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Your cliff notes guide to keeping up with UFC’s four April events

By Zach Arnold | April 2, 2014

Event: UFC Fight Night from Abu Dhabi (Friday, April 11th on Yas Island)
TV: Internet

Event: UFC Ultimate Fighter Nations Finale (Wednesday, April 16th in Quebec City at Colisée Pepsi)
TV: Fox Sports 1

Event: UFC on Fox 11 (Saturday, April 19th in Orlando, Florida at Amway Center)
TV: Fox broadcast stations

Event: UFC 172 (Saturday, April 26th at the Baltimore Arena)
TV: Fox Sports 1/PPV

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 6 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

With a blown out ACL, GSP just lost his leverage & the UFC just lost immediate $

By Zach Arnold | March 27, 2014

Everything this week was on GSP’s side in terms of enforcing the right kinds of conditions for a return to the UFC. All the momentum and leverage on his side. Nobody in the company right now can draw 600,000+ PPV buys on their own. Chris Weidman can’t. Johny Hendricks can’t. Ronda Rousey can’t. Jon Jones can’t. As a collective group effort with multiple big fights on one card, perhaps UFC could come close. But right now, no singular fighter other than Brock Lesnar can deliver on PPV for UFC like St. Pierre.

And GSP’s stick-and-carrot approach, as my radio co-host Jeff Thaler discussed with me earlier in the week, was clearly working… on paper. St. Pierre has been publicly talking tough about drug usage in MMA and forced the UFC to play defense big time on the matter. Pushing Lorenzo Fertitta to say publicly that he would support VADA-style drug testing without Dr. Margaret Goodman’s involvement is one of those moments where even UFC’s denial still, in essence, validates the work she has done to push momentum forward in increasing drug testing protocols in combat sports. The carrot, from GSP, was the idea of a superfight with Anderson Silva or perhaps even a rematch against Johny Hendricks.

Then came news that Anderson Silva won’t fight in 2014 and Johny Hendricks had to get biceps surgery. And his fight with Robbie Lawler at UFC 171 reportedly drew 320,000 PPV buys. So he didn’t exactly get the instant rub from the GSP fight. That growth in popularity will have to take significant time to develop. Ask GSP all about that.

After Hendricks impressed last November, a new and exciting Welterweight division appeared in the long-term cards. Injuries have now had a mess of things. Carlos Condit has ACL issues. GSP has ACL issues. And we’re left with Tyron Woodley and Nick Diaz floating around as challengers. Woodley is the real deal. But he’s not a major draw.

Coming out of UFC 171, St. Pierre had to be feeling great about his newly-built leverage. And after the event, some positive news came out in the form of a BBC report on new University of Texas-Arlington research about improving protocols in current drug screenings that could help detect steroid usage in athletes for as long as two years. It is a great step up in being able to utilize current equipment to improve the ability to detect drug usage and such upgrades removes some excuses from various state athletic commissions lollygagging on drug testing fighters.

Of course, more emphasis should be put on pre-fight drug tests in order to prevent fighters who are actually using drugs from competing in the first place since the whole argument is about health & safety. But that would mean athletic commissions would lose out on big money from having more fights canceled, hence the current pre-fight and post-fight drug testing procedures in place.

But now that GSP has blown out another ACL, any leverage he had has vanished and will require significant work to accumulate once again. The UFC may be celebrating this development but that celebration is Pyrrhic in nature because St. Pierre is still the best PPV draw they have access to booking.

Topics: Canada, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 18 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

More likely to happen first: Shogun/Henderson UFC III or double retirement?

By Zach Arnold | March 23, 2014

You know what the answer probably is. Whether it’s the answer that you think is appropriate given the current circumstances coming out of Sunday’s fight, however, is up for discussion.

As for the quality of officiating… whew, I’m glad Chael Sonnen assured everyone after the show that the officiating on the show was of good quality. Sneaky guy buttering up the referees for his May 31st Brazil fight against Wanderlei Silva. Nothing ever gets past him. I hope Wernei Cardoso is not the referee for that fight.

Jon Jones may be saying “oh give me a break” about the prospects of a fight with Henderson but if he loses to Glover Teixeira (as John Hackleman talked about recently on Fight Opinion Radio), he may want to reconsider.

Event: UFC Fight Night (Sunday, March 23rd) at Ginasio Nelio Dias in Natal, Brazil
TV: Fox Sports 1 (7 PM EST/4 PM PST)

Topics: Brazil, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 19 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Will Top Rank draw big crowds at an old California home for boxing?

By Zach Arnold | March 22, 2014

The late Dr. Jerry Buss would be very happy to see the old Inglewood Forum active as a home for boxing fights once again. In the 1990s, Dr. Buss helped promote many fight cards at the former home of the Los Angeles Lakers. Combined with fight cards at the Anaheim Pond, it was pretty good to be a boxing fan in Southern California.

So, with the news that Top Rank is going to promote two legitimate fights at The Forum in May and July, how will the two events draw? MSG now manages the building.

Interesting to note that by running Inglewood, they avoid the 5% Los Angeles city entertainment tax that’s added to the 5% gate cut that the California State Athletic Commission gets with the TV tax money and the double-digit state income tax rate. The 5% LA city tax has been a bone of contention for Top Rank in attracting financial backers for past fights.

The two fights booked are intriguing to say the least. The May 17th show features Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Mike Alvarado. The July 12th HBO PPV show features Gennady Golovkin vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. JCC has a lot to prove in regards to whether or not he’s still a big ticket seller in Southern California. The first fight with Bryan Vera drew a little over 5,000. JCC can draw a million eyeballs on HBO but this time he’s on PPV.

It’s going to be a real compressed time frame to promote the Marquez fight on the ground and get tickets sold but Bob Arum always has based his big initial media flurries for fights (regardless of location) in LA because of his press contacts. It should pay off at the box office. Boxing back at The Forum will certainly bring back good memories for the veteran fans who used to go to those shows and the younger crowd as well.

The California scene needed a shot in the arm and this is a very good opportunity to build some momentum. And, yes, I didn’t forget the ESPN May 10th fight between Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverne at USC’s Galen Center.

Given all the recent turmoil in Sacramento with the Athletic Commission, success here would be a much-needed morale booster. The well has been dry for a while now and Andre Ward isn’t much of a draw outside of Oakland.

Topics: Boxing, Media, Zach Arnold | 1 Comment » | Permalink | Trackback |

Did Nevada bureaucrats sandbag the job security of athletic commission boss finalists? Update: Aaron Davis of NJ backs out

By Zach Arnold | March 20, 2014

An update to this article can be found at the bottom of the post.

There are some very nervous allies of California State Athletic Commission Executive Officer Andy Foster right now. Whether or not Andy Foster lands the job as the Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, his enemies now see an opportunity to exploit Wednesday’s news to their advantage.

For several months, Andy Foster has told people in California that he had no intentions of applying for the Nevada job opening. When we posted the job listing for the position on our site, the process seemed simple enough. And for the people applying, anonymity was crucial. In fact, it was a selling point by Nevada in trying to get people to apply in the first place.

And now those individuals who applied for the job under the impression of anonymity just got sandbagged in a big way. As a media writer, I appreciate the transparency in the hiring process. If I was a candidate on that list and my name was revealed on ESPN last night, I’d be crapping my pants right now. Why? If I’m working in Sacramento, Nashville, or Newark, I’d be watching my back carefully.

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 2 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Stuck in bureaucratic quicksand, things are still a mess for the California State Athletic Commission; ESPN says Andy Foster finalist for Nevada job

By Zach Arnold | March 19, 2014

The video of Monday’s Los Angeles meeting is now online.

If you’re a casual fan, there’s not a lot of takeaways from Monday’s meeting other than things remain chaotic in the state. If you work in the industry or you’re a hardcore fan who has followed what has been happening in Sacramento, some very revealing things were on display at the Monday meeting.

The video a little over two hours in length. If you don’t have time to watch it, here’s our top seven takeaways from what we observed at Monday’s meeting.

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: CSAC, MMA, Media, Zach Arnold | 12 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Current casino owner who books fight shows appointed to Nevada athletic commission by Brian Sandoval

By Zach Arnold | March 18, 2014

Governor Brian Sandoval’s office appointed Laughlin casino owner Anthony Marnell III to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The appointment will last until November. Marnell is a fill-in appointment for the late TJ Day, who died in Reno on January 24th at the age of 64.

Marnell’s company oversees the Edgewater Casino & Colorado Belle Casino in Laughlin, Nevada along with the city’s Event Center. Those casinos happen to book fighting events. And they still are scheduled to do so.

As one insider framed it, “So, he’s a promoter and a regulator? Unreal.”

It would be one thing if Marnell was still in the casino business but had agreed to stop hosting fight shows at said casinos in exchange for the appointment. That’s not the case here. A quick look on the Nevada State Athletic’s Commission web site tells you everything you need to know. Edgewater has two King of the Cage dates coming up on June 7th and September 20th. Edgewater was also the site for a recent ESPN Boxcino event on February 21st with Banner Promotions.

The conflict of interest is blatant but in the land of Sig Rogich, nobody gives a damn or blinks an eye. No big deal.

What is a big deal, however, is Brian Sandoval’s political future in 2016 and what it means for Harry Reid, the go-to Senator for both Sig Rogich & Lorenzo Fertitta. That’s a much more important political story with some very interesting implications.

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 6 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Fight Opinion Radio: The Mastodon of Verbosity, Mauro Ranallo, on the future of big fights on PPV

By Zach Arnold | March 17, 2014

Download the show

The second episode of the Fight Opinion Radio 2014 campaign can be downloaded right here (http://www.fightopinion.com/podcasts/foradio-3-17-2014.mp3). To automatically subscribe to the Fight Opinion Radio podcast, use this RSS link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/fightopinionradio. This link should work for all RSS programs and podcatching programs. You’ll never miss any of our new shows.

Time length of this week’s show: 36 minutes (17 MB MP3)

Interact with us at Fight Opinion Radio

The best way to support us is with a financial contribution. All money contributed pays for show & site-related expenses. http://www.fightopinion.com/donations is the magic link.

Reach Mr. Whaledog on Twitter @whaledog & Mr. Arnold on Twitter @fightopinion. Send us feedback on the shows either in the comments section or via e-mail at puroresupower@hotmail.com. Mailbag questions can be sent to that e-mail address as well, just make sure to include the word “mailbag” in the e-mail title.

Show theme: A loaded combat sports event schedule over the next three months

Three UFC shows within the last three weeks and it’s not slowing down. There are at least 10 more shows over the next 4 months. If you live & breathe combat sports 24/7, it’s great. If you’re a casual fan or burnt out, you’re waving the white flag. When Nikita Krylov is fighting on a main card of a PPV, you know the matchmaking is stretched thin.

For many years, The Ultimate Fighter has acted as the UFC’s quasi-minor league system. Then they decided to sign all the talented free agents and left the cupboard bare for TUF (on the men’s side). Is it time for the UFC to create their own official minor league system?

Special guest: “Zach Arnold guy” Mauro Ranallo

He was recently on The (Jim) Ross Report and the boss of Fight Opinion decided it was time for an interrogation of a man, myth, and legend that we created. For the first time in years, we sat down with Showtime boxing & GLORY kickboxing play-by-play man Mauro Ranallo. You can reach Mauro on Twitter @mauroranallo or via e-mail at mauro@mauroranallo.com.

A sample of some of the questions asked during the interrogation:

Special thanks

To Zack Nelson for past & present support of Fight Opinion Radio with music. We hope to work extensively with him and other bands in the future for a step-up in production values for Fight Opinion Radio.

Topics: Fight Opinion Radio, Jeff Thaler, MMA, Media, PRIDE, UFC, Zach Arnold, podcasts | 6 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

UFC 171: Johny Hendricks survives round one of Strikeforce Welterweight division takeover

By Zach Arnold | March 15, 2014

Over 19,000 fans in Dallas and more UFC shows coming to Texas.

Event: UFC 171 (Saturday, March 15th) at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas
TV: Fox Sports 1/PPV (8 PM EST/5 PM PST)

Exit question: Who’s next? Tyron Woodley or Nick Diaz?

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 32 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Pat Curran’s career-defining win over Daniel Straus was great… for conspiracy theorists?

By Zach Arnold | March 15, 2014

What a balls-out performance in the cage on Friday night by Pat Curran against Daniel Straus in the Bellator Featherweight title match.

And now Curran’s reward will be a title defense against Patricio Pitbull. They should put that fight on the May 17th PPV.

Friday’s fight at the Horseshoe in Hammond, Indiana was interesting on multiple levels. When Straus beat Curran last November by decision, it was safe to assume that the same kind of outcome could have happened here — and that appeared to be the trajectory. Scoring this fight was difficult and there’s no way that there would have been a universal winner on the score cards. Personally, I would have been fine with any score outside of Straus winning all five rounds. As MMA Junkie pointed out, the score cards heading into round five saw one judge for Straus, one judge for Curran, and one judge tied at two rounds a piece.

I thought the first two rounds, both of which were fast-paced and aggressively skilled, could have gone either way. I liked the submission attempts Straus attempted in R1, but there seemed to be consensus opinion that Curran won R1. Straus won R2 when he whacked Curran with a left hook and demonstrated some really good striking. He was often on target and crisp with his punches. R3 is when both fighters started slowing down, although there was some good striking on display. Curran attacked with some knees. I gave that round to Straus. R4 was really hard to score and I would have accepted any outcome on the cards here. Straus did connect well with strikes but there was a lot of clinching against the cage. I gave it to Straus by barely. So, after four rounds, I had it 39-37 in favor of Straus.

Before round five started, Curran’s corner told him it was a very close fight and that they needed to “take this kid out.” It was clear that Curran was going to win R5 on the cards with his effort. He connected with some great knees and went for a takedown. Eventually he was able to reverse position against Straus’s takedown defense and get him down to the ground. With about 75 seconds left in the round, Curran got his back mounted and that was big trouble. It was as if Straus was out of gas at this point. With 60 seconds left, Curran got a choke sleeper hold on Straus and the drama was building in a hurry. Could Straus hang on until the end to make it interesting on the cards? I was convinced that he was going to tap with 30 seconds left but he didn’t. I was expecting someone to scream at Straus that he had a few seconds left to make it to the bell. Instead, he tapped out with 15 seconds left.

What a moment that was. And, immediately, Twitter went crazy.

“Screw the trilogy, I want best of five.”

This was a really intriguing fight and much different than I thought it would play out in the re-match. Straus let his emotions show throughout the fight and it was something to see his corner men console him after the loss. Curran sounded like a man who knew he had been in the fight of his life and had pulled a rabbit out of his hat. If the fight had gone to the cards, Curran would have won a split decision. There’s no doubt that a trilogy fight will be upcoming in the 12 to 18 months.

A great start to a busy MMA weekend.

Topics: Bellator, MMA, Media, Zach Arnold | 7 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Of public relations issues and the UFC

By Zach Arnold | March 12, 2014

So, Kevin Iole revealed that UFC is allegedly giving comps to some writers for their Fight Pass site. Perhaps those writers, should they be revealed, might want to talk to Mommy Bloggers about what happens when the FTC decides you aren’t being transparent enough in disclosing benefits on subjects you are covering/writing about. Supposedly buying off lapdog MMA writers isn’t the end of the world but it does say something about the UFC’s on-again, off-again schizophrenic ideas of wanting writers to eat the dog food and shut up about it.

And as we saw with Dana White randomly going after Luke Thomas on Twitter in a bullying fit over Luke stating that there needs to be less volume of shows and rather a focus on better quality, the UFC has no trouble putting writers on blast who aren’t being compliant to the company’s business doctrine. That’s why I never bothered kissing their ass in the first place. What’s the point of doing that?

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 23 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

The return of Fight Opinion Radio with Jeff Thaler & the great John Hackleman

By Zach Arnold | March 11, 2014

“Sometimes it is good to change the scenery a little, change the look a little. Get out of your comfort zone. You want stability but you want instability at the same time. Everybody loves routine, you know like the same thing, the same coffee everybody, but they like differences and they like excitement, too. Like you don’t want to know the end of the movie. Sometimes you want to change your ice cream. Sometimes, I don’t know about you guys, I have a feeling you two probably when you’re in bed with your women you close your eyes and pretend it’s some guy, some Asian guy, I don’t know.”

With guest respect like that, what could go wrong?

Fight Opinion Radio is back after a five year hiatus. Rusty but ready & fired up. Our special guest this week is Mr. John Hackleman from The Pit (thepit.tv). Great knowledge & a great sense of humor. Some of the topics we covered during the interview:

In addition to our guest interview, Mr. Whaledog returns. Top lawyer Jeff Thaler is back to ruminate over some of the more interesting business-related topics in Mixed Martial Arts including:

Download the show

The first 2014 episode of Fight Opinion Radio can be downloaded right here (http://www.fightopinion.com/podcasts/foradio-3-11-2014.mp3). To automatically subscribe to the Fight Opinion Radio podcast, use this RSS link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/fightopinionradio. This link should work for all RSS programs and podcatching programs. You’ll never miss any of our new shows.

Time length of this week’s show: 40 minutes (17 MB MP3)

Contribute a donation

If you want more shows, more guest interviews, and more upgrades to Fight Opinion… then help us help you by sending some coin our way. All money contributed via donation is directly invested in covering production expenses, guaranteed.

http://www.fightopinion.com/donations

Next week…

It’s been years in the making. An old, famous enemy returns to Fight Opinion for a well-deserved interrogation. Plus: we respond to the UFC’s recent public intimidation of MMA writers and whether or not the bullying tactics are working. Has the testosterone scandal exposed UFC as a paper tiger in mainstream media circles? If the mainstream sports media decides to go hard after Zuffa in the future, is management prepared to withstand legitimate pressure?

Special thanks

To Zack Nelson for past & present support of Fight Opinion Radio with music. We hope to work extensively with him and other bands in the future for a step-up in production values for Fight Opinion Radio. Anyone who wants to contribute to the show, contact us on Twitter at @fightopinion and @whaledog or at Facebook. Our e-mail address is puroresupower@hotmail.com.

Topics: Fight Opinion Radio, Jeff Thaler, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold, podcasts | 12 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Can you keep up with the UFC’s schedule over the next three months?

By Zach Arnold | March 8, 2014

So there was this show today in London where Alexander Gustafsson fought Jimi Manuwa and it wasn’t on television because Dana White said Fox didn’t have the budget to air 10 more fights, so off it went onto Fight Pass. Luca Fury proved right, once again, when he predicted that Melvin Guillard would have a lousy performance and he did reportedly because he didn’t train at Grudge for the fight. Luca pointed out the same issue with Costa Philippou who lost his last two fights after not training with Matt Serra & Ray Longo.

Next week, the big fight in Dallas between Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler. I see no reason why it won’t live up to the hype. After the Dallas PPV, things get even crazier if you want to keep up with the UFC grind.

  1. UFC Fight Night (3/23 Sunday) in Natal, Brazil with Dan Henderson vs. Shogun on Fox Sports 1
  2. UFC Fight Pass (4/11 Friday) in Abu Dhabi with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Roy Nelson
  3. Ultimate Fighter Nations Finale (4/16 Wednesday) in Quebec City with Michael Bisping vs. Tim Kennedy
  4. UFC Fox 11 broadcast (4/19 Saturday) in Orlando with Fabricio Werdum vs. Travis Browne
  5. UFC 172 (4/26 Saturday) in Baltimore with Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira for Light Heavyweight title
  6. UFC Fight Night (5/10 Saturday) in Cincinnati with Matt Brown vs. Erick Silva on Fox Sports 1
  7. UFC 173 (5/24 Saturday) in Las Vegas at MGM Grand Garden Arena with Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida
  8. UFC Fight Night (5/31 Saturday) in Brazil with Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva on Fox Sports 1
  9. UFC Fight Pass (5/31 Saturday) in Berlin, Germany
  10. UFC 174 (6/14 Saturday) in Vancouver at Rogers Arena/GM Place

After UFC 171 in Dallas, it will be 10 shows for the next 12 weeks. Throw in all the Bellator shows upcoming (along with their May PPV) and the big slate of boxing fights coming up and the saturation point will be large.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 20 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

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