Until very recently the name Hardcore Championship Fighting was known mainly to a few Canadian MMA fans. But recent signings of PRIDE veterans Aleksander Emelianenko (Pictures) and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (Pictures) and UFC veteran Renato Sobral (Pictures) have MMA fans around the world thinking, "Who are these guys?"
The Calgary, Alberta-based HCF has been on Canadian airwaves for roughly a year on the Score Television Network. Initially the company broadcast fights from events such as Rumble in the Cage and King of the Cage. When a lack of new content threatened its TV deal with the Score, though, HCF started promoting its own shows.
In July the inaugural event in Edmonton included such Canadian notables as new TKO welterweight champion Jesse Bongfeldt, Nabil Khatib (Pictures), Sean Pierson and also several fighters like Joe Riggs (Pictures) and Solomon Hutcherson who are more recognized by UFC fans.
HCF's next card, scheduled for Oct. 19, will be held in the Calgary Corral with the main event featuring Emelianenko versus UFC 14 vet Dan Bobish (Pictures), who replaces a missing-in-action Wesley Correira (Pictures).
According to HCF President Keith Crawford, nobody, including Correira's manager, Ken Pavia, has been able to reach "Cabbage" for several weeks now.
"We made the decision to take him off the fight card because we can't afford to bring in Emelianenko from Russia and not have a good fighter on the other side of the cage," Crawford told Sherdog.com.
Bringing in Bobish raises one interesting question though, as a scheduled MMA event in Moncton for Sept. 29 was reportedly cancelled due to the headlining Bobish having broken ribs -- something Crawford said isn't true.
"Dan Bobish (Pictures) is in perfect health and is looking forward to taking this fight, and at no time did Mr. Bobish have a broken rib that we know of through his management and through direct contact with him," Crawford said.
Although Aleksander will be the Emelianenko brother headlining Oct. 19, Crawford revealed that it was the elder brother, Fedor, whom he had initially tried to acquire. "Dave [Houshiar, Crawford's partner] came in and told me to get Fedor," Crawford explained, "and out of that we got Aleksander."
The No. 1 heavyweight in most rankings will be making the trip to Calgary to corner Aleksander. "Fedor has a lot of options right now, but we feel that we may possibly be one of those options still in Canada for him," Crawford said.
One thing looks certain: Some of the Emelianenko brothers Red Devil Sport Club teammates will be coming to HCF.
"We are going to be doing some work with the Red Devil Sport Club for some of their other fighters, and we have more announcements coming with guys that we're signing both under exclusive and single-fight contracts," Crawford said. "And I would like to deal with them extensively, so you never know what might be coming down the pipe with the Red Devil Team and Hardcore."
Crawford also revealed that Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (Pictures) will make his HCF debut on Nov. 24 in Vancouver and that "Babalu" will likely begin his non-exclusive deal on the Feb. 1 2008, card, which is planned to be a worldwide pay-per-view from Calgary.
"It's a shared contract with Strikeforce," Crawford said of Sobral's deal. "When they're not using him, we will and vice versa."
HCF's recent signings have also energized Crawford and his team.
"We're excited about getting into this level of promoting," he said. "Now that we're starting to sign these guys, everything seems to be falling into place, and everything is working out for us."
MacDonald preparing for collision with Okami at UFC 77
Jason "The Athlete" MacDonald returned home to Red Deer, Alberta, on Saturday, after spending several weeks training with Canadian light heavyweight prospect Roger Hollett (Pictures) in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Besides Hollett, who is preparing for his own clash with American Top Team's Lew Polley at ECC 6, MacDonald trained his standup with former Muay Thai world champion Rob Walker and his ground game with Renzo Gracie (Pictures) brown belt Peter Martell.
MacDonald told MM-Eh! that he has a week of hard training in Alberta before he flies to Cincinnati on Oct. 16. He said he has all the confidence in the world that he'll emerge from the Octagon victorious on Oct. 20.
Extreme Cage Combat 6 ‘Hometown Heroes' card set
ECC President Rob Walker shared with MM-Eh! the latest version of his next Halifax fight card, scheduled for Oct. 20 in the Halifax Forum.
Yet again light heavyweight champion Roger Hollett (Pictures) had a potential fight with American Top Team's Tom Lawlor scrubbed. Lawlor claimed to have a broken jaw, but Walker doubts the injury.
"I talked to those guys [ATT] down there, and they don't know anything about it," he said.
Sticking with ATT, Walker then offered the match to UFC veteran Carmelo Marrero (Pictures), who turned down the offer. Instead, Hollett will face ATT's Lew Polley, a natural heavyweight who Walker thinks will be Hollett's biggest challenge to date.
"Lew Polley, I think, is going to be a crazy fight for Roger," Walker said. "He is a Division I all-star wrestler who's now about 230, 240 pounds."
Yet Walker didn't sound terribly concerned for Hollett.
"Roger always comes out in the end," he said.
ECC 6 will feature the debut of two new belts. Although Hollett already holds the ECC Canadian title and the MFC World title*, his bout will be for the new ECC world light heavyweight title.
ECC veteran Travis Axworthy (Pictures) will meet Stjepan Vujnovic (Pictures) for the ECC Canadian middleweight title. Their bout may just be the sleeper of the night, as neither knows how to put on a boring fight.
Vujnovic's Boreland Combat teammate Shaun Krysa (Pictures) will make his return to Halifax after his controversial March defeat to Jason MacKay (Pictures) at ECC 5. He'll face ATT's Mike Bruno, brother of Korea's Spirit MC champion Steve Bruno (Pictures).
Roger Hollett (Pictures) vs. Lew Polley
Stjepan Vujnovic (Pictures) vs. Travis Axworthy (Pictures)
Ryan Jimmo vs. Matt Acorn
Shaun Krysa (Pictures) vs. Mike Bruno
Matt McGrath vs. Steve Ramos
Tannaya Hantelman (Pictures) vs. Alexis Davis
Peter McGrath (Pictures) vs. Jeff Harrison
Tim Kelly (Pictures) vs. Johnathan Golaki
Adam MacDonald vs. Jonny Rosco
Ryan Ford vs. Adil Abbas
Aaron Jollimore vs. Andrew Belyea (Pictures)
‘Pele' headlines EFC5: ‘Revolution'
Canadian fighter Bill Mahood (Pictures) announced that the CN Centre in Prince George, British Columbia, will host Extreme Fighting Challenge 5 on Nov. 3.
Jose Landi-Jons (Pictures) vs. Jake Ellenberger (Pictures)
Kajan Johnson vs. David Pariseau
Tim Thurston (Pictures) vs. Tim Jenson
Ryan Chiappe vs. Mike Neufeld
Jay Jenkins (Pictures) vs. Victor Daychief
Matt Leo vs. Justin Tavernini
Bruno Coupville vs. Ryan Brigham
Charlie Zak vs. Jarrod Shaw
Dan Shenk vs. Jarrett Evans
Doug Read vs. JJ Micks
Chris Ade vs. Joel Thomas
Neil Berry (Pictures) vs. Eddy Ellis (Pictures)
Freedom Fight 2008 card shaping up
Although still several months away, Freedom Fight has announced several matchups for its Jan. 26 event in Hull, Quebec.
Craig Brown (Pictures) vs. John Cole
Stephan Lamarche vs. Daniel Grandmaison (Pictures)
Ilya Woronowski vs. Jason L'Heureux
Mark Holst vs. Derek Giroux
Jean Marc Lalonde vs. Rick Bawden
Markhalie Wedderburn vs. Trevor Zeigler
Nicholas Portieous vs. Eric Muir
Brett Portieous vs. Barry McDonald
Ian Dawe vs. Todd Wood (Pictures)
Jason Bissonnette vs. Jon Christink
Jefferson Alvarez vs. Tony Legnaro
*Sherdog.com incorrectly identified Hollett's MFC belt as a "Canadian" title. MFC does not promote Canadian titles.