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California trumps Las Vegas for MMA news

WEC 41 sets attendance, gate records; Carano to face ‘Cyborg’ in August

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Associated Press

Mixed Martial arts fighter Gina Carano, right, speaks at a press conference announcing the first prime time network presentation of a mixed martial arts fight in May of 2008. Carano will finally face Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos in a match-up of the top two female MMA stars on August 15 in San Jose, Calif.

Click to enlarge photo

Urijah Faber grimaces before the fourth round against Mike Brown in a World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight world title mixed martial arts fight on Sunday, June 7, 2009, in Sacramento, Calif. Brown won by unanimous decision to retain his championship, while Faber suffered a broken hand in defeat.

Neighboring California became the hot spot for major mixed martial arts news over the weekend.

World Extreme Cagefighting enjoyed its most prosperous night in the promotion’s eight-year history Sunday in Sacramento. The sister organization to the UFC set attendance and live gate records as 12,706 fans showed up to watch WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown defend his title against hometown hero Urijah Faber.

The California State Athletic Commission confirmed to MMAjunkie.com that the attendance figure from WEC 41, which was unofficially announced at 13,027 Sunday at ARCO Arena, did in fact break the WEC record of 12,682 from WEC 34 — which was held in the same building.

The live gate amount of $815,415 from Sunday’s Faber fight topped the $738,855 mark from Faber’s fight against Jens Pulver in June 2008 inside ARCO.

For fans who missed the fight Sunday, VERSUS (Cox Cable Ch. 67) will re-air the featherweight bout Wednesday at 6 p.m. and again at 9 p.m.

The WEC’s next event — WEC 42 on Aug. 9 at the newly remodeled Joint at the Hard Rock, which will feature bantamweight champ Miguel Torres against top challenger Brian Bowles — marks the Las Vegas-based promotion’s return to the city for the first time since Torres defeated Manny Tapia in December.

The WEC’s success might not have even been the biggest headline to come out of California this weekend.

Scott Coker, CEO of the San Jose, Calif.-based Strikeforce promotion, announced at his organization’s show in St. Louis that top female fighters Gina Carano and Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos will face each other Aug. 15.

“That’s going to be the No. 1 and the No. 2 females fighting in the world,” Coker said of the long-rumored 145-pound main event. “It will be our first Strikeforce female title belt. We’re going to be proud to put that on.”

The show at the HP Pavilion will also feature a lightweight title unification bout between champs Josh Thomson and Gilbert Melendez, and a heavyweight title tilt with Alistair Overeem against a yet-to-be-named opponent, likely Brett Rogers.

Speaking of Rogers: The Minnesota native, who only earlier this year was working at the tire department at a Sam’s Club, proved his decision to quit his 9-to-5 job so he could concentrate on MMA full-time was a good call.

Rogers improved to 10-0 when he quickly disposed of former UFC heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski in just 22 seconds Saturday night on the Strikeforce card at the Scottrade Center.

“I wanted to show everyone I’m not in there to play around,” Rogers told Yahoo! Sports.

Rogers went on to say he wants the title shot with Overeem in August.

“I was planning on picking that (heavyweight title) up today, but it was kind of pushed back. I hope he’s keeping that belt good and clean for me,” Rogers said.

What’s next for the 30-year-old Arlovski is unclear.

The Belarusian had already agreed to a boxing match on June 27 in Los Angeles, but Rogers’ quick KO could be quite the confidence-killer for Arlovski, who suffered a similar fate to Fedor Emelianenko in January.

Like father, like son: George Foreman III, the 26-year-old son of two-time world heavyweight champion George Foreman, won his professional debut Saturday night, stopping Clyde Weaver at 1:16 of the first round at Coushatta Casino Resort in Kinder, La.

“It feels good to know all the torture my father put me through paid off,” Foreman III told the Associated Press.

Brazilian bash: FiveOuncesOfPain.com confirmed that the rumored title fight between light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida and fellow Brazilian Mauricio "Shogun" Rua will indeed take place at UFC 104 in Los Angeles.

The Oct. 24 event in the Staples Center marks the UFC's first return trip to Los Angeles since "UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie" in May 2006.

Around the Octagon/Ring and beyond: The normally outspoken Floyd Mayweather Jr. has been relatively quiet and reflective in his build-up to next month's fight with Juan Manuel Marquez. ... On Friday heavyweight titlist Wladimir Klitschko replaced David Haye with Ruslan Chagaev. ... CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel says the perfect storm for MMA to break through with mainstream legitimacy is upon us with the UFC, Kimbo Slice and Fedor Emelianenko. ... Need further proof of MMA's growth? Last week, regulation in the lucrative New York market cleared a major hurdle when the New York State Assembly's Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports garnered a favorable vote for Bill 2009-B. ... When Miguel Cotto and Joshua Clottey meet up this weekend, a strange fate in recent boxing history will occur when a welterweight contender actually takes on another welterweight contender.

Andy Samuelson can be reached at [email protected] or 702-948-7837.

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