Tuesday, July 18, 2006

WFA Prepares for “King of the Streets” Saturday

LOS ANGELES – The World Fighting Alliance, seeking to establish itself as legitimate opposition to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, held a media day Tuesday to promote its first pay-per-view event this Saturday. WFA has gained exposure through Showtime, ESPN and other outlets, and local CBS and ABC affiliates were present. Saturday’s event, titled “King of the Streets,” is headlined by Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Matt “The Law” Lindland and “El Guapo” Bas Rutten vs. Kimo Leopoldo.

The fight between Jackson and Lindland is an intriguing style matchup. Jackson is naturally the bigger man, and has fought at 205 pounds for most of his career. He scored an impressive win over current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell, and has defeated other top contenders including the only light heavyweight to defeat Pride Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva in the past five years, Ricardo Arona.

Lindland, one of the best fighters in the world at 185 pounds, is moving up in weight class to take on Jackson. A world class wrestler and Olympic silver medalist, Lindland has been able to utilize his wrestling to defeat many top of the line opponents, including Joe Doerksen, Phil Baroni and Pat Miletich. He will have the wrestling edge, but Jackson’s size and striking skill might prove to be too much for Lindland.

Jackson has been training at Big Bear for this fight, and looks as good as he ever has physically. In an intense and less comedic mood, Jackson noted, “I don’t want to lose to this guy. This is the last guy on Earth I want to lose to.” He added, “Last year wasn’t one of my best years, and I plan on making 2006 the best year. This is the most confident I’ve felt in a long time.”

Tito Ortiz has been training with Jackson as well as WFA fighter Rob McCullough, and will be at the event on Saturday. He said that he likes what he has seen from Jackson, “If he sticks to his game and is dangerous as usual, he should shred straight through Lindland.” Ortiz is pleased to see the rise of organizations like WFA, observing, “As more promotions come about, it makes it a better game for the world to see.” Ortiz, one of the few fighters to publicly raise the issue of fighter pay, wants to see all fighting organizations flourish for obvious reasons: “I want to see the fighters get paid what they deserve to be paid.”

“The Fight Professor” Stephen Quadros will be doing commentary on the event, along with former WCW World Champion Bill Goldberg and veteran boxing announcer Barry Tompkins. He sees the weight difference as being the key to the fight: “I think the onus or burden or weight, and that’s the key word…is on the weight issue.” Quadros feels that “it’s not going to be about wrestling. If it was, Matt Lindland would surely take the match. But when you add strikes, and you add that intangible force of street combat, I think Quinton’s got the advantage in that [fight].”

The second marquee match of the evening will feature the return of Bas Rutten to mixed martial arts after an over seven year hiatus. Rutten, one of the legends of the sport, retired as UFC champion in 1999 with a 20 match winning streak. He faces Kimo, another veteran of mixed martial arts who has stayed active over the years while Rutten has focused on training, announcing, and other endeavors.

WFA CEO Jeremy Lappen describes the contest as “a bad blood matchup. These guys don’t like each other. They both have something to prove.” The advantage standing is with Bas Rutten, which means Kimo will be going for the takedown early. Stephen Quadros says that Kimo’s “shot is to take Bas down, get on top, I don’t think he’s going to be able to submit him, so he’s going to need to ground and pound…If he stands even one second too long it could be over, because Bas has that one strike, one kill thing going on.” Kimo will be looking to play spoiler in the popular Rutten’s return.

Highly respected Antonio Inoki protege Lyoto Machida will be making his American MMA debut against Lion’s Den fighter Vernon White. Lyoto, who holds wins over B.J. Penn, Stephan Bonnar and Rich Franklin, has not been showcased in either Pride or UFC, and thus is not well known outside hardcore fight fans. This could be his coming out party for a segment of the MMA fan base.

Rising striker Rob McCullough will face Hawaiian Harris Sarmiento in a rematch of a controversial 2004 fight that went to Sarmiento via decision. Tito Ortiz predicts that McCullough will “crush him,” observing, “He’s been making his game better for MMA, and now he’s been taking people out a couple minutes here and a couple minutes there. Guys aren’t lasting with him.” McCullough is confident but doesn’t have any bold predictions: “I never look for a knockout but if it comes it comes. I hope he’s ready to go to war because I am.”

Also on the card, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Ricco Rodriguez will rematch powerful Ron “H2O” Waterman, UFC veteran Ivan Salaverry will take on colorful Team Quest fighter Art Santore, experienced veteran Marvin Eastman will battle rising Chute Boxe Jorge Oliveira, charismatic Jason “Mayhem” Miller will fight Ultimate Fighter alumnus Lodune Sincaid, and highly respected Brazilian muay thai specialist Pele Landi will compete.


Blogger 17Haze said...

Thanks...This is a nice rundown. I'm looking forward to getting this PPV. Hopefully the WFA can continue to bring in top notch fighters to compete with the UFC.

On another note, have u been seeing all the publicity the UFC has been getting on ESPN all of the sudden. From ESPN News to ESPN.com to "The Herd" on ESPN Radio the UFC has been everywhere. I was just wondering your thoughts on this and if you believe the highlights of these fights could soon be coming to Sportscenter and things like that.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

I really think so. I've been hyping MMA to everyone I know for a long time, just because I think it's better than any sport in the world without the possible exception of American football. I always thought it was inevitable that it would blow up, and it has. I think the rise will continue, and I would go so far as to say that MMA has a good shot at becoming the number two sport in America within the next 25 years. So yeah, I'm really optimistic. But we will see.

9:21 PM  
Blogger Rich O said...

I am intrigued by this new group and the top 2 matches...however, I don't see myself purchasing the PPV to watch a guy with such wrestling skills and no finishes who is so boring UFC let him go and 2 guys older then me who have basically been retired fight each other. I'll wait to hear the result and get the replay if deemed worthy or wait for the DVD. I await your report with bated breath.

As to the other comment about mainsteam sports media, it's been amazing. Ever since UFC invited the boxing media along with the build up of Ortiz/Shamrock 2 for education, it's like a veil has been listed. Ron Borges actually gave a run down of upcoming MMA matches (not giving much insight into them tho) in his semi-regular boxing notes column in the Bosotn Globe!! Boy, I hope the Lidell/Babalu card is better then the last one so as NOT to lose this momentum

6:55 AM  

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