This Saturday is a huge night for combat sports enthusiasts. Not only will HBO PPV be televising the highly-anticipated Miguel Cotto vs. Shane Mosley bout but Showtime will also offer up a great Elite XC card for the MMA lover in all of us.
Elite XC is less than a year old but they are quickly establishing themselves as a viable player in the world of Mixed-Martial-Arts. Most of their events have been met with great fanfare (we won’t discuss the Los Angeles Coliseum debacle) and this Saturday’s show from Corpus Christi, Texas is shaping up to be a great one.
Obviously, the main questions leading up to this event are whether or not boxer/MMA fighter KJ Noons has what it takes to go toe-to-toe with Nick Diaz, will this be Jake Shields’ last fight for Elite XC and can Kimbo Slice’s “success” in the world of street-fighting translate into a prominent MMA career.
I invited one of the country’s best MMA journalists, Sam Caplan of proelite.com, fiveouncesofpain.com and cbssports.com, to preview this card and also discuss other Elite XC issues. Our discussion can be found below.
What a year its been for IFL Middleweight fighter Benji Radach. After suffering a devastating jaw injury in a loss to Chris Leben in 2004, Radach disappeared from the world of MMA for almost three years. Then, just nine months ago, he reappeared in the International Fight League and proceeded to go on a four fight winning streak.
Radach (16-3-0, 1 NC) enters the IFL Grand Prix as the number one ranked Middleweight and many pundits even have him slotted as one of the ten best Middleweights in the world. I spoke to his opponent in this Saturday’s GP Semifinals, Brent Beauparlant, but I was curious to hear about how Radach is dealing with the pressure of rising up the Middleweight rankings so quickly and if he truly believes his string of success will last through the first-ever IFL Grand Prix. Oh, and for anyone who believes one can’t apply the lessons learned inside a ring or cage to their everyday life listen to Radach’s story on how he foiled a robbery attempt with the help of some ground-and-pound.
The IFL’s Gideon Ray is no stranger to fighting on short notice. As a member of the UFC, he accepted to fight David Loiseau when Joe Riggs backed out just days prior to their fight and also fought Mike Swick on four days notice.
Fast forward to the present…Welterweight fighter Brad Blackburn pulls out of the IFL GP and who gets the call to step in on eight days notice in the biggest event in IFL history? Our old friend Gideon Ray (14-6-1), of course.
Not surprisingly, Ray doesn’t seem concerned with the fact that he has had little time to prepare for his fight. That might have something to do with the fact that he will be facing Delson Heleno (12-3-0) in the Semifinals of the IFL GP. You see, Ray just lost via submission to Heleno in June so the loss is still very fresh in his mind.
Come this Saturday, Ray is one of many fighters with a lot to prove. Not only does he have the chance to avenge his first loss in an IFL ring but he needs to show that accepting to fight on such short notice is only half the battle. Winning is just as important too.
Our conversation with MMA veteran Gideon Ray can be found below.
Last night’s episode of The Ultimate Fighterwas, by far, my favorite of this particular season. Finally, we had two dynamic characters butting heads in the form of Jared Rollins and George Sotiropoulos. Throw in the fact that we got a glimpse of what Matt Hughes is like when he is really pissed off and this was definitely interesting television.
Rollins always struck me as an intriguing cast member and last night, despite his loss, he certainly lived up to the hype. The scene with Rollins and Sotiropoulos eating breakfast just a few hours before their fight was tremendous. Whenever Spike produces a new “Tuffest 25 Countdown” that scene needs to be in the mix. Truth be told, I thought Rollins would put up a better fight but Sotiropoulos, and his coaches, deserve all the credit in the world as he was definitely the agressor throughout the entire fight. Speaking of Sotiropoulos (I should really start employing the copy/paste function more) what was the deal with his teammates calling him out for not waking them up? I hope those guys realize how dumb they looked after the fact. In any evet, Sotiropoulos, along with Mac Danzig (of course), have definitely emerged as the two favorites.
I had a chance to speak with Rollins about his loss to Sotiropoulos, his experience on the show and his thoughts on Matt Hughes saying he didn’t give 100% in his fight.
Wrestling has and always will be my number one love when it comes to combat sports but lately there were several issues irking me and who better than Bryan to help make everything right again. Below is our discussion.
A look at HDNet’s Inside MMA rankings shows the IFL’s Benji Radach (16-3-0, 1 NC) slotted as the tenth best Middleweight in the world. No surprises there as 2007 has been very kind to the Washington state native. Radach has won all four of his IFL fights this year and come Saturday he will look to continue his winning ways at the IFL Grand Prix semifinals en route to becoming the first-ever IFL Middleweight champion.
Sounds like a good story, right? Not if your Brent Beauparlant (6-4-0). To say Beauparlant has gone unnoticed in all the hype leading up to the IFL GP is a major understatement. But after talking with the Maxville, Ontario native I got the sense that he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Beauparlant, who prior to entering the world of MMA spent over a decade as a member of the Canadian National Wrestling team, appears to relish the fact that Radach has received all the attention prior to the GP. His last name, which means well-spoken in French, is the perfect way to describe the 35-year-old Beauparlant (along with extremely humble). And given the fact that he has spent many of his days refining his MMA game in the home of Jarry Park, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, we wanted to give him a forum to let MMA fans know that they should hold off on the Benji Radach title coronation.
Our interview with Brent Beauparlant can be found below.
Jay Larkin has been the President and COO of the International Fight League for only a month but he certainly is no rookie when it comes to the fight game. Larkin spent over 20 years at Showtime starting off as a junior publicist and ending as an executive producer. While at Showtime, he helped negotiate some of the biggest fights of the last quarter-century. His foray into the televised boxing world began in 1986 with Marvelous Marvin Hagler’s Middleweight title defense against John Mugabi and ended with Jeff Lacy’s Super Middleweight title defense against Scott Pemberton two years ago. Somewhere in between, he helped broker deals that would see legends such as Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Julio Cesar Chavez fight on Showtime. One of his greatest challenges (and one he succesfully overcame) was figuring out how Mike Tyson, a Showtime-exclusive fighter, would challenge Lennox Lewis, an HBO-exclusive fighter, for his Heavyweight title while satisfying both networks equally. Obviously, many people were responsible for putting that fight together but without Larkin the deal would have never materialized.
Five years later, he is faced with an even greater challenger. His task is to teach America that there is more to MMA than the UFC. For all intents and purposes, his mission begins this Saturday night in Chicago at the semifinals of the IFL Grand Prix. Saturday’s card marks the first-ever live IFL telecast on MyNetwork TV and with no deal in place for 2008 (yet) the league will hope enough viewers tune in to justify a new deal between the two parties. Strangely enough, though, Larkin won’t be at the Sears Centre in Chicago come Saturday. Instead, he will be in Cardiff, Wales overseeing HBO’s telecast of the Calzaghe-Kessler fight.
Confused? So, was I. Below you’ll find some answers in a fascinating interview with the man in charge of taking the IFL to the proverbial next level. Some of the topics Larkin will discuss are:
Why he will be in Wales instead of Chicago on Saturday?
Is he fully commited to the IFL or will he still work on boxing telecasts?
The future of the IFL on MNTV
Will the IFL try to take the spot the UFC was thought to have secured on HBO?
Is the IFL looking to hold their fights in a cage instead of a ring?
The future of Kurt Angle, Ben Rothwell and Mike Whitehead in the IFL
Apologies for the lame title but that really is the best way to describe my conversation with Dave Larzelere aka Larz aka Large from No Mas. If you are a boxing enthusiast and haven’t checked his site out you’re truly missing out. For my money, he’s the best boxing writer on the world-wide-web (he’s also a tremendous musician, too). His sparring mate and the head of the No Mas empire, Chris Isenberg, designs the greatest sports t-shirts I have ever seen. Be sure to check those out as well (ahem, hopefully all that love will grant me some free shirts).
The last few months have produced some tremendous fights inside the squared circle and here’s hoping some more fireworks are produced in the next few weeks with Calzaghe-Kessler, Cotto-Mosley and Mayweather-Hatton on the horizon. Rest assured, Larz will be stepping into the Park to break down the sweet science every week but for his first appearance around these parts we wanted to briefly look at it, well, the state of boxing.
Oh, and when I say “briefly” I mean 45 minutes long so sit back and enjoy.
What a year its been for Olympic Gold medalist Kurt Angle. First, he leaves World Wrestling Entertainment after a legendary seven-year run. WWE claimed they fired him for repeated drug suspensions; Angle claimed he pulled a fast one on Vince and tricked him into releasing him. Rumors then begin to circulate that Angle is talking with the UFC about fighting for their promotion. Then, all of a sudden, he signs with TNA wrestling and it appears as though his wrestling career is back on track…That is until his name comes up in a Florida steroid investigation, BodogFight begins negotiating an MMA contract with him and he wins the TNA heavyweight title…