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Wednesday, Oct 20, 2004

Uninspiring Weigh-insforeshadow Shaky Seven-fight Ufc 50

Uninspiring Weigh-Ins
Foreshadow Shaky Seven-Fight UFC 50

By Loretta Hunt

Some have unemphatically dubbed it the Bore of ’04, and judging from the ultra-thin turnout of spectators today at its official weigh-ins at the Trump Plaza Theatre in Atlantic City, New Jersey, early signs indicate UFC 50 will come and go as one of the less memorable editions in recent memory to a fighting franchise that has gradually been on the rise.

What started as a somewhat engaging 8-fight event has slowly smoldered over the last two months with the loss of fighters Phil Baroni, Paul Buentello, John Marsh, Marvin Eastman (who later returned), and Trevor Prangley, and quickly turned into a fiasco last week when the promotion lost main eventer Guy Mezger in a training accident.

Yet with catastrophe comes opportunities. In the endless reshuffling, 5-0 Patrick Cote has risen from the undercard for a shot at Tito Ortiz and instant notoriety in tomorrow’s main event. Tony Fryklund is back after an extended absence dating back to the summer of 2002 at UFC 37.5. Newcomer Travis Lutter is also onboard, while Tra Telligman’s clash with Buentello, then Marsh, and then Miletich rep Mike Whitehead has been scrapped all together.

After a week of chaos, a weary UFC president Dana White looked gratified just to get this final card weighed-in today, hovering over each fighter as New Jersey officials read out the numbers. The fighters, themselves, were subdued and almost lethargic, save for French Canadian dynamo George St. Pierre, whose general congeniality lifted the comparatively dull proceedings.

His hood pulled low and hands folded inside a bright red sweat suit, former light-heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz kept to the corners until his call to the stage. Flanked by a select circle of training mates including recent MTV "True Life" star Kit Cope, the silent, yet focused fighter weighed-in at 205 pounds on the dot. Canadian opponent Patrick Cote was but a pound shier, his hope being to catch the fallen champion with a hard left or right before the ground-and-pounder moves in for the kill. Looking to give his career a much-needed shot in the arm following two very high profile losses to Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell, it is doubtful Ortiz will give this newcomer the window he needs.

Tito Ortiz (left) vs. Patrick Cote
Ortiz (left) vs. Cote

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MMA Notebook:
Atlantic City, UFC 50 Edition

By Joe Hall

Three weeks ago, I broke the record.

In a magical six-day span, I interviewed all 16 fighters that were scheduled to compete at UFC 50. The previous in-house record at FCF was 15, which Loretta Hunt and I pulled off together when working on a previous UFC preview.

Few people understand the terrible struggle it is to reach 16 fighters in the midst of 16 training camps. For six days, I punched numbers and left messages and absolutely obliterated my allotted monthly cell phone minutes. The charges I incurred were heavy, but they were worth it. I thought.

You can imagine my dismay when the card began crumbling. Prangley out, Fryklund in. Marsh out, then Mezger, then Telligman. Lutter in, and a scramble of opponent swaps. My UFC 50 preview for the FCF paper had already gone to print, but would the record stand? Would there be an asterisk beside it?

Forget my dismay. Put yourself in Joe Silva’s shoes, or Dana White’s, frantically calling around North America in search of replacements, trying to keep track of who could fight whom and at what weight. On second thought, forget Joe Silva or Dana White; put yourself in the fighters’ shoes. Are you interested in fighting in the UFC? You are? Well that’s great. Huh? No, not in the February show. We have a spot for you next week! Hope you’ve been training, fella, because we need you to fight up a division.

Many fighters would take such an offer simply because they believe fighting in the UFC is the chance of a lifetime. How could you argue? More power to the guy whose shoulder is shot to hell from his day job and he takes the fight anyway. It may not be smart, but you could argue it’s ambitious. Win and he suddenly has a future in the UFC. Lose and well, what did you expect? His shoulder is mangled, and his cardio was nonexistent because he’s been sitting at home resting. Of course he lost.

That scenario is just an example. Travis Lutter, the BJJ black belt who has stepped up at the last minute to fight Marvin Eastman, is healthy and had already been training for a fight against at the WEC.

Nonetheless, he’ll sacrifice to fight in the UFC. That WEC bout was at 185, which is where Lutter now prefers to fight. The opening he was asked to fill in the UFC, however, was a weight class up. He weighed in on Thursday at 199.3 pounds while Eastman was a much more solid 204.5.

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posted by Full Contact Fighter @ 8:00 pm
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