Posts Tagged ‘Viacom’

Bellator 131-38

By: Jonathan M. King The Clinch Report

Photos By: John Walsh The Clinch Report

Scott Coker has been around for a while. Very few have a greater understanding of the ins and outs of MMA. So his hiring by Viacom to replace Bjorn Rebney as the head of Bellator MMA  seemed like the best choice. As the last of the tournaments under the old regime wouned down, a lame duck period ensued which showed very little difference. The look and feel had not changed, the faces were the same, and the results reflected the lack of interest.

That lame duck period came to an end with Bellator 131, In fact that period came to a screeching halt! Bonnar vs. Ortiz provided the perfect stage for Scott Coker and Viacom to unveil there re-branded image. The fighters now entered the cage via a long walk way, reminiscent of the old Japanese promotions. Some fighters like King Mo, Joe Vedepo, Tito Ortiz, and Stephan Bonnar came complete with entourages to escort them to the cage. The added pomp may not add to the excitement of the fight, but it certainly does improve the image of a promotion that was in desperate need of one!

The fight card itself may not have had title implications for anyone outside of Michael Chandler and Will Brooks, but it was very well matched as even the preliminary bouts provided a good show. The fights simply made sense. King Mo and Joe Vedepo faced off in the curtain jerker that opened the Spike broadcast. King Mo overwhelmed Vedepo from the opening round in what proved to be a one sided match although an entertaining one.

In perhaps the best fight of the evening, Glory alums Joe Schilling and Melvin Manhoef engaged in a back and forth war that saw both fighters nearly finished before a short right hook from Schilling ended the affair. Half way through the second frame Manhoef appeared to have to edge on the scorecards. In the first round Manhoef had Schilling on his back and in trouble as the ground and pound rained down. However Schilling was able to roll out of trouble, establish his guard, and ride out the round before ending the fight with one punch.

Mike Richman made perhaps the loudest statement of the night when he knocked out Nam Phan in under a minute. He then proceeded to challenge title holder Joe Warren who was cage side providing commentary for the fight. ‘The Marine’ has looked extremely impressive since he dropped down in weight, and with the win he finds himself on a short list of fighters who deserve a shot at the title.

When Michael Chandler and Will Brooks entered the cage to battle for the then interim lightweight title, everyone expected a war. The first round was a back and forth battle for position, similar to their last engagement. Brooks and Chandler battled for 3 rounds with Brooks appearing to get the better of Chandler.

Then in the fourth round Brooks cracked Chandler with a right hand that left the former champion struggling to find his senses. He appeared to ask for a stoppage, at first it appeared as if Chandler was poked in the eye, however replays confirm that he was on queer street and the punch’s effects had him essentially saying ‘No Mas’! The win for Brooks solidifies his claim as the legitimate world champion, while Chandler must find a way to rebound from his third consecutive loss.

Skepticism is fickle. Once the cage door is closed the hype disappears and performances are defined. I like most at first, felt like watching through interlaced fingers, the fear of having to witness a fraud unfold motivating me to vaguely hide my eyes. Fortunately both Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar removed that fear just seconds into their entertaining 3 round fight.

Both guys played to their strengths, as Tito Ortiz looked to ground the superior striking of  Stephan Bonnar. Early on Ortiz stalked the ‘American Psycho’ and blasted through his legs with quick single leg take downs, and later a power double that kept Bonnar grounded for most of the fight. The fight appeared to be a 30-27 clear cut win for Tito Ortiz, however one judge saw the fight 29-28 for Bonnar, awarding Ortiz with the split decision win.

The evening ended up being a return of sorts. After speaking with Scott Coker  it is obvious that Bellator MMA is heading in the right direction. The open minded leader referred to the possibility of tournaments in the future, they make sense as long as you are not beholden to them. The idea is to create an environment where fighters want to fight, to create an experience that the fans feel a part of and not just witness too. Last night an old idea forged in the spirit of martial arts was unveiled to an audience that wants to be a part of something.

The idea to return to the once a month format seems to make sense. The sport is currently over saturated, causing the growth rate of the sport to slow. With Coker on board the Viacom-Bellator MMA conglomerate seems destined to succeed. Hopefully the symphony created as a result  between Coker and Viacom carries a tune we can all dance to for a while. In a world where the UFC is practically rammed down our throats it will be nice to have a viable alternative.

 

By: Jonathan King The Clinch Report

Photos By: John Walsh The Clinch Report

Hall of Fame Fighter and Mixed Martial Arts Pioneer Royce Gracie

Hall of Fame Fighter and Mixed Martial Arts Pioneer Royce Gracie

One way to make sure people show up for a fan fest is to fill the stage with UFC Hall of Famers. Of the 11 living enshrined fighters, five of them were signing autographs on Tuesday for Bellator MMA. The panel brought together by Scott Coker, was held at Dave and Busters in San Diego.

The event was not without an agenda as the November 15th PPV card headlined by Stephan Bonnar and Tito Ortiz was the obvious backdrop. Bonnar and Ortiz were joined by fellow UFC Hall of Famers Randy Couture, Royce Gracie, and Ken Shamrock.  King Mo Lawal and Michael Chandler were also on hand to sign autographs for fans and to provide sound bites for the press.

The trash talk between Bonnar and Ortiz continued albeit tame in nature. Bonnar referring to Ortiz as a “douche-bag” drew a few smiles, and a particular finger from Ortiz in response. Other than that the event went without incident as Coker intelligently put the onus on the fans.

Unlike the UFC, Bellator is lacking the loyal fan base that can sustain a PPV schedule. Allowing fans access through events like this offers them the emotional attachment to fighters that will lead to that fan base.

With Coker at the helm, Bellator MMA appears to be blazing a new path, one that refuses to be a little brother to anyone, and maybe that is what the sport needs. The landscape is littered with the graves of those who tried to be second. With Coker’s leadership and Viacom’s support this tank will keep rolling along slowly picking up steam.

 

Photo By: Bob Fisher Pugilpix.com

By: Jonathan M. King The Clinch Report

When word broke last, I like most chalked it up to rumors fueled by the Alvarez release. Then for a few days it disappeared. Waking this morning to the news that former TUF 1 Finalist and UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar came out of retirement to sign a multi-fight deal with the UFC’s rival Bellator MMA was not shocking, but it does seem intriguing.

‘The American Psycho” released a statement with regards to the signing, and hinted as to why..

I want everyone to know I’m coming out of retirement because it’s time to free the MMA world of the virus that’s known as Tito Ortiz. We’ve been suffering through his boring fights for too many years, and it’s about time that someone beats it out of him once and for all.” Stephan Bonnar

Earlier this week the UFC signed Bellator MMA’s 155 lbs champion Eddie Alvarez setting him up for his promotional debut against Donald Cerrone at UFC 178. Now with the Bonnar signing; although much less relevant, Bellator has shown they mean business. Even if they are past their primes, Bonnar v Ortiz is a fight that is guaranteed to entertain. Bonnar’s chin down head first style, and Ortiz’s traditional ground and pound make this a chess match on paper that should not be missed.

Does Stephan Bonnar v Tito Ortiz matter in the MMA world? Sure it does. The fight matters as long as it is promoted properly. If its a grudge match pitting two guys who clearly dont like each other, then its a fun fight. If this ends up being a setup for a 205 lbs contender, then its a joke. A joke that may end up costing the promotion credibility.

Is Bonnar the same guy he was when he carried the sport on his shoulders in his first fight with Forrest Griffin? No, but that doesn’t mean he still cant entertain in the cage.

Setting either one of these guys up for a title run, will only solidify the companies position as a UFC pretender. However, if they utilize both of these guys the way the UFC uses fighters like Cung Le and Rich Franklin, it could be a pretty smart move. Bonnar is also a polished broadcaster, so he will probably see double duty when he is not fighting.

The move will certainly illicit some sort of response from his former employer. Dana White has always been a huge supporter of Bonnar, and even went to great lengths to defend his enshrinement into the Hall of Fame. So it will be interesting to hear his response.

Quelled as a rumor when first reported a week or so ago, the signing may be a sign that the two promotions have put to rest the animosity. Under Bjorn Rebney’s control Bellator MMA was consistently the target for well placed jabs by Dana White, who referred to his counterpart “Bjork”. Now with Rebney out, and Scott Coker in, maybe the two promotions have decided to co exist.

If so it would be a decision that could benefit both companies and the sport as a whole. Perhaps a united front from both Viacom and Zuffa would present a hurdle that even Sheldon Silver could not jleap over, paving the way for the sport to be legalized in New York State. If these two giants could unite if only for that purpose…..Oh the humanity that would result!

 

By: Jonathan M. King

Videoed and Edited By: Bob Fisher Pugilpix.com

The cliche rings true that creativity is the mother of all invention. Instances, examples of, and lessons learned form patterns that if you examine them creatively enough, they will offer you the solutions you seek.

Dean Lassiter may be familiar to fight fans as the guy on Spike TV that stops the bleeding in between rounds of Bellator MMA fights. However the man is not only a ‘cut-man’ but he is also the Bellator MMA Operations Manager. You could also paint him with another two brushes, Inventor and Fighter advocate.

Many fans will know that one of the most common injuries in mixed martial arts are broken hands. Some fighters like Douglas Lima almost schedule hand surgery when they sign to fight, because it happens so epidemically. So, Lassiter noticing the trend began to analyze the situation. He started by examining the human hand, taking a look at what fractures were the most frequent.

After examining “what the good lord gave us” Lassiter next focused his attention on the layer between the hand and the glove known as the wrap. Noticing that wraps varied (depending on type, and who wrapped the hand), the gloves rarely fit perfectly over the top. The final step was teaming with a major glove manufacturer to come up with potential solutions.

Everlast Worldwide Inc. decided to pick up the torch Lassiter had lit, and together they developed what is now known as the Everlast Powerlock MMA glove.everlast-gloves

The glove has led to what Lassiter claims is over a 90% reduction in hand injuries, which was the primary function. However other injuries became less frequent as well. The forced curvature of the glove reduces the chance of eye poke, because the glove restricts a fighter’s ability to extend his fingers flat.

The padding configuration of the glove has also been changed, moving most of the ‘meat’ up front on top of the knuckled and metacarpals. This has also lead to less orbital injuries, however the research hasn’t been conducted to back that fact up yet. The gloves will soon be available for the public to purchase, however for now they will remain Bellator MMA’s unkept secret.

This technology will lead to less fighter injuries. With the average mixed martial artist fighting only 3 times a year, losing a paycheck because of a broken hand, or crushed orbital could be devastating financially. Especially to the lower level fighters who count on sponsorship money and loose that when an injury occurs.

So, basically as Lassiter puts it this technology is literally “feeding” fighters. Keeping fighters healthier was the goal, and the gloves are being offered to other promotions so they can benefit from the innovation as well.

Lassiter himself, is rewarded only with the knowledge that he did his part to help keep the guys he admires in the cage. He is a true fan of the sport, and as a cut-man he always has the health of his fighters as his first priority. Its refreshing to see that fighter-first mentality carry over into the board room. Its nice to know that as long as Lassiter is there, fighters will have an advocate always looking to keep them in good form.

 

By Jonathan King The Clinch Report

Photos By: John Walsh The Clinch Report

Bellator 99 delivered some key opportunities for featherweights in the opening round of the tournament. First up, Justin Wilcox survived an early and dynamic battering from Akop Stepanyan, only to secure a submission victory. Wilcox, who took the fight on just 7 days notice, could barely stand after Stepanyan dismantled his lead leg with snapping kicks. However, he could not finish him.

Late in the second round, Wilcox was able to bring Stepanyan down and once he did, the transition to the back and subsequent choke, was lightning fast. Stepanyan did his best to escape, but eventually went to sleep after refusing to tap. With the win Wilcox moves on to the next round where he will face ‘Baby’ Joe Taimanglo.

Taimanglo was able to secure his spot in the next round with a win over Andrew Fisher. Utilizing excellent movement, Taimanglo was able to close the distance well, effectively neutralizing Fisher’s reach advantage. At times the fight lacked action, but that was because both fighters were utilizing their game plans. Fisher flurried late in the third round, but it wasn’t enough to sway the judges.

Also fighting in the opening round of the featherweight tournament were two of the promotions youngest prospects. Former #1 155 lbs prospect Fabricio Guerreiro was able to out point a very dynamic Desmond Green. Guerreiro was able to control the pace of the fight, and aside from a few take downs from Green clearly won the fight.

With the win Guerreiro now is faced with the daunting task of going up against Patricio Pitbull in the next round. Pitbull needed just 1:19 to move on, after he blasted Diego Nunes with an incredible hook to the ear that dropped the former UFC standout. Follow up punches removed all doubt.

Also on the card, Vladimir Matyushenko utilized an effective striking game plan to keep heavy handed Houston Alexander at bay for most of the fight. When Alexander did land, ‘The Janitor’ smothered him with a combination of dominating wrestling and grappling skills. Both fighters refuse to look or act their age (41) and the result was one hell of a fight.

With the win, Matyushenko should be on a short list of names for the next 205 lbs tournament.

More pictures will be added later today!

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Bjorn Rebney bellator Owner and CEO

Bjorn Rebney bellator Owner and CEO

By Jonathan M King The Clinch Report

Last week Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney came out and said that talks between the company and the former champion had broken down, and seemed less than hopeful that a resolution would be made. In fact the Bellator Chairman seemed content to allow the courts to settle the issue.

“I had hope a month ago there was a door opening,” Rebney said. “But that door isn’t open at this point. So I don’t know. The court system is slow and methodical, and we’re just going through the process. I don’t have any projections of it getting settled at this point because we’re not talking”, Rebney said.

“The essence of it is, the promoter is never going to get everything he wants and the fighter is never going to get everything he wants. We have a position that we did everything right legally, and the court has supported us. I thought we were headed down a road (to resolution), and then everything went real dark.” (From an interview with http://www.MMAJUNKIE.com)

Yesterday, Eddie Alvarez used twitter to rattle of a few of his contentions. First of all he claimed that the issue was more with Viacom and SpikeTv, and went further to claim that Bjorn had little to do with the situation at all. “Bjorns a Grunt in this . It’s Viacom and Spike and a group of idiots a money who don’t know shit about Mma” Alvarez tweeted.

Then Alvarez went further, claiming he is not the only fighter being mistreated. “I have nothing to complain about I get paid we’ll enough to keep bills paid but to bully guyslike @ZachFunSize(Zach Macovsky) n @CosmoAlexandre (Cosmo Alexandre)is a sin.” Alvarez tweeted.


Alexandre jokingly tweeted about spending his last four dollars and gas, with the hashtag “ThanksBjorn”. Alvarez is not in that dire of straights, but he is in the prime of his career, and should be fighting. No one can say for sure how this drama will unfold, but as for now one of the best fighters in the world is relegated to the shelf, at least for the foreseeable future.

Eddie Alvarez will be n the MMA HOUR with Ariel Helwani on Monday. However saty tuned to his twitter feed, because he teased that he might not be able to wait! “I might just dump just real shit tonight until I get a call from someone to stop. Soooo much to talk about,now that the gloves are off” Alvarez tweeted.

Follow Eddie Alvarez on twitter here: @Ealvarezfight

Bjorn Rebney bellator Owner and CEO

Bjorn Rebney bellator Owner and CEO

By: Jonathan King The Clinch Report

Once again Bellator shows their business acumen by following in the footsteps of one of the UFC’s most lucrative paths. Viacom and Bellator announced on Tuesday, that filming would begin “imminently” for a show that would be similar to the Ultimate Fighter, set to debut in the summer of 2013.

Several high profile MMA stars have signed on to coach including UFC exile Frank Shamrock, UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture, renowned coach Greg Jackson, and former world champion Joe  Warren. The show dubbed “Fightmaster:”, will not be an exact clone of the TUF series, but very similar. Once again Bellator seems to have stolen more of the UFC’s thunder.

The most glaring issue is the signing of Randy Couture, whose tumultuous relationship with the UFC is apparently permanently put to rest. “I’m glad I never have to do business with the man ever again!” Dana White bristled when asked about Couture teaming with Bellator. “Most people that do business with him would agree!” White, also clarified that the former two division champion’s son would still be fighting under the UFC. Although he made it clear that the elder Couture was not welcome in any capacity. “He can’t even buy a ticket!”

Building on the TUF model, Viacom has put together a tremendous team to run “Fightmaster”. “The cornerstone of this show is really about the people behind it,” said Bellator president Bjorn Rebney.  ”The Amazing Race” creators Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri will be the wizards behind the curtains.

The series will feature 32 welterweights who will choose their own coaches. Fighters will compete for a 6 figure contract, as well as a spot in a future championship tournament. 2013 is looking like the year of Bellator.

Every move they make, seems to pay dividends. With partnerships that are genuinely concerned with producing a quality product, and fighters who tend to leave it all in the cage, the successful rise of this promotion seems to be guaranteed!