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Old Mainstream Coverage of MMA


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An article that ran in The People, one of the UK's best selling Sunday tabloids, in 1996. Well, according to the details on the freelibrary.com this ran in The People, and I'm sure it did. However, I don't know if this ran in the UK version or if there is an Irish version that it ran in. The whole deal about Irish immigrants and Ultimate Fighting seems a strange spin. However, maybe that just comes from John McCain's surname being McCain.

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/IRISH+IN+ ... a061156855


Declan White
Feb 25, 1996

TOUGH but hard-up Irish emigrants are being recruited for brutal prize fights in America.

The big men are being attracted by purses of up to pounds 100,000 a fight despite warnings that the bloody combat - called Ultimate Fighting - could leave them badly mutilated.

The craze for what is regarded as the human version of cock-fighting is sweeping America's Mid-West, and Hollywood star Brad Pitt has been criticised for supporting it.

There are few rules - and the winner is the fighter who can still walk at the end of the bout.

Spectators describe it as even more revolting than illegal bare-knuckle boxing which is on the increase in Ireland.

Irish-American Senator John McCain said: "Ultimate Fighting is nauseating and appeals to the lowest in our society."

Brad Pitt said on TV recently that if contestants are willing, they should be allowed to fight.

But right across America authorities are trying to ban the contests.

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A piece that ran in the LA Daily News in early 1997. It centres on an area kickboxer named Jim Mullen who is about to have his second MMA bout.

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/BLOOD+%26 ... a083853109


Christopher Noxon Daily News Staff Writer
Jan 26, 1997

Jim Mullen was a 24-year-old bar bouncer when he saw his first ultimate fighting match.

Broadcast on pay-per-view cable, it was the meanest, toughest, bloodiest sport Mullen had ever seen. Elbows connected with eye sockets. Blood cascaded from nostrils.

It looked, he said, a lot like real life.

``It was just like a bar fight,'' he said. ``I got real excited.''

Three years later, Mullen is preparing to enter the chain-link ring himself. A 210-pound, 27-year-old kick boxer from Simi Valley with five championship belts, Mullen is one of six competitors who will appear Feb. 7 in what ultimate fighting promoters hope will be a turning point for the 3-year-old sport.

Banned in two states and shunned by athletic officials in California, ultimate fighting got a major boost in October, when the New York state Legislature voted to treat it under the same regulatory structure as professional boxing and wrestling.

The event in Niagara Falls will be the first officially sanctioned match for a game that so far has occupied a place in the sports world somewhere between monster truck racing and cockfighting.

``People don't know what to make of it,'' said David Isaacs, chief operating officer for SEG Sports Corp., producer of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. ``But the reality is, it's a game that allows all fighting styles to participate on an equal basis. It's a legitimate sport, and the state of New York has recognized that.''

But Mullen is first to admit that ultimate fighting is worlds away from traditional sports - and that's the attraction. With fighters squaring off in bare-knuckle brawls that often leave the floor slippery with sweat and blood, ultimate fighting is to boxing what a downpour is to a drizzle.

Some political leaders and athletic authorities say the game crosses the line between spectator sport and violent spectacle. Fearing serious injuries in the ring, the California State Athletic Commission has twice rejected requests to host events here.

``The bottom line is these things are dangerous and the risk of injury to participants is too high,'' said Richard DeCuir, executive officer of the commission. ``The injuries we've seen from ultimate fighting are severe.''

To a fighter like Mullen, however, such talk sounds more like political posturing than concern for combatants. Mullen will face a seasoned pit fighter who outweighs him by more than 100 pounds in his first match, but he insists he isn't worried.

``I'm ready mentally and spiritually,'' he said. ``What's the worst thing that could happen? I die and go to heaven? I fear not being able to provide for my son and wife, but God would provide for them.''

Standing a lean 6 feet, 1 inch, with only a few visible scars and bumps from his career in combat, Mullen looks more like a neighborhood soccer coach than an ultimate fighter. Even while flexing his washboard abs and giving his best bad-boy grimace, he seems almost sheepish, a gentle man in the body of a thug.

The idea that Mullen will soon enter a cage with men whose sole purpose is to mangle and disfigure worries his wife, Rebecca, and his 4-year-old son, Trace. But Mullen said he is certain he is doing the right thing.

``This is what I've been doing all my adult life,'' he said. ``People say it's barbaric, but this is the only thing I know. I didn't finish high school. I didn't go to college, and I don't know how to make cabinets or anything.

``This is my life. This is what I train for. This is how I feed my family,'' he said.

The son of a Simi Valley construction worker and a homemaker, Mullen grew up a plump and angry kid. He got into scrapes regularly, mostly when classmates teased him about his weight. He took up karate at the age of 16 after doctors told the 280-pound adolescent that the strain on his knees had led to rheumatoid arthritis.

He found relief, self-esteem and, eventually, a livelihood in martial arts. He took to kick boxing, and after only two matches as an amateur showed up at the world championships as a second alternate. When the challenger to the reigning world champion dropped out, Mullen went to the nearest bathroom, shaved the sides of his head and stepped into the arena. He sent the champion to the mat in the fifth round with a sidekick to the stomach.

But Mullen knows he will need far more than his signature kicking strength to prevail in ultimate fighting. Only biting, strangling, eye-gouging and mauling are off-limits when the combatants step into the ring.

Matches last up to 18 minutes and end when a fighter either blacks out or signals surrender by tapping the mat three times. Grapplers and wrestlers have fared best, as most fights are decided in mashed clinches that leave little room for practiced acrobatics or strategic striking.

Promoters say all fighters are screened by coaches and doctors before they are allowed in the octagonal ring. Most participants are recruited from such disciplines as boxing, jujitsu and sumo wrestling, lured by payoffs that start with $2,000 for a first bout and reach $150,000 for a championship.

Other participants, Isaacs said, are lifelong street toughs who were found after they called a toll-free phone number flashed at the end of an ultimate fighting broadcast.

``If I wasn't in the octagon I'd be in a bar or an intersection fighting,'' the sport's self-anointed bad boy Tank Abbott said after a televised bout last year.

Fighting an opponent like Abbott, who cultivates his groin grab as much as his roundhouse, demands an entirely new training approach, Mullen said. His regimen includes regular workouts with a 300-pound-plus wrestler, four hours a day of kick boxing aerobics and a high-carbohydrate diet that can include four whole chicken breasts and heaping plates of rice.

Mullen has prepared mentally with a hypnotherapist, who has helped him visualize 10 matches in the octagon. In these imaginary matches, his fists crackle with energy and he is filled with the spirit of a ferocious bear.

His opponent always goes down.

That wasn't the case in Mullen's only previous outing in the ultimate fighting ring. In a fight for a spinoff league a year ago, he was quickly gripped in a headlock known as the guillotine. He tapped out just before falling unconscious.

Mullen said he is prepared for the heightened danger of ultimate fighting. The fringe world of kick boxing, Mullen said, can only take him so far. With its mass exposure and growing legitimacy, ultimate fighting promises much more.

Mullen said his own story demonstrates how much good can come from fighting. A sickly boy who threw first punches at parties and school has grown into a devoted family man and disciplined athlete. In May, he opened Ultimate Fighting Concepts, a martial arts studio in a Simi Valley mini-mall where he teaches students the moves he will try out for the first time professionally next month.

While his family frets about his entry into the arena, Mullen said his mind will be clear of doubts when he climbs into the cage.

``God gave me a talent and I've got to take it as far as I can,'' he said. ``This is it for me - this is the ultimate.''


3 Photos

Photo: (1--color) Jim Mullen, a kick boxing competitor from Simi Valley, will compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship in February.

Myung J. Chun/Daily News

(2-3--color) Jim Mullen, 27, first saw his first ultimate fighting match three years ago while working as a bar bouncer. ``It was just like a bar fight,'' he said. ``I got real excited.'' Mullen is one of six competitors who will appear Feb. 7 in what ultimate fighting promoters hope will be a turning point for the 3-year-old sport.

(2) Myung J. Chun/Daily News

(3)Tom Mendoza/Daily News

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A piece that ran in the Sunday Mirror in 2000. The article is about Extreme Championship Wrestling (Paul Heyman's pro wrestling company) videos going on sale in the UK (I'm guessing official releases in shops. ECW videos were available off UK tape traders for years at this point). So, this is about ECW video tapes. It does though contain a bizarre reference to a girl going over to the US to fight for real. I can only assume that the reporter is getting mixed up between ECW and Extreme Fighting (one of the names used to describe MMA back in the 90's) or kickboxing. The great British Press at work...

Oh, I googled the girl/woman mentioned in the article when I first came across it back it in 2012. At that time, she was Kent based personal trainer. The page at the gym where she worked mentioned a kickboxing career but said nothing about MMA. I would guess that when she was in the US in 2000 she was kickboxing.

Anyway, the article...

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Sick+wres ... a061392800

Sick wrestling video goes on sale in Britain.

Amanda Stocks
Apr 9, 2000

A BARBARIC form of wrestling in which competitors attack each other with machetes and razors has arrived in Britain.

Extreme Championship Wrestling is a big hit in America and now a video game of the bloodthirsty***"sport" is going on sale here.

There are versions for Sony Playstation, Nintendo 64, Sega Dreamcast and GameBoy - raising fears that youngsters will be exposed to scenes of savage violence.

At the same time a British girl, Caroline Hageman, has been signed up to fight for real on the American circuit.

The 19-year-old from Chislehurst, Kent, is the kick-boxing protege of Olympic judo***gold medallist Brian Jacks.

ECW***contestants aim to inflict so much pain on rivals that they have to throw in the towel.

In addition to weapons associated with street gangs, the wrestlers have used cheese graters and barbed wire.

Fights often finish with opponents covered in blood and with broken glass and nails sticking out of them.

Organisers say the contests are legal because they exploit a loophole in the law which classifies wrestling as "sports entertainment" and frees it from strict regulations governing contact sports.

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I was wrong. Sorry, Sunday Mirror. It seems that Caroline was simply going to the ECW school.

This earlier article from The (Daily) Mirror provides clarity. Although, reading it I am not entirely convinced that the journalists from The Mirror quite get that ECW and Extreme Fighting are in no way related to one another. Maybe I'm wrong. I have very little faith in British tabloid journalism though.

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Mirror+Wo ... a060290054

Mirror Works: Alive.. And Kickboxing; Caroline signs up for a really wild time in the ring.

Peter Robertson
The Mirror
Mar 16, 2000

IT'S NOT an obvious career move for a teenage girl from Kent, but Caroline Hageman is to compete in America's wildest form of wrestling.

She is the first Briton to be signed up by Extreme Championship Wrestling - whose fights have been known to involve nails, barbed wire and broken chairs.

"It's scary, but I can't wait," says Caroline. Yet she's barely 5ft tall and her only relevant experience is four years of kickboxing in her spare time.

Caroline, 19, from Chislehurst, is the first member of her family to take up sport seriously. Her mum Barbara is a legal secretary and dad Richard owns a print firm. Her 22-year-old brother Robert is currently travelling in Thailand.

"I was a bit of a tomboy as a kid," she admits. "My mum used to try and dress me in little pink things, but they weren't for me.

"I was always very active and into sport. My brother and I used to play football, and we'd hang around with the boys who lived on our close - there weren't many girls.

"We often watched wrestling on TV together, then re-enacted some of the fights ourselves afterwards. I'd get my brother in a 'back-racker', which involved pressing his head down, sitting on his back and pulling his arms back."

At school, Coopers comprehensive in Chislehurst, Caroline played hockey, tennis and netball - and excelled at athletics, representing Blackheath Harriers. She also played soccer and cricket.

When she was 15, she was introduced to kickboxing by a couple of friends. It was, she says, as simple as that.

"It wasn't like I was a bully, or being bullied," she explains. "I've always got on quite well with everybody. Boys at school occasionally used to mimic kickboxing moves when they saw me, but no one ever gave me a hard time for being interested in it.

"I just found it was a good thing to get into, especially for confidence and the knowledge that you're capable of defending yourself if you have to.

"My parents, and the rest of our family, were horrified when I told them I was going to have a go at it. They said: 'Oh no, you won't - you'll mess your face up.' But, once I tried and they knew I could do it quite well, they were behind me.

"I gradually learned to box properly, then started competing for the different belt divisions." Caroline is a brown belt and will soon try for a black tag, the second-highest grade attainable.

She and her friend Wendy Stevens, also 19, are the only females who train at their local kickboxing club. They fight against the men as well as each other.

"I've never been seriously injured from kickboxing," says Caroline," who weighs 11st. "I've only ever had bruises, fat lips, nose-bleeds and a couple of black eyes.

"I don't think kickboxing is a masculine sport. It's generally much more popular with girls now as well.

"It's not fair to label it a butch sport. I wouldn't say I was butch - I'm not built like a brick wall. I'm not big and masculine, and I don't want to be. I'm toned, but I'm not as big as some people are.

"I'm not a man. I love being a woman. I'm not one of these women who never wears skirts or, when she goes out, drinks pints. I can be feminine, and I do look feminine when I go out. And I'm interested in men, not my own sex."

She recently split up from her long-term boyfriend, who's a personal trainer and kickboxer, too.

She insists: "I would never go out and use kickboxing in the streets to prove myself - I don't need to. I'm not that aggressive, but when I compete at kickboxing I get an aggressive side."

So far, Caroline has had three major kickboxing fights in the ring. She won them all.But before her success she never used to consider sport as anything else but leisure-time activity.

She had her eyes on a career in art and interior design. Having got 10 GCSEs, she took A-levels in fine art and graphical communications.

"Because I didn't take a GCSE in physical education and did art instead, it meant I couldn't do PE at A-level," she says. "That's how the system worked then, and I was disappointed, but I think it's changed now."

She began studies for a personal trainer's diploma in January. She also applied to join the fire brigade - something she has dreamt about since childhood.

For a year now, Caroline's instructor Lee has been urging her to go for a title fight and start moving up the kickboxing ladder.

Her most recent victory at the end of November impressed watching representatives of Extreme Championship Wrestling, who were on a talent-scouting mission from America. So much so that six weeks ago they offered to sign her up.

"At first I thought they were joking," Caroline says. "Then I was shocked more than anything. I'd once thought about applying to be one of TV's Gladiators, but I'd never seriously considered becoming a wrestler.

"But now I'm really excited about it. It's great, and I'm flattered big-time to be the first British woman to be signed for ECW."

The terms of her contract are yet to be finalised. But she is due to start at the ECW training school in the United States in August.

Caroline still can't believe her luck. "There I was, preparing to become a personal trainer in Kent, and all of a sudden I've been approached by a major wrestling federation wanting to take me over to America," she says.

She is sufficiently level-headed to realise that she is not guaranteed success in ECW, so she stuck to her personal training course, which she will finish at the end of this month.

And she has already taken two of the fire brigade entrance tests.

"At least I'm prepared in case it doesn't work out in ECW," she says. "But I'm certainly going to give that my best shot."

Caroline has begun practising wrestling moves and throws with Brian Jacks, the former Olympic judo medallist and hero of the Seventies TV series Superstars, at his judo hall in Orpington.

"I've got to start training properly for it now," she says. "But when I get over there, that's when the serious bulk of it starts. I've heard it's quite intense."

Competitors in Extreme Championship Wrestling experience far more wild and dangerous fights than those in the World Wrestling Federation.

And, although much of it is believed to be choreographed, Caroline insists: "You do go through powerful moves and you do get hurt.

"But," she adds nonchalantly, "none of it frightens me at all."

Her parents, apparently, have been a bit more concerned.

"They were worried and dubious at first," Caroline admits. "But now they're coming round to the idea, and they're behind me, as are all my mates."

When she goes to America, she will be living away from home for the first time in her life.

"Mum and Dad are talking about coming over to see me," she says. "I think my family are more comfortable about me doing kick-boxing now. And although this is something different altogether, I still won't let them come and watch me kickbox because I know they'd sit there worrying."

Despite the anxieties her chosen sport causes her family, Caroline says that if she ever becomes a parent herself she will happily encourage her children to take it up.

"Oh yes, I'd definitely encourage them to follow this path. I can't knock it, because I do it myself. No, I'd be 100 per cent behind my own kids if they wanted to do it too."

If Caroline's bold foray into ECW proves successful, she could become very rich and famous. In America, the fights are big money-spinners watched by millions on TV.

The ECW video game ECW Hardcore Revolution is currently the second-best-selling video game in the US, and was released in the UK last week.

And even though Caroline has yet to set foot in the ECW training-school, there's already talk of her featuring in a future ECW video game.

"Maybe I'll be the next Lara Croft," she says. "Now that would be cool."

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A piece that ran in the LA Daily News in late 1996.

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/THE+ULTIM ... a083968149


Tom Hoffarth
Sep 20, 1996

If the future of sports is tied up in pay-per-view, as the lords who preside over it claim, it would behoove all of us to take a more active role in determining what kind of content we'll be willing to pay for.

This goes beyond a 1:49 Mike Tyson fight.

We're told that viewers will never have to face the moral dilemma of paying $49.95 to see a public execution on TV. Neither will cockfighting, dogfighting nor bullfighting lead us into temptation.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship, however, not to be confused with any of the aforementioned evils, has not only survived for about two years, but it's picking up steam.

A self-proclaimed sport, it thrives on blood-thirsty young males who have nothing else to do on a Friday night and some disposable income.

UFC XI, which begins tonight with the pregrapple show at 6 p.m., can be had for about $20. Operators are standing by.

Of course, it would be ultimately less expensive to shove a quarter into the ``Mortal Combat'' video game to watch a guy rip his opponent's arm off and then use it to beat him senseless.

That's not what the UFC is all about, organizers insist. Death does not become it. Violence is secondary in their pursuit of happiness.

But a viewer can hope, can't he?

``No one has ever been hurt'' during a UFC event, said Robert Meyrowitz, president and CEO of Semaphore Entertainment Group, which puts on the UFC.

``Anyone looking for death should, according to statistics, be watching car racing. Anyone looking for blood should be watching - I don't know - horse racing. That's just factual. This is tough, incredibly tough action. This is contact. People watch it because it's a real association with these athletes.''

And the UFC, unlike those Extreme Fighting or Toughman Competition events, doesn't include overweight bar bouncers looking to burn off some testosterone.

They're well-trained, involved in an event that's intent on determining what discipline would prevail in an all-out battle. These guys just happen to climb into a locked, caged octagon to work out their philosophical differences.

The media has yet to take it more seriously than a circus event that caters to the idiot side of guys who don't seem offended by such a label. Try finding the results in the paper the next day. It's even tough to find unreality-based Roggin-types running highlights on the 11 o'clock freak show.

A strong fan interaction on the Internet (http://www.seg.com/ufc ) is probably why names like Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Tank Abbott or Mark Coleman stay alive while other such contests of pugilism have come and gone.

In the October issue of the nationally respected Black Belt magazine, an interesting juxtaposition takes place. The magazine, based in Santa Clarita, carries a full-color glossy ad for tonight's fight. On the next page, publisher Michael James' commentary asks readers to question whether this is what martial arts should be all about.

``I want to stimulate debate,'' said James. ``I have mixed feelings. In a way, I'd like to see it be successful, but it's taken a road I'm not willing to go down myself. If I was a martial artist, a competitor, I'd walk away from something like this.

``It's more like wrestling where you see a good show and have a bunch of loud mouth guys beating each other to a pulp. It doesn't have the quiet class that usually is associated with martial arts.''

You want quiet? Hit the mute button. You want class? NBC is pushing a show this fall called ``Men Behaving Badly.''

Neither of those are TV-friendly terms.

James says that of 10-12 stories in his magazine each month, there are one to two stories on UFC because ``it's very popular and some readers want to hear about it.''

Translation: It sells magazines.

``People also hate it and don't want to be associated with it,'' said James. ``I have a feeling the people who really like it are the `armchair' martial artist. It's never interested me to see athletes hurt each other.

``I'd give it my full support if they'd make appropriate changes and quit calling it no-holds barred. They're fooling themselves to say there's not severe consequences when someone gets hurt and does die for whatever reason from this.''

(Right about now, there's someone laughing like Beavis and Butt-head).

There is TV money is to be made, but so far it's not by cable operators. This isn't a huge draw - less than 1 percent of a cable subscriber village will buy it. But it's a steady business that Lorraine Leach, the pay-per-view coordinator of CVI in the West Valley, said she learned about quickly.

The first UFC match was scheduled for a live two-hour block. The contest ran long, and the conclusion wasn't aired.

``We had a lobby full of Harley-Davidson hog bikers the next day demanding to know how it ended,'' Leach said.

``These are a different breed of viewers. They tend to enjoy blood-letting and Roman-style battle.''

PPV wrestling might have the same cartoon drama, and PPV boxing has the live-event legitimacy element. The UFC appears to combine both. Kind of pugilism's ``We Are the World.''

``At the beginning (two years ago), the blood-and-guts element was played up,'' said Meyrowitz. ``Unfortunately most writers just repeat that now. They haven't seen it. They still want to call it `human cockfighting.'

``Very few want to say what would happen if Mike Tyson went into this.''

So what if Tyson went into this?

``I think Tyson is done in two minutes,'' said Meyrowitz. ``I don't know if you can beat a minute-49 (as Tyson did against Bruce Seldon last week).''

Tonight's alternate choice of barbarism includes HBO's coverage of Pernell Whitaker vs. Wilfredo Rivera and, if you care to look at it that way, KTLA (Channel 5) has the Dodgers grappling with the Padres in that nasty NL West race.

It's your call. Let your conscious, and wallet, be your guide.


Vin Scully's Hall of Fame call on Tuesday's no-hitter by Hideo Nomo. Scully, who spent the first hours of the rain delay trying to make KTLA's ``Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'' reruns sound enticing, was probably at his best in the top of the ninth when the Dodgers' at bat dragged on and he likened it to ``the overture to a musical . . . let's get to the big finish . . . although there is no fat lady at Colorado.'' He even let loose an ``all right

'' when Nomo struck out to end the inning. As ESPN joined in live in the bottom of the ninth, Scully invited the nation to ``pull up a chair.'' And the addition of the Japanese TV call was perfect. Imagine a slobbering Harry Caray in that situation? Yikes.

The abundance of kind words for the big-hearted Allan Malamud, the L.A. Times and legendary L.A. Herald-Examiner sports columnist/writer who died Monday at age 54. It's tough to find joy in Mudville this week.

A price war driving down the cost of the Direct Broadcast System (DBS) tiny satellite dish. Nationwide, subscribers to services that provide DBS content (DirecTV/USSB, PrimeStar and EchoStar) total 3.4 million, according to Broadcasting & Cable magazine. The annual cost of programming is still about what one would pay for cable TV, but the price for the dish has fallen from about $800 two years ago to the $199 range (PrimeStar doesn't force a dish purchase). They haven't solved the one nagging problem: The need of a separate antenna or basic cable to get broadcast TV channels.

The inclusion of Raiders lineman Steve Wisniewski on Howie Long's ``Tough Guy Award'' team, announced last week on Fox's NFL pregame show. Said Wisniewski of the pseudo-honor: ``I'm so tough that I would pay to see `Broken Arrow' for a second time.'' Think that's just a joke? Go ahead and rent the movie.

What chokes

The potential for a $60-plus pay-per-view price tag on the Nov. 9 Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield fight. That is, if it's on PPV at all. Promoter/self-made-king Don King has threatened to go the closed-circuit route if cable operators resist his demand for a flat $27.50 per-buy rate. Since cable operators bank on a 50-50 arrangement with promoters, that would drive the cost to consumers into a rare stratosphere that frankly isn't becoming of a Tyson egg-timer bout. Or the cable guys could give consumers a break. But why start now?

Variety show co-host-in-training Fred Roggin. The KNBC-Channel 4 sports anchor will moonlight this month with entertainment reporter Arthel Neville to shoot a pilot for the NBC syndicated talk/variety show scheduled for a fall '97 debut. ``Arthel & Fred,'' which sounds like a short-lived ``I Love Lucy'' spinoff, could debut sooner if an NBC affiliate is desperate enough. Isn't that special?

The forgotten man at KWNK-AM during the ownership change: Rich Herrera. He was out fighting a vertigo problem for a few weeks and basically lost his job as a mid-morning sports talk-show host. Remember those zany Sports Gods? Dave Smith and Joey Haim take the 10 a.m.-1 p.m. spot starting next week.

Dan Dierdorf. Three games into ``Monday Night Football,'' and this bears unfortunate repeating: No upright mammal uses as many words to convey as little original thought. And it's getting worse.


2 Photos

Photo: (1--color) Mark Coleman, top, does battle with Gary Goodridge during the last UFC event in July.

Daily News File Photo


Box: STATION BREAK (see text)

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Another piece by the same writer. This one ran in the LA Daily News in the summer of 2001; so almost five years after the article in the previous post.

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/IS+IT+THE ... a083502890


May 4, 2001

Don't worry, Mom. The Ultimate Fighting Championships won't be crack-backing The Family Channel lineup soon.

Ultimately, it's a pay-per-view beast, drawing nothing more than a few thousand faithful who don't mind the $24.95 charge to witness contestants such as Kevin ``The Monster'' Randleman and Matt ``The Terror'' Sierra duking it out in the famed Octogon, using holds such as the guillotine choke and the neck crank to put their opponents into submission.

Like a recurring leg cramp, the same loyal viewers will rush home from work tonight to be in front of the tube for the 6 p.m. execution of UFC 31, dubbed ``Locked & Loaded'' from the Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.

But it's that last bit of information that's most important.

Although Nevada has yet to commit, the athletic commissions in more than 40 states sanction the organization's activities. The Taj Mahal has held the last three, and the next one in June will be at the Meadowlands in N.J.

UFC events of the not-so-distant past might have been considered nothing more than illegal-backyard-wrestling bloodlettings held wherever an empty lot could be found. That image is changing.

New people run the show. New combatants have replaced legends such as Tank Abbott and Royce Gracie. Rules have been added to keep it from looking like a ``Mortal Combat'' video game. Eye-gouging and head butting are not optional anymore.

Can you say ``almost legit?''

It might be awhile before the mainstream media takes notice. But the UFC continues to build a TV base and convince state commissions with its spiffed-up image, making it apparent there can be some dignity in trying to determine whether wrestlers or boxers can compete with martial artists. It doesn't call itself ``no holds barred'' anymore.

So with all the reality-based TV shows clogging the airwaves, and a possible actors strike pending, why couldn't this be the next over-the-air answer to ``Survivor''?

``Without question, it's the most misunderstood sporting event in the world today,'' said Lorenzo Fertilla, a former vice chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission who left his position to form a group called Zuffa that took over UFC earlier this year.

``It used to be a brutal event, and that came back to haunt them. It wasn't marketed right. We've made many changes to make it more mainstream. It's all very exciting and we haven't compromised the safety factor.''

Fertilla said although the TV production has improved for these events, the new UFC is ``a proven pay-per-view success'' and he has no plans to try jumping to cable or other advertisement-driven TV. DirecTV, Dish On Demand and various cable companies that carry it report a similar small but loyal number of viewers.

Jeff Blatnick, the former Olympic gold-medal wrestling champ who gives the sport more legitimacy doing analyst work on the UFC TV broadcast, could see more television exposure in the future.

``The more states that adopt the sport, the more it's poised to become not just a pay-per-view event but bypassing that and getting a more normal cable deal,'' Blatnick said. ``There's enough viewership to support it. I get more people asking me these days about the UFC instead of my wrestling. To me, that's a strong signal.

``I wouldn't be involved in anything that is a spectacle or barbaric. I think we've created the right kind of environment to pull this off.''

--Saddle up the peacock: Unfortunately, NBC won't strap a jockey cam on jockey-sized Bob Costas to show what it's like breaking out of the Kentucky Derby gates to mark its first opportunity to cover the most exciting two minutes of TV on Saturday at 2 p.m.

There are, however, a lot of slick things producer David Michaels would like to try on the technical side to make his telecast look different from the ones ABC put out the last 26 years.

Fact is, even though he did a lot of fun stuff for the network when covering the past eight Breeders' Cups, Michaels will go along with the wishes of the Churchill Downs folks and keep it to a simple 38-camera production, including five robotic cameras at the starting gate.

This is NBC's first Derby in a new five-year partnership with Triple Crown Productions. It isn't going in with blinders.

``The track does things differently here,'' said Michaels, sounding like a CBS golf producer faced with doing the Masters. ``When you're dealing with thoroughbreds at the Kentucky Derby, and a lot of these technical devices get too close to the horses, it can get scary. We're taking the traditional approach until things evolve.''

Michaels, the Agoura Hills-based producer whose brother Al was host for the event for ABC for many years, wants to give the NBC show a more live feel.

``ABC did a hell of a job,'' Michaels said. ``A lot of what happens at the Derby happens on the day of the race, and it's up to whoever's doing it to capture that. From our perspective, we'll have the talent and other components very live.''

Kentucky native Tom Hammonds, recovering from surgery to treat diverticulitis that caused him to lose 25 pounds, has the Al Michaels role as overall host with Charlsie Cantey, who did the last 14 Derbys for ABC. Tom Derkin calls the race. Costas plays Jim McKay to do ceremonial interviews, trying to give a big event some credence.

--According to KO: Compounding factual inaccuracies during Ken Burns' PBS documentary on baseball several years ago provided plenty of ammunition for Keith Olbermann, a baseball historian who doubles as a sportscaster on occasion.

So it's with some astonishment that Fox's Olbermann gives Billy Crystal's HBO movie ``61*'' an A- grade for historical accuracy.

``He gets a pass because he did what Ken Burns should've done: put in the disclaimer that some elements and characters were changed for the sake of the dramatic narrative,'' said Olbermann, who grew up in New York watching the Roger Maris-Mickey Mantle chase first hand as a kid.

So what if Yankee Stadium is shown with an auxiliary scoreboard hanging from the upper deck behind third base - Tiger Stadium had that, not New York.

And so what if Washington's Griffith Stadium is referred to as ``Griffith Park'' - not the home of the L.A. observatory.

And so what if Bob Cerv didn't start the '61 season with the Yankees - he was with the expansion Angels and didn't get traded back to New York until about May.

But as for Babe Ruth's rather stout widow, Claire? C'mon.

``As much as I love (actress) Renee Taylor,'' said Olbermann, ``Babe Ruth's widow was a small, sparrow-like woman.''

Even William Bendix knew that.



-- USC and KMPC-AM (1540) have hooked up for a three-year deal for football and basketball radio game coverage starting in the fall, meaning the 690-AM signal that staggers lethargically through the San Fernando Valley won't be the main source of scorn (although 1540 had been an alternate affiliate the last few years). KMPC says it also will boost its signal and/or USC will create a network throughout Southern California to ensure all the pockets are covered. For now, USC wants to keep the announcers on board, but this switch could mean the eventual sacking of Lee ``Hacksaw'' Hamilton (not his real name) as the play-by-play bellower. The most qualified to replace 'Saw on football would be Rory Markas, who has done the Trojans basketball games the last few seasons.

--Since you have a life and won't be up at 7 a.m. Saturday to watch ESPN's ``The Life,'' at least tape it or try to catch a rerun this week. Shaquille O'Neal takes up the entire half-hour show, as cameras followed him around for five days in March to document such things as his scaring a little kid in another car while waiting in traffic, signing income tax forms ... basically doing what every 7-foot-1, 335-pound guy would do around L.A. without getting arrested.

--Fox suits take note: Keith Olbermann has booked former Dodgers GM Kevin Malone as the ``Evening News'' in-studio guest Sunday night to discuss whatever's on his mind these days, if he hasn't already revealed how scrambled that could be with his bizarre press conference Thursday with the media.

--NBC has put Mike Breen, Bill Walton and Steve Jones on the Lakers- Sacramento series that starts Sunday at noon. The Marv Albert-Doug Collins team moves to the Philadelphia vs. New York/Toronto winner series.

--Jim Rome's annual clone smack-off, today at 9 a.m., AM-1150. Again, invite only. Listen and learn.


--NBA czar David Stern insists the league will push for a more compressed first-round playoff schedule when the TV contract renewals come up with NBC and TNT - but that won't happen until the season after next. And he's not considering adjusting to a best-of-three or best-of-seven format to help the process. At least promise to end the thing before the next season begins.

--Under the guise of giving viewers a ``behind the scenes'' feel for what their guys go through, ESPN's ``Up Close'' dedicates each show next week to interviewing their own people. Dick Vitale starts the love fest, followed by Stuart Scott, Mike Tirico, Dan Patrick and, the grand finale, sacred boomer Chris Berman. All questions will be lobbed by Nick Bakay instead of Gary Miller - who'd probably be asked to interview himself if he stuck around, so it's best he's not subjected to this.

--Todd Merkow, who ran Fox Sports Net West since Nov., '99, has left to become president and chief operating officer for the Arena Football League's L.A. Avengers. Merkow's constant drive to improve the Southern California Regional Sports Report was obviously overruled by those closer to the production who want a more rah-rah atmosphere. At least he tried.

--Boston Globe media writer Bill Griffith wrote this week that NASCAR fans' ``worst fears were realized'' when local Fox affiliate WFXT edited out a chunk of its tape-delayed telecast of the NAPA Auto Parts 500 from California Speedway. That just isn't right. If we have to watch all of it, they should have to also.




SOUND BYTES (see text)

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A short piece that ran in the Liverpool Echo in the summer of 2004. It's about an MMA show that is due to take place in Liverpool later on in the month.

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/CAGE+FIGH ... 0118859458


Jul 1, 2004

A BRUTAL new trend is set to sweep Merseyside.

Britain's biggest cage fight will be held in Liverpool. Fighters square up in a 27ft cage using a mix of martial arts and boxing in a no-holds barred contest.

The controversial sport is already a craze in London.

But Warren Bradley, executive member for leisure sport and tourism in the city, condemned the practice.

He said: ``We need to move away from violence, particularly with all the violent crime that is taking place in Liverpool.

``I will be speaking to the licensing authority. This should be banned. ''

The Cage Fighting Championships will be held at the Liverpool Olympia, We st Derby Road, Tueb rook, on Sunday, July 11.

Event organiser Paul Cahoon says hundreds of tickets have sold, including pounds 1, 000 tables to city companies looking to treat staff and clients.

Cage fighting is hugely popular in America and Japan.

Despite calls from the British Medical Association for the sport to be banned, cage fighting is growing in the UK. But Mr Cahoon, 27, insists the sport is as safe as boxing.

He said: ``People who compete are highly tuned athletes, testing themselves to their limits. ''

Mr Cahoon used to fight with Europe's most famous cage-fighting team Golden Glory and many of his former colleagues will be competing.

He will not compete himself, but his three pals Carl Morgan, 28, from Tuebrook, David Faulkner, 24, from Kirkby, and Paul McLean, 24, of Huyton, will represent Merseyside.

Councillor for Kensington and Fairfield Richard Marb row said people have a right to choose if they compete or watch cage fighting.

He said: ``As long as it is legal, safe and properly regulated, it is a matter for each individual. ''


TOUGH GUYS: David Faulkner, left, Carl Morgan and Michael Whitty

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The Liverpool Echo sent a writer to the show. According to the article he wrote the show marked the Liverpool debut of MMA. I don't know how accurate that claim is. Though the article below, when read in conjunction with the one quoted in the above post, would suggest that if there was a previous show in Liverpool it slipped under the radar of the city's paper.

Oh, if anyone is interested the results of the show are listed on Sherdog (http://www.sherdog.com/events/CFC-1-Cage-Carnage-2464).

Anyway, the article...

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Packing+a ... 0119354267

Packing a punch; Tony Barrett experiences the thrills and spills of Mixed Martial Arts -- which made its Liverpool debut last night.

Tony Barrett
Jul 12, 2004

TWO men stripped to the waist battering each other may not meet the traditional ideals of Sunday evening entertainment.

But when Mixed Martial Arts -- aka Cage Fighting -- came to Liverpool it gave fight fans a night to remember.

The Liverpool Olympia in West Derby Road was packed to the rafters yesterday evening for the first visit to the city of the fast growing, but controversial sport.

Despite being known nationally as a boxing town, Liverpool crowds also have a reputation for being notoriously hard to please.

But last night the crowd at the Olympia, made up mainly of young men, didn't waste any time in showing the combatants their appreciation for their skills.

Many people would like to see MMA banned, but, judging by the cheers that greeted each and every knockdown, pin and hold, it would be safe to assume that none of them were at ringside to see the event for themselves.

The sport, known as Ultimate Fighting in the USA, is undoubtedly tough -- the presence of a medical team just yards away from the action is testimony to that.

But, just like boxing, the art is to avoid being hit. And some manage that better than others.

Fight fan Michael Kelly, 31, had travelled from Coventry just to see what all the fuss was about.

``A load of my mates had been to see the cage fighting when it was on in Birmingham, '' he says. ``They all came back raving about it, saying I'd really missed out on something special.

``So when I heard it was going to be on in Liverpool I thought `why not' and snapped up a couple of tickets for me and a mate.

``To be honest, I didn't think it would be this good.

``I thought it would just be a load of big, stocky fell as mauling away in the middle of a cage.

``But they are actually very skilled. Some of the moves really take your breath away.

``There was one fell a who was getting a bit of a beating and he managed to spin through the air before landing a kick on his opponent's chin -- it was like something out of The Matrix. ''

Despite the controversy that follows MMA wherever it goes, the sport is now fully licensed in the UK through the British Martial Arts Association.

It is also the fastest growing sport in the USA, where professional boxing has suffered a downturn in fortunes due to a succession of mis-matches and poor shows.

Like everything else that starts in the States, the malaise that has hit pro-boxing has now crossed the Atlantic, causing crowds to dwindle at bouts throughout the UK.

Merseyside business partners Paul Calhoon and Danny Taylor believe MMA can fill the void that has been left.

The Olympia gig was a homecoming event for promoter Paul, who has forged a reputation as one of the toughest MMA competitors in Europe.

lthough he decided not to compete in his home town, Paul still suffered from pre-fight nerves as the clock ticked down to the opening bout.

He says: ``Like any other contact sport it is always styles that make fights. That means you can put a couple of top quality fighters together, but it doesn't guarantee you a great fight.

``But we have brought together 20 of the very best from across Europe and, all things being equal, they should be able to put on quite a show. ''

Leaving aside the debate about whether or not cage fighting should be allowed in this country, the power and skill of each of the competitors was beyond question.

Some of the exchanges literally took the breath away and at times those close to the action seemed to recoil at the ferocity of what was happening before their eyes.

But Paul insists that no matter how physical the fights become, none of the combatants are ever in any real danger.

He says: ``It is a safety-first sport. The fighters know what they are doing, so do their corner men and the referee. Most importantly, we have a top medical team that can deal with any situation. ``Mixed Martial Arts is huge in the USA, but if it didn't reach their incredibly tough safety standards you can guarantee that the Nevada State Commission, which issues licences, would not touch it. ''

Add in the flavour of an impressive light show, giant screens and loud music and last night's showcase may leave the city's long established boxing community looking worried.

No wonder famous London venues like the Royal Albert Hall and Wembley Conference Centre have opened their doors to the sport this year.

It may be entertainment on the most basic of levels, but for many it is obviously great entertainment.

Cage fighting may have ducked and dived its way into Liverpool, but it connected square on the jaw of around 1, 000 fight fans last night.

And it looks like it's here to stay.


PROMOTERS: Danny Taylor and Paul Calhoon, with Tuebrook fighter Carl Morgan (centre); FIGHT NIGHT: Mixed Martial Arts novice Paul McCleen, of Liverpool, is pinned to the floor by Dave Van Gasse at the Olympia event Picture: TERRY CHURCHILL

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An article that ran in Birmingham's Sunday Mercury in 2001. It is about the rise of "fight clubs" in Britain. It mentions the death of Douglas Dedge. On reading the piece it seems to me to be lumping MMA and things like gypsy bare knuckle boxing (and probably regular unlicensed boxing) etc. in together.

There is no author listed on the piece.

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Brad+Pitt ... a072953976

Brad Pitt 'fight clubs' being set up in Britain.

Apr 8, 2001

BRUTAL underground 'fight clubs' similar to the one featured in the film starring Brad Pitt are being set up across the UK, according to an investigation.

Extreme no-rules fighting contests at warehouses, behind pubs, on gypsy camps and at a clearing in Epping Forest, Essex, have been discovered.

Contenders earn around pounds 100 a fight and can use disciplines including kung-fu, karate, wrestling and kick boxing.

A report today looks at the proliferation of such clubs in the UK and the influence of the film Fight Club, which was a massive box-office success.

It also cites a case in the Ukraine where a 'fight club' member was killed in the ring after having his head smashed onto the canvas 14 times.

In the movie, Pitt plays a character who sets up an underground club where disillusioned Americans can come and vent their frustrations by fighting each other in bouts without rules.

The real fight clubs are increasingly being advertised on the internet and are also extremely popular in the United States.


BRUTAL... Brad Pitt in The Fight Club

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A column by Robert Philip that ran in the Daily Telegraph in early 2002. It deals with four subjects. A baseball player called Kazuhisa Ishi, the Winter Olympics, the Davis Cup and finally Tito Ortiz, who at the time the column was written was the king of the UFC's light-heavyweight division.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/others ... n-arm.html

Man with the golden arm

By Robert Philip

5:56PM GMT 12 Feb 2002

ENJOYING one final pre-boarding beer in Los Angeles airport on my return from visiting Nick Faldo in Palm Springs at the weekend, I caught fleeting sight of a rangy young Japanese making his arrival surrounded by the kind of posse of minders which normally accompanies George W Bush on his walkabouts.

"Who he?" I asked Jose, the barman. "Kazuhisa Ishi," came the awed reply. "Of course it is," I countered. He is the latest phenom (as the Americans like to say) to hit baseball, a pitcher so renowned in his own country that the LA Dodgers have been required to pay his former club, the Yakult Swallows, $11.25 million (£8.2 million) just for the right to open contract negotiations with Ishi (this being a sport without transfer fees).

To put these figures into some sort of perspective, at a time when David Beckham is seeking £4.5 million a year from Manchester United plus `image rights', the Dodgers will have to stump up a three-year contract worth in the region of $15 million if they hope to persuade Ishi into signing on the dotted line.

With his burnt sienna locks - actually, that is the official hair salon description, so let's be accurate and call it flaming orange - Ishi is the Beckham of Japan, a national hero whose poster adorns millions of teenage bedroom walls and boasting a private life every bit as colourful as his coiffure.

When the father of his former Japanese supermodel girlfriend, Kanda Uno, banned his daughter from associating with Ishi, he was caught by a cameraman sneaking over the wall of the Uno family home to keep a rendezvous.

Spurred on by Jose, I tried to elicit a comment from Ishi concerning his new life in Dodger Stadium, where Tom Hanks, Madonna, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston are regular patrons, only to discover the 28-year-old does not speak English.

In a city with a large Japanese population, this should not pose too much of a problem; also the Dodgers have re-signed his countryman, fellow-pitcher Hideo Nomo, to act as his interpreter in the locker room, while Ishi's wife, a Fuji TV announcer who was educated in Los Angeles, has already been lined up for a new job with a Californian channel.

According to local baseball writer Larry Silver: "Ishi was a legend in Japan and, although the American major leagues are a world apart, I reckon we could be looking at sport's next global superstar. If Ishi can enjoy the same success in LA as he did in Tokyo, I really believe he can become as big as Michael Jordan."

That's a tall order for a 6ft 1in Japanese who no one outside the land of the rising sun and Los Angeles has ever heard of.

Enough to make you go cold

I DON'T know about you but the Winter Olympics leave me cold (sorry). OK, the ice hockey tournament has its moments, while the bravery of the ski-jumpers, tobogganists and downhillers - if not their foolhardiness - is beyond question, but many of the so-called hobbies currently being touted as genuine `sports' in Salt Lake City are ludicrous spectacles to these eyes. I don't doubt synchronised snowboarding - or whatever it calls itself - is fun, but it has as much right to be in the Olympics as snowball fighting.

Another drawback is, of course, the weather. By necessity, the Winter Olympics must be staged in a Scott of Antarctica climate, which means the events are run on a timetable only too familiar to those who travel by rail in this country. Too much snow, too little snow, or even the wrong type of snow, and Angst Anorak and his fellow spectators are left twiddling their infernal cowbells.

Just to make the whole thing even more risible comes the revelation that the International Olympic Committee would like to see indoor seven-a-side football become part of the Winter Olympics, though whether teams will be allowed to play on a carpet of Astroturf or six inches of deep and crisp and even is not yet clear.

But why stop there? How about motor racing on ice, snow volleyball or rowing across a frozen lake? If people can take ice dance seriously, I guarantee there is an audience out there somewhere who would appreciate such trivial pursuits.

I have attended but one Winter Games - at Calgary in 1986 - where the organisers had to shovel three feet of snow from the Olympic stadium because it was too white (honest) for the television cameras and lay down a blanket of less-than-white ground gravel in its place. That, to me, sums up the whole charade. By all means have a Games incorporating ice hockey, Alpine skiing and their ilk, but rid of us manufactured made-for- television nonsense such as snowboarding and freestyle skiing.

No need to feel that sorry

I TOUCHED down at Heathrow in time to see a victorious Thomas Johansson exchanging sporting handshakes with a vanquished Greg Rusedski as another British-Canadian Davis Cup challenge bit the dust.

But wait. According to the apologists, Rusedski and Tim Henman should be treated as heroes because, whereas the Swedish contingent all enjoyed a day off during the contest in Birmingham, our poor dears had to play three matches in three days, two singles apiece plus the doubles.

Before we start hailing our 3-2 loss to Sweden as the latest great British heroic defeat, however, let us look at the fate of the other two-man teams in Davis Cup action. Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic and Ivan Ljubicic turned out for Croatia on all three days (result: Croatia 4, Germany 1), as did Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin (result: Russia 3, Switzerland 2).

So by all means let us give credit to Henman and Rusedski for a valiant performance but let us also admit we were beaten by the better team. It's as simple as that.

Ultimate fighting machine

WHILE in California, I paid a visit to Huntington Beach, the Baywatch backdrop where Tito Ortiz hones his peculiarly violent skills. Until they actually come to blows in the ring, we will never know whether Lennox Lewis or Mike Tyson is the true heavyweight champion of the world, but there are many who claim neither boxer could last more than three rounds against Ortiz, holder of the Ultimate Fighting Championship title.

Staged in cages and banned by national pay-for-view television in 1997 due to the blood and gore which dripped from the protagonists, these bare-knuckle, bare-foot, no-holds-barred contests have attempted to achieve a level of legitimacy by banning assaults on the groin or spine. Even so, the UFC's combination of boxing, kick boxing, wrestling and jujitsu is not for the squeamish.

A graduate of an LA ghetto, Ortiz describes his childhood as: "Fairly typical. Drinking, drugs, gangs, a dozen or so arrests, watching friends die in drive-by shootings." All fairly typical for a tot raised by parents who were junkies. Now happily married with a comfortable home and two cats, Ortiz lives modestly on his frugal earnings ($5,000 is a sizeable purse in UFC) and admits: "If it wasn't for ultimate fighting, I'd probably be in jail - or worse."

It may not appeal to you and me, but UFC has saved at least one life.

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Re: How much mainstream coverage did UFC 1 get?

The Guardian's game review column from February 1, 2001. One of the games review is the UFC game for Dreamcast.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/20 ... NTCMP=SRCH

Games reviews

Greg Howson, Jack Schofield and Andy Bodle
The Guardian, Thursday 1 February 2001

Games reviews
This article appeared on p12 of the Technology Guardian section of the Guardian on Thursday 1 February 2001. It was published on guardian.co.uk at 02.28 GMT on Thursday 1 February 2001.

PC-CDRom £29.99 Take 2 ***
In the world of PC games, beat-'em-ups are normally as popular as driver conflicts and faulty hard drives. After all, why spend £1,000-plus on a PC to play games normally associated with consoles that cost a tenth of the price?

Well, perhaps Oni may buck the trend. Ostensibly a Tomb Raider-style, third-person adventure, Oni throws in some sublime high-kicking action to create something almost unique on the PC. Starring a sassy female lead, Konoko, the game uses an animé style that helps convey a clichéd post-apocalyptic scenario: apparently the world is controlled by a nasty dictatorship.

Thankfully, the game offers plenty of action to compensate for this lame storyline. From the off, the action is fast paced. Despite early misgivings, the mouse/keyboard control system works remarkably well, with well-timed clicks leading to some exquisite onscreen martial arts. As the game progresses, you learn combat skills to put to good use against the increasingly tough adversaries. Unfortunately, the carelessly discarded weapons don't help. Konoko can only hold one gun at a time and, with ammo scarce, it's obvious that flying fists are the only way to go.

However, it doesn't take long to notice the problems - mainly, that Oni is rather samey. Work your way down grey corridor, find keys, kick assailant, open door. Repeat. Sure, scrapping your way out of a four-guard sandwich is satisfying but it is not long before you hanker for a bit of variety. It is not as if the graphics reward your progression: Oni is strictly average-looking.

Nevertheless, for allowing PC owners some guilt-free, mindless action, Oni should be applauded. (GH)

Ultimate Fighting Championship
Sega Dreamcast £39.99 Crave/Ubi Soft ***
Awkward. If you are a fan of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, then this game is a dream come true. If you don't even know what it is, then it may be more of a nightmare.

The UFC is, apparently, a serious business, where men with a variety of skills fight it out in an octagonal cage. "Mixed martial arts", they call it. Boxing, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, sumo wrestling and other techniques may be employed. Crave's licensed version is a simulation of the sport, based on a roster of 22 well-known fighters who are, to judge by pictures of the real thing, accurately portrayed.

So far, so good - or is it bad?

On games consoles, the most popular fighting games are mostly fantasy and the most entertaining take a cartoon-style approach. Even in what passes for real life, the soap opera aspects of the various fight games have become more important than the stage-managed physical conflicts, a trend taken to its logical conclusion by the WWF. However, UFC is different. It is a fight simulator and if you don't like fighting, it is not much fun.

UFC is also hard. Sure, you will win a few bouts, but you can soon get matched against people who finish you off in seconds, leaving you with no clue how you might win.

When previewed at the E3 games trade show in Los Angeles last year, UFC was voted Best Fighting Game.

There is no doubt about its quality, so it might be worth a try. Whether you would want your children to play it is another matter. (JS)

£29.99 Crimson/ Virgin Interactive **
Those of you who are too old to wear trainers might just remember Bullfrog releasing a strategy game called Syndicate. In it you controlled a squad of cybernetically enhanced troopers, whose objectives were to rob banks, dodge cops and recruit members.

There was more of the same in the sequel, Syndicate Wars, but even that seems a lifetime ago.

Load up a game of Heist and the memories will come flooding back. No sci-fi trappings here - instead of supermen, you are in charge of a gang of eminently mortal criminals - but otherwise it's a dead ringer, from the isometric view that too often leaves your men hidden behind buildings, to the awkwardly scrolling maps, to the inability to save during missions. And while the resolution of the graphics is higher, smaller character models mean that goodies, baddies and in-betweenies are all pretty much indistinguishable.

The similarities to a long-dead title aren't the only source of unease. Now that the action is set in the real world - albeit in the US - the relentless crime and bloodshed, with the added bonus of language that would do the Sopranos proud, are all the more disturbing.

None of this would matter if the game was fun. But there are more amusing things to do than send dots around a screen accumulating virtual cash and then making them hide for minutes at a time while the "suspicionometer" bar dribbles down to zero. The interface is no barrel of laughs, either: although everything is controllable by mouse, the drop-down menus can be fiddly and there don't appear to be any keyboard shortcuts (certainly, none was supplied in the documentation).

If you've just come out of jail and haven't touched a computer game since Syndicate, you might just enjoy this. Hell, you probably designed it. (AB)

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A piece that ran in The Observer in 2004. It's not about MMA and is instead about açaí. The Gracies are referenced though.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/ ... NTCMP=SRCH

'It gives energy and strength - and it's great for sex'

Alex Bellos travels to the Amazonian source of açai, Brazil's favourite tipple for improving everything

Alex Bellos
The Observer, Sunday 18 April 2004

'It gives energy and strength - and it's great for sex'
This article appeared on p37 of the Observer Food Monthly section of the Observer on Sunday 18 April 2004. It was published on guardian.co.uk at 16.33 BST on Sunday 18 April 2004. It was last modified at 16.33 GMT on Thursday 3 November 2005. It was first published at 16.33 GMT on Thursday 3 November 2005.

Rio de Janeiro is the city that worships health and beauty and where the healthy and the beautiful drink açaí. Pronounced ah-sah-yee, açaí is more of a lifestyle option than a foodstuff; a magic fruit potion that fuels the hedonistic energy of Brazilian beach life.

Shortly after I moved to Rio, I was told about the açaís berry's amazing nutritional properties: Brazilians believe it gives you strength, energy and is great for sex. A friend told me that when he was having difficulty in fathering a child, the first thing his doctor recommended was 'drink lots of açaí'. And it worked!'

I took my first sip at one of the juice bars that line the blocks by the beach. The berry juice is served half-frozen and its thick gloopiness means that you slurp it up with a spoon. This seems to accentuate its carnal, brutish aspect. As does the fact that the people who drink it are invariably nearly naked, in Speedo trunks or bikinis.

The way it looks is integral to its appeal. It is made from dark violet berries about the size of a raspberry; a deep, dense colour that seems weighted down by its nutritional secrets. It reflects no light and has the texture of mud. I wasn't immediately sure about the taste, which was very sweet and medicinal. But by the end of the cup I was hooked. It is fruity with a chocolatey kick.

The nutritional breakdown of açaí is prodigious. It has high levels of iron, calcium, carbohydrates, fibre and antioxidants. And energy. A small 100g cup has almost 300 calories. Combined with the mystique of its Amazonian origins, açaí's contents have made it the beverage of choice for Rio's sporty elite.

Açaí is indigenous to the flood plains of the Amazon estuary. The açaí palm regenerates with ease and in areas where human development has destroyed natural vegetation the first tree that grows in its place is açaí. (Açaí palms cover an area equivalent to half the size of Switzerland.) In this region, its abundance and role as primary nutritional resource cannot be over-estimated: it is literally the fruit that has saved many poor families from starvation.

'Açaí is the main food staple of river communities in the Amazon estuary,' says the agronomist Oscar Nogueira. It is drunk for every meal - in much the same way as bread or rice is eaten in other cultures.

Having become an açaí fan in Rio I was keen to visit Belém, the main city in the Amazon estuary and world centre of açaí. If ever a city was so strongly defined by a single fruit, it's Belém. There is a local saying: 'Who arrives here and stops, drinks açaí and stays.' In Belém more of the fruit is drunk than milk. An estimated 200,000 litres of the purple liquid is consumed per day among a population of 1.3 million.

Açaí is highly perishable and the only way it gets to Rio is in frozen packages. In Belém, the fruit is always consumed fresh. Since it goes off within 24 hours, in order to service the population with fresh açaí on a daily basis an enormous infrastructure has grown in Belém that employs an estimated 30,000 people.

The cycle starts in the rainforest. The açaí palm has a long thin trunk up to 25m high and a clutch of branches at the top from which hang ribbon-like leaves. Hundreds of açaí fruits dangle from branches in clusters that look like nests of bluebottles.

The fruit picking is done by hand. In the afternoons, river-dwellers scramble up the trees, cut off the branches and climb back down again exactly as they have done for hundreds of years. In the evening, boats containing baskets of açaí leave the rainforest heading for Belém's market, where they arrive in the middle of the night.

The açaí market is a dockside next to the city market. By the early hours small boats have started arriving with baskets of the fruit which quickly fill the quay. By 3am men like Armando Ribeiro arrive.

Armando owns the Casa do Açaí, one of Belém's 3,000 açaí points, where the fruit is pulped,into juice. Armando buys several baskets of the best açai and takes it back to his premises, a small patio in a backstreet. When I arrive, shortly after 11am, Armando has been pulping the fruit for an hour. Customer demand for açaí is at lunchtime, and they prepare it fresh. He pours the fruit into the pulping machine and keeps on re-pouring the discharge until the blend is perfect. He sells three versions; thick (£1), medium (60p) and dilute (40p).

In Belém, you are never more than a block away from an açaí point. Wherever you look, your eye always finds a red açaí sign. I find a bar and order a bowl. It is served like soup. The taste is almost unrecognisable from what I have become used to in Rio. The exotic sharpness and zesty kick is not there. The sensation is of a simple, neutered, bitter freshness. Açái is not a versatile fruit since it can only be stored frozen and cannot be cooked, so for the most part, it continues to be drunk just as the indians have drunk it for centuries.

For açaí to catch on outside the Amazon, it needed a pioneer. That man was Carlos Gracie, the great-grandson of Scottish immigrants from Dumfries, who was born in Belém in 1902. In his early teens, a chance meeting with a Japanese immigrant led to his obsession with the martial art jiujitsu. In 1922 the Gracies moved to Rio and Carlos opened Brazil's first jiujitsu academy.

When a shop near his Copacabana home specialising in obscure foods started to import frozen açaí, he began to incorporate it into his diet and also to encourage all his jujitsu students to drink it. The jujitsu boys were pin-ups with the best bodies: everyone wanted to know what 'miracle' potion they were drinking. Soon Rio's surfers became fans, and gradually the drink crossed over to become part of beach culture. By the early 1990s, no juice bar could exist without selling it.

The boom in açaí over the last decade has had more effects than changing the eating habits of Rio's body-obsessed men (and women). Scientists have discovered that açaí is rich in anthocyanins, the group of chemicals in red wine that are believed to lower the risk of heart disease. Swig per swig, açaí contains over 10 times more of them than red wine. It is also rich in essential fatty acids, calcium and vitamins. Açaí's recent success is also changing the nature of agriculture in the Amazon estuary. Agronomists have been successful in developing ways of cultivating açaí sustainably with high yield. In the last five years açaí production has tripled and brought work to poor rural areas. Belém, now has more than 60 factories that export. 'Açaí is the most promising product we have here for development,' says de Jesus.

Açaí was an Amazonian secret that conquered Brazil. Whenever friends visit Rio they fall in love with the taste. I have lost count of the number of excited conversations about how we could export it around the world. I discovered recently that I've been beaten to it. A company in California now imports it to the US and next month Selfridges will introduce it to British palates. It may not be the same as sipping it fresh in Rio, but make no mistake, one day açaí will conquer the globe.

Alex Bellos was the Guardian's South American correspondent

Açaí juice, £2.50, made from frozen pulp, is available at Selfridges branches next month

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There are actually a ton of issues of Black Belt magazine scanned onto Google Books. I stumbled across the October 1997 issue yesterday. In it there was an editorial by Michael James, the publisher of Black Belt, about MMA. I was bored and transcribed it.

I should note, while I make no claims of infallibility, that I think I did a pretty good job transcribing it. I wrote it out yesterday and this afternoon compared my typed version to the scanned version. I then corrected any of the inconsistencies I noticed. I may have missed some.

There are mistakes in the piece though.

There are occasions where Michael James uses the wrong words. For instance on one occasion he writes...


...But until I see parody in the competition...

Sometimes when the piece doesn't read right it's not because of how it has been transcribed but instead because of how it was written.

It's not exactly mainstream coverage, but I thought that it was interesting none the less. The original scanned copy of the magazine can be view at the link below. I would recommend taking a look at it. It's an interesting look back in time. Hell, I would recommend reading the editorial at the original source.

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=bNoD ... &q&f=false


Black Belt Magazine
October 1997


We Have Seen the Enemy, and it is Not Us

We recently received the following letter:

I am writing because I am disappointed in Black Belt magazine's stance toward no-holds-barred (NHB) events. For the past year, Black Belt has taken a negative turn regarding NHB events, going as far as to say in its 1996 yearbook that NHB events are probably bad for martial arts. I guess they are if you practice karate, kung fu or taekwondo, since it has been shown in NHB events that these styles do not work. No-holds-barred events show what does work, but to survive and grow, they need the full support of the martial arts community. Since your magazine does not seem to support these events, I cannot in good conscience support your magazine.

I can understand this individuals compassion for this sport. But please let me clarify exactly where I stand on the subject of all the NHB events. First, let me state for the record I do not practice, teach or take lessons in any style of martial arts. Nor have I ever done so. That is how I remain objective about martial arts. Therefore, I do not advocate any style over another.

Our policy at Black Belt magazine is to report on what we see. The NHB events all claim their mission statement is to test the arts against each other. If you really believe that this has happened, and if you believe the NHB-type events have had competitive balance in these matches between the various styles, then you would be correct in your assumptions. In my opinion, the talent was not equally matched. Therefore, superiority in style has yet to be proven. We have never denied the significance of the grappling styles and effectiveness of jujitsu and judo. In my opinion, those two arts need not prove themselves. These arts are tried and proven on the battlefields many times over in life-and-death situations. But until I see parody in the competition, the effectiveness of one style as being clearly dominant over another has yet to be proven. And even then, as you may realise in sport, there is always someone quicker and faster waiting the wings. I prefer to remain open-minded
and considering some of the phenomenal things I have witnessed in martial arts. The level of skill I have seen puts sports martial arts in a disadvantaged position as to the effectiveness of real fighting technique that are available in a sporting event.

I would hope that anyone who buys Black Belt magazine would be supportive of the fact that there is a strong voice in the martial arts community that will continue to push these events and promoters to create a better event, more even matches, and representation from all the arts.

Don't you think it would be odd for Black Belt magazine, the chief advocate for the martial arts, to be the lone voice in the sport martial arts world after most major sports magazines and news services found fault with NHB events and the way they portrayed martial artists? We have never just gone along with the sport of martial arts. Rainbow Publications, Inc., was the chief advocate of unified rules for open tournament karate and set up a panel and forum for the implementation of national rules. We criticized full-contact karate and pushed for a required kick per round rule. We have been anti-kick to the knee and groin areas, and anti-sweeps, just to name a few, because of the dangers of permanent injury. Let's get real for moment. None of these things are allowed in NHB events. And there are dozens, in not hundreds, of techniques that aren't allowed. We have also advocated higher pay for the athletes. It is my opinion that anybody who makes a choice of the arts to practice based on the outcome of a NHB event is basing these decisions on an event that hasn't lived up to its potential.

In spite of our critical views about this sport, we have also published stories about some of the excellent competitors that the sports has produced. We give credit where it is due. We have actually supported the NHB events more than any other single publication in the United States. We cover the events and we cover the premier talent the events produce. Other than that, we reserve the right to critical analysis of this or any other aspect of the martial arts. If the sport continues on its present course, I dare say we won't have to be critical of it any more . It will be completely banned from this country and cable.

As you can see with recent events, it has already started to happen. Cable has refused to carry it. New York State reversed itself and will no longer allow the events to take place in New York. You guys should be kicking these events into shape rather than just accepting them and criticizing us. We did what we were supposed to do. We recognized the inherent problems of the sport from the beginning. Nobody has listened to us. All the martial arts jujitsu brothers should by now be aware that we are not anti-jujitsu; we simply find fault with this sport venue. The writing is on the wall. The audience is narrowing to a specialized group of people. The cable stations do not make enough money to continue this venue. You guys can't keep your head in the sand and point fingers at Black Belt magazine and other critics. We knew it would come to this from the start.

No holds barred events have a valid idea. However, the outcome-based conclusion set by the grapplers to win skews the true test and the premise set by the NHB events. Our policy has never changed. If it is a martial arts sport, we will cover it and report on what we see good and bad. Our objective is that martial arts as a sport be elevated to that of any sport.

Now, for the rest of my critics, let's stay on point. Twenty-four words of my editorial in the 1996 Black Belt yearbook have been taken completely out of context as to elevate the views of other magazine editors. It's the politics of martial arts at its worst. Let's wake up here and get real. Did you guys really think that bare-knuckle fighting would be accepted in the United States? It is illegal. It's on the books. It is and and has been banned in this country for years. Hence more rules changes for NHB events, that should have been there from the start:

1.) Establishment of three weight classes (under 160 pounds, 160-200 pounds, and over 200 pounds)
2.) Mandatory use of approve martial arts gloves.
3.) Prohibition of kicking an opponent who is down (four-point stance).
4.) Prohibition on pressure-point strikes.
5.) Prohibition on small joint manipulations.
6.) Prohibition of hair pulling.
7.) Prohibition on groin strikes (punching and kicking).

That is what I meant by being banned in 49 states. Are NHB events good for martial arts? My comment in the yearbook was probably not. Let me just expand on that comment. If you guys think that the spectacle of blood and danger is going to attract more people to the arts, you're wrong. It will ultimately narrow the participation to a few rugged individuals that want to compete in these events. Parents will get the wrong idea of what martial arts is about. The only thing they will see is the violent portrayal of the arts played out in a cage. This is the same criticism martial arts movies have been getting for years. Hence any comment about the NHB events being controversial. Let's not forget we hear all the points of view here not just one side.

And let me state for the record as 100 percent indisputable, take it to the bank truth: NHB events are controversial. So if you want to listen to Vale Tudo News for your information, you're going to get the sweet stuff but not the hard look at a sport that needs an adjustment if it is going to survive. Let's get another thing straight while I'm at it. I am for martial arts competition, of all kinds (amateur, pro and international). But I am not going to go along with events that will ultimately self-destruct. Or events that allow tactics that could permanently injury an athlete.

Now let's carefully take a look at the language here. Reality Fighting, no holds barred. The God's truth now, people. Put two martial artists in a cage and let them fight with no rules. No holds barred true reality and someone is going to lose an eye, break some bones, wind up in hospital or even worse that's reality, and it's not possible in sport to do this. Sport and real martial arts do not go together; that's why we call it sport. Sports have rules of engagement. Sports are a national pastime in the United States. They are entertaining. They keep a lot of people busy, a lot of people in shape, a lot of people gambling and a lot of sports enthusiasts entertained. The last item I mentioned is the one that will make or break a major sport. If people don't watch it, it won't sell. It won't attract sponsors, it won't sell tickets, no one will bet on it, and except for a few participants no one will care.

This is what I have been saying to promoters. The bloodthirsty audiences are out there, but it is not as big a group as you would like to think. If that were the case no one would have said Boo about the ear thing with Tyson and Holyfield. The general public does not like to see cockfights, pitbulls or other animals bloody each other. Why would they like to see humans do it? I maintain that there is still a way to clean this mess up, make it palatable for the public, the laws, and give boxing a run for its money. So keep defending the status quo. Keep a closed eye to the reality of this sport and everybody loses. And for God's sake, don't get your collective shorts too tight when a little criticism is fired across your bow. Some of my critics act as if I haven't been doing this for 20 years. These problems aren't new. These problems almost brought down boxing in its beginning and martial arts weapons competition in the United States.

Many sports have had to survive their beginnings and overcome their problems. Why not NHB events? What this NHB events have an exclusive on being perfect out of the shoot. Every sport I know the extreme ones and the not so extreme develop as time goes by. Better safety equipment and gear, updating the rules, perfecting techniques. What this NHB events don't have to do this they don't have to become better as they go. You're good with reality fighting but let's not forget all the other realities that go with sport.

No holds barred events have been lucky. No deaths yet. Death have occurred in point fighting or tag, as the reality fighters call it. How long do you think it will be until there are serious injuries of deaths? It will happen to NHB.

It happens in non-contact sports like track and field, baseball, even Little League baseball. The age of innocence will end. And if NHB events aren't making attempts to make the sport safer, it will mark the end of this event forever. So stop the whining and the bitching trying to defend something that is indefensible. Legalized streetfighting won't sell. It won't last. It was over before it started. Clean it up now. Develop the talent, and never stop improving the sport. Then you got something to hold onto. And then I'll keep my pen in my pocket.

Michael James,

Edited by nfc90210
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A 1997 article from the Amarillo Globe-News on Steve Nelson's USWF.


Sunday, April 13, 1997

Shoot wrestling fans like `primal' sport


Globe-News Sports Writer

It's a sport that's closer to a barroom brawl than high school wrestling. And Amarillo is its haven.

A crowd of more than 4,000 packed the Amarillo Tri-State Fairground Rodeo Coliseum for 19 Unified Shoot Wrestling Federation fights Saturday and, according to some fans, got more than their money's worth.

``This is primal,'' said Jerrod Valdez, a 27-year-old construction worker from Amarillo who arrived late and ended up sitting on the far south end of the Coliseum in $10 general-admission seats, about as far away from the ring as he could get. ``This is what people did in the stone age. It's a kind of let's-get-it-on fighting. That's what makes it so much fun and so easy to watch. This makes boxers look like wimps.''

Valdez, along with his girlfriend, Jamie Malcolm of Amarillo, came to the fights without hearing of any of the fighters in the eight-man heavyweight tournament. They quickly took to Paul Buentello.

``The guy is just a beast in the ring,'' Valdez said. ``He looks so serious before the match then is laughing on his way out. He's just a beast.''

Buentello, a former Caprock student, advanced to the championship of the tournament with a semifinal victory against David Davis, also a former Caprock student.

Evan Tanner of Amarillo also advanced to the final with a convincing win against Gary Nabors of Tulia. Tanner defeated Buentello in the championship.

The raucous crowd reached a peak during the first-ever USWF match between women, Canyon's Lisa Hunt and Dumas' Donna Cauthen.

Hunt won after Cauthen was penalized twice and disqualified. The crowd gave the two a standing ovation for their spirited bout.

Shoot wrestling has few rules. Fighters wail on each other in one 15-minute round. Participants cannot use closed fists and must hit with open hands. There are no timeouts or breaks, and if you grab the ropes twice, you're disqualified. It is the most violent sport allowed by the state of Texas. The most common way fights were won Saturday was by submission, signaled by one fighter tapping out.

While it's a given shoot wrestling participants lean toward violence in the ring, the crowd as a whole roared when fights got down and dirty. And the fans certainly weren't at the fights for the surroundings.

Dirt made up the Coliseum floor where $25 ringside folding chairs where lined up. Propane fueled heaters sat on the floor to provide extra heat in the building and stock chutes were in place for rodeos at the north end.

Cars filled the Coliseum parking lots and lined the streets for several blocks leading into the building.

``It's the competition,'' said Arron Sims, a 17-year-old junior and wrestler at Tascosa who roamed around on the arena floor watching his second shoot wrestling event. ``I like it. I wrestle anyway and have done some submission holds, so I can relate to it.''

The same fans who raised the roof several times throughout the night also let wrestlers know if the action was moving too slowly. The crowd booed several times.

The Marcus Chacon-Hossein Kalami bout drew several short periods of boos during a more wrestling style match that played out on the mat instead of with flying hands and choke holds. The match ended in a draw.

``It's pretty wild,'' said 40-year-old Winnie Ruthstrom. ``I think it's pretty crazy. I wouldn't do it. But it's fun to watch. I like the fights that are more active, and they go all over the place. I'd like to see them go over the ropes just once.''

She got her wish when Ku Mars Rezaie and Juan Hernandez tumbled over the top turnbuckle in an exhibition match. Hernandez won the match when Rezaie did not come out of his corner after the fighters were broken up by the referee.

Ruthstrom sat in front-row ringside seats with her boss, Debbie Stamp, and had a simple formula for picking out who they were going to yell for.

``I cheer for the best-looking one,'' Ruthstrom said.

Saturday's fight scheduled was highlighted by two main events. Diego Acosta defeated Johnny Armijo in the semi-main event, and Ali Elias, a six-time Iranian national champion, defeated Tim Morris.

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Another article from the Amarillo Globe-News on Steve Nelson's USWF. This one is from August 1997.

The author by line isn't listed on the article.


Posted: Saturday, August 16, 1997

Women to star in local fight card

Web posted 8/16/97

The Unified Shoot Wrestling Federation has scheduled a 17-fight card for 7:30 p.m. today at the Amarillo Fairgrounds Rodeo Arena. For the first time in the history of the USWF, the main event will feature two women.

Canyon's Lisa Hunt will face D'Anya Bierra in the main event for the USWF women's light-heavyweight championship. Bierra, a member of the U.S judo team, and Hunt both have defeated Dumas' Donna Cauthen for the right to fight for the first USWF women's title.

Boys Ranch football and wrestling coach Paul Jones will return to the ring to face Tony Castillo. The bout will be the first of two fights in 11 days for Jones. He is scheduled to fight in Tokyo on Aug. 27 with the Japanese company Shooto. Ali Elias will fight at the same time in Japan. Felix Rios will be their corner man.

In another match today, Amarillo's Paul ``The Headhunter'' Buentello will face ultimate fighter Dan ``The Beast'' Severn in the USWF Super Shoot Fight II.

Other exhibition matches will pit Jimmy Murugo against Michael Hinajosa, Tony Medina against Danny Gordon, Ben Flores against David Swaim, Ray Perez against Chris Gillian, Tony Castrada against Jeff Rosenbaum, Jason Burkholder against Shawn Liggin and Danny Gilbert against David Davis.

Today's event also will include an eight-man tournament. Box seats are $25, ring side seats are $20, and general admission tickets are $10.

The next USWF event is scheduled for Oct. 18. At that time the organization will crown unified champions in the lightweight, light-heavyweight and heavyweight divisions. Current middleweight champion Steve Nelson will retain his crown.

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