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.
Elite XC held a press conference yesterday to hype their next 11/10 show “Renegade.” Gary Shaw and his team deserve some credit for this one because the card is pretty stacked. Some of the main fights to look out for are Nick Diaz vs. KJ Noons for the new 160 lbs Lighweight belt, Jake Shields vs. Mike Pyle, Seth Kleinbeck vs. Kyle Noke and Kimbo Slice vs. Bo Cantrell (who is replacing the injured Mike Bourke). Antonio Silva and Yves Edwards are also likely to appear on the card however their opponents have yet to be announced.
Obviously, the main attraction on the card will be the Elite XC debut of Kimbo Slice. Slice, a street-fighting Internet legend whose only official MMA victory came against former boxer Ray Mercer in June, was by far the star of this press conference. He surely brings something different to the table but whether or not he is best suited for the backyard or an MMA cage is yet to be seen. That said, I am not sure if we will find that answer in the form of Bo Cantrell. Nevertheless, his debut in Elite XC will definitely garner a lot of attention within the MMA world and in this day and age that really is half the battle.
Other notes discussed on the call were:
Due to Gary Shaw’s concern for the dangers involved with extreme weight-cutting before fights he announced new weight classes for Elite XC. They will look to crown a new champion within each of these new divisions fairly soon. The new weight classes are: 140 lbs, 150, 160, 170, 185, 205, 265+.
This will be last for Mike Pyle in Elite XC. His opponent, Jake Shields, appears to be happy again despite reports to the contrary.
Gary Shaw seems interested in signing former Pride star Josh Barnett. He is still negotiating a Frank Shamrock vs. Ken Shamrock fight.
Shaw’s goal is for Kimbo Slice and KJ Noons to become the first ever dual champions in Boxing and MMA.
Shaw claimed that when Nick Diaz fought Takanori Gomi at Pride33 that he was under contract with Elite XC. Wha? Correct me if I’m wrong but that’s the first I ever heard of that.
For more check out the audio below. We make several appearances throughout the call.
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
At the start of every week we’ll let you know what we’re working on and which interviews you can expect to hear on jarrypark.com. Below is a list of interviewees we have already confirmed. Something tells me this is going to be a great week.
IFL fighter, member of the Toronto Dragons and fellow Montrealer, Middleweight Brent Beauparlant (6-4-0) will be stopping by to talk about his final week of training before his IFL Grand Prix showdown against the very dangerous Benji Radach.
Two-time TNA Heavyweight champion, nine-time WWE tag-team champion and three-time WWE Intercontinental champion, Christian Cage, will discuss his current run in TNA and his new movie “Dark Rising.”
Fightopinion.com’s Zach Arnold will help break down all things MMA. Some of the topics we will be covering are: the Dana White vs. Randy Couture feud, the IFL Grand Prix, the upcoming Elite XC:Renegade card and any other MMA news that is sure to break in the next few days.
Bryan Alvarez, the editor of Figure Four Weekly, one of the best wrestling/MMA newsletters in all the land, will wax poetic on the state of WWE and TNA and where both promotions are headed.
TNA Heavyweight Champion, Kurt Angle, will add a new entry to the “Angle Diaries,” when he announces the top ten best matches of his illustrious career. It might be impossible to choose only ten but we’ll give it a shot.
And that, my friends, is just the tip of the iceberg. Seriously, we have tons more interviews lined up but since they are not 100% confirmed we don’t want to announce them just yet. If you want to hear us discuss a specific topic or talk to a certain fighter drop us a line and we’ll make it happen. Have a great week…
Next Saturday (11/3) is without a doubt the biggest night in the short two-year history of the International Fight League. The league will be holding its first-ever Grand Prix event with the semifinals emanating from the Sears Centre outside of Chicago, IL and the finals on 12/29 from the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT. When everything is said and done, the IFL will finally crown a champion in each of its five weight classes. The IFL’s team concept is a novel one and I can potentially see casual sports fans gravitate towards it but this event is long overdue. Surely it will help elevate some new stars and give fans a reason to root for specific fighters and not just teams. (Jarry Park will be previewing the GP all week long with tons of interviews so keep it locked here for the latest)
Sadly, though, this event has a few black clouds hovering above it. First, two of the IFL’s top stars – Heavyweight Ben Rothwell, Light Heavyweight Mike Whiteheadwill not be competing in the event after the league first announced they would be a part of the GP. The reason behind their absence is because the IFL wanted all the fighters competing in the GP to sign a contract for the 2008 season. Makes sense. The league would be foolish to crown an unsigned champion and then have them jump ship to another organization (see: Hart, Bret). Interestingly enough, both men are represented by MMA super-agent Monte Cox and apparently Cox was willing to have Whitehead and Jay Hieron (whose participation in the GP was in doubt for some time but not anymore) sign their extensions but not Rothwell. You see, Rothwell is in the midst of a 13 fight winning streak and is by far the top Heavyweight in the IFL. Cox believes Rothwell will command a lot of money from other organizations once he enters the free agent market at the end of 2007. Clearly, the IFL is aware of this because they have decided to treat this situation as a package deal and if Rothwell didn’t sign they didn’t want to sign Whitehead. Fiveouncesofpain.com’s Sam Caplan spoke to Cox and he had this to say regarding the situation:
“…I called back and I said ‘Whitehead’s in and Hieron’s in’ and they said, ‘What about Ben?’ I told them we’re not going to do anything with Ben (and) that I’m going to wait until the season ends. And they said that ‘If Ben doesn’t sign then these other two guys are out.’ I go ‘What do you mean?’ They said ‘If Ben doesn’t sign then the other two guys can’t fight in the Grand Prix.’…We 100% absolutely said we would sign with (the IFL) and Hieron and they wouldn’t let either guy sign and then they backdoored to get Hieron in and decided not to get Mike.”
We’ll never really know who is truly in the wrong here but the bottom line is the IFL is suffering the biggest consequences because a portion of next week’s GP semifinals will air live on MyNetworkTV at 8 p.m. EST/PST (7 p.m. CT/MT). IFL events have been airing on MNTV and Fox Sports Net for over a year but this will mark the first ever live telecast in the promotion’s history. While the telecast will only run for an hour (hardly enough time to make an impact), its imperative that it draws a solid audience. A good television rating could lead to the 12/29 finals airing live on MNTV but, more importantly, a new TV deal. You see, MNTV and the IFL have yet to agree on a new deal for 2008. You have to believe the MNTV executives will wait to see what next week’s ratings look like before committing to another deal.
Ok, now that we got all that business out of the way let’s look at who will be fighting in the first-ever IFL Grand Prix. Keep in mind that injuries to Brad Blackburn, Andy Reese and Andre Gusmao have changed the card a little bit. There will be two fights in the Lightweight, Welterweight, Middleweight and Heavyweight divisions. The winners in each bout will then move onto the 12/29 finals. However, due to injuries, the Light Heavyweight division will only hold one fight. Thus, a new Light Heavyweight champion will be crowned next week. Onto the card:
The fight I’m most looking forward to is Horodecki vs. Palaszewski II. Their first fight on February 2 2007, won by Horodecki via split decision, is definitely a candidate for fight of the year. Hopefully the rematch won’t be decided by the judges (highlights of their first fight can be found below). I’m really excited to see the IFL live on television for the first time in this new format. Again, keep checking back here for tons of fighter interviews leading up to the event.
Somewhere Vince McMahon must be smiling. First, Randy Couture announces he’ll be holding a press conference to discuss his resignation from the UFC. A couple of days later, coincidentally or not, the UFC decides to hold a press conference to announce their new TV deal with Spike beginning 30 minutes prior to Couture’s. Never a boring day in the world of MMA. Some of the main points discussed were:
The UFC has signed a new deal with Spike TV that runs through 2011. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Their current deal expires in 2008 meaning this new one will run for three-year. There will be at least four more seasons of The Ultimate Fighter and twelve Ultimate Fights Nights (four per year from ’09-’11). Also, a brand new “fight series” will be launching in 2010. No more details of this new fight series were made available.
UFC president Dana White said he did not schedule this press conference at the same time as Couture’s press conference. He claims it was simply a coincidence.
White said he has yet to speak to Couture and is waiting for Couture to call him back. However, in his press conference, Couture said he spoke to White and Lorenzo Fertita yesterday. Hmmm.
When asked about Fedor Emelianenko signing with M-1, White said that he was disappointed they couldn’t agree on a deal but that in all his dealings with Fedor’s management not once did they ever talk about Fedor. “It was always about his managers.” He also said “Fedor sucks. He’s not even in the top 5.” He also called Fedor’s agent, Vadim Finklestein, “a fucking liar.”
The deal with HBO is dead. The UFC is looking elsewhere. The reason they love Spike TV so much is because they have never tied them down. Spike allows them to look for partners, as well. HBO wasn’t as flexible.
Chuck Liddell, Wanderlei Silva and Brock Lesnar were also on the call.
Liddell never really thought about retiring after the Jardine loss and is not concerned with his last two losses. He thinks that a win over Silva will propel him back into the title picture.
White said that the winner of Silva-Liddell will definitely be considered a number one contender.
White said that the UFC is dying to come to Canada. A Montrealer can only hope…
Take a listen to the UFC press conference. White is asked to address the Couture situation right off the bat.
Meanwhile, here are some of the highlights from Couture’s presser that was shown live HDNet and proelite.com were:
“I’ve had issues with Zuffa and the company since they bought it in 2001…It’s the little things that make athletes feel appreciated that weren’t done…weren’t being done from my perspective that were done for a lot of other athletes.
“Everyone’s trying to make a big deal out of the money. This was never a money issue. It’s been a prevailing feeling of respect that wasn’t being given for eleven years of my life I have tried to represent this sports with integrity…Represent this sport in a particular way for the owner before and the owners now and I’ve never felt that that was appreciated.”
“I think that the Fertitas and Dana White did a marvelous job in saving our sport. I think our sport was gonna die. Does that mean I agree with all the decisions they’ve made and how they’ve treated a lot of people…no, I don’t agree with a lot of that.”
“I’ve been taken care of, I’m the last guy to complain. People are gonna ask questions ‘oh you’ve signed a contract eight months ago you seemed perfectly happy with that contract then.’ Nah, I wasn’t happy with that contract then.”
“I asked for a signing bonus and wasn’t given one. I don’t really know why but I wanted to fight.”
The general theme, as expected, was that Couture was pissed they were offering huge contracts to the Pride fighters and he wasn’t making close to their contracts.
He said he heard Liddell made close to $17 million last year while his base salary for the Sylvia and Gonzaga fights was $250,000 per fight. He also made one dollar for 100,000 ppv buy and up to three dollars for 330,00 PPV buys. Not exactly the $3.25-3.75 million that had been reported.
He kept saying that it wasn’t about the money yet he kept talking about money.
Once the Fedor match was off the table, he felt as though he had nothing left to gain by staying in the UFC.
Couture claims that his “hollywood agent” (as White has called him) had nothing to do with this because his agent has been with him for a while and he is his sports agent.
“I’m tired of swimming up stream…something needs to change.”
“They were given every opportunity…I expressed face-to-face how I felt…I’m not going to get into a pissing match with Dana.”
Couture says that prior to returning to the UFC he was offered $3 million dollars to fight Fedor in Bodog and took that offer to the UFC. That is when White proposed the Sylvia match.
“I’m saying that I simply left the UFC at this stage. It would be silly for me to sit here and say I’m retiring again… nobody is going to buy that crap, anyway.”
Couture said that he received a bonus after the Liddell fights and the Sylvia fight yet he didn’t receive any kind of bonus after the Gonzaga fight. He was extremely bothered by that.
Couture acknowledged that he has nine more months left on his contract so he seems to be willing to wait it out and then look elsewhere.
Courtesy of RawVegas.tv here are two videos of Randy Couture’s press conference.