Ultimate Athletes: Sports Stars in MMA II (of IV)By Jake Rossen ([email protected])
Wednesday, 11:00 p.m. ET: Ambition is great. Getting your arm broken in two places while your face is crammed against a cage fence? Not so great.
In honor of Dreamer Jose Canseco (credibility: 1965-2009), who was pummeled Tuesday in an inexplicable fight against Korean giant Hong Man Choi, we’ve got attention trained on former mainstream athletes who made the switch to major league punching.
Michael Westbrook (1-1)
Affiliation: Wide Receiver, Washington Redskins, Cincinnati Bengals
Resume: Recently earned brown belt in jiu-jitsu; fought fellow NFLer Jarrod Bunch in 2005. Says he prefers grappling over MMA because he’s “never gotten a good feeling” from hitting someone. Funny, since that’s exactly what he did to teammate Stephen Davis in 1997.
Bench? Westbrook doesn’t like striking. That’s benching yourself.
Carlton Haselrig (3-1)
Affiliation: Offensive guard, Pittsburgh Steelers
Resume: For combat purposes, the best of any former ball player: Haselrig is the only six-time NCAA wrestling champion in history. And he made the Steelers without having played any college football. That’s a bad man.
Bench? Unfortunately, yes: Haselrig is 43, which puts a pretty limited window of opportunity on his combat potential.
Sherk Makes a Run for ItBy Lotfi Sariahmed ([email protected])
Wednesday, 7:20 p.m. ET: "Sean Sherk ran out of the ring and out the doors and down the street in his fight shorts and no shirt."
That was the Twitter message from Dana White following Sean Sherk’s (33-4-1) unanimous decision loss to Frankie Edgar last Saturday at UFC 98 in Las Vegas. And while speculation ran rampant as to why “The Muscle Shark” left the arena following his second loss in three fights, Sherk said he was simply getting his emotions in check.
“After the fight was over I went for a run. I was kind of frustrated and just had to burn off some steam, so I just went for a jog,” Sherk told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show on Wednesday. And I left before I talked to the doctor. The doctor didn’t get a chance to look at me. I wasn’t hurt at all so I just said f--- it. I’m going for a run.”
According to Sherk, it was that run that got him suspended for 45 days by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
“The Commission got kind of pissed because I didn’t talk to the doctor first and they suspended me for 45 days for that,” he said. “It’s kind of excessive I think. I don’t think I deserve to get suspended for going for a run. I wasn’t gone that long. I was gone maybe an hour. But what do you do?”
However, the Commission said Sherk’s suspension had nothing to do with his post-fight escapades into the Las Vegas night.
“Mr. Sherk’s suspension was medical only. (It had) Nothing to do with him leaving the building,” wrote Keith Kizer, executive director of the NSAC, in an email to Sherdog.com on Wednesday.
According to NSAC documents, the former UFC lightweight champion will be suspended until July 8, with no contact until June 23. Medical suspension details were not listed.
Dream 9 QuoteworthyBy Tony Loiseleur ([email protected])
Wednesday, 4:40 p.m. ET: Sherdog.com’s Tony Loiseleur was at the post-fight presser in Tokyo to collect these quotes:
“I don’t think people know this, but I didn’t want to disappoint the fans. I hurt my knee, back home, really bad. I stopped training for a while. I had the choice of not fighting or coming here and fighting, and I decided to come with a really bad knee. I tore my calf muscles and [had] some other problems with it. I knew that most likely, during this fight, my knee was going to give out, no if, ands or buts about it. I think on the sidekick, I couldn’t put any pressure on it, and then finally, towards the end, it gave out. Even if I wanted to try and get up, it would have been impossible. He’s just too heavy.” -- Jose Canseco, disclosing the details of his right knee injury.
“Well besides getting married -- that’s probably the scariest thing I have to face -- you guys have no idea what it is to face a guy that big and try to exchange punches with him. I know I ran into a left jab, and I thought I was knocked out on my feet for a second, but when I went back, I thought, ‘Oh my god, am I still here?’ So it’s like facing your fears and it’s just incredible. I haven’t slept right the past couple weeks, just thinking about this. I’m glad it’s over.” -- Canseco, answering a question about his future in MMA in a very roundabout fashion.
“I talked to Matt Hume, and I told him I was going to win. I was looking over at my corner and Matt, and really, it was just a heat of the moment thing. I've known Matt from before, and he's a good man. I told him I was going to win, so after the fight was done, I said to him, ‘I told ya I’m gonna get this win!’ and he said, ‘No talking to me!’” -- Joe Warren on the humorous exchange he had with judge Matt Hume between rounds.
“I got emotional, and I really apologize to the Giant. I didn’t mean it, and it just happened. I meant to stop, but I didn’t, and I’m sorry about that.” -- Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou on his inability to stop punching Jan “the Giant” Nortje after referee Samio Kimura had stopped the bout.
“It’s a fight. You get emotionally involved in a fight. The fight afterward, it’s just that everyone was just emotional, and I think everyone was wrong trying to fight after the [bout] was finished. But nothing actually happened, so let bygones be bygones.” -- Nortje, apparently forgiving Sokoudjou.
“This is a huge thing that Kid was defeated by Warren. It’s incredible. But I’m not really happy about it, to be honest.” -- Hideo Tokoro on Joe Warren defeating tournament favorite Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto.
“I think for me to go to heavyweight is still too early. I can fight anyone, but the weight still isn’t what it should be. Of course, I’ll fight in this tournament, but I will first go down to light heavyweight. I want to be the champion there, and once I achieve my goals at light heavyweight, eventually I want to go up to heavyweight. But then, I want to be around 105 to 108 kilos. So now, I’m still too small for a heavyweight.” -- Gegard Mousasi on his weight of choice.
“I didn’t weigh as much as I wanted. I was much lighter -- I think if I’d have taken my clothes off, I’d be 97 kilos. For the next fight, I want to put on some weight and keep my speed and explosiveness.” -- Mousasi, on his weight for the Super Hulk Tournament.
Also check out Tony Loiseleur’s Dream 9 Notebook.
Warren Edges Out Yamamoto: Is That Good for MMA?By Jake Rossen ([email protected])
Wednesday, 3:45 p.m. ET: Salvaging Dream 9 from sinking into MMA event infamy was the featherweight bout between 1-0 Joe Warren and 17-1 Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto. It was a fight believed to be an unfair sophomore challenge for the former: “Kid” had been the world’s consensus 135-pound terror for years. Warren was tough -- a Greco-Roman world champion -- but lacked stand-up polish, submission acumen and just about everything else.
Surprise: Warren took Yamamoto down repeatedly, landed some sharp knees in the Thai clinch, and generally kept Yamamoto at bay for 15 minutes to earn a split decision and early Upset of the Year honors.
I can appreciate a good ring story, and Warren’s is as compelling as any so far this year. But whether it’s good for MMA as a whole is another issue.
Floyd Mayweather once crowed that in his sport, nobody “off the street” could just waltz in and win a championship or be competitive. While it’s true Warren isn’t a passerby -- he might have made the Olympic team in 2008 if not for a positive marijuana test -- he’s hardly as credentialed as Yamamoto, who has destroyed people two weight classes above his own and competed on the K-1 circuit.
Warren’s victory raises some questions about the learning curve of the sport. Wrestling is an excellent base to draw from, but if you really only need a few months of training to beat a top athlete, you’re either incredibly gifted or MMA itself still has holes in its DNA big enough to drive a truck through.
A Prince of a Guy: Qatari Royalty to Compete in MMABy Jake Rossen ([email protected])
Wednesday, 2:50 p.m. ET: Korean news outlet Joong Ang Daily -- delivered to my doorstep every morning -- reports that Sheikh Mohammed Al-Thani of Qatar intends to compete in an MMA tournament scheduled for Seoul, South Korea on June 7.
This won’t be the first time Arabic royalty has gotten involved in combat sports: The highly regarded Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) was instituted by Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in the United Arab Emirates in 1998. Sheik Tahnoon studied Brazilian jiu-jitsu in San Diego while attending college.
Al-Thani’s training regimen is a mystery, but he’s on Facebook. That shouldn’t surprise me, and yet it does.
Bowles/Torres at WEC 42By Jake Rossen ([email protected])
Wednesday, 2:35 p.m. ET: WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres will defend his title against Brian Bowles on Aug. 9 in Las Vegas: this from the Times of Northwest Indiana.
WEC officials have yet to confirm the date, but if true, it would mean Zuffa would have two shows on the same weekend. It won’t cannibalize business in the least, as UFC 101 takes place in Philadelphia on Aug. 8, and WEC will be a Versus cable offering.
Terrific fight. Torres, often spoken of in hushed pound-for-pound terms, looked a little more human against Takeya Mizugaki in April. Maybe that was enough for Bowles to get over the mental hump of facing someone so highly regarded.
Thompson/Kennedy on for June 19 Strikeforce ChallengersBy Jake Rossen ([email protected])
Wednesday, 2:30 p.m. ET: Army reservist Tim Kennedy will meet Nick "The Goat" Thompson at a June 19 Strikeforce Challengers event, per MMAJunkie.
Thompson, 38-10, had a high-profile loss to Jake Shields on CBS in the summer of 2008; Kennedy hasn’t fought since a December 2007 win in the IFL over Elias Rivera.
Barnett/Emelianenko Confirmed for Aug. 1?By Jake Rossen ([email protected])
Wednesday, 1:20 p.m. ET: MMAMania has posted a cryptic news brief that quotes Affliction Veep Tom Atencio giving a “Yes, sir” in apparent response to his signing of Affliction’s headlining attraction on Aug. 1.
As previously rumored/discussed/beaten to death, Fedor Emelianenko will defend his paperweight WAMMA title against long-delayed rival Josh Barnett. Barnett was last seen grinding out a win over Gilbert Yvel at Affliction II in January; that same night, Emelianenko rallied from a slow start to knock Andrei Arlovski into the dead zone.
If the show adheres to its date, it will be up against a WWE pay-per-view spectacle the preceding weekend and UFC 101 the following weekend. (Strangely, both sandwiching shows will be hailing from Philadelphia’s Wachovia Center.)
It’s obviously not a question of who comes in third -- it’s just a question of by how much. The UFC typically steamrolls competition, but the presence of Anderson Silva on the Aug. 8 card might induce apathy in fans who didn’t warm to his most recent performances; Emelianenko’s last U.S. appearance was bolstered in small part by a Fox Sports documentary.
Affliction needs more free-TV barkering if they’d prefer to remain in business. A lot more.
Mousasi-Belfort in Doubt, ‘Babalu’ Waiting in WingsBy Tony Loiseleur ([email protected])
Wednesday, 5:25 a.m. ET: Less than 48 hours after it was confirmed, it seems the proposed bout between Gegard Mousasi and Vitor Belfort at Affliction 3 on Aug. 1 might not be happening after all.
“I had the contract given to me for a catch-weight of 195 pounds to fight Vitor Belfort,” Mousasi told Sherdog.com exclusively after his speedy submission against Mark Hunt at Dream 9 on Monday. “I’ve signed it, but Tatame has a recent article as of last night, asking Vitor about the fight, and he was talking about ‘no challenge,’ and that he ‘wouldn’t go up a division.’ So I don’t know if the fight will happen.”
Indeed, Tatame’s English website has a brief story up quoting Belfort’s desire to stay at 185 pounds, and that he wouldn’t find the fight compelling until he could fight Mousasi at the weight he had won the Dream title at.
“So, maybe another opponent? There’s talk about [Renato] Babalu [Sobral], or maybe for a title, but it’s not for sure yet,” said Mousasi. “I thought the fight was confirmed, but it’s not confirmed by Belfort. I’m definitely going to fight [at Affliction 3], but the opponent, it’s not for sure yet. We’ll see.”
A fight against Sobral would at least be in line with Mousasi’s weighty wishes of late, as naturally, it would happen at 205 pounds.
A light heavyweight bout would also interfere less with Mousasi’s progression in Dream’s Super Hulk tournament. Further, the Armenian-born fighter sees the August fight as a way of getting him in shape for the next round of the tournament in September.
“I want to fight more as a light heavyweight, because for the catch-weight fight, I’ll have to drop a lot of weight, and then I’ll fight again in the Super Hulk tournament. I’d be giving up a lot of weight,” said Mousasi. “I hope it’s going to be a light heavyweight or heavyweight fight [at Affliction]. But as for the Vitor Belfort, I don’t know. I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Greg Jackson Talks YoshidaBy Mike Fridley ([email protected])
Wednesday, 4:00 a.m. ET: Following his devastating knockout loss to Josh Koscheck, Yoshiyuki Yoshida left his comfortable digs in Japan for the deserts of New Mexico.
Seeking out Greg Jackson’s Albuquerque MMA hub for a new beginning, the submission artist may have found a new home.
Jackson discussed the judoka’s progress with Sherdog.com’s Mike Sloan just after Yoshida’s first-round submission of Brandon Wolff at UFC 98.
Check the blog all day for more entries.