First, they've announced the pairings for the lightweight grand prix via COO Jason Chambers' Twitter:
Drew Fickett vs Charles "Krazy Horse" Bennett
Rich Crunkilton vs Carlo Prater
James Warfield vs Kyle Baker
Shannon Gugerty vs. Dennis Bermudez
MMA Fighting breaks down the field:
Fickett is the tourney's most veteran fighter. At 37-13 with 26 submissions, he has wins over UFC veterans Josh Koscheck, Kenny Florian, Kurt Pellegrino and Dennis Hallman. His opponent, Bennett (23-17-2), has wins over Strikeforce vet KJ Noons and former WEC bantamweight title challenger Yoshiro Maeda.
Crunkilton (16-3) fights for the first time in nearly a year. He started 7-0 in his WEC career, all pre-Zuffa. But with only three fights the last three years due to injuries, going 1-2 in that stretch, the promotion released him last fall. Prater (24-7-1) has wins over UFC vets Spencer Fisher and Carlos Condit, as well as Strikeforce's Pat Healy. He also fought Fickett more than six years ago, losing by submission.
Warfield (21-6) has all of his victories by stoppage. He fought on Shine's second event a year ago, losing to Yves Edwards by triangle. Baker (9-4) would have been a fan favorite had the event remained in Virginia, where he lives and trains. His most notable win came at a Virginia event in April 2009 - a knockout win over Fickett.
Gugerty (12-5) was let go by the UFC in the spring after going 2-3 with the promotion. Back-to-back losses to Terry Etim and Clay Guida sent him packing. Both his UFC wins - and all three of his UFC losses - ended with choke submissions. Bermudez (8-0) is the lone unbeaten fighter in the tournament. He was a Division II All-American wrestler at Bloomsburg (Pa.) University and is a recent training partner of Urijah Faber.
But there's a lot more going on than just the fights. There's the matter of Marcus Aurelio dropping out of the tournament and possibly competing in DREAM on the 25th. Per Sherdog:
Shine Fights COO Jason Chambers said Wednesday that a representative for Aurelio notified the promotion early this week that the fighter was nursing the elbow injury and might not be able to compete. Chambers said the rep told him he was having issues reaching Aurelio throughout the week, but final word came late Tuesday night that the Pride FC and UFC veteran would be pulling out of the tournament, which will see its finalists compete three times in one evening.
Chambers said he did address with Aurelio's representation the possibility that the fighter would participate in the Dream bout instead in two weeks.
"Marcus' representation told me it wasn't clear he'd be able to compete (in the Dream bout) with his injury," said Chambers.
Regardless, Chambers reiterated that Aurelio would need to seek Shine's approval to take the bout per its agreement with the fighter.
"We have requested documentation of the injury from Marcus' physician through his management and have been told we'll receive it," said Chambers on Wednesday. "We're waiting to review those documents to see what further action we'd take, if any."
Jason Chambers is also non-concerned about threats from the Oklahoma Athletic Commission to suspend any fighters taking part in the non-sanctioned event, per Ben Fowlkes:
"We've communicated to them what's been said, but that's coming from second-hand information from the internet," Chambers said. "Are we going to go tell them, the forums are saying you guys are going to have this or going to have that? Our matchmaker is very open with them and communicating with them. That's a non-issue, the suspensions and stuff. They're well aware of what the possibilities could be, absolutely."
Meanwhile, David Heath plans to sue Shine for nonpayment following their cancelled-at-the-last-minute May 15 card, per MMA Weekly:
David Heath, who was tapped as a late replacement to face Murilo "Ninja" Rua in the main event on the card, says that he has not received any payment from Shine Fights for his contracted participation on the card, and will be filing suit against the promotion next week.
When asked if he had received payment from Shine Fights, Heath answered by text message saying, "Nope. Gonna file a small claims suit when I get back from MFC this weekend."
Oh yeah and Direct TV won't be carrying the Pay Per View.