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'The Beast' looks to conquer America


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Нека да има. :)

'The Beast' looks to conquer America

If you were to ask an average UFC fan to name the most famous MMA fighter in the world, he or she would likely respond with a name like Chuck Liddell or Randy Couture. Given the UFC's current popularity, those fighters certainly have a case.

Ironically, a better answer might be a charismatic, larger-than-life American who has never even had an MMA fight in the United States. His name is "The Beast" Bob Sapp, and he makes his American MMA debut Feb. 23 at a Strikeforce show at the Tacoma Dome.

Sapp's story is as unique as his muscular 375-pound physique. Sapp was a heavily recruited high school football prospect out of Colorado. He elected to play on the offensive line at the University of Washington, attracted by its highly regarded medical program. The future "Beast" planned to become a doctor, and Washington's School of Medicine was the top program in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Sapp's plans changed when his success on the football field opened up an opportunity to play in the NFL. The Chicago Bears drafted him in the third round of the 1997 NFL Draft. However, Sapp's NFL dreams quickly fell apart. He was cut by four teams and was out of the league completely in 2000.

"It seemed like the end of the world," Sapp recalls. "I got hit with every whammy in the world. Not only did I have injury problems, but I found out from the FBI that my financial guy had taken all of my money, around a million dollars. I was massively depressed."

Broke, unemployed and depressed, Sapp ventured in a different direction. He sent a tape of himself to the top two American pro wrestling companies, WWF and WCW. Impressed by his unique look, each offered him a contract. He signed with WCW, but the company went out of business before he could make his mark.

Still trying to make ends meet, Sapp ended up in a tough man contest on F/X against another former Bear, William "The Refrigerator" Perry. It was there that he discovered the persona that would make him a star.

"When I was going to do the F/X show they thought I was a little too gentle," Sapp says. "They told me I need to be something like a beast. I said, 'Why don't I just be The Beast?' And they said no problem." Sapp used the same basic technique in that fight he has used throughout his career. He charged across the ring and threw wild, powerful punches to Perry's head.

Sapp's victory garnered attention from Japanese executives, who signed him to be a fighter. He was blind as to what he was getting into. "I had no idea what that entailed," Sapp notes. "I just wanted to be employed."

Sapp immediately focused his attention on kickboxing training. He moved back to Washington and concentrated for six months on conditioning. "My No. 1 focus was conditioning and not gassing out," Sapp notes. He trained with a host of excellent fighters concentrated in the Pacific Northwest including Maurice Smith, Josh Barnett, Gary Hume and Couture.

His plans for kickboxing quickly changed when he received word that his first contest would be an MMA fight for Pride FC. Sapp won his first two fights in Pride, setting up a showdown with Pride heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Nogueira was at a different level of skill, with world class jiu jitsu and strong standup experience as well. What Sapp lacked in technique he made up for in raw power, and what resulted was one of the most exciting fights in MMA history.

The enormous Sapp mauled Nogueira, and appeared to be on the verge of finishing the Brazilian with his ferocious onslaught. The resilient Nogueira held on, battled through it, and submitted Sapp with an arm bar.

Sapp remembers the fight fondly. "I was able to take what I learned in WCW and translate that to a real fight with a big power bomb. And I was really working on my stamina and conditioning. I almost could have won the fight if I had only learned a few more techniques."

Even in defeat, Sapp learned a valuable lesson about the Japanese mentality toward fighting. "You could lose the fight and win elsewhere as far as endorsement contracts and things like that," he notes. "Nogueira won the fight but I ended up making a ton more money than he did. It's about continually showing your fight spirit and moving forward."

Following the loss to Nogueira, Sapp moved to K-1 and had immediate success. He scored a pair of early wins over "Mr. Perfect" Ernesto Hoost, considered one of the best kickboxers of all time. Sapp didn't appreciate the significance of the wins at the time.

"I really didn't," he says. "Now of course I understand just how difficult kickboxing is and why he was able to beat the guys that he did. That's something I'll always hold high because he was such a legend in the sport."

That period was just the beginning of Sapp's celebrity, but it might have been his peak as a fighter. His next fight was against devastating Croatian Mirko Cro Cop. Cro Cop finished Sapp in less than 90 seconds and broke Sapp's orbital bone in the process. It was a startling reminder of the dangers intrinsic to fighting.

"As you mature as a fighter you realize you can get injured in the ring and you need to save your money for those medical bills that will be coming in the future," Sapp grimly notes.

Outside the ring, Sapp excelled in a variety of venues. He became a ubiquitous mainstream presence in Japan, hawking hundreds of products and appearing in numerous commercials, television shows and magazine covers. He describes his appearance on the cover of the Asian version of Time magazine as a personal highlight.

Sapp later used his fame and look to land roles in Hollywood. He had parts in the Jennifer Garner action film Elektra and the Adam Sandler comedy The Longest Yard. In the latter film, Sapp played the role of a giant man with a very gentle disposition.

Sapp also did pro wrestling in Japan, holding that country's most famous title, the IWGP heavyweight title. When Sapp competed for real, his fights increasingly took place against gimmick opponents chosen to draw strong television ratings. The biggest of these fights was against sumo champion Akebono, which drew a massive 42.5 TV rating and 54 million viewers. The Bob Sapp brand was a valuable commodity, and Sapp describes himself as a "self-employed entrepreneur of pain."

For Sapp, success was often accompanied by controversy. One source of controversy was the vignettes that he sometimes did. The African-American Sapp would act like a wild animal, making strange facial expressions and eating bananas and raw meat. Some felt that these vignettes were designed to play to the racism of some segments of a homogenous Japanese society.

Sapp dispels this criticism, noting that the vignettes were intended to portray the wild "Beast" character, not his real personality.

"During the time I was doing it, it was just meant to be fun. I did it all in character," he says. However, after Europeans began throwing bananas at black athletes in international soccer games, Sapp decided to stop using the fruit when playing the "Beast."

The refereeing of Sapp's fights was also a point of controversy. K-1, unlike UFC, has company referees. Those referees frequently protect K-1 stars in their judgments, and Bob Sapp is one of K-1's biggest stars.

Sapp downplays referee bias, but acknowledges the refereeing in K-1 is different than in the United States.

"In the United States they take refereeing to a science level," Sapp says. "I don't believe K-1 has the same refereeing as far as the honest, scientific schooling. Refereeing can go up and down, but if you knock a guy out there's nothing the referee can do about it."

Sapp also struggled with his endurance, but he defends his conditioning given his size.

"Everyone says Bob tires out or whatever," Sapp says. "You're talking about a man that's a cheeseburger away from weighing 400 pounds. You don't find people that look like I look that weigh 400 pounds. I think I'm doing very well in the cardio category but of course because I get tired people say I'm not in shape. Well I'm not 230 pounds either!" Sapp lets out a chuckle.

Sapp had a falling out with K-1 in 2006. He got into a dispute with the organization before a scheduled fight with Hoost in Amsterdam. Sapp claims K-1 didn't have his promised money for the fight, and wanted him to fight on their word. Other reports suggest Sapp wanted out of his contract. Either way, Sapp left Amsterdam without fighting Hoost and looked to join another organization.

In late 2006, Sapp entered into serious negotiations with WWE, which made a strong financial offer [тук аз мога да вмъкна, че слуховете бяха за гарантирани $1 000 000 на година, което щеше да направи Sapp един от най-скъпоплатените кечисти в WWE].

"I was extremely close," Sapp says. "It would have happened had not K-1 sent over a letter saying I belonged to them for the rest of my life. The plan was for me to do mixed martial arts and have all the pro wrestlers cheer me on and I would also do pro wrestling. What I did in Japan I would have done over here in the U.S. It would have blown up."

After negotiations with WWE fell through, Sapp reached an agreement to return to K-1. The unique relationship between Sapp and K-1 is likely to continue in the future.

"It's kind of a cultural thing," Sapp explains. "What they want to say is, 'Bob we created you. We want to be in your life forever and we never want to let you go.' So they give me money, don't say sorry, but keep giving me money. We're back to being friends, and look for me to sign another contract with them in the very near future."

While Sapp will continue to fight in Japan, he is also looking to break into the United States. His options are more limited than in Japan, because of the weight classes imposed by American athletic commissions. Sapp cannot make the 265-pound limit of the heavyweight division, and there are few stars who fight at super heavyweight. In February, he will face Jan Nortje.

Nortje, like Sapp, is a K-1 veteran. He is a standup fighter with limited ground ability. Sapp is ready,

"He's a big guy, so he definitely has the weight and muscle to move me around. He's been successful in K-1 and not so successful in K-1, so it's the perfect fight for me to take."

Ultimately, Nortje isn't an opponent that will sell tickets and the Tacoma Dome is a large stadium. Thus, the success of Strikeforce's first show outside California will heavily turn on Sapp, the local college star who went onto international superstardom.

Knowing how important he is to the show's success, Sapp promises to satisfy his fans.

"I've got to put on a tremendous show," he says. "I'm going to train really hard for this one. I'll come out with the same entrance I use in Japan and show them what made me popular. They'll be able to see how big I am, how in shape I am, the enthusiasm and charisma, and hopefully they'll see a big knockout."

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Много хубава и информативна статия наистина.Дано има успех на дебюта в САЩ.

П.С. Такома Доум не е" large stadium'-това си е зала събира около 20 000 - Рау и Найтро съм гледал там-автора се е объркал нещо според мен.


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Пич такома Доум сабира по вече от 20 000 души и дано да има успех дебъта в САЩ

Щом ти казваш че събира по вече нема да споря с такъв мозък а дебъта няма как да не е успешен.Като не знаеш нещо не спори и не пиши глупости колкото да трупаш мнения ПИЧ. :mad:

The Tacoma Dome (constructed by Tacoma Dome Associates, led by McGranahan Messenger Architects, a design build entity) is an indoor arena located in Tacoma, Washington, USA. Completed in 1983 for $44 millon and opened on April 21, the arena seats 17,100 for basketball. It is the world's second largest arena with a wooden dome, with a 161.5 m (530 feet), only the Superior Dome in Marquette, MI is larger with a 163.4 m (536 feet) diameter, and is not a geodesic dome, it is a planer radian structure of glue-laminated beams. The first concert in the Tacoma Dome was David Bowie with The Tubes as the opening act. The arena hosted the Seattle SuperSonics from 1994-1995 while the Seattle Center Coliseum was being renovated into the venue now known as KeyArena. It also hosted the Tacoma Rockets Western Hockey League team from 1991 to 1995, the Tacoma Sabercats of the West Coast Hockey League from 1997 to 2002, The Tacoma Stars indoor soccer team of the MISL, gymnastics events during the 1990 Goodwill Games, numerous other minor league ice hockey and indoor soccer teams, and many concerts as well. It additionally hosts wrestling events, such as WCW Spring Stampede 1999.

Unlike most other arenas of its size, the arena contains little in the way of fixed seating so as to maximize the flexibility of the seating arrangements and of the shape of the playing field. It can even host American football, albeit with seating reduced to only 5,000.

A wide range of high school athletics is played at the Dome, as the stadium features the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association High School Championships in Football, Wrestling, 4A Basketball, as well as 4A and 3A Volleyball. The venue became home to the State High School Championships in Football in 2000 after the regular home, the Kingdome, was demolished.

The Tacoma Dome is also known for its controversial neon art, in 1984 the Stephen Antonakos piece displayed inside the dome was the subject of intense debate over public funding of artworks for public works projects.


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  • 4 weeks later...

За да не отварям нова тема ще го пусна тук. Добро четиво. :)

Bob Sapp is a born entertainer. He's got an engaging personality and a great laugh. Combine that with his unusual physical size and you've got something, certainly enough for a career as a B-Movie villain. Sapp was going to give Hollywood a try. While in Hollywood, Sapp was within a signature of a WWE deal. They planned to bring him in and use him both as a pro wrestler and as wrestling's representative in the world of MMA.

"K-1 was playing games, games that would consequently lead me to have one of the best years of my life and would save my career. Because I came over here and left K-1, got ready to sign with WWE, a huge contract with WWE, and they threatened to sue WWE. WWE backed out, thank God they did, because my partner was going to be Chris Benoit," Sapp said. After a narrow escape from being partnered with a child murdering pro wrestler, Sapp's persistent good luck led him further and further up the Hollywood food chain.

"I was supposed to be on the Anna Nicole Smith show, that's why I first went out to California. It didn't work out because she was sick and didn't show up for the scene the next day. However, I caught the attention of one of the producers from the movie Elektra. I did Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel. That caught the producers from The Longest Yard. I've done 8 Hollywood movies so far and I just did Pros versus Joes," Sapp said. "I'm 33 years old. Everything I've done, not only has it not required a job application, but every job I've touched has manged to make me well over six figures. Or in that six figure range. My first pro wrestling contract was like $120,000, you've got the fighting which is well over a $1 million, you've got all the movie work which is now adding up to be over $1 million. You've got the NFL in there too which is over a $1 million. It's like 'Bob, you've lived a huge and an incredible life.' Everything I've done has been a kid's dream job."

Back in Japan, K-1 tried desperately to find the next Bob Sapp. Instead of looking for the most skilled and charismatic performers they could find, they tried instead to find another comical giant. Sapp considers the legion of giants and showmen to be acknowledgment of what he's brought to the sport. The "giant" is back and it all started with Bob Sapp.

"K-1 does it, Pride's done it, and boxing's done it when they brought in their big Russian guy. That was there version of Bob Sapp. It's funny to me, because that's not what's making me popular. They've had big guys, bigger guys, stronger guys. It's just the sincerity. I don't have the ego that all the other fighter's have. I'm not always 24/7 talking about fighting and I want to hurt this guy. I'm not like that. A lot of these fighters are walking around tattooed up with a Mr.T starter kit, running around with two vicious dogs on chains. They want to scare the world. Team Killa! Team Criminal! Team Felony! It's just like everything they talk about is almost sheer evil," Sapp said. "One of the main criticisms is that 'Bob's an entertainer, he's not a fighter.' Now when you talk about fighting you go 'It's really not about the fight it's about the entertainment.' Wait a minute. Ya'll didn't start saying that until I came on to the scene. Fighting's been here. I didn't create fighting. They're telling me 'It's all about the entertainment.' Don't tell me! I'm mimicked throughout the fighting world. It's great. What's it led to? You've got Brock Lesnar in there, the big pro wrestler. Entertainment, entertainment. This is really a huge tribute to what I've been able to accomplish."

The break from K-1 also allows Sapp to have his first cage fight in his home country, in his hometown of Seattle, Washington, for Scott Coker's Strikeforce promotion. This will be Strikeforce's first journey out of California and they are taking no chances with their meal ticket fighter. Sapp faces another K-1 giant Jan Nortje who had a losing MMA record. It's a fight Sapp should win.

"Bob Sapp is going to headline. We have a relationship with him because of K-1. He's from Seattle so it's a no brainer. Why not do a show in Seattle since we have a rapport with this boxing promoter, the casino there, and we can have Bob headline. Another fighter Maurice Smith, a legend in the sport, is from Seattle also. It made sense. It's a big market, why not go there? It's a good way to expand," Afromowitz said. If the show was a success, it would be possible for Strikeforce to run the Pacific Northwest on a regular basis, using hometown favorite Sapp in the role filled by Cung Le in San Jose. "It all depends on what Bob wants really. If certain offers come in for a studio film, you never know. He may just decide to pursue that route and focus on his career in Hollywood. Or maybe this fight will reignite his passion for fighting. He's at a crossroads and it's really all up in the air. There will definitely be opportunities. Bob is great for Hollywood, he's great for mixed martial arts, he's a very nice guy, very well spoken, and he's got a lot to offer."

Sapp is pleased to be fighting in front of his hometown fans and his status as a Washington Huskies legend has opened a lot of doors and helped provide a ton of local media attention, including a front page article in the Seattle Times.

"I love it, I think it's great. I can't wait to really perform for them. Of course I've got all this pressure because everyone in the world is calling me for tickets and I can't give them out. Scott's doing the right thing, he's not telling me how many tickets I'm going to get and I know it's going to be like four. Everyone's calling me tickets, tickets, tickets, and I'm like 'Dude, I can't do any tickets,'" Sapp said. "I know Scott Coker from K-1 USA, so this pretty much is still in the K-1 family and we're fighting someone from K-1 so it's the same stuff. It's still Japan trying to conquer America and doing the best they can. I'm still the most highly viewed and popular fighter out there. I'm just going to try to make it rock and roll."

What comes next is anybody's guess. On New Year's 2007, Sapp showed he was still a big ratings draw, getting the highest rating of any MMA fight that night for his comedy match with Olugun. He's negotiating with K-1 for a full-time return to the Japanese scene, looking to do a reality show with Spike TV, and continuing a regular television schedule in Japan, and wrestling for the HUSTLE promotion. After his early experiences and struggles, Sapp is taking no chances with keeping all his eggs in a single basket.

"I learned a lesson from being unemployed to always keep that plan B, plan C, it goes all the way down to Z brother. If push comes to shove and all of this goes away, I'm fine, because I've got 95% of my money saved. I don't have to worry about nothing," Sapp said. "I live well beneath my means. I'm worth $7-10 million and I live off of around 50 G's a year. That's just the way I was taught and the way I was raised."

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