June 2, 2006
|Thursday – June 1, 2006|
Broadcaster Ryan Bennett Dies in Car Accident
By Loretta Hunt – Photo Courtesy of The Fight Network
Ryan Bennett, a mixed martial arts broadcaster and co-owner of MMAWeekly.com, died Wednesday, May 31 as he and his family were returning home from dinner in Utah. Bennett was 35.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Bennett was traveling southbound on the I-15 in Fillmore around 5:15 p.m. with his wife Tonya and four children when their SUV drifted onto the east shoulder. The vehicle, driven by Bennett, then swerved back onto the roadway before tumbling off it again and rolling down the median five times. Bennett, who was partially ejected from the vehicle, was pronounced dead at the scene. An accident report filed with the Utah Highway Patrol stated a 4-year-old daughter had been ejected from the vehicle still in her booster seat.
Wife Tonya was sent to the University of Utah Hospital for care. Children Allison and Jada were transported to the Primary Children’s Center. Both facilities are located on the University of Utah campus and adjacent to one another.
According to sources close to the family, Tonya is now out of the hospital’s ICU after undergoing at least one surgery for pelvic and leg injuries. She is currently listed in "fair condition" and is conscious, according to a UUH representative. Further surgery is expected.
Said the family source, the two hospitalized children are also currently in stable condition. A representative at the Primary Children’s Center would not comment on either child’s condition at this time. Daughters Ashley and Braden, who were treated and released from an undisclosed medical facility, have spoken with their mother.
First as a post-fight interviewer for UFC’s 33 through 40, then later as a play-by-play commentator for worldwide events such as K-1, Rumble On The Rock and World Extreme Cagefighting among others, Bennett became a familiar and trusted face in MMA circles.
For the fans, Bennett might best be remembered for MMAWeekly.com, the Web site he co-founded with Scott Peterson, which also generated the much-endeared "Sound Off," a daily Internet radio show that featured breaking news, fighter interviews, and on-the-scene coverage of events. Often broadcasting live via laptop anywhere from weigh-ins to hallways to hotel rooms, Bennett’s upbeat attitude and relaxed interviewing style attracted star and up-and-coming MMA athletes alike. In turn, Sound Off became a vital mouthpiece for various fighters.
Recently, MMAWeekly.com had been acquired by the Canadian-based media company The Fight Network, and showing his unbridled dedication to the sport, Bennett left his six-year sportscasting position at the NBC affiliate in Santa Barbara/San Luis Obispo to devote himself full-time to his passion. Bennett and his family moved from central California back to his home state of Utah earlier this year.
The Fight Network officially announced Bennett had joined their team in May as its News Director, although he had already been working with the outlet for over a year. In his new position as "the face and voice" of the network, Bennett provided on-camera pre- and post-fight coverage for various MMA and boxing events, including last Saturday’s UFC 60 (which he covered with Randy Couture) and May 6’s De La Hoya vs. Mayorga event. Bennett had also provided voice-over commentary for various foreign events broadcasted by the network, including Brazil’s Jungle Fight. Bennett was to have covered this Saturday’s Corrales vs. Castillo III event.
"He could have been a sports anchor, an announcer for football, basketball, or any number of sports. He was of that caliber. He chose to work in MMA. We will never find anyone like him," said TFN Vice-President of Programming and Production Brian Sobie.
MMAWeekly.com has opened an online account for those wishing to make donations to the Bennett family at http://www.mmaweekly.com/bennettfund.html
The Fight Network will also be announcing a trust fund for the family in the next few days.
Our prayers and deepest condolences go out to Ryan’s family and friends.
IFL Weigh-Ins Reveal Promotion’s 2006 Plans
Lindland, Newton, Inoki, and Coleman Join As League Coaches
By Loretta Hunt
Photos Courtesy of the International Fight League/April Pishna
ATLANTIC CITY, June 2 — Weigh-ins for tomorrow night’s International Fight League’s "Legends Championship 2006" Finals event, the culmination of a four-team tournament that began on April 29, yielded a bit more than the "numbers" today.
In addition to the weights of the 20 athletes that will compete live from Trump Taj Mahal (and will be seen the next night on the FOX Sports Network in a one-hour special), the IFL had a plethora of numbers to throw into the public arena this evening.
Announced to begin in September and end in December, the "World Team Championship" proposes an eight-team tournament utilizing the four teams previously featured in the IFL’s first two events. Joining these four teams will be Olympic wrestling silver medalist Matt Lindland’s Wolf Pack, Canadian and former UFC champion Carlo’s Newton’s "Dragons," along with yet-to-be-named teams led by Japanese pro-wrestling legend Antonio Inoki and Hammer House, UFC, and PRIDE champion Mark Coleman.
Also revealed, Renzo Gracie and Pat Miletich will square-off in a true superfight at one of the two events the IFL announced it will hold in September. A weight for the bout was not specified, although word from Miletich himself indicates the iconic pair will meet at a catch-weight around 180 pounds. No dates or venues have been announced for these proposed shows.
"Legends Championship 2006" Finals Official Weigh-in Results (In bout order)
Pat Miletich’s Silverbacks vs. Maurice Smith’s Tiger Sharks
IFL Alternate Hieron Moves to Active Status this Saturday
New York Native Takes on 14-0 Ellenberger
By Derek Callahan
Jay Hieron may have been as surprised as everyone else was when Georges St. Pierre stopped him in the first round of their UFC 48 fight, because nobody knew what type of dynamo St. Pierre was on his way to becoming. After the loss to St. Pierre, Hieron struck right back with a quick TKO win over rugged Hawaiian Ronald Jhun. He put together a little streak and found himself back in the UFC, losing to Jonathan Goulet when the doctor stopped their bout midway through the third round. He’s 0-2 in the UFC, and 8-2 overall.
"I put my heart and soul into the fight," says Hieron on his latest Octagon appearance. "But after, I realized I needed guidance." That need for guidance led him to manager Monte Cox, and a slight switch in direction for the former Hofstra wrestler’s career. As an alternate on the Anacondas for the inaugural International Fight League show, Hieron saw firsthand why they weren’t able to get by Pat Miletich and his Silverbacks.
"The Miletich team has it together and it definitely makes a difference," says Hieron, who watched his team fall 4-1 in match-up competition. "We didn’t get together as a team that much. We live in different parts of the nation, so it was hard to get on the same training regimen." If they ever do though, Hieron sees a positive future for the Anacondas, starting with the ability of their coach, Bas Rutten.
"Bas is incredible," he begins. "He’s been in the game for a long time. He has a lot of different little tricks he does."
Despite the fact that his team fell short against the Silverbacks, Hieron still likes the idea of fighting as part of a group. "My whole life [I wrestled] and there was individual as much as team stuff," he says. Moving from New York to train in Las Vegas with the likes of fellow Anacondas Mike Pyle and Alex Schoenauer, Hieron is keen on shaking up his training routine in order to keep his repertoire of techniques and tricks fresh. Although he likes best to take the role of student right after a bout, "when I like to focus on learning new things," this time he expanded his horizons while training to fight Jake Ellenberger (14-0) at the IFL’s second event this Saturday.
"I like working with a lot of different people. You’ve got to be like a sponge, the more you learn the better. I’ve got a great group," says Hieron. For three recent weeks in Utah, his group included Jeremy Horn, Joe Riggs and Joe Stevenson among others. His reason for going to Utah is the hope that his chances in the fight will go up with the state’s altitude.
"I got off the plane and I was wheezing a little bit," jokes Hieron. "I came in already in shape. If you’re coming in out of shape I’m sure it would effect you worse." Having trained accordingly in case he was called to fight in the first IFL, these weeks of preparation are more of an extension of his previous training camp. "I was in shape for that fight," he says. Looking to improve his stamina for this bout more than others, Hieron turned up his heart rate. "I changed up a little bit, doing a lot more cardio. I’m ready to come out and show my skills," he says. This is all thanks, in part, to the new commodity in MMA, trainer Billy Rush.
"He’s got it down to a science. He knows how the body works, he understands the body," says Hieron. The improved cardio is a welcome addition to the enthusiasm that he brings to the Ellenberger fight. "I’m excited to fight him. I want to be the first to put a blemish on his record," says Hieron. A blemish on Ellenberger’s record is a notch in the belt that Hieron, curiously enough, isn’t necessarily seeking.
"It’s tougher for me now because I know I can make money at it, it just takes time," says Hieron. The goal for the fighters who toil in the middle — the free agents who find themselves around the top 15 to 20 — is a living. This is one of the main reasons why Hieron, a UFC veteran, is willing to cross over to a show that is projected to be stiff competition for the UFC. "Of course I’ve thought about it," says Hieron. "I’m a free agent, I didn’t have any fights coming up. They offered me good money so I jumped on it."
The show will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net which to Hieron means that the "bottom line is it’s on TV anyway so I’m gonna get exposure." As a guy that’s been in the Octagon, "I don’t want to say anything negative about the UFC [because] I love the UFC," he says. He’s explicit to explain however, that it’s his livelihood.
The IFL came through against skepticism though when they put on a well-made show with their first try. "I was pretty surprised how they did it. Sometimes first show people tank, but the sky’s the limit," says Hieron. "I think it’s great, a different look and now is a great time to make it work because MMA is so big right now." The UFC has exploded with success, and in turn, indirectly bred their own competition. For someone like Hieron who is talented enough to make a living at the sport, and eager to strike while the iron is hot, it isn’t a game of waiting. For Hieron, the effort put forth is too great to be wasted with excessive patience.
"I get up every morning and bust my ass, to proceed in the game because I believe in myself," he says. "But making money would not be a bad thing."
Prelude to Mixed Fighting Championship
By Jim Genia
When: June 3rd. Where: Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City. What: the seventh installment of the Mixed Fighting Championship. The Red Devil Fight Team, the Bulldozer Fight Club, the Abe Ani Combat Club – it’s time once again for a slew of international fighters from Russia and Japan to square off against some of the East Coast’s toughest warriors. And with the welterweight belt up for grabs, and two female bouts on the card, MFC 7 promises to provide a night of action. Here’s a look at some of the fighters:
Eddie Alvarez – Fight Factory
Chris Ligouri – Rhino Fight Team
Tara Larosa – Northwest Elite
Kaream Ellington – South Bronx Fight Team
Eric Tavares – Team Edson Carvalho
The card as of 5/30:
Russia vs. USA Card
Now or Never for "Ninja" in PRIDE Bushido "Survival" Tourney
By Eduardo Alonso
Few fighters on PRIDE’s roster can say that they have faced as many tough opponents as Chute Boxe fighter Murilo "Ninja" Rua has. No other fighter on the PRIDE roster can say they have fought in three different weight classes inside an organization which only has four to begin with.
Throughout his career, Ninja hasn’t faced any easy roads, and has had to test himself against many of MMA’s toughest athletes in Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Ricardo Arona, Dan Henderson, Mario Sperry, Paulo Filho, and Kevin Randleman, to name a few.
Getting ready for a new challenge, this time things won’t be different for the older fighting Rua brother, for in the opposite corner will be Denis Kang, another serious candidate for this year’s PRIDE Bushido "Survival" Welterweight Grand Prix title. Often found in the middle of controversial decisions, and coming off a sound loss to rival Brazilian Paulo Filho, Rua knows this is a crucial time in his career. With all that in mind, the Chute Boxe representative has trained as hard as ever, and shared some words on the fight with Full Contact Fighter in the airport, right before he boarded a plane to Japan.
FCF: Your last fight in PRIDE Bushido was against Paulo Filho from Brazilian Top Team, and you ended up losing a judges’ decision in a fight where you didn’t seem to find your game. What did you think of your performance after watching the tape?
FCF: That was your first fight at the 83 kg (under 183 lbs) weight class, and I know ever since then you have been training very hard. How do you feel about your condition right now, compared to when you went to fight Paulo Filho?
FCF: Your opponent for this bout will be Denis Kang. What do you think of him as a fighter?
FCF: Even though it’s tough to predict anything, what do you expect in this fight?
FCF: Besides you and Kang, who do you think are the favorites to take home the belt in this 16-man Bushido Welterweight Grand Prix?
FCF: Do you feel any special motivation or responsibility fighting in a Grand Prix, compared to a single match, or is it just the same?
FCF: Although it is early to tell, how are you feeling in this new weight class? Do you intend to only fight at this weight from now on, or do you think about moving up to the 93kg (under 205 lbs) weight class where you were originally fighting in PRIDE?
FCF: Speaking of the 93kg weight class, how’s your brother Mauricio "Shogun" Rua’s recovery after the elbow injury he suffered in his bout against Mark Coleman last February?
FCF: Any final message for your fans?
MMA Internet Forefather Drops Keyboard to Re-Enter Ring at Saturday’s Mass Destruction
By Derek Callahan
On June 3, the East Coast will be alight with action, most notably in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The MFC will be holding a show, and the IFL will host the finale to their inaugural team tournament.
A little north though, the New England scene troops on with Mass Destruction 22.5. Many of the prolific teams based out of New England will be represented, but topping off the card is the return to the ring of Kirik Jenness, the 45-year-old gym owner and proprietor of the enduring www.mma.tv. Having not fought since the open-hand days of the first Mass Destruction in 2001, Jenness (1-0) sees his fight against Rob McNeil (4-1) as a chance to — nothing more, nothing less — see who’s better.
FCF: First off, how did you get into the martial arts? How did the MMA crossover occur?
FCF: Why make the return now? Why the desire to fight?
FCF: How is your striking keeping up with your grappling through training?
FCF: How do you see McNeil as an opponent?
FCF: How has your training changed now that you’re preparing for your own fight instead of getting people ready for theirs?
FCF: How has MMA been going in Massachusetts since the Boxing Commission lost authority to regulate it last year? Is it going better, worse, the same?
Shedding Light on a Dark Horse:
Ten Years In, Villasenor Gets Break In PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix
By Derek Callahan
Photo Courtesy of Dream Stage Entertainment
Joey Villasenor begins talking about his last loss — suffered at the hands of Jermaine Andre in 2002 — in the past tense. "The bell rang, I threw a flying knee which caught him pretty flush on the chin," says Villasenor, who then slides into speaking of the loss with a current inflection. "My foot slips on the canvas, and dazed or not, he did a wrestling duck under and my foot got caught on the canvas." Switching to the past tense, putting the loss back into the trove of fight history, he recounts how he had to stop fighting and start thinking about medical insurance. "My fibula broke in two places. All this happened within 23 seconds."
And that was the last time Villasenor lost in the ring.
On June 4, he will take on Ryo Chonan in the first round of his biggest test yet, PRIDE’s Survival Welterweight (183 lbs and under) Grand Prix tournament. "I’ve been keeping my eye on him because you don’t know when you’re going to clash heads," says Villasenor of his Japanese opponent. "He’s a do-or-die type of athlete. I’m going to have to ding him just right on the chin to stop him. I don’t see submissions playing a role – he’s strong there."
Training for MMA over the past ten years, Villasenor — the King of the Cage middleweight champion known for his heavy hands — made his first big jump when he left his native Farmington, New Mexico for Greg Jackson’s gym in Albuquerque. Even though he trains at a fledgling gym with a wide pool of prospective talent like Diego Sanchez, Villasenor is coming into this tournament as a marked underdog.
"We’re coming into this tournament with a 21-3 record and people still think I haven’t proven myself," he laments. "Just because I come from a not-so-known city we carry the tag of underdog. Our role as a team, we’re always the underdog and that is just what motivates us." Motivation that Villasenor doesn’t seem to need. For the 30-year-old fighter, the tournament is the shot that every deserving fighter should get at least once throughout their tenure as athletes.
"To sum up my career, I’m getting ready to start it. I feel like I’m coming out at the right time," he says. "I don’t know how the organization is running but I believe it’s a one-shot pony and if I don’t perform it’s gonna suck. I have to prove I’m a star and worthy to be out there."
Even though for Villasenor, "it’s the tournament and this tournament only," he has behind him an organization with a track record of supporting it’s fighters. Quinton Jackson, Ricco Rodriguez, Joe Stevenson and Paul Buentello are just the beginning of the list of KOTC fighters to have made the leap to success in bigger shows. "Some people make their debut in the UFC or Pride," says Villasenor. "I really believe [King of the Cage has] my best interest at heart. It gives their organization credibility."
Part of that credibility is allowing Villasenor to hold onto his title during the tournament. A vacant middleweight belt will only happen if Villasenor finds himself as the last man standing in the tournament, which includes the likes of Phil Baroni, Amar Suloev, Murilo Bustamante and others. Part of what he is most proud of is the independence that Jackson’s team has shown in making these strides. Without an official manager, Villasenor is guided by two businessmen that help his team out with out-of-ring issues.
"It’s pretty exciting that we’re getting there ourselves. Depending on the success of this tournament, I may have to get an exclusive manager," he says. It’s only one change that VIllasenor hopes will be made after his performance in the tournament. "Hopefully I can go from 14 to eight, then eight to four, and then four to the history books," he says.
"They All Knew Who Won," Says UFC 60’s Alessio
By Kelsey Mowatt
Millenia Jiu-Jitsu fighter John Alessio spoke with FCF this week, only days removed from what some are calling a controversial loss to Diego Sanchez at UFC 60 Saturday night. In a fight that saw only brief moments of any telling action or exchanges, Sanchez was awarded the unanimous decision victory by the judges to raise his unspoiled professional record to 15-0.
Sanchez unsuccessfully tried to take down Alessio numerous times in an attempt to implement his renowned ground-and-pound game, in turn reflecting an impressive array of takedown defenses in Alessio’s arsenal. The Canadian fighter grinned from ear-to-ear when the final bell sounded Saturday night, truly believing he had pulled off an upset victory over "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 1 Welterweight Champion.
"Yeah, I totally thought I won," Alessio says. "I took him completely out of his game plan, avoided all his takedowns and landed some shots. When I heard that a judge had awarded all three rounds to someone I looked to my corner because I knew I had been screwed. I think I had the first two rounds, he got the third for getting my back but he didn’t really do anything with that position — I was the one trying to break his arm."
Two judges awarded Sanchez a 29-28 score while another scored it 30-27, giving Sanchez all three rounds. Despite successfully squashing almost all of Sanchez’s takedown attempts, Alessio only periodically responded with aggressiveness of his own, occasionally offering some counterstrikes in Sanchez’s direction as the New Mexico fighter relentlessly came at him. The brief stand-up exchanges between the two saw Alessio frustrate Sanchez with a crisp left jab that cut the UFC star over his right eye, while Sanchez himself also managed to land. Alessio concedes that it was likely his inability to dominate the stand-up action that cost him the judge’s decision.
"I would have been more aggressive," Alessio says, revealing what he would have liked to have done differently. "I would have had more urgency. Watching it again at home I think he was ready to get knocked out. His stand-up isn’t anything at all; he just ran at me with his hands flailing – when was his aggressiveness effective? That’s a big part of wrestling, counter-wrestling, that’s the same thing I did against Jason Black, stuffed all his takedowns and controlled the fight, but I guess the judges didn’t see it that way."
It appeared that many at the Staples Centre for UFC 60 also saw the fight in Alessio’s favor, and they voiced it, booing and jeering loudly during the announcement of the judges’ decision and then again later when Sanchez spoke with Joe Rogan for his post-fight interview.
"I’m really cool with what happened," the now 18-6 Alessio says in response to the crowd’s reaction. "They all knew who won. If anything it helped me, I proved that I can hang with the best and everyone saw it. No one gave me a chance before and no one new to the sport really knew who I was. Now they do. I was really happy with the fight; I was celebrating. He spent the night in the hospital and I spent the night in the bar."
Controversy aside, Alessio gave one of the UFC’s up-and-coming stars all he could handle, and he is eager to step back into the Octagon against whomever the organization deems should be his next opponent, in the second of his current, three fight deal.
"I’m just kind of waiting to see what happens," Alessio acknowledges. "I want to get in there as soon as possible; I’d like to fight right away. I’m in shape, didn’t get hurt so I’m ready. Anyone in that weight class including B.J. Penn would be great. There’s a ton of guys in the welterweight class and I’d like to fight another top guy."
Alessio was also quite animated in sharing his thoughts on a possible rematch with Sanchez.
"Absolutely I’d fight him again," Alessio says. "I’ll knock him out this time, there is not doubt in my mind, but I don’t really think they’ll want me to re-match, so I’ll just have to move on."
YOON DONG SIK REPLACED BY GREGORY BOUCHELAGHEM
TOKYO, Japan – South Korean judoka YOON DONG SIK has withdrawn from PRIDE FIGHTING’S upcoming June 4th event, BUSHIDO SURVIVAL due to an injury. GREGORY BOUCHELAGHEM from the French Top will replace him. PAULO FILHO was originally scheduled to fight YOON DONG SIK, but will go up against GREGORY BOUCHELAGHEM instead.
BUSHIDO SURVIVAL FIGHTCARD:
Welter Weight Tournament:
Light Weight Matches:
* Fight Card and Participants Subject to Change.
** For additional replay times, please contact your pay per view provider or pridefc.com
PRIDE FIGHTING’S BUSHIDO SURVIVAL ’06 is the opening round of an exclusive 16-man welterweight tournament, which will take place June 4th from the Saitama Super Arena in Japan. The tournament will span three events, with the subsequent event dates to be announced soon. BUSHIDO SURVIVAL ’06 is scheduled to debut on North American pay-per-view on Sunday, June 4, 2006 at 10:00pm (EST), 7:00pm (PST).
BUSHIDO SURVIVAL ’06 will take place from the Saitama Super Arena in Japan and is scheduled to debut on North American pay per view via iNDEMAND, DIRECTV, DISH NETWORK, UrbanXtra, TVN1, VU!, and Viewer’s Choice Canada.
North American Pay-Per-View Schedule: