January 22, 2007
New episode of FCF Radio
In the 50th episode of FCF Radio,
Mac Danzig to Fight Sakurai At Pride 33
By Kelsey Mowatt
Former King of the Cage Lightweight Champion Mac Danzig has signed with Pride and will make his debut for the promotion against Japanese star Hayato Sakurai. Danzig has just over one month now to prepare for the upcoming fight that will take place on February 24th, at Pride 33, in Las Vegas, Nevada. For Danzig, who has fought exclusively now for a couple of years with KOTC, signing with the Japanese promotion is a dream come true.
"I’m really looking forward to it," Danzig tells FCF. "It’s a two fight deal so what regardless of what happens in this fight, I know I’ll be back. It’s also non-exclusive so I can fight elsewhere; I’m not sure what’s going to happen with KOTC, I just want to concentrate on this fight for now. My manager had been telling me that it was about a 99% done deal for about a week now so I’ve been kind of distracted."
The signing came just days before Danzig was set to defend his KOTC title against Pride veteran Clay French this past Friday, at KOTC "Hard Knocks" in Rockford, Illinois. French was awarded the split decision victory over Danzig, ending a 13 fight undefeated streak for the Millennia Jiu-Jitsu fighter and his extensive reign as the organization’s lightweight champion.
"No excuses, it distracted me a little to be honest. It shouldn’t have but it did," says Danzig in regards to his recent deal with Pride and its impact on this weekend’s fight. "I was worried that I might break my hand, or get some other injury that would prevent me from fighting on the 24th, that maybe they would forget about me you know? I’m not really disappointed with my performance though, everyone I talked to said I won the fight. It was weird, every time he threw a punch the crowd went nuts, one time he hit me on the collar bone and the whole crowd was on its feet. He would be in my guard hitting my arms and the same thing, he’s (French) a local guy, so there were a lot of people from that area there to support him. I think he won round two but that was it, I did way more damage to him, and I think I dominated the stand-up. The two judges that gave the fight to him were local judges."
Now the 16-3 Danzig must prepare for his next fight against one of the world’s more highly regarded lightweights in the 26-7-2 Sakurai. The Los Angeles resident is keenly aware of his upcoming opponent’s abilities and knows it very well might be his toughest test to date.
"Well the problem with Sakurai, in my opinion, is that he’s the toughest guy to beat in the lightweight division," Danzig tells FCF. "He’s good at everything, at least with Gomi, who’s an unbelievable fighter, you can say to yourself, alright if I can get him to the ground you know you’ll be okay. With Sakurai, he has good stand-up, good ground, good throws. I also think he has a great chin, I just think that Gomi hits really hard, and when he knocked him out before, Sakurai was just really tired and kind of out of it. If I beat him, it’s huge for me; I just have to fight the perfect fight!"
Much of the Pride 33 card is yet to be confirmed, other than the evening’s main event, which will feature Dan Henderson against Pride Middleweight Champion, Wanderlei Silva.
Breaking Even in UFC,
Marrero Seizes New Opportunity
By Derek Callahan
Even with the UFC opening their doors to new competition due primarily to more television and pay per view programming, the jump from the grassroots is still a significant one to make. When Carmelo Marrero (6-1) finished off the American Top Team’s Petrus Walker (2-2-1) with a TKO last June, he was just about to make that very jump. He leapt into deep waters against Frenchman Cheick Kongo (8-3-1) at UFC 64 last October. Zuffa’s doorway has gotten wider since they increased their number of events per year, but Kongo developed a pedigree within the octagon and was a tough way to make a debut.
He excited fans with two straight stoppages in two straight months and earned some consideration as a legitimate contender. When Marrero made his entrance to the organization this past October he did it as an underdog. As a heavyweight who started polishing his takedowns and conditioning with the Rider University wrestling team, Marrero wasn’t fazed by the striking dynamo Kongo from so far away.
"I think I sort of set the bar real high when I beat Cheik Kongo. I think it was a poor match-up for him," says Marrero.
With the win, he exposed some weaknesses of Kongo’s and asserted his own strengths. Looking back on his earlier fights, Marrero was an unpolished wrecking ball of a heavyweight. The wrestling technique was there, but what stood out the most was his single-mindedness on staying tough.
"I was really just a pure wrestler," he says about his early bouts. In his second fight, fellow New Jersey collegian Chris Vuolo was able to take Marrero down in a fight that saw both men manhandle each other with undeterred strength and resolve to slug it out with punches or slams. It was a rough way to go about fighting, and no chin was left guarded. This type of style had consequences for Marrero. By the time he found someone to test this 2-0 record against at Reality Fighting 9 in August of 2005, he was on a collision course with a career-changing turn of events.
He has thought about dropping to light heavyweight for some time. By the end of his wrestling career Marrero was an ex-Division I heavyweight clocking in at about 250 pounds. Sherman Pendergarst changed all that when they met at Reality Fighting. Pendergarst "shattered my jaw," he remembers. "I had my mouth wired shut and went from 250 to 215 in two weeks."
On a diet of flavored broth and any other gourmet meal that could be consumed through a straw, Marrero dropped weight dramatically. Now walking around at about 220-pounds, he has since adjusted his mass in a healthier way. That first dramatic drop was the big sign that it was possible, because it put weight in a better perspective for Marrero.
"When you’re 250 making the cut to 205 it doesn’t seem feasible," he says. It was, and it’s opened up new doors for the soon-to-be light heavyweight. "There were plans to go to 205 before I got to the UFC. My next fight will definitely be at 205," he says.
Although the plans were in place long before the Pennsylvania-resident met Gabriel Gonzaga, the fight was a new experience for Marrero, who at the time was yet to lose a bout.
"You never plan on losing but I didn’t want to be that guy looking for easier fights," he says. Although Gonzaga took a bad rap because of his snoozer with Kevin Jordan that very well could have been sponsored by Nyquil, he has put together a three-fight win streak in the octagon. It isn’t an easy feat, and it came together with his first-round armbar win over Marrero. For the ex-wrestler, it was a clear-cut fight that just didn’t go his way.
Now a drop to light-heavyweight is in order and it may be made with a new training camp. In Pennsylvania without a set routine or mentor to guide him along in an increasingly scientifically approached sport, Marrero is considering a move to Georgia to train with Adam Singer and the Hardcore Gym.
"I definitely see that coming in the future," he says, although he isn’t sure of the timetable. "Adam Singer’s a phenomenal coach he just ties everything together." The goal is to polish out the edges that a career wrestling sharpens. Round out his skills and try his hand at the light heavyweights of the UFC, where the doors to competition are widening. For Marrero, it’s his turn to try and seal them shut.
Shooto Announces Feb 17 Rematch
Between Aoki and Kikuchi
Shooto’s Middleweight Champion Shinya Aoki will defend his 167 pound title on February 17th against Akira Kikuchi at the Pacifico Yokohoma National ConventionCentre. Aoki (9-2) defeated Kikuchi (14-2), on the same February date in 2006, by unanimous decision at Shooto "The Victory of the Truth," and has won 4 more fights since then. Following his bout with Kikuchi, Aoki has gone on to become a major player in Pride’s lightweight division, defeating both Jason Black and Joachim Hansen. At Pride’s Bushido 12, on August 26th, Aoki stunned many in the MMA world when he submitted Jason Black in the first round with a triangle choke. The defeat was only Black’s second in his extensive career, with his only other loss coming way of injury when he fought Shonie Carter on February17th, at King of the Cage’s "Redemption on the River" event last spring. After defeating Clay French at Bushido 13 on November 5’th, with a flying triangle choke, Aoki was quickly gaining widespread international attention for the first time in his career. At Pride’s "Shockwave" event on New Year’s Eve, the Japanese fighter once again demonstrated that his growing reputation for outstanding submission skills was well founded. Aoki needed just over two minutes to catch Joachim Hansen with a highlight reel gogo-platta, forcing the Norwegian fighter, whom many regard as one of the world’s best at 160 pounds, to tap.
Kikuchi on the other hand has not been as active as of late, and has only competed once since his first encounter with the submission wizard Aoki. On October 14th last fall, Kikuchi defeated American veteran Ronald Jhun with a first round armlock at Shooto’s "Champion Carnival." The Killer Bee fighter’s only other defeat was a unanimous decision loss to Jake Shields in 2003, a loss he later avenged, by earning returning the favor to Shields at Shooto’s, December 14th card in 2004, where Kikuchi worked his way to a unanimous decision victory.
IFL Press Release:
Warner Home Video Enters the Ring as They Team up with the International Fight League on an Exclusive Home Video Agreement
Mixed Martial Arts at its Finest Comes to DVD and EST in 2007
BURBANK, Calif., January 22, 2007 — Warner Home Video (WHV) and The International Fight League, Inc. the world’s first professional team-based mixed martial arts league, have reached an agreement for the exclusive worldwide home entertainment distribution of IFL branded programming. The announcement was jointly made by Jeff Brown, WHV Senior Vice President and General Manager TV and Franchise, and Gareb Shamus, IFL Co-founder and CEO.
WHV will be the exclusive worldwide home entertainment distributor for all IFL content including sanctioned league fights, sanctioned championship fights, and IFL specials and/or events. WHV will distribute the IFL programming via packaged media (DVD) as well as through Electronic Sell Through (EST.)
The first full 11 date IFL season launched January 19 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California with 12 teams representing the U.S. as well as Canada and Japan. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has experienced significant growth in the last few years with the emergence of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC.) The IFL will expand the sport of MMA in a team format to an international audience and continue to grow the brand.
WHV plans to distribute no less than four new programs each year for the next 3 years. Titles will vary from complete matches to year in review, fighter profiles and best knockouts with the first, DVD set to be released Q3, 2007.
Regarding the announcement, Brown remarked, "We are extremely excited to bring fans what we feel is one of the fastest growing sports in the world through our deal with the IFL. With the tremendous success of MMA releases, we’re thrilled to bring this team oriented league to home video for the first time ever."
He added, "The IFL has done an exceptional job launching this new format of mixed martial arts and we look forward to building a long lasting relationship and producing quality home video that the fans will want to add to their collection."
Shamus said "We are thrilled to join forces with Warner Home Video on a worldwide home video distribution deal. To join their roster of sports clients is an honor for us and we will work closely with them to expand the IFL brand into the home video market."