by Ryan Bennett – MMAWeekly.com
In this week’s edition of the Bennett Breakdown, MMAWeekly’s Ryan Bennett breaks down the latest on Vitor Belfort, BJ Penn/GSP/Hughes saga, and the latest on the New Years Eve show.
What is the latest on Vitor Belfort? Will he fight in Pride or the UFC? James Kennan – Manchester, New Hampshire
It appears that Vitor has signed a 3 fight deal with Pride. Vitor’s manager Jorge Guimaraes stated that he signed the deal this month. The interesting part is the fact that Cage Rage and Pride have a working relationship, so I’m not sure the terms of the contract. Does the three fights mean that they can take place in Cage Rage through Pride? Good question, but I believe you will see him in a Pride ring, in addition to Cage Rage very soon. Right now a few UK websites are reporting that he’s slated to face Igor Vovchanchin in the next Cage Rage main event. That will be a fun fight to watch for the fans as Cage Rage has put together some great cards over the past year.
Why on earth is the UFC screwing up potential matchups with BJ Penn and Matt Hughes or St.Pierre and Hughes with Penn vs St.Pierre? They will eliminate one potential fight with Penn vs St.Pierre. This is crap matchmaking by the UFC. John McFarland – Orlando, Florida
John, if that was the case I would agree with you it’s bad matchmaking for future fights, however that is not the case. This has nothing to do with UFC matchmaking. When BJ Penn signed a three fight deal with the UFC, Penn had the upper hand on negotiating the deal. Remember Penn and the UFC were about ready to go to court because of the lawsuit that the Penn’s had against the UFC for stripping him of the title. Instead of going to court, the UFC and the Penn’s settled out of court. Part of the settlement was bringing Penn back to the UFC. BJ had the upper hand in negotiating his contract and part of the terms that BJ wanted was facing Georges St.Pierre first. That was written into the deal. After St.Pierre, then Penn would face Matt Hughes and Rich Franklin, in that order.
The UFC can suggest potentials fights for fighters, but in this case they couldn’t have the final say. Zuffa had no choice but do the deal between Penn vs GSP because of the contract situation. Ideally Zuffa would have loved to see St.Pierre vs Hughes first, with Penn getting the winner. Contractually it couldn’t happen with Penn’s contract status, so BJ gets the best of both world’s. That is if he can beat St.Pierre in March. Let’s say if Penn sweeps through the competition, which is a big if at this point. If Penn defeats St.Pierre then Hughes, he will be the champion at 170. He then would give up his belt and fight Rich Franklin for Franklin’s 185 pound title. BJ wants to be the Muhammad Ali of MMA. If he goes through those three he will be not only the Ali fo MMA, but could eclipse the legendary Royce Gracie’s Hall of Fame status by being the modern day Gracie, fighting anybody, any weight, any time.
What’s next for Matt Hughes? – Mark Little – Davenport, Iowa
Looks like since Penn vs St.Pierre will happen, that Hughes most likely will face Karo Parisyan once again. That fight was supposed to take place at UFC 56, but Parisyan had an injury and could not fight, thus Joe Riggs got the title shot. Right now the UFC is waiting on Karo’s injury. It looks as though the fight will now take place in April. Is Heath Herring fighting on New Years Eve or not? I’ve seen conflicting reports. Marvin Tiricio – Miami, Florida The Heath Herring saga is very interesting. Heath was training for a fight on New Years Eve then actually stopped training when he thought he wasn’t going to fight. Now a few days ago he found out he is fighting so he started to train again. So to answer your question, yes he is fighting. I’ve been told there are a lot of things going on behind the scenes, but Heath did not want to address them publically. Herring is fighting and it will be interesting to see what kind of shape he’s in for the fight.
In other K1 NYE news, Remy Bonjasky could be flown in at the last minute to face the Predator. They are working on a few last minute deals. We will see if it comes to fruition today. Alright folks I’m off to Japan to do the play by play for the K-1 show. Have a great New Year and thanks for reading MMAWeekly.com daily for 2005. Good luck to my broadcast partner Frank Trigg doing his first ever Pride broadcast with Mauro Ranallo. You are in good hands, so don’t screw it up! LOL. Enjoy the New Year.