The Bellator Summer Series Featherweight Tournament is coming to a close tonight in Uncasville, Connecticut as finalists Pat Curran (14-4) and Marlon Sandro (19-2) meet in the main event to decide who will take on the winner of Bellator Featherweight Champion Joe Warren (7-1) vs. “Pitbull” Patricio Freire (9-1). Supporting the main event is a match-up in the heavyweight division that was originally scheduled to take place several months ago but was forced back due to injury as Bellator Heavyweight Champion “The Polar Bear” Cole Konrad (7-0) makes his return to the cage after capturing the title last fall against UFC and Strikeforce veteran “The Headhunter” Paul Buentello (28-13) in a non-title bout. Buentello is 1-3 in his past four fights while Konrad is coming in undefeated with the hunger to defeat a veteran like Buentello. “The Headhunter” will have to pull the rabbit out of his hat and gain a win in order to breathe life back into his career. In the 205lbs. division former UFC Heavyweight Champion and re-amped “Suave” Ricco Rodriguez (47-11), will meet King of the Cage, EliteXC, and UFC veteran “The Silverback” Seth Petruzelli (13-6). With Rodriguez riding a 12-fight win streak and Petruzelli finally snapping his recent two-fight skid with a first-round TKO victory this match has all the makings of a “Fight of the Night”.
Though Zuffa President Dana White denies that a deal is done, many sources have reported that the UFC has at least reached a handshake arrangement with global network TV giant FOX. While the ink hasn’t dried, if in fact it has even been put on the paper yet, the implications of such a deal would be monumental for the UFC and MMA as a whole. For reference, EliteXC managed to bring in over 6.5 million peak viewers with an average of over four million views to its EliteXC: Kimbo vs. Thompson card (also known as EliteXC: Primetime) that aired on NBC in 2008, the highest rated MMA broadcast ever. The UFC has never managed to bring over one million average viewers to Versus or Spike with a single card. That is the power of a network TV deal. EliteXC, an organization that was barely considered to be at the Bellator level, managed to pull four million more views to “Kimbo Slice” Kevin Ferguson (4-2) than the UFC did on Spike TV with his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter. Imagine what the ratings will be when the Zuffa hype and marketing machine backs Brock Lesnar (5-2) or “Rush” Georges St. Pierre (22-2) to headline a card on everyone’s local FOX station. While one could hardly hope for the 106 million viewers the Superbowl pulls in, the 11.6 million that tuned into the NFC Wildcard game last year is hardly unrealistic for a Pay-Per-View level UFC event. What this means is that MMA isn’t fighting to be mainstream, it is mainstream – and now there may be a direct comparison between the NFL, the NBA, MLB, the NHL, and the UFC.
“The Pitbull” Andrei Arlovski (14-9) is undoubtedly and by large considered one of the most skilled and dangerous heavyweight MMA fighters of all time. The 1st Razryad International Master in Sambo has seen a lot of glory in his 11-year mixed martial arts career, having been the Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion and later promoted to the undisputed UFC Heavyweight Champion, taking out some of the most formidable opponents in his weight class along the way. Some of those who have succumbed to Arlovski’s fighting prowess are “The Janitor” Vladimir Matyushenko (25-5), “Cabbage” Wesley Correira (19-15), “The Maine-Iac” Tim Sylvia (28-7), “The Executioner” Paul Buentello (28-13), “Vai Cavalo” Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1), “Irish” Jake O’Brien (13-3), “Big” Ben Rothwell (27-7), and “Big Country” Roy Nelson (15-5). “The Pitbull” has built an impressive legacy and all the while has maintained his status as a fan favorite.
The California Amateur Martial Arts Organization (CAMO) was voted to be the governing body for amateur MMA in California by the California State Athletic Commission. Prior to this vote amateur MMA was basically illegal and the only events were “smokers” held at gyms. CAMO’s policies and fees are essentially putting an end to something that never truly existed in the state and is forcing young fighters to go pro well before they are ready.