Q & A with AFL CEO B.J. Santiago

Onslaught of initials aside, this Q & A from Junkie covers a lot of topics - Santiago doesn't let out some of the info I'm sure everybody wants to know, such as exactly who the AFL's financial backers are, and how they're affording to pay for everything, but it's an interesting interview nonetheless.

I've posted a piece of it - you can check out the rest on MMA Junkie here.

Check after the jump for the rest.

MMAjunkie.com: The AFL had promised a pay-per-view card this year. What happened to that planned event?

B.J. Santiago: A lot of the things that we had on our business plan unfortunately just got recently affected by the economy. One of the things that we have is we're probably just a little bit more disciplined than everybody else. We're financed mainly out of some financial institutions out of New York City. So we have a board of directors just like every other major company. We don't have the green light to just move forward on things if the economy doesn't say that's what you need to do.

And unfortunately, we're not as financially big as the UFC. So we have to do things a little bit smarter, a little bit less frivolous. You take a look at the spending habits of some other organizations that have recently gone under; if we had followed that suit, people would just say, 'Are they complete idiots? I mean everyone else has just gone down the drain.' If we slow up a little bit, if we just have a little bit sharper business plan -- delaying things isn't the end of the world. But come 2009, quarter one, when we launch our new season, we'll be better financially prepared to do so.

MMAjunkie.com: Your financial backing has been in question from the inception of your organization. What more can you tell us about the "financial institutions out of New York City" that are behind the AFL?

B.J. Santiago: We have just different funds that work. I'm going to keep those confidential for right now. They're out of Manhattan. We've got a few different really solid groups that are part of a privately held company that are financing us right now.

MMAjunkie.com: What is your reasoning behind keeping those identities confidential?

B.J. Santiago: Same thing as if you asked the UFC for their financials. Nobody is going to really talk about that. If it's a publicly traded company, it's a different story.

As I stated in this post yesterday, I think the AFL is going about this the right way. They're not relying on exclusivity to establish their brand name, but are trusting the fact that people nationwide want more mma, and they're working with multiple affiliate promoters to give the fans what they want.

It sounds like a good arrangement. That way, the fans can see their local fighters while knowing that they stand a shot at performing on a national stage. This shotgun approach the AFL is taking to widen their talent pool seems like a great way to draw from a huge group of fighters. However, given the general state of the economy and the fact that promotions are failing all over the place, only time will tell.


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KY-Based AFL Taking Big Steps

From MMA Junkie:

With the void left on broadcast television left by the folding of organizations such as EliteXC and the IFL, many have wondered aloud which organization -- if any -- may next find themselves on TV.

One candidate currently in negotiations may surprise you: the Kentucky-based American Fight League.

Check after the jump for more from Junkie as well as my thoughts.

More From Junkie:

"We're working on it," AFL CEO B.J. Santiago today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "We're talking to some of the people in New York City. Just trying to see how that gets worked out. We've also talked to the USA network. There's a few out there that we're talking to."

The AFL has come under much scrutiny in recent months. The organization made waves with the signings of Tara LaRosa, Bobby Lashley and others. But those two have yet to see action for the organization, and promises of a large pay-per-view event never materialized. Coupled with sparse attendance at the AFL's only two shows in 2008, many believed the AFL was heading for certain demise.

Santiago said the organization simply slowed down its expansion to match the prevailing economic conditions.

"We're just doing things a little bit more methodically than some of the organizations that have gone out of business trying to be too over-aggressive," Santiago said.

At least they seem to be going about this in the right way; slowly, but surely. Santiago later commented that things were actually going quicker until EliteXC folded, but that clearly caused some apprehension with the various parties.

With this kind of a plan, it seems like the AFL might be able to stand the test of time. In addition to signing some good talent and big names (Tara LaRosa and Bobby Lashley, respectively), the AFL has a number of affiliate promoters across the nation. With that sort of network, the AFL can appeal to a large cross-section across the nation while using their big names to market local fighters.

Not to mention, there is obviously a whole new talent pool to draw from with the demise of EliteXC. Since the AFL is open to female fighters on their roster, they obviously stand a chance at grabbing Carano. And since they're willing to pay for guys like Lashley, I think they could handle a salary for Carano without a problem. Clearly, signing somebody like Carano could take their exposure to the next level.

With all of the EliteXC stable up for grabs, I'm interested to see who they acquire - the fact that they'll let their fighters fight outside of AFL events (i.e. Bobby Lashley) will, I'm sure, appeal to those fighters looking to stay outside the exclusivity of the UFC.


Check out the AFL here.

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PreView's Picks for UFC 90

For the first time in its history, the UFC is hosting "numbered" events (i.e. UFC 89 and UFC 90) on back to back weekends. Granted, this one isn't on free tv, but we still have more fights coming.

Five of tonight's fighters are ranked in most expert's Top 10 lists for the different weight classes, and one of tonight's main event fighters, Anderson Silva, is widely regarded as the number one or number two pound-for-pound greatest fighter in the world (depending on who you're talking to).

Check after the jump for my event picks. For the record, I'm hoping to rebound from a loss of my own as I posted a 4-5 in last weeks picks.

No major analysis this time, but if you're interested in what some of my colleagues on FightTicker.com have to say, we did a sort of roundtable discussion for three of tonight's fights. For our analysis on Sean Sherk vs. Tyson Griffin, go here. For Josh Koscheck vs. Thiago Alves, go here. For our final pick for this event, Silva vs. Cote, go here.

On to my picks....

Anderson Silva vs. Patrick Cote - Silva, via KO, Round 1.

Josh Koscheck vs. Thiago Alves - Alves, via TKO, Round 2.

Sean Sherk vs. Tyson Griffin - Sherk, via Unanimous Decision, Round 3

Fabricio Werdum vs. Junior Dos Santos - Werdum, via Submission, Round 1

Rich Clementi vs. Gray Maynard - Clementi, via Submission, Round 2

Hermes Franca vs. Marcus Aurelio - Aurelio, via Split Decision, Round 3

Spencer Fisher vs. Shannon Gugerty - Fisher, via TKO, Round 1

Dan Miller vs. Matt Horwich - Miller, via Submission, Round 2

Thales Leites vs. Drew McFedries - Leites, via Submission, Round 1

Josh Burkman vs. Pete Sell - Burkman, via Unanimous Decision, Round 3

So there you have it. Like I said, I'm hoping to post a better performance than my 4-5 from last week. I guess we'll know by the end of the night.


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Great President Bush Spoof

Seeing Will Ferrell on the SNL "Weekend Update" tonight reminded me of a video that Puddin and I used to watch all the time. It never failed to crack us up. Probably my favorite political spoof video.

Check it out after the jump.

"God, they're so fast. They look like they could strike at any moment." Hilarious.


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Junie's 15 Minutes (And My Thoughts on BJJ black belt testing)

Well, Junie got another shot at his 15 minutes of fame last night. What ultimately happened? He got his 15 minutes....sure....but fame? Not so much. The match lasted longer than he said it would, he neglected to finish Roli like he said he would, and was clearly gassed at the end of the fight. Not the strongest performance we've seen so far.

A few more weeks.

With a decision win over Delgado last night, that’s what Junie guaranteed himself – at least a few more weeks on the show.

Check after the jump for my thoughts on the episode and on bjj black belt testing (but be warned, I'm definitely not an expert on the latter).

First – the pre-fight shenanigans. For the record, I’m still confused on where/how Delgado got his black belt; I know he posted a video on his blog on MMAWeekly, but that video still doesn’t answer any of my questions. Incidentally, it’s titled “Roli Delgado black belt testing 2/2”, which looked like Delgado on the bad end of an MMA fight before he caught the guy with a weak upkick....cut to him getting his black belt. Wtf? Today, I located part one from a post on Sherdog. You can check it out here.

Let me say this – had I not seen the title of the video, I don't know that I would've guessed it was a black belt testing. (But that could obviously be due to my general lack of knowledge when it comes to many bjj issues.) I didn't see Roli throw any punches, so I would assume the message he’s trying to get across is that his testing was to beat these fighters who were using an MMA style (with gloves) with only bjj techniques (and no gloves). Then he gets his black belt.

However, I still question the validity of that as a BJJ black belt test. Now, “BJJDenver” on here asked me what my impression was of a BJJ black belt test. Although I meant to message him about that, I’ll throw it out there now, and Denver, feel free to comment in reply or send me a message.

I’ll again state that I’ve never taken a bjj class, and of the few bjj black belts I’ve personally known, I’ve never had the chance to ask them about the circumstances behind them receiving their black belts (although I don’t think the topic has ever come up in a normal conversation).

Regardless, the impression I’ve gotten from info I’ve picked up here and there is that there is not a strict uniform system to awarding bjj belts like you would have with karate, where you learn X number of moves then you get promoted. Instead, it’s more a discretionary practice that also draws on a student’s experience in practice and competition in addition to the learning of techniques.

I’m sure there is a particular skill set that one must possess to be considered for a black belt, but I’ve always gotten the impression that the actual awarding of the black belt came after recognition from the coach that the student was ready, and/or after a great personal achievement in the use/practice of bjj (i.e. Frank Mir getting his black belt after breaking Tim Sylvia’s arm).

In that way, I think bjj is superior to many belt/ranking systems in traditional martial arts, because the ability to memorize a certain number of moves doesn’t necessarily mean you actually have an understanding of those moves. With bjj, it appears to me that the coach must recognize that the student is ready, and such a state can be proved by things other than the learning of techniques, but also things like successful application of the techniques, being able to teach them to others, demonstrating a certain attitude about the sport, etc. (Denver, let me know if I’m way off here.)

A number of members of the TUF cast have stated in their post-episode blogs that it took a while for Delgado to explain himself, and if you actually have a black belt, it shouldn’t take you an hour to explain who it’s under. I do agree with that. I understand there are internal politics with any organization, and there are a lot of people out there training in bjj, but the longer you’d take to explain something like that, the worse it sounds to me.

I understand that this gauntlet could have been part of a black belt test, but again, I'll leave it to the people who have actually trained in bjj to give me their opinion.

Moving on….

So Junie rolls up to the fight announcement with a black belt on which he’s written “McDojo BJJ”, which he then proceeds to throw at Delgado and then spit on it. Classy, Junie. Really classy.

Then we see that Junie is having problems making weight after Mir proclaimed that Junie was already lower than he was when he came on the show, so he wouldn’t have a problem. Junie lost the two pounds, though, and we once again see him doing a great job of repping Kentucky when he stated that Kentucky was the capitol of inbreeding. Again…classy, Junie. Really classy. But of course, the TUF editors did a great job of giving us no clue on how the discussion got to that point – it was just Junie talking about inbreeding. But frankly, I don't think setting up the context would have made it sound much better.

Then we have the fight.

As many of you know, Junie posts a weekly blog on UFC.com. You can check out this week's entry here. In it, Junie quickly admits he was gassed by the end of the fight.....and even before he left the locker room.

So when did I know my cardio wasn’t there? After the warm-ups. I hit pads in the back, and I was like #$%$, I’m gassed. That’s why I was trying to keep the pace of the fight a little slower.

Slow or not, it wasn't hard to see that Junie got more in his element in the second round, but he kept failing to follow up when he had the chance. I do think it was smart he stayed off the ground; it showed that even with a potentially questionable black belt, Delgado had enough bjj skills to worry Junie.

I wasn't extremely happy with Junie's performance, but I think it's clear he realized his fight prep was almost worthless. He gassed early, didn't execute a good gameplan (or any gameplan except to win), ate like crap, had a hard time making weight, and so on and so on. Ideally, this would make Junie realize that he needs to change things up and get more serious about the opportunity he has on TUF.

Do I think this will stop him from getting drunk and breaking something on the next episode in his post-victory celebration? Absolutely not.

Do I think this will make him take stock of what he's doing and maybe shape up a little bit? Hopefully.

Post-fight, I think it was respectful that Junie apologized to Nogueira, although I'm not entirely sure Nogueira understood everything he said. What will be more relevant, though, is how he handles himself in future episodes. With Junie, as usual, there's no telling what will happen.

Junie has done interviews with Cage Potato and MMA Junkie this week. Check them out here and here, respectively. (I'm sure all of you are furiously clicking away.)

I think that the most telling thing in the two interviews was from Junkie:

Don't expect Browning to tone it down. He's a step closer to a shot at a coveted UFC contract, one he expects to win his way.

"It's going to be the same Junie for the whole season," Browning said. "If [fans] are turning in to watch all the crazy [expletive], tell them to keep watching. They'll be entertained. I'll put it to you that way."

So in case you missed the memo that Junie is the head of the crazy [expletive] committee, you're now on notice. I don't think he'll be giving up the position any time soon, and I don't think people will stop watching any time soon.


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A Confession: PV's Blog on FightTicker

As some of you may have noticed, the articles on my blog have been almost exclusively MMA-related topics and interviews. In addition to that, my posting frequency has slacked a bit.

The truth is, my faithful readers (both of you), I'm not just blogging on here anymore. I'm also blogging for FightTicker.com. Because of the posting requirements, I've been spending a lot of time working on there.

Check after the jump for more info.

Regardless, if you're interested in what I have to say over there (it's strictly MMA and MMA-related topics) feel free to check out FightTicker.com here (or on the sidebar). However, as you may have noticed, I've added another link on the sidebar, that goes directly to my personal blog on FightTicker. You can check that out here.

As I'm sure you'll quickly see, members of the site post articles on their blogs within in the website, and then the head/owner of the blog takes those and posts them on the front page. In addition to that, you'll see three featured articles at the top - when that happens, people are given an actual byline.

See, in exchange for our daily posting, we're given the opportunity to be credentialed as members of the press for various MMA shows. I'll be covering my first MMA Show as a credentialed member of the press on November 1st, at the MMABigShow. You can check out info on that show here.

As you'll notice, there are plenty of things that appear on both this blog and my blog on FightTicker.

Just wanted to give all of you a heads up - if you're an MMA fan and you don't already know about FightTicker, you need to check it out; multiple daily updates on all the latest MMA news.


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"It's not hype, I promise." (And MAJOR props to Eliot Marshall)

Although the focus of this article is going to be Junie (as it's my weekly wrap-up of Junie's antics on the show), I wanted to first give MAJOR props to Eliot Marshall with his win over Shane Primm on last night's episode of TUF. That was a dominant performance, man. Got the full mount in 30 seconds, took his back about 15 seconds after that and then worked until you choked him out.

I thought Eliot had great transitions and was able to maintain the dominant position with what looked like a fair amount of ease. For Eliot's point of view on everything, check out FightTicker.com where you can find weekly blog entries by Eliot on TUF. You can find his most recent blog entry here.

Check after the jump for my thoughts on the latest episode of TUF.

"It's not hype, I promise." - Junie Browning

So next week is going to be the time when we get to see whether it really is all hype when it comes to Junie. But let's back up for a minute and discuss Mir's "talk" with Junie. I understand Junie might have finally realized what he was doing, but still -- that talk didn't seem like much.

So Junie is fighting Delgado -- don't know too much about him, so I'll leave out the speculation for now, except to say that I hope if Delgado's BJJ black belt turns out to be legit, that Junie's submission defense is better than it appeared against Efrain when they were rolling (and Efrain allegedly kept tapping him with a guillotine). Delgado blogs for MMAWeekly - you can check out his most recent blog entry here.

In it, he talks about Frank Mir questioning his BJJ black belt in the next episode, and he provides a link to a video of what he says is his BJJ black belt testing, but it seems to be the second of two videos, and I hope the first has a lot more info than the second, because the second didn't really seem like a test for a BJJ black belt...but then again, as I don't have one, and have only heard what the tests are like, I can't say for sure.

I'm looking forward to the fight.

Let's move on to some other things from this episode. First, what is Krzysztof's deal with other dudes' underwear and shrinkwrap? That's a weird fetish. But more importantly, I was happy to see that Nogueira agrees with me that K-So is the one to watch out for when it comes to the pranks in the house. Like I mentioned in my post-TUF entry last week, K-So is going to be the one quietly picking away at everyone in the house until something blows up.

Finally, I'll say that I have the utmost respect for Nogueira, but I do question his going to the house to talk to Team Mir about the pranks. I know Efrain didn't exactly run and tattle to Nogueira, but still, it seems kind of weak that the coach came to try and cut out the pranks.

Now, regardless of that, when Nogueira's talking, people should listen. However, like Eliot said, they're all going to mess with each other and have fun in the house (I'm paraphrasing, obviously). While Nogueira's intentions were good, I still don't think he gets the difference in fighting lifestyles between fighters in the U.S. and fighters in Brazil. Much like in a number of other categories, the U.S. has a more relaxed approach to the overall picture.

Does that mean U.S. fighters are weaker than Brazilian fighters? No. But it does mean that you're not going to hear an American coach come to a house full of dudes and booze and complain that one of his team members didn't get enough sleep the night before. Has Nogueira ever even seen the show before? Does he not realize Junie actually lives in the house, too? I'd say sleep comes at a premium most of the time.

I applaud Nogueira's efforts -- I think everyone would benefit from the house being calmer; I just hope that as the season progresses, he gets a more realistic picture of what happens so he won't get offended when the pranks keep coming. Demanding a higher standard from all the fighters is an admirable goal -- I just think because of how dedicated he is, Big Nog might take it personally when the pranks don't stop (and let's be honest, they'll probably never stop, even if TUF goes on for 100 more seasons).

On a final note, I'd like to say that sparring with Anderson Silva would have to be one of the most amazing, humbling, and scary experiences a person could go through. It was easy to see that Bader was hesitant, but it wasn't hard to tell that Silva was encouraging him to go harder and faster -- I can only imagine that sparring with Anderson Silva, even if he was only going at 1/4 speed, would seem like fighting for your life. But I have a great deal of respect for Silva getting in there and working with the guys, and being as encouraging and persistent as he was. If nobody ever challenges a fighter, that fighter will never get better.

I have a feeling that this time next week I'm either going to be extremely happy and shouting a lot of "In your face", OR I'll be taking crap from members of tons of other sites about Junie being all hype. Hopefully it's the former.


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E-Interview with Mike "Highlander" Yanez

I recently had the pleasure of talking with Mike "Highlander" Yanez, an established BJJ competitor and new pro fighter, who owns Highlander MMA in Louisville, KY. The Highlander MMA camp is an established team with a 98-23 overall fight record. I'll be following them as they get to win 100 and beyond.

Check after the jump for the whole interview.

That's Mike, at Highlander ---->

You can check out Highlander MMA online here, and on myspace here and you can see some videos and highlights of some of the Highlander guys' fights here.

How did you come to start Highlander MMA in Louisville, KY?
I lost my first fight and my student Montrell Parker wanted to fight

What kind of classes do you offer at Highlander?

Can your average joe off the street come and in train, long-term, or are you mainly geared towards fighters?
I pride myself on taking an average guy and turning him into more then he thought he could be.

How much time do you usually spend at Highlander on a given day?
3 hours

Where did you get the nickname “Highlander”?
Highlands Ky - a trendy part of Louisville Ky, but the name has taken many forms and fits perfectly.

What do you think of the fact that the Highlander Fight Team has clearly enjoyed some success, with a current record of 98-23.
Even surprised me.

First, are these wins and losses made up of pro and amateur fights, BJJ tournaments, or what?
Pro and Am fights only. Grappling tourney wins are too much to count.

Second, approximately how many people have contributed to these 98 wins?
Some have come and gone, ironically some left as winners and then added to our wining record when they went to another school. Karma is a bitch I guess. The record stands for me in their cornor when they're wearing the colors of Highlander

Third, how quickly do you think win # 100 will come around?
Within our next couple fights for sure!

You’ve been on both sides of the cage, as a fighter and as a coach – do you prefer one more than the other?
I would trade places with any of my teenager students ( I have a few now)

How important is the role of a coach in a fighter’s corner?
Depends I think. I'm really loud and I really get into the opponent's head. I ve had great coaches in wrestling and Jiu Jitsu I have been blessed. I've walked guys through their matches before, and I've met them with their hands raised just to tell me “thanks for showing that, just like practice”

How has playing both roles changed your perception of them?
I realized that coaching can be like a video game when you're trying to control somebody's moves (and I'm good at video games. ha ha)

What is your training background in?
Wrestled 8 years and BJJ for 13

Tell us about your BJJ lineage.
I got my Black belt in BJJ under 10 years from world champion and number 1 ranked Pablo Popovitch and his father Jorge Popovitch who come from the Carlson Gracie side of the family tree. Our style is a very aggressive style, Pablo beat Renzo Gracie 2 years ago 7-0.

What initially inspired you to get into the fight game?
Tired of people saying "That’s just jiu jitsu, its not mma." Well I proved everyone how easy the transition was! I think any idiot can throw a punch- but you have to be a chess master to become the master ground fighter

What is your current record?
That’s the funny part just 1-0 as a pro!

In what promotions have you fought?
Revolution Fight League (PV's note - you can find them on the web here.

Are you able to do a typical “training camp” before a fight, and if so, how long does that generally last?
It depends because I try to work on what im not good at.

How closely do you monitor your diet when preparing for a fight?
It's top priority

Are there any supplements you take?
What ever they tell me (PV note - Mike clarified that "they" were info from magazines, other people in the game he knew and other BJJ black belts).

What’s an average day of training like for you?
Lifting and bjj with a lot of wrestling and kickboxing.

Who do you typically train with before a fight?
I like to get to Nashville mma and down to florida for a bit

What kind of mental preparations do you go through for before a fight?
That’s an everyday thing, like death in life, once you accept the worst that can happen then you can focus on the best witout the fear of loss.

Is there one particular training aspect you single out as being more important than the others?
Good support or isolation, which ever is available just as long as its not negative - you must discard the negative! ( Wives,Girlfriends, drinking buddies, family, etc - if they love you they will be there at the afterparty.)

What is your normal pre-fight routine?
MUSIC!!!! Nine Inch Nails, Deftones and Disturbed.

At this point in your career, if there’s one fight you could do over again, which would it be?
Of course my loss as an amateur fighter.

To date, what do you consider to be your biggest achievement in the sport?
Me as a coach for sure

What is your favorite technique?

Before fighting in MMA, did you compete in any other combat sports (i.e. BJJ) and if so, in what tournaments did you compete and how did you place in those tournaments?
That’s what I did so much of - 3 Arnold world golds, Budweiser worlds champion, Florida state champion 6x NAGA champion, all mostly as a purple belt.

It seems like fighters are being sponsored by companies from all industries – at any given event, you’ll see logos for mortgage companies, energy drinks and the ever present Condom Depot emblazoned across a number of fighters’ asses – do you think this kind of exposure helps or hurts the sport?
Helps - we need to get paid, so I hope it grows! Ill be a logo whore!

As you recently had your pro debut, did you have sponsors for this fight?
Nah, but I made PLENTY

As a trainer/coach, what kind of things do you to do help your fighters get sponsors?
Everything but prostitution.

Who is your agent and/or manager?

You recently had your first pro fight, a first-rounds submission win, over Craig Schoonover, at Revolution Fight League – Hostile Takeover. How did it feel going into your first pro fight?
Relaxed - as if it was a movie I had seen 20 times.

Is competing on the pro level something you want to continue to do, and if so, for how long?
I may fight a few more times

How do you feel about organizations like the American Fight League (AFL) out of L-ville?
My team had about 50 wins and 6 losses - we had 4 title holders, 2 undefeated still (have the belts to prove it). When they needed sponsors, their promo videos were footage of mostly my guys - then not one phone call - Guess they never liked us, we hate them - period!

Do you think that promotions like this that start on a local level will ever be able to compete with organizations like the UFC?
Not AFL they have no integrity! John Prisco’s XFC out of Florida can though!

Junie Allen Browning, out of Four Seasons in Lexington, KY, recently made headlines because he landed a spot on Season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter – what do you think this kind of exposure does for MMA in Kentucky?
I'm a fan and I'm proud of him, he shows loyalty to his school and instructor and he may be a little crazy, but its TV, no one gets famous being the quiet one!

In the time you’ve been in KY, how have you seen the MMA scene evolve?
We are very evolved, at least the top schools are anyway - some states don’t have amateur fight events so they don’t have the experience a lot of the seasoned pros have here!

A number of websites publish the fighters’ salaries after events along with the winners of bonuses such as the UFC Fight of the Night, KO of the Night and Submission of the Night bonuses, and they do it with a disclaimer that the figures don’t include costs of medical examinations, travel and the like – what kind of expenses do you deal with as a fighter, a trainer, and a coach that most people wouldn’t know about?
Just the standard expenses - mostly training and training supplies. With getting paid, everyone starts low 200 or 300, I just had a fighter go from 300/300 (win/show) to1500/1500 in 5 fights - he's winning of course.

In your opinion, who is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world?
Minotauro, but im biased - I've trained with him, and I just like his style!

Who are some fighters, past or present, that you admire?
Vitor Belfort, Tito Ortiz, Ramino Sato, Genki sudo.

What kind of hobbies do you enjoy in your down time?
Video and art work

How do you your family and friends feel about your fighting career?
If they don’t like it then I'm not around – my team is my family

Thank you for all this, Mike – are there any people or sponsors you’d like to give a shout out to?
Yes definitely! My Instructors Jorge and Pablo Popovitch, Brawl and Maul, My mother for making me as tough as she is - all my good friends Kelly Carter ,Chris Chard, Vagner Rocha, My students most of all for making my journey in this life complete.
So there you have it. Keep a lookout as I follow Mike and the Highlander guys as they work towards their 100th win.


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PreView's Picks for UFC 89

I know I stated this with UFN 15, but let me say it again – I love MMA on free TV. Even better than the last free UFC event (and UFN 15 was a great event), we’ve got an actual “numbered” UFC on Spike this time – UFC 89. No title fights, but still some quality match-ups.

As I did last time, I’m throwing in some my rationale with my picks. It worked well for my picks last time (8-2), so maybe I’ll have that same luck this time.

Check after the jump for my picks and explanations.

Michael Bisping vs. Chris Leben (Leben) – This was a hard one for me to call, and I would imagine I’m not the only one who had a hard time with it. On one hand, Bisping (16-1) only has one loss, and it was at Light Heavyweight, to current LHW contender Rashad Evans. This will be Bisping’s third fight at Middleweight, and Bisping’s fourth fight in front of his home crowd in England. Bisping’s last fight was in June.

Leben (18-4) is coming off a layoff since March. As all of you know, he was scheduled to fight Bisping earlier this year, but had to answer to some outstanding legal problems.

Both fighters are coming off two wins – Bisping over Jason Day and Charles McCarthy and Leben over Alessio Sakara and Terry Martin. From an athletic standpoint, I’d give Bisping the edge. I also think Bisping may be a better technical striker, but Leben’s striking has improved since the beginning of his UFC career, but he’s still got plenty of KO power. Leben has 10 KOs or TKOs to Bisping’s 11, and both fighters have four wins by submission.

Leben has allegedly been training harder and has straightened a lot of things out, and if this is true, I think it will be clear very early in the fight.

I think Bisping’s best strategy to win is to hang back and stay out of range of Leben’s power punches, while getting in effective counter-punching, working to frustrate Leben until Leben makes a mistake on which Bisping can capitalize. If Bisping can fight his fight, and not rush in looking for a quick win, he could definitely get a unanimous decision or submission victory late in the fight.

I think Leben’s best plan for a win is to take Bisping out of his game. Leben is great at frustrating other fighters, whether it be working inside another fighter’s range or effectively using foot-stomps (on the most underused tools in all of MMA). I think Leben can frustrate Bisping, which will cause Bisping to rush in, looking to end the fight before Leben gets the better of him. At that point, Leben can use his power-punching to take Bisping out.

Bisping has never been knocked out in his pro career, so it’s questionable how good of a chin he has. I don’t know if Leben will be able to actually KO him, but I think he’ll be able to get a TKO midway through the second round. If they’re smart, they’ll use the first round to feel each other out and look for weaknesses.

Leben by TKO (strikes), Round 2.

Keith Jardine vs. Brandon Vera (Vera) – This is Vera’s (9-2) second fight at LHW, the last being a unanimous decision victory over Reese Andy at UFN 14 in July. Jardine (13-4-1) is coming off a first-round (and first minute) KO loss to Wanderlei Silva at UFC 84 in May.

I think Vera is going to surprise some people with this fight, and bring back the Vera of old that predicted that he would one day hold the HW and LHW titles. I think Vera’s biggest problem in his fight against Andy was the weight cut. I think he had to cut a lot and that took a lot out of him. However, recent reports have Vera currently walking around at 202 or 203, which is already lower than he needs to be to make 205. He claims to be taking the sport more seriously as he no longer thinks of it as just a hobby like he used to. If his weight really is at 202, that’s proof enough for me. The UFC brass has claimed they’re expanding into the Philippines in 2009, and since Vera is of Filipino descent (his father), and he could get to an even bigger status in the organization with a couple wins going into that expansion. Vera recently did an open workout at Mall of Asia in Pasay City, Philippines.

Vera has only two losses, one to former UFC HW Champ Tim Sylvia, and a first-round TKO loss to Fabricio Werdum (what many consider to be a controversial stoppage). Vera has notable wins over former UFC HW Champ Frank Mir, Assuerio Silva and Justin Eilers

Jardine is coming off his horrible blitz loss to W. Silva at UFC 84. This loss followed a unanimous decision win, which followed a first-round TKO loss to Houston Alexander. 3 of Jardine’s 4 losses came from a first-round TKO or KO – the fourth loss was a unanimous decision loss to Stephan Bonnar (which was some of the worst judging I’ve ever seen).

Jardine obviously has a problem with blitz attacks, so I think the key to a victory by Vera is to get in on Jardine quick and hard and work in some hard shots. Jardine needs to keep Vera at bay and try to slowly break Vera down like he did Liddell.

Jardine has a very odd stance that can confuse his opponents, but I think that Vera could use kicks and his jab to keep Jardine at bay so he couldn’t do any real damage. Jardine trains out of Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico, and 2008 has so far been a great year for Jackson, but like I said before, I think this is going to be the return of the old Vera. I think Jardine might be able to hold off Vera for the first round, but I see him going down early in the second. Jardine did rebound well from his TKO loss to Alexander with a decision win over Liddell, but I don’t think he’ll be able to rebound as well this time.

Vera by TKO (punches), Round 2.

Rameau Sokoudjou vs. Luis Cane (Sokoudjou) – Soko (5-2) is coming off a TKO victory over Kazuhiro Nakamura in May and Cane (8-1) is coming off a TKO victory over Jason Lambert in June.

Soko is 1-1 in the UFC, having lost via submission to Lyoto Machida in Soko’s UFC debut. Soko has notable wins over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona, both first-round KO victories.

Cane is also 1-1 in the UFC, having lost his UFC debut to James “Sandman” Irvin via DQ because he kneed Irvin in the face while Irvin was on the ground.

Soko has one 4 wins via TKO or KO and 1 win via submission. His 2 losses are 1 submission loss and 1 TKO loss. 7 of Cane’s 8 wins have come via TKO or KO, and his sole loss is the aforementioned DQ. Soko trains out of Team Quest and Cane out of Gibi Thai.

I think that Cane will go in quickly to look for the KO or TKO. I see Soko (a judoka) throwing Cane and then capitalizing on the ground position for the TKO.

Sokoudjou via TKO (punches), Round 1.

Paul Taylor vs. Chris Lytle (Lytle) – Both fighters are 1-2 in their last 3 fights. Lytle (25-16-5) is coming off a win over Kyle Bradley and losses to Josh Koscheck and Thiago Alves. Taylor (9-3-1) is coming off a win over Jess Liaudin and losses to Paul Kelly and Marcus Davis.

In spite of the fact that Lytle is a former boxer and boasts the nickname “Lights Out”, 17 of his 25 wins are via submission. Lytle is also a tough opponent to take out quickly. 14 of his 16 losses are via decision. Taylor has 5 wins by TKO or KO, 2 via submission and 2 via decision. Of his 3 losses, 2 were submissions and 1 was a decision.

Lytle obviously has the edge in experience and I think he’ll be able to control the fight the majority of the time. I think Taylor is going to give Lytle a decent game, but I see this fight going like Taylor’s fight against Davis – Lytle will use strikes to work through Taylor’s defense and set up a submission.

Lytle via submission (armbar), Round 1.

Paul Kelly vs. Marcus Davis (Davis) – Davis (14-4) is coming off a decision loss to Mike Swick in June. Kelly (7-0) is coming into the fight undefeated, most recently with a decision win over Paul Taylor.

Davis loves fighting overseas. He’s 3-1 in his last 4 fights (3 in England, 1 in Ireland), and his three wins all came in England, in the first round, which is where this event is taking place. Davis is even used to fighting English fighters (like Kelly), as Paul Taylor is also from England.

Both fighters love to bang and I don’t see this one going out of the first round either. It’s kind of hard to predict how Davis could capitalize on Kelly’s weaknesses since Kelly is undefeated. Based on this, I’m going to have to rely on Davis’s strengths. 5 of his wins are via TKO or KO and 7 come via submission. However, since I think Kelly is going to come out swinging, I think Davis will respond in kind. However, whereas Davis was crazy muscular in his last few fights, I hear he’s coming in with a leaner frame this time. I don’t think this is going to affect his punching power, though.

Davis by KO, Round 1.

Shane Carwin vs. Neil Wain (Carwin) – Both fighters are coming into this fight undefeated and both fighters have never let a fight get out of the first round. This is Carwin’s (9-0) second fight in the UFC, the first being a KO win over Christian Wellisch in May. This is Wain’s UFC debut, but he does have the advantage of fighting in front of a home crowd (from Doncaster, England).

I think Carwin is going to quickly work his way up to HW contender status. I know the state of the HW title is going to be tied up for a while with the Couture/Nogueira/Mir/Lesnar business, but I think Carwin is going to build up some wins and wait in the wings for his chance.

Carwin has 4 wins via TKO or KO and 5 via submission. All 4 of Wain’s wins come via TKO. Based on the fighters’ past histories, I don’t see this fight making it out of the first round.

Carwin by TKO (strikes), Round 1.

Dan Hardy vs. Akihiro Gono (Gono) – This will be Gono’s (28-12-7) second fight in the UFC and Hardy’s (19-6) first. Gono is coming off a submission win against Tamdan McCrory and Hardy is coming off a TKO win in another organization.

Gono’s record sports 14 decisions, 7 TKOs or KOs, and 6 submissions. Hardy has 10 wins via TKO or KO, 4 submissions and 5 decisions.

Hardy has the home crowd advantage, and I think he’ll look to end it quickly with a TKO or KO, because he knows that Gono has an advantage in experience. However, I do think Gono will be able to avoid Hardy successfully while landing some good counterpunches of his own. Hardy has never been KO’d or TKO’d, but I think Gono will be able to exploit Hardy’s vulnerability when it comes to submissions. I think Gono will bide his time until he wears Hardy down and get a submission late in the fight.

Gono by submission (armbar), Round 3.

Jess Liaudin vs. David Bielkheden (Liaudin) – This is an interesting one to call. The fight is going to happen at 155 while both fighters are coming off losses at 170. Liaudin (12-10) is coming off a split decision loss to Paul Taylor from this past June while Bielkheden (12-6) is coming off a submission loss to Diego Sanchez from this past March.

Liaudin has 3 wins via TKO or KO, 8 via submission and a single decision win. Bielkheden has won 4 via TKO or KO, 5 via submission and 3 decisions.

In spite of the fact that both have moved down 155, I still think Liaudin is going to have a strength advantage and will be able to outmuscle Bielkheden (much like Sanchez did) until he can sink in the submission.

Liaudin via submission, Round 1

Sam Stout vs. Terry Etim (Stout) – Strangely enough, both fighters are coming off decision losses to Rich Clementi. Stout (13-4-1) managed to at least get a split decision loss while Etim (10-2) suffered a unanimous decision loss.

This is a great striker versus grappler match-up. 8 of Stout’s 13 wins have come via TKO or KO while 9 of Etim’s 10 wins have come via submission.

Stout does have great striking and Etim does have great grappling, but I don’t think either’s individual skill set will be able to overtake the other one’s for a quick end. I think it will be a continuous back and forth between the two fighters until one gets a decision victory.

Stout via split decision.

David Baron vs. Jim Miller (Baron) – Both Miller (11-1) and Baron (16-2) are both making their UFC debuts with this fight. Miller is coming off a unanimous decision win over Bart Palaszewski in the IFL and Baron is coming off a submission victory over Hayato “Mach” Sakurai at a shoot event.

Honestly, I’ve never seen either of these fighters fight except for watching replays on YouTube. Miller is following in the footsteps of his brother Dan, who recently made his UFC debut at UFN 15 (with a submission win over Rob Kimmons). Both men seem to know their way around submissions as Miller has 8 submission victories and Baron has 10. This could indicate to some that they would be transitioning from submission attempt to submission attempt on the way to a decision. Is this possible? Absolutely, but I think Baron has the edge both in striking and being able to take a punch. Baron has 4 wins via TKO or KO while Miller has a lone TKO.

I think Baron will end up on top with a quick victory, surprising Miller with strikes.

Baron via TKO (strikes), Round 1

Per Eklund vs. Samy Schiavo (Eklund) – Both fighters will look to rebound from losses in what is both fighters’ second fight in the UFC. Eklund (13-3-1) is coming off a decision loss to Sam Stout from January while Schiavo (10-5) is coming off a TKO loss to Clay Guida from April. However, before both their losses, Eklund was 5-1 in his prior 6 fights and Schiavo was 6-0.

Both fighters have submission victories; Eklund has 6, Schiavo has 5. However, what I think is more relevant at this point is that Eklund has 0 losses by submission while Schiavo has lost 4 via submission.

I think that the first round will go back and forth between the two fighters, with Schiavo likely winning the round, but Eklund will be able to capitalize on some mistake by Schiavo in the second round to catch him in a submission.

Eklund via submission, Round 2.

So there you have it, folks - if you made it all the way through, you deserve an award. We'll see how it all plays out.


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Having Trouble Deciding Which Candidate is the Best? I Have Something That Might Help

In what has to be the greatest thing come up with since Tina Fey doing a Sarah Palin impression (which is genius), I came across this helpful website today. Various polls will ask which candidate you'd like to share a beer with, or which you'd like to watch football with, or which you'd think would be best to run the country.

I have yet to see a poll which asks one of the most important questions - which candidate (or candidate's wife) do you think could win a Mortal Kombat style tournament, complete with weapons?

Now that question can be answered, with your help. Just check it out here. You'll probably have to watch a quick commercial first, but it's worth the wait.


And here is the rest of it.
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Junie Browning: He's Got the Most Appropriate Nickname in All of MMA.

I was trying to think of a witty title for the article, but unfortunately, nothing was initially coming to me. Working in a joke about his antics seems old (already), speculating about whether he gets kicked off seems like it's going to be a weekly thing (for the record, I don't think he ever will, short of killing somebody).

And then it hit me - Setting up some anticipation for people with a title that would entice them to read because they're undoubtably wondering why I think he has the most appropriate nickname in all of MMA. (You're probably not wondering why I think that - I can be delusional sometimes.)


For those of you who don't know, Junie's nickname is "Lunatik". See? He's got the most appropriate nickname. Sure, there have been plenty of guys who had good nicknames, and a lot of those nicknames were good plays on words or somewhat descriptive, but think about it - Junie wears the Lunatik moniker like he was born with it.

For those of you wanting more Junie, feel free to check out Junie's new website here. It's still growning, but there is stuff to check out on there, including a link to websites that have published articles on Junie. I only mention that because FightTicker is one listed on there. I think as the season progresses, more things will get posted there.

For those of you wanting even more Junie, check out his Myspace page here.

But back to the point. Junie is a lunatic. Now that's not always a bad thing - if he could focus that lunacy in the cage, he could do some major damage. But until that happens, he'll just keep doing the damage outside the cage.

As everyone saw, Junie and Nelson got drunk, started the crap-talking and then Junie threw the glass at KK. Now, I agreed with Junie and most everybody else when they said they thought he was going to be kicked off. I would think that behavior like that, that could seriously injure somebody, would be more frowned on. But as everyone saw, it didn't stop there. Furniture got thrown in the pool, Junie got in everybody's faces....and then Junie got to stay on the show.

I was surprised about that, but only kind of. Let's look at what Junie did - first and foremost, he did injure someone else, but it appeared to be minor. Second, he did damage to the house (certainly not an unprecedented move). Third, he caused a bunch of a drama in the house (like we've never seen that before). I'm not trying to make light of KK's injury - that sucks, and Junie should have paid for it.

However, does it rise to the level of Jesse Taylor's drunken idiocy in public at the casino, and in the limo? Junie did injure someone, but I think Jesse put more people at risk, both physically and legally, because he did it in public and a lot more people would have had to pay if he would've faced charges. Does it rise to the level of Leben's idiocy when he was on the show and punched a hole in the door? Probably not, but I think that's only because he didn't injure himself, like Leben did. It's a close call, though.

But regardless of what you think about all that (and I know what many of you think because I've seen the comments), we're then faced with an unprecedented move. He jumps the cage and looks like he's going after Efrain, only to be stopped by Minotauro while Mir's coaches rush in to help restrain Junie. That was new. However dramatic it seemed though, it was just that - drama. Did Junie really want to fight Efrain at that moment - sure. If you don't believe me, check out his newest blog entry on UFC.com. But do I think there was ever any chance of Junie actually getting at Efrain - no. In addition to everyone in the cage that could've stopped him due to sheer mass of people, Nogueira had hold of him, and if Nogueira doesn't want to let go of you, you're not getting loose.

But if nothing else, Junie lived up to his nickname. Like Kenny Diamond (a KY MMA promoter) stated in a comment on Eliot Marshall's weekly blog entry on FightTicker.com (check that out here),

The Junie I know has always been very respectful and one hell of a fighter. He has always been cocky, so is his brother Rob, but it was usually in an entertainment type way.

I knew before the first episode aired that he would ham it up, but I have to say that I am shocked by how far it has went.

And that is what I've always heard about Junie as well - cocky, but not crazy.

But at least Junie appears to be able to look back on the situation with some sense. Check out his blog entry that I mentioned above - he at least acknowledges his behavior, even though I wonder if he'll be able to prevent it in the future. He knows what his triggers are, but he keeps pulling them.

I got hyped when I first saw Junie was on the show, and I was excited when he won his first fight, but admittedly, I have questioned my loyalty. After a friend of mine sent me a text after last night's episode that said "Junie is a douche" I wondered if I would think that about Junie if he weren't from Kentucky and didn't fight out of the same school as some other guys I know. Honestly, probably. But I'm nothing if not loyal and I'll rep Junie til the end. I don't condone his behavior but I still want to see him do well - and when he does well on the show (inside the cage, not out of it) I'll be there to man the bandwagon when people start jumping on. "Lunatik" or not, Junie is here to stay.

To sum it up, I'll leave you with this thought from Junie's most recent blog entry on UFC.com. I think the last sentence really hits home.

It’s funny, but I went on the forums after last week’s show, and I didn’t think that week’s episode was that bad – I thought it was sorta goofy – and the reaction was pretty crazy. This week, I don’t know what they’re gonna say. It doesn’t bother me though; as long as they’re talking. Love me or hate me, they’re saying my name.

Until next week...


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E-Interview with Amateur Fighter Jason Stanley

In my continuing effort to let you all know about some fighters you should know and watch for, I'd like to introduce you to Jason Stanley, fighting out of Ashland, KY. I first met Jason and saw him fight at the Kentucky Fighting Challenge #44 in Mt. Sterling. Check out my write up on that here (Fight Number Four).

Jason trains out of Stephens Vale Tudo in Ashland, KY. Check out their website here, and you can find them on Myspace here.

To find out more about Jason, check after the jump.

That's Jason. First, I want to say thanks to Jason for being willing to speak with me after his fight, and for doing this interview. As I said in my KYFC write-up, Jason is a guy to watch out for. In my opinion, he's got a long career ahead of him, and I'm interested to see where it goes.

What initially inspired you to get into the fight game?

My father boxed when he was younger and I think that is what sparked my initial interest in the fight game. I also remember watching UFC 1 with a good friend of mine and fell in love with MMA then. Although my training for MMA didn’t start until much after.

What is your current record?
MMA record: 2-0 Grappling record: 12 to 15 wins 5 losses (approximately)

In what promotions have you fought?
Kentucky Fighting Challenge

In what weight class do you normally fight? Have you ever fought outside that weight class?
I have done most fights at 170 but have had both MMA fights at 185.

What is your training background and in what do you currently train and where?
My training background has been mostly in BJJ, but I have done some wrestling and MMA training

Do you have a job in addition to fighting?
I work as a Registered Nurse at a local hospital in the area.

If so, are you able to do a typical “training camp” before a fight, and if so, how long does that generally last?
I just recently quit my fulltime Monday thru Friday job as a RN to allow me to train on a more fulltime basis. I would prefer to have 3-4 weeks notice before a fight. Most guys may prefer more training time however I keep my training fairly intense even without a set fight date.

What was your job before fighting?
My fulltime job was also as a RN at a local long term care facility. I was the Staff Development Coordinator and had many responsibilities including scheduling, educational inservices to the other nurses, and I also taught a class to certify employees as state registered nurse aids here in Kentucky.

How closely do you monitor your diet when preparing for a fight?
I have to monitor my diet closely all the time. My body prefers to be 185 and I like to fight at 170. No French fries or cheese burgers lol

Are there any supplements you take?
Lots of protein and multivitamins.

What’s an average day of training like for you?
First workout of the day usually involves a weight training session that takes about an hour and also involves some plyometrics. After that I have a BJJ class at SVT that lasts about an hour and a half. Depending on what day it is there is either a core workout(mostly low back and ab work) or density conditioning(timed sessions doing heavy bag ground and pound or flipping a tractor tire, or some other creative workout that Aaron has dreamed up) Then in the evening there is usually another BJJ class or a cardio kickboxing class.

Who do you typically train with before a fight?
Just with my instructor Aaron Stephens and the other guys in our camp. We have some really talented guys in our camp that really push me and help me in my training.

What kind of mental preparations do you go through for before a fight?
Not much. This is an area I really need to work on. I think the only way to get past the mental aspect is just by competing as much as possible. The more experience the better.

Is there one particular training aspect you single out as being more important than the others?
Cardio! The more the better.

What is your normal pre-fight routine?
I usually will have to cut several pounds of weight the day before the fight. I usually do this by doing a light cardio session while wearing a sauna suit and a sweat suit. I am very dehydrated afterwards so I prefer to weigh in as soon as possible. After that it’s on to Applebees to eat and rehydrate. The rest of the evening is just usually rest and relaxation until the fight. I will usually eat a couple more times and continue to rehydrate.

At this point in your career, if there’s one fight you could do over again, which would it be?
I don’t know if there is one I wish I could do over. I have learned from all of them. I probably learned the most from the ones I lost.

To date, what do you consider to be your biggest achievement in fighting?
September 1st, of this year when I decided to follow a dream and pursue fighting on a more fulltime basis.

What is your favorite technique?
Don’t know if I have a favorite but I have done well with the ground and pound.

Before fighting in MMA, did you compete in any other combat sports (i.e. BJJ) and if so, in what tournaments did you compete and how did you place in those tournaments?
I have competed in the NAGA Arnold Classic in 2007 and 2008 and placed in the top 3 both years in the no gi divisions. Also just recently competed in the first Sinister tournament in Louisville and placed first no gi and third in gi.

It seems like fighters are being sponsored by companies from all industries – at any given event, you’ll see logos for mortgage companies, energy drinks and the ever present Condom Depot emblazoned across a number of fighters’ asses – do you think this kind of exposure helps or hurts the sport?
I don’t think it hurts the sport. It gives companies the chance to do some effective marketing and helps the fighters with some additional income/free gear. It all helps.

As an amateur fighter, do you find that you have a harder time finding sponsors, or have you tried to find sponsors?
I haven’t pursued any sponsors as of yet, but it is something we are looking into.

As an amateur fighter, do you find that you have to do a lot of self-promotion to get your name out there, and if so, what kind of things do you do to achieve that goal?
Umm, well, I am pretty new to the fight game and I think I need to get a few more wins and a more solid foundation before looking into any promotion.

Who is your agent and/or manager?
Aaron Stephens – Agent / Coach / Manager.

Do you have aspirations of turning pro?

If so, how long, or after how many more fights do you think it will it take to do that?
I am not in a hurry. I want to get several more amateur fights in first

How do you feel about organizations like the American Fight League (AFL) out of Louisville?
Have heard some good things, but don’t know a lot about them.

Do you think that promotions like this that start on a local level will ever be able to compete with organizations like the UFC?
With the right promotional strategies and marketing you never know what might happen.

Junie Allen Browning, out of Four Seasons in Lexington, KY, recently made headlines because he landed a spot on Season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter – what do you think this kind of exposure does for MMA in Kentucky?
I think that it does a lot for Kentucky MMA. Four Seasons is a good school and I am sure they have many talented guys. Browning looks great in the cage and he looks like he is off to a bright future in the UFC. I just have a feeling that being under the “microscope” of a reality show can be very tough for a person. The more things get crazy, the better the ratings are. I could only guess that that kind of world can be really hard to deal with sometimes.

A number of websites publish the fighters’ salaries after events along with the winners of bonuses such as the UFC Fight of the Night, KO of the Night and Submission of the Night bonuses, and they do it with a disclaimer that the figures don’t include costs of medical examinations, travel and the like – what kind of expenses do you deal with as a fighter that most people wouldn’t know about?
As an amateur you don’t get paid so there are a lot of expenses. Most of the fights are not close to home and there are expenses like gas, hotel costs, food. Good equipment is a must, this includes gloves, headgear, athletic equipment, fight clothing, and much more.

In your opinion, who is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world?
Tough question. Maybe George St. Pierre or Anderson Silva

Who are some fighters, past or present, that you admire?
Sean Sherk, Randy Couture, Forrest Griffin, Anderson Silva, George St. Pierre, many more.

The sport seems to be getting more exposure and as a result, becoming more accepted across society – where do you see the sport in five years?
I think the sport will be bigger and more accepted. I think it will push boxing into the background.

What kind of hobbies do you enjoy in your down time?
What down time? Lol. I used to enjoy the X-Box. I don’t know if I would even remember how to turn one on. I enjoy hanging out with friends and family.

How do you your family and friends feel about your fighting career?
Mom hates it lol. I don’t have a lot of family support but it’s my dream and I love it. Hey if it doesn’t work there is always nursing.

Thank you for all this, Jason – is there anyone you’d like to thank?
I would like to thank Aaron Stephens for all my training and his coaching. I would also like to thank Spring for all her hard cardio she has put me through. Magan for all her wonderful support and for putting up with me. My family for their limited support, lol. Kenny Diamond for him helping me set up my fights. All of my training partners in our SVT Family – those who have sweat and bled with me to help all of us get to the next level(s). Especially Travis, Casey, Ryan, Daniel, Bill, Russell, and Zack. Thanks to my friends Dave, Derek, Drew, and Johnathan. Thanks to you PreView for this opportunity and the kind words you have spoken about me.
So there you have it. Jason is an exciting fighter and an intelligent guy and if you happen to be in the KY area on November first, you can check him out at the Xplosive Caged Combat show in Brandenburg, KY. Check out the XCC here.

Check back here later for more updates on Jason as he continues working his way up the amateur ladder on his way to a pro debut.


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I'm Now Fairly Certain Junie Doesn't Get Kicked Off the Show

I've always enjoyed reading blog entries from the guys on TUF, because they're generally pretty entertaining, and many of them offer an intelligent behind-the-scenes look at the whole situation, giving us info about things we didn't see on the edited versions of the show.

Blogs like this can be found on sites likes ones I've linked on the right column (Fight Ticker, MMA Junkie, 5 oz of Pain, and Cage Potato, to name a few.)

I've also enjoyed seeing a KY boy, Junie Browning, get his shot on the show. However, I haven't enjoyed thinking about the possibility of him getting kicked off the show for his drunken escapades. But, in spite of all of his "berserk" behavior (that's how Spike TV described it), I'm now fairly certain Junie doesn't get kicked off the show. Why is that, you ask?

Because I discovered today that Junie is doing a weekly blog, too......on UFC.com.
While I know that some of the fighters are assigned websites to blog for, I have no doubt that the UFC gets to pick who they want, and picking Junie is genius. Love him or hate him, people want to know about him. For example, my personal blog I started before writing for FightTicker (I still do posts there, too), Previously Viewed, gets blown up everyday from people doing google searches on "Junie Browning", "Junie Browning TUF 8", "Junie Browning getting kicked off the show", and so on and so forth.

Junie has a dynamic personality, he's a solid fighter, and he's willing to throw down with anybody. But I think my overall point is that the UFC wouldn't pick somebody to blog for their website if it was somebody they had kicked off the show. That would just be bad for business.

So for now, check out Junie's blog on UFC.com - you can find his first blog entry here. I'm definitely looking forward to hearing what he has to say for the rest of the season, and especially next week.

That's not enough Junie for you? Then check out his newly formed webpage here, or his MySpace page here.


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Will Junie Browning Make it Past Next Week on TUF?

First of all, let me say that the Spike TV website is killing me. They offer html code so that a blogger like myself could presumably place their videos into blog entries. In fact, when you click the "embed" link, a link even comes up that says "Copy & paste this code into your blog, Myspace...or anywhere else you can add HTML."

Then I do that, and the video comes up as "please watch on spiketv.com".

Check after the jump for a link to the video as well as a quick description.

Maybe it's something I'm doing wrong, I don't know. Regardless, here's the scoop. For anyone who watched TUF last night, the teaser for next week states that two people are already in danger of being kicked off the show, one of them being Junie Browning. The teaser them promised exclusive content on Spike's website.

To check out the video, go here. The clip is appropriately entitled "Junie Goes Berserk" as Junie apparently wants to fight pretty much anybody who gets in face, including Ryan Bader, fresh off his KO win.

I think Junie is hardcore, but so is Bader, and Bader probably outweighs Junie by about 50 pounds. Personally, not a fight I would pick.

Junie is definitely on a rampage, though, and I'm interested to see how this gets handled, particularly because he kicked one of the guys while they were trying to break it up. As past seasons have shown, Dana doesn't (and shouldn't) have much tolerance for this sort of behavior, as it makes UFC fighters look like thugs. Because of this, I'm interested to see what happens to Junie - it would be a shame if he got kicked off, because he can just as easily go berserk in the cage.

On a side note, Dana can preach and piss and moan all he wants, but if they really didn't want stuff like this to happen they would give the guys a little bit more freedom and a LOT less booze. Dana is the king of enablers when it comes to in-house violence.

Finally, I think it is relevant to note that we aren't given any idea why Junie goes berserk. Because you can hear Bader saying something about "dishing it out, so you have to take it", one could assume it's a prank gone bad. I guess we'll get the whole story next week.

Until next week...


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