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MIXED MARTIAL ARTS

UFC 100 growing into a sold-out spectacle

Championship bouts match heavyweights Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir, and welterweights Georges St-Pierre and Thiago Alves.

July 10, 2009|Lance Pugmire

LAS VEGAS — The spectacle that is UFC 100 is underway. Ticket brokers say the sold-out mixed martial arts bout Saturday at Mandalay Bay is driving a frenzied resale market. UFC President Dana White expects this to be the fourth pay-per-view event in its history to reach 1 million sales. And a record number of credentialed reporters are documenting the event.

"I always knew it was just a matter of time, that once we got the eyeballs on our sport, it would become this," said Dan Henderson, who fought at the tiny UFC 17 event in Mobile, Ala.

On Saturday, Henderson will now fight his rival "The Ultimate Fighter" coach, Michael Bisping of England.

Two championship fights top the card. Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar (3-1) has a rematch with the man who beat him in his UFC debut last year, Frank Mir (12-3), and welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre (18-2) said he's expecting "the toughest challenge of my career" against 25-year-old Thiago Alves (22-4), who's won seven consecutive fights.

Lesnar, the former World Wrestling Entertainment star, lost the first Mir match by first-round kneebar submission. "The talk is over for me. Mr. Mir, we'll be seeing you in the octagon, and that's all I've got to say," Lesnar announced, motioning to exit the House of Blues stage until White put his arm around the fighter's neck and reminded him there was still publicity work to be performed.

White said afterward that Lesnar believes his loss to Mir resulted from a fluke mistake, and is confident Lesnar will treat the more experienced fighter as he did veteran ex-champion Randy Couture, who was pummeled by 37 head shots on the mat before stoppage in November.

Yet White touted Mir's comeback from a 2004 motorcycle accident that caused him to have his heavyweight belt stripped as "the greatest 'Rocky' story ever, better than 'Rocky.' " Mir battled prescription drug and alcohol abuse during the layoff, and appeared finished in 2006, when Brandon Vera knocked him out in the first round in Sacramento.

Mir called the loss a "watershed moment" that forced him to change training camps and clean up his act. When an observer recounted Thursday to Mir's wife, Jennifer, that she was spotted paying thousands of dollars in cash for tickets to that Sacramento debacle, she said she remembered it well. Mir is 3-0 since then, coming off a first-ever TKO of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in December.

St-Pierre vs. Alves matches the hard-striking, 25-year-old challenger against Canada's St-Pierre, who White said is the "full package."

"I just know I'm going to knock him out," Alves said. "He can't take my punch."

Of course, should St-Pierre take the fight to the mat, the question is whether Alves can take that.

As for the Bisping bout, Henderson said plainly, "I plan to go get in his face and make him fight."

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lance.pugmire@latimes.com

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