A Closer Look At “the Comeback”part Two: The Middleweights
A Closer Look at “The Comeback”
By Peter Parsons
With the power of television, SpikeTV’s “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series has brought with it legions of new fans. In many cases, fighters of the first three seasons of “The Ultimate Fighter” are more recognizable than most established UFC pay-per-view veterans.
TUF 4 aims to give a few of those pay-per-view vets their shot at this notoriety, with eight middleweight’s vying for the public’s attention.
Saulo Ribeiro, Chute Boxe’s Newest Acquisition
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion names Nate Quarry first opponent on Dec 8
By Marcelo Alonso
Less than three weeks after his younger brother Alexandre “Xande” Ribeiro garnered one of the most prestigious titles in jiu-jitsu by becoming the Mundial absolute champion, Saulo Ribeiro was announced as Chute Boxe’s newest member this past week.
“I conquered all the most important titles in my career in jiu-jitsu,” said the six-time world champion, ADCC 2003 under 88kg champion and black belt of Royler Gracie. “Now I want to go up another step, trying to do the same in MMA. In order to reach that goal I came to improve my striking game with the best MMA team in Brazil.”
Four hours after being received in the Curitiba airport by Chute Boxe leader Rudimar Fedrigo, Ribeiro was officially presented to the Chute Boxe team at that night’s training session. “I’m very happy to count one of the most respected jiu-jitsu fighters in the world as part of our team. His name was approved unanimously by all the team. Now we can say Chute Boxe is also a power on the ground now that we have many jiu-jitsu black belt champions in the house, like Cristiano Marcelo (Gracie), Nino Schembri (Gracie Barra), Luis Azeredo (Macaco Gold Team), Jorge Macaco, Gabriel Napão (Macaco Gold Team) and Saulo (Gracie). The Chute Boxe team will do everything possible to make Saulo’s career in the ring as good as it was [on the jiu-jitsu mats],” said Fedrigo, confirming Ribeiro will assist in training Wanderlei Silva for his PRIDE Open-Weight Grand Prix appearance.
In his first NHB fight representing Chute Boxe, Ribeiro is scheduled to face Team Quest’s Nathan Quarry in the Gracie Challenge, scheduled for December 8. “Thanks to my credentials in jiu-jitsu, I cannot start by facing easy opponents like most fighters. But I’m sure that the Vale Tudo training at Chute Boxe will give me an excellent background,” explained Ribeiro, who is planning on spending three months training in Curitiba before the fight. “I’m returning to USA to take care of my association – we are moving to San Diego. As soon as I have everything solved I’ll take care of my training.”
Asked about the possibility of bringing his brother Xande to the team, Ribeiro said, “He already won the first phase, being the number one of jiu-jitsu. The next step is be the number one in ADCC and later fight Vale Tudo. Actually, Xande is practicing boxing and wrestling for a long time. When he decides to start his Vale Tudo career, he will be ready.”
PRIDE’s Barnett, Shogun, Belfort
By Steven Marrocco
Around 300 loyal fans turned out to see their favorite PRIDE fighters today at an autograph signing at the Best Buy store in Torrance, California. The publicity event marks the first of three this week to ring in the Japan power promotion’s long awaited venture onto U.S. soil with “The Real Deal,” scheduled for October 21 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Josh Barnett, Vitor Belfort, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and Nino “Elvis” Schembri were all in good spirits as they signed posters, T-shirts, Muay Thai shorts, and PRIDE DVDs (conveniently stacked near the signing table).
Fox Sports Net and a local TV crew were also on hand to cover the action, interviewing fans and fighters throughout the night. A tangible buzz ran up and down the lines over the arrival of PRIDE Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko, who was scheduled to make an appearance. Although Emelianenko had to cancel at the last moment, many fans in attendance were simply amazed to see the attending PRIDE stars in the flesh.
“I just wanted to come here and tell Josh Barnett how much I loved his fighting,” one fan gushed as he waited in line.
PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix Champion Rua sat calmly in his chair, smiling as he rapped with Belfort in Portuguese. Missing his trademark sideburns, Elvis Schembri’s ears perked up when his name was announced as an old fight played on a big screen behind him. He continued to sign autographs, but snuck a peek at the screen from time to time.
“It’s great to see all the fans out here supporting us”, Belfort said shortly after stepping away from the throng. Scheduled to fight for the October show, Belfort was confident that the requirements of the Nevada State Athletic Commission would not hamper the excitement of the fights. “The rules of Las Vegas are good, but PRIDE’s rules are going to be better, because you don’t allow elbows, you don’t have fights getting stopped on a
cut,” Belfort said. Moments later Belfort was seen cruising the aisles of the stereo section, pointing out the ones he liked to a friend that was close by.
Josh Barnett was similarly confident the changes would not take away from the show. “I hope they can work to adopt PRIDE’s rules, because I don’t see any reason not to. I’ve fought under all sorts of different rule sets, and in my mind it’s better than UFC rules.” Recently, Barnett has logged many hours at Eric Paulson’s Orange County Submission Wrestling in preparation for his participation in the Open-Weight Grand Prix, and feels confident he will best Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira.
“I’ve already seen everything that guy’s gonna do,” Barnett said. “I’ve been doing this for 10 years. If he’s gonna come out and throw something at me and I’m not ready for it, then I don’t know what I’m doing here.”
At the end of the night, fans were still perched around the signing table, just to be in the presence of the fighters. “I enjoy being able to brighten someone’s day by signing an autograph and shaking someone’s hand,” Barnett concluded. “It’s my job.” Judging by the fervor of the fans present at Best Buy, and three major shows on the horizon (PRIDE Bushido welterweight tournament concludes on August 26), it would appear PRIDE is not on the ropes just yet.