One of the hottest training camps around doesn’t seem to have a clear cut leader. While Miletich, Tompkins, Hackleman and Jackson are all ‘owners’ of their respective camps, it’s much harder to put a finger on who runs Big Bear. Sure Tito Ortiz owns the place, but we’re hearing more and more about fighters going up there who aren’t affiliated with Team Punishment. Case in point: Michael Bisping, who’s going to train at Big Bear with Quinton Jackson:

Bisping said he and the reigning UFC light heavyweight champion have struck up a friendship this year. “We’ve only really hung out three or four times but we really get on. He’s a funny guy, he’s great to be around and after we were in London last month for the UFC 75 press conference he was kind enough to invite me to Big Bear to train and spar with him.”

And Rampage, who matches his UFC 205lbs gold against that of PRIDE counterpart Dan Henderson on the same London supershow, seems delighted to have the Count join him in the famous Californian fight camp.

Jackson said: “Bisping’s the coolest dude in all the UK. He’s white and English but we’re kinda alike in a lot of ways. He’s a bad ass like me, he’s not scared of no-one.

“He’s a really good fighter – and he’s getting better all the time – because he’s fearless.

“I think I can help him out with his defence, because I got a lot of moves for defence I don’t think anyone else has even thought of. I’d be happy to share some secrets with Bisping and I am looking forward to banging with him and picking up some ground work from him.”

Now I really feel bad for Matt Hamill. Bisping is a powerhouse fighter who’s only limitation was his training situation. Say what you will about the Wolf’s Den in England … there’s simply no substitution for training with other elite guys, and Big Bear’s got that in spades. So now that Bisping has proven he’s willing to go outside his bubble and train in America, I really do think he has what it takes to be a future champion. Which is why I’m somewhat surprised that the current 205-pound champion is so willing to help him out. I guess it’s better to fight the foe you know than the foe you don’t.

As a trash site we’re always having a good laugh at the expense of all the fighters in MMA. This site is basically a celebrity gossip rag, but for mixed martial arts. However, unlike celebrities, mixed martial artists usually have things pretty shitty. Every single UFC card is like a laundry list of sad stories. Vitor Belfort? His sister was kidnapped and murdered. Spencer Fisher? Both his parents are dead. Joe Riggs? Fuck man … I’ll just let this article tell it like it is:

Unfortunately, Riggs had to pull out of the March 24 WEC title shot on the day of the event with back pain. He later admitted on a radio program that he had sought treatment for addiction to painkillers. And just last summer, he and his wife had to endure to death of their infant child.

And that article doesn’t even mention his lame tattoos. At least things have gotten a bit better for Riggs. The big rumor going around was that if Riggs lost a fight last weekend up in Canada, he’d be released from his UFC contract. Fortunately for him, he took care of business and got back to winning.

In what has to be the most exciting news item of 2007, the UFC is bringing in legendary Japanese fighter Michihiro Omigawa to fight at UFC76! Oh wait. That’s not exciting at all. Who the fuck is Michihiro Omigawa? I dunno. Do you know? Well, at least Zach Arnold knows. Because he knows everything.

If the name Omigawa doesn’t ring a bell, he’s a low-to-midcarder from Hidehiko Yoshida’s J-ROCK judo camp. He lost to Aaron Riley at a Bushido show. I’d rather watch Aaron Riley than Omigawa in the UFC. It is absolutely absurd to see what Japanese talent is being currently booked in UFC. There’s a reason why guys like Takanori Gomi are not flocking to fight in UFC and that reason is because many in Japan view UFC as a dead-ender for their long-term careers. Plus, being a star in UFC means next-to-nothing at this point as far as marketing and sponsorships in Japan.

I’m going to hold off on judgment until the almighty Jordan Breen sounds off on the subject. There’s always the chance that this Omigawa guy has beaten his last three opponents in some amazingly spectacular fashion. He may actually deserve a shot in the UFC! Or this could just be proof that the UFC is so woefully underdeveloped in Japan that they don’t bother to do any research on finding real developing talent.

I have to agree with Zach on one point: the UFC hasn’t managed to snatch up any of the really hot Japanese fighters. The closest they’ve come is Mach Sakurai, who isn’t about to tear the welterweight division a new asshole any time soon. The guy is more of a grizzled veteran than a champion in the making.

Could this lockout of firebrand Japanese fighters be deliberate? there’s always been the argument that the UFC doesn’t like unmarketable champions. Well, is there any champion less marketable than a Japanese champion? It wouldn’t surprise me if the reason the UFC doesn’t have the top Japanese fighters in their roster is because they simply don’t want them.

UFCJunkie is reporting that Marvin Eastman may make a return to the Octagon at UFC77 in Cincinnati. It’s been a while since Eastman has fought in the UFC … his last match was a loss to Rampage Jackson. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t been keeping busy … just a few weeks ago he won the headlining fight at the first Steele Cage Promotions show. Which makes me wonder: when is it okay for fighters to fight in other organizations and when is it not?

Everyone knows the UFC is hardcore on the exclusivity clause. However, we’re seeing more and more instances where the UFC waives the clause and lets it’s fighters participate in other organizational events. Off the top of my head I can name Joe Riggs, Sam Stout, Jonathan Goulet, Sean Salmon and now Marvin Eastman as guys still under contract with the UFC who are fighting in other organizations. I think Jeff Monson was part of that gang as well but I’m not 100% sure.

The official line is these guys are allowed to fight for other promotions in order to gain more experience and improve their records. My question is this: Does the UFC still have a say in who these guys fight for? I don’t think they’re helping the dudes pick up fights, but I’ll bet dollars to donuts there’s a list each fighter is given of promotions they’re not allowed to participate in. And who’s at the top of this list? EliteXC and the IFL, most likely.

This whole situation is interesting because it says something about the relationships between the UFC and other promoters. We’ve mentioned before that so long as you’re willing to suck their dicks, the UFC is generally nice to you. Does part of this mean they’ll let their contracted fighters participate in your shows? It certainly seems like it. So as time goes on we should be able to put together a list of the ‘In’ and ‘Out’ promoters.

So apparently some dudes tested positive for steroids at UFC73 … specifically Sean Sherk and Hermes Franca. I gotta admit that it’s funny both fighters in the same match tested positive. Since both of them cheated, it kinda evens things out, doesn’t it? Well, not in the eyes of the media … the interwebs have been abuzz with talk of MMA’s “drug problems.”

I have to wonder how big of a deal this situation would be if a certain pro wrestler hadn’t murdered his family a few weeks ago. There’s no doubt in my mind that most of the people clamoring for action are just afraid MMA is going to sink into the same pit wrestling has. There’s been dozens of articles demanding Dana White do something, the two most notorious being Josh Gross’ and Kevin Iole’s. Josh’s is no big surprise: it reads like a scorned 10th grade boyfriend who just found out his girlfriend gave head to half the football team. Kevin Iole’s on the other hand is about as perfect as perfect can get.

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been pretty hard on Kevin the past few weeks. For the past few months he’s towed the company line and swallowed whatever Dana White has passed his way. But his latest article was a scathing indictment of the UFC and it’s willingness to pass the buck onto the athletic commissions. The article hit the nail on the head and wasn’t overly dramatic. Here’s the best bit:

And while it’s important to note that this is not a UFC problem, as the largest and most powerful entity in the sport, the burden falls squarely on the UFC to find a solution.

The first step in that solution has to be random drug testing not only after a fight but also at any point a fighter is under contract to the UFC. If a fighter won’t sign a waiver and agree to random testing, then he doesn’t fight for the UFC. Period.

Steroids users who know they’re being tested cycle on and off in order to maximize the benefits and avoid detection, which is why the true percentage of users in MMA is undoubtedly much higher than is known.

And while fans may debate the impact of a baseball player using steroids, the simple fact is this: In the fight game, a fighter’s body is a weapon. And if he is able to artificially enhance that weapon through the use of illegal drugs, he has the potential to seriously harm an opponent.

There’s no easy solution to this whole steroid thing … there’s a reason so many other sports haven’t been able to deal with it effectively. How many high profile guys would get caught if the UFC sent someone around to test all it’s fighters right now? For sure the ramifications would be massive and all the weight classes in the UFC would be turned on their heads. On the other hand, what happens if the UFC just keeps it’s head down and does nothing? Sure, there’ll continue to be a slow burn of fighters who get nabbed at every event, but it’s better for them over the next year or two than the first scenario.

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