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Posts from — November 2009

Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort off indefinitely

MMA Junkie is reporting that the middleweight title bout between Anderson Silva and challenger Vitor Belfort scheduled for UFC 109 is now off. Seems Silva won’t be ready in time given he’s still recovering from elbow surgery and may not be 100 percent until April. This doesn’t come as a surprise at all. Although it does put the pressure on BJ Penn and Diego Sanchez to deliver an exciting lightweight championship bout at UFC 107 since it’s the only title fight we’ll see for awhile.

November 30, 2009   No Comments

Check out the UFC’s new McDojo franchise

Is this really how the UFC is going to allow its branded gym franchises to be marketed? This is like a bad infomercial. Everybody’s way too happy/smiley, neither of the two “hosts” convinces me of anything other than if they were cruise ship activities directors they’d get tossed overboard, and the girl in Lulu Lemon in the background looks like she’d be more comfortable wrapped around a pole.

I know they’re going for the soccer moms and business dads tae bo crowd but the first thing that would attract anybody to the gym is the UFC brand. That means people with some knowledge and interest in the UFC (and MMA) already, so giving the place a little edge wouldn’t hurt. I’m not saying they should show hardcore Muay Thai drills while playing Rage Against The Machine on the soundtrack, just that this makes the UFC gym look as generic as any cash-grabbing, no-nothing McDojo.

November 28, 2009   4 Comments

Vancouver one step closer to landing UFC event

A UFC event in Vancouver came one step closer to reality on Friday as the city hosted not one but two amateur MMA cards designed as a testing ground for nervous politicians reluctant to sanction the sport. The city had suspended MMA since 2007 pending further review.

This piece in the Vancouver Sun covers the Honour Combat Championships event, which was attended by Vancouver resident and UFC fighter Denis Kang and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, who is in town filming The A-Team. As the story points out, Vancouver council will discuss the issue of MMA in December, and UFC VP of regulatory affairs Marc Ratner will be in attendance. He expects a UFC event in Vancouver to be confirmed “within 20 to 30 days” of council okaying regulation, with a June target date in mind.

November 28, 2009   No Comments

Rich Franklin is definitely not fighting Keith Jardine

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A couple of weeks ago I posted about a rumour that Rich Franklin will face Keith Jardine in a light heavyweight battle at UFC 110 in February. Well, when I sat down with Franklin last Saturday at Revolution MMA, my first question was about the proposed fight. “I’m not fighting Jardine or anyone else for awhile,” Franklin says. “I now his name has been mentioned. The UFC has had a lot of trouble lately with fighters getting sick and injured and they called me first ti fight in February and I said, ‘No.’ And then they wanted me for January and then November. But I’m taking a few months off and don’t plan on fighting again until April or May.”

There are two things that can be gleaned from this. The first is that Franklin is one of the UFC’s top go-to guys; the second is that the UFC is definitely hurting from all the injuries and illnesses that have swept through the roster. Oh, and I guess there’s a third thing – Keith Jardine needs an opponent.

November 27, 2009   1 Comment

Fedor Emelianenko and his sweater sit for an interview

What I learned from this interview with Fedor Emelianenko: Fedor doesn’t need to relax after a fight because he doesn’t exert himself. After a fight he goes to church and then souvenir shopping. He is e-mail buddies with Josh Barnett. Maybe they’re BFFs. And apparently, the Russian word for “Josh” is “George.”

November 27, 2009   No Comments

Training with Rich Franklin is aces

richfranklin

(The following story, about the seminar I attended last weekend with Rich Franklin, appears in today’s National Post.)

I’m choking out UFC superstar Rich Franklin. That’s never happened to him in 32 professional MMA fights, although this is hardly an octagon cage war.

He called me out from across the practice mat to grapple, and after admiring the bull’s eye painted on the front of my mouthguard, he gave me a pink-mouthguarded grin and began attacking me with a series of submissions — armbars, kimuras, triangle chokes, the kitchen sink.

Just when I was beginning to feel like a ball of yarn being pawed by a very large kitten, he allowed me to slip behind him and lock an arm around his throat. Then he did something even more surprising. Instead of struggling to break free of my grip, which he could have done as easily as snapping a twig, he adjusted my hold to sink the choke in even deeper, forcing him to tap out before he passed out.

We’re at Revolution MMA, an upscale mixed martial arts gym in northern Toronto. Franklin has flown from his home in Cincinnati to spend a Saturday afternoon teaching a seminar. For the 20 or so would-be ultimate fighters and weekend warriors in attendance it’s like learning to shoot hoops from LeBron James or golf from Tiger Woods. Yes, a couple of hours with Franklin and he’s tightened up my boxing and plugged holes in my ground game, but it’s as much about the fanboy experience as it is learning the intricacies and nuances of cage combat.

“I like teaching seminars but it’s hard because the skill level of the participants varies so widely you never know how technical to get before people start getting either lost or bored,” says Franklin, who taught high school math until his career in the UFC took off. “Sometimes they want to learn how to fight, sometimes they’re more interested in hearing stories about fighting, which is fine, so I try to provide both.”

It’s hard not to stare at Franklin as he talks. Nicknamed Ace because of his resemblance to a certain pet detective, he’s like a mad science experiment that grafted Jim Carrey’s head onto a gorilla’s body. And the whole time I’m looking at him, I’m picturing Anderson Silva’s knees rearranging his face when Silva beat Franklin to capture the UFC middleweight title.

It takes a particular kind of guts to step into the octagon against MMA monsters like Anderson Silva (twice), Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva, especially while wearing fight shorts the colour of neopolitan ice cream. But that’s what makes Rich Franklin one of the most-popular fighters in the UFC, his Average Joe-ness and willingness to fight whomever UFC president Dana White puts in front of him.

“I’m a businessman and this is my job,” he says. “It’s all about the next fight, getting in the cage. It doesn’t matter who they put in there with me.”

In addition to being a former champion and fan favourite, Franklin is also one of the UFC’s top workhorses. He’s fought sixteen times in the last six years and three times this year already against top opponents, despite a few nagging injuries. His last fight was a first-round loss to Belfort in September that saw the lightning-fisted Brazilian swarm Franklin and pummel him with punches until the referee stepped in.

So, despite the injuries and illnesses that have sidelined four of the UFC’s five divisional champions and at least as many top contenders, making a pay-per-view powerhouse like Franklin all the more valuable to the promotion, Franklin has decided to take a few much-needed months off.

“I took the Belfort fight because Dana called and asked me, even though I wasn’t quite where I needed to be physically or mentally. Now, I’m not making excuses, that’s just the nature of the fight game,” he says. “But now I’m taking some time off and probably won’t fight again until April or May. I need to rest and relax and recover a little bit and I also hate prepping for a fight in the wintertime. Cincinnati can get pretty cold and I hate running and working out when the temperature is always zero.”

While fans wait anxiously for the fighter’s return, Franklin finds himself in an unusual position. He has fought at both middleweight (185 pounds) and light heavyweight (205 pounds), but his last two fights, a unanimous-decision win over Wanderlei Silva and the knockout loss to Belfort, were both contested at a 195-pound catchweight.

“The UFC asked me to fight the catchweight fights to help Silva and Belfort make the drop down to 185 pounds,” says the 35-year-old. “But now I’ve lost my ranking at 185 and 205. It’s crazy — I can headline a card and not be top-10 ranked.”

As a result, he admits the UFC isn’t quite sure what to do with him. Fighting at middleweight is an exercise in futility given he’s already lost twice to champ Anderson Silva, who is either from the Matrix or Krypton, while he’s also lost to the light heavyweight champ, Lyoto Machida. Yet, Franklin isn’t quite ready to settle into the role of gatekeeper, the fighter all challengers must get past before being handed a title shot.

“I just want to fight the top fighters in whatever division I’m in,” he says. And then, as if recognizing the cliché he’s just offered, he adds, “Even if I put together a couple of wins at 195 I’m not sure that helps me at 205 in terms of getting big fights. I need to get in there and mix it up with the light heavyweights so I can work my way toward a title shot.”

November 27, 2009   No Comments

Rampage Jackson really can’t act. At all.

No words. There are just no words. What do I say about this? It’s a clip from Death Warrior, which plays like a relic from Cannon Films circa 1983. Oh, and the guy that Rampage is fighting is also the screenwriter, so he should take some of the blame as well.

November 27, 2009   No Comments

Big Nog vs. Cain Velasquez shuffles to UFC 110

Just a quick update on the Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Cain Velasquez situation. Yesterday I reported that they two were slated to meet at UFC 109 and now MMA Junkie is saying UFC 110 in Australia. Won’t know for sure until the UFC announces it, but the Junkie report looks solid.

November 27, 2009   No Comments

BJ Penn’s lack of enthusiasm for fighting Diego Sanchez is contagious

Perhaps the most low-key UFC promo yet. BJ Penn is bored. He believes hiis opponent, Diego Sanchez, is “credible,” which means he doesn’t think he’s in any way a challenge to his lightweight title. Could be a case of overconfidence that will work in Sanchez’s favour. Or not.

November 26, 2009   No Comments

GSP vs. Hardy possible for UFC 111

GSP-v-Hardy

Rumours are out there that UFC welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre and Dan Hardy will meet at UFC 111 on March 11. And while the timing of the bout fits, the location doesn’t. Those same rumours are reporting that the event will take place in Newark, NJ, which strikes me as odd considering just last week UFC president Dana White gave an interview on MMA Junkie Radio in which he stated that the UFC had no plans to return to New Jersey in 2010 given that shows in Australia, Vancouver, Montreal and New York are already in the planning stages. Maybe White misspoke, or maybe the rumour is wrong. We’ll see.

November 26, 2009   No Comments

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