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« | Home | »

Monday meltdown: Bob Arum attacks UFC again

By Zach Arnold | September 30, 2007

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Yoshihiro Akiyama is returning soon. It’s interesting to see just how hard K-1 is making a push in South Korea and not in Japan.

Bob Arum goes off on UFC once again, this time declaring Kelly Pavlik’s recent win “the biggest blow to UFC.” Money quote:

“I just think that he’s going to revive boxing in the Midwest and it’s going to spread to the rest of the country. I’ll tell you, this was the biggest blow to the UFC since the sort of competition began because all the young kids are going to come back to boxing. There is nothing in UFC or any of this martial arts bullsh*t that compares to this.”

Larry Merchant thinks the fans are boxing degenerates.

The next season of The Ultimate Fighter will be focusing on Middleweights.

Analyzing the MMA Heavyweight rankings.

Daniel Puder compares his time with OVW to fighting in MMA. Mr. MMA Analyst says that he was not impressed with this weekend’s Strikeforce event at the Playboy Mansion. The Dayton Daily News disagrees. At least we can all agree that Strikeforce signed Renato Babalu.

Building the ultimate fighter.

The latest edition of Inside the Cage Ragio features an interview with Stephen Quadros.

Fightlinker and his insider info.

Onto today’s headlines.

  1. The Albany Times-Union (NY): Rough house – MMA grows as fans learn to roll with the punches
  2. Fox Sports (Dave Meltzer): UFC’s Light Heavyweights carry the sport
  3. Sam Caplan: Will Frank Shamrock get sued?
  4. Bad Left Hook: Pacquiao, Barrera load up for a brawl
  5. Sky Sports (UK): Clinton Woods eyeing Antonio Tarver match-up
  6. MMA Analyst: MMA will overwhelm boxing – a look inside the debate

Topics: Boxing, HERO's, K-1, Media, MMA, South Korea, StrikeForce, UFC, Zach Arnold | 35 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

35 Responses to “Monday meltdown: Bob Arum attacks UFC again”

  1. Arum does not understand.

    There is years…centuries of grappling history that he has to tear down to even scratch at the midwestern public.

  2. Rollo the Cat says:

    Was boxing ever that big in the midwest?

  3. Kev says:

    Who is Kelly Pavlik?

    Just sayin.

  4. Kev says:

    Oh, and I fell asleep watching Strikeforce, specifically during the Billy Evangelista fight. Or i think that was his name, afterall, I did fall asleep. It was nowhere near the level of their last production, all the matches felt like squash matches or were even but sloppy. Maybe EliteXC is good for something afterall.

    And big ups to Frank Shamrock, who 1.) said the UFC and Strikeforce were pretty much the same, except Strikeforce focused more on the Martial Arts aspect, and 2.) spits some homophobia towards Josh Thompson and promising more fight-hyping jawing with Cung Le, which kinda undermines that “Strikeforce is more focused on the Martial Arts aspect” spiel.

  5. The Citizen says:

    I watched that playboy card and was even on my way to the show but then realized I’d rather eat, drink and chill at home then actually drive up the hill to be around a bunch of fake ass MMA fans.

    My favorite part was Shamrock’s interview with Hef’s Clueless Bunny who said “the only reason Hef wanted this is because this is like the hotest thing right now.” Also enjoyed her “is this UFC?” “Is this UFC” comments.

    What the F? Who was that other announcer with Shamrock? That guy was an annoying dolt. He made almost no sense whatsoever and should be locked in a padded room with Goldberg squared.

    Book better fights — I dont care if you host the event in a Walmart parking lot, or the White House lawn.

  6. manos says:

    Ol’ Wacky bob up to his old tricks again. Always worth a laugh.

    Strikeforce sure did suck. What was the final tally for number of fighters to enter to “Welcome to the Jungle,” anyway?

    Highlight of the evening: Kendra’s commentary.

    “So this is like UFC, right?”
    “Well, these two fighters are formerly from the ufc… this is different though”
    (Moments later)
    “So were these guys ever in UFC?”

  7. Xenos says:

    Arum should be a stand-up comedian.

  8. Pontus says:

    It seems like every fighter out of the midwest has a wrestling background.

    Im from another country (Sweden).. Exactlly how big is wrestling in the midwest? Does every high school have a wrestling team?

    Who could have thought that a bunch of wrestling midwest americans would be the baddest fighters in the world 15 years ago.

  9. Jason Bennett says:

    I used to be a boxing fan and don’t follow it that closely anymore -corruption/works ain’t my bag. However the Pavlik fight interested me due to competiveness and I was pleasantly surprised. Along with the Berto fight it was an exciting card.

    But as fan of MMA, even the Strikeforce event had me way more excited, as lame of a card as it was. Arum is so wrong he honestly will probably never accept the truth. Boxing committed suicide years ago and as for mainstream, youth-oriented interest – not likely for many years to come. MMA will continue to grow due to its unexpected, exciting outcomes and the many new stars emerging.

    It’s no big reveal or anything, but watching another HBO event shows how unbelievably more professional thier broadcasts are to any MMA show; very impressed. I would love to see how they would have handled the UFC if the deal had ever been closed. But it’s not meant to be it seems.

  10. Xenos says:

    Im from another country (Sweden).. Exactlly how big is wrestling in the midwest? Does every high school have a wrestling team?

    It’s big. Some of the larger college duals (Iowa/Iowa State, OSU, etc) can attract 10,000+ people. The NCAA tournament usually has a crowd between 12,000 and 15,000 people. I would think that it’s safe to say that pretty much every midwest high school has a wrestling team. Many school districts even have clubs and teams for grade school kids.

  11. liger05 says:

    Pavlik v Taylor was a fantastic fight. Taylor usually bores me but that was a great fight. Its looking good for boxing in the run up to 08. Barerra v Manny, Mosely v Cotto, Mayweather v Hatton. Good times!!!

  12. LR says:

    I find it odd how many fans who were watching the streamed event had serious problems with:

    The production, the commentating, the quality of fights, the actual camera work, the refereeing, and the stream didn’t work for a lot of people due to compatibility issues and Yahoo! provided no type of help on the page either. It makes me wonder how someone could say that it was a success. The production was a little above the RioHeroes production.

    I will say the quality of the stream was an A+ home run, I could get literally 1200k quality through it. But in the article I wrote, I was thoroughly disappointed in the production and listening to Frank Shamrock’s ego get in the way of actually talking about the fights. It’s odd since Dan Stupp of MMAJunkie was actually there. Maybe from his viewpoint, it was great. I’d say the same thing if bunnies were 10 feet from me and I saw some of those knockouts first hand.

  13. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    Being from the Northeast, which is a place that honestly doesn’t take high school or even college sports all that seriously, I can confirm that even WE have high school wrestling teams.

    It’s one of the core sports along with (in no particular order) football, baseball, softball, track & field, cross-country, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, hockey, basketball and volleyball. At most schools wrestling would be a guys only sport, but that’s not necessarily always the case. It’s more a de-facto guys only sport (like hockey, girls are allowed on the team, but they rarely break varsity; on the other side, you’ve got field hockey, where the guys rarely break varsity and still have to wear the kilt, which is half the battle for adolescents).

  14. zenki says:

    Im from Illinois and yes high school wrestling is huge around here.. Kids get into to in in grade school and wrestle there way through high school with hopes of making state and to college afterwards.. Its annoying.

  15. LR says:

    Same here, from the Illinois area. Wrestling is unbelievably huge in the Quad Cities area as well, where MFS is at. Hence the reason why a lot of wrestlers have transitioned to MMA at the MFS facility in Bettendorf, Quad Cities areas. Midwest is a hot bed. Look at the Team Takedown roster of wrestlers, a few from the Ohio State region.

  16. Jonathan says:

    Have any of you read the latest column over at It is by Jake Rossen and is called “Pride and Prejudice”, and basically, I feel that it is the shittiest article that I have ever read. The Pride vs UFC debate has kind of been over since, well, Pride stopped having shows, but it seems that Rossen is being a UFC fanboy and is kicking a dead horse while it is down, and I just cannot understand, while in the world of mix martial arts, he chooses to write about something as non-factorial as that.

  17. garth says:

    who’s kelly pavlik again? I seriously know nothing about the ABC beltholders anymore… it’s really hard to care. when a guy’s clinching up and you start yelling “Knee! knee!” you know it’s over.

  18. KennyP says:

    Arum is wrong, but he is also right.

    He is wrong that Pavlik’s win is a huge blow to UFC. But he is correct that the Pavlik win can be huge in the midwest.

    Two points to correct: (1) The “Midwest” often is used to refer to two very different, but adjacent regions of the country. The agricultural midwest is the farm states (Iowa, Nebraska, southern Illinois, etc.) The industrial midwest is the factory towns in the Great Lakes area (Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Louis, etc.) Both “midwest” areas are linked together, they overlap, and are interwoven, but they are culturally different. And, as I know from my Ohio roots, the difference can be apparent in a distance as short as 20-30 miles, as the city gives way to farmland. The part of the midwest that has wrestling tradition is the agricultural midwest. The boxing-tradition midwest is the industrial midwest. Please understand that the existence of one does not preclude the existence of the other.

    (2) To a large part, the fanbase that supports boxing is different than the MMA fanbase. It overlaps in part, like a Venn diagram, but they are not all the same people. The boxing fanbase is going to be older, and (in the midwest) more urban, than the MMA fanbase. And if boxing now can sell in Cleveland, Detroit, or Chicago, it doesn’t mean that MMA can’t also sell in Columbus, Quad Cities, and Cincinnati (or wrestling in Lincoln, Norman, and Iowa City).

    But, back to Arum’s argument. Kelly Pavlik drew 5,000 (out of the 10,000+) fans to Atlantic City. That wasn’t a casino passing out freebies or a promoter financing a sellout. That is 5,000 people from the poorest city in the US driving 450 miles and paying at least $50 per ticket to watch their favorite son. Kelly Pavlik (fighting a credible opponent) will be able to fill Quicken Loans Arena or the Mellon Arena today, delivering a $2-3 million gate. Fighting Taylor (or another top opponent), he could do the same or more in Detroit, Columbus or other more-distant markets.

    Last week, there was 0% chance of drawing a multimillion dollar gate in Ohio or the industrial midwest with a big boxing show. Now there almost 100% chance. That is huge. When the midwest produced world champion fighters (admittedly it was a different world 20 years ago), the hometown support and interest was far greater and more intense than in other areas of the country.

    Pavlik alone isn’t going to reverse the flow. But he is a really good start. He has a rabid fanbase (in a midsize city), Arum can market easily him in a larger market (Cleveland and Pittsburgh are 60 miles from Youngstown), and his “story” will resonate and play well in other industrial cities (Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, etc.).

  19. It’s odd since Dan Stupp of MMAJunkie was actually there. Maybe from his viewpoint, it was great. I’d say the same thing if bunnies were 10 feet from me and I saw some of those knockouts first hand.

    LR — you’re absolutely right. My thoughts were based solely on being there in person and seeing things for myself. I wasn’t taking the broadcast or TV/Web-production values into account since I didn’t see them (though a lot of readers were complaining and commentators).

    From where I sat, I thought the show had a very nice pace (there was never more than 5 minutes between bouts), I thought there some really great fights (hearing Melendez complain of a broken hand after the first round and then watching him win the next two was impressive), and I thought the crowd was really into it (guys in thousand-dollar suits and girls in cocktail dresses stood around the cage for hours watching the fights and seemed thoroughly entertained).

    I hope they do a second show at the Mansion so they can work out the production kinks and really give viewers a better sense of the atmosphere.

  20. Pontus says:

    I actually liked that article Jonathan, I don’t see how you can call that a “UFC fan boy article”.

    I don’t know if you read any forums but if you do you must have seen that the Pride vs UFC debate still is very alive…

  21. Jonathan says:

    Quiet Pontus, before I throw the to the lions!

    But in all seriousness, I would expect that kind of war to play out on the know, from the “keyboard warriors”. A featured column on MMA’s biggest website?


  22. LR says:

    The UFC-PRIDE debate didn’t end with PRIDE. The debate raged even bigger when the PRIDE fighters began to revert over. The article wasn’t terrible.

    Dann — I figured that much. I was fairly disappointed in the production of the event. The Melendez fight was actually pretty good, I thought some of the others were decent such as Riggs and Thomson with the impressive knockouts. Peoples was atrocious though. I will say that Yahoo! Sports did a fantastic job with the stream. The atmosphere definitely wasn’t picked up with the production and be glad you didn’t have to listen to Frank Shamrock’s enormous ego all night and calling Thomson “the first openly gay fighter”. Ugh.

  23. jim allcorn says:

    Wow, you bastard, you really stepped on my toes with that post of yours! I was JUST getting ready to to post much of the same exact info & insights as you did & you beat me me too it.

    Seriously though, thanks & kudos for being so spot on.

    Obviously when Arum speaks of the midwest, what he actually means is the “rustbelt” of Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, hell, I’d even throw my hometown of Buffalo into the mix ( which, like Youngstown was for mid-size cities, was, about a month ago, just given the “distinction” of being the #1 poorest major city per capita in the entire USA. HIP, HIP HOO-RAY! ). Which is sort of amusing because I’ve never heard anyone refer to Buffalo as a “midwestern” city. So, honestly, Arum needs some geography lessons …

    The most accurate way to describe the area of the country that Arum’s talking about wuld probably be the “mideast”, but that’s not a term that anyone uses in the country for some reason, so they just seem to refer to anything that sits west of PA that’s not in the south as being in the midwest. Even though, when you look at a map you can see how silly that is …

    But yeah, Arum’s right with his idea that Pavlik could be HUGE in the rustbelt cities. Especially if he goes forward with his idea of taking him on an oldfasioned “barnstorming” tour. Which I’d love to see & could be done to great success as long as Pavlik & his people don’t mind him keeping a busy fight schedule. And, if Arum resurrects the seemingly lost art of the non-title fight for champions in the higher weight classes.

    As a fan, I’d REALLY like to see Pavlik take a page out of James Toney’s book when he was a champion at 160 & ’68. He stayed VERY busy back in the early ’90s & I think it benefitted him greatly as a fighter. One of the things that bothers me most about today’s game is the inactivity rate of today’s top fighters. I can’t stand that many of them only choose to undrape two or three times a year.

    So, if Arum can get Pavlik to defend his title three or four times a year & engage in in couple – three non-title fights as well, he’d have plenty of opportunities to have him fight in the rustbelt’s arenas.

    As for that “hurting the UFC” or MMA in any way though, I seriously doubt it. He’s just a stodgy old timer that doesn’t want to acknowledge that there’s more than enough room for both combat sports to survive & thrive.

    Arum reminds me of the oldtimers that you see in documentary footage who were just convinced that rock & roll was a fad that would die out within a few years & that all the radio stations would eventually return to playing the standards in good time … LOL

  24. D.Capitated says:

    The definition of Arum as that stodgy old guy is actually pretty accurate, though he reminds me more of the “ROCK AND ROLL 4EVER” dudes that hate hiphop and can’t stand that both are pretty popular instead of just one.

    But in any case, Pavlik fighting guys on a regular basis like that would be challenging because most of them are overseas in Europe at 160. Beating up Gilbert, Quartey, or Mora in December/early January before embarking on a justifiable homicide of John Duddy would be great. No way does Duddy go 5; might as well put him in another fight before hand.

  25. captain~swing says:

    Larry Merchant’s “boxing degenerates” comment was a joke.

    Larry is a drunk and his delivery is always slurred (and awful, you know like his commentary) but taking “issue” with his comment is ridiculous. It was clearly a joke.

  26. Jordan Breen says:

    Yeah, I was shocked someone took issue with the degenerates comment. Merchant laughed, and clearly said it with some kind of affinity for the boxing public. Christ, people are idiots.

    Also, John Duddy. Lulz.

  27. 45 Huddle says:

    Some random facts from the latest Wrestling Observer:

    1. SEAN SHERK PASSED A LIE DETECTOR TEST. He stated that he did not knowingly take steroids.

    2. UFC Fight Night Bonuses: Dustin Hazelett got $31,000 overall ($15 from best sub). Nate Quarry got $50,000 overall ($15 for FOTN & $15 for KO of Night). Chris Leben got $35,000 ($15 for KO of Night). Obviously, Pete Sell also got bonus for FOTN.

    3. IFL Team Championships on 9/20 got a paid attendance of only 2,614.

    4. Mirko Filipovic is not returning Zuffa’s calls. It is becoming a question of what to do with him at this point.

    5. UFC is spending $20 Million on an ad campaign with R&R Partners.

    6. Dana White wants Dan Henderson to drop to 185 lbs to make a run at the Middleweight Title. Henderson wants to compete at Light Heavyweight. (My own opinion: The Light Heavyweight Division is stacked, and the UFC could really use Henderson at Middleweight).

    7. Houston Alexander vs. Thiago Silva is in the works.

    8. Antonio Nogueira vs. Cheick Kongo is likely for the 12/29 card. On a similar topic, the majority of fights they have been trying to put together for the November Show (this being one of them) has run into major issues.

    9. UFC did not sign Antonio Rogerio Nogueira because Hardcore Fighting signed him to the following contract: FIRST FIGHT: $100,000 to show and $20,000 to win. SECOND FIGHT: $125,000 to show and $25,000 to win. (My own opinion: He is drastically overpaid and will never make that much money for the company).

  28. Rollo the Cat says:

    1. Sherk passing a lie detector is meaningless. I lie and pass one.

    3. The poor IFL attendance is no surprise since they decided to hold it in FLA, where no one comes out for sporting events anyway. They obviously just wanted a place to spend some vacation time and spend what’s left of the IFL’s cash.

    7. Houston Alexander v Thiago SIlva would definitely be of much interest to me. Another 1 round KO for someone. If you haven’t seen Thiago’s bout with Drwal chect it out.

    8. At this point, just scrap 78 and make it a UFN. It would be one of the best UFNs ever.

    9. Rogerio has been the most overrated fighter in MMA for the past few years.

  29. Rollo the Cat says:

    Sorry..on point 1 I maant to say I can lie and pass one (a lie detector test). I know people who have done it in criminal cases.

  30. D. Capitated says:

    1. SEAN SHERK PASSED A LIE DETECTOR TEST. He stated that he did not knowingly take steroids.

    I laugh when fighters do this. Pass a drug test, then talk. Not knowingly taking steroids doesn’t make it okay. He should try that with the IOC.

    4. Mirko Filipovic is not returning Zuffa’s calls. It is becoming a question of what to do with him at this point.

    Who cares? Let him sit on the sidelines for however long. It won’t help him. Until he has that fourth fight, he can’t go anywhere else.

    7. Houston Alexander vs. Thiago Silva is in the works.

    I’m down with this, actually.

    8. Antonio Nogueira vs. Cheick Kongo is likely for the 12/29 card. On a similar topic, the majority of fights they have been trying to put together for the November Show (this being one of them) has run into major issues.

    At least December will be packed.

    9. UFC did not sign Antonio Rogerio Nogueira because Hardcore Fighting signed him to the following contract: FIRST FIGHT: $100,000 to show and $20,000 to win. SECOND FIGHT: $125,000 to show and $25,000 to win. (My own opinion: He is drastically overpaid and will never make that much money for the company).

    I wonder how much they’ll hype winning the Bronze at the Pan-Ams?

  31. PizzaChef says:

    Don’t know if anyone is reporting this but…I’m hearing that Hardcore Championship Fighting is changing Alexander Emelianenko’s opponent to Dan Bobish…They say that their ticker promoting the event was listing that now.

  32. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    Hell yeah, that December 29th card is starting to actually look like an old fashioned New Years Eve Throwdown.

  33. LR says:

    It doesn’t matter if he knowingly took steroids or didn’t. The NSAC will STILL SUSPEND him even if his supplements were tainted or not, it’s the fighter’s responsibility to know whether or not his supplements are legit or not. This has been a researched topic by many people, including myself. NSAC, CSAC, World Doping Agency, International Olympic Committee has all passed judgements that still were upheld even after it was determined the supplement was tainted. The IOC has also overturned judgements as well due to the same reason, but the Athletic Commissions will not do so. Kizer has stated in many interviews this exact decision.

    Sherk is going to be suspended no matter what. It’s over, schedule BJ for someone else already. If the UFC did their damn homework, they’d realize this.

  34. cyphron says:

    2. If Nate Quarry and Chris Leben both got KO of the night, then which is the actual KO of the night?

    4. I don’t think Zuffa is all that concerned with Mirko not returning their calls. I mean, if he wants to leave $250k just to show, then that’s his prerogative. He’s not that old considering that most of the top MMA fighters hit their prime in their thirties, but perhaps his ego has taken one hit too many.

  35. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    LR, exactly.

    They’re suspending for a failed test. The tests typically detect signs that steroids may have been used, or they detect masking agents. They don’t detect steroids directly, never have.

    Unless you can prove that the test itself was faulty, you have no way to successfully appeal the suspension.


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