There are many interesting variables on the MMA horizon that will potentially impact both the sport and the fighters who are looking to make it big. Zuffa's purchase of Strikeforce in March and the eminent merge results in a trickle-down effect as Bellator ramps up their efforts to move in to the number two spot. This will obviously leave an opening for Maximum FC, Titan FC, Shark Fights, Shine Fights, M-1, or some other organization to jockey for third. Television deals also play into the grand scheme as the UFC is looking into purchasing their own cable channel, hopefully resulting in more scheduled fights and more opportunities for fighters. If the rumors become reality, Spike TV will presumably hand the reigns of their MMA programming over to Bellator. Bellator is already TV savvy and if they do get the Spike TV slot they will in turn need more name fighters, build their roster, and have less non-title ‘super fights' for their champions. Regardless of how all these events play out, MMA fans are on the verge of seeing their favorite sport anytime they turn on their TV...it is a great time to be a MMA fan.
Marcio Cruz (7-2-0, UFC 2-2)
Fight Matrix Rank: 39
Last Bout: W (Sub) - David Yost 4/3/2010
Next Bout: Glover Teixera (12-2-0) @ TBA event - 7/20/2011
Cruz's US promotion hopes hang on a highly anticipated bout against Glover Teixera in July. This will be a great opportunity for two fighters with UFC aspirations. Cruz has a bit more to lose in this fight as Teixera's UFC campaign will be as a light heavyweight, but a good showing against a solid opponent should not deter promotions in the event of a decision loss.
Ricco Rodriquez (46-11-0)
Fight Matrix: 32
Last Bout: W (UD) - James McSweeney - 2/26/2011
(UPDATE) Next Bout: Tony Lopez (24-7) @ Shark Fights 17, July 15
Rodriquez derailed his UFC comeback aspirations outside the cage after getting busted for not paying cab fare and resisting arrest. Missing contracted weight, abusing alcohol and/or drugs, assault, and fighting with police are not things that promoters look for in a potential investment. At 33, Rodriquez can't afford these kinds of setbacks in his career.
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (12-8-0, UFC 1-2, SF 0-1)
Fight Matrix Rank: 30
W - UD Roy Boughton (5-2-0, FMR #67)
Sokoudjou defeated Boughton by unanimous decision at TheScore Fighting Series on June 10th. Unfortunately I didn't get to see this fight because The Score stream was unavailable (pissing off many fans). Sokoudjou came into the fight recovering from pneumonia yet still outworked Boughton standing and in the clinch. Apparently he gassed in the third due to the illness and received 29-28s across the board.
Attila Vegh (23-4-2)
Fight Matrix Rank: 37
W - TKO Grigor Aschugbabjan (6-6, FMR #204)
Vegh defeated Aschugbabjan via controversial 2nd round TKO at KSW 16 on May 21st. Vegh started the fight with a couple of groin shots to the much smaller Aschugbabjan and had to rebound from a quick knockdown in the first round. The fight was called 26 seconds into round 2 after Vegh unloaded a flurry of knees and Aschugbabjan claimed an eye poke. Unfortunately it wasn't the greatest showing for Vegh but considering he had just come off a big win over Marcus Vanttinen the week before, he can chalk this up to a lesson learned when it comes to over-booking.
Attila Vegh vs Grigor Aschugbabjan KSW 16 (via FISTSLIKEBULLETS)
Tony Lopez (24-7-0)
Fight Matrix Rank: 85 (HW)
L - SUB Ricky Shivers (10-5-1, FMR #54 HW)
(UPDATE) Next Bout: Ricco Rodriquez (46-11) @ Shark Fights 17, July 15
Lopez lost by armbar submission to Shivers in the 1st round of his heavyweight bout at Alaska Fighting Championship 83. The loss only confirms my thoughts that Lopez is more effective at light heavy, even though Shivers is also a natural LHW, but the man is the master of his own destiny.
Mamed Khalidov (23-4-2)
SBNation Rank: 15
Fight Matrix Rank: 13
W - TSUB Matt Lindland (22-9, FMR# 61)
It took Khalidov a little over a minute to catch Lindland in a standing arm-in guillotine at KSW 16 and put the former Olympic medalist to sleep before he could tap. I'll go ahead and repeat the obvious...Khalidov performed spectacularly and fans are chomping at the bit for his UFC debut.
Jesse Taylor (19-6-0, UFC 0-1, SF 0-2)
Fight Matrix Rank: 16
W - SUB Denis Kang
Taylor defeated Kang by RNC in just under two minutes of their Battlefield Fight League showdown on May 28th. Taylor's five-fight win streak over notables such as Murilo Bustamante, Tom Watson, and now Kang should make him an attractive addition to the UFC or Strikeforce.
Denis Kang (34-13-2, UFC 1-2)
Fight Matrix Rank: 29
L - SUB Jesse Taylor
See above. Kang lost in what might have been a top organization audition to Jesse Taylor. The fact that it was a first round submission will detract suitors and Kang has a tough road ahead of him if he hopes to get back into the upper echelon of MMA.
Paulo Filho (22-4-1)
Fight Matrix Rank: 70
Filho lost to unheralded Paraisy by UD at X-Combat Ultra, a regional Brazilian promotion. Even though he was finally fighting at something close to his natural weight Filho lost badly, gassing about three-quarters through the first round. In the final two rounds Paraisy battered Filho, who failed to even keep his hands up against the onslaught. If he had fought someone with power, Filho would have been KTFO. I'll admit that adding Filho to the list was a fleeting hope that he might turn his career around but after seeing him slump to the mat in a broken heap after the fight, it appears he will never be the fighter he once was in his Pride days.
If you dare to watch:
X-Combat Ultra GP - Norman Paraisy vs Paulo Filho [Round 1] (via PRiDEorDiEofficiel)