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Friday, Aug 02, 2002

For Mma Fans, August 4th’s Ufc Special Will Be “as Real As It Gets”

By Loretta Hunt

For MMA fans, August 4th’s UFC Special will be "As Real As It Gets"

With the moniker "As Real As It Gets" below its growingly familiar gold and black logo, the Ultimate Fighting Championship draws one step closer to the prospects of a weekly TV show with tomorrow night’s one hour special set to air on the Fox Sports Network.

The two specials, airing Sunday, August 4th and then again on the following Sunday the 11th, will unfold on Fox’s regularly scheduled programming Sunday Nights Fights, a slot that up to this point had been mainly reserved for boxing. And just how did mixed martial arts snag this coveted spot from the hands of the rival combat sport? Says White, "Boxing is heading into a bad place right now. Everybody’s looking for cool new programming. The UFC’s been around forever, but with the way we’ve been doing things lately, we’ve created a big buzz, a buzz that’s been breaking through to Hollywood. It’s our time."

Initially, White admits, the show’s producers were a somewhat "standoffish" to America’s premiere MMA promotion when it premiered on "The Best Damn Sports Show Period" back in late June, but once the ratings were in, they were singing a different tune. "I don’t know the exact number of how many people watched, but it was the second best ratings they ever had." In addition, White says the impression left by those that attended June 22nd’s UFC 37.5 live event, undoubtedly tipped the scales. "I don’t think that event was at all what they expected. They were really blown away."

As for the specials themselves, White tried to remain somewhat vague on the details to their format. "I really don’t want to get too much into it because I don’t want to blow it for everybody, but it’s fast-paced, it’s got a lot of style and it’s cool." In addition to what White says will be "three of the sport’s most exciting fights," a press release distributed days ago describes "profile features that will introduce UFC fighters to many American sports fans for the first time." Tomorrow night’s episode will most likely visit fighter’s training camps and observe the training regimens that mixed martial artists must endure- an angle that might entice viewers getting their first glimpse at these modern-day warriors.

As for the prospect of the UFC winning its own weekly time slot with Fox or beyond, White is optimistic. "We’ve been pitching shows to almost every network Even before the "Best Damn Sports Show Period" aired, we had interest from all the networks." With ratings now and always a factor, White hopes that loyal American MMA fans will come out in droves. "I think it’s what all the hard core fans and us [Zuffa] knew it could be. If there was ever a time you wanted to introduce friends and family to the sport, this is it. Please tune in." We, for one, will be watching.

From Josh Hedges/Zuffa:

UFC on Sunday Night Fights

UFC: As Real As It Gets To Expand on Ratings Success of Best Damned Sports Show Period

      LAS VEGAS, July 31, 2002… Following its recent ratings success on Best Damn Sports Show Period, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will return to Fox Sports Net at 6 p.m. (local time), Sunday, Aug. 4 and Aug. 11, with UFC: As Real As It Gets, special one-hour editions of the network’s Sunday Night Fights. The shows will offer taped bouts of exciting fight action and profile features that will introduce UFC fighters to many American sports fans for the first time. The UFC is the world’s leading mixed martial arts sports event. It brings together the most talented mixed martial arts athletes from disciplines such as karate, jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, wrestling and boxing in a quest to become an ultimate fighting champion.
      Fighters who will appear include Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz of Huntington Beach, Calif., Welterweight Robbie Lawler of Davenport, Iowa,; Heavyweight Frank Mir of Las Vegas, Nev., Lightweight Matt Serra of Long Island, N.Y., and two former Welterweight champions, Pat Miletich of Davenport, Iowa, and Carlos Newton of Newmarket, Ontario, Canada.
      Fight action will be presented by the voices of UFC events, play-by-play announcer Mike Goldberg, analyst Jeff Osborne and Bruce Buffer, the "Voice of the Octagon."
      UFC bouts, a staple of pay-per-view television, were shown on FOX Sports Net for the first time June 25 and July 19 on Best Damn Sports Show Period. Network executives reported that BDSSP achieved some of its highest ratings when UFC fights were aired.
      "We knew the new UFC was a hot property, we just didn’t know how hot," said Dan Harrison, senior v.p., programming and strategic planning for Fox Sports Net.
      "The network’s ratings for Best Damn Sports Show Period tell us that American sports fans like our brand of fighting. Now more fans will see how real it is and how talented our athletes are," said Dana White, UFC president.

Dr. Flip Homansky
Dr. Flip Homansky on
the Josh Barnett Hearing

By Joe Hall

Dr. Flip Homansky is one of five Nevada State Athletic Commission members who heard the complaint against Josh Barnett on July 26. He firmly stated his opinion during the hearing on the source of the metabolites found in Barnett’s system by saying, "It is my firm conclusion that this gentleman has been taking steroids to gain an unfair advantage." Here are a few of his comments regarding the hearing, with much more to come in the next issue of FCF.

FCF:   Did the hearing go as you expected?
FH:     No, the hearing didn’t go as I expected. The hearing was more confrontational than it needed to be, and there was more time spent talking about whether the urine was gathered to the specifications of Mr. Barnett’s people rather than to the problems of steroids in our sport and the dangers of Josh taking these drugs.

FCF:   The first issue Matt Hume brought up concerned a prior agreement that he said was made verbally. Was there an agreement? And how close was this matter to being solved before the July 26 hearing?
FH:     We had an agreement with Rick Roufus and we would have had an agreement with Josh Barnett. We were not looking for a confrontation. All we were looking for is an acceptance that there were anabolic steroids in the urine, and that he would get counseling and would never take them again. When Matt speaks of one word being different, it’s like saying the only word different was "I did" or "I didn’t." It was a critical word.

FCF:   Is it safe to say that if Barnett had made the agreement you described, there would not have been a suspension?
FH:     Yes.

FCF:   When the length of the suspension was being discussed, you said that the Nevada State Athletic Commission had been "enormously disrespected." How so?
FH:     Our only goal is to protect the sport and help the fighters. No one on that commission gets paid. No one enjoyed themselves on that morning of the hearing. We were willing to listen to the arguments of Josh and his camp. The Nevada State Athletic Commission, I believe, is the best boxing commission in the United States. And I also believe the promoters and boxers recognize us in that capacity. This was a situation where a camp totally disregarded the process we were in and felt they could go to the press and possibly intimidate us into doing what they wanted. I can assure you something like that is not going to happen.

FCF:   You amended Dr. Alamo’s initial motion by proposing a one-year suspension from the date of Barnett’s win over Couture [March 22]. Are you satisfied with the Commission’s final decision for a six-month suspension from the date of the hearing [July 26]?
FH:     Very satisfied. What it is is a 10-month suspension from the date of the fight. I think that’s very fair. I honestly hope that after the first of the year, a clean Josh Barnett is given another chance to win the heavyweight championship of the world. I mean that.

FCF:   Do you think it would have been better for Barnett to have been represented by an attorney rather than his trainer?
FH:     Josh would have been well represented by himself. Josh could make an elegant case. He should have spoken more during the hearing. The very little he did speak, every commissioner listened to him intently. Josh was his own best witness.

FCF:   Why has the Commission pushed for their suspensions to be honored by other organizations, like events in Japan?
FH:     It’s not by events in Japan; it’s by anyone else who is a licensee of this commission. It’s the same as with a boxer. If we suspend a fighter, we expect every other state in America to suspend him. You can’t do that to another country, but let’s say a promoter who’s licensed here takes a fighter that we feel shouldn’t fight and fights him in another country. We would do the same thing. And when we licensed Pride before the Josh Barnett issue, we brought that up with them. When we licensed King of the Cage, we brought that up with them. That’s how we function with boxing.

FCF:   Just to clarify, let’s say Pride runs a show in Japan. You expect a sanction to be honored there as well, correct?
FH:     If they run a show anywhere in the world, we expect them to abide by our sanctions, not just on Josh but on anyone. And when we originally licensed Pride, we brought the issue up, and they said anyone that was sanctioned by the state of Nevada, they would not use.

FCF:   What would be the Commission’s stance if Barnett fought outside of their jurisdiction?
FH:     We would have nothing to say about it.

Matt Hume Discusses Barnett Hearing
By Joe Hall

Josh Barnett and Matt Hume after Barnett's fight with Randy Couture
Although it may have at times been detrimental, Matt Hume passionately defended Josh Barnett for over two hours before the Nevada State Athletic Commission on July 26. While a conclusion to the hearing came all too slowly for most involved, Hume would likely still be debating the protocol used to test Barnett, and other issues, if he had been allowed. Here are just a few of his comments concerning the hearing, with much more to come in the next issue of FCF.

FCF:   Did the hearing go as you expected?
MH:     It went as I expected.

FCF:   Early in the hearing, you argued that a prior agreement had already been made. What was the mentioned agreement?
MH:     The agreement was that Josh would provide them with a current clean test and would do a steroid counseling session with Dr. Webber [who runs the drug-testing program for the United States Powerlifting and the International Powerlifting Federations], and that they would not proclaim any guilt upon Josh. And it was to be over; there was to be nothing beyond that hearing.

FCF:   Was that made over the phone or in person? And who was present?
MH:     A hearing by teleconference is what they called it. Josh Barnett, Roy Silbert [United Full Contact Federation President], Dr. Webber and myself were there, and Flip Homansky [NSAC member], Marc Ratner [executive director of the NSAC] and Keith Kizer [Chief Deputy Attorney General who serves as legal counsel to the NSAC] were there.

FCF:   When was it made?
MH:     I don’t have the dates in front of me. I would have to look back. It was quite a while back.

FCF:   So they sent you a draft of that proposed agreement, but you didn’t accept it?
MH:     It’s not that we didn’t accept it. We said this isn’t what we agreed to. And then we redrafted it and sent it to them. Then they redrafted theirs, and we went back and forth with drafts for a long time with the expectation that we were going to have an agreement based upon what we agreed to in the teleconference.

It was one word that we couldn’t agree on. And that word was "knowingly." They wanted Josh to say that he acknowledged their test. However, that acknowledgement did not mean that he knowingly took steroids. That wasn’t what we agreed on because that’s saying that he could have taken steroids. Our position was that he did not take steroids, not that he had some ninja slip him steroids.

FCF:   Dr. Homansky has confirmed that if an agreement had been met prior to the hearing, it is safe to say there would not have been a suspension. Do you agree with that?
MH:     No. I don’t agree with that. If that were the case … we asked them that. Roy Silbert questioned them. Roy said, "So what if Josh signed this thing that said ‘knowingly’? Is that a guarantee that there’s going to be no suspension?" They said, "No, there’s no guarantee. This has to go before the Commission, and we can’t promise what the rest of the Commission is going to do." The fact that they were trying to get us to sign something, and then telling us they couldn’t give us any guarantees — they gave us nothing. They just pulled us to the end, leading us to believe that they were going to make a deal, when I don’t think they had any intention of ever making a deal.

FCF:   Why did you choose to represent Josh rather than hire an attorney?
MH:     It was the only thing we could do because they led us to believe we had an agreement. I would not have wanted to represent Josh; I’m not an attorney. Like I said, they led us to believe there was going to be a deal. When it was evident there wasn’t, it was only two days before. That’s not enough time; that’s not enough notification. That’s the reason that we didn’t have any legal representation, because they didn’t give us time.

FCF:   Is it fair, in your opinion, that the NSAC expects their suspensions to be honored by licensees even if the event is outside of Nevada?
MH:     It’s fair that they want that. Is it fair that this happened to Josh? No. If they’re treating people just, then it’s OK for them to want their suspensions honored everywhere. But I don’t feel that this was a just suspension.

FCF:   Will Josh look for a fight outside of the Nevada Commission’s jurisdiction?
MH:     Right now, we’re not sure where he’s going to fight. But Josh has to make a living, and we are going to look for fights. We don’t know where, though.

Menne Gets Confusing Win at Palladium

Dave Menne in action
      LOS ANGELES — After more than 7 months of inactivity, including 2 months of nursing an injury, former UFC middleweight champion Dave Menne only wanted to return to the ring and shake off the rust.
      Menne got the hard workout he desired, but also found himself in the middle of some wild controversy.
      "This turned out to be a lot of crap… from the beginning to the end," Menne said. "Everything I agreed to a month ago was all of a sudden not good enough for my opponent. The weigh-in was a problem, the weight was a problem, the rounds were a problem, the overtime was a problem. I’m surprised they let me wear the trunks I came out in."
      Robert Ferguson put up a spirited fight in the ring at Ultimate Cage Fighting… an event that features open-hand striking like old Pancrase events. After two rounds, the judges came to the decision it was a draw. According to UCF rules, if the fight is a draw after regulation, a 3-minute overtime is used to decide a winner.
      "After the show had started, I’m told by the promoter (Darin Dotson) that Ferguson isn’t happy with Menne weighing in during the afternoon… that he wanted him to weigh in again," said Menne’s manager Monte Cox. "He was 189 at noon and felt he was 191 to 193 at the show, so we agreed to weigh again. The scale they had was broken, and then we’re told he needed to be at 185 because Ferguson was 175… I said the agreement was for 190 from Day 1.
      "I was told by the promoter that Ferguson may pull out if we didn’t agree to drop the fight from 3 rounds to 2 rounds. Reluctantly, we agreed, but I said ‘that means an overtime if necessary, right?’ and I was assured that it did."
      Obviously, some of the information about the changes never got to ringside. After the second round, a ring girl entered for round 3 and announcer Bruce Buffer announced a third round.
      Informed that it was changed to 2 rounds, Buffer entered the ring and announced the draw.
      "When I heard draw, I went up to the cage and said ‘what about the overtime?’ Menne was there and also asked for the OT. The brother of the promoter said we can’t do the overtime because Ferguson couldn’t continue… understandably, I got irate… I said if he can’t continue, then he loses… that’s how it works. I mean, if he couldn’t have continued after the first round, would that be OK? Would we call it a draw?"
      After a brief discussion, Buffer was instructed to announce Menne as the winner.
      "I know Ferguson’s camp isn’t happy… they say that the promoter told them different things than he told us," Cox said. "Mistakes happen, but they basically said everything was different… weight, weigh-in, rounds, overtime… you can see where we have to be a little skeptical of all of this being the promoter’s fault."
      For Menne, the verdict is already behind him. He has a date to fight Phil Baroni in the UFC on Sept. 27. A victory would put him in line for a rematch with Murilo Bustamante for the world title.
posted by Full Contact Fighter @ 8:00 pm
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