Sources close to the promotion have confirmed to MMA Fighting that ProElite, in its second incarnation after folding up shop in late 2008, will move a planned Nov. 5 event from Atlantic City, N.J., to the iWireless Center in Moline, Ill. An official announcement from the promotion is expected by week's end.
The main event is expected to be a heavyweight bout between former UFC champion Tim Sylvia and three-time UFC heavyweight title challenger Pedro Rizzo. Additionally, fellow former UFC heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski will fight Travis Fulton, regarded as the busiest fighter in MMA history with more than 300 career fights.
The event was originally targeted for Nov. 12 at the Resorts Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, but was moved to Nov. 5. Logistical trouble with Resorts caused the promotion to look elsewhere, and sources said when additional venues in Atlantic City didn't work out, the decision was made to move to the Quad Cities area in western Illinois. In addition to Moline, ProElite officials considered the Target Center in Minneapolis as a host venue for the show.
The event now will take place Nov. 5 at the iWireless Center in Moline, which has hosted MMA events in the past – including Adrenaline MMA, the promotion started by MMA promoter and manager Monte Cox several years ago. Cox has been informally consulting with Pro Elite. Both the original Nov. 12 date and the new date of Nov. 5 are up against UFC events.
In addition to the main and co-main events on Nov. 5, sources told MMA Fighting that Reagan Penn, brother of former UFC champion BJ Penn, will fight on the card, as will highly regarded women's 125-pounder Tara LaRosa. ProElite reformed earlier this year and hosted a show in Honolulu last month that included Arlovski, Reagan Penn and Kendall Grove.
Sylvia and Arlovski on the same card sets up the possibility for a future meeting between the two, which would be their fourth fight. Arlovski won their first bout, taking the UFC interim heavyweight title at UFC 51. Sylvia then took the belt from Arlovski with a first-round TKO at UFC 59 and defended it at UFC 61 three months later.
Though a published report says Sylvia and Arlovski will meet on the Nov. 5 show, ProElite's head of fight operations T. Jay Thompson confirmed to MMA Fighting that Slyvia-Arlovski will not take place on that day. Additional sources told MMA Fighting it will be Rizzo meeting Sylvia – and that Sylvia-Arlovski IV is not in the promotion's current plans, but could be targeted down the road. It's a fight Arlovski, 1-2 against Sylvia, has wanted for some time.
Sylvia (29-7) has rebounded after a rough stretch that saw him lose four of five fights. He lost his heavyweight title to Randy Couture at UFC 68. He then beat Brandon Vera, but followed that with a loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira that ended his run in the UFC. He moved on to Affliction's short-lived MMA promotion and suffered a quick submission to Fedor Emelianenko. Then came a 9-second knockout loss to pro boxer Ray Mercer that will likely be the biggest stain on his record. Since then, though, he has won five of six over the last two years, with all his wins by stoppage – and all at super heavyweight.
Rizzo (19-9) has not fought since a July 2010 win over Ken Shamrock for Impact FC in Sydney. Rizzo has fought some of the sport's heavyweight legends, including Mark Coleman, Dan Severn, Josh Barnett and Arlovski. In 2001, he twice lost to Couture challenging for the UFC heavyweight title. Since leaving the UFC in 2003, Rizzo's appearances have been more sporadic – with just nine fights in nearly eight years.
Arlovski (16-9) snapped out of a four-fight skid with a win over Ray Lopez at ProElite's show last month. Prior to that, Arlovski lost to Emelianeko, Brett Rogers, Antonio Silva and Sergei Kharitonov, the latter three for Strikeforce.
Fulton is an Iowa-based fighter with a career record of 247-48-10, according to most databases, though it is believed that 10 of those losses came in kickboxing competitions and not in MMA. Fulton fought 13 times in 2010, but has only fought twice in 2011 – going 2-0. The majority of Fulton's losses have come against future UFC fighters like Ben Rothwell, Forrest Griffin, Travis Wiuff, Rich Franklin and Evan Tanner.