Monday, April 21, 2008

THE MMA WEEKLY WRAP-UP for the week of 4/21/08

The Welterweight Drama Continues Even After the Bell

Well it happened. As predicted by most critics in MMA circles, George St. Pierre successfully defended his welterweight title against the former champ, Matt Serra at this weekend's UFC 83 in Montreal, Canada.

St. Pierre dominated Serra with kicks and punches, he dominated on the ground, he dominated the takedowns, he dominated every aspect of the fight... and yet, unbelievably, Serra still has cause to claim that he was 'robbed'.

Near the end the second round, St. Pierre had Serra trapped on all fours as he unleashed several vicious knees into his ribs. Serra was unable to block the kicks or fight back, however, he did not appear to be injured or hurt. With 15 seconds left in the round, the referee surprisingly jumped in and stopped the fight, giving St. Pierre the win by TKO (knee kicks).

Now let's be clear here. Nobody is saying that St. Pierre wasn't winning. He was clearly ahead in the match, hitting Serra with powerful strikes and consistently gaining superior positions; however, the referee's decision to call the fight at the end of the second round seemed a bit odd.

Serra appeared to be handling St. Pierre's assault well and certainly able to hold on long enough to make it to round three. With the title on the line of this much anticipated fight, it was rather strange to see it called against a healthy fighter who seemed more than willing to continue.

Prior to the match, most fight fans figured that the night would end with a knock out, a choke, or at least a submission. Few would have suspected that it would be decided by referee interference.

All of this, of course, only serves to add to the drama of the UFC welterweight division. Even after this match, fans will still line up to watch a Serra vs Hughes fight later on this year. Also, the Serra/St. Pierre series is still officially 1 to 1 (with an arguably bad call in St. Pierre's favor) so there will almost certainly be a Serra vs St. Pierre III sometime down the road.

Will the drama never end? I hope not!

In other UFC 83 news, middleweight Rich Franklin won an important TKO victory against Travis Lutter, proving that he is still one of the best.

Franklin is now like one of the villains in a video game that you have to get past before you get to fight the main guy. In this case, you have to get past Franklin before you've earned the right to face Anderson Silva. (That should be in Silva's contract... MUST BEAT RICH FRANKLIN BEFORE POSSIBLE FIGHT WILL BE CONSIDERED. - In order to get yet another rematch, Franklin will have to beat himself!)

Finally, there is the totally bizarre fight between the Canadian, Kalib Starnes and Nate Quarry. For some reason, Starnes thought it would be a good idea to spend the entire fight running away from his opponent. He ducked, dodged, and often just plain ran from Quarry for 3 rounds.

Frustrated by his opponent's lack of fight, Quarry began making fun of him, highstepping in the ring and making 'grade school' fight gestures.

During the post fight interview, however, Quarry returned to good spirits. When asked about fighting in Canada, he did his best Rocky IV impersonation, saying "When I first came into the camp, I heard some boos and I didn't know how to feel... I was like yo... but then as the fight went on, I figured if you can change... and I can change... then anybody can change!"

CagePotato.com reports that Starnes threw his fight in an attempt to protest low fighter salaries and failure to pay medical expenses. A rather strange way to stage a protest, but then again it's Canada. What else can we say?

Either way, the UFC has officially canceled his contract. (Maybe this is what Randy Couture should have done.)

Here's some highlights (err... lowlights) from the Starnes/Quarry fight, courtesy of CagePotato.com


The Changing Landscape of Combat Sports
As we reported a couple of weeks ago, The Bodog organization is close to financial collapse.

Now, it appears that the IFL is also having money problems. Cagepotato.com tells us that since 2006, the organization has lost $31 million dollars. Their annual revenues are not enough to cover the $15.9 million that was spent on events, while only generating $498,000 from sponsors. The future does not look good for the UFC's closest competitor. (And therefore does not look good for many of the athletes such as Randy Couture, Pat Militich, Bas Rutten, etc. who dropped their contracts with the UFC to compete in the IFL)

No word on how Bob Meyrowitz's YAMMA organization is doing, but if their April 11th Event in New Jersey is any indication, the group seems to lack sustainability.

So with all of these sport combat organizations in trouble, who seems to be surviving?

Well, of course the UFC. Unfortunately, many feel that this company does not share it's good fortune with its fighters and holds them to unfairly exclusive contracts. -Randy Couture is currently in a legal battle with Zuffa (UFC's parent company) while other fighters, like Kalib Starnes, prefer to demonstrate their displeasure by dancing around the Octagon.

One promoter for MMA fights that appears to be doing pretty good is BET's Iron Ring. Although I recently called the show "amateur hour" in a previous post, it's actually started to grow on me.

Part of its charm is the fact that it isn't glamorous or flashy. Even if the fighters aren't very technical or experienced, they still put up a good fight. All in all, a very entertaining show.

The show is produced by David Isaacs and Campbell McLaren, who worked for the original UFC owner UFC owner, Bob Meyrowitz. While the show strives to be more entertainment than sport, it has done a surprisingly good job of attracting new fans to mma competition.

According to Dave Meltzer of Yahoo! Sports, the show draws ratings in the 0.76 to 0.87 range and averages about 900,000 viewers. He goes on to say that, "The numbers aren’t that much lower than many episodes of the sixth season of Ultimate Fighter, and there are more viewers than any other MMA programming has had to date."

Not bad for a bunch of amateurs.

Another group that is doing well is Strikeforce on NBC. Showing on Saturday nights at the way late time of 2:00am ET/PT, Strikeforce is slowly positioning it's way into mainstream media.

Sure you have to stay up real late to watch, but look what happened to another NBC late night experiment - SNL.

NBC has begun posting MMA related videos on their sports page website. Here's a short clip of an interview with Nate Quarry after his UFC 83 "fight."



Chuck Liddell Taken Off UFC 85 Card

FiveOuncesofPain.com reports that the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champ, Chuck Liddell has been removed from the UFC 85 Event which was to take place in London, England on June 7th. Liddell was scheduled to fight TUF winner Rashad Evans. It is expected that Evans will also be removed from the card so that their fight can be rescheduled for later this summer.

It is assumed that Liddell suffered a training injury, but no further information is available at this time.

Let's hope that "Iceman" gets better soon. In the meantime, here's a classic Punk'd starring everybody's favorite Mohawk.




Before we go, there's someone else besides Evans that would like to fight Liddell.

Apparently, Kimbo Slice (Kevin Fergusson) has heard that Liddell doesn't think much about his fighting ability and has decided to call him out. I'd like to post the interview, but Kimbo's colorful language doesn't quite fit into the TDA Training PG-13 guidelines, so you'll have to check it out at YouTube.com. (You've been warned.)

Anyway, that's going to do it for this week. Check back again for the "Best of the Web" in MMA.

Respectfully,

Rick

2 comments:

Steve said...

Overall, a good card. I have heard that Serra was verbally submitting and that was why the ref stopped that fight.

I had also read about Starnes', and remember that injury when it happened (a deep gash on his head that stopped his fight against Belcher). What I hadn't heard is that he "threw" the fight. No matter how you look at it, he stunk in that fight, but it's one thing to throw the fight and another to be reluctant to engage because you don't want to get hurt.

The IFL has been teetering on the brink since the beginning. It's a terrific idea that just hasn't yet caught on. I like the team concept, the salaries, the medical insurance for the fighters.

I'm curious, with all of these big promotions on the brink, what Affliction is going to do differently to compete with the UFC.

Nathan Teodoro said...

Hilarious! I love the Rich Franklin quip!