JarryPark’s 15 Moments Of ’07 – #14: The Ghost Of Youngstown

For the next couple of weeks, JarryPark.com will countdown the 15 most memorable combat sports moments of 2007. Some will be positive while others will be negative. Some will have happened in a ring or cage while others on the outside. Every day, we’ll feature a single moment as we bid adieu to ’07. As we present each moment, feel free to agree or disagree with any of our selections in the comments section below.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering why we chose fifteen the answer is quite simple: You take the “7” from ’07 and the “8” from ’08, add them together and you get 15. Duh.

#14: The Ghost Of Youngstown
What: Kelly Pavlik defeats Jermain Taylor to capture the WBC and WBO Welterweight title
When: September 29, 2007
Where: Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ

You know it was a busy twelve months in combat sports when arguably the best boxing fight of the year comes in at number fourteen. What a fight! Few fans had Kelly Pavlik on their radar going into 2007 but he is now one of the brightest young stars in the sport. The 25-year-old dismantled Taylor in this particular bout but will have to do it again in just a couple of months as both men will face each other in Las Vegas. Strangely enough, their rematch won’t be for the 160-lbs Middleweight titles Pavlik snatched away from Taylor in September but at a catch-weight of 166-lbs (this is Taylor’s doing, by the way). How the mighty boxing title has fallen. That said, if their February 16th, 2008 bout can offer half the excitement their first showdown did we have an early candidate for fight of the year.

Further Enlightenment:
With Upset Of Taylor, Pavlik Sheds Years Of Obscurity [USA Today]
Pavlik’s Win Kicks Off Exciting Fights This Fall [ESPN]
The Unfriendly Ghost [No Mas]

JarryPark’s 15 Moments Of ’07 – #15: The Bald Billionaire

For the next couple of weeks, JarryPark.com will countdown the 15 most memorable combat sports moments of 2007. Some will be positive while others will be negative. Some will have happened in a ring or cage while others on the outside. Every day, we’ll feature a single moment as we bid adieu to ’07. As we present each moment, feel free to agree or disagree with any of our selections in the comments section below.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering why we chose fifteen the answer is quite simple: You take the “7” from ’07 and the “8” from ’08, add them together and you get 15. Duh.

#15: The Bald Billionare
What: Donald Trump shaves Vince McMahon’s head at Wrestlemania 23
When: April 1, 2007
Where: Ford Field in Detroit, MI

Sure, we’re starting off with a pretty ridiculous moment but let’s be real: Did anyone ever think you would see Donald Trump shave Vince McMahon’s head in the middle of a WWE ring? I sure as hell didn’t. I thought this year’s Wrestlemania was one of the most lackluster of all-time but the site of a bald McMahon running around is one I will surely never forget. McMahon’s facials throughout the ordeal were tremendous.

Further Enlightenment:
Donald Trump Keeps Hair By Winning Billionaire Wrestling Match With Vince McMahon [FOX News]
Trump Gives McMahon A Britney [TMZ]
Bald Debut on ‘Today [WWE]

Ali Sonoma Is Moving On Up

Last month, Ali Sonoma (left) announced her departure from the UFC as one of their Octagon Girls. This news saddened many MMA fans so, in the interest of putting a smile on all their little faces, I present The Park’s exclusive interview with one Ali Sonoma:

Ariel Helwani: Why did you decide to leave the UFC last month?

Ali Sonoma: I’m hosting a reality show in January and filming a movie in Hungary in March. I have bigger and better things to conquer.

AH: Was it an amicable split?

AS: Yes. UFC wanted to keep the demographic fresh and I have movies to film.

AH: How did you first get in contact with the promotion?

AS: I was in a modeling contest followed by a reality show. (I) placed second in the contest (and) fate brought me to UFC and I won it.

AH: Were you a fan of mixed martial arts prior to signing with the company?

AS: Yes, I kickboxed for years and was always interested in martial arts.

AH: What was the best and worst part of working as a ring card girl for the UFC?

AS: The best part was the whole experience – Traveling to many different places and meeting new people. The worst part was when you see a fighter you favor get beat.

AH: What was the greatest fight you witnessed in person?

AS: There are too many to count. I really liked when Jackson beat Liddell – it was so unexpected. I also liked when Couture came back from retirement and won the heavyweight title…he rocked that.

AH: There was some speculation that your relationship with UFC fighter Diego Sanchez upset key members of the organization. Did they ever mention anything of that sort?

AS: I never got any “rules” related to dating. UFC did not particularly favor us going out but you can’t help who you fall in love with, it just happens. Once it was official, everyone seemed to freak out – either loving it or hating it. They seemed to blame me for his last losses. I never got in the way of his training, I never even saw him during that time. If anything we supported each other.

AH: Is there a rule in place that says fighters can’t date ring card girls?

AS: No, I never had a contract with UFC. I was an independent contracter – doing what I wanted.

AH: Are you and Diego still together?

AS: No, we decided to call it quits based on our careers. I will be away for months…we are still best friends, though. We talk everyday. I do and always will love him. He is on a different level of any guy I have ever met.

AH: Where can fans of yours see you next?

AS: Most likey on FX or MTV for the reality show “The Mag” and in the film “Say Goodnight” and many more films to come.

The IFL’s New Year’s Resolution

The International Fight League held a press conference earlier today to announce their plans for the coming year.

It’s no secret that 2008 will go a long way in determining whether or not this promotion can become a viable player in the world of Mixed Martial Arts. Several weeks ago, IFL president Jay Larkin hinted at a few of the changes to come but today commssioner Kurt Otto shed some light on the specifics.

The main points were:

* As speculated, they will be moving away from calling their teams names like Silverbacks or Dragons to being named after the camp their coach is affiliated with. The coaches on board are: Ken Shamrock, Pat Miletich, Renzo Gracie, Matt Lindland, Bas Rutten, Marco Ruas, Ian Freeman and Mario Sperry and a group managed by a Chicago-based coach (Arlovski? Just kidding).

* They will also be implementing an “open-door policy” where if a coach not officially affiliated with the organization (Frank Shamrock, Carlos Newton etc.) has a team he can enter them to fight one of their own. Basically, this is a nice way of saying: “Mr Couture, please bring some fighters to our show.”

* They will hold eight events in 2008 with four camps competing on each show. The camps will have a minimum of three fighters competing on a particular show. So, it will likely go down as a best-of-three format. In all, each camp will compete twice a year.

* The eight events will be held in three locations: The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, The Izod Center in East Rutherford, NJ (formerly known as Continental Airlines Arena) and The Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. The first event of ’08 will be on February 29 (leap year!) at The Orleans Arena.

* There will be two title defense per card. Here’s hoping that the curse of the Lightweight title doesn’t cross over into ’08.

* No news on a new TV deal. That should come in January.

To read more about their plans for ’08 click here OR just listen below.

IFL Press Conference – 12/19/07

JarryPark Double Dips On Fight Network Radio

What do you mean you missed my two appearances on Fight Network Radio yesterday? Oh, you were working. My bad.

No hard feelings, though. Below you can find the audio of it. At the beginning of the show, host Mauro Ranallo, Loretta Hunt and I discussed HDNet Fights: Reckless Abandon (seriously now, I need to start calling myself Mr. HDNet Fights because I am covering these guys up the wazoo).

Later in the show, John Pollock, Hunt, Ranallo and myself talked about our respective votes for MMA upset of the year as well as last night’s weak edition of Monday Night Raw. I even stumped Loretta with a tough pro wrestling question! (Sort of.)

What an honor it was to be on a panel with three of the brightest minds in the combat sports world and I sincerely thank John for inviting me back on the show.

Take a listen below.

Fight Network Radio Appearance #1 – 12/18/07 (HDNet Fights discussion)

Fight Network Radio Appearance #2 – 12/18/07 (Monday Night Raw discussion)

Mark Cuban Looks To The Future

I didn’t hear any noise from Mark Cuban following this weekend’s HDNet Fights event and was very curious as to what he thought about the second show and the future of the promotion. So, I decided to email the man himself. His thoughts are below.

Ariel Helwani: After the first HDNet Fights show you were somewhat critical of the overall production of the event – what were your thoughts on this weekend?

Mark Cuban: I thought it was far far better. The pacing was better, the integration with all the technology in the arena was better. I think we have some areas to improve on but now we are into optimizing rather than inventing – which is a good thing

AH: What, if anything, are you looking to improve for the next show in February?

MC: I think we need to do a better job of mic’ing the ring so the people away from the cage can hear what is going on better. It adds a lot of energy to the experience. I think we can improve the entrances of the fighters starting at the locker rooms rather than where they appear on stage and a couple other little things.

AH: What did you think of Mayhem Miller’s entrance?

MC: I love everything Mayhem does for entertainment. He is a pro at it. I put him up there with Paris Hilton.

AH: How long have you been interested in MMA?

MC: About 5 years.

AH: The Internet has been buzzing over all the MMA celebrities that attended the event – some of which are soon-to-be free agents. Will your company look to break the bank in order to sign a guy like Randy Couture or Andrei Arlovski or is it important to be cautious with your spending at this point?

MC: We aren’t break the bank types. That doesn’t work in MMA. You have to build a business and introduce the right fighters and treat them well and make sure the fans get a great show. Where the opportunity is right, we will certainly match the best fighters available and try to make sure they want to always come back and fight on our cards or the cards of our partners. I’m the say way I am in the NBA – opportunistic. If there is an opportunity that makes sense, I will make whatever investment is necessary to be successful

AH: At some point, will you look to sign your fighters to exclusive contracts?

We may sign exclusives but there will always be mutual outs. The problem with exclusives is that if a fighter loses it can kill his career. There have been many great fighters who have been upset or lost two in a row. In an exclusive contract arrangement, its hard to fight them because of the pressure to put together the best possible card. Thats a problem UFC fighters have. If you win, life is good. If you lose, you never quite know how you are going to work your way back to the top (unless you are a huge PPV draw name). With non-exclusives, we can partner with other promoters and let someone who lost on HDNet Fights work their way back up, build some momentum and if they have truly gotten better, compete again at the top. It goes the other way as well. Someone who lost in the IFL, Pro Elite etc. can fight on our cards. Particularly if they are local and work their way back up to being part of a marquee match-up.

AH: What’s up with the UFC not allowing you to show footage of their events on “Inside MMA?” Are you surprised at how guarded they are?

MC: Ask them. The only thing I have seen from the UFC is that they have a lot of lawyers that they pay more than many of their fighters

AH: Finally, did you enjoy walking out to the ring with Pretty Boy Floyd last weekend?

MC: It was a blast. I was thrilled to see Floyd win. He is truly a great guy and we are talking about how to get him involved in MMA. But, honestly, watching Mayhem vs. Kennedy was better. I just like MMA a lot more than boxing.

Guy Mezger Grades HDNet Fights 2

I caught up with HDNet Fights President, Guy Mezger, to get his thoughts on the Reckless Abandandon show. As most of you know by now, The Park was live and inside the AAC and fairly enjoyed the show but we needed to get the final review from El Presidente himself.

Some of the topics discussed include:

* What he would like to change for the next show in February

* Mayhem Miller’s unique entrance

* The Robert Villegas flopping incident

* Who he is looking to sign for the next event

* Who is the next big free agent headed to HDNet Fights (in light of all the big stars in attendance)

* The promotion’s PPV plans (he hopes to debut on PPV at the end of ’08)

As always, Mezger was very candid with his answers and we appreciate that. Take a listen below.

Guy Mezger – 12/18/07

(Can’t listen to the interview right now? Download this one and all of our great interviews by clicking on the iTunes or Odeo link at the top right of the page.)

Between Rounds With…Jesse


Another week, another enlightening edition of Between Rounds with one of The Platinum Agency’s featured models. This time we’re going Between Rounds with…Jesse.

She likes combat sports. We like here.

1. Which sport intrigues you the most: boxing, mixed-martial-arts or wrestling?
I am very intrigued by all three sports. They each share such an individual intensity, but still maintain many differences. But hey, who am I kidding? You get to watch guys beating the crap out of each other! That’s just cool!

2. Who is your favorite professional fighter?
I recently met an up-and-coming welterweight boxer out of Pittsburgh – Sugar Ray Nahr. He is originally from Ghana, Africa and is incredible! He has this tall, lanky, lean frame. He looks like a distance runner, but he is so quick with his jabs. He knocked out his much stockier opponent in the beginning of the second round! He had me impressed! They say he may be the champion within the next year!

3. Did you enjoy going watching a fight in person?
Yes. (The Nahr Fight) was my first time ever to watch a match and it was so intense! The audience was all crazy and into it. Each fighter had their own entourage in opposite corners of the ring, people were yelling obscenities at each other! It was great! I could see the sweat spatterflying off their faces from the opponents’ punch just like in those Rocky movies! I had a nice front row seat!

4. What do you think of female fighters?
I think female fighters rock! It’s not probable that I’d want to go up against any of them….ok well maybe. Yeah, but they do their thing. I have total admiration for any badass woman who does her thing.

More from Jesse HERE.

Mike Sanders Is Looking For The Last Laugh

You remember Mike Sanders, right? Former WCW Commissioner? Leader of The Natural Born Thrillers? Little guy who was great on the mic? Of course you do.

In the dying days of WCW, Sanders was one of the company’s bright spots: A homegrown talent being groomed as the leader of WCW’s new youth movement. Well, we all know how that turned out but it did seem like a novel idea at the time.

While Sanders’ contract was one of the twenty or so that were picked up by World Wrestling Entertainment following their purchase of WCW – he never made a single appearance on WWE programming. A curious decision simply because Sanders possessed the gift of the gab and could have been used as a mouth piece for some of the other WCW stars during the “invasion” (he definitely has an interesting theory as to why he was released).

Following his release from WWE in 2002, he had a brief stint in TNA but never experienced the same kind of success he acheived in WCW. Don’t cry for Sanders, though. He has transitioned nicely into the world of stand-up and corporate comedy. Sheiky – you’ve got company.

If you’re interested in the backstage world of professional wrestling you will want to check out my interview with Sanders (found below). He talks about why he never made it in WWE, the reason he is no longer wrestling for TNA and what it was like working for WCW in 2000. He also discusses his budding comedy career and has some interesting anecdotes on life as a pro wrestler.

Mike Sanders – 12/17/07

Part Two Of Press Conference Monday: Horodecki & Hieron Preview The IFL WGP Finals

The International Fight League held a conference call today featuring Chris Horodecki (11-0-0) & Jay Hieron (13-4-0). The last time I checked Horodecki was scheduled to face Ryan Schultz for the IFL’s Lightweight title at the 12/29 World Grand Prix Finals. That said, I haven’t checked my e-mail in the last ten minutes so chances are there is a press release waiting for me there stating he will now be facing Danny Abbadi.

You may recall that, Horodecki was originally slated to face Wagnney Fabiano. Fabiano was then sent to the new Featherweight division(?) and was promptly replaced by Shad Lierley. Sure, that came from left field but a Horodecki-Lierley rematch was definitely exciting. Sadly, Lierley sustained an injury while training and was replaced by John Gunderson…until Gunderson injured himself a day later.

Enter Ryan Schultz. Seriously now, how fitting would it be if Schultz knocked out Horodecki and was crowned the promotion’s first-ever Lightweight champ? Given the year the IFL has had the prospect of that happening wouldn’t surprise me.

As for Hieron, he will be facing Delson Heleno. He was scheduled to face him along so no confusion or drama there.

Below is the audio from the press conference.

IFL’s Horodecki & Hieron Press Conference – 12/17/07