Legendary MMA referee Big John McCarthy made his returning to reffing at last week's Strikeforce event.  I spoke to BJM today. TheGARV.com: Hey Big John. How are you feeling after your comeback at Strikeforce? BJM: (Laughs) I'm feeling just fine. TheGARV.com: Did you enjoy reffing again? BJM: It's was nice being back doing what I enjoy doing. TheGARV.com: Any chance of a UFC return? BJM: You know what, I have no say in any of that. That's up to the athletic commissions and where the UFC is at. TheGARV.com: But they could pick you if they wanted? The athletic commission? Yeah. TheGARV.com: Going back to the early UFCs, you were almost going to fight in UFC 1, correct? BJM: No.When UFC 1 was coming out, they had paperwork. You could fill out an application. I filled out the application, and they had already picked most of the people and I was just putting it in there for hopefully  UFC 2 or something like that. Then Rorian basically said, no you can't do that, not while Royce is in it.  Maybe later on when Royce is out of it, then you can do it. It would have been UFC 2, not UFC 1. TheGARV.com: I see. And then you got involved with the reffing instead of the fighting. BJM: That's exactly it. More with Big John McCarthy after the jump. TheGARV.com: Ok, the Brock vs. Randy fight. What did you think about that? BJM: I thought it was a good fight. I thought Randy was doing exactly what he should've done. He was getting inside on Brock and using the clinch to make him work. I thought Brock improved in some areas; the elbow he threw inside was well done. That came through training. I thought he did a good job, he actually stunned Randy with it. I think he realized you can't outmuscle everybody. He had some problems moving Randy around and you know that's just part of the learning cycle. I thought it was a very good fight for him overall. Obviously because he won, but he learned a lot of things from it. When he got cut you could tell it bothered him to a point but he collected himself and continued doing what he was supposed to do.  And the shot he hit Randy with? The ones that you don't see are the ones that hurt you. He hit him right behind the ear. It was a good shot. He's got that long reach but that's the fight game. TheGARV.com: That shot looked a little like Matt Serra's shot on GSP. BJM: Exactly. TheGARV.com:  Fedor talked a little about fighting Brock. Do you see Fedor as number one pound for pound? BJM: You know that pound for pound thing, it's so judgemental. God dang, it's such a hard thing. If you're going to say who is the fighter right now who can beat anyone? It's Fedor. You know, I look at it like this: Anderson Silva is an incredible fighter; his skills are remarkable and I love watching him.  Anderson walks around at a heavyweight weight.  He's a 220 pound guy that comes down. So if he fought at what he walks around at--that would be heavyweight--and I think if you put him and Fedor in the same ring, I think Anderson would be the underdog in that fight. I think Fedor would be the favorite.  That doesn't mean that Anderson couldn't win it. I just think that Fedor would be the favorite in the fight. But if you look at total skills sets and everything, when they come up with pound for pound, I look at who, if you put them as a heavyweight, who would be the person who has the most skills and the best skills of any fighter and the ability to win the fight.  And although Anderson is very good and I think he's up there, in my opinion BJ Penn has the most skills of any fighter. And if you took his body and made him a heavyweight, I think he is the best pound for pound fighter there is. TheGARV.com: Well, he's always up there with Silva, Fedor and GSP. I guess you could interchange them all. BJM: Absolutely. I've said it different in ways. You've got the Georges St-Pierre vs. BJ Penn fight coming up. And that's a great fight. I think Georges St-Pierre is the favorite in the fight, even though I say that I think that BJ Penn is the best pound for pound fighter there is. And that's because weight does make a difference, especially when you're talking about the top guys.  GSP is one of those guys that's also in that top pound for pound list and so I think BJ is the underdog in that fight, even though I still say that overall he has the most skill of any fighter. TheGARV.com: Interesting. One last question. You've reffed in rings and in cages. Which do you prefer as a referee and which do you prefer as a fight fan? BJM: As a referee there's no doubt that I would rather do the cage. TheGARV.com: Oh yeah? Why's that? BJM: Because it's safer for the fighters. There's no doubt, no matter what anyone wants to say, the cage helps as far as keeping the fight where it's at.  It helps by having less interference by the referee because when you have a ring you have guys get into the ropes and when the referee stops the action, trust me, fighters try to take advantage of those things.  I don't blame the fighters for doing it; the referee's gotta try and catch it.  And so just the interference that occurs because of the ring makes it to where I think the cage is better for mixed martial arts. If you're a fan watching it?  The actual viewing portion, the ring is better because the cage and the fencing with the posts and everything, it's going to put something in your line of sight that's not there with the ring. And so I think that the ring is probably actually an easier viewing platform for the fights, but the cage is an absolutely better fighting platform and safer for the fighters. TheGARV.com: Ok, great. This should throw some fuel on the fire of the great ring vs. cage debate. BJM: (Laughs) Well, it's just my opinion. TheGARV.com: Well, you should know!  Thanks, Big John.
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I ran into Pete Sell on Friday night at the Ring of Combat show (more on ROC 22 later) and spoke to him about his big UFC win and his future. Garv: Hey Pete. Great fight against Josh Burkman at UFC 90. Tell us about the fight. Sell: Ah, man. I'm still excited about it. I needed a win, man, to get back on track. I mean, talk about having a monkey on your back man. Two years on a losing streak man. It's really tough. A lot of things mentally you have to get over and just keep pressing and persevering to get through that. I trained so hard for this. I didn't cut no corners. Ever since I came back from injuries, from March, I trained three times a day, like every day. I was like an animal for the fight. I felt so good and it paid off. Garv: You looked pretty pumped at the weigh ins. You also struck a pose for a pic that became very popular on the Net. What was that pose? Sell: (Laughs) That's something from back in the day. We used to bug out, we're like, TO THE TOP! You know what I mean. Used to bug out with my boys, my boy Roy, God bless his soul, he was in a bad car accident, you know. He's like a little messed up now. But his older brother used to always bug out, TO THE TOP! You know what I mean, it's an old school thing. Pete Sell: To the Top! Garv: You looked super confident at the weigh ins, you must have felt real good going into the fight even though there was so much pressure. Sell: Man, I felt really good man. I was real confident, man. I did the right thing in my training. I'm like, I'm ready for what this guy got. I've been there, done that. Basically, I've been in wars before in the fight game and there's nothing somebody's gonna throw at me that I haven't seen before. I don't care how tough they are or what tricks they have up their sleeve. It's like alright: I've been knocked out before, I've been there, done that. Be ground and pounded, some guys throwing submissions at me, I've been there, done that. So what? What are you gonna do? Garv: So it all went the way you expected? Sell: Yeah, pretty much. I mean, I knew he had that right hand. He caught me early with that. I mean, good for him. He set it up good and he caught me with a good shot. I smiled at the guy, let's do this man, let's put on show. I'm in your face, I'm gonna keep coming either way. Garv: This was a must win for both of you guys and you got the win. What's next for you? Sell: The UFC hasn't called me yet, so I'm gonna call them soon, after Thanksgiving, man. I've still been training hard. I took a week off, man, been training hard since. Still three times a day, still killing it. Doing my thing, staying in shape. I'm in good shape now. I just need a little bit of notice. Of course I can't take a fight on short notice. I gotta drop the weight the right way. So I'm gonna look for something at the end of January, early February. Get another fight and see what I can do as 170. Garv: What did you think about the Brock Lesnar/Randy Couture fight? Sell: You know, Couture's a legend, man. I really wanted Couture to take that. I mean [Lesnar's] such a beast, man. In comparison the guy had so much weight on Couture it was like a 205 pound guy fighting a 155 pound guy. Imagine that going on. I mean, who's gonna win that fight? At that level, It's the way it is. Garv: Last question. Do you have anything to say to the UFC's 170 pound division? Sell: Man, I really got nothing to say to them, man. I'm happy I'm on a winning streak, I'm happy to be here. I'm gonna have fun fighting exciting fights for the fans. And that's it, man. I'm just being humble with it and doing my thing. Garv: Awesome, Pete. You da man! Sell: Thanks Garv.
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This Friday Renato "Babalu" Sobral will be fighting for the Strikeforce light heavyweight title against reigning champion Bobby Southworth. Babalu is training hard and he's confident. Earlier this week he said:
“On Friday, the world will learn what Bobby already knows – that this was the biggest mistake of his career.”
Can't really argue with that. I think Bobby is in for a long, tough night and I see Sobral wearing the crown after it's all over. I'm certain that Babalu is training hard for this fight. The proof is in the brand new gym he just opened in Cerritos, California. It's already loaded with students and training partners. Many of the students are young kids. And although it may seem incongruous with his image, Babalu makes sure to teach them all personally about his beloved Brazilian ju jitsu.
“It is important to me that they receive the best instruction possible so that they learn the fundamentals of this art. I want to share with them something that has been a guiding force in my life.”
That's a very lovely sentiment. And just imagine how cool it would be to have your kid learn BJJ from the one and only Babalu Sobral. Or should I say, newly crowned Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, Babalu Sobral? We'll see in a couple of days. In the meantime, here are some exclusive pics of his new training center. [gallery]
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My good friend Gary Marino is a treasure trove of old school UFC pics and I am going to showcase them here on occasion. Today we have pics of Jerry Bohlander, Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Dana White, Tank Abbott, Marco Ruas and a very young Vitor Belfort, Smith vs Coleman and the late Evan Tanner. Most of these feature Mr. Marino as well. These are pics you will not see anywhere else. Thanks, Gary! [gallery]
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Ken Pavia and other top MMA agents who had fighters under contract with ProElite have banded together in order to stop the November 17th auction by Showtime of ProElite's assets. ProElite had borrowed a lot of money from Showtime and couldn't pay it back. Showtime then decided to try and recoup some of that loot by having a fire sale of all of ProElite's assets, including fighter contracts. The sale of contracts is what has "The Pav" and the other agents in an uproar. They feel that the fighters are under "personal services" which means they are under no obligation to perform if the contract is transferred. MMAPayout.com posted a letter by Ken Pavia and the other agents:
Huntington Beach, CA November 10, 2008 – We as sports agents battle against each other every day for the best opportunities for our clients. Ultimately we realize the struggle is always about the client’s best interest. That is why we as the elite agents in MMA today have band together to address what we perceive to be a grave injustice. On November 5th in an SEC filing and in related advertisements, Showtime Networks Inc. announced its intention to liquidate “Collateral” as defined by the assets of Pro Elite and their related entities at auction scheduled for November 17th. Included in these assets are certain fighter contracts. These fighters are our clients. Individually we consummated promotional agreements with Pro Elite. These agreements were made based on a multiplicity of factors including but not limited to relationships with certain Pro Elite personnel, venues, television exposure, jurisdictional concerns, public relations support, and numerous other intangibles. These considerations are not readily transferable. Whether or not these contracts are legally transferable is a matter of law. What is not at issue however is Showtime’s disclaimer that the assets are being sold “as-is, where-is basis, without recourse, warranty or guarantee of any kind.” We intend to fight the lawful ability to transfer these assets, and as we believe these are personal services contracts, we do not believe there is an obligation to perform if transferred. With pooled resources we are prepared to fight this issue. The unity of this effort is unprecedented and the message that is being sent is clear. Absent significant pre-established negotiated terms, do not bid on these contracts unless you are prepared to fight the challenge to their legality. It is our intention to honor our commitment to Pro Elite, but if Pro Elite is not able to perform in accordance with the contractual terms, the fighters should be granted unrestricted free agency with the unfettered ability to enter the marketplace. Ken Pavia This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it www.MMAagents.com Monte Cox Ed Soares Matt Stansell Bob Cook Chas Bowling Cesar Gracie
So the plot thickens. Will Showtime go ahead with the sale?  Who, if anyone, will be brave enough to buy a fighters' contract knowing that they will be in a legal war with the agents? The aution is one week away.  Let's see what happens tomorrow.
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You remember Pulp Fiction, right? Well, now we all know what was in the briefcase. It was Kimbo Slice's very soul. And Showtime and ProElite are engaged in a battle to the death over it. I mentioned the other day that all of ProElite's property, including fighter contracts, Gina Carano's towel and Kimbo Slice's soul, were being auctioned off by Showtime. This was being done because ProElite had borrowed money from Showtime but failed to pay it back. Well, when word got back to ProElite that Showtime was selling their asses, I mean assets, they went ballistic and now they're challenging the sale. So we may have to wait a bit longer than expected to get ahold of that briefcase.
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Oh man, not since the days of Crazy Eddie have I been in such a tizzy over a sale.  ProElite is having a going-out-of-business sale and it's a doozy. Everything must go. From home videos to fighter contracts, everything is on sale. From the official notice:
Notice is hereby given that the Collateral (as defined below) will be sold by Showtime Networks Inc. ("Showtime") at a public sale on November 17, 2008 at 10:30 a.m. (Pacific Standard Time) at the offices of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, 350 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90071. The Collateral includes all contracts between any Debtor and mixed martial arts fighters (including, but not limited to, Kevin Ferguson a.k.a. "Kimbo Slice", Gina Carano, Jake Shields, Robbie Lawler, Frank Shamrock, Antonio Silva, Brett Rogers, Dave Herman, Scott Smith, Nick Diaz, Cristiane Venancio Justino a.k.a. "Chris Cyborg", Eddie Alvarez, Yves Edwards and Wilson Reis) and all of each Debtor's video library, still photographs and home videos (e.g., DVDs and VHS tapes).
Sweet! I've got my eyes set on Nick Diaz's contract.  It's written on E-Z Wider rolling papers and it's only 99 bucks. Anything not sold will be carted away.  And in a funny twist of fate, Kimbo Slice, in his new career, will be the one doing the carting. 'Shop Props to UG/RoccoSiefriddi
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Long Island fighter Pete Sell is making his return to the Octagon at UFC 90 this Saturday. He is taking on Josh Burkman in a fight that is a must win for both fighters. I caught up with Pete recently and we talked about the Burkman fight and also about the bad blood between him and Tim Syliva. Garv: Hey, what's up, Pete. First off, your nickname, Drago. Is that from Rocky? Sell: Ah, Rocky 4 man. I had it back in the day, since I was about 13. It has nothing to do with my fight career. It's just something that stuck with me. I actually used to hate it. And my friends kept calling me it, they thought it was funny at the time. And it just stuck after awhile. Garv: Now you're back in the UFC. Fighting Josh Burkman. Sell: Yes. UFC 90. Garv: What's your take on Josh? Sell: He's kind of pretty much in the same predicament I'm in. You know what I'm saying. We're both on a losing streak and we gotta prove ourselves to be in the UFC. So, the stakes are high and let's get it on. Garv: It should be a war. Sell: Everything's about excitement with me, you know. That's what it's all about. I'm gonna put on a show for the fans and mix it up and it's gonna be a war. And I'm excited about it. Garv: Hey, is there some bad blood between you and Tim Sylvia? SEll: I don't know. Maybe on his part. I mean, from what I heard, somebody told me it was in a thing about the best of 2007 that he said he didn't like me. I don't even know the guy. You know what I mean? So go fuck yourself. I don't know, I don't care. You know what I'm saying? I mean, good for you. You big doof. I don't care. Whatever. Garv: (Laughs) Hell yeah. All right, Pete. Thanks. Matt Serra, TheGARV, Pete Sell
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I had a nice little chat today with Frank Shamrock and we talked about the Kimbo fight and the upcoming Brother vs Brother fight he'll be having with Ken. TheGARV: Hey, Frank.  Man, what a crazy night that was down in Florida. Frank: (Laughs) Man, it was sure was. Probably the wildest night I've ever done. TheGARV: After Ken dropped out of the fight, you immediately volunteered to take his place.  So it seems like Kimbo's team had a choice between you and Seth.  I know that before they agreed to fight Seth they said they needed to see tapes first.  Was the choice to fight Seth instead of you made by Kimbo's team or EliteXC? Frank: You know, honestly, that I dont' truly know.  I just know that I threw my hat in the ring and no one picked it up.  I kept pressing but I don't know who put the final kibosh on it. TheGARV: Were you very disappointed? Frank:  Oh yeah.  Yeah. I thought it was a great opportunity for television.  The show was going down, they were thinking about canceling the show until we had Kimbo fighting somebody.  So it was a pretty touchy situation. TheGARV: Now, Frank, we all know that you are light years ahead of Kimbo in terms of technique.  But he's much bigger than you, 240 pounds, hits hard, and you're coming off the broken arm.  What was going through your mind in terms of mental preparation for fighting this guy? Frank:  Well, I wouldn't have accepted the fight if I didn't think could honestly compete. So that was kind of a mental process I had to go through.  It took about three of four minutes. TheGARV:  (Laughs) Frank:  I figured I'd be kicking his guts, keeping him away.  And then, soon as I got him to reach I'd be taking him down and choking him out or something. TheGARV:  Sounds like your style. Frank: Yeah, that was sort of my general plan and I've been pretty successful with it. And he's got a pretty obvious style of power punching. Not all that hard to figure out.  I mean, you know, it was really hard for me to try and switch gears from being a professional commentator to flipping my mind at the last minute and get into fighting mode. TheGARV: Looking across at Kimbo, that's gotta be scary. Frank: Everything about fighting is scary. There's no, like, not scary part.  Being mentally unprepared, being physically unprepared, being very distracted, all that weighed on me because I knew I wasn't one hundred percent focused on that paticular opponent or whatever.  But you know, Garv, I've been doing this game so long, it took me about 15 minutes to get my mind right, make it relaxed, you know, and realize that I was going to battle, not going to talk.  And then it was my martial art training: keep my mind in order, keep my body in order, then go. TheGARV:  And having seen him fight before, you knew what to look for and how to exploit his weaknesses. Frank:  Yeah. You know, to me it wasn't a big hurdle.  It was just physically and mechanically, just that moment.  I had also spent four days trying to figure out how to be impartial in my brother's fight. How to be unemotional about that moment.  I had really spent a lot of time preparing for an entirely different emotional and physical event. TheGARV: Yeah, I'll say. Frank: It was quite the gear shift.  I think we went from like third to reverese. TheGARV: You know what would have been funny, if you went in the ring and Ken did the commentary. Frank: (Laughs)  Who knows?  In MMA anything can happen. TheGARV:  How did you think Ken would do against Kimbo? Frank:  I really thought Ken would beat Kimbo.  Because even if his broken down, his mind and his technique is still ten times what Kimbo knows.  And any little mistake, any little slip up would have been Ken's opportunity to win that match. TheGARV:  I saw Ken going for the leg. Frank: I saw a jab, a double leg, turn the corner and start working some holds right away.  Kimbo is just not advanced enough to even understand what's going on at that point.  I know he's got Bas, I know he's training, but training and doing is two different worlds. TheGARV:  But then Ken got cut.  What happened exactly? Frank:  It looks like he had an old cut, probably within the last couple of weeks.  And it was probably closed up with superglue or whatever and it looks like somebody hit it and it popped open.  You know, I came down pretty hard on Ken but the truth is, stuff like that happens. TheGARV: Yeah, I mean he wanted to fight with the cut, but the commission said no. Frank: Right. In all fairness to him, it wasn't him who said I'm not gonna fight. It was the doctors who absolutely would not allow him to fight.  I mean, I came down hard on Ken, but it was just because that was his moment, that was our moment and then the whole thing literally just slipped away from us.  But I've seen guys get hurt, I've seen guys twist things, break things, whatever.  Anything can happen.  Especially when you're doing so much and you're trying to prepare for one moment.  I can understand it happening, but it always happens to Ken.  You know, Ken is "that guy."  If there was a pail in the room, Ken would step in it. TheGARV:  (Laughs) When Ken went down, Kimbo had to fight against an unknown opponent.  That's gotta be tough.  It looked like he was a little reckless, just steamrolling across the cage right into that punch. Frank: Yeah, he did what you're never supposed to do and that is to move forward with your hands down.  That's striking 101 and Seth has been doing karate since he was seven and did the first thing he thought of, which was punch, kick. TheGARV: Tough break for Kimbo, getting caught. Frank: I have to give credit to Kimbo.  It's a heck of a game to shift gears like that. To know you're going to fight somebody you know nothing about.  To know that everything's on the line for this one moment and to have people negotiating with you right before the show so the show could go on. That whole pschycology and mental drain, that's gotta be exhausting.  Then to go in there and still have to have to fight at that level. That's tough.  I've seen Kimbo take massive blows before, and that wasn't that big of a shot, but it was enough, and the shot we have, you could see his head shake.  It really shook his brain. TheGARV: I think it was as much him moving forward as it was the power of the punch. Frank:  All those events combined and that punch, that was the straw there. TheGARV:  Mauro said Kimbo should get a "mulligan."  Not to fight Seth again, but to fight Ken.  Will that interfere with your timeline with Ken?  I know your brother vs brother match is signed. Frank: The timeline is the first quarter of next year, so we've got March and April as months we're going for.  You know what, Kimbo needed a fight to prove he was legitmate.  And that moment passed him by.  Fighting Ken now isn't going to prove he's legitimate.  I really think Kimbo's moment of proving has passed him by and now he's dig like everyone else. TheGARV:  His management team has done an amazing job of minimizing the risk while maximising the profits. Frank: Yeah. We're in the business of fighting and it's prize fighting. So God bless him, he got the prize, he got it more than once and he's a star.  And now he has to do what all the other stars do and that's to dig in and prove his worth and value.  But I don't think he's going to be his stepping stone or opportunity anymore.  Now, especially with (Ken and I) fighting each other taking main stage.  Ken's lost a lot of credibility in the marketplace.  People think he should have went in there and fought with one eyeball or whatever was necessary.  I feel and support that but this fight, brother vs brother, it's gotta be now.  It's gotta be the next thing we get to. TheGARV: You've been wanting this fight for a long time. Frank: I've been on this for two and half years and the end is in sight and I think the story is ready to be told and come to a close. TheGARV:  I am certainly looking forward to that fight, and Frank, thanks as always it's a pleasure speaking with you. Frank: Thank you, Garv.
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