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December 30, 2008

The UFC needs a major TV deal

I was a fill-in host on a sports talk radio show the Friday before UFC 92 on 1530 Homer in Cincinnati and talked MMA with CBSSports.com columnist Gregg Doyel. He said he thought the sport would be bigger at this point. He thought that it would really blow up once ESPN gets on board and starts showing it but that he expected it to be better off now than it is.

I can’t help but think the one piece of the puzzle the UFC is missing right now is a major TV deal. UFC president Dana White repeatedly says that it’s not a priority for the UFC and that when he can get the right deal, then the UFC will be on network TV. He’s never shy to mention that Elite XC signed a bad deal (which may be why they aren’t in business anymore) and that the UFC wouldn’t make the same mistake.

But it’s astonishing that this hasn’t happened yet. The UFC outdraws MLB and NBA games in the coveted 18-34 demographic when they go head to head. It’s a proven commodity and no one else is showing it. It just makes sense for a network to get involved with the UFC on a long-term basis; now is the time to buy stock in MMA and the UFC.

From the UFC’s standpoint, it has a strong product. The competition has been rendered irrelevant. The Ultimate Fighter has given the UFC a new generation of stars and competitors. The UFC still has the star power of Chuck Liddell for at least another few years.

To make the next jump, the UFC needs the TV deal. When it comes to the long-term future of the sport, the international movement is a sound business decision, but when it comes to drawing more fans and more power here, the TV deal is paramount.
Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 10:33 AM | | Comments (10)
        

UFC 92 fallout

* The show lived up to the hype. The UFC always does a good job with the end-of-the-year card and this one was stacked. Dana White likes to say every card is stacked, and the UFC does put together some good shows, but it's easy to tell when they have a truly great card and this one qualified.

And I could barely find anywhere to watch it. With my power out, and my plans to watch it at the in-laws squashed by some holiday illness, I had to go to the sports bar route. It's not a bad way to watch an event -- with 70 or so like-minded individuals -- but the downside is that the first three places I went to were completely full. As in, the fire marshal wouldn't let anyone else in the building. Midway through the first fight I finally found a place to watch it, but I've never seen that type of reaction from fans for any other sporting event, save for maybe the Super Bowl.

* The light heavyweight champ in the UFC is a tough position to have these days as everyone is coming after you. I thought Forrest Griffin could take Rashad Evans but it was a terrific fight for two rounds. Evans just looked too fast, which should help him against a number of light heavyweights. The problem for Evans, I think, is that there are several great strikers at light heavyweight. Evans has some wicked ground and pound, and has good wrestling skills (he’s a former NCAA wrestler), but he’s not going to submit you. One guy I think could actually give him fits is Rich Franklin.

Anderson Silva always calls Franklin his toughest opponent thanks to his terrific striking, and someone like that could really cause problems for Evans. Of course, I don’t think Franklin is set up well to defend the title for a long time. That weight class is too deep to have a dominant champ like B.J. Penn or Anderson Silva.

* 'Rampage' looks fine -- there were a lot of questions about 'Rampage' Jackson and where his head was. He looks like he’s got things on the right track now as he dismantled Wanderlei Silva, who is no longer relevant at light heavyweight. The guy has won one of his last five fights, and that’s not going to cut it.

* Yushin Okami is getting a title shot at Anderson Silva. Yawn. He deserves it, but if Silva’s retirement talk is for real, this is just one more fight that will replace something groundbreaking and will give us more Silva highlights.

* Frank Mir can strike -- biggest shocker of the night was the way Antonio "Minotauro" Nogueira was abused and dismantled. Like many, I had written off Mir because it seemed like he was overmatched. Quite the opposite. Mir has a match with champ Brock Lesnar next. Sure, Mir beat him once but Lesnar is not the same fighter now, and I think he’s going to destroy Mir. Still, Mir poses the biggest threat in the UFC to Lesnar with his ground game and much-improved striking game. If he beats Mir, he may have that belt for awhile. Unless Dana White signs Fedor Emelianenko.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 10:07 AM | | Comments (11)
        

December 27, 2008

Debating in December

On the day of the biggest UFC card of the year, it’s time for some debate with MMA author Kelly Crigger.

All the hoopla surrounding Mike Brown’s knockout of Urijah Faber is premature.

Kelly Crigger: This is one of those painful moments when a journalist has to ignore his relationships and face facts. Brown is a good dude, someone I've hung out with, and I was happy to see him get a moment in the sun. But the agonizing and inescapable fact is that Faber didn’t take the fight with him seriously, and a rematch will probably be a different story. Brown is legit and can clean out the remainder of the featherweight division in the WEC, so his current role as the marshal of the parade of exultation is earned. But I don’t think Faber took Brown seriously, and now that he’s lost his belt and has to climb a short ladder back up to a title shot, he’ll be more focused and determined than ever. That’s a scary thought. Faber is like a democracy -- the world should beware of him when he’s mad. I don’t want to take anything away from Brown, who has the tools to remain champion and earned his belt with wins over Yves Edwards, Jeff Curran, Mark Hominick, and a very tough Renato Tavares before beating Faber. But Faber won’t treat a rematch the same way and will come out with guns blazing. That will be the true test of Mike Thomas Brown and, friends on Facebook or not, I give him a 50-50 chance of winning that fight.

Mark Chalifoux: Kelly, you may want to go check on Mike Brown’s name to see if it’s OK because you dropped it pretty hard. Your best friend really is a great fighter, but Faber is in a class of his own at that weight, and I think the odds are even less in his favor. Faber is going to be a force, again, but should be even tougher after the loss. Look at Georges St. Pierre and his loss to Matt Serra. Obviously, Brown is no Serra, but GSP has been very strong since that loss and he’s picked his game up another level, which is why he’s been controlling the welterweight scene.

Mike Swick is poised to make a run at St. Pierre.

Kelly Crigger: True. I wasn’t a fan of Swick moving down to 170 pounds and, in fact, I said it was a huge mistake when he danced around Josh Burkman in his first welterweight fight. But after defeating Marcus Davis, I think Swick is on the verge of a run at the title. Of course, now comes the hard part. To get a shot at GSP, he still has to beat a high-profile guy, like Matt Hughes (who is still around), Thiago Alves, or Diego Sanchez. If UFC brings Jake Shields into the organization, he could provide a real test for Swick, who hasn’t been challenged by a true grappler at 170 pounds yet. The other "Oh, crap!" factor here is his own camp. Swick trains with Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch, both of whom have had their shot at St. Pierre and lost, but still remain among the top 10 welterweights in the UFC. Given Dana White’s disdain for the AKA camp lately, it wouldn't surprise me to see Swick facing one of these two fighters to earn his title shot. The question is, can he put aside his friendship with them to advance his career goals?

Mark Chalifoux: Wrong. Swick is a very talented fighter, but there’s just too much talent at the top at 170. He could fight Matt Hughes, although that’s not going to get him a title shot. I know UFC is pushing hard for a Swick vs. Alves fight while Alves waits around for his title shot. It would make sense for Thiago to take that fight just to make some cash in the interim, and he can do this because Swick won’t be able to beat him. Alves is the best challenger to St. Pierre at this weight level (B.J. Penn is still a lightweight) and has the more complete game at this point. Alves taking this fight is the equivalent of a grade-school kid picking up a paper route to help buy a new bike -- an easy way to make some quick cash. Can Swick make a run at GSP? Sure. He’s not doing it now, unless this "run" is a multi-year process, in which case, I’d argue every welterweight is "making a run" at St. Pierre.

Is Carlos Newton’s comeback going to end in a Rocky-style run at the top or will he crash and burn?

Kelly Crigger: That’s a simple question -- crash and burn. MMA has bypassed Carlos Newton. The once impressive Canuck has only won once in his last seven fights going back to 2004, and he simply hasn’t evolved with the sport. The former UFC welterweight champion’s bid to return to MMA competition is ill-advised at best. The bigger question here is why do guys like Newton, Kazushi Sakuraba, Ken Shamrock, and Royce Gracie think they can come back to the game that they once dominated and expect it to be the same as when they left? That’s either arrogance or ignorance and no matter which one it is, it’s not a quality consistent with MMA champions. Is it the Randy Couture factor that’s motivating these guys to keep fighting, or is the paycheck too sweet to pass up? I’ll give credit where it’s due -- MMA legend Pat Miletich came back from neck surgery and beat Thomas Denny this week. But that’s one success story within several dismal failures. Newton and his generation should follow the example set by Ivan Salaverry and bow out gracefully when the time is right. MMA is like technology -- it evolves very rapidly and, if he doesn’t keep up, a champion of the old school can be tossed aside as a relic within a year.

Mark Chalifoux: Woo-hoo, crash and burn! I agree with Kelly on this one, why do the old guys try to come back? They only illustrate how ill-equipped they would be to handle today’s fighters. The sport is evolving and the dinosaurs can’t compete, unless they are willing to evolve as well (Couture obviously gets an exemption). I think there is an obvious reason they return -- cash. MMA is a much bigger game than it was when they were on top, so they are coming back for quick paydays. Try as they might, washed-up fighters can’t buy groceries with their legacies. I’m OK with it because everyone enjoys a good train wreck here and there.

UFC 92 is the best card of the year.

Mark Chalifoux: How can you not be fired up about this card? Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira against Frank Mir is intriguing, but it isn’t enough to sell a pay-per-view. I wouldn’t pay if that fight was the main event. But UFC has given us two more main-event-caliber fights and it’s impossible not to be looking forward to it. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson has his first fight since going crazy, and it’s against a guy -- Wanderlei Silva -- that has always been a thorn in his side. It will be a very entertaining bout. And the Forrest Griffin vs. Rashad Evans title fight may be the most entertaining match of the year. The UFC is working hard to make Griffin a star, and this is the first time in awhile he’s going to be the favorite coming into a fight. I’m ambivalent on the fights involving CB Dollaway and Cheick Kongo, but hopefully we’ll get to see Yushin Okami and Matt Hamill’s matches. It's hard to beat this card with the star power at the top.

Kelly Crigger: You wouldn’t buy Nogueira against Mir as a main event? Okay Ebenezer Scrooge, I sure would. I think Big Nog is the best heavyweight on the planet next to Fedor Emelianenko, and Mir has a tendency to start a submission in Florida and finish it in Wisconsin. I’m fired up for that match, but you are correct -- the rest of UFC 92 makes this the best card of the year. I’m going out on a limb here and say Rashad Evans will beat Forrest Griffin mainly because of his trainer, Greg Jackson. Jackson coached Keith Jardine to beat Griffin handily, and he’ll do the same for Evans. I admit I’m a little biased since I’m co-writing a book on Jackson’s fighting style with him, but you can’t deny history. Jackson knows how to beat Griffin, and he will do so again. Start cueing up the Evans’ haters who will undoubtedly say he’s not championship material.

Chuck Liddell vs. Keith Jardine II in March in Columbus makes sense.

Mark Chalifoux: This has been a rumor flying around since Liddell basically called out Jardine and said he wanted him in Columbus. This fight is a home run for a Columbus show. With Rich Franklin fighting in January, UFC loses a major Midwest draw. Chuck Liddell is the type of fighter that will bring them all back. He’s fought outside of Las Vegas only twice since 2003, losses to Jardine and Evans. Liddell is enough of a name to sell out an arena, but not a show, so he needs a hook. He’s not getting back into the title picture anytime soon, so avenging a loss to Jardine is a great call. It’s a fight Liddell will win in a part of the country that will worship him as MMA’s all-time greatest fighter.

Kelly Crigger: It makes sense for Liddell, but not Jardine because he has nothing to gain. If he wins again, people will say, "So what." If he loses, those same people will call the first win a fluke. I’ve been saying for a while that Liddell needs to fight Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, and I still think he should. That fight would have major drawing power and is a must win for both. By the way, has anyone seen Mr. Shogun lately? He never seems to be seen cageside, so it make me wonder if he’s staying out of the public eye on purpose, or is he on the outs with UFC? They spent an awful lot of money on him, so why aren’t they using him more? Apparently he doesn’t have a fight coming up anytime soon, or UFC would be raising his profile more. Your question was about Liddell and Jardine. It sounds good, but I think Liddell-Rua is better for each man.

Can Affliction really compete with UFC?

Mark Chalifoux: Of course not. To compete with UFC means you’re going to lose a lot of money. These aren’t great economic times to invest millions and millions into really developing an MMA promotion, and I don’t think Affliction has a sound enough plan to provide long-term competition for UFC. One thing they have to their advantage is UFC trimming its roster. One thing they have going against them is putting together quality cards that attract casual fans when Fedor Emelianenko isn’t fighting. Fedor is the Kimbo Slice of Affliction. Obviously, Kimbo was a joke while Fedor is a legend. Still, both promotions falter without the big draw. The true test for Affliction will be to put on a successful card without Fedor. The UFC needs competition, but I don’t see it coming from Affliction.

Kelly Crigger: Hold on a second (Kelly turns, puts his hands on his ribs and lets out a belly laugh like Santa -- Ho! Ho! Ho!) Affliction compete with the UFC? Ho! Ho! Ho! As if the demise of EliteXC wasn’t a painful enough reminder of how badly Dana White can trash the best-laid plans, Affliction comes out and directly challenges him from the start. The rumors of internal strife within Affliction’s ranks are already bubbling up and grabbing headlines, and the deal they made with Golden Boy Promotions suddenly seems like a lump of coal in their stocking. Look, I’m all for open competition, but Affliction’s business model seems as solid as Brandon Vera’s prediction of being the UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion. It’s too late for Affliction to back down now, and the last thing I want is to see them go out of business and leave fighters out in the cold with unpaid contracts, but their days are simply numbered. The smartest plan for a new MMA promotion is to follow the path of the Ultimate Warrior Challenge, which I wrote an article about a few weeks ago on Fightline. Unless Affliction adopts some better business practices, they won’t be around to talk about next Christmas.

Speaking of which, everyone have a safe and happy holidays!

Enjoy UFC 92 tonight. It may be the best show of the year.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 3:01 PM | | Comments (0)
        

December 17, 2008

Strikeforce Q&A with Mike Afromowitz

There have been a number of organizations that have tried to compete with the UFC and they all have failed miserably. One MMA organization that has done well for itself and is poised for a bright future is Strikeforce. For those who aren’t familiar with the promotion, I caught up with Strikeforce official Mike Afromowitz to give you some background.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What are the basics people need to know about Strikeforce?

Mike Afromowitz: We started in 1994 as a kickboxing series. We were on ESPN or ESPN2 as the exclusive provider of martial arts footage to ESPN and we presided over K1 back in 1999. We produced the first K1 U.S. event in Las Vegas in 2000 and our last event was last year. We launched Strikeforce MMA series in 2006 and crossed over from kickboxing to MMA. With our first MMA event we broke the North American attendance record for MMA with a sellout crowd of 18,265 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. They actually had to turn people away and this is back in 2006 when the sport was first heating up.

Then again, northern California has always been a hotbed for martial arts. There are so many great schools, tons of students. It was a great fit and the time was right.

MMA Stomping Grounds: A lot of promotions come and go. What makes Strikeforce different?

Mike Afromowitz: Our core competence is strong production and experience. You can’t underestimate experience and that’s where we have a strong advantage over the next guy. The short timeline I walked you through, that demonstrates our experience in production of martial arts shows. It’s about experience in martial arts business. We respect anyone who gets involved in the business, but to succeed at a high level doing arena shows, you need a lot of experience and we have that.

At the same time, our longevity in the business has allowed us to attract and retain top talent. We have, I think, a very strong roster of world-class fighters and our existence for awhile in business has allowed us to attract that type of talent.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Who are some of the top stars in Strikeforce?

Mike Afromowitz: We have Cung Le, someone people are familiar with. You may have seen him in the kickboxing series on ESPN and ESPN2. He has entertained a lot of fans over the years. We have Frank Shamrock, who people should know as the first UFC middleweight champion. He’s a legend in the sport and the father of modern MMA.  Josh 'The Punk' Thomson, our lightweight champion, and he’s won his last eight or nine fights. And we’ve got Renato 'Babalu' Sobral, Kazuo Misaki, Joe Riggs, Gilbert Melendez. I think we have a healthy stable of world-class fighters [ed note: and now they have former UFC lightweight Jorge Gurgel]. There’s definitely a place for women’s fighting as well. That’s something we’re exploring. We’ve had a few women’s fights and it’s something we’d like to continue. It’s something we definitely want to host on our cards. Fans appreciate it and that’s what it’s about; putting on fights fans want to see. At end of the day, that’s a business we’d like to be in.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Is Strikeforce a competitor with the UFC?

Mike Afromowitz: Really, the UFC is No. 1 far and away. The job they have done under Zuffa and Dana White is remarkable. Right now they are No. 1 and really I don’t look at it that way. They are the kings. We are in business and want to be profitable and that’s our goal; to build a successful business really. 

These guys (the UFC) have put their heart and souls in the sport for years and they put the amount of time and energy into it. New organizations can’t match that off the bat. You can’t go to Atlantic City and say you’re going to compete with Donald Trump right off the bat. It’s hard. You can throw all the money you want at it, hire 100 people to work for you and throw all the money in the world at the project, but it’s not going to match the UFC’s experience and their brand. The UFC brand is so strong. That’s like taking on an 800-pound gorilla and that’s not realistic.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Where can people find Strikeforce?

Mike Afromowitz: We’re on every Saturday night on NBC after Poker After Dark.  We have live events on HDNet and a few events on Showtime, so hopefully fans will see even more of us in 2009.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What excites you the most about the sport’s future?

Mike Afromowitz: I think there’s more than one aspect, really. I’ve been in the business for a long time now so just to see the mainstream acceptance of the sport in the media and with the public. It’s an exciting time right now. The fact that the fighters keep progressing and getting better, I can’t imagine what the next generation of fighters will look like. Fighters today keep evolving into better hybrid competitors and it’s amazing to see the sport grow all around in its continuing evolution.
 

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 10:10 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Q&As
        

Dana White, Mandy Moore and UFC Fight for the Troops

The UFC Fight for the Troops event raised more than $4 million for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and its new medical center to be built in Bethesda. In a recent news release, Bill White, President of the IFHF, said UFC and Spike TV should be applauded for their efforts.

"We are profoundly grateful to the UFC and Spike TV for their extraordinary support of our nation's Wounded Warriors,” White said. “Their efforts have moved us that much closer to complete the traumatic brain injury center in Bethesda for the service members that are fighting for our freedom overseas.”

According to the ratings, 2 million viewers watched the fight live on Spike TV and it was one of the most watched programs that night. So, how did this event come about?

Specifically, Arnold Fisher, vice chairman of the Fisher House, contacted Lorenzo Fetitta about raising money for the project (the two are old friends). But after talking with Dana White prior to the event, the seeds were planted even earlier.

“A few years ago, they invited us to a hospital in Texas for troops who have lost limbs and have been badly burned,” White said. “I went down and met some troops and was [expletive deleted] blown away. It was the most significant thing I had ever done in my life. I brought Mandy Moore down there and every time she came out of a room from meeting the troops, she was crying her eyes out. It [expletive deleted] her up. She said, “anytime you do this, don’t hesitate to call me.” We loved it, and got involved. When we heard they were building this new center, we jumped in and have done everything in our power to raise money because we know what worthy cause it is.”

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 9:52 PM | | Comments (0)
        

December 11, 2008

News and notes from UFC Fight for the Troops

I spent the past two days in Fayetteville, N.C. for the UFC Fight for the Troops event. I was there working on this story for ESPN.com about the veterans fighting on the card. With any piece of long-form writing, there's a lot left on the cutting room floor, so I'll be dropping those anecdotes in over the course of the next week or so.

You can still go to fightforthetroops.com if you'd like to donate. The soldiers seemed to really enjoy the event and the fighters certainly put on a great show. Steve Cantwell, made a spectacular UFC debut with the "Submission of the Night" after breaking Razak Al-Hassan's arm with an armbar. Cantwell said the crowd was the best he had ever fought in front of, saying the energy he got from the crowd "was like drinking 100 Red Bulls."

All in all, it was a terrific experience and one I won't soon forget. Although, there are certain parts I wish I could forget. Namely, the horrific injury Corey Hill suffered at the hands of Dale Hartt. Last night was by far the most brutal MMA event I've ever witnessed, as two fighters left the Octagon in stretchers (the first time I saw that happen) and a number of fighters left the cage pretty busted up. And then, of course, there's this from Hill.

Hill attempted a leg kick, which Hartt checked. And then chaos ensued, as the match wasn't stopped immediately. Hill tried to step back on the Gumby-leg and Hartt moved on top of him. The match was stopped shortly after and the sight in the Octagon was a little disturbing. Corey Hill is a good guy, so you hate to see something like this happen to him. He's expected to be on the shelf for 12-18 months.

To see a photo of the injury, click here. (WARNING: This image contains graphic content.)

The photo is courtesy of FIGHT! Magazine. I met a few guys from the magazine at the event. There are some good people over there. It's a great magazine, too.

A few other revelations from the event:

* Diego Sanchez has officially moved down to lightweight.

* Rich Franklin is officially staying at light heavyweight.

* The winner of Franklin vs. Dan Henderson will be the coach for The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9 with Michael Bisping.

* B.J. Penn will not be allowed to move up to middleweight, even if he beats Georges St. Pierre. GSP will be fighting Thiago Alves (if GSP beats Penn) before getting a chance at a superfight with Anderson Silva.

* Mike Swick will probably fight Thiago Alves before Alves is given a title shot at welterweight. That was the rumor making the rounds. It makes sense, only because St. Pierre doesn't fight until January, so it would be awhile before he would be ready to defend his title against Alves (if St. Pierre even wins). Alves deserves a title shot, but don't be surprised to see this fight happen.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 8:23 PM | | Comments (4)
        

December 7, 2008

UFC Fight Night for the Troops fundraising

I’m heading to North Carolina this week for the UFC Fight Night for the Troops, which should be a pretty cool event. It’s a free card on Spike on Wednesday night tied in with fundraising efforts for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

The fund is designing and building the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, an advanced facility dedicated to research, diagnosis and treatment of military personnel and veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI).

I spoke with Spike TV president Kevin Kay about the event and he acknowledged the sagging economy could affect the fundraising goals but stressed that fans should give what they can.

“If it’s a dollar, five dollars, give whatever you can, every little bit will help,” he said. “We’re trying to build a hospital for guys who fight for our freedom every day. MMA fans are incredibly passionate for the sport and respect the military and its importance.”

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 6:59 PM | | Comments (3)
        

December 1, 2008

UFC trims its roster

The UFC has been cutting fighters right and left, starting with Fabricio Werdum and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, even polarizing lightweight Jorge Gurgel. The cuts have been going on for much of November and UFC president Dana White blames the lagging economy. The truth of the matter is the UFC had too many fighters under contract and many of these cuts (not Werdum, though) should make the sport stronger.

Gurgel, however, is an interesting case. Here’s a guy who is extremely proficient on the ground. His Brazilian jiu-jitsu is incredible and even his students excel on the ground (see Dustin Hazelett, winner of two consecutive “Submission of the Night” bonuses). Yet, when he’s in the Octagon, his ground game is non-existent -- he refuses to use it. He stands and trades punches the whole time instead, thinking it will make for a more exciting fight.

That’s what makes Gurgel an interesting case, because he is an exciting fighter. He’s 2-3 in his last five fights but twice during that run, he’s won Fight of the Night honors and a hefty bonus. White always used to tell his fighters, “If you go out there and put on a show, your job is safe.” I think that’s part of the reason Gurgel would rely strictly on stand-up. He’s someone who has lived that mantra to the fullest. It will be interesting to see if his cut has any deeper ramifications on that front.

As for his growth as a fighter, it’s probably a good move for Gurgel to be cut loose. He was quickly signed by Strikeforce and will be given a shot against Josh Thomson and Gilbert Melendez sooner rather than later. He will be a bigger fish in a smaller pond and we may get to see a whole new Gurgel in the process.

I was surprised to see Gurgel cut, especially since he really lives up to the “put on a good show” mantra, and because the heavyweight situation is pretty dire in the UFC, so it will be interesting to see how many more fighters are given the boot.

Still, the cuts should be good for the sport overall, because it will give the other organizations, like Strikeforce, more talent. The smaller promotions should be strengthened by this and that will be good for the sport. It makes more sense for younger and less experienced fighters to get some fights and interesting opportunities. It makes more sense than being held around by the UFC.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 10:04 AM | | Comments (1)
        
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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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