SUN Sports & Entertainment Inc. (Pink: SSPE) will be holding their 4th installment of the company's Art Of War promotion on Saturday, October 27, 2007 at Harrah’s Grand Casino, in Tunica, Mississippi. This is the fledgling promotion's first foray outside of their home base of Texas. The formation of HDNet Fights also based in Dallas, actually puts this organization in somewhat of a bind. Their territory has been co-opted by their broadcast partner, so I'd expect the Art Of War to hold many of their future events outside of the Lone Star State.
The fight card is:
- Mike Wessel vs. Matt Thomas
- Shane Carwin vs. Rex Richards
- Andrew Chappelle vs. Adriano "Nasal" Pereira
- Ron Faircloth vs. Chris Hawk
- Mike Queen vs. Kyle Gibbons
- David Hulett vs. David "Buff" Brown
- Mark Wiggins vs. Keith Bach
- Andy Uhrich vs. Chris Gates
The Art Of War press release for the event gives a good overall summary of the card:
The main event of the night features Heavyweight Contenders Memphis native MATT "WAR MACHINE" THOMAS (6’5" 250 lbs) who takes on MIKE "JUGGERNAUT" WESSEL (6’2" 250 lbs) in a much anticipated Heavyweight slugfest. Thomas trains out of Midsouth Fight Club, while Wessel has set aside his duties as the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Arkansas Razorbacks to prepare for battle. Come fight time, there will be over 500 pounds in the circular cage!
In the co-main event, undefeated super heavyweights collide as SHANE CARWIN (6’4", 280 lbs.) faces off against REX RICHARDS (6’5", 290 lbs.). Hailing from Greeley, Colorado, Carwin is a two-time All-American Division II wrestling champion who arguably has the best physique in MMA. Richards is a former NFL football player for the Indianapolis Colts who gave up the grid iron for the steel cage. Both men are known for power, strength and big knockouts. This match promises to be one of the most intense super heavyweight battles in recent memory as both men are physical specimens and at the end of the day…there can only be one winner.
Modern Combatives Army instructor ANDREW CHAPPELLE (5-5) returns after a two-year hiatus to face Memphis native ADRIANO "NASAL" PEREIRA in a 155-pound match. Chappelle has spent his time on the sidelines sharpening his tools while preparing America’s best, but now he’s ready to show the world he still has what it takes to be a top contender. Pereira is arguably the best grappler in the Deep South. As a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Murilo Bustamante and the Brazilian Top Team, "Nasal" will test his 5-3 record and aims for a submission win in front of his hometown crowd.
UFC vet RON FAIRCLOTH brings over 30 bouts of experience to the table in a 205-pound bout against local superstar CHRIS HAWK, who will be making his professional debut. Hawk, who is 4-1 as an amateur, hopes to shock the world with an upset using his years of experience while training at Midsouth Fight Club. Faircloth is a cagey submission specialist who carries a six-fight winning steak. Will experience overcome youth or will the Hawk put himself on the map with a surprise win in his inaugural match?
Alabama native DJ WATKINS was the only fighter forced to drop out of the event due to injury. His replacement, MIKE QUEEN (4-2) out of Oklahoma, will now step up to combat hard-hitting Indiana powerhouse KYLE GIBBONS (6-2) in a middleweight contest.
North Little Rock, Arkansas police officer MARK WIGGINS (2-0) won’t be able to enforce the law in the circular cage, but will be looking for a knockout or submission over Modern Combatives Army student KEITH BACH (2-1) from Georgia in a 135-pound fight.
Alabama’s DAVID HULETT (3-3) will look to improve his record in a welterweight showdown against Memphis native DAVID "BUFF" BROWN (2-1). Undefeated amateur ANDY "THE STUNNER" UHRICH (all 6 wins by KO) looks to make his pro debut a successful one against Mississippi native CHRIS "2 CRUEL" GATES (8-3) in a 185-pound bout that will open the show.
ART OF WAR 4: Mississippi Mayhem will be produced by American Television Distribution and filmed in high definition. MMA renowned TV and Radio Personality MAURO RANALLO will be cage side with MMA Fighter RICCO RODRIGUEZ who will serve as commentators for the event. "This is a great venue, a great fight card and a great location in Mississippi and fans in Tennessee that are looking for a world class production and SUN intends to deliver that and more," said SUN CEO CJ Comu.
In my honest opinion, this card is a step back for the promotion in terms of fighter talent, but much of that can be blamed on promoting an out of state card for the first time, coupled with the growing competition for the services of fighters including HDNet Fights. The promotion is obviously trying to use local talent, which is a smart move whenever moving into a new market.
The main events that have been booked are interesting though. Wessel vs. Thomas is a good battle between heavyweight prospects. Obviously they are both relatively new to the sport and not big league headliners yet, but either could make a name for themselves with a good performance here.
The co-feature offers two of the most promising super heavyweight fighters in the USA. Former NFL player, Rex Richards has been stopping the competition that the Strikeforce promotion has been able to offer him. Shane Carwin however is a different class of fighter than any of Richards' past opponents. The two-time All-American Division II wrestling champion is an absolute monster and a ground and pound machine. This will definitely be one of the better super heavyweight matches fought this year.
The rest of the card is rounded out by journeymen and youngsters. Not necessarily a bad thing if the matchmaking is done well.
I'm curious about the state of SUN's relationship with HDNet. They were part of HDNet's Friday Fight Night series. SUN has since signed a deal with American Television Distribution whom they teamed with to distribute their first PPV event with iN DEMAND.
The last paragraph mentions that this card is being produced by ATD in high definition, with broadcaster Mauro Ranallo joined by Ricco Rodriguez doing play by play duties. This doesn't rule out HDNet as the eventual destination for the broadcast, but shows that SUN have taken all production of their events in house.
I made a most facinating discovery on ATD's web site. It's a web page for a television program called Star Fighter MMA. They have a video trailer for the show, that is eerily familiar to anyone who heard about the ProElite and Mark Burnett reality TV production that was announced earlier this month. In fact SUN and ATD's reality television show was to feature Herschel Walker and a cast of former NFL players, competing against one another over nine episodes for a chance to fight for the Art Of War heavyweight title.
Pro Elite's yet to be titled show features Herschel Walker and Jose Canseco, who with a group of other former pros, train as a team to cross over into the sport of mixed martial arts. These athletes will fight with select EliteXC fighters in each episode with the series finale featuring a famous celebrity athlete match up. I wonder what the story is with this?
In other semi-related news: