Before Saturday's big fight, smaller fights brew behind scenes
Former five-time UFC champion Randy Couture is believed to be the only fighter currently under contract to Zuffa who will appear in the EA version. "The Natural" managed to ink an exclusive deal during his 11-month courtroom fight with the UFC. Couture, who is expected to appear on the game's cover, told SI.com he attempted to bring both sides together after falling back in favor with the UFC, but a compromise placing UFC fighters in the EA game never materialized.
For the UFC to stick to its guns, the company would effectively tell Fedor Emelianenko, MMA's top-ranked heavyweight, Shields, a highly regarded welterweight, and other top-class competitors they aren't welcome. That seems like a steep and foolish price to pay, but the Zuffa-led UFC has a long history of winning trench-war like this.
The UFC is partial to signing fighters it sees as willing participants and partners. Why sign and market a mixed martial artist to the point that he's championship caliber in the UFC, while at the same time build that fighter's profile for a rival video game?
That hypothetical thinking, said one source, is what brought White to dispatch Silva.
Training camps finished the heavy lifting last week and indications are fighters in UFC 100's big three fights are healthy and ready to go. In Las Vegas, Michael Bisping is said to have closed out training with several days of what his wrestling coach Zach Light called "unbelievable" sparring against Trevor Prangley, Phil Baroni and Josh Hall. Baroni has been raving how impressed he is with the Brit, who faces his stiffest test yet at middleweight in former Pride champion Dan Henderson.
Frank Mir, also in Vegas, faces a very large man in Brock Lesnar. Yet, a contingent of small, slick grapplers, including WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres and Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion Ricky Lundell, were brought in to help the challenger prepare. One man who couldn't show, thanks to the Department of Homeland Security, was unorthodox Japanese submission fighter Masakazu Imanari. After being denied entry into the country in 1997 and 1999, Imanari was again told he couldn't come to the U.S. on a tourist visa. Without a clear reason why he was denied a third time, Imanari enlisted the services of an immigration lawyer.
Another note on Mir: Filming is set to begin Monday and continue throughout fight week on a pilot tentatively called Mir Manor. Seems like a strange time to introduce a gaggle of cameramen around a fighter near the biggest bout of his career, no?
If it feels like Georges St. Pierre's fight against Thiago Alves has taken a backseat to the Mir-Lesnar heavyweight title clash, six magazine covers for the UFC welterweight champion this month and two to three interviews a day should put an end to that. "Frankly, after all the spotlight that was shone on Georges leading up to the B.J. Penn fight, I'm sure Georges is happy to let Brock and Frank have their turn," said his manager, Shari Spencer.