Notes: Kimbo will face Shamrock on CBS
In a battle of one of the biggest draws in mixed martial arts history against one of today’s most talked-about fighters, 44-year-old Ken Shamrock will be named Kimbo Slice’s opponent in the main event when CBS officially announces the matches for the Oct. 4 network special from the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla.
The official announcement of the complete show, which is also expected to feature Gina Carano vs. Kelly Kobold-Gavin, is slated for Tuesday.
Slice’s (3-0) fame from YouTube videos translated into the most-watched mixed martial arts match ever in North America on May 31, when 6.5 million viewers saw him beat James Thompson on CBS. Shamrock set pay-per-view records during the early days of the sport, and later in comeback matches with Tito Ortiz.
But Shamrock (26-13-2), one of the first superstars of the sport during a stint from 1993-1996, has lost five matches in a row since a win over Kimo Leopoldo four years ago. He was not competitive with Tito Ortiz in two matches in 2006, but the first match drew what is still the second-largest pay-per-view number in MMA history with 775,000 buys after the two were opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter reality show.
Controversy regarding a quick stoppage in the match resulted in a televised rematch on Spike TV that drew 5.9 million viewers. Shamrock, a one-time powerhouse, lost both matches in less than four minutes combined and was easily overpowered by Ortiz.
Since then, Shamrock’s only fight was on March 8, in London, England, when he was knocked out in 3:26 by journeyman Robert “Buzz” Berry.
Elite XC desperately needs ratings success with this show, with just one event after this left on its CBS deal, and coming off poor ratings for the July 26 show.
While Shamrock’s record in the ring hasn’t been impressive after leaving the sport in 1997 to go into pro wrestling for three years, he still poses some danger on the ground. He significantly injured the knees and ankles of Don Frye in a 2002 battle in Japan, and even though he lost quickly to Rich Franklin in 2005, his submission work in the first minute did put Franklin on crutches for a week.
But he’s been prone to quick knockout losses and a power game that made him a star dating back to UFC 1 in 1993 hasn’t been evident much in the past decade.
Brock-Kongo? While not announced officially, the Lesnar vs. Cheick Kongo match that UFC has been attempting to put together since both won on Aug. 9 in Minneapolis is hopeful, but far from definite for Nov. 15 in Portland, Ore.
The date depends on how quickly Kongo can recover from a nagging shoulder problem.
Kongo will be the best striker Lesnar has ever faced. But Lesnar would go into such a match as a heavy favorite because of the belief Kongo is not going to have an answer for the wrestling ability of the former NCAA champion.
With so many shows to fill and so many name fighters who aren’t going to be ready until December, if Kongo is not ready, it is going to make the card a very difficult sell as a pay-per-view quality lineup. The only name match finalized for that date is Kenny Florian vs. Joe Stevenson.
Frank of all trades: With so much interest being generated by Lesnar regarding pro wrestlers transitioning to MMA, someone is trying to do both, and many other things, all at once.
Frank Trigg, who defeated Olympic judo gold medalist Makoto Takimoto on Sunday in Saitama, Japan, via three-round decision for the Sengoku promotion, is becoming a jack of many trades.
Best known in some circles as the MMA analyst on FOX Sports Net, and by an entirely different group as the expert analyst for the Total Nonstop Action pro wrestling organization on Spike, Trigg also does an Internet MMA audio show and has his own clothing line.
Trigg (17-6) went straight from Japan to Orlando for pro wrestling tapings. He was brought in as an announcer in March when the wrestling company did an MMA-themed storyline. Almost as soon as he got there, he started secretly training to add “pro wrestler” to his resume, and his first match is expected to be imminent.
Those who have done both pro wrestling and MMA probably numbers more than 100, with some of the best known being Lesnar, Ken Shamrock, Don Frye, Mark Coleman, Josh Barnett, Frank Shamrock, Renzo Gracie, Kazushi Sakuraba, Bob Sapp, and Bas Rutten.
Trigg’s double-leg takedowns and overall power were too much for Takimoto, who won the gold medal in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney at 180 pounds. Takimoto threw him early using his judo, but Trigg’s wrestling controlled most of the match.
Trigg was in the semifinal of a show headlined by Takanori Gomi, the top Japanese lightweight star, who many rank behind only B.J. Penn as the best in the world in the class.
Gomi (29-3, 1 no-contest), the final PRIDE lightweight champion, hardly looked like a rival for Penn in winning a decision over South Korea’s Seung Hwan Bang (5-2) over three rounds.
Sengoku is Japan’s second biggest MMA company, behind only Dream. But both groups are question marks going forward. Sadaharu Tanikawa, who heads Fighting Entertainment Group, the parent company of Dream, has noted that if the company doesn’t get a strong television rating on its Sept. 23 show, its future is in question.
Sengoku is in even worse shape. Sunday’s show drew about 10,000 fans, maybe half-full, to the Saitama Super Arena, but in Japan free tickets are not hard to come by. The group has no television in Japan, and does almost no numbers on pay-per-view, while putting on expensive first-class shows.
Awaiting answers: Why would a fighter turn down what would be, by far, the highest profile fight of his career, against an opponent that he dominated the first time they faced?
K.J. Noons is expected to have a press conference soon to explain the answer to that perplexing question.
Noons dominated Nick Diaz when they fought on Nov. 10 in the match to determine Elite XC’s first lightweight king. Noons’ superior boxing technique wound up with Diaz bleeding badly within a round, and the match was stopped at the end of the first round. After Diaz and Noons both won matches on June 14 in Honolulu on Showtime, the rematch was announced and followed with a mid-ring showdown that aired on Showtime. A rematch between the two has far more interest than any fight Noons could have at this point in his career.
Placed on the Oct. 4 CBS show in Sunrise, Fla., it could easily have 10 times or more as many eyeballs watching than their first meeting. But after an impasse in negotiations, Elite XC has dropped plans for the fight and moved Diaz to a Nov. 8 date on Showtime.
The closest thing to an explanation given by the Noons camp is that they felt Diaz wasn’t the top contender.
The first U.S. Olympian to talk MMA? After placing seventh this past week in the 163-pound weight class, American Ben Askren became the first 2008 Olympian to bring up going into MMA.
“I think there is a good chance I’ll be fighting soon,” said the 2006 and 2007 Dan Hodge Award winner as the best college wrestler in any weight class. Askren said he’s committed to helping coach the University of Missouri wrestling team for two years and would concentrate on improving his jiu-jitsu and kickboxing, feeling he needs to be excellent in two of three categories (wrestling, jiu-jitsu and kickboxing) and at least proficient in the third before he could do really well.
Satoshi Ishii, the Japanese superheavyweight gold medalist in judo, who talked of fighting Fedor Emelianenko after winning the gold, and who Japanese MMA promoters are trying to sign, is sticking with his main sport. Japanese judo officials think, at 21, he has the potential to win gold medals in three Olympics.