Posts Tagged ‘Ultimate Fighting Championship’

For his biggest fight, Edgar returns to scene of his other biggest fight

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Frankie Edgar

Frankie Edgar (left) defeated Tyson Griffin in his UFC debut on Feb. 3, 2007. [Josh Hedges/ Zuffa LLC via Getty Images]

LAS VEGAS — When Frankie Edgar makes the long, lonely walk to the octagon at the Mandalay Bay Events Center for the biggest fight of his career on Saturday night, he might experience a flashback to the other time he made the long, lonely walk to the octagon at the Mandalay Bay Events Center for the biggest fight of his career.

It was six years ago almost to the day, at the traditional Super Bowl Weekend fight card on Feb. 3, 2007. Edgar was 6-0 at the time, but he’d fought outside his native New Jersey only once, in his first professional bout on an unsanctioned card in a dingy gym in the Bronx. Now he was under the sparkling lights of Vegas for UFC 67, making his debut with the sport’s behemoth fight promotion.

So while the then-25-year-old’s fight with Tyson Griffin was one of the early prelims — not the main event, as will be the case this weekend when Edgar (15-3-1) tries to dethrone featherweight king Jose Aldo — it sure was a big deal to Frankie. Griffin was also unbeaten, with wins over Duane Ludwig and Urijah Faber. Edgar, meanwhile, took the fight on four weeks’ notice and had his training interrupted by “the worst sinus infection of my life.”

“I remember just coming here and that week I felt like I still had to get in shape to fight on Saturday,” he recalled in a conversation with reporters on Thursday. “It was wild, man.”

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  • Published On Feb 01, 2013
  • Dana White: With random testing, 400 of the 475 fighters on the UFC’s roster would test positive for marijuana

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    Dana White is not in favor of random drug testing. (Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports)

    LAS VEGAS — Dana White hates the idea of a fighter stepping into the octagon under the influence of performance enhancing drugs. “You go in and you face another fighter,” says the UFC president, “you can hurt him.”

    So why doesn’t the fight promotion hire a private company that could administer more rigorous random testing than what’s possible within the budget constraints of state athletic commissions? One reason might be that White has concerns over a correlated effect of expanded testing, especially if done at times other than during fight week.

    “Everybody thinks that if you did the random testing you’d catch so many guys on PEDs,” White told a group of reporters following Thursday’s UFC 155 pre-fight press conference. “You’d catch more guys on marijuana.”

    Well, OK, so Nick Diaz would perpetually be under suspension, or at least double-secret probation. And any fighter who’s ever hung out in Diaz’s living room in Stockton, Calif., might have to worry about the lingering effects of a contact high. But that’s about it, right?

    Not according to White. “So, 475 guys under contract,” he said, “and 400 will be out with marijuana.”

    Four hundred? As in, 84 percent of the UFC’s roster?

    Now, I realize that some fighters live in Colorado and Washington, states where pot is now legal. I know the light heavyweight champion walked out to a reggae classic prior to his last fight. Nonetheless, White’s estimate seems astoundingly high, so to speak, especially considering how vigilant many athletes in this sport are about every last thing they allow into their bodies. There are lots of vegetarians and vegans in the UFC, and many of those who do eat meat will consume only organic. I suppose that doesn’t rule out pot, but still … 400 out of 475? That’d be like all of the major leagues except the AL Central being stoners.

    Speaking of which, White’s claim came while he was being questioned about UFC drug policy as it relates to those in other professional sports. And his comment on that topic was not surprising. Calling the recent years’ PED focus on players from the past misplaced, White said, “Go after the guys who are playing now. Those are the ones you want to bust.”

    And even when the names of Manny Ramirez and Ryan Braun were brought up, as active players who were suspended for positive steroid tests, White would not concede that Major League Baseball or any other mainstream sport is doing a better job than the UFC of keeping things clean. “If you think baseball and football are really knocking it out of the park, pun intended, you’re crazy,” he said. “If they were really testing all the guys in baseball, do you think there’d be a [expletive] baseball game every day? There wouldn’t be, man. They’d be pulling guys up from the minors every day. It’d be crazy.”

    —Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Dec 29, 2012
  • Source: UFC talking to Anderson Silva about more than one superfight

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    Anderson Silva

    UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva has two bouts left on his existing UFC contract, and both could be superfights. [Tom Szczerbowski/US Presswire]

    Three weeks ago, Georges St-Pierre returned from a 19-month absence and showed himself to be fully recovered from knee surgery with a gritty victory over Carlos Condit. Anderson Silva was cageside in Montreal that night to watch it all unfold … and to let it be known that he was interested in fighting the UFC welterweight champion.

    Prior to that, however, when there was talk of the middleweight king taking on another belt holder, the speculation usually centered on the possibility of Silva stepping into the cage with light heavyweight champ Jon Jones.

    So which superfight are we going to see?

    Well, how about both?

    A reliable source has told that Silva had a meeting scheduled with UFC president Dana White on Wednesday night to discuss superfights. Yes, that’s superfights, plural.

    Silva’s manager, Ed Soares, confirmed that a meeting took place but would not say what was discussed. He would only reveal that “Anderson got a beautiful Bentley.”

    That’s the same make of vehicle that was driven by Jones before the then-24-year-old wrecked it in a drunken crash in May.

    Jones and Silva have said they would not fight, citing their friendship as well as concerns that they would be putting their legacies and endorsement deals at risk. But White has talked of staging a superfight in 100,000-seat Cowboys Stadium outside Dallas, which would make the bout a huge moneymaker for the UFC, with appropriately hefty fighter purses.

    Might the gift of a Bentley be the first step in paving the way for the superfight of all superfights, with the UFC ensuring that Silva and family keep up with the Joneses?

    – Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Dec 06, 2012
  • A new role for Dana White in promoting next weekend’s UFC fight card on Fox?

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    Dana White will do anything for a little cross-promotion of next weekend’s UFC on Fox event. Even if it renders him homeless.

    Of course, the UFC president isn’t really a homeless person. He just plays one on TV.

    During the Fox NFL Sunday pregame show on Sunday afternoon, there was a mildly humorous skit in which Rob Riggle — a comic who’ll never be confused for Rickles — portrays one of those scurrilous tipsters who try to entice bettors to pay for can’t-miss picks. Nudging along the guffaws are cameos by Richard Simmons and, at around the 1:50 mark of the video below, Dana White.

    Now, if it were anyone else playing the role that Riggle describes as “the man that lives outside my bank,” that would be the end of the story. But this is Dana White we’re talking about, and he’s always going to take things a step too far. So after a Fox Sports feed on Twitter sent out a picture of White, in character, sitting on a sidewalk holding a sign reading “PLEASE HELP!! NEED FOOD A.K.A. BOOZE,” and a few fans expressed their disapproval of the not-so-PC homelessness characterization on their own Twitter feeds, Dana couldn’t just let it go.

    He fired back. And fired back some more. Typical of the venom that White spewed: “People are such pussies these days it makes me SICK!!!”

    Oh, where have you gone, Dale Carnegie?

    – Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Dec 03, 2012
  • For his UFC return, Georges St-Pierre finds inspiration in NFL’s Tom Brady

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    Tom Brady

    Tom Brady attended UFC 118 when it came to the TD Garden in Boston. (Mike Roach/Getty Images)

    MONTREAL — Some fighters prepare for a bout by watching video of an opponent’s past performances. Others prefer to let their trainers do the film work. Georges St-Pierre might well have found his inspiration, in the lead-up to Saturday night’s welterweight title defense against Carlos Condit in the main event of UFC 154 at the Bell Centre, by tuning his TV to NFL football.

    Specifically, games involving the Patriots … especially when the Tom Brady-led offense is on the field.

    You see, St-Pierre and Brady have something in common. Or rather, someone: Neal S. ElAttrache.

    “Dr. ElAttrache did Tom Brady’s ACL, and he had almost the identical injury to me,” St-Pierre said in a statement issued by the UFC. “Brady came back and was better than ever, so I put my trust in Dr. ElAttrache and I am back 100 percent.”

    ElAttrache, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles, performed reconstructive surgery on Brady’s anterior cruciate ligament and also repaired his medial collateral ligament after the quarterback was injured in the opening game of the 2008 season. Since returning the following year, Brady has led New England to the playoffs and made the Pro Bowl each season. Last February he brought the Patriots right back to where they were just prior to his injury: the Super Bowl.

    St-Pierre, who has not fought in 19 months after injuring his right knee during training for his original date with Condit, might find particular solace in watching Brady’s first game back from injury. Brady, whom teammate Chandler Jones (brother of UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones) says is a huge MMA fan, threw for 378 yards and two touchdowns in a comeback win over Buffalo.

    “The knee is like the injury never even happened,” said St-Pierre. “I’ve been out for a year and a half, but I am back. All those who doubted me will have a big reality check, because I’m better than ever.”

    How is Carlos Condit supposed to counteract that? Well, maybe he should watch some Eli Manning videos.

    —Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Nov 17, 2012
  • Digging into the Quebec roots of UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre

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    Georges St-Pierre

    Georges St-Pierre returns to his native Canada to fight Carlos Condit at UFC 154. (Josh Hedges/Getty Images)

    ST-REMI, Quebec — Sitting in a restaurant in northern Vermont enjoying a nice lunch and a much-needed break from my hours-long drive to Montreal, it occurred to me that a little further along my route I would be passing through the area where Georges St-Pierre grew up. The UFC welterweight champion is often referred to as a Montreal fighter, and the crowd at the Bell Centre will surely make him feel like one when he’s introduced before his title defense against Carlos Condit in the main event of UFC 154 on Saturday night. But GSP is no city boy. He actually hails from the vast Quebec countryside tucked between the St. Lawrence River and the U.S. border.

    Pulling the smart phone out of my pocket while I waited for dessert to arrive — you’re allowed to have a little something sweet in the middle of the day, unless you’re trying to make weight for a UFC fight or something — I quickly scanned some online articles about St-Pierre’s youth and came upon one about a recent visit he paid to his old high school in Saint-Rémi, Quebec. Hmm, I thought, if it’s not too far out of the way …

    And then, yup, to locate the land of GSP, I used my GPS.

    I’m not sure what I expected to see when I pulled into Saint-Rémi, a tiny city of around 7,000 tucked into a landscape of farmland, small industry and windmills, lots of windmills, in southwestern Quebec. I guess I envisioned “Go GSP” window signs in storefronts, maybe even a banner strung across a downtown street proclaiming “Home of Georges St-Pierre.”

    There was nothing, though, no visible acknowledgement that one of the greatest mixed martial arts of all time — a three-time Sportsnet Canadian Athlete of the Year — spent his formative years here.

    I saw a bunch of guys gathered outside an apartment building down the block from École Pierre-Bédard, where GSP returned not long ago to talk to students about his school chin-ups record, which still stands, and the bullying he went through while in school. I wondered whether any of these men on the apartment building stoop were the ones who’d pushed GSP around back in the day. I decided not to bother them.

    Right across from the school I saw an elementary-grade kid walking with his book bag and, imagining him to be of the age where he might have a GSP poster on his bedroom wall, considered pulling over and talking to him. But then I thought better of being that guy who pulls his car to the side of the road and rolls his window down to talk to a school kid.

    I ended up at a convenience store in the center of town. As I walked up to the cash register with my bottled water, I noticed that among the staff gathered was a young man with a buzz cut, wearing a black T-shirt with some combative-looking logo across the front. He looked like what half of the Bell Centre crowd will look like on Saturday night. He’s my man, I thought.

    “I understand I am in the home of GSP,” I sid to the woman behind the counter as I fumbled through my Canadian coins to pay for my water. She stared at me blankly. It turned out, as I learned when I look it up on my iPhone upon returning to my car, that 96 percent of the Saint-Rémi population speaks only French. The young woman took my money and gestured toward the black T-shirt guy, who it turns out is among the community’s bilinguals.

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  • Published On Nov 17, 2012
  • Dana White makes it official: Ronda Rousey is the UFC’s first female fighter

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    Ronda Rousey’s next match will be as a member of UFC. (Robert Beck/SI)

    MONTREAL — Ronda Rousey usually is the one doing the arm twisting. Did someone beat her at her own game to get her to finally comment on her job status?

    “Okay I admit it … I’m officially a UFC fighter,” Rousey wrote on Twitter on Friday afternoon, after more than a week of steering clear of the subject of a report that she had become the first female fighter in the promotion’s history. “So excited! Can’t wait to debut! Let Dana White know who you want my first opponent to be!”

    There’d been no arm twisting involved, actually, but White had beaten Rousey to the punch, so to speak. Earlier in the day he went on Jim Rome’s nationally syndicated radio program and confirmed what he, too, had been uncharacteristically silent about ever since the groundbreaking story broke. “Yes, it’s official,” he said in answer to Rome’s question about the TMZ report, which had been confirmed by other media outlets, but all citing anonymous sources. “Ronda Rousey did sign with the UFC.”

    This official confirmation didn’t create much of a buzz at New Gas City, the cavernous downtown Montreal nightclub that was the venue for Friday’s UFC 154 weigh-ins. The place was packed and noisy, just as the UFC likes it, and what the fans saw was uneventful, with every fighter on the card making weight — also just as the UFC likes it. Georges St-Pierre, who defends his welterweight championship for the first time in 19 months in Saturday night’s main event, got a hero’s welcome in the city where he lives and trains. His opponent, interim champ Carlos Condit, received polite applause. The Rousey news, so widely considered a fait accompli after last week’s report, was not the least bit of a distraction.

    Still, listening to the Rome show, it was cool to hear White make a public endorsement of women’s MMA, something he had said as recently as a year ago would never be a part of the UFC. It’s not too difficult to understand why Dana would have had a change of heart if you’ve ever seen Rousey fight.

    “I tell you, this girl is nasty,” he told Rome. “She might be beautiful on the outside. She’s a Diaz brother on the inside. She’s a real fighter. She’s very talented. She has the credentials, the pedigree, I mean, everything.”

    Everything? Dana was referring to more than Rousey’s Olympic bronze medal in judo, her Strikeforce women’s bantamweight championship and her 6-0 professional record, with every win by that unstoppable armbar, all but one in the very first minute. The UFC president is looking beyond all of that. “I think she has that ‘it’ factor,” he said. “I think she’s going to be a big superstar.”

    Whether that happens falls as much on him and his promotional team, of course, as it does on the fighter. But so far Rousey and the UFC have been a marketable match, with “Rowdy Ronda” appearing everywhere from the cover of the ESPN the Magazine “Body Issue” to the Sports Illustrated TV magazine show on NBC Network.

    The ultimate test, however, will come not on the newsstand, the TV screen or the Madison Avenue boardroom. It’ll come in the cage. No one has yet posed a threat to Rousey, and for the 25-year-old’s star to continue to rise she’s going to need to overcome some viable challenges. Cris “Cyborg” Santos, long the indomitable force in the women’s fight game, will be Rousey’s most treacherous hurdle once the Brazilian finishes her steroid suspension. Then the two fighters’ camps can get past their silly squabble over how to bridge the weight-class gap between the 145-pound Cyborg and Rousey, who began her career at 145 but now is champion among women 10 pounds lighter.

    White offered no hint on when we’ll see a Rousey vs. Cyborg matchup. But he did insist that Rousey’s challenges will not end there. “She’s got four or five good fights,” he said during his radio appearance. “The next two years, we’ve got really good opponents for her, and it’s going to be interesting.”

    It’s already interesting, considering that White’s dismissal of women’s MMA all along was centered on his insistence that there were not enough top-level women to fill a division. Rousey’s “four or five good fights” sounds like a UFC women’s division in the making.

    —Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Nov 16, 2012
  • Anderson Silva: No Georges St-Pierre challenge at UFC 154 on Saturday night, and no fight until the end of next year

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    Anderson Silva easily defeated Stephan Bonnar at UFC 153 last month in Rio. (

    Anderson Silva plays with people.

    The UFC middleweight champion has done it for years inside the octagon, most recently a month ago in Rio de Janeiro. He languished against the cage early in the main event that night as if lazing about on a street corner, arms at his side except to rev up the crowd of adoring countrymen by broadly gesturing for his opponent to hit him. No, to try to hit him. Then, after dodging every punch with nothing but a fluid rhythm of head and upper torso movement that would make a matador blush and a contortionist blanch, Silva apparently decided that he’d toyed enough with the musclebound man standing in front of him slinging hopeless leather. And with a single well-placed knee, he knocked the juice out of Stephan Bonnar. Show’s over, folks.

    Outside the cage, Silva plays with all of us.

    You were expecting “The Spider” to walk into the octagon Saturday night in Montreal, if Georges St-Pierre wins the UFC 154 main event, and publicly challenge the welterweight champion to a superfight, right? He’s going to be at the Bell Centre, we know. And UFC president Dana White is on record as saying, “He wants [GSP] to win this fight, and he wants to fight him after.” Asked directly if Silva will challenge St-Pierre in the octagon post-fight, the UFC president answered, “I would say yes.”

    But Silva says no. “Not in my character to stand up and challenge anyone,” he told Tatame in a story posted Monday on the Brazilian magazine’s website. “I think that this will not happen.” He laughed and added, “I think not, I’m sure.” (Translation from Portuguese is from online sources.)

    We might be inclined to chalk up this about-face letdown to the fight promoter with the mostest. During his conference call with MMA media last week, White made it sound like the octagon challenge was a fait accompli. But does he really need to use a phony Silva call-out to help sell the first St-Pierre fight in more than a year and a half? No, he doesn’t. It might well be that Dana simply knew that Silva was going to be in the building and put two and two together.

    Well, here’s another set of numbers for White’s abacus: two zero one three.

    Silva revealed in the same Brazilian interview that he does not intend to fight again until the end of 2013. White had been expecting to be able to put Silva back in the cage much sooner than that — perhaps against GSP in Cowboys Stadium outside Dallas.

    “I think it’s time for me to leave my life in order, because this thing of always being worried and having work, I just leave my personal life aside,” Silva told Tatame. “I have my projects, my personal plans and will keep them moving forward.”

    While grinding the middleweight division to a halt?

    Or maybe just putting Dana White through the grinder. Silva knows what Dana told the media and understands how much a superfight with St-Pierre would mean to the UFC. Perhaps this is simply his dramatic way of letting it be known that he won’t come cheap.

    We know Silva likes to play with people. Maybe he plays them, too.

    —Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Nov 12, 2012
  • Demetrious Johnson will defend UFC flyweight belt against John Dodson on Fox telecast Jan. 26 from Chicago

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    Demetrious Johnson (above), the UFC’s first flyweight champion, will make his maiden defense against John Dodson on Jan. 26. (Al Bello/Zuffa LLC)

    Election Night was a sensory overload of names and numbers, of blue and red and talking heads. Obama vs. Romney. Rove vs. Mathematics. Johnson vs. Dodson.

    That last one was not a race for a seat in Washington. It’s a contest for which the finish line is in Chicago and still far, far away. The starter’s pistol has just sounded, in fact.

    I’m talking about Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson, the first defense of the UFC flyweight division belt that “Mighty Mouse” captured back in September by beating Joseph Benavidez in the finale of a four-man tournament. Dodson, winner of the 135-pound tourney in Season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter, earned the first shot at the new 125-pound champion by knocking out Jussier da Silva last month.

    So we knew Johnson and Dodson were destined to clash sometime, and the UFC announced Tuesday night on its Fuel TV show, UFC Tonight, that “sometime” will be in the main event of the UFC on Fox card Jan. 26 at the United Center.

    How fitting that this fight announcement would come on a night when the country was focused on something other than mixed martial arts (and something far more vicious, at that!). Flying under the radar on Election Night is actually a step up for the flyweight division. It’s maddening but true. Johnson vs. Benavidez and Dodson vs. Da Silva were fought at a pace achieved by competitors in the bigger weight classes only when the bouts are viewed on a DVR set at fast-forward. Yet the 125-pounders heard boos from arena crowds presumably more interested in bloodshed than lightning-fast displays of all-around technical mastery.

    Hearing fans in Toronto jeer the Johnson-Benavidez title bout embittered UFC president Dana White, who afterward spat out, “If you didn’t like the flyweight fight, please, I’m begging you, don’t ever buy another UFC pay-per-view again. I don’t want your money. You’re a moron. You don’t like fighting. You don’t appreciate talent.”

    Sure, Dana is one to bluster, but in this instance he was spot on. I mean, c’mon, people.

    Now the UFC is presenting another 125-pound main event. Interestingly, this one is on free TV, not PPV, so maybe name caller Dana is all bark and no bite. Still, watch your step, Windy City.

    Even if you can’t appreciate the little guys, though, you’re still in for big entertainment. The co-main event between Donald Cerrone and Anthony Pettis — also made official Tuesday night — could determine the next challenger for the lightweight belt. Erik Koch vs. Ricardo Lamas, a bout that has reported is being moved to this event, could produce the next featherweight title contestant. And then there’s Glover Teixeira vs. Quinton Jackson, a clash between a light heavyweight on the way up and one on the way out.

    With a lead-in as potent as all that, the flyweights are really going to have to bring it to justify their place in the spotlight. What else is new?

    – Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Nov 08, 2012
  • UFC’s White: Cowboys Stadium could host superfight between GSP, Silva

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    Georges St-Pierre

    Georges St-Pierre (left) is returning to the cage for the first time in 20 months. [Al Bello/ Zuffa LLC via Getty Images]

    “We missed him,” said Dana White, the words spoken with a hint of longing. “It’s good to have him back.”

    The UFC president was speaking of his company’s most lucrative pay-per-view draw, welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, who is indeed back after 20 months away from the octagon because of knee surgery and the rehab that followed. White was so thrilled that GSP is ready to fight again, in fact, that he assembled MMA reporters on Wednesday afternoon to hype the superfight between St-Pierre and middleweight champ Anderson Silva.

    No, wait, the media conference call was actually about Georges’ bout against interim champion Carlos Condit a week from Saturday in the main event of UFC 154 in Montreal. At least that’s what the press release said the call was going to be about.

    As things turned out, though, the session came as close to being an announcement of GSP vs. Silva as the fight promotion could muster without issuing an official poster.

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  • Published On Nov 07, 2012