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Friday, August 27, 2004
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC Japan Card Developing Nicely, but Ortiz Remains a Question Mark
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

Scheduled to take place on December 12 in Japan, UFC 51's card is developing nicely and is going to be well-stocked with Japanese fighters. The UFC has been in negotiations with Caol Uno, Genki Sudo, and Tsuyoshi Kosaka to compete on the show.

In addition, Pancrase president Mr. Ozaki recently announced that several Pancrase fighters will be appearing on the card, as reported by Puroresu Power. The Pancrase representatives at UFC 51 could include Yuki Kondo, Yoshiki Takahashi, Ikushi Minowa, Sanae Kikuta, or any number of other Pancrase fighters. Pancrase frequently loans out its contracted fighters to other organizations for a fee, with the most recent example being Yuki Kondo going to Pride to fight Wanderlei Silva.

The only title fight on the show will be Frank Mir vs. Andrei Arlovski for the UFC Heavyweight Title, provided that both fighters are healthy and ready to compete in the proper timeframe. As reported yesterday on MMAWeekly, Tim Sylvia also hopes to be ready to go by December as he continues to recover from the broken forearm bones he suffered in his loss to Frank Mir at UFC 48.

Additionally, any pretense of Vitor Belfort vs. Tito Ortiz being a secret is out the window, not only due to Belfort's comments after UFC 49, but also because UFC president Dana White confirmed it in an interview with Full Contact Fighter. White told FCF that the plan is for Ortiz to fight Belfort regardless of who wins the UFC 49 match between Ortiz and Guy Mezger.

Why the UFC thinks that Tito Ortiz can be depended upon to fight two times in less than two months is beyond the comprehension of any person who looks at the situation objectively and considers Tito's track record.

All one has to do is look at Tito's history over the past several years to see why it's almost ridiculous to suggest that he can be counted on to fight twice in less than eight weeks. The norm for a UFC fighter who is working the maximum schedule (ie, Matt Hughes) is to fight once every four months. Dating back to 2001, Tito went 14 months between his fight with Vladimir Matyushenko and his fight with Ken Shamrock. Another ten months passed before Ortiz fought Randy Couture, followed by six months before the fight Chuck Liddell. By the time the Ortiz-Mezger fight happens, six months will have passed from the time of Ortiz-Liddell.

So, the length of time that Tito goes between fights on the last four occasions has been 14 months, ten months, six months, and six months... and now the UFC expects him to fight twice in less than eight weeks? This situation could end up hurting the UFC badly, not only when it comes to fan disappointment over not seeing Ortiz vs. Belfort, but also due to pay-per-view advertising deadlines. The advertising deadline for a pay-per-view event scheduled for mid-December is only a few weeks away. Stay tuned to MMAWeekly for the latest on the UFC 51 card as it continues to develop.

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