Aug. 15, 2009. San Jose, Calif. The biggest fight in the brief history of women's mixed martial arts goes down in front of a crowd of nearly 14,000 at the HP Pavilion, as Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos squares off with MMA's reigning prom queen, Gina Carano.
The Emmys will be Sunday night at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, and AMC, HBO and Showtime have nabbed a huge chunk of the major nods this year. This yet again sparks the question that has been looming around the industry for years: Is the quality of programming from the major broadcast networks on the decline?
There was a period not so long ago when televised mixed martial arts was considered the keystone to yanking the sport out of the shadows. Five years after The Ultimate Fighter performed its magic on Spike TV, that notion has been affirmed, to the point that MMA fans have so many options these days they're as likely to stumble upon a bout as they are a baseball game.
Never again. If his loss to Matt Serra in 2007 provided any lasting impact on Georges St. Pierre, it's that never again would he be cocky walking into fight. Never again would he consider himself unbeatable. Never again would he fail to take every possible step to ensure his readiness. Never, he's repeated like some mantra, again.
In his autobiography penned with Sherdog.com news editor Loretta Hunt, Randy Couture revealed that he received an offer from the UFC in 2006 to fight two-division champion boxer James Toney. Four years later, Toney has finally signed with the UFC, reigniting the possibility of a bout with Couture.
The final year of a decade destined to be remembered as pivotal for the expansion of mixed martial arts essentially comes to a close Saturday with dueling Strikeforce and WEC cards, which air on Showtime and Versus respectively. It may very well be the fistic end to 2009 -- in the U.S. at least -- yet the weekend feels more like an early skirmish of a potentially promotional-war-ravaged 2010.
Having turned down a deal with the Ultimate Fighting Championship last Wednesday, Fedor Emelianenko didn't wait long to find a new promotional partner in America. And this one comes with a significant television deal.
It seems simple, doesn't it? Compile the top talent in a respective sport and bring them together to determine who is the best. Professional sports does it. College basketball, too. College football doesn't, but you can't walk from the dairy aisle to the deli without bumping into someone who thinks the sport should. Championship tournaments are the lifeblood of sports. The excitement, the energy, the anticipation; it's what turns a casual fan into a hardcore one.
Starting with UFC 100's gigantic fights, this upcoming summer stretch is the busiest and most important in the history of the sport. Maybe we're saying things like that too much lately, but they're true.
The 1974 subterranean thriller "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" isn't what anyone would call an untouchable classic. If it's remembered for anything, it's for the hangdog Walter Matthau's garish shirt/tie combinations and the squalor of New York's subways.
Evoking A.J. Liebling at the start of a boxing column is a little like shouting the name Pavarotti as you prepare to launch into a karaoke performance: it only reminds your audience of what they're not going to get. Nonetheless, here goes: I couldn't help thinking of Liebling (the legendary author of The Sweet Science, whose coverage of the sport for The New Yorker from the 1940s into the '60s, earned him general recognition as the finest boxing writer ever) Saturday night as I sat on press row at Madison Square Garden watching the fight card that culminated with Miguel Cotto's thoroughly impressive dismantling of the overmatched Michael Jennings. Specifically, I was reminded of Liebling's classic essay Boxing With the Naked Eye, and of how far things have come since he wrote it.
In April, Paramount Pictures walked away from a deal to air its movies on pay-TV channel Showtime. Instead, it announced a plan to start up a rival channel with two other longtime Showtime suppliers, MGM and Lionsgate. To the uninitiated, that might have appeared a nugget of passing interest, as in: Great, another movie channel ... I guess.
As mixed martial arts rises in popularity in the United States, many promotions are looking to get a piece of the action. With UFC possessing such an advantage in terms of recognition, visibility and market share, it will be an uphill battle for challengers.