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Saturday, July 11, 2009

UFC Weigh in results !

UFC 100 anticipation
By D Meltzer,

LAS VEGAS – If ever there was confirmation that the Ultimate Fighting Championship isn’t like any other major sports league, it was on Friday night, when it held its first real Hall of Fame ceremony as part of a Fan Expo at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.
There was Dana White, the president of the company, and company co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta, hardly looking like two executives of what one recent media report after another has labeled as a $1 billion company. White, in torn jeans and a novelty T-shirt making fun of another company executive, came back from weigh-ins and a Q&A session with fans, to induct Chuck Liddell and the late Charles “Mask” Lewis Jr. as the sixth and seventh members of a Hall of Fame that as of yet has no location.
Liddell, 39, also dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, almost epitomized the casual atmosphere of the event. Liddell is nicknamed “The Iceman” because when it comes to fighting, the former light heavyweight champion shows no emotion and no matter how scary the opponent, he never shows an inkling of fear.
But on this stage, he hardly lived up to that name. Liddell isn’t afraid to fight, but seemed afraid to give a speech, pacing nervously, and being apologetic from the start about his difficulties with speeches. He thanked the audience, the company, his opponents and even grudgingly, famous rival Tito Ortiz. He talked about his UFC debut fight, back on May 15, 1998, which he thought was in Louisiana, although it was actually in Alabama, before a smaller crowd than the one watching him give his speech, and what the sport had turned into.
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Liddell has not decided if he’ll fight again after a loss three months ago to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. White has strongly advised him not to, although the subject of his future was never broached. Liddell, after knocking out Randy Couture in the company’s first pay-per-view event in 2005 after building a new audience on Spike TV, and with his win the next year over Tito Ortiz, became the company’s most popular and most recognizable period fighter during a time of incredible growth.
“It’s a very emotional day for us,” said Fertitta. “This guy has defined a sport. When you see the UFC logo, you immediately think of Chuck Liddell.” The ceremony got more emotional with the induction of Lewis, far better known as “Mask,” who died after an auto accident in Southern California on March 11. He became the first non-fighter the company honored. It was noted the symbolic nature of inducting Lewis, who was Liddell’s first sponsor when sponsors were rare, because the two became close friends.
Lewis, a co-founder of the Tapout T-shirt line, sponsored fighters in the late 1990s when politicians who didn’t know the first thing about MMA pressured venues and cable companies, resulting with the sport nearly going down for the count.
“When Lorenzo and I first met him in 2001, the guy was sponsoring fighters with money that he didn’t have,” said White. “There was no money to be made in this sport. He was always upbeat about everything.”
Liddell and Lewis join previous inductees Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Randy Couture and Mark Coleman, and many consider themselves still active. Couture, 46, will headline UFC 102 in Portland, Ore., against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Coleman, 45, an NCAA champion wrestler in 1988 and U.S. Olympian in 1992, was one of the company’s first champions dating back to a 1997 win over Severn to win the heavyweight title. He faces Stephan Bonnar in a match Saturday night.
The Hall of Fame ceremony was entirely different from what one would expect. UFC 100 airs live in 75 countries and 17 languages, according to White, as well as in 5,000 bars, night clubs and restaurants in the U.S. and Canada. Friday seemed more a casual gathering of old friends reminiscing, joking and getting teary-eyed about the past, with the only thing missing being a toast.
The atmosphere at Mandalay Bay on the day before the biggest event in company history was unlike any other. The company ran its first Fan Expo, built along the lines of the Arnold Fitness Expo held every March in Columbus, Ohio, an event UFC piggybacks a card on every year.
The convention center was mobbed with autograph seekers, and there was no lack of obliging fighters. There were booths for clothing companies, athletic supplements, training equipment, and merchandise, such as a look at the UFC action figure line. There was a line for people to get into the octagon and get their photos taken, and a two-day elite grappling tournament, which drew large crowds.
Before the Hall of Fame ceremony, White gave a keynote speech to fans, thanking them, and assured everyone who asked that UFC would visit their home city. Whether it be Toronto, where MMA is not yet legal, or Boston, where he promised a show early next year even though it is not yet commission approved, to Scotland, Japan, the Philippines and Abu Dhabi, White told fans the UFC has plans of running live events there soon. He teased stadium-sized shows in Honolulu and Toronto, while at other times seemed negative about running in stadiums too large for fear it would hurt the live fan experience. White also vowed that they would soon be holding live events in France, Mexico and Australia.
The crowd for the weigh-ins at the Mandalay Bay Events Center was bigger than ever. The curtained-off section of the arena was completely packed with nearly 6,000 fans and another 1,000 or so turned away.
The crowd booed U.K. star Michael Bisping out of the building for his match against Dan Henderson. They also booed Thiago Alves, although not nearly as hard, against welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, easily the most popular fighter on the show. They favored Frank Mir over heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. Yoshihiro Akiyama, one of Japan’s most well-known fighters, a former judo champion making his UFC debut, normally gets booed louder than anyone in his home environment. But here, “Sexyama” as he was called by Joe Rogan, was an unknown to the crowd.
All the fighters made weight and looked in good shape, although Coleman looked every bit of his age as he weighed in against Bonnar. Mir, who weighed 245 pounds, lighter than he had been in several years, flexed hard to show at least the beginnings of a six-pack. Lesnar came across as an annoyed, impatient man who couldn’t wait for the fight.
Lesnar weighed 265, the maximum allowed for the heavyweight division, and will likely be several pounds heavier come fight time.
There were no incidents during the weigh-ins The most colorful impression was made by Tom Lawlor, who had written “Just bleed” in white lettering on his chest. That was reference to a notorious video clip of a fan at a UFC event many years ago, who had the same phrase written on his chest.
Weigh-in results: Preliminary matches
Matt Grice (155) vs. Shannon Gugerty (156)C.B. Dollaway (186) vs. Tom Lawlor (184)T.J. Grant (170) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (171)Jon Jones (206) vs. Jake O’Brien (206)Jim Miller (155) vs. Mac Danzig (154)Mark Coleman (205) vs. Stephan Bonnar (205)Pay-per-view matches
Jon Fitch (170) vs. Paulo Thiago (170)Yoshihiro Akiyama (185) vs. Alan Belcher (186)Dan Henderson (185) vs. Michael Bisping (186)UFC welterweight championship: Georges St. Pierre (170) vs. Thiago Alves (170)UFC heavyweight championship: Brock Lesnar (265) vs. Frank Mir (245)

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