Five Quick Rounds 02.18.14: Fight Night 36, Gil Melendez Just Called Dana's Bluff, More
Posted by Evan Zivin on 02.18.2014
From Lyoto Machida's victory over Gegard Mousasi and the results of Fight Night 36 to Gilbert Melendez agreeing to terms with Bellator and Daniel Cormier getting a new opponent for Saturday, 411's Evan Zivin examines these stories and more in Five Quick Rounds!
Hey hey, fight fans, and welcome back to Five Quick Rounds! I am your host, Evan Zivin, and I am more excited than a fighter winning Performance of the Night to be here once again!
How weird was that to hear UFC give out Performance of the Night bonuses on Saturday instead of Knockout and Submission of the Night? I DON'T LIKE CHANGE! Well, I guess there are some positives that come from this decision. The big one is that UFC isn't forced to give bonuses to fighters by default in situations where there is only one knockout or submission on the card. They can give the money to anyone on the card that they feel put on the "...best...performance...," which means it will still likely go to the lone knockout or submission on the card but now there is the option to give it to someone else if the UFC feels another fighter put in a stronger effort to continually try and render their opponent unconscious over the course of a fight. So will this change result in more finishes? That is to be determined. It might in that it encourages fighters to deliver better overall performances, which may lead to more finishes, but it might not because fighters can now win bonus money even if they don't finish their opponent. That's a big negative. Also, Performance of the Night doesn't sound like a bonus. It sounds like something Metro PCS would sponsor. Just sayin'. Will any of this make a difference moving forward? I don't know. Probably not. I just hope that this doesn't mean 411 will have to award a Performance of the Year award next January. Screw that. Thanks for complicating things, UFC.
All right, so with fighter introductions out of the way, I have five more rounds of MMA news and opinions to throw at you. This week, we look at the results of Fight Night 36, Patrick Cummins attempting to make Daniel Cormier cry on Saturday, Gilbert Melendez agreeing to terms with Bellator, and Alastair Overeem refusing to fight Junior dos Santos. Let's to it do it.
FIGHTER YOU READY!!!!
FIGHTER YOU READY!!!!
Round One: Fight Night 36 Main Event, Lyoto Machida Changes for No Man, Not Even The Dreamcatcher
***TOUCH OF GLOVES***
Live, from the Arena Jaraguá in Jaraguá do Sul, Brazil, it was UFC Fight Night 36 ON SATURDAY NIGHT!!!!
Man, the UFC is killing it with their shows so far in 2014. Unfortunately, what they are killing is us with another long night filled with decisions. Many of the fights were all right and not every fight is going to be finished but man, being a fan can get exhausting sometimes. If this is going to become a trend, I need to start looking for a bar to watch the shows at that provides pillows and blankets. It might be too much to ask the bartenders to tuck me in and read me a bedtime story but it would be appreciated. The main event actually wasn't a bad fight. I knew that Lyoto Machida vs. Gegard Mousasi was going to be a closely contested fight. Both men had a lot at stake: Machida needed to perform well to guarantee the next shot at the UFC Middleweight Championship and Mousasi, fighting for the first time at 185 in years, needed a good showing to set himself on his own path towards UFC gold. Both fighters are strong grapplers and dangerous strikers who are very good at capitalizing on their opponents mistakes. You put all those elements together and you have the makings for a very boring---I mean, very even, fight. So who performed better on Saturday? Was Machida able to unleash The Dragon on Mousasi or was The Dreamcatcher able to catch Machida's...um...dreams? Seriously, who comes up with these nicknames?
The fight played out as most Machida fights do. That means there were surely plenty of people screaming about his elusiveness while others were telling those people to shut up because Machida is just running from Mousasi the entire fight. Yes, the majority of the fight was Mousasi moving forward while Machida faked and feinted and picked his moments to strike, but when he did, he made an impact. Machida threw kicks to Mousasi's body and head with devastating power and he also caught Mousasi with a couple good counterpunches. It felt like the story of the early rounds was Mousasi threw more strikes but Machida landed the more damaging strikes, although FightMetric shows that Mousasi landed more significant strikes in every round except the fifth. This means I either suck at watching fights (and so does everyone else) or I have no clue what is considered a significant strike to those people. The tempo of the fight changed in the fourth and fifth rounds when Mousasi realized he might have a wrestling advantage and went to take Machida down. He had better luck on the ground in the fourth round than the fifth, where he landed some good upkicks of the legal and illegal variety. Mousasi is lucky a point wasn't taken away for that last upkick. That's not to say it would have mattered much as Machida did more damage throughout the fight (or at least looked like he did), taking at least 4 rounds and the fight by unanimous decision. The fight was pretty much classic Machida. He always fights cautiously, only going for the finish when the opportunity presents itself. I wonder how the style will fare against Chris Weidman. If Chris can get past Vitor Belfort in May, we may find out. Until then, Machida will wait. And prepare. And possibly try to grow his mustache again. He should. It's a nice one.
Round Two: Rest of Fight Night 36, All Jacare Souza Wanted to Do Was Choke a Frenchman
***TOUCH OF GLOVES***
The co-main event was a clash between two men with undefeated UFC records in former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza and former Georges St-Pierre towel boy Francis Carmont. Carmont is a very tough fighter who competes with a very similar style to the former UFC Welterweight Champion. It had proved effective in his first 6 UFC outings. How well would it fare against Jacare, a man with scary striking and even scarier grappling? It shouldn't be too big a surprise that the portions of the fight that Jacare had the most success with were the portions that took place on the ground. In both the first and the third rounds, Jacare was able to get Carmont to the ground and take the Tristar fighter's back. Souza excelled at throwing punches to keep Carmont busy while using his hips and legs to keep Carmont planted on the ground. In those two rounds, Jacare looked to finish the fight by rear naked choke and he came really close, especially in the first round, but Carmont defended well and prevented himself from losing his first UFC fight by submission. Carmont had some success in the striking battle, making the fight much closer after the second round, but the grappling of Jacare was more than enough to earn him a unanimous decision victory and move himself one step closer to a title shot. I imagine he should be one fight away but anything could happen. Maybe Dana and Lorenzo, still angry over GSP walking away, will just give Jacare the next title shot because he took out GSP's training partner. They have made decisions based off crazier rationale than that in the past.
So what else happened during this exciting event? Wait, "exciting" isn't the right word to use. More like "insomnia curing." Yeah, that is two words. Wanna circle the cage for fifteen minutes and win by split decision over it? At least Erick Silva knew how to get the job done even if his opponent, Takenori Sato, didn't really do anything. Silva kicked Sato, Sato shot in for a takedown, and Silva threw heel kicks and pounded on Sato's head until he went unconscious. That was the fight. It was over faster than you can say "I don't quite enjoy you hitting me in the head. Perhaps we can instead discuss our common interests over some fine German cuisine at the Restaurante Típico Parque Malwee, one of Jaraguá do Sul's finest eating establishments. No, seriously. Stop hitting me." Congrats to Silva for not just winning, but finishing his fight and doing it in the first round. One fighter who wished his fight was finished in the first round was Viscardi Andrade. He dropped Nicholas Musoke with a right hand during the first round and threw up his hands in celebration but the fight wasn't over. It was far from over as Musoke recovered and took over the fight with his grappling and submission attempts, winning the fight by unanimous decision. Some love has to be given to Andy Ogle, who fought very gallantly while getting outclassed by the grappling of Charles Oliveira. Ogle fought hard until the end, tapping to a quick triangle choke halfway through the third round. Also on the card, a lot of decisions. A LOT OF DECISIONS. Seriously, I gave the UFC my credit card information for this? I can only hope these fights start getting better once we are expected to pay to watch them. Yeah, I'm a dreamer. I had plenty of time to do it on Saturday. Anyway, congrats to everyone who competed on this card and congrats to anyone who managed to stay awake through all of it. You are the true heroes.
And that was Fight Night 36. UFC 170 is on Saturday. It features two Olympians fighting for a championship and another Olympian fighting a man who isn't even supposed to be here today. Hopefully it's a good show. UFC could use one.
Round Three: Who is Patrick Cummins and Why is He fighting Daniel Cormier on Saturday?
***TOUCH OF GLOVES***
I love a good story that riles up the hardcore MMA fanbase. Granted, this isn't as serious an issue as TRT or fighting transsexuals, but there are definitely some feathers being ruffled over this. I personally do what I can to keep all my feathers in place so I'm trying not to go nuts over this like some are. Anyway, the story goes like this: the co-main event for UFC 170 this Saturday was originally going to be the light heavyweight debut of Daniel Cormier, the former Olympic wrestler and vanquisher of whichever heavyweights were still left in Strikeforce in 2012. Cormier was dropping down to 205 because he wanted to do what was best for his health and get himself in shape. Or maybe it was so he wouldn't have to fight his training partner Cain Velasquez and so he can fight Jon Jones. Either or. Cormier had lost the weight and was all set to take his first fight in his new weight class against former UFC Light heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans. There wasn't a ton of story to this fight other than it being a stepping stone to a title shot for DC and because it may or may not determine whose name gets placed first on their dressing room at the Fox Sports studios. It's also a fight between top ranked fighters so everyone was excited for it, especially Rashad. In fact, he may have gotten too excited and ended up injuring himself and pulling out of the fight. There was talk that the fight may be rescheduled for UFC 172 in April (although Rashad's timetable may keep him out longer than that) but Cormier really wanted to fight on Saturday and pleaded for someone to step up. I can understand that. If I had to go without eating food for four months, I'd be wanting to punch someone too. So would anyone answer poor Daniel's plea for a dance partner on Saturday?
Thankfully, someone did, and you won't believe who it is. That's mainly because you don't know who he is. Facing Daniel Cormier this Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 170 is none other than...Ilir Latifi! He's back and he wants revenge! No, wait. It's just Patrick Cummins, the guy with the dirty-sounding name. So anyway, on to the million dollar question: Who the hell is Patrick Cummins? Well, he is a two-time All American and NCAA Wrestling Champion....runner-up from Penn State University. He started competing in MMA in 2010, where he is 4-0 with 4 first round finishes. Granted, those four opponents have a combined MMA record of 10-20-1, but shut up. Don't ruin the fun. Besides, Cummins has a history with Cormier, as he trained with Cormier during DC's run to the Olympics. Cummins claims that he was able to handle DC when they fought in training and that he even made Cormier cry, which he'll do again inside the Octagon. Oh damn. Them's fightin' words right there. The whole story of how this fight is even happening is pretty crazy, as Cummins lobbied hard on Twitter to get the fight and ended up getting fired from his job at a "coffee shop" when Dana called to offer him the fight. Now for the two million dollar question: Does Cummins deserve this fight? There are two lines of thinking here. One says no because he's unranked and has done nothing to earned such a high profile fight in his UFC debut. The other says no but who cares as long as we get to see DC wreck somebody. I try not to take MMA too seriously so while I do agree that this fight hurts the integrity of the sport, I'm not really that bothered with seeing it. I like the story that has been created for this fight. Seriously, Cummins has done more to build up this fight in a week than Rashad and DC have been able to do in months. I think I'm almost more excited to see this fight than the Rashad fight. Besides, it's better to give Cormier a fight to establish himself at 205 before he starts going after the top dogs. His first two UFC fights were kind of dull anyway so maybe he'll get a finish in this fight. I'm sure a lot of people aren't looking forward to this fight but I am. Don't sleep on this opponent, DC. Patrick is Cummins.
Round Four: Gilbert Melendez is Headed to Bellator.....That is, Unless UFC Still Loves Him
***TOUCH OF GLOVES***
You know who was supposed to be fighting on the card this Saturday? El Nino, that's who. Gilbert Melendez, off his Fight of the Year contender with Diego Sanchez, was going to have his next fight this Saturday. The fight was to be against Khabib Nurmagomedov, the Dagestani fighter who may or may not be the reason why Diego doesn't like calling himself "Nightmare" anymore. You wanna talk about nightmares? How about a Sambo specialist in a furry hat charging at you for 15 minutes nonstop? I won't be able to sleep again after typing that. Khabib is still trying to prove himself to the MMA world at large and a fight between himself and Melendez would have been fantastic. Too bad that fight won't be happening. It wasn't entirely clear why the fight was cancelled, especially after already being announced by the UFC, but it appears it had to do with Gil's contract status. His last fight against Diego was on his final Strikeforce contract, the deal he signed when he was that promotion's Lightweight Champion. That deal had Gil earning $175,000 to show, which most of the UFC roster would recognize as a lot of friggin' money. The UFC have been sticklers before about trying to keep costs down and have even let fighters go due to their price tag. Knowing that makes the situation obvious: UFC doesn't want to pay Gil that much money to show and they're trying to get him to re-sign for less but Gil and his management don't think he should. The issue has caused contract negotiations to break down to the point where Dana White told Ariel Helwani that Gil needs to start looking elsewhere for work. That's not good for Gil. I mean, where in this MMA climate can Gil find a deal that is as good or better than the one he had in the UFC?
What's that? Bellator offered Gil a deal and he agreed to it? That's right. Everyone's favorite tournament-based MMA promotion, except for all the times when they ignore the tournament, made a play for Melendez and they look to be talking his language. The rumored deal is $200,000 to show with a signing bonus, PPV points *giggle*, and even appearances on Spike TV shows and a goddamn Viacom movie. That is a crazy deal if it is what Bellator offered. UFC still has the rights to match the deal and, while they theoretically could, I'm not thinking they will. Dana already said he's done with this mess and he doesn't typically pay fighters who were never UFC champion that much to show so I think Dana is going to wait as long as he legally can and then tell Gil to hit the bricks, but it will depend on if Dana recognizes the seriousness of the situation. I mean, is Dana actually going to let a top 3 lightweight, a man who took former UFC Champion Benson Henderson to his limit last April, and just let him go? If he cares so much about the integrity of the sport and having the best fighters compete in the UFC, then why is this happening? Ben Askren wants to know. If this situation isn't handled delicately, not only could Gil be leaving but so could his training partners and top UFC fighters Nate Diaz and Jake Shields. Maybe other top fighters will leave too. Maybe this could be the start of an exodus of UFC fighters who are pissed at Dana and his management style and would rather go work with Bjorn Rebney in Bellator. Maybe this will create a shift of power in the MMA world and turn Bellator into a true competitor to the UFC. Maybe Dana's rude, outspoken style is finally going to bite him in the ass. Or maybe nothing of lasting impact will come from this. This is a situation to keep an eye on to see what ends up happening and what consequences it may have for the MMA world. At the very least, it will mean we'll get El Nino: The Movie. Only in theaters. And Nick Diaz's backyard.
Round Five: Is Alistair Overeem Ducking Junior dos Santos or is He Just Horsing Around?
***TOUCH OF GLOVES***
I spent all week working on that joke. I'm proud of it just like I am proud of all my jokes. They are like my children in that none of them particularly care for me and are just waiting for me to die. Isn't that life? Dana White knows about life. Dana knows what is most important in life, which is to offer big fights to top fighters and then disparage them completely to the media when the fighters turns them down. At least that is what happened with Dana and Alistair Overeem. Dana told Ariel Helwani that he had offered Overeem a five-round main event against former UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos. It's a very intriguing fight. It'd be a fight between two former MMA champions. It'd be a fight between two dangerous strikers who enjoy going for knockouts. It'd be a fight that was supposed to happen in 2012. The two were set to main event UFC 146 for dos Santos' Heavyweight Championship but the fight didn't happen because Overeem got busted for 'Reeming a little too much and served a nine month drug suspension. Dos Santos then went on to get his face pounded in by Cain Velasquez on two non-consecutive occasions. Right now, neither man is close to a title shot. Dos Santos is looking to rebound after losing to the champion again and Overeem just got his first win in over two years when he beat Frank Mir at UFC 169. So it sounds like now is a great time to pit these two against each other. Good job, Dana, and thanks for finally making this fight happen!
Oh wait. The fight isn't happening. At least, not right now because Overeem turned it down. He also turned down a three-round main event. Dana was willing to cut off two rounds just to make the fight happen? He must really want this fight. Maybe that's why he had no problem accusing Overeem of hiding from dos Santos when there may have been a valid reason why Overeem didn't want the fight. According to Alistair, it's because he has a rib injury and he wants to get a timetable for the length of his recovery before he commits to his next fight. So Overeem won't take a fight until he is sure he is healthy and won't need to pull out of it once it's been booked? THAT SELFISH BASTARD!!! BURN HIM!!! BURN HIM!!! Seriously, Overeem gives a logical explanation and Dana accuses him of ducking the fight? It was bad enough when Dana tore into Overeem for not finishing the Mir fight when Overeem 1) Was on a two fight losing streak and wanted to make sure he'd still have a job the next day, 2) Defeated a former champion, and 3) Impressed by showing he is adapting and doesn't have to rely solely on his striking to win fights. I expect that kind of remark from Internet commenters but from the President of the top MMA company in the world? C'mon, man. Don't stoop to that level, especially when you're the one who should actually know what the situation is. I guess I should just be happy that Dana isn't throwing around steroid accusations. Well, at least not yet. Remember, it's not whether you win or lose. It's how badly you piss off Dana in the process. Also, don't call out Brock Lesnar after your fight. It just makes things worse.
That's it for Five Quick Rounds. Thanks for reading. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, and it is always appreciated when you do, leave them in the comments section. I will be back in 7 for another Five Quick Rounds. Ronda Rousey fights on Saturday and, according to 411's market research, you should be excited. So enjoy the fights and remember to fight clean, fight hard, fight fair, and never leave it in the hands of the judges...