MMARated Radio: Good Times With Nicole Craner

Strikeforce’s cage girl plays a lil’ F, Marry, Kill

There’s just something about those ring girls. Everyone loves them and we here at are no different. So, with that in mind, I present a most enlightening interview with one of Strikeforce’s exquisite ring girls, the lovely Nicole Craner.

Nicole is actually one of the friendlier ring girls I’ve come across lately . Heck, she’s even an member! So, it was no surprise when she answered all my stupid questions in an honest, sincere and fun manner.

Some of the topics we discussed included:

* How she got involved with Strikeforce

* Her MMA knowledge (quite impressive I must say)

* Sitting cageside for Le vs. Shamrock

* Her desire to someday work for the UFC

* Does she like any fighter out there like, you know, more than a friend

* Have any fighters ever hit on her?

Oh, and we also played a quick little round of my favorite dinner party game: F, Marry, Kill. Some of the candidates involved were Scott Coker, Rachelle Leah, Gilbert Melendez, Dana White and Urijah Faber. Good times indeed.


Make Way For The New King Of San Jose

img_8481-le-vs-shamrock-03.jpgI didn’t have the guts to go all out and predict a Cung Le victory prior to his bout against Frank Shamrock but I wish I did because as far as performances by a fighter with six career MMA fights against someone with 34, this was one of the best ever. As for Shamrock, other than the fact that he was able to eat some of Le’s best shots (especially in the third round) I thought he fought a HORRIBLE fight. Le has no ground game while Frank does so why would he not try to expose him on said ground? Makes no sense. I know he wanted to prove all his doubters wrong but I am sorry to say that his ego was a major reason why he lost. Furthermore, all his antics during the match really got under my skin. I appreciate the fact that he’s a salesman and an entertainer but when it’s time to fight just shut up and fight.

Le needs to develop that KO power but last night he used his best kicks as an axe and just kept chopping away. Mauro Ranallo said it best when he referred to him as a lumberjack. It reminded me a lot of the Keith Jardine vs. Chuck Liddell fight from September.

All that said, I am not so quick to label this “fight of the year” just yet. This was more of a kickboxing than MMA match and that leads me to compare it to the great boxing bouts of 2008 which, in that case, it doesn’t quite measure up. I guess I am a little spoiled but for MMA fans that pay little attention to the sweet science I can sort of understand why they are giving it such high praise. It certainly was a an epic clash but when one fighter sweeps all three rounds its hard to call it a real classic.

One thing’s for certain, though, I hope that the next time we see Frank Shamrock get ready for a fight he will keep the talking to a minimum. I am all for showmanship and bravado but since signing with EXC he is 1-2 and I simply don’t want to hear any nonsense from a fighter who has lost two of his last three. Legend or not.

Photo courtesy of Tom Casino/Elite XC

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.

Saturday In The Park: Sapp-amania Runs Wild Again

You might have heard that a certain Bob Sapp was making his American MMA debut this evening at the StrikeForce At The Dome show in Tacoma, WA (HDNet 10:30 pm ET). This fight also marks Sapp’s debut in a cage…Wait, what? You’ve never heard of Bob Sapp? Well, if so, you’re in the minority my friend.

North American pro wrestling and/or boxing fans might get a pass for not knowing who the Beast is but all that might change very quickly. The former National Football League bust made a HUGE name for himself in Asia as a dual MMA/kickboxing legend for K-1 and PRIDE.

It’s hard to truly explain how popular Sapp is (or was) overseas but I think the following three videos will do the trick. They’re Japanese commercials starring Mr. Beast himself in all his hilarious facial features glory. I dare you to watch these and not laugh hysterically (and, just for the record, I have nothing but love for Sapp. I think he’s a brilliant showman). He actually starred in over 20 of these commercials overseas, released an R&B album and even had a variety store devoted to all things Sapp. Forget MMA, could you imagine any popular athlete in our culture acting like this on television? The only one I can think of might be Gilbert Arenas of the Washington Wizards but I doubt he could be such an effective salesman.

Recently, WWE and TNA have talked with Sapp about working for their respective promotions but nothing ever materialized. Something tells me he might be headed back to Japan sooner rather than later.

By the way, Sapp is facing Jan “The Giant” Nortje in the main event of a card that also features Maurice Smith vs. Rick Roufus, Joe Riggs vs. Cory Devela, Jorge Masvidal vs. Ryan Healy and Brad Blackburn vs. Ray Parales.

Take it away Bob…

Get Ready For A Whole Lot Of Frank Shamrock

MMA legend Frank Shamrock granted The Park his first interview since the announcement that he will be facing Cung Le on March 29th in a Strikeforce/Elite XC copromotion. Among the topics touched on were:

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

* When the YouTube videos are coming

* 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

Shamrock is the definition of a walking sound byte and this interview was no different. Check’er out.

Frank Shamrock – 01/17/08

What’s Next For Bobby Southworth?

The last time MMA fans saw Strikeforce‘s Light Heavyweight champion, Bobby Southworth, compete was less than two weeks ago. Unfortunately, it came in a disappointing loss to Anthony Ruiz due to a cut he sustained in the second round. Fortunately for Southworth, though, the fight was a non-title bout so he remained champion at 205 lbs.

In speaking with Southworth earlier today, I got the sense that the San Jose Native is just itching to prove his worth all over again. This seems to be old hat for the 37-year-old Southworth.

Almost seven years ago, he accepted a fight against Vitor Belfort for Pride in which he lost via rear naked choke in round one. He never received another chance to compete in a Pride ring again.

Then came his much-criticized appearance on the first season The Ultimate Fighter in which he struggled mightily (an understatement) to make weight for his first fight against Lodune Sincaid (a fight he would win) and was involved in a few incidents outside the gym with Chris Leben. Southworth had one chance to prove himself on a live UFC show (the TUF Finale in 2005) but after losing a decision to Sam Hoger he was never seen again in the Octagon.

Needless to say, Southworth has reinvented himself as the top Light Heavyweight in Strikeforce but he will undoubtedly be forced to prove himself all over again whether it’s in a rematch against Ruiz or against the promotion’s newest signee – Renato “Babalu” Sobral.

Below, Southworth disusses his fight against Ruiz, the possibility of facing Sobral and his tumultuous appearance on TUF.

Bobby Southworth – 11/28/07