Prior to this year, fighters who had fallen out of favor with the Ultimate Fighting Championship could go to Strikeforce, another national company with a television contract with Showtime.
When the UFC's parent company, Zuffa LLC, purchased its competitor, options for fighters began to dwindle. Several other companies, Bellator Fighting Championships (MTV2) and ProElite (HDNet), have national television contracts.
The remaining void, however, is being filled with various regional companies. Warrior-One, which ran shows in Canada last year, relaunched last weekend with new financial backing.
W-1 (www.w1mma.com) ran several events from 2008-2010 in Canada. Saturday night's main event in Miami saw The Ultimate Fighter alumnus Chuck O'Neil defeat UFC veteran Marcus Davis. UFC veterans Joe Stevenson and Gabriel Gonzaga also signed contracts with the promotion. W-1 CEO Jack Bateman anticipates running six shows in 2012, with most - if not all - in south Florida to build the brand.
"We're going to stay in that area," Bateman said. "We're going to build a fan base here. Once we have built a fan base, there are five cities worthy in Florida alone for use to do these shows. Once we get this sort of market really held down, we're going to start to bounce out into the other markets in Florida. Once we get Florida locked down, we start bouncing out into other markets."
For the fighters, a contract with a smaller organization could help them reestablish their careers and work back toward UFC.
"I know I just have to win two, and I'll be back in the UFC," said Stevenson, who is recuperating from neck and bicep injuries. "I know that for a fact. I understand what I have to do. It's just matter of getting there."
-- The Bellator Fighting Championships' bantamweight semifinals headline Saturday's Bellator 55 event from the Cocopah Resort and Casino in Yuma, Arizona. The card can be seen live on MTV 2 and EPIX at 9 p.m. EST.
Alexis Vila, who defeated Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren in the opening round, will compete against Marcos Galvao in the main event. Ed West will meet Eduardo Dantas in the other semifinal.
Bellator light heavyweight champion Christian M'Pumbu will compete in a non-title fight against Travis Wiuff. Lightweights Ricardo Tirloni and Steve Gable will also fight on the main card.
The preliminaries, which will air on spike.com at 7 p.m. EST, include: light heavyweights Richard Hale vs. Carlos Flores; middleweights Edgar Garcia vs. Jacob Ortiz; lightweights Erin Beach vs. Roscoe Jackson; featherweights Nick Piedmont vs. Jade Porter; and middleweights Steve Steinbeiss vs. Dano Moore.
-- UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre withdrew from next week's title defense against Carlos Condit at UFC 137 due to a knee injury.
Condit, who replaced former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz in the main event, will get his title shot when St-Pierre is healthy.
"I am greatly disappointed, for both myself and UFC fans, that I will no longer be fighting for the welterweight title at UFC 137, but I also understand that injuries are a part of this business," Condit said. " ... Georges is a great competitor and I know that he will want to return to 100 percent health as soon as possible so that this fight can be rescheduled."
-- Earlier this week, HDNet announced a multi-fight, multi-year contract to bring ProElite's brand of MMA to the network.
The agreement kicks off with HDNet Fights: ProElite - Big Guns on Nov. 5 from the iWireless Center in Moline, Illinois. The card is expected to be include former UFC heavyweight champions Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski in separate bouts. An eight-man heavyweight tournament will also be held.
-- Bellator heavyweight semifinalist Mike Hayes, who sustained a fractured orbital bone against Neil Grove at Bellator 52, was issued a 60-day medical suspension by the Louisiana Boxing and Wrestling Commission and removed from the heavyweight tournament. Thiago Santos will replace him next week at Bellator 56 against Blagoi Ivanov.
-- Bellator announced a pair will headline its Nov. 19 card. Middleweight champion Hector Lombard, who has won 24 consecutive fights, will compete against UFC veteran Trevor Prangley in a non-title bout. Lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez will defend against undefeated Michael Chandler. The event will also feature the middleweight tournament finale.
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