Gus & Mauro: A Match Made In Heaven

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Anyone who’s listened to my appearances on Fight Network Radio knows that I am an unabashed Mauro Ranallo supporter. I have no problems saying that I think he’s the best play-by-play man in the combat sports world. Just my opinion, don’t get all worked up.

So, today’s news that Mauro has been (finally!) tabbed to call the 5/31 Elite XC on CBS card alongside longtime CBS Sports announcer, Gus Johnson, is probably the best thing I have heard all month.

Johnson gets his feet wet in the MMA world while the rest of the world is exposed to Ranallo. Sounds like a good deal. Johnson will handle the play-by-play duties alongside Ranallo, Frank Shamrock and Showtime boxing reporter Karyn Bryant.

As a longtime New York Knicks supporter (please hold the comments), I am well aware of Johnson’s wizardry on the mic. Someway, somehow he’s always calling the most exciting games and his reactions throughout said games are always tremendous.

Ranallo and Johnson might be two of the most easily-excited broadcasters in sports so this pairing will probably end up being the ultimate match or a colossal clash. I’m thinking, given the talent we’re dealing with here, it will be the former.

One thing to watch out for is how Ranallo handles being in the Stephen Quadros analyst role. This is certainly new territory for him.

For those who are somehow unaware of Johnson’s fantastic abilities, please take a look at the following video and then join me in getting really excited.

Update: I contacted Ranallo to get his thoughts on the announcement and this is what he had to say:

“Gus Johnson is doing the play by play, Frank Shamrock is doing the x and o’s. I will be humanizing the fighters with anecdotes and Ranallo flair. I’m the Max Kellerman of the crew, just better looking. Ha ha!”

Oh that Mauro, always a jokester. Of course, he was kidding about the whole Kellerman thing. Everyone knows Max is the fairest of them all.

MMARated Radio: Remember The Name Matt Makowski

A golden opportunity awaits a young fighter

You may not have heard of Matt Makowski (2-0) yet, but all that may change soon enough. The 21-year-old fighter will face Nike Serra on the undercard of the May 31st Elite XC on CBS card.

There’s always pressure going into any bout but you would have to think that all the guys fighting on the undercard of this particular show will be looking to make a splash to get their fight on the broadcast. With quick workers like Kimbo Slice, James Thompson, Robbie Lawler and Phil Baroni headlining, one has to think that there will be plenty of room for an extra bout or two…or three.

MMARated Radio caught up with Makowski just a couple of weeks before the biggest fight of his young career:

* His thoughts on potentially fighting on CBS

* How did he land on the card?

* Will he look to press the issue to land on the televised portion of the card?

* His thoughts on Nick Serra

* Would he prefer to fight a BJJ practitioner or a striker?

* His rise up the amateur fighting ranks

* Is he surprised at how quickly his career has progressed?


The Elite XC fighter prepares for the fight of his life

“Hey, young fighter! Yeah, you with six fights under your belt. Listen up, I know your last fight was in August and I know you’re recovering from shoulder surgery but, forget all that, I have the proposition of a lifetime for you. How would you like to fight on the televised portion of Elite XC’s debut on CBS. You’ll be sharing the stage with the likes of Kimbo Slice, Gina Carano, Robbie Lawler and Phil Baroni. Sounds like the deal of the century for someone in your shoes, right?”

You’re damn right it does and that’s exactly the spot Jon Murphy has been placed in. Murphy is getting ready to face Brett Rogers in a heavyweight swing bout at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, on May 31st that is unlikely to last very long. If you ask me, the ten or so fighters, including Murphy, that are assured a spot on the CBS card are probably the luckiest MMA fighters around.

Without a doubt, they have a chance to propel this sport into full mainstream acceptance by simply doing what they do best. Furthermore, score a big knockout or slick submission and you’re guaranteeing a spot for yourself in MMA for at least the next couple of of years.

We caught up with Murphy to talk about the most important fight of his life:

* How did he feel when he found out he would be fighting on the televised card

* The responsibilities that come with it

* His mindset going into the bout

* What he’s expecting from Brett Rogers

* The health status of his shoulder

* Losing back-to-back fights in 2007 including a loss to Houston Alexander

* What he learned from that experience

* His contract situation with Elite XC

* Why he cut off all his hair

All that and much more from a fellow Syracuse University student and a heavyweight fighter that we may be talking about for years to come.


Your Weekend MMA Report Card

The string of exciting televised MMA events continued this weekend with two action-packed offerings from the IFL and Elite XC. Missed any of it? Here’s who scored well on our report card:

Jared Shaw: No one did anything bad enough to fail but I was none too pleased with Elite XC Live Events Vice President Jared Shaw. I am fully aware that promoters (or in this case their son) like to jump in the cage or ring after a fight but Shaw was way too visible after each ShoXC bout on Saturday night. At first it didn’t bug me too much, but after he gave the referee a look of discontent following the Hamman-Suganama main event it really pissed me off. Who the hell is Jared Shaw to intimidate a licensed MMA referee after a semi-controversial stoppage? Well, he is the Elite XC Live Events Vice President damn it! Doesn’t matter. Those in Shaw’s position need to support the referees while this sport continues to grow. It’s a very difficult gig and they deserve that much. While I didn’t agree with the stoppage, I had no problems with it. One can strongly make a case for the decision and the bottom line is that if the ref thought Hamman could no longer intelligently defend himself it was the right move to make. That should be enough for Shaw too. One last note on Shaw: I’m a young guy, I hate to wear suits and shave every morning. But if I held a job with as much visibility as the one Shaw holds I would make a little more effort to clean up before events. On Saturday night, Shaw was the face of Elite XC and instead of looking like a respectable adult he looked like a punk. The mohawk, sweatshirt and gold chains look so unprofessional it’s not even funny. Shaw is lucky to be fathered by a “successful” boxing promoter. He’s been handed a great opportunity and, from where I sit, he isn’t making the most of it.

Honorable Mention: The Table Mountain Casino crowd. I know most of them came to see Jared Hamman win but there is no excuse for booing Poai Suganuma as much as they did.

Chris Horodecki: No disrespect to Nate Lamotte but I expected a hell of a lot more from Chris Horodecki on Friday night. I thought he would have come out with guns blazing but, alas, that wasn’t the case. Either Lamotte was just too tough or Horodecki hasn’t gotten over his loss to Ryan Schultz last December. I am going with the former as he’s way too young to let a loss like that affect his psyche. That said, another effort like this one may prove that “The Polish Hammer” wasn’t quite as good as we once thought.

Honorable Mention: Jamal Patterson. A solid effort against a much more experienced fighter in Vladimir Matyushenko.


Memories From The Park: When Frank Shamrock Stopped By

Frank Shamrock vs. Cung Le finally goes down this Saturday night and it’s about time since it seems as though we’ve been waiting for it a long time. That said, this one certainly seems to be lacking the kind of hype and excitement that surrounded Baroni-Shamrock in June. It might have to do with the fact that Cung Le’s no Phil Baroni on the mic or that Shamrock’s YouTube videos have been less than stellar. Regardless, this one just doesn’t have the same kind of juice. That’s not to say I am not looking forward to the fight becuase I think the San Jose crowd will make it seem extra special.

A couple of months ago, Shamrock stopped by the Park to talk about his upcoming fight against Le and a whole host of other topics such as:

* Why he chose to fight Le after once saying he had no interest in fighting him

* Whether he plans to be a face or heel against Le

* Why fight Le before his brother Ken Shamrock

* The status of his fight with Ken

* His thoughts on Ken

* Why he believes Renzo Gracie won’t grant him a rematch

* His thoughts on the Randy Couture situation

* Which network passed on his reality show at the 11th hour

Keep in mind this interview was conducted before the Ken Shamrock’s lackluster performance against Buzz Berry.

Frank Shamrock – 01/17/08

The Shamrock-Le Hype Continues


Elite XC and Strikeforce held a conference call today to hype their loaded 3/29 card headlined by Frank Shamrock vs. Cung Le. Jake Shields, Drew Fickett and Gary Shaw were also available.

Below is the audio from the call. My two favorite parts were when Gary Shaw said that Ken Shamrock had “some sort stomach ailment” prior to the Buzz Berry fight and that the former “world’s most dangerous man” personally told Shaw he still wants a piece of Frank.

See promoter. See promoter trying to salvage what was once a big money fight.

Later, he said that “Frank Shamrock is hand-down, bar-none the best fighter in the world.” He also said that if Cung beats Frank then Le should be hailed as the best fighter in the world. This was in response to a question as to whether Shamrock believed Anderson Silva was the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world.

Ummm…come again?

Listen, I get trying to build up your fighters. But I don’t understand making completely outlandish comments like Frank Shamrock is the best fighter in the world. We don’t believe it, you don’t believe it so why not just say he is a legend, a pioneer and all that good stuff?

As far as conference calls go I would give this one a six and that had nothing to do with Frank Shamrock doing his usual hard-sell job. Isn’t it funny how Shamrock tries to disrespect and insult Le every chance he gets yet Le continues to ignore him and never respond? I never really had any strong feelings about Cung Le prior to this bout but his ability to stiff arm Frank despite all his fabricated promotional tactics is quite fun to watch (or listen).

Elite XC/Strikeforce Conference Call – 03/18/08

Note: Shaw also mentioned that we should expect a press release tomorrow where a bunch of the fights for the first Elite XC on CBS card will be officially announced as well as the announce team.

Behold The Resurrection Of The Thugjitsu Master

Yves Edwards looks towards his title shot against KJ Noons

On Monday we invited Elite XC’s 160-pound champion, KJ Noons, to Jarry Park to discuss his upcoming title defense against Yves Edwards on 4/26.

And, as promised, here is our chat with Edwards as he nears one of the most important fights of his illustrious career. Important because it was less than a year ago that Edwards had lost five of his last six bouts and, needless to say, some were wondering if he should call it quits.

Three victories later, though, the Yves Edwards bandwagon is back in full force and he now finds himself one win away from full redemption.

Other topics he touched on included:

* The Elite XC/CBS deal

* Will this fight be televised on CBS (I’m going to keep asking until I get answers damn it!)

* The amazing Edson Berto knockout

* His Bahamian brother – Kimbo Slice

* The evolution of KJ Noons as an MMA fighter

* The second coming of Yves Edwards

Yves Edwards – 03/12/08

Pollock’s POV: The Elite XC On CBS Casting Call

One of the first thoughts that popped into my mind upon hearing the news that CBS would soon be televising Elite XC events was: Which play-by-play announcer will call the fights?

Would it remain Mauro Ranallo or would the network look to bring in new talent? This might be the chance Gus Johnson has been waiting for.

Well, it’s been a couple of weeks since the announcement and still no word on who will get the mic. So, The Fight Network‘s John Pollock decided to hold an open casting call for any broadcaster in the business hoping to throw his (or her) name in the hat.

Not surprisingly, the call was a success as the likes of Larry Merchant, Don West and Michael Buffer showed up. A solid crew, indeed.

Will one of these men get the nod? Who knows but, yo yo yo, do you get the feeling that the CBS executives in charge of making this decision may be searching for someone that can be found right under their collective noses?

Pollock’s POV – 03/10/08

You can hear much more from John Pollock weekdays at 3 p.m. ET on Fight Network Radio on Sirius channel 186 or via not to mention every Sunday evening at 11 p.m. ET on Live Audio Wrestling.