MMA Notebook: Public invited to Shawn Tompkins memorial

Viacom buys Bellator; World MMA Awards return to Vegas

Las Vegas-based MMA trainer Shawn Tompkins, who unexpectedly passed away at just 37 years old in August, will be remembered Friday night in a celebration at the TapouT Training Center (located at 4040 E. Hacienda).

“Shawn loved life and this evening is an opportunity for the MMA community to share those good memories, and to keep his spirit alive,” said UFC fighter Sam Stout, who is also Tompkins’ brother-in-law, of the event that runs from 6-8 p.m. and will feature a silent auction to benefit the Shawn Tompkins Memorial Fund.

Tompkins, a native of Tillsonburg, Ontario, Canada, fought briefly as a pro (he was winless in four bouts), but made his name in the sport for his tutelage of 15 champions including the likes of Vitor Belfort, Randy Couture, Forrest Griffin, and Wanderlei Silva and up-and-coming fighters Mark Hominick, Chris Horodecki and Stout.

He rose to prominence taking over for MMA legend Bas Rutten as a coach in the now-defunct International Fight League. After moving to Las Vegas, Tompkins worked as a striking coach at Couture’s Xtreme Couture gym before moving two years ago to establish his own team at the TapouT Training Center.

“Shawn touched a lot of people in a profound way, so it’s important to celebrate having been a part of his life,” Hominick said.

UFC 137 events

Fans are invited to watch the press conference for UFC 137 on Thursday, Oct. 27 from 12-3 p.m. at the Brooklyn Bridge at New York-New York casino. Main event participants for Saturday’s event at Mandalay Bay, B.J. Penn and Nick Diaz, will be in attendance along with UFC president Dana White and heavyweights Roy Nelson, Mirko Cro Cop, Matt Mitrione and Cheick Kongo.

Friday’s weigh-ins, which are open to the public, are scheduled to take place at approximately 4 p.m. at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Saturday’s first bout is set to go off at 2:45 p.m. with the main card beginning at 6 p.m.

The weekend’s fireworks won’t end on Saturday night as the UFC makes its FOX debut immediately after NFL football on Sunday with its first UFC Primetime episode featuring Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos.

And the winner is …

The fourth annual Fighters Only World MMA Awards will take place Wednesday, Nov. 30 inside the Pearl at the Palms. Tickets for the black-tie affair—hosted by UFC’s Chael Sonnen and Emmy Award-winning sports reporter Molly Qerim—are on sale from $55-$95 and are available at the Pearl box office, by calling 702-944-3200, or at The show will air on the FOX sports network with a final date and time to be determined.

Awards for the 22 categories including the Charles “Mask” Lewis Fighter of the Year — featuring nominees Dominick Cruz, Nick Diaz, Dan Henderson, Jon Jones and Anderson Silva—are decided by fan vote for achievements from Sept. 1, 2010 to Aug. 31, 2011. Voting is open through Nov. 25 at

Viacom buys Bellator

While Spike TV will no longer handled UFC duties starting in 2012, the channel still will remain in the fight game as parent company Viacom purchased a majority stake in Bellator Fighting Championships and will start airing the promotion’s bouts on Spike in 2013, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said in an interview with USA TODAY.

“It puts all of those cornerstones of ownership in place for us. Which is something that’s been so seriously lacking in the MMA space with so many different companies, including Strikeforce and the IFL and Affliction and all the different failures that have occurred,” Rebney said of Bellator, the second largest MMA promotion behind Las Vegas-based Zuffa—which owns both UFC and Strikeforce.

“It alleviates those issues.”

Last year with its contract with UFC coming to an end and renewal not a likely option even before UFC inked its landmark deal with FOX, Viacom officials (MTV 2—which has been broadcasting Bellator’s main cards since March—also falls under the Viacom umbrella) began looking for other avenues to not only keep—but grow—its young male MMA audience.

“As we realized that our relationship with UFC was likely to come to an end, our Viacom mergers and acquisitions folks, and us, started to have conversations with MTV2 about getting invested in a mixed martial arts promotion and become owners as opposed to renters,” Spike TV president Kevin Kay told USA Today.

“You’re building value in something that you own, and you own it for the long term. You’re not in a constant state of negotiation.”

UFC in 3D

Company officials announced last week that the promotion has partnered with Cinedigm Digital Cinema to bring UFC events in 3D to 120 theatres across the country next year.

The first of four annual shows will be the UFC’s annual Super Bowl weekend event—which takes place Feb. 4 and likely could be held at Mandalay Bay.

“By partnering with Cinedigm, we’re taking the UFC viewing experience to a whole new level,” UFC president Dana White said. “We want UFC fans to have the best viewing experience possible, and now they get a chance to experience major UFC pay-per-views in 3D.”