UFC competitors fight for cause

While trying to inflict damage on their opponents, competitors on Saturday night’s UFC card also will be helping raise money for soldiers injured on the battlefield.

The UFC’s second Fight for the Troops card will take place at Fort Hood, Texas, in front of a crowd made up entirely of military personnel from the base. Proceeds from the event will go to the Fallen Heroes Fund, a favorite charity of Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White.

In addition to a telethon during the live TV broadcast, an auction of UFC-related items is under way at fightforthetroops.com.

White said a visit with injured troops several years ago led to his work with the Fallen Heroes Fund.

“You’ve got these 18-, 19-, 20-year-old kids that are getting injured (at war). They come back, and it’s sad to say, but the government doesn’t take care of them, which is mind-boggling,” he said. “It’s beyond words what I experienced when I went down there, and we became a part of it immediately.”

Melvin Guillard, who will fight Evan Dunham in the main event, comes from a military family and said he’s excited to participate in the fundraiser.

“I’m going to give these guys a show. They work so hard to protect us every year, year after year. Some of them give up going overseas and have to live there for years at a time,” he said. “This is a blessing for me to even be asked to give a performance that I’m going to give these guys and girls.”

The UFC’s first Fight for the Troops card in 2008 raised more than $4 million and helped to complete construction of a traumatic brain injury research center.

The card will air live on Spike (Cable 29) at 6 p.m.

■ TUF COACHES — After weeks of speculation about which fighters would oppose each other as coaches on Season 13 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” White announced Brock Lesnar and Junior dos Santos would fill the slots.

The reality show begins filming next week in Las Vegas.

Dos Santos had been slated to challenge Cain Velasquez for the heavyweight title, but Velasquez will be out for up to eight months after surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff.

The coaches will fight at the conclusion of the reality show, probably in June, with the winner facing Velasquez, who had surgery last week in Las Vegas.

■ FEDOR LOOKS TO REBOUND — Fedor Emelianenko, who was long considered the best heavyweight in the world, enters the Strikeforce heavyweight tournament off a first-round submission loss to Fabricio Werdum in June.

Emelianenko said his first legitimate defeat hasn’t altered his mindset.

“Nothing has changed for me. I train just as I’ve trained before. It just so happened that I had made an error in the previous fight, so in training I have just worked on trying not to make that same mistake again,” said Emelianenko, who will fight Antonio Silva in the quarterfinals Feb. 12 on Showtime.

He insisted he is not concerned that a perceived flaw has been exposed.

“Many times people have sized me up and tried to say what my strengths and weaknesses are, but if they say they’ve found what my biggest weakness is, then let them take advantage of it,” Emelianenko said.

The parameters of the tournament were officially explained Thursday. Champion Alistair Overeem will compete, but the title will not be on the line. The winner of the tournament will meet Overeem for the title, unless he emerges as the dual champion.

All quarterfinal and semifinal bouts will be three five-minute rounds, with the title bout spanning five five-minute rounds.

■ UFC 125 NUMBERS — UFC 125 on New Year’s Day at the MGM Grand Garden drew a crowd of 12,874, but 5,896 of those tickets were comped.

Still, the event’s gate topped $2 million, according to numbers provided by the Nevada Athletic Commission.

■ UFC 126 SELLING WELL – Ticket sales for UFC 126 on Feb. 5 at Mandalay Bay are going considerably better. The card features Anderson Silva defending his middleweight title against former light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort

The UFC announced Monday it has added a closed-circuit viewing of UFC 126 in the Islander Ballroom at Mandalay Bay. Tickets for the closed-circuit showing go on sale at 10 a.m. today at Ticketmaster.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509.

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