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UFC Trims Fight Roster, Releases Five Fighters Including Former Ultimate Fighter: Brazil Alumni

Yesterday, UFC made some changes to their fight roster, cutting ties with five fighters.

Igor Pokrajac, a twelve-time Octagon veteran was cut.  He has been on a four fight losing streak, having dropped bouts to Vinny Magalhaes, Ryan Jimmo, Rafael Cavalcante, and Marcos Rogerio de Lima.  The Croatian lightweight posted notable wins in his UFC tenure, picking up victories over Fabio Maldonado, Krzysztof Soszynski and James Irvin.  His losing streak almost went to five when he lost to Joey Beltran at UFC on FX 6, but that decision was overturned when Beltran failed a post-fight drug test.

Rodrigo Damm participated in “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil.”  Damm debuted strong in UFC, winning three of his first four bouts.  That streak didn’t continue, however and Damm lost his last three fights.  His most recent outing at UFC 182 ended in a unanimous decision loss to Evan Dunham.

Tom Niinimaki was impressive when he debuted in the promotion.  He picked up a split decision over a strong grappler in Rani Yahya on the “TUF 18″ finale.  However, Niinimaki lost three straight fights against Niklas Backstrom, Chas Skelly and Renato Carneiro, losing all of them by rear-naked choke submission.

Mike Rhodes came to UFC as a heralded prospect out of the Roufusport camp.  He made three appearances in UFC, losing all three.  He dropped decisions to George Sullivan and Robert Whittaker, then earned his pink slip by bowing out after the first round against Erick Silva at UFC Fight Night “Machida vs. Dollaway.”

Sean Soriano, the final cut, also went 0-3 in the Octagon.  His last appearance was at UFC Fight Night “McGregor vs. Siver,” where he tapped out to Charles Rosa via brabo choke approximately 4 minutes into the third round.

Source: Sherdog.com

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Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp Says She Supports UFC Signing Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino

Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp gave an interview with MMAJunkie.com recently.  In the interview, she said that she would not stand in the way of UFC signing one of her most prized assets, the current featherweight champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino.  Justino has a 12-1 record, and has been at the center of long-rumored talks about fighting UFC’s bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey.

Knapp said, “If it makes sense and that’s what an athlete wants, I’m going to support it.  I think that ‘Cyborg’ is one of the best in the world, and I think that fight between her and Ronda Rousey is a fight I want to see.”

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Ring of Honor Announces Alberto El Patron’s Opponent for their Thirteenth Anniversary Pay Per View

Today, Ring of Honor issued a press release to announce that they have set a Television Championship match for their 13th Anniversary Show.  The match will feature Alberto El Patron (f/k/a Alberto Del Rio) taking on the current champion, Jay Lethal.  The show will be broadcast on pay per view on March 1, 2015 from Las Vegas, NV.

The press release is as follows:

Rumors of a dream match have swirled on social media but now it is official. The legendary, 2nd generation Mexican wrestling star, Alberto El Patrón, will challenge Jay Lethal for the Ring of Honor World Television Championship live on Pay Per View at our 13th Anniversary event.

Upon his arrival in ROH, Alberto El Patrón wanted an opportunity to speak with his fans on ROH Television. Alberto proclaimed that he was finally among the best wrestlers on the planet and he wanted a shot at the most important title in professional wrestling, the ROH World Championship. Lethal and his manager, Truth Martini took major offense to this and Lethal interrupted Alberto, telling him he should have done his homework before coming to class. Lethal made it known that he is the measuring stick for the best professional wrestler on the planet and that his championship was the most important.

This meeting of two very different athletes in the prime of their careers is something that does not happen very often. This rivalry has taken on a personal twist as Lethal feels Alberto overlooked him as a champion. El Patrón believes Lethal has challenged his manhood, something for which Alberto will not stand.

Can Lethal add Alberto El Patrón to the record list of contenders he has defeated? Can Alberto El Patrón make history by ending the historic reign of Lethal? To find out you will either need to be live in Las Vegas or on Pay per View!

I think this is a great hook for the upcoming pay per view, and it should be a great match that we will have some form of coverage for come March 1.  I do eventually want to see El Patron eventually challenge for ROH’s top title, but for now this should be a fun match with some championship implications.

 

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WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar’s Scheduled Appearances on the Road to Wrestlemania

WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar’s schedule has been under fire from some wrestling fans during the fall.  He made no appearances from Night of Champions until the latter part of December, 2014.  At present, by reviewing the WWE website schedule of shows and the various arena web sites, these are the dates that Lesnar is slated to appear as we embark on the Road to Wrestlemania 31 in Santa Clara, CA.  As we now know, Lesnar will defend his title against Roman Reigns at that event.

  • January 29, 2015, XL Center, Hartford, CT – Lesnar is still scheduled for the re-scheduled Raw/Smackdown event.  Reports Monday said he flew home after the decision to cancel Raw was made.
  • February 2, 2015, Pepsi Center, Denver, CO – Lesnar is not listed to appear at Raw in Denver.
  • February 9, 2015, Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH – Lesnar is scheduled to appear for Raw.
  • February 16, 2015, Amway Center, Orlando, FL – Lesnar is not scheduled to appear (this is the go-home show for the Fast Lane pay per view).
  • February 22, 2015, Fed Ex Forum, Memphis, TN – Lesnar is not advertised to appear on the WWE website, however he was visually in advertising for the event during the Royal Rumble pay per view.
  • February 23, 2015, Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN – Lesnar is advertised to appear for Raw.
  • March 2, 2015, Prudential Center, Newark, NJ – Lesnar is not advertised to appear.
  • March 9, 2015, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA – Lesnar is not advertised to appear on the WWE website, but Consol Energy Center has posted both to their Facebook page and their website that Lesnar is going to appear.
  • March 16, 2015, Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, IA – Lesnar is not scheduled to appear
  • March 23, 2015, Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA – Lesnar is advertised to appear (this is the go-home show for Wrestlemania 31).
  • March 29, 2015, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA – Wrestlemania 31, where Lesnar is scheduled to defend the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Roman Reigns
  • March 30, 2015, SAP Center at San Jose, San Jose, CA – Lesnar is advertised to appear for Raw the night after Wrestlemania.

It appears that Lesnar will be at approximately half of the live Raw events leading up to Wrestlemania.  This is encouraging, given his status from Night of Champions until the build to the Royal Rumble event.   Of course as always, all cards are subject to change.

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Former WWE Women’s Champion Beth Phoenix to Receive Frank Gotch Award, Induction into Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame

It was announced on January 27 that former WWE Women’s Champion Beth Phoenix will be inducted into the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame as a part of their class of 2015.

At the induction, Phoenix will be recognized with the Frank Gotch Award.  The award is presented “to a professional wrestler who brings positive recognition to professional wrestling through their work outside the ring.”  The award was established in 2000 and has been presented to others such as Jesse Ventura, Ted DiBiase, Mick Foley, Dan Severn, and “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan.

Phoenix commented on her induction, saying  “The Frank Gotch Award has particular meaning for me because my dream was for my career to have a positive influence on those around me.  I am looking forward to coming to Waterloo to experience the Hall of Fame ceremony in person, spend time with old friend and meet new ones.”

She joins her husband, Adam “Edge” Copeland in the hall.  He headlined the 2013 Hall of Fame class and was presented with the Lou Thesz Award.

The annual George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame weekend is scheduled to take place July 9-11 in Waterloo, Iowa. All-access passes to the induction weekend are available for $100. Passes can pre-ordered by contacting the Dan Gable Museum at dgmstaff@nwhof.org or by calling (319) 233-0745.

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Interview Highlights: Matt Sydal Talks About How WWE Treated Him Before His Release, If He Would Return, and More

Matt Sydal (fka Evan Bourne) spoke with Scott Fishman of the Miami Herald about a number of topics.  Here are a few highlights:

On working an NXT event in 2013 as a means of getting cleared to wrestle after breaking his foot during a car accident in 2012:
“They wanted to make sure I was completely healthy, which basically required a dry run. I was able to wrestle a fun match and got good reviews on it and got cleared to wrestle. From that point on I was focused on my rehab. I still didn’t feel as comfortable as I should on my foot. I felt like I was a step behind. I did in-ring work after that. I worked out at the NXT school in Orlando. That basically led me to the next year.”

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TNA Returns to Orlando for Three Sets of Tapings in February, March, and April

TNA announced on their website today that they will be returning to Universal Studios in Orlando, FL, for three separate sets of tapings for various programs.  These tapings will occur during February, March, and April.

From February 12-16th, TNA will tape eight sets of One Night Only and Xplosion matches.  There will be also be TNA Impact tapings during March 13-14th, and April 23rd-25th.

For more details, including the times of the events, as well as how to get tickets, visit ImpactWrestling.com.

If you are planning to attend the events and would like to be a contributor, please contact me at dkoscelek@ring-rap.com.

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WWE Issues Press Release – States that WWE Network has Broken the 1 Million Subscriber Mark

This morning, WWE has issued a press release via their corporate website stating that the WWE Network has reached the 1 million subscriber mark.

In the release, WWE touts that the Network is the fastest growing digital service.  They saw a 37 percent increase in subscriber rate since the end of third quarter 2014.  The free November promotion and the UK launch were a part of that driving force to bring the Network count to this point.   They went on to tout the rates of usage as well, saying that 90 percent access it once a week, 99 percent access once a month, and that they have an 86 percent satisfaction rate.

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