Fedor’s camp throws around wild accusations, Bellator signs two big fights and continues to bring in new blood, UFC brings in a former EliteXC heavyweight, ratings breakdown for Fedor vs. Silva, and more….
Let’s go Around The Cage, 2/17/11
Fedor’s Camp Goes Crazy, Accuses Entire GP Field of Using Steroids
Shortly after the legendary Fedor Emelianenko put an end to his brief retirement this week, his camp did him no favors with a series of wacky accusations and other assorted oddball statements.
In an interview posted on the Russian website valetudo.ru, Fedor striking coach Alexander Michkov admitted that the Fedor team did not have a plan for Bigfoot Silva, which lends credence to the whispers of Fedor’s lack of preparation these days, and also strongly hinted that Silva was doping.
Michkov was not finished. He also accused the entire Grand Prix field of using steroids, including Alistair Overeem, who he claims is “gormandized” with steroids. Yes, “gormandized”.
Here are the key excerpts from the interview (here is the link to the original story http://www.championat.ru/boxing/_mma/article-78178.html):
Q: What was the game plan going into the fight?
Michkov: We didn't really have one. We planned to adjust according to the situation. First, we wanted to "feel" the opponent, then start the real action.
Q: Does it concern you that Silva was 10 kg heavier in the day of the fight, how can you explain such a tremendous weight gain?
Michkov: Of course it amazed us. Think about it, how can the normal human being gain 10 kg in 24 hours? There is something fishy here. The truth is, all our fighters, I am talking about Russian fighters here, that are fighting under M-1, train on their natural abilities. Of course, they take vitamins, but that's it. At the same time, all the foreign fighters, I think about 99 percent of them, are taking chemicals. Obviously it was not a problem for Silva to make a weight. He weighted 264 pounds in the day of the weigh-ins, and the next day, he was already over 280, he gained 10 kg...It's very hard to fight with opponent like this.
Q: It was declared that during the Grand Prix, there will be a medical checking, that would find any attempts of taking illegal substances (steroids)?
Michkov: The situation is very unclear. For example, we hear rumors that two other quarterfinals may be fought in the state that is very liberal with the testing. Why? Because any kind of semi-deep testing will prevent Overeem from fighting. With an naked eye, you can see that he is gormandized with steroids. We asked organizers to use Olympic style testing, but they declined to do so. And that was the right decision, because otherwise, everyone will get busted but Fedor.
Strong accusations, but not completely without basis, since 25 percent of the Grand Prix field has in fact tested positive in the past.
Several years ago, Silva tested positive for an equine steroid commonly used for race horses.
Josh Barnett has tested positive for banned substances three times, and has still not been cleared to fight by the powerful California State Athletic Commission due to his last failure, which ended up forcing a cancellation of a fight against Fedor, and ultimately was the death blow of the Affliction promotion.
Even so, throwing around these wild accusations toward fighters who have never tested positive (including Overeem, the oft accused juicer who has passed any test he has ever taken, despite his suspicious body changes) is reckless and comes off as sour grapes.
Amazingly, things got crazier when another Fedor coach, Vladimir Voronov, claimed that "psychological technologies" were used to induce mind-control techniques, resulting in Fedor not behaving like himself during the loss to Silva:
"It seems to us that all isn't this simple and certain technologies might have been used—certainly, not the ones that would be visible to an open eye. Most likely, they were psychological technologies that influenced both fighters from the distance of the crowd. For this reason Fedor simply wasn't himself during fight. Fedor's behavior was very strange to me, and he did exactly the opposite of what we have practiced and discussed before the fight. All of us were in shock! He has never done or behaved this way before. We will wait a week or so, for things to calm down and afterwards we will try to figure out what has happened. However, I might add that the loss has not broken his psychological stability and Fedor will be more than ready to return to the ring. Because of the loss, he is ready to rip apart his next opponents and we will be training three times as much."
Later, only after the MMA world had a good laugh at all of this nonsense, the Fedor camp claimed Voronov was joking.
Fedor fought a courageous fight against Silva, refused to quit, and even told the doctor after the second round that he was willing to continue with his eye completely destroyed. For that he should be admired, but it’s become obvious that his antiquated training methods and out-of-touch brain trust are holding him back. You get the sense that the modern fighter has passed him by, and hopefully this latest loss and the ridiculous comments from his team will be the eye opener that he needs to adjust to the modern game.
Blaming steroids and mind control are just silly deflections of the real problem, which is an aging fighter who refuses to change with the times. Banging tires with a hammer isn’t going to cut it in 2011.
Strikeforce Scores Record Ratings for Fedor vs. Silva
The show averaged a 2.13 rating and an estimated 741,000 viewers, peaking at 1.1 million viewers for the Fedor/Silva fight.
While the 2.13 rating came in slightly below the 2.17 rating of the Gina Carano vs. Chris Cyborg show, the show did finish with more average viewers (741,000 to 576,000) due to Showtime increasing its subscriber base since the Carano/Cyborg fight. The peak rating of 1.1 million also topped the ladies mark of 856,000.
The most encouraging number was the Showtime event record 2.35 rating in the Male 18-34 demo (peaking at 3.55 for the Fedor/Silva fight). Strikeforce normally draws an older demo.
That number, combined with the odd text poll results that saw 11 percent of the voters choose the much maligned Andrei Arlovski to win the tournament (discussed in the previous edition of “Around The Cage,” which you can read right here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/609288-around-the-cage-vol2-strikeforce-fallout-dana-on-twitter-rogan-sees-future), indicates to me that this show drew in plenty of casual and/or UFC fans who normally do not watch the Strikeforce product. The 11 percent who voted for Arlovski were likely UFC fans unfamiliar with the rest of the field.
The question moving forward, is did these viewers strictly come aboard to watch Fedor, or has the Grand Prix captured the attention of the casual fan?
If they came to see Fedor, they were treated to a great show in which every fight delivered, which was capped off by a legendary fight. This is great for Strikeforce, because even if Fedor was the draw as opposed to the tournament concept itself, the viewers went to bed happy, and hopefully will come back when the next set of Grand Prix fights take place.
The next major Strikeforce event on Showtime (aside from a Challengers show this weekend) is headlined by Dan Henderson challenging Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante for the light heavyweight title. Henderson is an overrated draw, whose fight against Jake Shields bombed so badly on CBS that the network has yet to invite Strikeforce back. For that reason, it is important not to overreact to the number that show draws, because the next round of Grand Prix fights will tell the real story of where Strikeforce is moving. Of course, if the Henderson/Feijao fight exceeds the expected 500,000 viewer mark, that would indicate another huge positive for the company.
Throw in the returning Gina Carano, the biggest draw the company ever employed previous to Fedor, and Strikeforce looks to be on the upswing for the rest of 2011.
Bellator Refuses to Go Down Without a Fight
You have to give Bellator front man Bjorn Rebney credit for his moxie, if nothing else.
Despite the probable death sentence of landing on the nearly worthless destination of MTV2, (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/595354-bellator-season-4-kicks-off-march-4-but-will-a-weak-network-kill-the-company) Rebney continues to sign good fighters and put together some great matchups for the upcoming Season 4.
Season 2 lightweight tournament winner Pat Curran will receive his title shot against Bellator champion and top 10 world lightweight Eddie Alvarez at Bellator 39. Curran defeated highly touted lightweights Roger Huerta and Toby Imada during last season’s tournament and will attempt to pull off a third major upset by winning the title.
At Bellator 40 on April 9, Bellator welterweight champion and undefeated wrestling prodigy Ben Askren will face veteran Nick “The Goat” Thompson in a non title fight. This will be the stiffest test for Askren, who has perhaps the most exciting “lay and pray” in the sport today. If Askren, who is incredibly active and smothering on top, ever learns how to effectively and consistently finish fights, he could develop into an all-time great.
Rebney also inked highly touted featherweight Ronnie Mann this week.
Mann, the latest former Sengoku fighter to sign with an American company over the last two weeks (the other being Jorge Santiago and Dave Herman, both of whom are headed to the UFC), will fight once during Season 4 versus a yet to be named opponent and will then take part in the Season 5 featherweight tournament.
UFC Signs “Blueberry Muffin,” Future of Major League JMMA Looking Bleak
Dave “Pee Wee” Herman, the former EliteXC heavyweight who once referred to himself as “Blueberry Muffin” in a post fight interview, has been released by cash starved Sengoku and has signed with the UFC.
His first fight will be at UFC 131 against Rob Broughton.
Sengoku has been cutting ties with their foreign fighters, which is a bad sign for the company and Japanese MMA as a whole. With DREAM on the ropes and its future in question, and Sengoku making roster cuts weekly, perhaps the immediate future of Japanese MMA is the minimalist approach that has been taken by smaller companies like Shooto. Small core rosters of native fighters, with very few (if any) expensive foreigners. Many companies have come and gone over the years, while Shooto plugs along and produces some of the best lighter weight talent in the sport.
Coming and Going
MFC has signed undefeated Andreas Sprang to a four-fight deal.
Nik “The Machete” Fekete, an undefeated light heavyweight, has signed with Bellator and will compete in the upcoming 205-pound tournament.
Don’t forget to check out the Strikeforce Challengers show tomorrow night (2/18) on Showtime, headlined by “Fancypants” Lyle Beerbohm vs. Pat Healy.
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