Pride vs. UFO
Originally, Antonio Inoki and Dream Stage Entertainment had a solid working relationship. Inoki’s name showed up in the credits, he was rumored to have been the one who married Pride with K-1 and brought several Japanese pro wrestlers to Pride’s ranks.
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But Inoki is a shrewd businessman who has been involved, one way or another, for decades in the mixed fighting circle-even if during his own foray as a competitor, they were worked bouts.
With Inoki’s newly revamped UFO, he seems primed and ready for a takeover in Japan. Pulling many of the Brazilian Top Team members from Pride, such as Mario Sperry and Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira, the August 8th card pits MMA competitors against Japanese pro wrestlers, save for a few reputable matches.
Even when UFO was contacted, they said worked bouts would only happen between pro wrestlers-meaning it will be a mixed card. During Pride’s infancy, they had a few worked bouts, but have opted for straight-shoot cards since Pride 7. After obtaining a promoter’s license in Nevada, Pride has set itself up to be real competition for the UFC, but the UFO is nipping at their bud.
Recently Naoto Morishita, Dream Stage Entertainment President, made a statement that if Nogueira competed for UFO, his Pride heavyweight title would be stripped. At press time, they’ve apparently worked things out and “Minotauro” might actually be competing on both UFO and Pride cards in August.
Both Pat Miletich and Jens Pulver are also slated to fight for the UFO as well. While questions about legitimacy exist, in Japan, the UFO could put a serious dent in Pride’s stranglehold on the MMA scene there. Pride obviously didn’t want to give up their champion when it looked as if he was gone, but something tells us this won’t be the last time a problem like this arises.
MMA Sanctioned in Florida
Joseph Cunliffe reported for ADCC News (www.adcombat.com) that Jeb Bush had signed a bill to legislate the legalization of MMA in Florida. Under the direction of the Florida State Boxing Commission, a five-member team will develop the rules and regulations. Most suspect the state will adopt the unified rules, which have passed in both Nevada and Atlantic City.
The promoter fee in Florida is a flat rate of $5,000, which would kill making money with a small seating capacity, but make things very lucrative for a larger venue. No doubt we should be seeing more promotions get into the biz due to this latest breakthrough.
There has already been one promotion to take place after this ruling, with another in the works in Ft. Lauderdale on July 27. Cunliffe noted there are still some gray areas, but this is great news for the sport in reaching a new and potentially lucrative market.
American Top Team’s Shannon Briggs
Yes, you heard that right. Briggs, heavyweight boxing contender and commentator for Thunderbox, has signed a reported $1 million dollar deal with the American Top Team, a mixed martial arts management company consisting of Conan Silveira, brother Marcelo and Ricardo Liborio.
It would be the first time a notable boxer has worked with an MMA organization, though his role is still unclear. As MMA begins to break out into the mainstream, this certainly won’t be the last time we’ll see athletes from other combat sports crossing over.
Also, there are strong rumors that Mike Tyson may be fighting in an MMA match in Holland sometime around the end of the year. We’ll release the details as they become available on both fronts.
Possible Suspension for Fryklund by Zuffa
After UFC 38, boys will be boys, and after downing countless pints of dark ale, Tito Ortiz and several UFC fighters got into a brawl after Brawl at the Hall. Apparently, while leaving a club, Tito’s friend Bo was clowning around with Pat Miletich. Miletich stablemate Anthony Fryklund believed it was a real altercation and sucker-punched Bo, who later received 14 stitches and was rumored to have been hit by a car.
A fight suddenly erupted in several groups. When Ortiz saw his friend go down, he jumped into the melee and was dropped by an uppercut from UK fighter Lee Murray. There were rumors that Ortiz actually pushed Murray’s girlfriend down, but that can’t be confirmed.
While some of the details are fuzzy, Ortiz was kicked in the head on the ground. Chuck Liddell also got into the mix, taking some hits as well. Ortiz tried to go after Murray, but he got lost in the shuffle. This unfortunate turn of events obviously points to abusing the bottle and could have been avoided. As it stands, there is some heat between the Ortiz and Miletich camp.
Word is that Zuffa is taking some disciplinary action against Fryklund for acting so hastily in what was actually two guys joking around. No word yet, but both Ortiz and Bo are okay.
Barnett Stripped and Suspended
Only Friday, July 27, the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) suspended Josh Barnett for six months for testing positive to steroids. Barnett was subsequently stripped of the title, and then on July 30, Zuffa withdrew recognition he was even the champion at all.
When steroid allegations first surfaced, it threatened Josh Barnett’s career after his championship win over Randy Couture at UFC 36. A press release from Barnett’s camp pointed to these allegations as being a possible false positive. One of the most interesting portions of the release stated: “On June 11, 2002, Barnett took a new test administered by Dr. Mark Webber (drug testing expert and administrator for USA Powerlifting and the International Olympic Committee), who utilized Olympic-level protocol.
The result of this test was negative, demonstrating that Josh is not currently using and could not have been using the alleged substances as charged due to the length of time that such substances remain present in the human body.” The press release also brought up very legitimate points about how and when the tests were administered.
When asked about his thoughts before the Friday meeting, he said it was difficult to gauge as far as what would happen. Now it looks like Barnett will have six months off, while Zuffa will be setting up Randy Couture vs. Ricco Rodriguez for the vacant heavyweight title on their September show.
Shamrock vs. Ortiz
While originally scheduled for September, the fight between Ken Shamrock and Tito Ortiz will now take place in November in Las Vegas. First up, UFC 39 will go back to the East Coast at the Mohegun Sun with a fantastic fight card featuring Ricco Rodriguez vs. Randy Couture, along with these scheduled athletes: BJ Penn, Matt Serra, Caol Uno, Din Thomas, Dave Menne, Phil Baroni, Matt Lindland and Ivan Salaverry.
Originally, Vitor Belfort was going to be on the card, but now it looks as if he will be on the undercard of UFC 40. Belfort was going to face returning MMA vet Mike Van Arsdale at UFC 39, but Van Arsdale’s management felt they needed more time before facing someone of his caliber. Also at UFC 40, expect to see Robbie Lawler, Genki Sudo, Frank Mir and Chuck Liddell. Needless to say, everyone will want to be in Vegas for this show.
Hook n Shoot Calendar
MMA’s best indie promotion can hardly be deemed as such with so much going on. After pulling off the first-ever women’s show, they are close to getting a license in Nevada, and the team will be responsible for Abu Dhabi to be held somewhere in the world next year.
Till the end of the year, HnS has four shows: New Wind (September 7 in Evansville, IN), Ring of Fury 2 (September 21 in Lowell, MS as a co-promotion with USMMA.org), American Qualifers (Abu Dhabi trials in San Diego, CA) and Frontier (November 2 in Evansville, IN). For more information, check out their website at www.fightworld.com.
MMA Around The World
July was a killer month for MMA fans around the world. First off, Revolution Fighting Championships got off to a shaky start at the Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas on July 13. Production problems and a seemingly vulgar announcer aside, headliner Tim Catalfo could not pass the medical exam, so his opponent, Kevin Randleman, had to face Brian Foster on a day’s notice.
Randleman knocked him out in 20 seconds. Team Punishment’s Jason Miller also dispatched Foster’s stablemate, Phil Ensinger, by triangle choke at 3:22 into the first round. Team Quest’s Heath Sims also won his first closed-fist fight against Paul Gardner by TKO at 3:21 into the third round.
Rich Clementi, profiled in UA #9, ended his fight when opponent Isaias Martinez couldn’t continue due to a broken nose. In the battle of big boys, Kerry “Meat Truck” Schall choked Mark Smith into submission at 3:56 into the fight and finally, Travis Phippen made quick work of Vegas-native Alfonzo Alcarez by guillotine choke at 1:41 into round one.
Pride’s b-show The Best also returned with a second installment on July 20. Faring a little better than their first show, the ironically named promotion certainly doesn’t have “the best” talent, but there were a few surprises. Sokun Koh defeated Holland’s Bob Schrijber by a 2-1 decision in the headliner.
Many thought Schrijber would knock Koh out, but the crafty Japanese fighter proved his worthiness. Fellow Dutchman Allistair Overeem knocked out Yusuke Imamura in devastating fashion just 44 seconds into their fight. Fellow Golden Glory member Fatih Kocamis also won his bout against Anglo Szxon Oba by decsion. John Allesio won his match againt Eiji Mitsuoka. Joe Son and Shannon Ritch both lost their matches, which wasn’t surprising.
On September 16, Shooto will return with a star-studded card featuring Vitor Shaolin, Javier Vazquez (too bad these two aren’t facing one another), Mamoru and the return of Hayato “Mach” Sakurai, who failed to upset Matt Hughes in his UFC debut.
The organization keeps churning out shows, many of which go unnoticed in the MMA community. But headlines were made on July 19, when BTT’s Alexandre “Pequeno” Nogueira got knocked out by Hiroyuki Abe at 4:37 into the first round of Treasure Hunt 8. Nogueira has been called the best pound-for-pound fighter in Shooto, only losing one match to Tetsuo Katsuta by decision, but he came back four months later to beat him by guillotine choke.
With a record of 4-1-2, Abe was a sturdy opponent-his only loss coming by KO from Stephen Palling, who had lost before to Nogueira. No doubt Nogueira will be coming back and looking to avenge his loss in the future.
Also on July 19, 21st Century Warriors brought a mixed card back to the East Coast at Atlantic City’s Tropicana. Though Dan Severn’s match against Pat Stano was scrapped, due to Severn suffering an injury backstage, many were there to see Royler Gracie take on Henry Matamoros in submission grappling. Given, Matamoros is nowhere near the level of Gracie, but he kept it competitive as long as he could.
Though Matamoros took him down, Gracie was able to take back mount, sink in his figure-four hooks and force the tap out by rear naked choke early on. Though Don “The Dragon” Wilson vs. Eddie Butcher was a tomato can match, which ended as expected for the seasoned veteran, the crowd went wild over Olando “The Warrior” Rivera’s incredible kickboxing display against Kadir.
No doubt this show was good for crossover fans, but the MMA side needs to be beefed up. The show is slated for pay-per-view, and there are other shows from this new organization in the works.