Locked in the Guillotine MMA News Report 12.20.13: Happy Holidays
Posted by Robert Winfree on 12.20.2013
News and thoughts on Antonio Silva's failed drug test and Carlos Condit being matched up against Tyron Woodley! Plus a look at the results from UFC on FOX 9, the departure of Georges St-Pierre and more!
Greetings to everyone, and it's so nice to see you all Locked in the Guillotine again. Well, there was a fight card, UFC on FOX 9 to be specific, that warrants discussion. I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season, Christmas is just around the corner after all, but whatever holiday comes around this time of year for you I hope it's a good one. While you're reading this, please check out the Radulich in Broadcasting network. There's tons of shows, some MMA related, that are all good to listen too. The Long Road to Ruin may have wrapped up for the year, but they went out talking about the Die Hard franchise and it's definitely worth listening too. The Casual Heroes have their usual take on professional wrestling, Robert Cooper has been delving into the world of anime lately, and by the time this goes live I will have finished talking about Disney villains when Jeff Harris and I talk about Pixar films. Seriously, look through the archives and I almost guarantee you'll find something worth listening too.
New Pop Culture Internet Radio with Mark Radulich on BlogTalkRadio
Alright, onto the action!
Turkish arrival: Alptekin Ozkilic defeated Darren Uyenoyama by split decision to get the night going. Ozkilic looked pretty good, he's physically strong and a Turkish wrestling standout in the discipline of greco-roman. Uyenoyama showed improvements to his striking, but he's got a ways to go. I'm actually going to be looking forward to Ozkilic's next performance if he's able to improve on this one.
Trujillo rebounds: Able Trujillo defeated Roger Bowling by TKO in the second round in a dominating performance. Trujillo looked great in this fight, he landed kicks, punches, and knees with accuracy and at a high volume, eventually he just overwhelmed Bowling with strikes. Trujillo has just one loss in the UFC, where he was rag dolled by Khabib Nurmagomedov for three rounds but Khabib is absolutely top of the division in terms of skill and Trujillo wasn't on his level at the time. Bowling is tough, but he got beat up for the whole fight. Trujillo should take a step up in competition now, I'd like to see him against another strong grappler to see if he's shored up the issues in his game after Khabib beat him.
Well, that was there: Sam Stout defeated Cody McKenzie by unanimous decision in a fight that I felt was little more than filler. Stout is rather comfortably in a win-loss-win-loss pattern at this point, and the UFC likes him and he'll get fights like this which are designated wins. McKenzie really shouldn't be with the promotion, he brings nothing to the table.
Fun size: Zach Makovsky defeated Scott Jorgensen by unanimous decision in a fun fight. Makovsky was able to land better strikes on the feet and had a lot of good grappling exchanges. Jorgensen didn't look bad for making his flyweight debut, but he was bested at almost every turn by Makovsky. Good debut for Makovsky, I'd like to see him after a full camp as he took this fight on short notice.
Healy keeps sliding: Bobby Green defeated Pat Healy by unanimous decision in a fun fight. Both men were there to fight, but Green's ability to land punches, avoid the punches of Healy, and relatively equal grappling led to his win. Pat Healy keeps slipping down the hill, back to back losses now, and Green takes a big step up. Fun fight, but I have to wonder what Healy has to do to change his recent fortunes. As for Green, this was a big win, move him up the ladder now and I'd say give him a borderline top five opponent.
Should have been a draw: Edson Barboza defeated Danny Castillo by majority decision in a great fight. Castillo landed a big right hook that rocked Barboza in the first round and he tried to finish, he should have earned a 10-8 round, it was that close to being finished and that dominant a round for Castillo. Barboza rebounded, in the second round he landed a bunch of leg kicks and hurt Castillo with a left hook, and got close with an anaconda choke. The third round was more of round two, Barboza landed better punches and kicks, including a sweet spinning back kick to the body that visibly hurt Castillo. The fight should have been a draw, but only one judge gave Castillo a 10-8 first round so Barboza won a majority decision. I don't doubt that Barboza won the fight, but in terms of how it was scored it should have been a draw. Fun fight though.
LaFlare wins: Ryan LaFlare defeated Court McGee by unanimous decision. The fight was a tough affair, though rather sloppy and almost meaningless as neither man is really making upward progress so far. McGee kept his forward pressure, but the guy has little punching power and his technique ranges from just above bad to pretty horrible. LaFlare has won all three of his UFC fight so far and is a guy to watch in the coming year.
Lauzon wins: Joe Lauzon defeated Mac Danzig by unanimous decision to get the main card going, sadly it wasn't exactly a great fight. Lauzon had a good round one, including an early mount and close armbar attempt. In the second and third rounds he seemed content to wait out the first half of the round, get a takedown, use some ground and pound and transitions to win rounds. Mac Danzig could be getting his walking papers after his third loss in a row, Lauzon will hang around because Dana White likes him, but he looks like he's on the downside of his career.
Mendes wins: Chad Mendes defeated Nik Lentz by unanimous decision in a performance that was more akin to his WEC days than his recent UFC run. Mendes knocked out his four opponents prior to this fight, and in this fight he scored takedowns, held top position, and rode out a decision. Lentz looked pretty good, but really this was another mediocre fight after several good preliminary bouts. Mendes remains the only real choice to fight Aldo after Aldo beats Ricardo Lamas, but this just reinforces the different between Jose Aldo and the next best guy in the division, in this case Mendes.
Faber is still good: Urijah Faber defeated Michael McDonald by submission in the second round. I feel like a total idiot for picking against Faber here, this was a great performance from him, likely cementing his shot against the winner of the upcoming title fight between Renan Barao and Dominick Cruz. I don't think he'll beat either of those guys, but Faber has more than earned another shot at the gold. As for McDonald, he's still young, but he didn't look good here and will need a big performance next time out.
Johnson is real: Demetrious Johnson defeated Joseph Benavidez by knockout in the first round to defend his flyweight title. Johnson landed a technically sound right hook in close range right on the jaw of Benavidez and basically KO'd him with one punch. Demetrious Johnson will be the champ until he decides he doesn't want to be anymore at this point, he looked great as he wasn't losing the fight and hit a lucky punch, he just controlled and finished his opponent in the first round. Benavidez is unlikely to get another title shot, this is his second loss to Johnson, so I don't know what the future holds for him. Can we get Johnson on PPV now please? This was his third fight on FOX, can he just get on PPV for his next fight?
Fox numbers are in: And they are not good. Early numbers, prior to the west coast being added, had the viewership for last weeks UFC on FOX at around 2.41 million viewers, easily the lowest number ever for an event run during football season. Having advertisements on during highly rated NFL games gives the UFC events a huge boost in visibility, and this number during football season is surprisingly low. Hopefully the next event will be better received, because for as much as Dana White can talk about only judging an event after it's happened, people have to look at a card on paper and decide if they want to invest time into it. Yes it's unfair, this event had some really fun fights and a great finish to the main event, but that's how things are.
GSP is gone: UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre announced he is vacating the title and taking an extended hiatus from MMA this week. I don't want to talk too much about it here, look below into my Final Thought segment, but make no mistake at all, this is a big deal.
UFC 171 gets new main event: UFC 171, coming to you from Dallas Texas, was supposed to be headlined by a light heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira. Well, with GSP vacating the belt the UFC moved Jones and Teixeira to UFC 172 and now Johny Hendricks will fight Robbie Lawler for the vacant title. Hendricks lives in Dallas, so he should get a nice reaction. Lawler is 3-0 in his current UFC run, recently beating Rory MacDonald. I feel like this is kind of a designated win for Hendricks, Lawler has looked good but Hendricks has been near the top of the heap for a while. I can't help but feel that the UFC is going to try and make this event into a coronation of sorts for Johny Hendricks, trying to make him a legitimate draw. We'll have to wait and see if it works out that way.
UFC 168 will cost more: This news broke a while ago and I didn't want to talk too much about it, but UFC 168 will cost five dollars more than previous UFC events. The company is currently saying this is a one time price increase, because the event has Anderson Silva vs. UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, and UFC female bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate, and given that the UFC is hoping for a big buyrate squeezing another five bucks per person isn't an unreasonable business plan. If this price increase becomes permanent, well with the general lack of star power the UFC has it will either spell a down turn in buys or signal that the company is moving closer to phasing out PPV as part of their revenue stream.
Condit will fight Woodley: Carlos Condit has an opponent at long last, and it's unranked Tyron Woodley. Condit was supposed to take on Matt Brown at UFC on FOX 9, Brown suffered multiple herniated disks in his back and the fight was scrapped. Following GSP's departure UFC President Dana White announced that the UFC was looking for a big fight for Condit. It turns out they were trying to get Nick Diaz out of retirement and into a rematch with Condit, Diaz refused the fight, likely because he can't beat Condit. After that announcement Jake Ellenberger, who lost a split decision to Condit in his UFC debut, and Tyron Woodley both petitioned for the fight. Ellenberger had an abysmal performance in his last outing against Rory MacDonald, Woodley knocked Josh Koscheck out in the first round of their fight. Despite Woodley not being ranked by the UFC in the top ten, Demian Maia, Jake Shields, and Hector Lombard are all otherwise booked, leaving Woodley as one of the only viable options left. This is unfortunate for Condit as Woodley could very likely revert to wet blanket mode and win a boring decision to remove Condit from title contention when I personally think Condit has a better than average chance at beating Johny Hendricks, assuming Hendricks becomes champion.
Bigfoot fails test: Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva failed a drug test after his draw with Mark Hunt in a fight that was lauded as a possible Fight of the Year. Silva's levels of testosterone were above the allowable limits, he was stripped of his bonus money, in this case fifty thousand dollars, the draw will be listed as a No Contest on his record, and he's been suspended for nine months. Silva's side of the story is that he was on testosterone replacement therapy, with the full knowledge and approval of the UFC, and when he went in for a check up the week before the fight his testosterone levels were found to be low so his doctor recommended increasing his dosage. As a result his levels were out of the allowable limits. Silva's claiming that the responsibility is not his, but rather the doctor's, is stupid. Doctor's make recommendations, Silva was responsible for deciding to roll the dice and hope his levels would fall within allowable levels, they weren't and he's now suffering the penalty. Silva has a prior drug test failure on his record, following winning the Elite XC heavyweight title he was popped for use of a steroid. In Silva's case his low testosterone is a symptom of his acromegaly, it's something that absolutely requires medical treatment, but he has to make smarter decisions when it comes to his levels immediately prior to a fight because he's out a chunk of change and can't fight for nine months. Mark Hunt's comments about the situation were along the lines of feeling he should get a therapeutic use exemption for TRT, and was happy that it appears he'll be getting Silva's $50k part of the Fight of the Night Bonus.
The king is gone. Long time UFC welterweight champion, pound for pound and all time great, Georges St-Pierre has vacated the welterweight title and is taking an extended leave from the sport. Georges St-Pierre wasn't just one of the best fighters of all time, he was hands down the biggest draw that the UFC had, and arguably has ever had. After UFC 167 GSP will be responsible, in part or entirely, for roughly ten million PPV buys. That is a staggering number, for one fighter to have produced that much interest, revenue, and to have maintained that level of interest for such a long time, it is unparalleled in the world of MMA. This is also leaves a monumental hole that the UFC will be struggling to fill for a long time as no one in the current landscape of MMA is anywhere near the draw that GSP was.
While the talent in MMA has never been better, no one seems to be grabbing people's attention and getting them to spend money. If Anderson Silva loses again to Chris Weidman at UFC 168, and that is a real possibility, one has to imagine a lot of damage will have been done to his drawing power. Jon Jones seems to have peaked in terms of drawing on his own, in fact his last fight against Alexander Gustafsson did only 325k buys. Cain Velasquez did only 330k buys in his last fight, which was against possibly his most marketable opponent in the form of former champion Junior dos Santos. While UFC President Dana White was quick to point out that this same question was raised when Chuck Liddell retired, Liddell was past his prime in terms of ability and drawing power when he retired, plus Georges St-Pierre was still active when Liddell retired. I wont claim that the sky is falling here, that's an exaggeration, but it wouldn't shock me to see the average buys for the UFC per year drop somewhere in the neighborhood of 300k or so without GSP. While analysts and fans alike have pointed out that the welterweight division is a much more interesting place without St-Pierre, it is also a division that draws much less interest. I am not emotionally invested in Johny Hendricks or Robbie Lawler, and there's little chance that changes between now and UFC 171. Only time will tell if anyone is able to take over for GSP as a legitimate top level draw, or if the UFC will be able to promote them effectively. As Dan Plunkett eloquently put it, "The UFC has always struggled to figure out how to promote a fighter when his or her skill set doesn't translate nicely into a highlight backed by 'Face the Pain'."
I wish Georges St-Pierre all the best, if he never fights again as a fan I will be sad because I have enjoyed his fights but I will also be happy to simply keep the memories I have. The world of MMA is less interesting without him in it, but it also provides opportunities for other fighters if they're able to take it. That wraps up this week's edition of the Guillotine, congratulations on escaping it yet again. I will be part of the 411 Ground and Pound radio show this Sunday at 9pm eastern time where we will be breaking down the upcoming UFC 168 event. Speaking of UFC 168 I'll have all your live coverage needs here at 411mania if you don't want to or can't watch it live, so stop by and say something, it'll keep me company. I'll see you all back here next week when I'll be breaking down the main card of UFC 168, until then keep your heads up and your necks safe.