POSTED ON MARCH 4, 2009:
Ground 'N Pound
13 scheduled fights, a couple of kickboxing bouts and voila, a Friday night in Tulsa
Signed, sealed and almost delivered. Dale "Apollo" Cook brokered a deal to bring UFC welterweight champion George St. Pierre to Tulsa for Friday night's X-treme Fight League card.
"It was about a two month process. We started negotiating with [GSP] before his B.J. Penn fight. We kind of had a deal done and then he won the fight and we had to start all over. He became a hot commodity and everybody wants him," said Cook.
The event kicks off Friday night at the SpiritBank Event Center, 105th and Memorial, sans GSP. The Ultimate Fighting Championship holds an event the following night in Columbus, OH. But a week before GSP was to land in Tulsa, the UFC pulled the plug on his appearance. His presence was required for UFC 96. Score another KO for the UFC.
It's a raw deal for all involved. Cook is left explaining the GSP situation to rabid fight fans. Local fight fans hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the top three fighters in the world will have to wait. St. Pierre has rescheduled his Tulsa appearance for June. We are left with a solid night of fights in a perfect venue for caged rage.
Pat Miletich is a legendary MMA tactician in and out of the cage. Long time fight junkies remember his days in the cage. Newcomers to the sport recognize him from his fight camp, Miletich Fighting System. He has trained several world champions including Matt Hughes, Tim Sylvia and Jens Pulver. He's filling in for GSP Friday night... so to speak.
Will he elicit the same enthusiasm as GSP? No. Will he tide us over until GSP rolls into T-Town later this summer? He'll have to. Cook is targeting Randy Couture for the future guest appearance as well.
Kick like a Girl
Ask a mixed martial arts fan for his or her thoughts on women in the cage. The responses range from "Hell yeah" to "Stay in the kitchen" to "That's hot" to "Meh." Women are becoming more accepted in the fight game thanks to CBS, EliteXC and the lovely yet violent Gina Carano.
Jeri "Fist of Fury" Sitzes competed in Chuck Norris' World Combat League for the Oklahoma Destroyers. She's transitioned into the MMA world seamlessly to date. She faces current XFL 128-pound title holder Tami Schneider in a championship bout.
Sidenote of interest to hardcore fans: EliteXC folded due to poor management. Strikeforce purchased the contracts of several standout fighters from the promotion. The west coast based promotion is now firmly entrenched behind the UFC as a main player in the burgeoning MMA game.
Strikeforce promotes women's fights unlike the UFC. They are sending scouts to the XFL event with their eyes on Sitzes and the main event of the evening.
The main event on the card features another WCL stalwart Thomas "Thunderkick" Longacre challenging 145-pound champion Shane Waits.
Waits is well-rounded with a background in wrestling. He sports a record of 8-5. He wants to take Longacre down and punish him before locking in a submission. Five of his eight victories were by submission.
Longacre fought twice under MMA rules. He has different plans for this bout. "[Waits] might have a few more MMA fights than me but I have 10 years of just standing and banging. I'm always ready to fight. I don't think he's ready for this fight. He's never fought a striker of my caliber," said Longacre.
He moved to Tyler, TX about two years ago. He grew up in Sapulpa and wrestled during his youth before hooking up with Dale Cook. Longacre trained jujitsu for years but mostly standup. Since he started taking MMA seriously, he has trained hardcore submission full time.
His transition from kickboxing to MMA is ongoing. "It's kind of been in the making all along because I knew it would eventually roll into MMA. I think kickboxing as a sport is slowly dying off," he said.
He trains occasionally with current UFC lightweight fighter Matt Wiman. He also formed a fight team in Tyler at the LA Boxing gym. When he arrived in Texas two years ago, the only MMA fighters in town were YouTube instructed.
The Strikeforce scouts should expect a show. "I'm getting more comfortable on the ground so if Shane Waits wants to take it to the ground he's going to be in for a big surprise," said Longacre. He hopes Waits doesn't put too much stock in his last fight.
That fight served as a catalyst for things to come in his developing ground game. He could have finished the fight in the first round if he desired. "Everybody knows I can standup. I wanted to prove to everybody in the Tulsa crowd and the MMA world that I can do a little bit of everything," he said.
He predicts the end of the fight will not come via decision. "Either knockout or ref stoppage... probably round two."
Thirteen scheduled fights. Mix in a couple of kickboxing bouts and voila, a Friday night in Tulsa. Call 627-7070 or visit www.spiritbankeventcenter.com for ticket information.
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