Your MMA News, My Views 8.17.07
Welcome once again to another edition of Your MMA News, My Views! I have a fine slate of topics for you children to read today, as well as a special study on “Repressed Rampage.” From there we shall talk about Vera coming back to the UFC, the question of when Chuck Liddell gets another title shot, who ION booted Bodog Fight and much more. It will be a fun day, so sit back, relax and drop a line of feedback; I so love it.
A Study on Repressed Rampage…
Back on May 28th when I was giving my Final Thoughts on UFC 71, I had this to say: While Rampage won the first match they had, this was his career-defining win. He could have lost and we would have had the rematch, but he got the win and now is a superstar. People hated him, but when he steps into the octagon next, against Henderson he’ll be a HUGE face and they will love him. Quinton Jackson is a tremendous personality, but he has such charisma and is so likable and could be a good face for the promotion. Get this man on sports shows, get him on Regis, on Rome and let him be Rampage. It will be good for business. Now in the time since his title win I have noticed that this was not exactly the case, not that way that I had personally envisioned it and apparently I wasn’t alone. Recently on the 411 forums poster NEMESIS started a thread, entitled “Dana = Fail.” In that thread, he states:
Wow, what a promoter.
Months after Quinton “Rampage” Jackson wins the championship and I see him nowhere doing nothing. All that “Ali” like personality and charisma gone to waste. I pretty much begged Dana to use his assets and have Jackson on the Tonight Show and doing ESPN and Spike specials. Have him hand out prizes at awards shows standing next to Hollywood starlets. Have him be a guest on celebrity Wheel of Fortune.
WHATEVER JUST DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR AMBASSADOR TO YOUR SPORT!
Great job Dana.
Now, this begs the, “Is Dana doing what is smart for business or is he repressing Rampage?” Some will say that Rampage is nothing but a one hit wonder, a guy that got a lucky punch on Liddell. Of course others will contend that Liddell made a career off of lucky punches and that Rampage’s history in Pride, where he beat Chuck as well is enough to push him over the top. UFC was super hot, white-hot riding into the big Chuck vs. Rampage bout, they had tons of media and were going to be covered on Sports Center and such. Rampage comes in, nocks the shit out of Chuck and wins the title and looks like a beast. He cuts promos and entertains and they set up the Henderson vs. Rampage match. He is on top of the MMA world and just took out the guy you were sending to media appearances because he was the chosen one.
Some will contend that the UFC is keeping status quo and staying with “what works.” Others, like myself feel that Rampage in the UFC, with the promotion behind him and now the main stream media all over MMA would blow up huge. Nemesis things he has “ALI” like charisma, and while I don’t quite know about that, there is no doubt that the man can talk, had an engaging personality and will get you to either love him or hate him, and that really is the key isn’t it? It is this was in pro wrestling. Liked or disliked is not enough, apathetic and you’re dead. But if they love or hate you, LOVE or HATE you I say again, they will spend money on you.
But does that make him a person that you want to put out there? Some are totally against Rampage getting this kind of attention. He is a negative stereotype. He has one of those grills, he wears a big chain like the Junkyard Dog, he happens to like smoking Black-and-Milds, even while training, and constantly jokes around about having illegitimate children. Some see that as a bad thing. Others think that he is the kind of person that could be great for MMA and the under-privileged youth of America. Some feel that with Rampage as one of the faces of the UFC, that the UFC could create the equivalent of an MMA outreach program for inner city youth, with the goal of teaching them discipline, self confidence and self reliance. That would be a great thing.
The question remains, “Has Dana White “repressed Rampage?” In the end I say no. They certainly could have done more with him, but in the end UFC is not about making singular people bigger than the sport, but making UFC the pinnacle of MMA, a true World Wide organization. For that he is building up several people. Liddell, Couture, Rampage and others have been a part of that. Roger Huerta was in SI and is a HUGE star in Mexico. Bisping is the MMA GOD of the UK. Add into that the fact that they had booked appearances for Rampage, maybe ones people didn’t see because they did not look. NBC interviewed him before UFC 71, he has been on FOX news and was on the Spike TV Guy’s Choice Awards. For a UFC fighter that is a media bonanza. They are marketing him along side others because as I pointed out they are building the brand as a whole. They are and have made stars and are now driving those stars to drive the brand, and according to PPV buys, live gates and such they are doing amazing business. They haven’t completely released the beast so to speak, but they have far from repressed Rampage.
ZUFFA (UFC/WEC/PRIDE) stories, scuttlebutt and rumors:
Your News: Always known for his love of controversy, Tito Ortiz also has another passion many in MMA circles are familiar with – unwavering support for the men and women who serve in the United States’ military. Today, his camp released the following statement on the heels of one of his visits with troops:
Tito Ortiz, the colorful mixed martial arts fighter, begins work on his autobiography for Simon Spotlight Entertainment (a division of Simon & Schuster) this week following his return from visiting with U.S. troops in Iraq and military hospitals in Washington. His tour was sponsored by the USO.
“I was really shaken up after my visit with the wounded soldiers at Bethesda Naval Hospital and Walter Reed Army Hospital ,” Ortiz said upon his return. “It really hurt me in my heart seeing these guys missing limbs and suffering from brain damage, but their spirit is amazing and it was great seeing their parents and families there supporting them 100%.”
My Views: While I won’t rush out and buy a Tito book, it is nice to hear that he was moved form the USO experience. I wish more athletes would give back in these ways and show respect for people fighting for the country, whether we agree with these “wars” or not. Good on you Tito.
Your News: In late 2006 it appeared as though the future of the UFC’s Heavyweight Division rested on the shoulders of one man – Brandon Vera. He was an undefeated 29-year old fighter from California who had just TKO’d former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir in nearly a minute after racking up three wins prior to the bout. Unfortunately, November 2006’s UFC 65 was the last time fans saw Vera in action, and he’s been sidelined ever since due to a lingering contract dispute. The wait appears to be over!
Earlier today, the UFC announced Vera would be returning to the Octagon and may fight as soon as October (possibly UFC 77 on 10/20 in Cincinnati). There is no word yet on who his next opponent will be.
Head honcho Dana White said the following in relation to “The Truth” being set free on the Heavyweight division, a group that has vastly improved since Vera last fought:
My Views: Vera is another great addition to the UFC heavyweight division, a once laughed at division that is now becoming a very strong one. Vera is 8-0, with wins over Frank Mir and Assuerio Silva. No fight of his has gone past round 2, and six of these wins were by (T)KO. Vera has some bad managerial advice and has dropped that team, and is ready to come back and prove himself. I am excited that he is coming back to UFC and excited more and more for the heavyweight division.
Your News: Randy Couture on his fight with Gabriel Gonzaga on April 25th, from an interview with bostonherald.com. “I’ve just come off of 10 weeks of training camp and in camp I worked with a guy who is bigger than Gabe, so he will actually be a step down for me. But with any of the bigger athletes, I have to be smarter and use my head.”
He said he was as surprised as anyone at the Crocop knockout, and said he was ready for the fight. “I have one more week of hard training, and then I start to taper for the fight. But right now I feel good, and I am ready to go.” Regarding how long the fight may go, he said, “I think this fight has the potential to go all five rounds. I am prepared to go all five rounds. But I don’t expect either one of us to make mistakes, so it’s going to be a tough, competitive fight”.
My Views: It sounds like Couture is ready for the title defense. I love the strategy of working with an even bigger guy, because is he decides to go to the ground and tries to slam him, he needs that strength and mental knowledge that he CAN slam Gonzaga. I also to expect to see him box a lot in the match again, much like against big Tim. In the interview he discusses fighting smarter, so that is why I think so. Also, Couture is smart enough not to look past Gonzaga. In the year of upsets Couture knows all to well that if you are not respecting your opponent and not prepared, and you’re done. He says, “I don’t expect either one of us to make mistakes, so it’s going to be a tough, competitive fight.” He is confident in his abilities, but as mentioned equally as respectful of Gonzaga. I am excited for the bout.
Your News: Dana White on when Chuck can get a rematch for the Light Heavyweight Title: “I think Chuck has to win two fights in a row and then, yeah, he’s back in the mix again. He got knocked out in a minute 30 in the first round (in his last fight). No matter how great he is, I’d like to see him win a couple of fights and then come back and fight for the title again”.
My Views: And I think that makes sense. While I respect Chuck, he is getting older and was destroyed in the fight with Rampage. KTFO. He has to come back and show he still has the eye of the tiger so to speak, that he still has the will to fight. He cannot come out and have a “Tito vs. Rashad” fight with Jardine, he has to dominate him. If he can do that and take out another “contender,” then he is BACK and that is the time to give him the rematch. I actually totally agree with Dana here.
Your News: Dana White said this week that the HBO deal would happen. He said he wanted Ultimate Fighter to breed guys to compete on a Tuesday Night Fights-style show on HBO, and from there if you did well you could earn a shot on a Fight Night or PPV. He also said they were looking to expand to worldwide PPV. For a comparison WWE makes 40% of their PPV revenue from overseas buys.
My Views: Basically he wants the HBO show to be their SHOWXC. And that’s fine and makes perfect sense. They have some guys fights, maybe also include some WEC bouts on the shows. You do well you can make WEC or a fight night, and from there the possibility of a PPV shot. It makes total and logical sense and something I know I talked about back when the first mentions of the HBO deal were made.
Your News:Jorge Gurgel of The Ultimate Fighter fame, Rich Franklin corner man fame and of fighter fame will be fighting on the UFC 77 card. He’s set to face Douglas Evans on the card in Ohio. Gurgel is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Diego Saraiva at UFC 73 where he also had his jaw broken. Evans is coming off a loss to Roger Huerta by TKO due to strikes in the 2nd round.
My Views: Jorge Gurgel is 11-2, with a 2-1 UFC record. To me he isn’t the most exciting Lightweight, but is a solid edition to the card.
Tons of great stuff to read this week from the 411 MMA crew!
Other MMA News…
Your News: Less than three weeks removed from their initial broadcast, ShoXC will be taking a sophomore stab at live MMA on August 25th. ShoXC was created in the same vein as ShoBox (boxing on Showtime), a series built around promoting lesser-known fighters who are given an opportunity to make a name for themselves based on televised performances. The August 25th event is headlined by a rematch between Charles Bennett and “Joe Boxer” (Victor Valenzuela) who faced each other once before in 2005, which resulted in a controversial draw. The two were also slated to step into the ring against each other at an EliteXC/Strikeforce event on June 22nd of this year, which was dropped when Bennett was unable to make the fight due to unresolved legal issues.
In other scheduled ShoXC fights: Tony Bonello (15-0) vs. Jon Murphy (11-2) at 265 pounds; Ray Lazama (8-5) vs. Hector Urbina (8-3) at 205 pounds; and Umar Luv (4-1) vs. Brandon Tierney (5-0) at 185 pounds.
My Views: Hells yes SHOWXC! The first show was a fine show indeed. A lot of guys I didn’t know with a solid main event match. That’s the exact premise behind this and SHOWBOX, and I think that they work very well. It is great to see them headed to their second show already, although it is scheduled to be in direct competition with UFC 74. So I will have to snag a replay to cover that bad boy. But if you have Showtime already, this is FREE MMA and if you don’t have Showtime, this is another reason to get it. The main event of Charles Bennett and “Joe Boxer” is one they tried to do for the last PPV, but KRAZY HORSE had some legal issues. But now it is on and this will work well for the main event. KRAZY HORSE is a wild dude and is always entertaining in some way or another. This looks to be a fine show with the Bonello v. Murphy heavyweight bout and Luv v. Tierney bouts. I will definitely check it out again and you should as well.
Your News: ION television has announced that it is dropping BodogFight programming beginning in February of 2008. The reason cited for the drop is that Bodog does not fit well with ION’s new non-violent line up of programming.
My Views: Well, yeah, MMA wouldn’t be classified as “non-violent.” I would say that this was a ratings thing, but everything on ION does shit ratings so BODOG couldn’t be that bad. Their billionaire backer will toss some coin and buy them a station or time on one, try MAVTV dude. I just want more MMA events on castles and shit, that’s all I ask.