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Every time I get sad because PRIDE is dead, I just turn to Dream Stage Entertainment’s other offspring, HUSTLE. I’ve already talked about how totally awesome HUSTLE is, but I figured it’s worth saying twice … plus I found a new video with a bunch of awesome HUSTLE moments. And yes, that is Mark Coleman and Kevin Randleman at 3:30 in. And yeah, I guess they don’t have any dignity.

We wrote about a riot that went down in California back in 2002. I should have known Jeff Thaler was involved, and now he comes out and reveals his role in the latest edition of FightOpinion radio. Plus TUF5 pariah Andy Wang describes the brutal sensory deprivation you go through when you’re on The Ultimate Fighter. Oh, and we get a shoutout about 2 minutes into the show.

That’s not why I’m pimping Fight Opinion Radio, of course. OK maybe it is. Regardless, go listen to their show. Or just listen to ours. Either way, they’re about the only two radio shows worth listening to at the moment. I’d include WhoopAss Radio on that list, but Luke smokes way too much weed and forgets to record shows for up to two months at a time. So until he gets his shit together and reads “Succeed for Yourself: Unlock Your Potential for Success and Happiness”, he doesn’t get to be on the list.

Every day that goes by, I amass more evidence that Dana White is just an average MMA fanboy. A few days ago we witnessed him geeking out over Wanderlei Silva. Today’s proof is the UFC releasing a press release to tell us they’ve resigned Brandon Vera. That’s Brandon “The Best Thing I’ve Done So Far Is Beat Frank Mir” Vera. That’s Brandon “I Was Only a Contender Because the Division Was In Shambles” Vera. That’s Brandon “The Only Thing I’ve Done in 12 Months is a Cameo in Fight Girls” Vera.

It seems like somewhere between last year and now, someone in the UFC has read one too many web forums out there making Vera seem like the best thing since sliced bread. So now all of a sudden, Brandon Vera is getting big star treatment in the form of an official press release. That’s not something that happens every day, man. For me, I couldn’t care less. The heavyweight division is doing fine without him and as you can probably tell by now, I don’t have very high expectations from ‘the Truth’.

Sure, two or three fights from now I could be eating my words. But honestly, I’d rather reserve judgment until I’ve seen Vera face some top five or even top ten talent.

Okay, so last month I basically accused the UFC of protecting Roger Huerta by feeding him a steady stream of UFC virgins. While I stand by my comments that he’s being given a soft touch, I’m starting to think his opponent for next week’s UFC74 show may not be the tomato can I originally thought he was:

Crane first came to attention around 2002 when he competed in the Mundials and took the King of the Cage (KOTC) title from Javier Vazquez but due to new family demands he immediately relinquished the KOTC title and disappeared into New Mexico lore. Alberto resurfaced late in ’03 going 4-0 in MMA over ten months before facing Javier Vazquez in the finals of the Abu Dhabi Worlds North American Trials in ’04 and coming in second. Alberto ended up taking Javi’s place in the ’05 Abu Dhabi Worlds in a chain of events covered in the archives but he lost in the first round, after which Alberto again went back to running his schools in Santa Fe and Albuquerque as he raised his family. Now all of a sudden Alberto is not only back, he is in the UFC.

Check out the resume … not too shabby at all. His grappling credentials are mint, and his MMA record is solid if not very remarkable. Basically it seems like this guy hasn’t been very dedicated to mixed martial arts in the past. So the real question is: how is he going to dedicate himself now that he’s got a chance on the big show? Huerta has already proven himself to be a slow starter, and there’s no way he’ll be able to match up with Crane’s jiu-jitsu. This one could end quickly, with Crane pulling off a submission.

Eugh. It seems like I spend more time talking about Athletic Commissions than the sports they’re regulating. Apparently I’m the only one that thinks it’s fucked up that Mohegan Sun denied so many fighters on the GFC card that the event was cancelled. So I’m sure I’ll also be in the minority when I say this is messed up. This weekend also had a Shooto card held in California, minus a few of the standard Shooto trappings:

Taro Wakabayashi, who has refereed hundreds of amateur and professional Shooto bouts over his 13-plus years as a Shooto official, was denied his license as a referee by the CSAC.

“Yeah, his résumé looked pretty good, but he’ll need to take a refereeing course in September they said,” [Shooto promoter Jason] Manly snickered.

Okay, I think we can all agree that it’s important to license referees, and there’s got to be a standard for doing so. But saying a guy who’s reffed literally hundreds of MMA fights needs to take a refereeing course? That’s kinda dumb. It reminds me of nuclear physicists from the middle east driving cabs in New York because no one recognizes their degrees. Just like in that situation, there should be some sort of equivalence test that can be taken to sort shit out. But when you’ve got university majors from India pumping gas in the US, how the hell can I expect MMA to be any more evolved?

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