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UFC Event In Utah Is A Nod To The
Sport's Growth, Popularity In State
The UFC on Aug. 1 "will hold a multifight event" at EnergySolutions Arena that will air on Versus, according to Bill Oram of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE. Utah Athletic Commission Dir Bill Colbert said that the first UFC event in Utah is a "nod to both the growth of the sport and its popularity in the state." Colbert: "They know that per capita we're one of the highest mixed martial arts audiences that they have. For the size of our state, mixed martial arts are very popular." Utah Sports Commission President Jeff Robbins said, "I think what it does is it continues to paint Salt Lake City and the state as progressive." EnergySolutions Arena VP/Events Mark Powell said that the "only potential drawback" to the event is that it is "scheduled for Sunday." State planners "typically avoid scheduling events for Sundays." But Powell said that the "popularity of MMA should overcome the power of Sunday." He said, "If it was a Miley Cyrus concert I'd be much more concerned that I am with a UFC event" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 5/25).
FAN FRIENDLY: In Las Vegas, Adam Hill writes the success of last year's UFC Fan Expo, attended by between 30,000-50,000 fans, "has set the stage for what is billed as an even bigger expo at Mandalay Bay on Friday and Saturday." In addition to "hundreds of exhibitors, many using appearances from UFC stars to attract patrons, the expo will feature a grappling tournament, speeches, autograph sessions and the largest showcase of mixed martial arts-related items anywhere." UFC President Dana White said, "We've added even more cool stuff to this year's UFC Fan Expo. Our goal was to give our fans an experience that is second-to-none in the sports world" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 5/25).
Celtics-Lakers An Attractive Finals
Matchup For NBA, TV Partners
SI.com's Dan Shaughnessy wrote NBA Commissioner David Stern "wants Celtics-Lakers" in the NBA Finals because this year's playoffs "have been peppered with sweeps and snores." Shaughnessy: "There simply have not been enough contested series or close games. We can only hope the sport is once again rescued by the two most storied franchises in professional basketball" (SI.com, 5/24). In Buffalo, Larry Felser wrote, "Everything seems to be gaining on the NBA. People just can't get very interested any longer. How could the NBA lose so much favor when at one time the league was full of interesting teams?" There "seems to be more interest" in where Cavaliers F LeBron James ends up as a free agent "than which team wins the title" (BUFFALO NEWS, 5/23).
CUBAN SYMPATHIZERS: ESPN's Michael Wilbon called the NBA fining Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban $100,000 for commenting about pending free agent F LeBron James "petty and ... short-sighted." Wilbon: "David Stern is too smart a man to not understand all this chatter about LeBron James helps his league because everybody is talking about this thing and you can't stop everybody from talking about it." ESPN's Tony Kornheiser called the fine "dopey," as Cuban is "one of the few owners in the league that goes out there to be competitive every single night, and he said what everybody thinks: 'I'd like to have LeBron James'" ("PTI," ESPN, 5/24).
DEVELOPMENTAL STAGE: MLS Exec VP/Player Relations & Competition Todd Durbin yesterday discussed the league "bringing back the reserve league in some form or another." Durbin: "We've already had our first technical subcommittee meeting a week ago, and to talk about not just the reserve division but player development. We consider it an integrated effort, start with the youth level, transition from youth soccer to professional soccer -- which is what the reserve division is designed to manage." Durbin added, "There's a couple models we're looking at. One is if we can form a relationship with the second division. That can be teams forming one-on-one relationships, you can send players down and bring them back up for games, (like) affiliates" (NYPOST.com, 5/24).
FALLING ON HARD TIMES: SPORTINGNEWS.com's Jim Pedley wrote driver Danica Patrick "may be wearing out her welcome in the IndyCar Series." Pedley: "Over the past couple of years, there have been a series of small but not unnoticed incidents which have tarnished the gold. Things like spats with other drivers and foot stomping tantrums." Patrick Saturday, after a "mediocre performance" at the Indianapolis 500 Pole Day, blamed her team, and the crowd showered her with "boos." Patrick should "adjust her attitude," or her "move to NASCAR may be more of a retreat than a charge" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 5/24).