Monday, March 17, 2008

MMA WEEKLY WRAP-UP for the Week of 3/17/08

Welcome to another edition of The MMA Weekly Wrap-UP, where we bring you the latest Internet news, events, and video clips from the world of Combat Sports.


The newest of the reality/MMA competition shows starts tomorrow on BET with a two episode debut at 11:00 (ET). Called Iron Ring, the show is roughly a cross between the IFL team competition concept with a dose The Ultimate Fighter's 'behind the scenes' drama.

There are six, three man, teams representing the Light, Middleweight, and Heavyweight Divisions. Each team is managed by a different celebrity owner, including: Ludacris (Team Luda), Floyd Mayweather (Money Mayweather Boys), T.I. (Team Grand Hustle), Nelly (Team Nelly), Juelz Santana (Team Dipset), and Lil' Jon (Team Headbusters).

In addition, the teams are coached by well known MMA fighters such as Chuck "Krazy Horse" Bennett and TUF competitor, Shonie Carter.

Already, Blogs such as and are wondering if this series will promote MMA as a legitimate sport competition or fall victim to spectacle promotion, overly focusing on violence for the sake of ratings exploitation.

While this series could help to attract a large Black audience to Combat Sports, the focus on celebrity owners and hip hop culture could could make this series just another unneeded MMA side-show. Let's hope the producers take the high road here.


The Strikeforce 'Shamrock vs Cung Le' fight is set to go down March 29th at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. Both fighters are 35 years old, both grew up in California, and both have impressive fight records. Le is 5-0 (all by knockout) in Mixed Martial Art competition since transitioning to the sport in 2006. Before that, he was undefeated career in san shou and K-1 Competition.

Frank Shamrock, the current Strikeforce Middleweight Champion, is 22-8-1 (with 2 wins by knockout) in Mixed Martial Arts competition. He has also competed in catch wrestling, kickboxing, and pancrase style fights.

This match has gotten a great deal of attention as many fight fans wonder how Le's flashy take-downs and spin kicks will fare against Shamrock's no-nonsense, streetbrawl style of fighting.

The following clip from Showtime Sports demonstrates their training and fighting differences. If "styles make fights" then this should be a good one.


Just out this week is the new martial arts flick Never Back Down, which mixes typical teenage angst with mixed martial arts.

Now, tell me if you've heard this synopsis somewhere before... After moving with his family to Orlando, Jake Tyler (Sean Faris) has a tough time fitting in. When he meets a very hot looking girl at school (Amber Heard) and is invited to a big party, he finds himself challenged to a fight and suffers a humiliating beating by the local rich-boy bully (Cam Gigandet).

In order to redeem his self respect and win the heart of the hot chick, Jake takes up Mixed Marital Arts at a local hole-in-the-wall gym. Instructed by a mysterious teacher (Djimon Hounsou), Jake learns to train his mind as well as his body in order to face the bully at a local tournament.

The only thing that could make this movie more "Karate Kid" would be mid-movie training montage with Peter Cetera singing "Glory of Love."


This month's Black Belt Magazine (May 2008) has a great article called "Searching for Tony Jaa" where the author Antonio Graceffo travels to Thailand to "trace the roots of the Hottest Martial Arts Superstar since Jackie Chan and Jet Li."

The article gives a nice history of Jaa Pnom (as he's known in Thailand) and describes his early training as a child as well as a bit of his family history. (Like the character in 'The Protector', Jaa's family really are elephant handlers.) The article also features an interview with Jaa's first martial arts instructor, adjan Sak Chai.

Sak goes on to describe the differences between the muay Thai used in the ring and the muay Thai boran that he teaches, saying that his style emphasizes more wrestling movements.

The only problem with the article is that it doesn't feature an interview with Tony Jaa himself (Maybe in Part II, due out in June 2008). So to keep us all satisfied until then, here's a quick clip of Jaa Pnom in action.

Hope you've enjoyed this weeks Wrap-Up. Check us out again next week when we bring you the MMA's 'Best of the Net'.



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