Merci GSP, You’ve Saved The Day Again

By now you’ve heard the news that Mark Coleman has been forced to pull out of his UFC 87 fight against Brock Lesnar due to a torn MCL. I guess that’s the risk in promoting a fight featuring a 43-year-old five months in advance.

While Coleman’s injury is certainly a bummer, the UFC did help turn our frowns upside down by announcing today that Georges St. Pierre will defend his newly-won welterweight title against Jon Fitch at UFC 87. I have a feeling this fight was going to take place on this card anyways but it certainly softens the Coleman injury blow by announcing both items on the same day.

This is the second-time in six months that GSP has been used to “save” a card. Of course, he recently stepped in to replace an injured Matt Serra at UFC 79 against Matt Hughes. It’s safe to say that he has officially paid the UFC back for pulling out of two major fights in the past; A September 2006 rematch against Hughes and a February 2007 fight against Serra.

Meanwhile, UFC 87 is shaping up to be the battle of the really nice guys and that might seem a little strange to us after a string of intense grudge matches. We’ve had GSP-Serra II, Penn-Sherk, Tito-Dana and, coming up, Jackson-Griffin. UFC 87 features St. Pierre, Fitch, Roger Huerta and Kenny Florian – four of the nicest fighters in the sport. Don’t expect a ton of trash-talking coming from these candidates (although, I must say that Huerta and Florian have been showing signs of fire as of late).

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MMARated Radio: Patrick Schultz Reflects On His TUF Chances

The TUF 7 cast member talks about his experiences on the show

patrick_schultz-025.jpgEvery season of the “The Ultimate Fighter” always seems to have a happy-go-lucky guy who comes off as just feeling blessed to be on the show. There’s also usually a guy who gets a second chance to chase his dream due to an injury or some kind of controversy.

Just so happens that Patrick Schultz played the role of both those guys on TUF 7. The Massachusetts-native lost a prelim bout to Luke Zachrich but after Paul Bradley’s herpes epidemic, he was quickly brought back because no one wanted to see Rampage get the “heeby jeebies.”

So, there was Schultz with a golden opportunity to advance to the quarter-finals with only Cale Yarborough standing in his way. That was also his biggest problem; Cale Yarborough was in standing in his way.

Schultz lost a tough two-round affair via decision with some even thinking the bout should have gone three rounds (I, on the other hand, thought the judges made the right call).

MMARated Radio spoke to the new father (his wife gave birth to a baby girl an hour before the interview!) about his experience on the show and a few other issues:

* Finding out that he had to fight his way into the house

* What happened after the loss to Zachrich?

* How did he find out that he was back on the show?

* The reception he received from his teammates when he returned

* Training with Rampage

* What went wrong against Yarborough

* The injury he sustained in the bout

Nice to hear how genuinely happy and excited Schultz was to be on the show.

LISTEN TO THE PATRICK SCHULTZ INTERVIEW HERE 

MMARated.com: Dueling Penn & Sherk Interviews

The UFC 84 main eventers go head-to-head

It’s a busy morning at MMARated.com (and FOXSports.com too) because we’ve got dueling BJ Penn and Sean Sherk interviews.

Some of the highlights include:

Ariel Helwani: Penn has been very outspoken when the topic of your suspension, your appeals and steroids in MMA has come up. Basically, he’s not very happy with you right now. What do you think about all the stuff he has said leading up to the fight?

Sean Sherk: To be honest with you, I don’t even know what he’s talking about. I don’t really read up or follow any interviews online or anything, so I don’t know what kind of comments he’s made as far as him having a beef with the way I handled my situation. I didn’t take Nandrolone so I mean everything I did was pretty much all innocent. I’ve passed three lie detectors tests and then explaining all the mistakes that the California (State Athletic) Commission made in the process and the testing facility, I felt like there was plenty of evidence there to prove that I hadn’t taken anything. To be honest with you, I think BJ wants to keep bringing up that steroid stuff because maybe he feels like that’s what brings legitimacy to the belt that he’s got. I don’t think he deserves it. I think that if you want to be the champion, you’ve got to beat the champ. (That) belt was taken from me for something that I didn’t do. He wants to keep sticking the steroid stuff in my face, but for him to be talking about me like that, it’s kind of a hypocritical because I know he’s got some habits, some professional habits that professional fighters shouldn’t have. And he knows it just as well as I do, so he should maybe take a look in the mirror and think before he speaks.

AND

Ariel Helwani: I recently spoke to Sean Sherk and he’s still very adamant that everything he did was kosher. Obviously, you don’t believe him, right?

BJ Penn: Well, I asked him (on a conference call last week), ‘did you do steroids?’ He said no. I said, ‘did you do growth hormone?’ he didn’t answer. I said, ‘did you blood dope?’ He didn’t answer. Then somebody asked me, ‘so do you think he did steroids when he fought Hermes (Franca)? I said ‘well, if he didn’t do steroids then his test should come out the same way with his Nandrolone and testosterone level.’ The same thing because I’m sure he trained just as hard for this fight as he did for the Hermes fight. So, if he didn’t do anything, he should be exactly the same as last time. So, we’ll see. We know there’s more people than just him on performance enhancement drugs in the UFC. (But) you know what? It’s time to just focus on myself. A lot of smack talk has been going back and forth but come Saturday it’s all going to end the next time I get in the ring.

Pretty solid stuff from both combatants. Check out the Penn interview here and the Sherk interview here.

Nate Quarry To Replace Chris Leben At UFC 84?

Last week, I was tipped off by a reliable source that Nate Quarry was being considered as a replacement for Chris Leben should his legal troubles get worse. Well, I think it’s officially safe to say that Leben’s problems have worsened.

MMAMania.com is reporting that Leben was sentenced today to 35 days in jail. Here are the details:

““The Crippler” turned himself in to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office in Portland, Oregon, on April 30 because of an old Driving Under the Influence (DUI) probation violation.

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MMARated.com: Do or Die for Joe Daddy?

The lightweight star gears up for Gleison Tibau at UFC 86

Joe Stevenson was featured today on MMARated Radio. Here are some excerpts from the interview:

On his next fight:
“The way I look at it, I’m fighting for the title again in my head because to get another title shot, I got to beat Gleison (Tibau) and not just beat him in a close decision. I’ve got to go out there and finish him.”

On his loss to BJ Penn:
“I practiced to go into his power hand, his right, because I thought his left hook was more dangerous, and he never really throws his right. However, on this fight, I guess he was practicing his right hand a lot more according to his boxing coach and stuff.”

On BJ Penn’s greatness:
“To tell you the truth, in my book it goes, Dan, Randy, and then B.J. Those are all people that I, you know, work and want to aspire to be, so, honestly, he beat me on that day, and was in great shape and did a great job. I can’t take anything away from him.”

On Penn liking the blood off his gloves after the fight:
“I didn’t see it. I didn’t see that until after the fight and watching it on the videotape. I was pissed off for a minute it was like ‘oh you jerk!'”

All that as well as why he turned down a fight against Tyson Griffin and which non-UFC lightweight star would he love to fight next.

MMARated.com: TUF’s Matthew Riddle Interview

The TUF 7 cast member discusses his experience on the show

When I first saw Matthew “Chipper” Riddle crush Dan Simmler’s jaw on in the second episode of TUF 7, I quickly thought to myself: “That kid’s going far in this tournament.” I think it was a mix between the smug smile on his face and the excessive TV time he received in the following episode that truly made me feel like he would be a force to be reckoned with.

Shows how much I know as Riddle suffered a second round loss via armbar submission to Tim Credeur on last week’s episode of the show. I certainly didn’t see that one coming.

Is this the last time we’ll be seeing that kid who still lives at home with his mom and doesn’t have a driver’s license fight in the Octagon again? Something tells me no. In fact, Riddle even told us that he was one of the few cast members that will be fighting on the Finale in June. A win against his yet to be announced opponent will probably ensure a several fight stay in the UFC.

MMARated Radio caught up with the 21-year-old Riddle to talk about a whole host of subjects:

* His experience on the show
* Having to fight his way into the house
* Breaking Simmler’s jaw
* Has he seen him since?
* What went wrong against Credeur
* Rampage’s reaction after the fight
* Should he have done things a little differently?
* Where he is moving to improve his game
* Will he ever got a shot at Dante Rivera?

All that and more from the not-so-surprisingly chipper Matthew “Chipper” Riddle.

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW AT MMARATED.COM 

“If I had to hear one more time how many [expletive] Emmys they’d won, I was going to jump out the window”

Stephen Brunt, one of Canada’s top sports reporters, has a solid article in The Globe And Mail today looking at the rise of the Ultimate Fighting Championship as the promotion gets set to hold their first event north of the border. Shockingly, there aren’t too many inaccuracies in the article except for his writing that the UFC produces ten PPVs a year when it’s closer to thirteen or fourteen.

The highlight of the article, though, is some brilliant quotes from Dana White. In the past, every time someone asked White about HBO he always seemed to praise them while holding out hope that they would soon come to an agreement. Well, hope no more. That door has officially been shut.

On HBO Sports:

“If I had to hear one more time how many [expletive] Emmys they’d won, I was going to jump out the window. I’m kicking their ass on pay-per-view, no matter how many Emmys they’ve won.”

I have to admit that as a former employee of HBO Sports, I found that quote pretty funny. Other goodness from White includes his take on the Elite XC and CBS marriage:

“I think it’s horrible. It sucks, to be honest with you. They’re going after the freak show aspect which is everything we stayed away from. When we started to build this thing, it was all about the sport, about the real athletes. It sucks that CBS is going that route. CBS doesn’t know anything about MMA. Everything they know about MMA is from me being in there talking to them about it.”

Say what you will about White but reporters covering the MMA beat have got to love him. He fills up notebooks quicker than Houston Alexander gets knocked out by guys named James Irvin.

Montreal mayhem promises to be big hit (The Globe and Mail)