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October 27, 2008

UFC 90 news and notes

A few quick things for a dreary Monday.

UFC 90 was, predictably, more bust than boom. I was never enticed by an Anderson Silva-Patrick Cote main event. Tough break for Cote when he injured his knee but he really didn’t have a chance to take Silva out, regardless. There's been a lot of Silva haters out there after this fight, which is sort of perplexing. I don’t think Silva was toying with Cote and I don’t think it’s nearly as big of a deal as some people, or writers, want to make of it. In my mind, Silva did nothing to hurt his standing as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world in that fight and I believe he would’ve delivered his highlight reel KO in the third round if Cote could’ve continued.

A few other things to take away from UFC 90: Thiago Alves should be the No. 1 contender at welterweight, but he’s not yet in the same class as B.J. Penn and Georges St. Pierre. Fabricio Werdum was jobbed out of a spot in the heavyweight mini-tournament and was knocked straight off the heavyweight-title radar when he was knocked out by newcomer Junior dos Santos Saturday. Finally, Sean Sherk is still going to be one of the top lightweights. No real shock there, either. I would like to see him go up against Kenny Florian again, although I’m not sure we’ll see that anytime soon.

In other news ...

UFC president Dana White has offered Kimbo Slice a slot on The Ultimate Fighter. It will never happen because that would make no sense for Slice. He doesn’t have the time in his career to work his way up from the bottom and he would probably get knocked out of the reality show as well. Slice’s real money is in Japan because they welcome freakshow fighters and that is what Slice has become.

Here's a great column from MMA Junkie for anyone thinking of wagering on the Brock Lesnar-Randy Couture fight

Michael Bisping will be a coach on the next installment of The Ultimate Fighter. The other coach will be the winner of the Rich Franklin-Dan Henderson bout, meaning Bisping's next fight will be against one of those two. It’s rumored Bisping will get a title shot against Anderson Silva after defeating Franklin or Henderson. This sets up some big fights but in reality, things will shake out like they’re supposed to at middleweight. Franklin will beat Henderson and then Bisping. Bisping might have a slightly better chance against Dan Henderson but I don’t think he could beat either. Which makes this a pointless exercise, especially because Franklin could come out of this with two big wins and then .... what? No one wants Franklin-Silva III and that's exactly why Franklin was moving up to light heavyweight. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 1:58 PM | | Comments (1)
        

October 23, 2008

Dana White on EliteXC and more

Dana White’s comments on the demise of ProElite are fairly predictable. Impact Wrestling is one of several sites that have transcribed White’s comments from his video blog. Basically, it’s a lot of F-bombs and insults -- classic Dana White.

Really though, I’m OK with it. EliteXC was considered a rival of the UFC by people who don’t know any better, especially since EXC scored the first prime-time network TV deal. I don’t doubt that EXC did some serious damage to the sport in the eyes of first-time fans, so White should be able to take some glee in the promotion’s demise.

As for the casual fan, it’s tough to know how to feel about it. One on hand, the Kimbo Slice debacle is over. On the other hand, competition is always a good thing, so hopefully Affliction can become stronger from this. Really though, no one is in a position to compete with the UFC and I don’t think anyone will be for a while.

* Another interesting read -- Fiveouncesofpain.com predicts where EliteXC’s top stars will end up.

* A brief Newsday post about why the UFC should sign Kimbo Slice. It makes very little sense and it will never happen, but they get points for trying.

* An interesting read on Dana White from the Chicago Sun-Times. White’s work ethic is incredible, everyone knows that, but you get a better gauge for just how much work he puts in when you see this quote in the piece.

‘‘Every day I’m home [in Las Vegas], I take my kids to school,’’ White said. ‘‘I’m in the office by 8:30. I get a workout in and head up into the office, and an early night home for me is 10.”

That is a very long day.

* And, finally, UFC 91 betting odds.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 11:35 AM | | Comments (1)
        

October 20, 2008

Report: EliteXC and ProElite finished

EliteXC and Pro Elite (EXC’s parent company) have entered their final days of business, Sherdog.com is reporting. An EliteXC executive has confirmed the news and the Nov. 8 show has been canceled. The claim that EXC was done after Kimbo Slice was knocked out may be true. 

Apparently, Showtime was in the process of buying the organization, which is $55 million in debt, but the mystery surrounding Seth Petruzelli and his fight with Slice seems to have cooled negotiations, according to Sherdog.com.

On Sept. 17, Showtime Networks filed public notice with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announcing its intention to enter preliminary negotiations for the purchase of the fledgling company….

Discussions of Pro Elite’s purchase were said to have gone well and a deal looked imminent as of two weeks ago when EliteXC held its third installment of “Saturday Night Fights” on CBS. The Oct. 4 event, which was funded entirely by Showtime, drew 4.56 million viewers, which almost matched their initial May offering on the network.

But negative press surrounding questionable conduct before the main event between Seth Petruzelli and Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson have overshadowed the ratings success. Petruzelli, who stepped into the headlining bout on an hour's notice and beat Slice in 14 seconds with a short right jab, intonated afterward on a Monday morning talk show that promoters had given him added monetary incentive to stand with the less ground-savvy Slice.

If that's true, it looks like Petruzelli might have done more damage than anyone expected that night. Unfortunately for him, he now becomes a footnote in MMA history. At least EXC would've built him up as a star or legitimate fighter ... now, he's a nobody again. It seems as if EXC really was as flimsy as Kimbo Slice's chin.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 10:04 PM | | Comments (2)
        

October 16, 2008

Catching up with Brandon Vera

Light heavyweight Brandon Vera has a huge showdown with Keith Jardine this weekend at UFC 89 (free on Spike TV). I was finally able to catch up with him as the time difference in the U.K. had caused several problems with our respective schedules.

“It’s a super important fight, and me and Keith know this fight can move us leaps and bounds ahead of the other guy, while sending the other guy back to the dark ages.,” Vera said.

We didn’t have much time to talk as he was leaving the news conference as a bus was waiting for him and he didn’t want to be “that guy,” but he did say the key to fighting Jardine was to push the pace.

“Jardine doesn’t like to be pressed, he likes to set the pace with his style and I have to make sure he can’t do that,” Vera said.

Before leaving to get on the bus, he claimed the fans over there are "super cool" and that he’s enjoying the experience. Should be a good fight and definitely will be interesting.

***

View photos of the UFC 89 fighters.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 11:49 AM | | Comments (1)
        

October 15, 2008

Into the debate tank for UFC 89

Brutality in Birmingham


Author Kelly Crigger is a worthy adversary and since I strive to provide you with only the best, I figured it was time for our UFC 89 debate.

Does Chris Leben have a chance against Michael Bisping?


Kelly: No. This fight will not go to the ground because neither man is proficient on his back or comfortable there. Leben used to be a buzzsaw of punches, but seems to have developed a little maturity in his game and taken things a little slower. His striking is still very good, but he’s facing a man who seems to show new skills with every fight. Leben couldn’t get out of Anderson Silva’s clinch or avoid his knees and he’s fighting a guy who threw 18 million of them against Charles McCarthy. Bisping’s last two fights (Jason Day and McCarthy) weren’t on the same striking level as Leben, but his questionable win against Matt Hamill showed he can stand in there and bang as well as take a punch. Add to that this fight is going down in Bisping’s back yard and I don’t see "The Crippler" having much of a chance.

Mark: See, you glossed over the most important factor in this fight. It’s in Bisping’s back yard. I hate to sound jaded, but that Hamill fight left a bad taste in the mouths of many when it comes to Bisping. I think Leben will have to KO Bisping to have any chance here. That being said, I think he is capable of it. I agree that the fight won’t go to the ground but I’m not nearly as confident as you are in Bisping’s stand-up game. Leben couldn’t escape the clinch of Anderson Silva, who happens to be the best pound-for-pound fighter n the world. Bisping is no Anderson Silva and hey, maybe he’s tired after throwing 18 million knees. That can wear anyone out. I covered Leben’s last fight and he looked better than I remembered so I would be inclined to say he had a chance if this fight was in the U.S. It’s not, but I still give Leben a chance here. The Hamill thing was so awful that I think we’ll never see anything like that again because it would be dancing dangerously close to the line of dubious decisions we’ve seen in other promotions (and in the UFC, but not on the same level).

Is the Keith Jardine-Brandon Vera fight a "must-win" situation for both?

Kelly: Yes, but more so for Brandon Vera than Jardine. After proclaiming he would win UFC title in two divisions, Vera has dropped two straight, although the Fabricio Werdum fight was most definitely a questionable stoppage. He needs a win to stay in the Octagon and in the good graces of UFC president Dana White. Remember that his old manager, Mark Dion, got himself in White’s doghouse before Vera fired him (Dion is also the manager of the man who made the worst career decision in MMA -- KJ Noons). Vera’s on thin ice and a win over the man who beat Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell could get him back in the game, while another loss may send him packing. Jardine also needs a win, but his situation is forgivable. Losing to Wanderlei Silva is nothing to scoff at, so Jardine isn’t in the "must-win" category just yet.

Mark: No. I think Vera could still make a switch back to heavyweight if the light heavyweight thing doesn’t work out for him. I don’t think there is any question of Vera’s future with the UFC. Vera took a step in the right direction with the win over Reese Andy but this will be his first fight at this level, where he’s comfortable. The first one at a new weight is always a wash. So, not only would he have another shot at making it at light heavyweight, with the heavyweight scene looking like it does, I think he would have another shot up there. And, even if he continues to look less than impressive, his future should be safe with the UFC. Vera is Filipino and with the UFC booming in the Philippines and aims to have a show there. Vera would be a big part of that and you won’t see him cut from the UFC until that happens. I still think Vera has a bright future but because he may be able to help the UFC in its quest for global dominance, he still can serve a role with the UFC even if he loses a few more. Jardine, meanwhile, needs to win to stay relevant. The way he was KO against Silva has him clamoring for respect and if he really wants to become a player again at light heavyweight, a win over Vera is a must.


Should Chris Lytle still be on a UFC main card?

Kelly: Yes, but his time is nearing an end. The Indianapolis firefighter is an exciting fighter, but he’s been brutalized in two of his last three fights and has 16 losses overall. Sixteen losses! That’s more than Ken Shamrock, who hasn’t won a fight in four years! Lytle is on the main card not because of his prowess as a fighter, but because he’s fun to watch. He comes out swinging and doesn’t stop until someone drops, but lately it’s been more him than his opponent. Lytle has fought some of the best fighters in the world -- Matt Hughes, Matt Serra, Josh Koscheck and Thiago Alves, to name a few. For that reason his record may be forgivable, but I think he’s doomed to be a gatekeeper for the welterweight division. He’ll be that guy that the UFC uses as a trial by fire to see if newcomers have what it takes to be in the octagon.   

Mark: He may be doomed to be a gatekeeper, but there are worse ways to make a paycheck. Of course he should still be on UFC main cards. They give those slots mainly to guys who are a draw and guys who are up-and-comers, but you need some Lytle’s there too just to keep things interesting. Dana White always tells fighters their futures are safe if they put on an entertaining show, so I would have to think Lytle qualifies at this point. If he had lost to a lot of nobodies, then that’s one thing. But you make a good point in that he’s fought some top-caliber guys. He’s certainly not in a position to be climbing the ranks, but he’s still a serviceable fighter, especially as a gatekeeper.

How much have injuries hurt the UFC 90 card?


Mark: I think the injuries have been devastating. Goran Reljic against Thales Leites was going to be a fantastic showdown and Diego Sanchez vs. Thiago Alves had major implications to the future of the welterweight division. To casual fans, the UFC 90 card may have been lacking some pop and the flare that many shows have, but those were two very intriguing and entertaining fights that have been lost. Alves vs. Josh Koscheck will still be decent, but because we’ve seen Koscheck lose to Georges St. Pierre, this fight loses some luster. It hurts even more because the main event, Anderson Silva vs. Patrick Cote, isn’t that great. I really don’t think Cote will be much of a challenge for Silva, which means the card relies on Silva’s star power (means little to casual fans unfortunately) and three solid undercard bouts. Two are changed now. Fortunately, we still have Sean Sherk vs. Tyson Griffin, but this card wasn’t nearly as intriguing as it would have been.

Kelly: Alves and Sanchez was going to be a throwdown that would have had soccer moms texting each other behind their husbands' backs. Squeamish MMA haters would have been traumatized by the blood and brutality for months as they wet their beds at night remembering that fight. I seriously thought it had fight of the year potential, so I loudly proclaimed, [expletive deleted] in the middle of my office when I learned it was scrapped, which scared half of my co-workers. Nothing the UFC does can make up for that one being taken off the card since the main event won’t go past the second round (I actually believe Cote will get through the first round -- call me crazy). Alves faces a more dangerous opponent in Koscheck because “The Pitbull” is not a great wrestler and Kos will certainly want to take this one to the ground. What does that spell? B-O-R-I-N-G. The fight, or grappling match I should say, to watch is Matt Horwich versus Ricardo Almeida. That will be a display of top-level ground work and should deliver the submission of the night. 

What is October’s best fight?

Mark: Thanks to the injuries that ravaged UFC 90, it has to be Anderson Silva vs. Patrick Cote. I think the Bisping-Leben and Vera-Jardine fights from this weekend’s UFC 89 could be better fights, but Silva is currently the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter. With the rumors that he may be retiring in a year or so floating around lately, who knows how much longer Silva will be in the limelight. Because he doesn’t speak English fluently he’s not nearly as big of a star as he should be. It’s like watching Tiger Woods but not knowing who he is. Silva is at the top of his game and any chance to watch him dismantle another opponent has to be the top fight of the month. Newer fans can have a washed-up Chuck Liddell. I’ll take Anderson Silva any day of the week.

Kelly: I’m thinking Vera and Jardine will be the best fight because there’s an air of desperation in each corner. But let’s talk about what really has people (and by people, I mean me) amped -- WEC 36 on November 5th! Wow! This whole card looks very intriguing, especially Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone vs. former lightweight champion “Razor” Rob McCullough. For some reason I feel a disturbance in the MMA force between these two. I feel Yoda channeling through me ... Want to stand and bang, Razor Rob will, yes. His ninth straight submission Cowboy will look for. But the takedown defense is strong with Razor Rob and never been submitted has he. Tested on his feet will the Cowboy be. Balanced will be restored in the force after this clash it will. There is no try, only do. These great warriors will do. Just saying, I am.

Kelly Crigger is an MMA writer and the author of Title Shot: Into the Shark Tank of Mixed Martial Arts.

Mark Chalifoux is the man behind the curtain at MMA Stomping Grounds and was recently voted one of the greatest 10 men in the history of planet Earth by the Mark Chalifoux foundation.

View photos of the UFC 89 fighters.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 1:12 PM | | Comments (0)
        

WAMMA Rankings

I had to fill out my WAMMA Rankings today, so here's how I currently see the world MMA picture. Just a quick heads-up, we aren't allowed to rank fighters who have been off for more than a year (Randy Couture) and we can only rank fighters in the last weight class they fought in unless they hold a title in another class (so Rich Franklin can only be ranked as a light heavyweight, Anderson Silva can be ranked at both middleweight and light heavyweight).


Heavyweight
1.    Fedor Emelianenko
2.    Josh Barnett
3.    Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
4.    Andrei Arvloski
5.    Frank Mir
6.    Fabricio Werdum
7.    Tim Slyvia
8.    Brock Lesnar
9.    Gabriel Gonzaga
10.    Mirko Cro Cop

Light Heavyweight
1.    Forrest Griffin
2.    Lyoto Machida
3.    Rampage Jackson
4.    Rashad Evans
5.    Wanderlei Silva
6.    Anderson Silva
7.    Rich Franklin
8.    Chuck Liddell
9.    Keith Jardine
10.    Brandon Vera
 
Middleweight
1.    Anderson Silva
2.    Paulo Filho
3.    Nathan Marquardt
4.    Robbie Lawler
5.    Dan Henderson
6.    Kazuo Misaki
7.    Yushin Okami
8.    Matt Lindland
9.    Gegard Mourassi
10.    Frank Trigg

Welterweight
1.    Georges St. Pierre
2.    Jon Fitch
3.    Josh Koscheck
4.    Thiago Alves
5.    Jake Shields
6.    Carlos Condit
7.    Diego Sanchez
8.    Matt Serra
9.    Karo "The Heat" Parysian
10.    Matt Hughes

Lightweight
1.    BJ Penn
2.    Eddie Alverez
3.    Shinya Aoki
4.    Takanori Gomi
5.    Joachim Hansen
6.    JZ Calvancante
7.    Josh Thomson
8.    Kawajari
9.    Kenny Florian
10.   Mitshuiro Ishida

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 1:07 PM | | Comments (4)
        

October 13, 2008

UFC 90 shake-up

The UFC 90 co-feature bout between Diego Sanchez and Thiago Alves is off as Sanchez was forced to withdraw after tearing rib cartilage. The UFC sent out a release on the decision late Monday, which you can find on the UFC's Web site.

Josh Koscheck will step in to face Alves in a welterweight showdown. This is sort of a letdown, as Alves-Sanchez was going to be one of the more entertaining fights of the year and would've been a major shake-up to the welterweight division. I don't think either could hang with welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre yet, but they are both rising stars. Instead, Josh Koscheck gets a shot to fight Alves. Koscheck is another highly-ranked welterweight but this fight doesn't have nearly the same appeal. Credit the UFC for salvaging the fight as Koscheck is a more-than-capable replacement, but it's still a rough situation.

The injury to Sanchez is the second big injury from the UFC 90 card as Goran Reljic had to pull out of his match with Thales Leites, which was going to be another huge fight. The UFC 90 card was going to be a sleeper, since many weren't expecting too much, but there were three good fights on the card, along with the top fighter in the world, Anderson Silva, headlining. It's still solid but this definitely will hold it back from being great.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 11:02 PM | | Comments (0)
        

New MMA club in town

Quick note about a new MMA club in town—


John "Bones" Shaddock is a former New England Diamond Belt Boxing Champion and NYPS State Bronze medalist in wrestling.  His partner is Leroy Epperson III and he is the founder of Giajin Ryu Jiu-Jitsu. They are in the amateur fight league (IBLfights.com) and are the only team competing from Maryland.  They are looking for fighters as they need two in each of the seven weight classes --14 fighters in all and they have six right now.  They are looking for boxers, wrestlers, jiu-jitsu fighters, and freestyle fighters.
 
For more information, Shaddock can be reached at 443-280-0812 or at shaddockmma@comcast.net.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 1:41 PM | | Comments (0)
        

October 10, 2008

Q&A with Forrest Griffin

UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin will be defending his title Dec. 27 against Rashad Evans at UFC 92 in Las Vegas. Griffin became the champ when he beat Quinton “Rampage” Jackson by unanimous decision at UFC 86. I spoke with Griffin earlier this week about almost everything, including why working at UPS was the worst job he ever had, how he plans to stop Evans (he needs your help), his thoughts on the economy and how it will affect the sport, why he considers himself a “boring dude,” his first tastes of fame, the toughest part of being Forrest Griffin and who he would like to face after Evans.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What’s been the biggest change in your life since defeating Quinton Jackson to win the belt?

Forrest Griffin: Well, I’ve gotten real into Scientology.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Ha. Wait ... what?

Forrest Griffin: Yeah, it seems like a lot of successful people are doing it so I decided to get on board with it.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Um ... so ... has that been a big change for you? (Note to readers: Even though I was familiar with Griffin's sense of humor, this was the first time we'd talked, so I wasn’t sure whether or not to take his comments about Scientology seriously. My first instinct was to laugh but then I didn’t want to offend him if he was being serious, because then I’m the jerk laughing at someone else’s religion. The whole thing threw me off for a good couple minutes.)

Forrest Griffin: No change, I hate change. It’s scary. I try and stay away from that. ... You know what the best thing about Baltimore is?

MMA Stomping Grounds: No, what’s that?

Forrest Griffin: The Wire. It’s pretty good.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Absolutely. Although I missed the boat when it was on TV and had to watch the DVDs.

Forrest Griffin: Yeah, I saw it on TV and was like, whatever, but then I got the DVDs. I think it’s a show you have to watch on DVD to get the whole experience.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Yeah ... so, after the win over "Rampage," was there any talk about a rematch?

Forrest Griffin: Yeah, at the post-fight press conference Quinton talked about it. Eh ... I didn’t really remember it. I don’t know. I’m pretty sure I’m fighting Rashad Evans on December 27.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What do you think of Evans?

Forrest Griffin: He’s a hell of an athlete. His quickness and speed is going to be a problem. It’s something a lot of guys have a hard time preparing for because it’s hard to find training partners that are that quick and have that upper body movement combined with wrestling. He has a lot of attributes ... I don’t know if that’s the word I’m looking for. You’re a journalist, you can figure it out.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Do you consider yourself the favorite in this fight?

Forrest Griffin: No, hopefully not. I would like to be under the radar and an underdog. I’d like to be the first guy to walk out in a title fight as the underdog.

MMA Stomping Grounds:  Do you feel like that’s something you need, that chip on your shoulder?

Forrest Griffin: Nah, I just don’t like to overstate things. I just kind of like to stay ... there’s no chip on my shoulder or anything. I’m kind of a grinder. I’m not super explosive or a flashy guy, so it only makes sense that I would be an underdog.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What’s the best part about being Forrest Griffin?

Forrest Griffin:That’s an interesting question. I’m not sure. I get to work out for my job and punch people and wrassle, that’s a pretty cool job. I’ve had actual jobs and this is the coolest by far.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What other jobs have you done?

Forrest Griffin: I’ve framed houses, worked on an asphalt crew, I was a cop, a lifeguard. I worked in a dining hall in college and I worked at UPS for a full three weeks -- it was the worst job I ever had.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Why was it the worst?

Forrest Griffin: It was from like 3 in the morning until like 8 and it was routing. A lot of memorizing numbers and figuring out what’s going on when you’re half asleep, and if you didn’t pull your packages, the guys behind you get jammed up and it’s a mess. The other good thing about my job is I continue to have enough money to buy gasoline, which is important.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What’s the coolest experience you’ve been able to have because of your celebrity status?

Forrest Griffin: I’ve done a lot of bit-part acting. I do a lot of endorsement stuff they don’t ask average people to do. I’m surprised they ask me because I’m a pretty average-looking dude.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Did you enjoy the acting?

Forrest Griffin: Nah it wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be. But the acting is up there, I don’t know. Every now and again you meet some people and they are cool and genuine. You just happen to be hanging out at the same place or waiting for a flight, you know it gets kind of nice. Actually, I was in the Dallas airport, I think I was, and I met some cops there and kind of hung out with them, and they actually ride the Segways, and they let me ride their Segways around. I had a couple hours to kill, so that was pretty cool.

MMA Stomping Grounds: On the flip side, what’s the toughest part about being Forrest Griffin?

Forrest Griffin: I don’t know. The expectations. People are always gunning for you in practice and in life and a lot of people want to talk to you at inappropriate times, like when you’re trying to train or work. I don’t mind talking to people, I like talking to people after practice but when you walk into the gym to work out, there will be people there that just want something signed or a picture and you’re not in that mindset, you know? You’re ready to fight people and your head is not on talking.

MMA Stomping Grounds: When did you first notice your fame?

Forrest Griffin: Right after the TV (The Ultimate Fighter) came on. I was a lot younger and it was such a new and exciting thing. I thought it was great and I didn’t really know what was going on. It was almost the best of times in that you didn’t even really think about it. There’s no pressure, there’s just fun and people recognize you and it’s such a new thing. Now, there’s a pressure to maintain. You’ve done a little something but you’re only as good as your last fight or your next fight and that’s just the way the world works. They forget you easy, you have to keep working to get better and there’s more talent and guys get better as the sport grows. A wider diversity of people get into it and th talent pool is increased. The sport is really evolving quickly and you have to stay ahead of it or be left behind.

MMA Stomping Grounds:  Have you ever had any weird interactions with fans?

Forrest Griffin: I’ve had quite a few, and I think that’s because I’m generally a friendly guy. I was actually just in Mexico and I hadn’t really met up with the people I was supposed to and my phone wasn’t working and I met these people at customs. I ended up seeing them later and they remembered me and I saw them on the strip area and ended up hanging out with them that night and it was pretty cool. They were like, “come hang out with us,” and I hadn’t found my people yet, so I was like “sure.”

MMA Stomping Grounds: What do you like to do away from MMA?

Forrest Griffin: I’m a boring dude, I’m really sad. I watch a lot of TV, a lot of movies. I read a little bit, not as much as I should ... and that’s about it, man. I like a lot of forms of entertainment that doesn’t involve doing anything for now. I try to abuse my body 100 percent during training so there’s not a lot left over for water skiing or anything like that. I don’t like to take risks. The most dangerous thing I do, besides driving because I’m a terrible driver, is play pick-up basketball. I play once a week maybe, I don’t play enough to not suck.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Were you involved in martial arts when you were younger?

Forrest Griffin: No, I never saw martial arts until I got to college. I played football and basketball growing up. There wasn’t even any wrestling where I grew up and I didn’t know anything about it. I thought Karate Kid was stupid and I didn’t care for Bruce Lee movies or anything. It wasn’t until the first actual time I was fighting people that I thought, “Oh, this is cool.”

MMA Stomping Grounds: When did you first realize you could do it for a living?

Forrest Griffin: I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to do it for a living. It just wasn’t the same sport back in 2001 when I was getting started, but I knew it was something I wanted to do. I figured it would be like a part-time job, something fun and extra on the side. I knew that the second time I ever rolled and boxed, I was like “Oh man, this is cool, I oughta do this.”

MMA Stomping Grounds: If you weren’t a fighter, what would you be doing?

Forrest Griffin: I’d probably be trying to pick up a Masters in administration and be in law enforcement in some aspect.

MMA Stomping Grounds: After Evans, is there anyone else you want to fight?

Forrest Griffin: The thing about 205 is there’s a ton of good guys. I’m not trying to be overly nice or friendly. There really are a lot of good fighters at 205. I would just prefer to fight the guys with the biggest names. I don’t think the difference in talent of guys at the top is too different. There’s a ton of good guys in that class.

MMA Stomping Grounds: After going through The Ultimate Fighter as a competitor and as a coach, what is one thing you learned about reality TV that most people might not know?

Forrest Griffin: One thing about reality TV, for me,  I didn’t realize how much of a job it was. That I would just have to be at the same place for so many hours a day. It was one of those funny things where ...  I was just watching the news and seeing how bad we’re [expletive deleted] economically. They just keep saying the same thing, I guess we’re screwed. I’m pretty sure my money is still in the bank. What were we talking about?

MMA Stomping Grounds: The reality show.

Forrest Griffin: Yeah, just how much footage there is to provide you with an hour show. There’s so much stuff I thought was worthy of being on and they can only put so much in and they have to make it cohesive. They can’t make it a bunch of random, funny stuff. Just how much footage they shoot for each show is stupid.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Well, speaking about the economy, has it affected you much yet?

Forrest Griffin: Well, I bought a house a year ago and it’s worth $160,000 less now and I’ve lost a little money.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Do you think it will affect the sport?

Forrest Griffin: It seems like it would have to. It seems like, to some extent, people don’t have the disposable money they had a couple years ago and everyone is starting to hide their wallets a little bit. But I tell ya, man, I go out to eat and you still gotta wait. People are still eating, the highways are still jammed with cars, people are still at the gym. It’s almost like a panic, but its business as usual for people. I live in Vegas and when people don’t come and people tip less, I mean the velocity of money in this town is very fast, and when it slows down the whole system breaks a little bit. I’m doing my part, I’m spending as much as ever. George Bush told me to and I’m doing it, damn it.

MMA Stomping Grounds: That’s because you’re a great American. Wrapping things up, how do you plan on stopping Rashad Evans?

Forrest Griffin: I’m not sure yet ... I was thinking about giving him some sedatives. If they make some sort of sedative I could put in his water or in his pre-fight meal to slow him down, that would definitely help. I’m open to your suggestions, if your readers have any ideas, they can tell you and then you can tell me. I’m definitely open to that.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 12:38 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Q&As
        

October 7, 2008

A preview of the Forrest Griffin Q&A

I talked with UFC light heavyweight champ Forrest Griffin on the phone Tuesday about a variety of topics, including why working at UPS was the worst job he ever had, how he plans to stop Rashad Evans (he needs your help), his thoughts on the economy and how it will affect the sport, why he considers himself a “boring dude,” his first tastes with fame, the toughest part of being Forrest Griffin and who he would like to face after Evans. The interview in full will be posted later this week, but here’s a quick snippet.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What’s been the biggest change in your life since defeating Quinton Jackson to win the light heavyweight belt?

Forrest Griffin: Well, I’ve gotten real into Scientology.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Ha. Wait ... what?

Forrest Griffin: Yeah, it seems like a lot of successful people are doing it so I decided to get on board with it.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Um ... so ... has that been a big change for you? (Note: Even though I was familiar with Griffin's sense of humor, this is the first time we’d talked, so I still wasn’t sure whether to take his Scientology comments seriously. My first instinct was to laugh but then I didn’t want to offend him if he was being serious because then I’m the jerk laughing at someone else’s religion. The whole thing threw me off for a good couple minutes.)

Forrest Griffin: No change, I hate change. It’s scary. I try and stay away from that. ... You know what the best thing about Baltimore is?

MMA Stomping Grounds: No, what’s that?

Forrest Griffin: The Wire. It’s pretty good.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Absolutely. Although I missed the boat when it was on TV and had to watch the DVDs.

Forrest Griffin: Yeah, I saw it on TV and was like, whatever, but then I got the DVDs. I think it’s a show you have to watch on DVD to get the whole experience.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Yeah ... so, after the win over Jackson, was there any talk about a rematch?

Forrest Griffin: Yeah, at the post-fight press conference Quinton talked about it. Eh ... I didn’t really remember it. I don’t know. I’m pretty sure I’m fighting Rashad Evans on December 27.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What do you think of Evans?

Forrest Griffin: He’s a hell of an athlete. His quickness and speed is going to be a problem. It’s something a lot of guys have a hard time preparing for because it’s hard to find training partners that are that quick and have that upper body movement combined with wrestling. He has a lot of attributes ... I don’t know if that’s the word I’m looking for. You’re a journalist, you can figure it out.

***

Read archived MMA Stomping Grounds Q&As.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 11:30 PM | | Comments (4)
        

October 5, 2008

The Kimbo saga is over

EliteXC managed to find the only person more fragile than Kimbo Slice’s last opponent, James “Colossus” Thompson, in former MMA fighter Ken Shamrock. The only problem was that Shamrock is so fragile he was injured during the warm-up, thus pitting Kimbo Slice against a different lackluster fighter, in this case it was Seth Petruzelli, who defeated Slice in 14 seconds Saturday night on CBS.

So, the Kimbo Slice saga is over. I would be shocked to see him headline a major card again and he probably won’t earn too many more six-figure paydays. It is tough to ask a fighter to take on an opponent he didn’t prepare for at the last second and Slice’s camp initially refused a bout with any replacement. Slice should be commended for stepping up and taking the fight but as Sam Caplan from fiveouncesofpain.com touched on in a piece on Sunday, Slice’s motivations for accepting the fight were likely financial.

Slice was near the end of his road in the spotlight so making a move to cash out now was probably the right call. Slice literally had nothing else to gain from the fight with Petruzelli. Shamrock had a name and is familiar to casual fans. Petruzelli is a UFC washout (or “UFC veteran” if you take Elite XC’s phrasing) and a win over him would’ve done little for Slice. He had everything to lose and nothing to gain, as far as his career is concerned.

So, if it was money, I think it was a brilliant move by Slice. He’s not a young fighter (34) and he got into the fight game too late to really make a name for himself. Instead, he went from an Internet sensation to a headliner on prime-time national television and made a boatload of money in the process. Slice capitalized on being in the right place at the right time and got absolutely everything he could have out of his position. I respect that.

I know a lot of people have problems with Slice and hardcore fans fret about his “credibility” and things like that but really, that’s not his fault -- you have to pin that on EliteXC. Slice got his and made enough money to set his family up and racked up enough fame to live off of for a while and no one can take that from him.

There will be plenty of people out there debating his weak chin, bashing him for his futile performance Saturday, questioning where his career goes from here, what damage he did to the sport and pondering the other questions on the table now after the loss. I’m not going to take more shots at Slice or throw in any parting barbs. I tip my hat to him. What he was able to accomplish is still stunning. He’ll never be as relevant as he was before Saturday but that’s OK,  and that’s the real story from EliteXC: Heat on CBS Saturday Night Fights. Well played, Kimbo.

The scuttled main event and the fall of Kimbo will take precedence in any discussion of the fallout from the show Saturday, which is to be expected, but I thought it was a decent show overall. I thought Andrei Arlovski looked a little sharper than I remember when he took down Roy Nelson,  and the fight between Kelly Kobold and Gina Carano was entertaining. I also thought Jake Shields looked good again and, along with Arlovski, was one of the top fighters on the card.

Still, I can’t help but wish the UFC had a TV deal like this. It’s tough to watch a show like that (which was entertaining and, most importantly, free) while knowing that first-time viewers aren’t being treated to the best fighters in the world. The top-caliber fighters in the UFC (or a few more from Affliction would’ve sufficed, for a one-night show) could have put on a much better show and I hope that they get the chance someday soon. Now that the Kimbo craziness is behind us, it’s important for MMA to put its best foot forward when in the spotlight. So, even if EliteXC manages to find a long-term future, hopefully they sign some better fighters (not Tito Ortiz) or partner up with Affliction.

***

View photos of EliteXC: Heat.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 11:41 PM | | Comments (46)
        

October 1, 2008

Gina Carano needs to embrace her sexy side

Gina Carano handled herself well on The Late, Late show with Craig Ferguson, even though she seemed extremely nervous and somewhat shy. I also didn’t think Ferguson did a great job with the interview, as most of it seemed to go along the lines of "Hey, you know how to fight, you could kick my (expletive deleted) ... and you're a girl!"

Carano’s been doing a fair amount of promotion for the EliteXC show this Saturday and what strikes me as odd is how she’s fighting the label of "the face of women’s MMA." In the news conference for Saturday’s event, Carano tried to downplay the label.

On the other end of the spectrum, hardcore MMA fans seem to think she insults the sport by failing to make weight a few times and generally consider her to be a joke. The truth of the matter, though, is that 90 percent of the people who know who Gina Carano is could care less about her making weight. They probably couldn’t even tell you what weight limit she fights at.
Perhaps she’s trying to downplay her “sexy image” in order to gain more respect as a fighter but she may as well cash in while she has the spotlight. Dana White doesn’t seem to be a fan of women’s MMA and he has absolute control over the legitimate aspects of this sport, so this may be Carano’s only chance to cash in.

No one could fault her for that, especially when she’s fighting on a card with the biggest fraud in the history of the sport (Kimbo Slice). She should be embracing the role of the face of women’s MMA and holding her hands out to grab as much cash as she can. She can’t make a considerable amount from fighting and she won’t have this type of a platform for much longer. She should be doing photo shoots, magazine covers and all of that while she has the chance.

And, she shouldn’t have to feel bad about being sexy. The LPGA and the WNBA have both given instructions to their athletes about how to look more appealing and being hot never hurt a female athlete's chances of garnering more attention. If you ask many casual sports fans to name their top five female athletes, I guarantee that list is 80 percent sexy.

I remember hearing EliteXC commentator (and fighter when he’s healthy) Frank Shamrock during a radio interview gushing about how hot Gina Carano is. There’s no question that her looks have helped broaden her appeal and CBS is trying to cash in on it and so should she. The money for her, like for most female athletes, is on a magazine cover and not in the ring.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 11:13 PM | | Comments (5)
        

UFC 93 headed to Dublin, Ireland

The UFC is headed to Ireland in January for UFC 93. It’s supposedly around the same time Affliction was planning a show, which means the UFC actually put together a decent card for a foreign show.

Rich Franklin is headlining the card with a bout against Dan Henderson, which is a fight a lot of people have wanted to see for a long time. Both guys need a win and it will be a very intriguing matchup.

Mauricio "Shogun" Rua will be back in action after being sidelined for more than a year with an injury as he takes on Mark Coleman. It will be interesting to see how sharp Rua is, even if Coleman isn’t much of an opponent.

Also rumored for that card is a match between rivals Matt Hughes and Matt Serra.

That is the basis for a very solid show and another big strike against Affliction. If Fedor Emelianenko isn’t on the card, then casual fans will have a hard time justifying buying an Affliction show over a UFC card. It’s also the first time for the UFC in Dublin, Ireland, so the UFC expansion project continues in a big way. The only downside of that is waking up in the early morning to conduct interviews with people an ocean away during the media week (wahh, poor me).

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 11:12 PM | | Comments (0)
        
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Kevin Richardson has been a fan of mixed martial arts competition ever since UFC 3, when 600-pound sumo wrestler Emmanuel Yarborough was beaten by Keith Hackney. Kevin will cover the world of MMA — in Baltimore, nationally and internationally. He plans to take readers into the locker rooms and MMA schools, where they'll hear from local fighters and trainers. If you have a news tip or suggestions for the blog, please e-mail him.

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