen. My goal was to be the best but I didn’t think I would get to this level so fast, and I never imagined how great it feels and how good it feels being here. It’s such an honor to fight for the WEC and the UFC is that much better.”

In Team Quest’s Loveland, Benavidez knows he’s facing an elite fighter in his own right with a significant size advantage. While Benavidez is just 5’4” tall, Loveland is 5’8” tall, and will have a reach advantage against the smaller WEC standout. Loveland, for his part, made his UFC debut at The Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale, when he stepped in for an injured Leonard Garcia on just two weeks notice, winning a unanimous decision with impressive wrestling and ground and pound against a game Tyler Toner.

“He’s a tough guy,” he said. “He wouldn’t be in the UFC if he wasn’t. He’s on a great streak right now and I like his style. He’s an aggressive fighter and most of his fights have been finishes. He’s fearless and he’s taking a huge step up in competition and to do that shows a lot of character and confidence so that’s a huge thing going in.”

Loveland has finished 12 of his previous opponents by knockout or submission, and has heavy hands and very good wrestling, but Benavidez says he matches up well.

“I have a speed advantage on the feet,” he said. “As far as his wrestling goes he’s going to have to get me down to use it and it’s very hard to get me down and even harder to hold me down. I might even look for a takedown myself.”

And while Benavidez commends Loveland for his character and for taking tougher fights in his MMA career than he has previously, he has this message for the Oregon MMA standout.

 “I’m going to show him why I’m considered a step up in competition and I’m going to finish him.”

Published under Newssend this post
2011 13 Mar

"We expected great fights tonight and we were not disappointed. Our Lightweights put on a spectacular show at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium tonight," said Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney.

Published under Newssend this post
2011 12 Mar

Four bouts on the UFC 131 fight card have been verbally agreed to, including a matchup of rising middleweights:

* Mark Munoz vs. Demian Maia “Heavy handed Mark Munoz will take on Demian Maia, one of the top Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts in MMA,” says UFC president Dana White.
* Anthony Perosh vs. Krzysztof Soszynski
* Jesse Bongfeldt vs. Court McGee
* Darren Elkins vs. Michihiro Omigawa (at featherweight)
 
More details about UFC 131 including ticket information will be announced soon.

Published under Commentary, Events, Newssend this post
2011 12 Mar

Former WEC champion “Razor” Rob McCullough went 10-1 with nine stoppage victories and a lone split-decision defeat from 2003 to 2007.

An exciting style, which saw opponents quit from everything ranging from leg kicks to broken ribs to facial swelling, was his hallmark during the streak.

So as the 33-year-old McCullough (19-6 MMA, 0-0 BFC) enters Bellator Fighting Championships’ lightweight tournament and an opening-round matchup with Patricky Freire (7-1 MMA, 0-0 BFC) at Saturday’s Bellator 36 event, he again has destruction on his mind.

“To be honest with you, I like putting a stamp on my fights and finishing them, and people going, ‘There’s no doubt in my mind that’s a new guy; he came to do business,’” McCullough recently told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “When I start going to decisions and stuff, that’s when I start feeling like I should have finished a guy … and something is missing from my game. But I feel like a complete fighter again.”

McCullough enters the eight-man field, who all are in action at Shreveport Municipal Auditorium in Louisiana on Saturday’s MTV2 broadcast, with three wins in his past four fights, including a pair of recent Tachi Palace Fights victories over Isaac DeJesus and UFC veteran Corey Hill.

Aside from Toby Imada, McCullough is the tournament’s most experienced competitor. He’s undoubtedly the biggest and most established name among the group, which includes former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler Mike Chandler, top Polish prospect Marcin Held and European judo champion Ferrid Kheder.

McCullough said the fighters’ abilities to control their own destiny, compete multiple times in a short timeframe, and potentially earn some solid paychecks all made the move to Bellator a logical one.

“I’m a happy guy,” said McCullough, a married father of one. “When you spend most your life pursuing a sport, you want to make sure you can still get paid for it, especially when you have a family. I’m a happy guy.”

McCullough said he’s essentially put together a nine-month fight camp for the bout. As an instructor at HB Ultimate Training Center in Huntington Beach, Calif., he’s visited other camps while bringing in fresh faces to his. As part of his teaching duties, he’s also been working with local police, sheriff deputies and SWAT members on hand-to-hand combat.

He’s been “adding some new things” to his game and “sharpening my edge, they may say.”

Against Freire, the brother of Bellator fighter Patricio “Pitbull” Freire and a veteran of the Brazilian fight circuit, he meets a fellow well-rounded competitor known for his toughness and sometimes-violent fighting style.

McCullough, though, likes it that way.

“He’s an aggressive guy,” he said. “He likes to bang. It’s going to make for a great fight.”

2011 12 Mar

Nick Catone – originally slated to face Dan Miller – has a new opponent for the March 19th fight card.  “7-1 New Yorker Costantinos Philippou has verbally agreed to step in and fight New Jersey’s Nick Catone in a 195 catchweight fight,” said UFC president Dana White.

Updated March 12: UFC President Dana White announced today another change to next weekend’s main card. “Yoshihiro Akiyama will not be able to participate at UFC 128 due to the tragedy in Japan,” said White.

“New Jersey native Dan Miller proves once again that he will fight anyone, anywhere, any time by agreeing to step up from the prelims to face Nate Marquardt,” added White. “Marquardt has long been a top ten ranked middleweight and Miller jumped at the opportunity to face him.”

Dan Miller’s brother Jim is also on the card in their home state, fighting Kamal Shalorus. The two previously fought on the same night at UFC 124; this is the first time two siblings will both appear on the main card.

The main event of UFC 128 changed last month when Jon Jones stepped in for injured teammate Rashad Evans to fight Shogun Rua for the light heavyweight belt.

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2011 12 Mar

The Chinese symbol for crisis is made up from combining two words: Danger and Opportunity.

So, when an earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale – the largest in Japan’s history – created danger in Japan in the form of a devastating Tsunami that submerged entire neighborhoods and sent cars, boats and other debris washing into major city thoroughfares and caused an explosion at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant in the northern part of the country –  it created an opportunity on this side of the globe for Dan Miller when Japanese star Yoshihiro Akiyama had to withdraw from his UFC 128 fight on March 19 against Nate “The Great” Marquardt.

Miller, while concerned about the tragedy in Japan, is looking forward to his chance to take out a Top 5 fighter in the form of Marquardt at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.

“Nate’s a great fighter and he’s proved it in the past,” said Miller. “He’s very well-rounded, and I can’t wait to get in there with him. It’s gonna be a great opportunity for me.”

Originally scheduled to face his friend and former training partner Nick Catone, Miller will jump from the prelims to the main card, where his younger brother Jim Miller will keep him company when he faces undefeated WEC import Kamal Sholorus.

“Jim feeds off of me,” said Miller. “He works and gets amped up when I fight, so I think it’s good for Jim when he fights after me,” he said.

A win over Marquardt would be a boon for Miller, who is riding a two fight win streak after suffering three losses in a row at the hands of other top middleweights in the form of Chael Sonnen, Michael Bisping and Damian Maia.

Miller lost unanimous decisions in all three of those fights, but he can take comfort in the fact that the division’s top contenders were not able to finish him and for bouncing back with wins against John Salter (Wsub2) and Joe Doerksen (W3) in his last two fights.

UFC President Dana White was able to reach Akiyama and tweeted Friday that the Japanese MMA star and his family were okay. But understandably, Akiyama has decided to stay home to support his fellow countrymen and women. Akiyama and his family live in Osaka, which escaped most of the damage that has ravaged other parts of Japan, including Tokyo.

Published under Newssend this post
2011 12 Mar

Editor’s Note – after press time, it was revealed that Dan Miller will now be replacing Yoshihiro Akiyama in a UFC 128 main card bout against Nate Marquardt.

Middleweight Dan Miller (13-4, 1 NC) is used to punching his friends in the face. He trains daily with his younger brother, lightweight contender Jim Miller, and while most big brothers beat up their siblings just for the fun of it, for Dan, it’s his job.

That’s why when he steps into the Octagon on March 19 at the Prudential Center in his home state of New Jersey against friend and former training partner Nick Catone (8-2), Dan won’t have any problem trying to knock his New Jersey neighbor out.

“It’s all business in there for me no matter who I fight,” says Miller. “I never have to hate my opponent and I’m never looking to go in and hurt anybody. This is a sport and I’m in it for the competition. I’ve known Nick for a long, long time, but we’re both professionals and we’ll be friends after the fight, but I’m going out to win.”

Miller is riding a two fight win streak – with his last victory coming against the always tough Canadian Joe Doerksen at UFC 124 in Montreal. The fight went the distance, and Miller took the better end of a split decision.

“I’m never happy with a decision victory,” says Miller. “That’s why I’m going to be looking to finish Catone with a submission or knockout. I always put pressure on myself to win in the most decisive way possible, and I’m not going to be happy with another judges’ decision.”
 
If preparing for his own fight weren’t enough to worry about, his brother Jim will be fighting on the main card against undefeated WEC import Kamal Shalorus, who is making his UFC debut.

“I’ll be cornering Jim as long as the fights stay in the order they’re in now, and it’s always nerve wracking when Jim’s on the same card as me, but we’ve done it plenty of times before and we lean on each for support,” he said. “But I think Jim feeds off of me. He works and gets amped up when I fight, so I think it’s good for Jim when he fights after me.”

But having Jim in his corner has some unforeseen advantages, like providing some much needed comic relief when Dan least expects it.

During an interview on HDNet’s “Fighting Words” a few weeks ago, Jim said that once while putting Vaseline on Dan’s face cageside before a fight, the Lionel Richie video for the 1980’s ballad “Hello” popped into his head, leading to a moment of levity that had both brothers in hysterics right before a fight.

“I was putting the Vaseline on his face and I felt like the blind chick who sculpted Lionel Richie’s face in the video,” said Jim. “So as I’m sculpting the grease on his face I start singing, ‘Hello, is it me you’re looking for,’ and we both cracked up and we were laughing our asses off.”
 
The two brothers have enough stories about their fighting lives to fill a book, like the time they were both about to fight in championship bouts for the local promotion Cage Fury in Atlantic City, NJ – and were working for their father’s contracting company the day before weigh-ins.

“We were closing this roof,” says Dan, “And we were both cutting weight and we were feeling really tepid, to say the least, but we had to close this roof because it was going to rain, so my father is down on the ground yelling at us to finish the job before it rained, and we were up there for like 12 hours. This is two days before championship bouts. We were NOT happy. (Laughs)”

Despite the roof, the Miller brothers both won, which is what they’re expecting come Saturday night.

“Nick’s a great fighter. He poses a lot of threats to me. I definitely have the advantage because of those fights and he’s going to be rusty,” says Miller. “He’s got a lot more credentials in wrestling than me. He’s got a big double leg takedown, so I’m going to work to avoid his shots by punching him in the face, and if he takes me down I think I have a better ground game and I’ll look for the submission. I love submitting people but I’d love to get a knockout too.”

Training at AMA under Mike Constantino, Dan has the advantage of wrestling with his brother Jim and with welterweight up and comer Charlie Brenneman, an accomplished wrestler in his own right, but being from Jersey does have its advantages in the wrestling department.

“We always have very high level wrestlers from local colleges come in to train with us so I’ve been getting a lot of good mat time in,” says Miller.

Catone has nursed a shoulder and back injury over the past year and half and hasn’t fought since taking a split decision victory against Jesse Forbes in January 2010, while at the same time, Miller has faced some of the stiffest competition in the middleweight division, in the form of Michael Bisping,  Demian Maia, John Salter and Doerksen.

Miller says he spoke with Bisping after he dropped a unanimous decision to him at UFC 114 and has no problems with The Count, but thinks he may have gone a little too far with his antics after his fight with Jorge Rivera at UFC 127.

“He’ll definitely have to pay in some form for what he did and what he said,” said Miller. “But I have no issues with Bisping. I’m good with him.”

And while both Catone and Miller being from New Jersey will nullify any home field advantage they both usually enjoy when fighting at The Rock, Miller says he’ll still feel pretty good about fighting close to home.

“There’s no traveling, no time change, I get to be home, sleep in my bed and go in and fight and it is always a little more relaxing when I fight here,” he said.

As long as little brother Jim keeps pulling out the 1980’s Lionel Richie love tunes, Dan should be pretty calm, cool and collected at fight time. Or maybe Jim will step it up with a little All Night Long.

“Party, liming, siesta, forever.”

 

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