‘THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER 18′: Cat Zingano out, Miesha Tate in to coach, fight against champion Ronda Rousey

A knee injury has sidelined Cat Zingano and created what could be the most highly anticipated rematch in the brief history of women’s MMA.

Miesha Tate will step up and coach against UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey on the 18th season of the UFC reality show ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ according to the organization, and will also take Zingano’s spot in fighting for the title in December.

Zingano defeated Tate with a third-round stoppage April 14 to earn the ‘TUF’ coaching spot opposite Rousey as well as a crack at Rousey’s belt. But Zingano tore her anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in her right knee earlier this month, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole, who broke the story.

Zingano underwent surgery Tuesday and hopes to resume training in six to nine months. Iole reported that Zingano has been told she will still receive a title shot.

Tate, who felt her loss against Zingano was an early stoppage, gets a chance to avenge losing the Strikeforce bantamweight championship to Rousey in March 2012.

“This is what we really wanted all along,” Rousey told Yahoo! Sports. “Everyone said an Ultimate Fighter between me and Miesha would be the best. We have a personal history with each other and this is a personal show. For some reason, me and Miesha are intertwined in fate like Ali and Frazier or something like that.

“I think people will look back at this as one of monumental rivalries and look back at this as one of those things that really cemented women’s MMA.”

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UFC creates website to counter Culinary Union campaign

The long-standing feud between the UFC and the Culinary Worker Union Local 226 is about to pick up.

And the battleground won’t be found in Las Vegas or the Octagon, but on the internet.

For background, the Culinary Union — an affiliate of UNITE HERE — for years has attempted to unionize the employees of Station Casinos, a gaming and entertainment company in Las Vegas. The majority owners of Station Casinos are Frank Fertitta III and Lorenzo Fertitta, who are also majority owners of Zuffa LLC, the owner/operator of the UFC.

While Station Casinos and UFC are different legal entities with different sets of minority owners, the UFC has often been a prime source for attacks from the Culinary Union.

And perhaps in a shift from playing defense to assuming some semblance of offense, the UFC has created a website in what it says is an attempt to “correct those inaccuracies and set the record straight regarding the motivation for this campaign, while highlighting the UFC’s role as a strong community leader.”

From TheTruthAboutCulinary226.com

The Truth About Culinary 226 website provides information on Culinary Workers Union Local 226 (“Culinary Union”), an affiliate of UNITE HERE, ongoing campaign of harassment against the Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC®) and its partners, under the guise of concern about the conduct of some UFC fighters.  However, the Culinary Union’s actual agenda has nothing to do with such conduct.  This website’s purpose is to set the record straight regarding the true motivations of the Culinary Union’s smear campaign.

 

The UFC, with more than 400 athletes, is an occasional easy target. Hate speech, homophobic slurs, threats and off-color jokes from fighters — as well as questionable comments from UFC President Dana White — catch the attention of the Culinary Union, which points them out on Twitter (@FightFairMMA) and on a blog that plays off the MMA organization’s acronym called Unfit For Children.

The reason why this conflict is building now can be found in New York, where MMA has been banned since 1997. The UFC, recognizing the golden apple to be had in The Big Apple, is anxious to hold live shows in New York. The Culinary Union is quick to point out the million-plus dollars the UFC has spent on lobbying in New York, not to mention the various clergy and faith leaders and local politicians who want the ban upheld.

On its new website, the UFC details the history of the union, its anti-UFC campaign and how much money it has been spent along the way. And with union politics keeping the UFC from getting MMA legalized in New York, it’s no wonder the UFC has taken a more aggressive approach. Few things get White’s blood boiling or curse words flying than mention of the Culinary Union.

But don’t expect the Culinary Union to back down any time soon. This fight is going five rounds and beyond — with no knockout or tapout in sight.

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UFC champion Anderson Silva takes a $50,000 trip to Brazil

UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva was supposed to meet with several media outlets — including a luncheon with the Daily News and other newspapers and websites — on Tuesday as part of a promotional blitz for his title defense against Chris Weidman at UFC 162.

But emails went out late Tuesday afternoon that all media events with the king of the 185-pound division were being canceled.

“Due to unforeseen circumstances, he is flying home to Brazil a couple days early and will miss tomorrow’s UFC 162 press tour,” the email read.

Now news comes via the USA Today Sports that the UFC doesn’t take kindly to their stars skipping out on publicity events. And Silva’s trip to Brazil has been met with a stiff $50,000 fine by the UFC.

“We had a full media day set up for him in Los Angeles, and he just decided he didn’t want to do it, so he’s being fined $50,000,” UFC President Dana White told USA Today Sports’ John Morgan.

Silva, who has successfully defended his belt a UFC-record 10 times and is considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, takes on No. 1 contender Weidman (9-0) as the main event at UFC 162, which takes place July 6 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

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Ronda Rousey Metro PCS commercial

In case you missed it, Ronda Rousey’s Metro PCS commercial debuted Saturday during the UFC on Fox 7 broadcast.

Making cameos along with the UFC women’s bantamweight champion are training partner and MMA prospect Marina Shafir (Twitter: @MarinaShafir) and Ronda’s dog Mochi.

From the commercial: “Ronda Rousey loves her dog Mochi, pie a la mode and Joan of Arc.”

As far as we know, Mochi does not have a Twitter account, but the Dogo Argentino would no doubt have some interesting things to say.

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Marina Shafir — video of first two amateur fights

MMA fighter Marina Shafir will be making her third appearance as an amateur tonight when she faces Danielle Mack (0-2) in a 150-pound fight at Tuff-N-Uff: Mayhem in Mesquite II in Mesquite, Nev.

Shafir, who became good friends with UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey when they were teenagers competing for the United States in judo competitions, moved from Albany, N.Y., in December to live and train in Southern California with Rousey.

(See our story about Shafir from earlier in the week here)

Shafir did manage to get two amateur fights under belt before making the move though.

In her MMA debut, Shafir needed just 44 seconds to defeat Denise Goddard via armbar submission at Premier FC 9 – Battle to the Belt in May:

Then in November, Shafir showed an active guard and triumphed again with an armbar over Becky Lewis in 2:03 at Premier FC 12 – Premier Fighting Championship 12:

Hmmm … an elite judoka getting armbar submissions in the first round. Where have we seen that before?

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UFC champion Ronda Rousey signs deal with insureon

UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey has signed to become a spokeswoman for insureon, the nation’s leading online insurance agency for small businesses with more than 30,000 clients.

Plans are already underway for Rousey, who is managed by Darin Harvey, to appear in videos on insureon’s YouTube channel and on the insureon website.

“We believe Ronda’s mindset is the embodiment of what insureon’s products do for our small-business customers,” said Ted Devine, CEO of insureon, on prweb.com. “Nobody can defeat Ronda, and nobody can defeat a small business with appropriate insurance coverage. At insureon, we are committed to providing small businesses with the insurance products that protect their businesses from whatever risks they face. Our clients are fighting to support their families every day. Ronda embodies this fighting spirit.”

Rousey’s star continues to shine after she successfully defended her 135-pound title against Liz Carmouche in the first women’s fight in UFC history last month at UFC 157 at the Honda Center in Anaheim. The UFC recently announced Rousey (7-0) would serve as one of the coaches on the upcoming Season 18 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which for the first time will feature female coaches and male and female 135-pound fighters.

The opposing “TUF” coach will be determined April 13 as Miesha Tate (13-3) faces Cat Zingano (7-0) on the main card (live on FX) of “The Ultimate Fighter 17″ finale at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

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UFC champion Ronda Rousey talks Miesha Tate vs. Cat Zingano

We caught up with UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey to talk about the April 13 fight between Miesha “Cupcake” Tate and Cat “Alpha” Zingano.

Not only will the winner of the Tate-Zingano contest get a shot at Rousey’s 135-pound belt, but she will coach against Rousey on “The Ultimate Fighter 18.” It will be a season that features female coaches for the first time, as well as men and women 135-pounders living in the house during the UFC reality show.

Here’s Rousey talking about Tate (13-3) vs. Zingano (7-0), which is on the main card (live on FX) of “The Ultimate Fighter 17″ finale at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.:

“I haven’t really seen much of Cat’s stuff yet. I watched some of her fights but haven’t really gone in depth into them. Miesha’s last fight was very entertaining but it wasn’t her best performance. I’d be interested to see how they match up against each other. I’d always like to fight Miesha again, but Cat’s undefeated and that’s awesome. So it’d be pretty good to see an undefeated contender. I think that’d be fantastic. So either way, I’m keeping my mind open and I’m just waiting to see what happens.”

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ICYMI: UFC champion Ronda Rousey to coach on ‘The Ultimate Fighter 18′

The big news and breaking of barriers continue for UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.

UFC President Dana White announced during Saturday’s UFC 158 event in Montreal that Rousey will coach “The Ultimate Fighter 18″ against the winner of the Miesha Tate-Cat Zingano fight.

Not only will the UFC reality show have female coaches for the first time, but Season 18 will feature male and female 135-pound fighters.

“I’m going to announce tonight the coaches of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ for the next season,” White said during the pay-per-view broadcast. “It will be Ronda Rousey vs. the winner of Tate and Zingano, who are fighting in the ‘TUF’ finale on April 13. For the first time ever, two women coaches, and we will have 135-pound men and 135-pound women living and training in the house together.”

The Tate-Zingano contest, only the second women’s fight in UFC history, takes place on the main card (live on FX) of “The Ultimate Fighter 17″ finale at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

Rousey won the first women’s fight in the UFC by defending her 135-pound belt with a first-round armbar submission victory over Liz Carmouche at UFC 157 last month at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

Open tryouts for “TUF 18″ are April 15 in Las Vegas.

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AP: New York Gov. Cuomo not opposed to legalized MMA

This is fairly important as the UFC pushes for the legalization and regulation of mixed martial arts in New York, which along with Connecticut and Montana are the only states in which the sport is illegal. MMA is legal in Alaska, but it does not have a regulatory body to oversee and regulate the sport.

From Michael Virtanen of The Associated Press …

ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that he’s not opposed to mixed martial arts and he publicly invited its promoters to make the case that the state will get an economic boost from legalizing it.

“I think it’s something that should be pursued, definitely,” Cuomo said. “I want to understand it, basically. Let’s talk about the economics of the state. What’s the actual economic impact? What does it do for the state?”

The Senate last week approved a bill to legalize and regulate the combat sport that includes boxing, judo, wrestling and kickboxing. Most states allow it, with bouts sometimes broadcast on national television.

The Assembly has blocked the legislation for seven years. Opponents criticized the sport’s violence, calling it a bad example for children. However, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said last week he now expects it to be legalized, but he wasn’t sure when.

The issue for several years split a Republican-controlled Senate and Democrat-dominated Assembly. However, the bill passed the Senate now ruled by a bipartisan coalition, and backers claim there is enough support among Assembly Democrats to pass it if their leaders permit the floor vote.

Cuomo said Tuesday that he wants to discuss its economics during the current legislative session, which runs through June, though he said it wasn’t part of the proposed state budget for the April 1 fiscal year because these questions still need to be answered. He said he has watched MMA but doesn’t follow it and doesn’t have an opinion about it as a sport.

“I don’t have a feeling towards the sport that says, ‘That sport should not happen in the state,” he said. “My question is: Why should we do it? The obvious answer is that it could be an economic impact to the state, and you could generate economic activity. That could be persuasive, if it’s true.”

Lobbyists from the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the sport’s major brand, and some of its top fighters have come to Albany to try to persuade legislators to legalize it. One of their goals is access to Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, a large venue they say they can fill with big fights.

Steven Greenberg, a spokesman for UFC, said the sport is legal in 48 states, actively regulated in 45, and it hasn’t been legalized in Connecticut, where they are also lobbying.

“What is MMA’s willingness to make a commitment to the state in terms of the events and where would the events be?” Cuomo said. “Now, if they said, ‘We’re doing a series of events, in upstate New York. We think that an event in upstate New York has the potential to draw people from the downstate area, from New England, bringing people for hotels, they’re going to have an economic impact, you know, that
would be persuasive.”

Cuomo said state economic development officials are looking at hosting sporting and other events as ways to draw crowds of visitors who spend money.

UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta said later Tuesday that once the sport is legalized and regulated in New York, his group will hold at least four events a year for the next three years, more than half in cities across upstate New York.

“I have been to Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica and Albany and would look forward to attending UFC events in all of those cities,” he said.

Fertitta said other promoters, including Bellator and World Series of Fighting, are also eager to mount shows in New York.

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UFC 160 just got heavy: Mark Hunt vs. Junior dos Santos

UFC 160 was already looking like a big card with heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez (11-1) taking on Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (18-4) as the main event May 25 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Tack on a few more pounds because this card just got heavy.

Mark Hunt has agreed to fight former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos as the co-main event.

The news broke early Saturday morning courtesy of Ariel Helwani at mmafighting.com.

Hunt (9-7) is coming off an impressive third-round knockout of Stefan Struve last Saturday night at UFC on Fuel 8, breaking the 7-footer’s jaw in the process for his fourth consecutive victory.

Alistair Overeem was scheduled to take on dos Santos at UFC 160 before the Dutch kickboxer recently bowed out with a quad injury.

It will be the first time back in the Octagon for dos Santos (15-2) since losing his heavyweight championship to Velasquez in December at UFC 155. Velasquez recaptured the belt with an impressive five-round decision victory over dos Santos, who had beaten him for the title with a first-round knockout in November 2011 at UFC on FOX 1.

Also on the UFC 160 card are two highly anticipated fights: a light heavyweight battle between Glover Teixeira (20-2) and Ryan Bader (16-3) and a lightweight showdown between up-and-comers Khabib Nurmagomedov (19-0) and Abel Trujillo (10-4).

UFC 160 airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and Facebook.

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