*UPDATED: A Final Look At Elite XC: Street Certified

img_7603-silva-vs-rodrigues.jpgWe’re always featuring interviews with different personalities from the fight world so it’s nice to switch things up and actually voice our opinion from time-to-time. That was the case during my appearance on yesterday’s edition of Fight Network Radio.

Have I mentioned how much I love that show and how honored I am that they keep inviting me back? Well, I do and I am.

Anyhow, yesterday we spoke a lot about this weekend’s Elite XC offering. More specifically, we talked about why some people continue to hate on the phenomenon that is Kimbo Slice, the growth of Elite XC as a promotion and why some fans continue to boo great MMA matches.

In their always entertaining “Final Countdown” segment we also talked a little Pavlik-Taylor and, of course, Money May’s arrival in World Wrestling Entertainment. Unfortunately, that audio isn’t available but as soon as it is I will throw it up here (UPDATE: It’s up and it can be found down below).
I always love chatting with those guys because it makes me feel like the not-so-cool kid getting to hang out with the cool kids for 15 minutes or so. So, you know, thanks for making me feel “cool.”

Fight Network Radio Appearance – 02/20/08

Fight Network Radio “Final Countdown” Segment – 02/20/08

I can’t stress this enough: If you are a fan of all things combat sports and are not listening to Mauro Ranallo and John Pollock on a daily basis you are really doing yourself a disservice. The show airs live on Sirius channel 186 or online at hardcoresportradio.com. You can also download all their episodes here.

An Inside Look At Another Coliseum Of Combat Sports

If you’re a frequent visitor to The Park you know that we like to do things a little differently around here. You know, ask interesting questions, invite unique guests…that kind of thing.

So, with that in my mind, I present a special, top secret discussion with an MGM Grand employee. Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena has hosted some of the biggest fights in combat sports history: Tyson-Holyfield I & II, Prince Naseem v. Barrera, DLH v. Hopkins, Mayweather v. Hatton, Liddell-Jackson II, Liddel-Ortiz II, this weekend’s Pavlik-Taylor rematch and even WCW Halloween Havoc! I figured this guy would have some interesting run-ins with fighters and/or promoters and, as it turns out, I was right.

We talked about who the best tippers are, the biggest pains in the butt, which fighter has the most groupies and so much more. Take a listen – it’s kind of like going to a hotel and talking to an employee before a big fight only completely different.

MGM Grand employee – 02/18/08

Will The Ghost Of Jermain Taylor Return?

One of the most anticipated boxing rematches of the last few years is just over 24 hours away and I, for one, can’t wait. Of course, it’s Pavlik vs. Taylor II. The last time we saw these gents they were engaging in arguably the 2007 fight of the year which saw the pride of Youngstown, OH, Kelly Pavlik, beat up on Jermain Taylor and, as a result, snatch away his Middleweight title.

Sadly, Taylor exercised a clause in his contract so tomorrow’s rematch will be fought at 166 lbs instead of 160 meaning the belt won’t be on the line. Weird, I know. And while I also know boxing titles are pretty much useless these days this fact still kind of bugs me. Just doesn’t seem right but, oh well, we are getting the rematch while the first epic is still very fresh in our minds so I can’t complain too much.

As always, Mr. Large (not to be confused with Mr. Big of Sex And The City fame) from No Mas and The Sporting Blog took a stroll with me in The Park to break down tomorrow’s mega-fight. We also discussed:

* Alexander Povetkin’s victory over Eddie Chambers a couple of weeks ago

* Should Chambers move to Cruiserweight?

* What’s next for Povetkin?

* Carlos Quintana’s shocking Welterweight title victory over Paul Williams

* Williams’ extreme weight gain before the bout

* Is it smart for Quintana to fight Shane Mosley next?

* Will lightning strike twice for Pavlik

* What does Taylor have to do to win this time around

* Will Taylor regret not having Manny Steward in his corner

All that and we even discuss a little Bute vs. Joppy! You had to know that I would somehow find a way to talk about my countryman.

Large – 02/15/08

Arianny’s Views From The Best Seat In The House: Welcome Back Valentine’s Day Special!

Aaaand we’re back.

Great to be talking with you all once again and what better way to get this thing rolling than to present our latest edition of Arianny’s Views From The Best Seat In The House. Clearly, it’s a crowd-favorite and if you enjoyed our last discussions, um, I think you’ll definitely LOVE this one.

Why, you ask? Well, consider what we discussed this time around:

* Her Valentine’s Day plans

* UFC 81 and the all the hype surrounding Brock Lesnar

* Her appearance on E!

* The 944 Magazine contest she’s involved in

* Whether or not she is leaving the UFC

Pretty standard, I know. But then how about:

* Will she soon be gracing the pages of Playboy?

* She plays a very special game of F, Marry, Kill.

You read that correctly. Playboy. F, Marry, Kill. I kid you not.

Take a listen my friends and welcome back to The Park.

Arianny Celeste – 02/14/08

(photo courtesy of Zuffa, LLC)

Park Memories: McCullough & Varner Engage In A War Of Words

Bad News: My computer is still sick.

Good News: We should be good-to-go in a couple of days.

Bad News: I haven’t been able to talk about what is shaping up to be one of the better weeks in combat sports (Quintana over Williams? Wow.)

Good News: A few months back, I spoke with WEC Lightweight champ “Razor” Rob McCullough and Jamie Varner to preview their upcoming title bout. Well, as you all know, that match goes down tomorrow night and since I suspect many missed these interviews due to the holidays, here they are again. Enjoy the fights.

Rob McCullough

Jamie Varner

(photo courtesy of Zuffa, LLC)

Carlo Prater Is Ready For The Fight Of His Life

Just days before the biggest fight of his career, Carlo Prater stopped by The Park to discusses his upcoming bout against WEC Welterweight champ Carlos Condit this Wednesday in Albuquerque, NM. Prater will be making his WEC debut and will also be looking to capture his second victory over the 23-year-old Condit. He is actually one of the few contenders out there who never received a shot at fighting for one of the major MMA promotions but come Wednesday all that will change. Some of the topics we also touched on included:

* The difference between the Carlos Condit he defeated in 2004 and the one he will be facing in a few days

* How he received a title shot in his WEC debut

* His strategy going into the fight

* Why it took so long to make it to the “big leagues”

* His thoughts on fighting in the WEC as opposed to the UFC

* Why he was not promoted in the last WEC show and why he is the only fighter from the triple main event not to be featured on the official poster (weird isn’t it?)

Really enjoyed this one. I genuinely felt how anxious, ready and excited Prater was to fight Condit. Take a listen.

Carlo Prater – 02/08/08

Between Rounds With Maya & Shanelle

maya2.jpgIt’s been several weeks since we checked in with the lovely ladies at The Platinum Agency to talk a little combat sports. So, to make up for lost time (and to spice things up) we present Between Rounds with Maya (top) AND Shanelle (bottom). Consider this a sort of make believe combat menage-a-trois. They really treat us well over there.

Ariel Helwani: Are you a lover or a fighter?

Maya: Definitely more of a lover.
Shanelle: I’m a fighter for my loved ones. I would do just about anything for them including an elbow or rear choke!

AH: Would you ever date a fighter?

Maya: Yes, it would be a total turn-on knowing my man could (kick) anyone’s butt for me if he had to. Plus, muscles and six-packs are totally hot.
Shanelle: If my man became a fighter I would continue to date him and would love to watch him kick some butt. I would be really hard seeing him bleed.

AH: Which sport intrigues you the most: boxing, mixed-martial-arts or wrestling?

Maya: Boxing more than MMA for sure. Boxing has more discipline.
Shanelle: Mixed martial arts. It seems to have more techniques than boxing or wrestling. Because you fight with all your body parts – Legs, arms etc. It also is a training for fitness, confidence, meditation, self- defense and character development.

shanelle3.jpgAH: Who is your favorite professional fighter?

Maya: Oscar de la Hoya
Shanelle: Dong Haichuan, his moves inspire me. (Ed. note: Definitely the best answer we will ever get)
AH: Have you ever been to a live fight?

Maya: Yes, I was a ring girl a few times at some boxing matches. It was so much crazier live than what you see on TV! Those guys are tough…and sweaty…and bloody!
Shanelle: I have seen live fights, they weren’t professional though. When I was younger I felt excited (and) an adrenaline rush from watching people go at it. Lately, I don’t get much amusement from amateur fighting but more so interested on how all the techniques work in the professional realm.

AH: What do you think of female fighters?

Maya: They rock. Tough chicks can be super hot!
Shanelle: I think it’s great to know women are participating in the sport. There are strong and educated men and there are weak men. Just as there are strong and educated women and there are weak women.

AH: Would you ever consider stepping into the octagon or ring?

Maya: To fight?!? Ummm, not unless I wanted to get my ass kicked. (I’m) not much of a brawler. But maybe as a ring-card girl – they get the best seats in the house.
Shanelle: Yes I would! But only if I knew what I was doing and the other person had no idea what they were doing. That seems like a fair fight, right?

Trevor Prangley Prepares For His First Title Defense

The front door at Jarry Park is always open to title holders and Trevor Prangley is just that. The last time we heard of the current BodogFight Middleweight champion he was fighting in the Strikeforce middleweight tournament in November. Unfortunately, he lost in the finals to Jorge Santiago and after six fights in 13 months the South African fighter decided to take a few months off to regroup. He told us that he plans on defending his title in April and also spoke about:

* Where and when his next fight will take plae

* Potential opponents being discussed

* His controversial victory over Falaniko Vitale

* His thoughts on fighting twice in one night

* His current contract situation with BodogFight and Strikeforce

* His transition from amateur wrestling to mixed martial arts

Trevor Prangley – 02/06/08

The Leader Of The AOTF Speaks

It’s been a while since we spoke to one of Ring of Honor’s finest so what better way to get back in the ROH groove than to speak with Jimmy Jacobs (right). The leader of the Age of the Fall is without out a doubt one of the brightest young stars in professional and appears to be finally hitting his stride with the AOTF. Some of the topics Jacobs addressed were:

* His injury-plagued 2007

* His current health situation

* The genesis of The Project 161 viral campaign

* The brains behind The Age of the Fall

* The Age of the Fall’s tag title victory over the Briscoe Brothers and subsequent loss to the No Remorse Corps

* What the future holds for the faction

* The addition of Joey Matthews to the team

* His time in Wrestle Society X

* Any interest from WWE or TNA?

Jimmy Jacobs – 02/05/08

What’s Next For Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou?

A year ago, most of us had heard very little (if not nothing) of Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou. Obviously, all that quickly changed once he knocked out Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona in a span of two months.

Then, everything really changed for The African Assassin. Pride FC was purchased by Zuffa and all of sudden Sokoudjou became one of the hottest free agents in mixed martial arts. First, he was rumored to sign with Elite XC and then K-1 Hero’s. Both those deals fell through and, voila, he became the latest in a long line of former Pride stars to sign with the UFC. And, much like many of those former Pride stars, he faltered in his Octagon debut.

I hadn’t heard much from the 23-year-old since his UFC 79 loss to Lyoto Machida so I called him up and basically asked: “what happened against Machida and when are you fighting next?”(By the looks of that photo he appears to be in deep contemplation mode, eh?) I also asked a couple of other things, such as:

* The difference between fighting in the UFC as opposed to competing in Pride

* His thoughts on Machida’s post-fight comments

* Why he didn’t sign with Elite XC or K-1

* What’s up with his parents not knowing that he is a mixed martial artist

* Whether he plans on ever letting the cat out of the bag

* How his life has changed in the last year

* His budding movie career

Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou – 02/04/08