Between The Ropes MMA Podcast previewing World Series of Fighting- June 14, 2013

wsofOn today’s edition of the MMA podcast, Steve previews the World Series of Fighting 3 event that takes place tonight.

Steve begins the podcast as he talks to the President of the World Series of Fighting, Ray Sefo. They preview tonight’s show, why Ray will be fighting for the promotion in August, if a return to kickboxing is in the cards, why WSOF didn’t sign Josh Barnett and much more.

Then about 37 minutes into the podcast, Steve talks to WSOF 3 bantamweight fighter Carson Beebe who will be fighting on the card against Joe Murphy. Beebe discusses the fight with Murphy, the effort to save wrestling in the Olympics and much more.

World Series of Fighting takes place tonight from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino from Las Vegas. You can watch the preliminary portion of the card on MMAJunkie.com starting at 7:30 p.m. ET with the main card starting at 11 ET on the NBC Sports Network.

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Georges St-Pierre vs Johny Hendricks likely for November event in Vegas

gspIt is looking like Johny Hendricks won’t have to wait too much for his shot at Georges St-Pierre.

Dana White announced today at the UFC 161 open workouts that Hendricks and the UFC welterweight champion will be meeting at a to be determined event in November with Las Vegas being the probable destination.

Hendricks has been campaigning for the fight with St-Pierre since he became the number one contender when he defeated Martin Kampmann in 46 seconds at UFC 154 last November. St-Pierre on that same show defeated Carlos Condit in a unification bout by unanimous decision.

“Bigg Rigg” got denied his opportunity as St-Pierre decided he wanted his next title defense to be against arch nemesis, Nick Diaz. That bout took place at UFC 158 in March with the champion defeating Diaz by unanimous decision. Hendricks also fought on the same event defeating Condit by unanimous decision.

We will keep you up to date when everything is made official for this welterweight showdown.

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Cain Velasquez vs Junior Dos Santos III Likely For October in Houston

It didn’t take long for this announcement.

Photo from UFC.com

Photo from UFC.com

The fight will likely take at UFC 165 in Houston in October.

No date and venue were announced by White, but he did state the event will be in an arena and not the stadium show that was rumored.

The rubber match was setup at UFC 160 last month when Velasquez defeated Antonio Silva by TKO and Dos Santos knocked out Mark Hunt.

The first fight between these two took place at the first UFC on Fox show in November of 2011 with Dos Santos stopped Velasquez in just 64 seconds.

The second fight this past December at UFC 155 had a different result with Velasquez controlling all five rounds and regaining his title by unanimous decision.

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UFC News: Jon Jones Will Face Alexander Gustafsson This Fall

UFC President had some time on his hands after landing in Winnipeg last night for UFC 161.  So, he decided to use some time to respond to some fans questions on Twitter.

 

The Mauler is, of course, Alexander Gustafsson.  And Jon Jones added that he has some news coming soon too:

While “Bones” never says he will be fighting Gustafsson, it looks like that will be the next matchup for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.

It was believed that Lyota Machida would be getting the next shot at the title but that was not well received by many fans with Jones already beating Machida by chokeout in 2011.  Gustafsson – now 15-1 and having won six in a row – had never received a title shot and would be a fresh challenger.

UPDATED:  White confirmed the match to the media today and said it will take place at UFC 165 on September 21 in Toronto.

WWE No Longer Needs the World Heavyweight Championship

dolph-zigglerNormally, a World Champion being out of action for five weeks would seem like a big deal. In his absence, a wrestling company would still find ways to highlight him. It would show vignettes on his return, interview him from his home, or even put him in the ring and let him cut a few promos. If he ran the risk of missing one or two Pay-Per-Views due to the injury, he might even be stripped of his title
(anybody remember the classic “a champion must defend his title once every 30 days” rule?).

Instead, the WWE just ignored it.

Dolph Ziggler was out for over five weeks due to a concussion, and the company just moved on as though he didn’t exist. They barely mentioned him on television, rarely checked in with him during the recovery process, and never spotlighted what his absence, along with the World Heavyweight Championship, meant to the company. For those five weeks, WWE existed without two top champions.

And guess what… it survived. Not only that, but Smackdown (former home of the World Heavyweight Champion) seemed to actually thrive. By putting together a string of shows focusing more on other championships, like the United States and Tag Team titles, the show was the most enjoyable it’s been in months.

Let’s take a step back for a moment. The World Heavyweight Championship was originally introduced for Raw just a few months after the start of the brand extension. It only made sense that a top guy existed on each show to headline house shows and serve as the “face” of that brand. Eventually, when both Smackdown and Raw started hosting their own Pay-Per-Views, each World Champion was given his own headlining event.

But things have changed. WWE stopped hosting separate brand-extension Pay-Per-Views in 2007. In late 2011, both shows essentially merged with the ‘SuperShow’ format. And since then, the powers-that-be have come out and said that the brand extension is over because they want the product to flow between all the different platforms.

Unfortunately, nobody seems to care about the disparity between the two World Titles. Did you know that the World Heavyweight Championship hasn’t been contested in a Pay-Per-View main-event match since 2010’s Hell in a Cell? It has, however, opened up a Wrestlemania. Twice. And at last year’s Money in the Bank Pay-Per-View, the World Heavyweight Championship contract match was open to the entire roster, while the WWE Championship was opened only to previous champions. How is that considered equal?

Even CM Punk addressed this on an episode of Raw in September, when he confronted reigning World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus and told him that he was only the “second-best in the world.” And Sheamus didn’t really argue with him, either.

But the idea that WWE would let Dolph Ziggler stay at home for five weeks as the reigning, defending, World Heavyweight Champion, and do nothing to address the situation, completely boggles my mind. When CM Punk “walked out” with the WWE Championship two years ago, the company was ready to crown a completely new champion the next night on Raw. Now, things just hum along like business as usual.

So is Dolph Ziggler considered a second-class champion? Where does that put current United States Champion Dean Ambrose, or Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett?

Unfortunately, the World Heavyweight Championship is now treated like a stepping-stone to the real top title. When WWE thinks you’re ready to break through, they’ll give you the big gold belt. And maybe one day, if you’re lucky (or your name ends in “CENA”), you might get to hold the WWE Championship. Maybe.

If you go back 10 years, this was the exact purpose of the Intercontinental Championship. It highlighted guys on their way up – guys who might not quite be at the top of their game yet, but who had a chance of getting there one day. It was defended more frequently on free TV, and often changed hands, but it was always backed-up with purposeful booking. Now, both it and the United States championship are handed off seemingly at random. They’re just filler championships used to pad the resume of whoever Vince’s flavor-of-the-month is. They have no prestige.

And the World Heavyweight Championship is going down that same path.

So please, WWE, I’m begging you: unify both World Titles. Re-instate the IC Championship for the young, hungry guys, and make the United States Championship whatever it needs to be. Just retire the World Heavyweight Championship while it still has that strong, proud lineage to fall back on.

Championships need to feel exclusive to be important. It’s time to bring that idea back to WWE.

Between The Ropes Wrestling Podcast Talking WWE Raw, Payback – June 12, 2013

btrlogoBrian and Steve talk about Raw from Monday night including the Triple H vs. Vince McMahon argument, Ryback feuding with John Cena, Daniel Bryan facing Seth Rollins, Antonio Cesaro going forward, very little mention of CM Punk as well as the build up to this Sunday’s WWE Payback PPV and some predictions for that show too.

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Report: Bellator To Air on Fridays This Fall

Bellator-MMA-Onslaught-LogoBellator MMA will have a new weekly home this fall on Spike TV as it will be moving to Friday nights.

Loretta Hunt of SI.com broke the news after speaking with Spike TV President Kevin Kay.

Season 9 of Bellator will actually debut on Saturday, September 7 on Spike TV will will be the finale for the “Fight Master” reality show.  Then on September 13, the promotion will make the permanent move to Friday nights and will air weekly from 9:00-11:00p ET.

Kay admitted that with UFC airing weekly on Wednesday nights in the fall on Fox Sports 1 was part of the decision not to move to that night and instead opted for Fridays.

“I don’t want to see Bellator going head to head with the UFC,” Kay told SI.com. “I don’t think that makes any sense for fans. No matter who would win in that scenario, you don’t want to not give the fans the choice to watch both.”

Staying on Thursday nights was not a viable option either as the promotion did not want to go head-to-head with the NFL.

While “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show did some of its lowest ratings while on Friday nights, Kay told SI.com that he thinks Bellator will be able to hold up on that night.

The Ultimate Fighter on Fridays was doing over a million viewers a week. I’ll take that, and with live fights, I think we’ll do even better,” said Kay.

‘Monday Night Raw’ Review – 6/10/2013

hhhaxelRaw opened up strong last night, delivering on Triple H’s promise from last week to start the show off by fighting Curtis Axel. Vince’s interference here by flexing his “Chairman of the Board” role here was great, Triple H restarting the match as a 60-minute Iron Man match was hilarious, and the segment went on exactly as long as it needed to. It peaked my interest as a viewer. Plus, I like the way Curtis Axel was highlighted here in a secondary role. He looks major league being in a segment with both Vince and Triple H.

Unfortunately, the rest of the show failed to deliver on this set-up. While I initially gave the storyline a “good” last night, a few things didn’t settle well with me. First, why was Stephanie McMahon playing peace-keeper the rest of the night, whenever she was the one last week denying Triple H the right to wrestle? Secondly, the last segment of the night, with the “group hug” between the three, seemed to be played more for laughs than anything else. It was entertaining, but did little to raise the stakes between Vince and Triple H. I expected more.

 

Chris Jericho cut a fantastic promo on CM Punk.  If you listened closely, though, you probably realized this was a face vs. face build, with all the talk of respect, etc.  Then the CM Punk chants broke out. For anybody doubting Punk’s return as a good guy, revisit this segment from last night. Either way, these two should put on an epic contest this Sunday.

The Team Hell No/Randy Orton Situation took an interesting turn last night. Booking Bryan and Orton in a match together this Sunday creates high-drama between the two. I’m just glad WWE actually took the time to give us a reason why these guys should be challenging for the respective championships.

Fandango was probably the biggest loser coming out of Raw. Putting Axel in his place on Sunday was a great booking decision in my eyes, and I think he’s the odds-on favorite to walk away with the win. It was also an unexpected surprise.  However, I suspect that this was originally the plan intended for Fandango, and wonder what his storyline will be once he returns.

The Divas Division was promoted effectively last night.  I anticipated this segment, with Kaitlyn’s admirer revealing himself, would suck. When Big E came out, my greatest fears were realized. However, seeing him (literally) drop Kaitlyn in the middle of the ring made me gasp in surprise, and when AJ came out, everything finally clicked.

These two ladies are doing all they can to make the fans care about women’s wrestling in WWE again. AJ’s promo on Kaitlyn was entertaining, energetic, and showed a sign of life that’s been missing in the Diva’s Division for years. I’m actually looking forward to seeing these two fight.

 

The Ryback-Cena confrontation was hyped all night, and I think it delivered in a way these two haven’t before. Ryback seemed confident on the mic, and John Cena brought back his serious voice. I know the lumberjacks were strictly there to sell the stipulation on Sunday, but I liked how they were effectively booked to keep either man from looking dominant when these two finally got their hands on each other. Having everybody in the ring was a great visual to end the show on, and should stick with potential PPV buyers throughout the week.  I always say that less is more with Cena, and last night was proof.

 

The overall show was lighter on wrestling this week, but heavier on story. Considering that WWE had only announced 3 matches for the PPV this Sunday, the company needed to start promoting something if it expected the fans to care. Luckily, the show proved very entertaining from top to bottom. While some feuds show obvious signs of being rushed (I’m looking at you, Kane-Ambrose), others culminated in exciting ways.  Plus, the show had a number of surprises to keep viewers intrigued.

It wasn’t the greatest Raw of all time, and wrestling-only fans were probably disappointed (at least Bryan & Rollins put on a great show), but WWE gave viewers a reason to care about the product again. If you missed last night, make sure you catch the highlights.

WWE Raw Highlights – June 10th, 2013

rawHere’s a quick look at tonight’s very entertaining edition of Raw.  Be sure to check back tomorrow for a more in-depth review of everything important that took place, along with a few more thoughts and opinions. [Read more...]

Report: WWE Superstar Fandango Out with Concussion

fandangoWWE.com is reporting that Fandango is currently sidelined due to a concussion.  He suffered the concussion during the Smackdown taping last Tuesday.

While Fandango has passed his impact test, he has to pass other tests before he will be cleared to return to the ring.

Fandango was scheduled to face Wade Barrett and The Miz in a triple threat match for the Intercontinental Championship at Sunday’s Payback pay-per-view.  However, his involvement in the match in now up in the air due to his concussion.

It is not certain if he will appear on Raw tonight but the situation will be addressed on the show.

Video: Jon Fitch Responds to Dana White Regarding Fighter Pay

That didn’t take long for Jon Fitch to respond to Dana White.

The World Series of Fighting fighter responded to White’s saying that Fitch made $302,000 in discretionary bonuses in his UFC tenure.

Fitch stated in the video he released this morning stating that he was paid a total of $1,022,000 for his 18 bouts with the promotion and a”bout $300,000 in bonuses,” which he said brought his total payout to $1,322,000.

In an interview with MMAJunkie.com last week, White stated that Fitch was “delusional”, when Fitch said that the UFC was a “hostile work environment” during last week’s World Series of Fighting conference call.

World Series of Fighting 3 takes on Friday night from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Watch the video above.

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Between The Ropes Raw Preview Podcast – June 10, 2013

wwe logoBrian and Steve preview tonight’s edition of Raw including if Triple H will square off against Curtis Axel, Kaitlyn’s secret admirer, Dolph Ziggler’s return, if CM Punk will be on the show, what will happen between John Cena and Ryback, the lineup for this Sunday’s Payback PPV, heel and babyface turns in WWE, Mark Henry’s Twitter rant and Hulk Hogan’s recent comments on Twitter as well.

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WWE Creative Changes Mean New Possible Matchups

Randy OrtonProbably the most intriguing storyline WWE has headed into Monday Night Raw (and potentially continuing into Payback and beyond) is Randy Orton’s status with the fans. His actions on Friday Night Smackdown this week left another fan favorite, Daniel Bryan, laid out in the middle of the ring as a victim of the RKO.

But wait, weren’t they also just teasing a Daniel Bryan heel turn?

What about CM Punk, who left the night after Wrestlemania as arguably the top heel in the company, and is likely to return next Sunday with the loudest ovation of the night?

More importantly, what does all of this mean for the WWE product heading forward?

Rumors are flying that the WWE could look very different by the time we reach Summerslam. The company recently fired its head of creative, and shaking up fan allegiances could go a long way in making the company feel fresh… again. With ratings sagging and PPV Buyrates down, WWE is desperate for any spark it can find.

Randy Orton turning against the fans make sense, and opens up a world of entertaining matchups with baby faces like Daniel Bryan, Chris Jericho, and Kane. It’s also been long enough that WWE might be able to revisit the Cena-Orton playbook. Additionally, we haven’t seen Orton take on the ‘bad guy’ persona in a while, a role which he seems to prefer. And after the recent punt-kick on Big Show at Extreme Rules, and his actions on Friday Night, it would honestly feel like a disappointment if creative didn’t follow-through.

Punk returning as a fan favorite, then, seems logical. First, He’s proven during the first part of his epic title-run that he can carry carry the company as the number 2 babyface. Secondly, seeing him turn on Heyman, whom he doesn’t really need as a mouthpiece anyway, could make for great television. Punk could feud with Curtis Axel, making Axel look like a star in the process, and eventually set his sights on Brock Lesnar. A fight between these two would look great on the Summerslam card.

Looking at Daniel Bryan, he’s a complete wild card, so anything is possible. I just hope WWE capitalizes on his popularity in a positive way. The company needs to understand that Bryan needs freedom, not over-management, to realize his full potential.

These are obviously just a few of the possible booking options. WWE has a lot of in-ring talent at its disposal, and a lot of tv time to fill. And since heels seem to get over a little easier than similar face wrestlers (see: Fandango), this might be a good time for the company to change the landscape a little. Babyfaces sell merchandise, but entertaining heels sell pay-per-views.

New matchups don’t necessarily equal bigger ratings, and they do little to fix the other problems plaguing the company. But they might be enough to remind people why WWE is the number one professional wrestling company in the world. That seems like a step in the right direction to me.

Between The Ropes MMA Podcast Reviewing UFC on Fuel 10 – June 9, 2013

UFC-on-Fuel-TVBrian and Steve talk about UFC on Fuel 10 which was the night of submissions, the various fights on the show, the heavyweight division going forward, having shows in Brazil, if cards are stacked in favor of Brazilian fighters there, Brian Bowles suspension and fighters still getting in trouble for PED’s and more.

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WWE Smackdown Rundown – June 7th, 2013

wwe smackdown logoAnother great outing for Friday Night Smackdown, with all the right elements of an entertaining pro-wrestling show. Let’s dig in. [Read more...]

Video: TNA Debut of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson Facing Off With Kurt Angle

It didn’t take long for Quinton “Rampage” Jackson to start his new job.

During Wednesday’s press conference to announce Jackson’s signing a deal with Bellator and TNA Impact Wrestling, TNA President Dixie Carter said Jackson would be at last night’s TNA Impact Wrestling show in Atlanta. No one knew though what Jackson was going to do on the show.

It looks like the company has big plans for the former UFC light heavyweight champion.

Jackson was doing an in-ring interview with Jeremy Borash to discuss coming to TNA. Then former TNA and WWE champion Kurt Angle came out to cut a promo on Jackson.

Watch the video above and give us your thoughts on Jackson’s debut.

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Slammiversary Score Card + How Pay Per View Events Are Going to Be Recapped


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Before I begin, I would first like to acknowledge that I did indeed intend – and fail – at trying to complete this post on Monday after the event had taken place. The beauties of a 12 hour work day without the ability to take my computer with me kept me from accomplishing this goal. However, rather than post nothing for a pay-per-view recap I figured that this delay would give me the perfect chance to introduce a new method of recapping pay-per-view events.

So, here is the plan. On the Friday or Saturday before the event of Sunday I will make my previews and predictions on who I think will the matches taking place and/or if anything interesting or of note will be going on. Later in the week after the event I will stack my predictions up against the actual results of the event and assigned an averaged score on my ability to predict pay-per-view events for the year. The ultimate goal is to look at the end of the year and find out how predictable the pay-per-view offerings have gotten and what that means for the creative direction of either company. This way the “results” posts aren’t merely a list of who won what match but instead a way of looking at the direction of the monthly (or quarterly in TNA’s case) pay-per-views.

To get us started, let’s look at how I did with this past Sunday’s Slammiversary event for TNA.

TNA World Heavyweight Championship: Bully Ray (c) def. Sting. I predicted Bully Ray and was correct in my prediction for a point.

TNA Television Championship: Abyss def. Devon (c). I’m not going to give myself a point on this one. I did predict an appearance by Abyss but I didn’t see him taking the title from Devon.

TNA Tag Team Championship Four-Way Elimination Match: Gunner and James Storm def. Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez (c), Bad Influence (Kazarian & Christopher Daniels), and Bobby Roode & Austin Aries. I’m going to give myself half a point on this one since I made this my secondary guess choice for the result.

TNA X Division Championship Ultimate X Match: Chris Sabin def. Kenny King (c) and Suicide. Again I was not even close on this one and assign myself no points.

Last Knockout Standing Match: Taryn Terrell def. Gail Kim. While I had a feeling about this one, I still assign myself no credit.

Six-Man Tag Team Match: Jeff Hardy, Magnus, and Samoa Joe def. Aces & Eights (Wes Brisco, D.O.C. & Garrett Buschoff). No points as I was assuming this was going to be the other match the Aces & Eights ran away with on the card.

Singles Match: Kurt Angle def. A.J. Styles. The final match on my predictions did not go in my favor.

This leaves my percentage score for the pay-per-view at 16%. Hopefully this means that TNA is looking at trying something different with what were previously their very paint-by-numbers pay-per-view events. The next event up on the schedule is WWE Payback taking place one week from this SUnday, June 16. Check back then for full predictions and see how I am at guessing a WWE event.

Bellator Signs UK TV Deal

Bellator-MMA-Onslaught-LogoBellator is making more waves as today the MMA promotion announce a television deal with VIVA in the United Kingdom.  The first show will take place on June 19.

Below is the press release from Bellator:

Newport Beach, CA. (June 6, 2013) – Bellator MMA will now be available on television for the first time to the many passionate mixed martial arts fans in the UK, as it was announced today by Bjorn Rebney, Bellator CEO and Kevin Kay, Spike TV President. Viacom’s popular VIVA channel will begin airing live Bellator fights on Wednesday June 19 as part of the MMA league’s summer series tournament featuring a stacked card including King Mo, “Babalu” Sobral and War Machine.  In September, VIVA will telecast Bellator MMA’s 9th season.

Bellator’s foray into the UK market increases their global reach to 116 countries and territories. Available in every one of the UK’s 26 million TV households, VIVA has one of the highest profiles amongst 16 to 34-year-olds of any UK channel, with 50% of its audience comprised of that hard-to-reach demographic and one in four of that age group in the UK – 3.7 million viewers – tuning in to the channel each month.  Bellator is the first mixed martial arts franchise to be televised on the channel.

“We are thrilled to finally bring the pure excitement of Bellator MMA to the legions of dedicated and knowledgeable mixed martial arts fans in the UK,” remarked Rebney. “Our long awaited expansion into the UK, one of the world’s MMA hot beds further illustrates our continued ascension in the MMA world.

“This deal is game changer in the UK, giving Bellator the widest and deepest distribution of any MMA promotion in the marketplace,” said Kay.

Recently, Bellator MMA announced the signings of three of the UK’s top MMA fighters, Martin Stapleton, Rob Sinclair and Paul Sass. With the VIVA deal in place, Bellator will continue to aggressively pursue top British fighting talent.