The Weekly Wrap: Nov. 7 - Nov. 13

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By Jack Encarnacao Nov 14, 2009
The Weekly Wrap walks readers through the last seven days in MMA, recapping and putting into context the week's top story, important news and notable quotes.

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In MMA’s return to network television, Fedor Emelianenko showed millions of American households what all the fuss was about.

The heavyweight kingpin’s second-round technical knockout of a game Brett Rogers was a signature Emelianenko performance that attracted 5.46 million viewers to CBS on Nov. 7. The number was one million viewers less than the CBS bouts of ratings king Kimbo Slice last year. Nonetheless, one would be hard-pressed to conceive a bigger stage on which to introduce Emelianenko to fans, or a better type of fight to emphasize his style and abilities.

Rogers, in suffering his first loss, made it interesting and dramatic. In addition to landing a stiff jab that bloodied Emelianenko in the first round, the Minnesotan delivered a few punches from top position and some knees to the body while Emelianenko was pinned against the fence. It was a new and seemingly uncomfortable position for Emelianenko, who heretofore had only competed in a ring. Rogers also impressed on the floor, dodging several submission attempts.

Emelianenko revealed after the bout that he detected something in Rogers’ foot movement that opened up the winning shot. The Russian had thrown the same punch in the opening seconds of the fight but missed. The moment Rogers opened up for a left punch in the second round, Emelianenko sent the winning shot rocketing over the top, dropping Rogers and compelling referee John McCarthy to step in. Emelianenko suffered a dislocated left thumb in the fight; the injury required surgery but should only shelve him for four to six weeks. Rogers blamed self-doubt and hesitancy for the loss.

The all-important television ratings were seen as both signs of Strikeforce’s potential and its limitations. The entire “Saturday Night Fights” broadcast, Strikeforce’s first live network foray, scored an average of 4.04 million viewers over its two-hour, 24-minute broadcast. Of the four live MMA cards that have aired on CBS, the show ranked third in terms of overall ratings. The broadcast’s 2.5 share rating was well down from the 4.1 rating CBS averages in the time slot. CBS made the entire event available for viewing on its Web site. CBS executives indicated they would be pleased if the show did well in the adult male demographic, which remains tough to draw on a Saturday night. The show posted strong numbers among males, ages 18 to 34, better, in fact, than college football games on ABC and ESPN.

In interviews, UFC President Dana White ripped the presentation, telling Yahoo! Sports the ratings “should prove that no one out there gives a [expletive] about Fedor.” To counter the event, Spike TV aired a special featuring four pay-per-view main events. That drew 1.2 million viewers on its first run and 939,000 for a replay immediately following.

The CBS broadcast saw the audience grow by 1.49 million people for Emelianenko’s fight, this after an audience drop during the 25-minute Jake Shields vs. Jason "Mayhem" Miller title bout. In that match, Shields was crowned Strikeforce’s new middleweight champion after he edged Miller in a grappling-heavy affair. Shields scored with takedowns consistently and held top control throughout the fight, but Miller put up some quality resistance and nearly had Shields choked out at the close of the third round. Shields’ approach to the fight drew flurries of boos from the live crowd.

The timing behind Shields claiming the vacant 185-pound belt was ironic. The man who relinquished the title, Cung Le, announced on the same day that he would return to action on Dec. 19 to headline a Showtime card against Scott Smith. Le reportedly was set to shoot a movie that was postponed, so he decided to take the fight. Shields intimated that Le relinquished the belt to avoid a fight with him and told he was interested in defending Strikfeforce’s middleweight belt and chasing a welterweight title at the same time.

The event, co-promoted with the M-1 Global outfit that backs Emelianenko, took place before an energetic crowd of 11,512 at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Ill., west of Chicago. M-1 negotiated several international television deals for the fight, and it was viewed by more than six million people in Russia, M-1 executive Joost Raimond told The show was also on television in the United Kingdom, China and on HBO Latin America. While the promotional agreement with Strikeforce remains unclear, a recent court action revealed that Affliction was paying M-1 Global a $1.2 million fee per event and allowed M-1 to retain all revenue from selling the television show overseas.

In the other two televised bouts, Fabricio Werdum ate significant leather from Antonio Silva in the first round of their heavyweight tilt but used his jiu-jitsu and single-leg takedowns down the stretch to take a unanimous decision. Meanwhile, light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi kept rolling with a second-round TKO of Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou in a non-title affair. Werdum called out Emelianenko following the fight, while Mousasi chalked up a shaky first round to some failed experimentation against the Cameroonian.

The undercard featured a top-shelf women’s bout, as Marloes Coenen -- who was set to challenge female champion Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos before the Brazilian bomber suffered a shoulder injury -- aggressively defeated veteran Roxanne Modaferri via first-round armbar. Coenen avenged a 2007 decision loss to Modaferri with the win and expects to face Cyborg at a Jan. 30 event, according to

Two fighters booked to compete did not get the chance to impress. A preliminary fight between Mark Miller and Deray Davis was scratched due to time constraints tied to television production complications. Both fighters were paid show and win money.
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