Renan Barão vs. Demetrius Johnson in the works for TUF 13 Finale

By Guilherme Cruz

UFC bantamweights Renan Barão and Demetrius Johnson are expected to meet at TUF 13 Finale, on June 6th, in Las Vegas, Nevada. According to sources close to the bout, the fighters agreed, but the contracts weren’t signed yet.

After suffering a split decision loss in his MMA debut, in 2003, Renan Barão won 25 bouts, including his two WEC fights, defeating Chris Cariaso and Anthony Leone by submission. Demetrius Johnson also won two fights under WEC banner, and debut in the UFC with an unanimous decision victory over Japanese legend Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto, at UFC 126.

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Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson: Gamer Both In And Out Of The Octagon

By Nate Lawson

Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson’s unanimous decision victory over Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto at UFC 126 was a sweet debut for the man nicknamed “Mighty Mouse.” But what was even sweeter was the fact that his 135 lb. contest, which was in the fourth spot on the preliminary card, was broadcast live on the UFC’s Facebook fanpage.

As opposed to the thousands watching live at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on February 5, all of the nearly 5,000,000 Facebook users who are fans of the promotion on the social networking site had the opportunity to catch the action as well, elevating Johnson’s exposure substantially.

And the fast-rising bantamweight is certainly thanful, as the opportunity not only increased his fan base, but also managed to earn him a deal with Microsoft.

“That was awesome, you know? Since they rallied behind me we picked up a huge deal with Microsoft and Xbox,” Johnson stated on the latest episode of the HeavyMMA Podcast. “It’s a huge opportunity and I’m just trying to get their name out there and let the world know that Xbox and Microsoft are on board, supporting mixed martial arts.”

With companies such as Microsoft willing to support any mixed martial artist is definite proof that the sport’s appeal, even if just in terms of business, continues to grow. However, for Microsoft to support Johnson is really only appropriate. After all, when he is not working, training, or fighting, you can find “Mighty Mouse” with a video game controller in his hand.

 

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UFC 126 sets “UFC Prelims” record with 2 million viewers on Spike TV

By Dann Stupp

This past weekend’s “UFC Prelims” broadcast on Spike TV, which coincided with the Feb. 5 “UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort” event, scored a series-high 2 million viewers.  Spike TV officials today emailed the ratings information to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).

The broadcast, which featured preliminary-card fights of Donald Cerrone vs. Paul Kelly and Chad Mendes vs. Michihiro Omigawa, topped the previous 13 “UFC Prelims” installments and the former record of 1.7 million viewers.

UFC 126 took place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Prior to the Spike TV broadcast, the UFC streamed another prelim fight, Demetrious Johnson vs. Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto, for free on Facebook.

Overall, the Spike TV broadcast earned a 1.2 household rating, including an impressive 1.7 among men 18-49. The one-hour broadcast was the highest-rated program in its timeslot among men 18-49 and men 18-34.

 

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Urijah Faber welcomes UFC fight with “Kid” Yamamoto someday, but not now

By MMAJunkie

LAS VEGAS – Just a few short years ago, Urijah Faber (24-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto (18-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) was nothing more than a mythical fantasy matchup that fans debated on MMA forums.

But with both lighter-weight superstars now under the UFC banner, Faber vs. Yamamoto could soon become a reality.

On Friday, “The California Kid” said he still welcomes a fight with the Japanese superstar, but he thinks the timing is no longer quite right.

“I’d really like an opportunity for the fans in America to figure out who ‘Kid’ Yamamoto is,” Faber said. “He’s had a tough run in the last couple years, but the guy is, you know, you talk about the ‘it factor,’ you talk about swagger and things like that, he’s the only Japanese guy that I’ve ever seen that has it.”

Faber and Yamamoto were once considered the two best featherweights in the world. In 2007, Faber was in the midst of a 13-fight win streak that included five successful defenses of the WEC‘s featherweight title, while Yamamoto was busy with his own 14-fight run in Japan.

Since that time, Faber has gone just 3-3, while Yamamoto has battled through a tough 1-2 stretch. However, both fighters recently won their debuts in the bantamweight division, and the potential matchup again has a bit of steam behind it.

Nevertheless, Faber said he would prefer to wait a bit in hopes that U.S. fans can learn a bit about Yamamoto before looking to meet him in the octagon.

 

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Kid Yamamoto: “I don’t have to worry about the heavy punches anymore”

By Tony Loiseleur

TOKYO — Ahead of his promotional debut against Demetrious Johnson at UFC 126 this Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto — one of Japanese MMA’s biggest stars — serves as a reminder of Zuffa’s inexorable global dominance of the sport.

Japan’s shows are too much about entertainment. It’s not like the UFC, not like a sport. The UFC is like boxing style. They have a champion and rankings, but the biggest Japanese MMA shows on TV aren’t like that,” says Yamamoto. “It’s like they only do whatever they think will be best in the here and now. They don’t plan for the future.”

Yamamoto can attest to these critiques. While he will compete as a bantamweight stateside, he was positioned as a lightweight star during his run in K-1’s Hero’s brand, simply because that was where the promotion had the most talent. With the advent of Dream, promoters tried to base a 139-pound division — firmly between the legitimate bantamweight and featherweight divisions — around Yamamoto’s stature. After chasing the stardom and wealth of Japan’s fight scene, Yamamoto’s current venture into foreign waters comes as somewhat of a physical relief.

 

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At long last, Kid Yamamoto enters the Octagon!

By Frank Curreri

Enjoy Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto while you can, because the Japanese sensation is not on the Randy Couture career plan, or even the Chuck Liddell longevity plan, for that matter.

Not even close.

Couture, 47, is still fighting. Liddell, at 41, recently retired. Yamamoto, a 33-year-old bantamweight, aims to crown his legacy with a UFC title and fight for two or three more years before walking away from the sport that made him famous in his homeland.

“I can fight when I’m older, but I don’t want to fight at that age,” said Yamamoto (18-3, 1 NC). “Maybe a couple more years and then I’ll quit. I always wanted to fight in the US and now the UFC has my weight (135), so it’s the right time. This is my last season.”

It’s been quite a wait – taking nearly a decade to finally land the ultra-aggressive knockout artist into the Octagon. For too long, when American fans debated the top bantamweights, it was begrudgingly wrapped in theory (which makes for a rather poor proving ground). Go back five years or so to when there was much talk about what would happen if Japan’s “Kid” clashed in a Super Fight with California’s “Kid” (Urijah Faber)? Miguel Angel Torres vs. Kid Yamamoto, who takes it?

 

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Here come the two fastest fighters in the world

By Frank Curreri

Demetrious Johnson is beginning to stand out in the UFC bantamweight division and it’s not just because of the uncommon spelling of his first name or his cartoon character alias. The Matt Hume protégé dealt New York’s Nick Pace the first loss of his career, and followed that up by stunning red-hot Damacio Page. At UFC 126 the speedy 24-year-old will try to play spoiler once again when he collides with Japanese sensation Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto (18-3, 1 NC), arguably Asia’s most popular mixed martial artist.

It’s hard to imagine this matchup being anything other than fast-paced and action-packed. MMA fans have waited years for the ultra-explosive Yamamoto to showcase his sizzling skill set in the U.S., particularly inside of the Octagon, home of the world’s premier 135- and 145-pound fighters. While February 5 will be a monumental day for Yamamoto, it will also harbor the greatest opportunity of Johnson’s three-year career.

“He’s one of the biggest stars in Japan. He’s like the Manny Pacquiao of Japan,” Johnson, a.k.a. “Mighty Mouse,” said of his fiery opponent, a knockout artist who has triumphed over the likes of Genki Sudo, Royler Gracie, Rani Yahya, Caol Uno, Jeff Curran and Bibiano Fernandes, among others. “He’s a good striker, very athletic. Everybody sees him as a legend of the sport – which he is – and I want to test myself against him.”

 

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