U.S. Marine Corps severs ties with UFC

The United States Marine Corps has ended its sponsorship agreement with the UFC.

First reported by Stars and Stripes, the service severed its three-year partnership with the MMA organization after their contract expired Nov. 30. It follows mounting pressure from members of Congress to halt military sponsorships of professional sports.

Women’s groups and Unite Here — a labor union representing 250,000 workers in the hotel, gaming, food service and various industries that has long targeted UFC owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, who also own Station Casinos in Las Vegas — had also been critical of the agreement.

Unite Here, embroiled in a disagreement with the Fertittas for their anti-union management of their casinos, has in turn blasted the UFC for some of its fighters making homophobic and sexist remarks.

According to Stars and Stripes, Marine Corps Recruiting Command spokesman Major John Caldwell said the contract was not renewed because the Corps is shifting the money to other endeavors.

“Due to evolving mission requirements, budgetary constraints, marketing analysis and the recommendation of our contracted advertising agency, resources previously allocated to the endeavor have been applied to alternate priorities,” Caldwell said.

Commercials featuring the Marine Corps had become customary during episodes of the UFC reality show “The Ultimate Fighter” on the FX and Spike networks the past few seasons.

In July, the U.S. Army announced it was discontinuing its NASCAR sponsorship after 10 years, citing a reallocation of its marketing budget.

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Dan Henderson’s coach: Ronda Rousey doesn’t deserve to headline UFC 157

Gus Pugliese, the striking coach for Dan Henderson, doesn’t appear to be a fan of the lineup for UFC 157.

Henderson will be facing former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida in the co-main event Feb. 23 at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

But the headliner is newly crowned UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, who is taking on Liz Carmouche in what will be the first women’s bout in UFC history.

UFC President Dana White is obviously aware of Rousey’s tremendous marketing potential and her Southern California roots — she lives in Venice and trains with Gokor Chivichyan of Team Hayastan in North Hollywood; Edmond Tarverdyan at Glendale Fighting Club; and Leo Frincu at Results Personal Training in Sherman Oaks and SK Golden Boys Wrestling Club in Van Nuys.

But Pugliese doesn’t see it that way — or at least he didn’t when he posted this yesterday to Facebook:

Look for this to be addressed when White and Rousey meet the media Wednesday in Burbank to promote tickets going on sale for UFC 157.

This story was first reported by Gracie Mag.

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Vinc Pichel suffers defeat in UFC debut

Vinc Pichel knew Rustam Khabilov was a Combat Sambo World Champion coming into their lightweight bout the preliminary card of “The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale” on Saturday at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Safe to say, Pichel didn’t expect to be rendered unconscious after some textbook suplexes.
In the UFC debut for both fighters, Khabilov was able to secure Pichel’s back and deliver three overhead suplexes — the third planting Pichel on his head to leave him dazed. Khabilov followed with a series of punches to the defenseless Pichel before the fight was stopped at 2:14 of the first round.
Afterward, Khabilov (15-1) described the suplex as an “elementary sambo technique.” And then there was this tweet today:

Pichel, a Sherman Oaks resident fighting out of Big John McCarthy’s Ultimate Training Academy in Valencia, suffered his first loss in eight pro fights. He was philosophical and displayed a sense of humor afterward:

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Papazian knows UFC career hangs in balance after TUF Finale loss

Local MMA fighter Jared Papazian suffered a tough defeat Saturday in the Octagon at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Making his debut at flyweight, Papazian dropped a unanimous decision to Tim Elliott (by scores of 30-25, 30-25, 30-26) in the opening bout of of “The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale”. The El Camino Real High grad had one point deducted in the first round after an illegal knee caught Elliott in the face while his opponent was seated. Elliott shook it off and cut Papazian with some elbows in the first round before knocking him down in the second.

Elliott continued to punish Papazian with some ground and pound in the third round to record the shutout. The two were rumored to have a skirmish after the weigh-ins Friday and had to be separated after the fight. However, this post-fight photo by Darin Harvey, Papazian’s manager, spoke volumes:

Papazian’s aggressive style paid off in one significant way: He and Elliott were each awarded $40,000 bonuses for Fight of the Night.

After the fight, Papazian tweeted:

The loss drops Papazian to 14-9 in his MMA career but 0-3 in the UFC, which is usually doom for someone’s career. The 125-pounder certainly knew what was at stake going into the fight and seemed to know his fate Monday:

Some of Papazian’s fans took to Twitter to campaign on his behalf, even pointing out to UFC President Dana White and UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby that despite the three losses, two were worthy of Fight of the Night bonuses.

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UFC on FOX predictions

Here are our predictions for the main card for tonight’s UFC on FOX (5 p.m., Ch.11).

Mike Swick (15-4) vs Matt Brown (15-11)

(Swick -160 vs. Brown +130)

After a year and a half off because of an illness, Swick made a triumphant return to the Octagon in August with a devastating KO of DaMarques Johnson at Staples Center. Brown enters this welterweight fight with consecutive defeats of Luiz Ramos, Stephen Thompson and Chris Cope. Brown is one tough guy who never disappoints. Swick is quicker, and even though Johnson worked him over well on the ground, we see Swick coming into this one rust-free and full of confidence. Winner: Swick by second-round submission

BJ Penn (16-8-2) vs Rory MacDonald (13-1)

(MacDonald -300 vs. Penn +240)

Two fighters heading in opposite directions. Penn, 34, is one of the sport’s legends but has just one win in his past five fights. He hasn’t fought since getting picked apart more than 13 months ago in a unanimous-decision loss to Nick Diaz. And this fight is at 170 pounds. As for MacDonald, this poses a fair test for the 23-year-old Canadian. He’s riding a three-fight win streak after a unanimous decision over Nate Diaz and TKOs of Mike Pyle and Che Mills. No reason for this one not to go the same way for the bigger, younger fighter. We want this fight to be close, but don’t expect it will be. Winner: MacDonald by second-round TKO

Mauricio Rua (21-6) vs Alexander Gustafsson (14-1)

(Gustafsson -220 vs. Rua +170)

Rua put forth an incredible effort in August at Staples Center with a fourth-round TKO of Brandon Vera. He showed toughness and heart and tagged Vera with some shots and kicks that would’ve felled a colt. However, ‘Shogun’ hasn’t won consecutive fights in three-and-half years. Granted, his fight card is impressive since defeating Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell in 2009 — Lyoto Machida (L), Machida (W), Jon Jones (L), Forrest Griffin (W), Dan Henderson (L) and Vera (W). And now comes the Swedish sensation in Gustaffson, who is loaded with potential. ‘The Mauler’ has won five in a row and could cinch his spot among the light-heavyweight elite with a victory tonight. There’s much to like about Gustaffson, but we’ll go with the veteran. Gotta pick an upset somewhere, right? Winner: Rua by split decision

Benson Henderson (17-2) vs Nate Diaz (16-7)

(Henderson -140 vs. Diaz +110)

There’s a reason why the lightweight champ is nicknamed ‘Smooth.’ A quick, fluid fighter, Henderson makes it look so effortless in the Octagon. He’s lost just once in the past five-and-a-half years (a UD loss to Anthony Pettis in the WEC two years ago) and has won all of his fights in the UFC. He hasn’t finished a fight in almost three years, but he has decision victories over Marc Bocek, Jim Miller, Clay Guida and Frankie Edagr (twice). Diaz has been reborn as a lightweight. The younger brother of Nick Diaz made a name for himself by winning ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ in 2007. After struggling a bit, Diaz tested the waters at welterweight before moving back to 155 pounds. A first-round armbar victory over Takanori Gomi raised some eyebrows, but it was his dominating, unanimous-decision win over Donald Cerrone last year and dismantling of Miller via second-round guillotine choke in May that caught everyone’s attention. We see this one going to the judges’ cards, with the quicker, stronger Henderson implementing his superior wrestling and staying out of Diaz’s slick submissions off his back. Winner: Henderson by unanimous decision

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Sara McMann reacts to Rousey-Carmouche fight

Undefeated Sara McMann was long thought to be a future opponent for Strikeforce bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.

Then when Rousey became the first female to sign a contract to fight in the UFC, McMann was still considered a worthy foe.

UFC President Dana White, however, announced Thursday that Liz Carmouche would get the shot at Rousey’s UFC 135-pound belt at UFC 157 at Honda Center in Anaheim on Feb. 23.

McMann, who like Rousey has a decorated Olympic background as the first American woman to receive a silver medal in women’s wrestling at the 2004 Games in Athens, welcomed the news Thursday evening.

McMann (6-0) changed her tune a bit Friday morning after hearing she had reportedly declined to fight Rousey.

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Miesha Tate reacts to Rousey-Carmouche fight … and she’s not happy

Miesha Tate

Former Strikeforce bantamweight champion Miesha Tate took to Twitter at 3:36 p.m. Thursday after learning the first women’s fight in UFC history would between UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey (who defeated Tate for the Strikeforce belt via armbar in the first round in March) and Liz Carmouche.

By 6:55 p.m., Tate was not happy to learn Rousey had said Tate had turned down a title shot.


One minute later Tate addressed a comment by UFC President Dana White …

The Twitter flurry continued Friday morning when someone pointed out to White that Tate claimed she never turned down a fight with Rousey:


Tate replied about an hour later:



During those tweets, however, White weighed in with perhaps the final word:

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Ronda Rousey UFC press conference

Ronda Rousey shows off her UFC bantamweight championship belt during a news conference, Thursday Dec. 6, 2012 in Seattle, Wash. UFC president Dana White handed out the belt, saying the former Strikeforce title-holder will make her UFC debut on Feb. 23 against Liz Carmouche. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Neil Davidson)

Here are some of the highlights from Thursday’s UFC press conference in Seattle to promote the UFC on Fox card (5 p.m. Saturday, Ch. 11).

UFC President Dana White brought out Ronda Rousey, the first UFC women’s champion, presented her with her bantamweight belt and announced the first women’s bout in UFC history would be Rousey (6-0) vs. Liz Carmouche (7-2) as the main event at UFC 157 on Feb. 23 at Honda Center in Anaheim.

Among the topics for White and Rousey: Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, Carmouche, Miesha Tate and Sara McMann, coaching on “The Ultimate Fighter,” dating and privacy/being recognized:

Why isn’t Cyborg the first fight?
Dana White: That was obviously the fight we wanted to make. We wanted to do that at 135 pounds and we worked hard to make that fight. I believe this fight will happen and I truly believe the next one will be the Cyborg fight. This is fight first, then the Cyborg fight.

Why Liz Carmouche? Why not Sara McMann or Miesha Tate?
Dana White: Let me put it to you this way: You guys know how when you ask me these questions and I tell you the truth? A lot of people don’t like the truth when I say it. But that’s who wanted to fight her. Believe me, people aren’t kicking down the doors at Zuffa to fight her.

Is a part of you a little disappointed the first fight is not against Cyborg?
Ronda Rousey: No, it’s going to happen eventually. I can’t make these girls fight me when I want them to fight me. I got a lot of respect for Liz. She’s the only one who really stepped up and said she wanted this fight right now. It speaks a lot to her. When the other girls come around, when they actually want to come to the big show, they know where I’m at.

Can you talk about what this means, now that you are officially the face of women’s MMA, what this means for all the ladies out there who aspire to be champions like yourself?
Ronda Rousey: You know what? It’s funny. I don’t ever get nervous for stuff like this. I didn’t even know about this till this morning. I don’t know, man. I don’t even know what to make of it. It means a lot. And I feel like we have a lot to prove at this event and no one’s gonna be disappointed and I think the women are here to stay and we’re gonna prove it.

What did you make of Cyborg’s announcement that she could make 135 after so long of saying she couldn’t make 135?
Ronda Rousey: I wasn’t the least bit surprised. I know she can make 135 and so does she. It just takes her a little bit while to realize that this is the only option she has and it took her a little bit while because I think she’s not that bright. When she does sit down and thinks about it and whatever, then we’ll actually have the only fight that makes sense.

(Post press conference)

Ronda Rousey: I think it’s really funny that when me and Miesha were supposed to fight, she was going on and on that I didn’t deserve a fight and now she doesn’t want to fight me. And I also think it’s really funny that Sara McMann was telling people that I was running away from her but then she turns down a fight for the UFC title. I mean, come on. These girls talk up a really big game but they don’t really want to come into the cage and fight me. So I’m here, I got this (the belt). They want it? They know where I’m at.

What are your thoughts on coaching a season of TUF?
Ronda Rousey: I think that would be very, very cool.

Would you want to coach the men?
Ronda Rousey: You know, I don’t know if it’d be more fun coaching the men than the women. I think it’d be really great for people to see a woman coaching the men, But I also think it’s be a really great platform for women fighters to have. And I think it’d be hilarious to see my coach lose his mind having to deal with other girls,. Because I don’t really give him that much trouble, but I can’t wait for some girl to come up to him, “I have cramps, Coach. I can’t fight.” I would just love to see his reaction to that cuz he would just lose his mind. So that would be entertaining. They would both be entertaining. I’d be down for either.

Dana, would you be open to something like that?
Dana White: Yeah, obviously. Listen, she’s a world champion. What do you see on TUF? You see world champions as head coaches. Listen, I’m in, man. I’m sold.

Do you have a boyfriend?
Ronda Rousey: No, I’m very hard to date. …

Are men intimidated to date you because they know you can beat the **** out of them?
Ronda Rousey: You know what? If a guy was too intimidated to ask me out, then that’s probably not a guy I’d want to date anyway. So, saves me the time.

Would you date a fighter?
Ronda Rousey: It would be very difficult. I kinda don’t want to dip in the company too much. You know I mean? I don’t wanna date anybody who if I never wanted to see them again, I couldn’t. So fighters, I would have to see again forever, so I don’t know.
Dana White: That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that question at a press conference. “Are you dating anybody?”
Ronda Rousey (laughing): If it had to be a fighter, it would have to be … I don’t know. They’d have to try really hard.

How have you been able to keep any of your life to yourself? You’re in demand so much with the champ belt. How have things changed?
Ronda Rousey: It’s hard to keep things private, to have privacy. But you know, I’m just more wary of who I talk to and what I say. I need to know who I can trust and who I can just be around. Making that distinction about people who are trustworthy or not is the biggest change.

When you walk down the street, do you get recognized a lot these days?
Ronda Rousey: It depends on where. If I’m in Vegas, it’s everywhere. If I’m at home, not so much. I went to Jamestown, North Dakota, where I grew up, and no one had a clue who I was and I thought it was actually pretty cool. It’s different where I’m at. I like that it comes and goes and it’s not like that all the time.

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