Locked in the Guillotine MMA News Report 2.28.14: TRT is Gone
Posted by Robert Winfree on 02.28.2014
News and thoughts on the ban on TRT and what that may mean for Vitor Belfort, Gilbert Melendez's future, thoughts on the results out of UFC 170 and more!
Greetings ladies and gentlemen, nice to get you all Locked in the Guillotine again. Well we had a great week in the world of MMA didn't we? UFC 170 took place, we got word on the future of Gilbert Melendez, and a prominent athletic commission addressed the issue of testosterone replacement therapy(TRT). I'm talking about all of that this week. While reading up on the events of the week give a listen to the Radulich in Broadcasting network which is home to a large variety of shows. MMA, professional wrestling, metal music, sports, the wacky world of Kamen, and my own humble show Everyone Loves a Bad Guy. You'll find something worth listening too, trust me.
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Alright, let's get into the MMA action.
Chavez stays unbeaten: Ernest Chavez defeated Yosdenis Cedeno by split decision. Cedeno had a good first round, but got tired in the second and roughly the first half of the third round. Chavez was clearly a superior grappler, and he used that to his advantage in this one. Cedeno looked pretty athletic, but his grappling was suspect as was his cardio. Chavez got the win and remained unbeaten as a professional.
Koch regains form: Erik Koch defeated Rafaello Oliveira with strikes in the first round. This was Koch's first fight at lightweight in the UFC, he lost his last two fights which were at featherweight. Koch's punches looked sharp, he caught Oliveira with a good straight right and finished him off with ground and pound. If Koch has this form consistently at lightweight this was a solid career move for him and I'm curious to see what he'll be doing as he moves up the ranks.
Fun size prevails: Zach Makovsky defeated Josh Sampo by unanimous decision. Makovsky was the superior wrestler, he was able to get Sampo down almost at will and maintain positional dominance, but he did little else. This was a safe performance, Makovsky didn't land much in the way of ground and pound, didn't threaten with a submission attempt, just got position and worked to hold it or improve a little. Makovsky is now 2-0 in the UFC at flyweight, and given the relatively anemic state of the division he could turn into a possible contender with another win or two. Sampo was just over matched here, Makovsky was better at everything Sampo was trying to do.
Sterling performance: Aljamain Sterling defeated Cody Gibson by unanimous decision in what wound up being the fight of the night. The two engaged in a fun back and forth affair, both men had moments in both the striking and grappling department, Sterling just had a better first and third round to take the decision. I'm excited to see more of both men, and the bantamweight division could always use new faces.
Assuncao rolls on: Rafael Assuncao defeated Pedro Munhoz by unanimous decision. Assuncao is unbeaten at bantamweight in the UFC, this win was six in a row for him and his next fight should be for the title. The fight was mostly on the feet, Munhoz had some solid leg kicks but little else. Assuncao was originally supposed to be fighting Francisco Rivera, but injuries happen. Munhoz was unbeaten prior to this fight, and if he gets another shot he might show more than he did here.
Davis wins: Alexis Davis defeated Jessica Eye by split decision to round out the prelims. I personally had all three rounds for Davis, but one and three were on the slightly closer side. Davis is now the only possible challenger for Ronda Rousey, Cat Zingano not only has the long injury lay off but the family tragedy and the reality is she may not ever return to the cage. Davis is it as far as challengers for Rousey go.
Wonderboy: Stephen Thompson defeated Robert Whittaker via TKO in the first round. This fight went about how I thought it would, Whittaker had trouble landing any of his punches except his jab and he wound up being vulnerable to the strikes of Thompson because of it. Thompson's punches looked better than prior fights, and his kicking game is top notch. The intelligent way Thompson approached the finish was impressive as well, he knew Whittaker was hurt but didn't rush in recklessly. Solid opener, I say give Thompson either Erick Silva or Matt Brown next.
Pyle eats a Waldburger: Yeah, that joke is bad. Mike Pyle defeated TJ Waldburger by TKO in the third round. Pyle was winning this whole fight really, his clinch game was on point and he out grappled Waldburger as well. Pyle is on the older side, 38, but he usually has fun fights and had a good run heading into his fight with Matt Brown. Credit to Pyle as well for going for a finish in a fight he was winning, plenty of guys wouldn't have capitalized on a hurt opponent in the third round of a fight they would take on the scorecards.
MacDonald wins: Rory MacDonald defeated Demian Maia by unanimous decision, the only decision on the main card tonight. MacDonald had a rough first round, Maia clearly had a game plan that involved diving for takedowns every couple of seconds but he got one in the first round and even had full mount at one point. MacDonald stayed calm and escaped the position. The second round was all MacDonald, he hurt Maia badly with a body kick that not only visibly fatigued the Brazilian, it had him on wobbly legs for a couple of minutes. The third was more of Rory beating Maia up on the feet, giving him the decision. I felt Rory could have finished Maia in the second round if he'd stepped on the gas, Maia was wobbly and visibly tired, but a bit of that Tri-Star conservative style kicked in I guess. MacDonald can't fight for the title next, he's just one fight removed from a loss to Robbie Lawler and had a boring fight with Jake Ellenberger before that, but this was the type of performance Rory needed to restore some of the hype around him.
Squash match: Daniel Cormier defeated Pat Cummins with strikes early in the first round. This was exactly what needed to happen for Cormier, Cummins entered this fight with a 4-0 professional record, but nothing near the level of competition that Cormier had been facing and beating. Cormier made weight, he looked a little drained but with this being his first cut that's somewhat to be expected, and he just smacked Cummins around. Cormier could use a guy near the top ten next, Phil Davis or someone around that level. Cummins has been given another fight with the UFC, given the short notice nature of this one, but if he loses again he might just be done with the promotion for a while.
Rousey beats McMann: Ronda Rousey defeated Sara McMann via TKO, liver shot, to retain the female bantamweight title. McMann managed to land a couple of decent punches, but they clinched up early and Rousey started landing knees to the body, and one dropped McMann, prompting the official to step in. This stoppage might have been a little early, but it wasn't completely unwarranted given how McMann fell to her knees. Rousey is without legitimate challenger right now, yes Alexis Davis has earned the next title shot, but unless McMann improves a lot over her next few fights, or the UFC is able to sign Holly Holm, no one has a real shot at beating Ronda right now.
Diaz wackiness: Well the Diaz brothers were at it again this week. Nick, the older brother who is technically retired, said he'd return to the cage for a title shot and nothing else. He also claimed to be the UFC's only draw. Now this is pretty much par for the course for Nick Diaz, he's 1-2 in his current UFC career, dropping his last two title fights to Carlos Condit and Georges St-Pierre, yet still wanting another crack at the belt. As for his comments about being the company's only draw, that's a bit of a stretch. Diaz was able to do good numbers against the right opponent, but that doesn't make him the company's only draw. I've gone on record about the UFC's lack of current star power, some of that falls on the promotion while some falls on the fighters, but Diaz is far from the only draw that the UFC could have. Younger Diaz brother Nate took to twitter this week and asked for his release from the UFC. Nate is coming off of an impressive first round TKO win over Gray Maynard, but had lost his two prior fights, a five round thrashing by Benson Henderson and a second round TKO loss to Josh Thomson. If Diaz is truly unhappy with his position and being in the UFC he'll likely move to Bellator where more fighters would engage in his style of fighting and he could be a big fish in the smaller pond.
Melendez sticks around: Well the story of Gilbert Melendez possibly going to Bellator has come to a conclusion, Melendez will be sticking around with the UFC. Not only that, Melendez may have negotiated one of the most lucrative deals the UFC has ever signed. At least 75% of Melendez's fights will occur on PPV, be that main event or curtain jerking he's guaranteed to be on the PPV main card, and will benefit from it. Melendez will also be getting PPV points for a card he's on. PPV points are extra money a fighter earns if they're on a card, typically they get a set amount for each purchase over a specific number. Now normally the UFC's number before PPV points kick in is 200,000 buys, but by all accounts that wont be the case with Melendez, his PPV threshold is much lower. Were I to speculate, this was a deal he got with Bellator and he negotiated a lower threshold with them because at this time the idea of a Bellator PPV breaking 200k buys is so improbable it borders on the impossible right now. Well Melendez also has his next gig lined up, he will coach the twentieth season of The Ultimate Fighter opposite UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. TUF 20 will feature a cast of all female fighters, all of whom will be competing at strawweight(115lbs.) and the winner of the tournament will become the inaugural UFC female strawweight champion. Now I have little patience for The Ultimate Fighter these days, but this is the closest it's going to come to must see television for me for the foreseeable future. Melendez and Pettis will then square off for the UFC lightweight title. I'm making a bold prediction here, that fight never happens. Pettis is recovering from surgery right now, then will have to tape the show, wait for it all to air, and then get back into the cage. Given the injury history(pattern?) of Pettis, I don't think this fight winds up happening. Honestly we're at the point with MMA right now where a fight that doesn't get changed at least once due to injury is the exception rather than the rule. Either way, Melendez has himself a sweetheart deal for the moment, but remember the UFC can terminate your contract after a loss so Melendez better be performing well because with all the stuff he got this time around if he loses he's likely gone.
TRT is gone: Thursday, as I was typing up the above bit on Gilbert Melendez in fact, news broke that the Nevada State Athletic Commission voted unanimously to ban Testosterone Replacement Therapy, all Therapeutic Use Exemptions are rescinded and by all accounts wont be granted in the future. This is big news as TRT has been a hot topic in the world of MMA over the last couple of years, and the preeminent athletic commission has now banned it, including voicing their hope that other commissions will follow suit. Several fighters under the UFC banner have been using TRT recently, and drawing criticism for it. UFC middleweight contender Vitor Belfort has been the poster boy, fairly or not, for the therapy. Belfort has been using TRT for the majority of his current middleweight run, though it came to light following his first round head kick TKO win over Michael Bisping. Belfort will be fighting UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman in Las Vegas this year, and if he looks physically different, or his performance visibly suffers, it will raise questions about what Belfort can do without TRT. Vitor Belfort is hardly the only fighter under the UFC's banner that is affected though, Dan Henderson, Nate Marquardt, Chael Sonnen, Frank Mir, Ben Rothwell, Antonio Bigfoot Silva, plus a few guys over in Bellator, perhaps most notably Joe Warren, have all used TRT more than once. I personally believe the only guy that genuinely needs TRT is Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva, who suffers from acromegaly. Acromegaly is similar to gigantism, and Silva legitimately needs the synthetic hormone because his body doesn't produce it naturally, not a questionable diagnosis of hypogonadism that could be brought on by use of anabolic steroids. This is a big deal, but likely a very good step forward for the sport as a possible avenue for legal cheating has been closed. The next step is to test fighters who claim to need TRT during training camp to make sure it isn't being used. In a minor bit of irony, Vitor Belfort will be fighting in Las Vegas where right now he cannot get a TRT exemption, Chael Sonnen and Dan Henderson are both scheduled to fight in Brazil next, where both men are quite likely to receive exemptions for TRT.
The UFC, which runs events all over the world including places that don't have governing bodies, has followed suit with the NSAC and banned TRT from all over seas events where they wind up policing themselves and has encouraged other commissions to adopt the same policy.
Alright, that does it for me guys and gals. The 411 Ground and Pound radio show is back on Sunday at 9pm eastern and we'll be talking about the big news in the world of MMA, and it's a call in show so if you've got thoughts feel free to call in and let your voice be heard. Everyone Loves a Bad Guy is talking about everyone's favorite comic book villain this week, the Joker. Everyone Loves a Bad Guy is live every Friday at 9pm eastern time, or get the archived version from the network. I'll see you guys back here next week, until then keep your head up and your neck safe.