White Sox

UFC Absorbs WEC, Adds 2 Championships

UFC Absorbs WEC, Adds 2 Championships

Thursday, October 28, 2010 2:02pm

By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports WriterMMA PAGE
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The UFC absorbed its lower-weight World Extreme Cagefighting promotion on Thursday, adding two championship belts and about 70 fighters to mixed martial arts' dominant promotion. UFC president Dana White is eager to showcase the WEC's fighters at 155 pounds and under to a larger audience on the UFC's higher-profile shows, putting every fighter under contract to the UFC's parent company under a single banner. "What's exciting for these lighter-weight guys, they're finally on the biggest stage in the world now," White said. "A lot of people haven't seen the lighter guys, and when we move these guys up into the UFC, I think people are going to be glad to see them." The merger will happen gradually in 2011, with every WEC employee moving over to work for the UFC, which has more than 200 fighters under contract. "It's always been our goal to have every weight class," White said. "We're looking at taking everybody in right now. We like to have those divisions deep. We'll be bringing in more guys, too." Jose Aldo, the WEC's dominant 145-pound champion, will be recognized as the UFC featherweight champ, while WEC 135-pound champion Dominick Cruz will fight Scott Jorgensen on Dec. 16 for the new UFC bantamweight title. WEC lightweight champion Ben Henderson will fight the winner of UFC 155-pound champ Frankie Edgar's Jan. 1 bout with Gray Maynard. The UFC bought the WEC in December 2006 and ran it as a separate promotion, eliminating two higher-weight WEC belts in December 2008 but keeping overlapping lightweight titles. While the UFC does roughly one pay-per-view show per month, the WEC concentrated on lower-profile regional shows typically aired on the Versus channel, doing just one pay-per-view show. White also announced the UFC will add four fight cards to Versus next year, but the elimination of the WEC actually reduces the number of free fights on cable television in 2011. The UFC's non-pay-per-view shows air on Spike TV. White cited MMA's continuing globalization as a prime reason behind the move. The UFC is attempting to put on shows in India, China and Mexico, and it hopes to attract the attention of those countries' fans and smaller fighters alike by presenting a single competitive league. "Everybody wanted this to happen for the last couple of years now, but it was a timing thing," White said. "As we start to open up these other markets and start to do these things, it was time." Aldo, the Brazilian featherweight champion, arguably is the WEC's top fighter. He has won 11 straight bouts, including eight in a row since joining the WEC in June 2008. The WEC's biggest star in recent years has been Urijah Faber, the former featherweight champion who draws huge crowds to his West Coast fights. Faber is scheduled to make his bantamweight debut against Takeya Mizagaki next month, headlining the penultimate WEC show.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Michael Kopech prepares for The Show

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Michael Kopech prepares for The Show

Pete McMurray, David Haugh and Ben Finfer join David Kaplan on the panel and discuss the long-awaited arrival of Michael Kopech for the White Sox, Yu Darvish's short rehab start and Mitch Trubisky's second preseason game.

Plus, they discuss new NFL rules and when Eloy Jimenez could get his call up.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Chris Getz on Michael Kopech: 'He’s got no interest in being second best'

Chris Getz on Michael Kopech: 'He’s got no interest in being second best'

With his MLB debut a day away, the Michael Kopech hype train is rolling full steam ahead.

Chris Getz, the White Sox farm director, did nothing to really slow that train down. Getz was interviewed during the NBC Sports Chicago broadcast and it was all about the pitching prospect and his upcoming debut.

“His stuff is unique,” Getz said. “It’s front-line repertoire, there’s no question. But he’s got such a competitive mindset. He’s got no interest in being second best. He’s a great teammate. He’s a great person. He’s everything you ask for in a guy to be on a team to compete for championships.”

Getz said Kopech has become more confident with his curveball in his last six or seven starts. The “six or seven starts” timeframe is something both general manager Rick Hahn and Charlotte Knights pitching coach Steve McCatty said verbatim in other interviews on Monday. Apparently they saw what they wanted to in terms of Kopech’s development.

Kopech had a 1.84 ERA with 59 strikeouts and four walks in 44 innings in his last seven starts with the Knights. He also didn’t walk any batters in his last three starts over 20 innings.

“He’s got a lot of momentum going right now,” Getz said. “He’s in a very good position for success. He’s right where you want a player to be when we graduate them to the major leagues.”

McCatty, when talking about Kopech on ESPN 1000 with Fred Huebner, said Kopech’s fastball, slider and curveball are all plus pitches.

McCatty also has some experience with big time prospects coming up to the majors. He was the Nationals pitching coach when Stephen Strasburg made his major league debut in 2010. He had some advice for Kopech for his White Sox debut.

“I told him make sure you’re not throwing 102 in the first inning,” McCatty said with a laugh. “He’s gonna be exciting. He’s a specially talented kid. There’s no question about it.”

In Getz’s in-game interview with Jason Benetti and Steve Stone, Benetti asked about Kopech’s upside. Getz didn’t temper expectations in his response.

“To be a front end guy,” Getz said. “He’s got all the ingredients that all the best pitchers have. Michael, he’s going to be himself. He’s got a great personality. He’s got great stuff on the mound. He’s just going to be a guy that’s got a chance to be in the major leagues for a long time at the front end of a major league staff. In terms of throwing comparisons out there, there’s no need to do that. He’s going to be himself and he’s going to be a good one.”