The MMA 5&1 3.03.14: Fedor vs Velasquez
Posted by Jon Butterfield on 03.03.2014
Michelle Waterson is your "& 1" Model of the Week, Fedor meets Velasquez in this week's Vs, thoughts on ramifications of TUF China, the NSAC's ban on TRT and more!
Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania's MMA 5&1! This week has seen some pretty huge stories breaking in Mixed Martial Arts, including a new challenger for reigning UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman, the banning of TRT (which DOMINATES this week's 5&1), and the conclusion of TUF: China. Okay, that last one might not be quite as major, but we'll take a look nonetheless. So, let's get down to business shall we?
Disclaimer: This work may not be ENTIRELY my own... but I did contribute... slightly...
Oh, and on an unrelated note, thanks to Remo Signori for the original (and now supposedly unrecognizable) banner-work...
Last week on Versus, the UFC lightweights made easy work of their Bellator rivals, with UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis favoured against Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez to the tune of 37-10 – or 78.72 % of the vote! I'm not sure Alvarez would be an easy match up for Pettis, but nevertheless the Versus Community has spoken, and this one goes to the ex-WEC great!
Benson Henderson then posted an eerily similar 36-10 win against Michael Chandler in a battle of promotional number 2s! Again, the UFC fighter was entirely dominant, his voting finishing up at 78.26 %. Impartial observers may wonder whether or not the same 10 votes for both Alvarez and Chandler were cast by the same 10 people, but whatever the case, Anthony Pettis and Benson Henderson prove their mettle here on Versus!
Now, let's bring on the battle once more! This week...
That's right, in the past weeks we've seen women vs men, bantamweights vs flyweights, and UFC vs Bellator... so what more can we do here at Versus to keep things fresh? That's right, past vs present!
The only additional rule this week is that both fighters are considered in their prime - up first, as you can see, is a titanic battle between the reigning, defending UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez, and quite possibly the greatest heavyweight of all time, former PRIDE Heavyweight kingpin Fedor Emelianenko. Without feathering the bed with editorial comment, I'm going to leave this one up to YOU, the Versus Community. Who wins? Velasquez? Or the ‘Last Emperor'?
The second bout this week takes place between the number 2s once again - Junior dos Santos sits at number two in the heavyweight rankings behind only Velasquez, while Mirko Cro Cop once sat behind only Emelianenko in the rankings. If these two fight at their prime, who do you fancy? It's Past vs Present – it's kickboxing vs boxing – it's dos Santos vs Cro Cop! It's the 411mania 5&1 VERSUS!
Annnnnnnnnnnnnnd nooooooooooooow, the MMA 5:
Perhaps not surprisingly, we're opening the coverage of this week's major news with the stand out story that will affect the sport for years to come: yes, the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), backed in turn by the UFC, have banned Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT). No longer will Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TEUs) be granted to anyone competing in the state of Nevada, or to athletes competing for the UFC – with the exception of Dan Henderson, whose fight in Brazil in a few weeks time against Mauricio Rua will become a landmark moment in regards to TRT.
The fact is, Henderson will be the final fighter to compete in a UFC with a TUE even if other athletic commissions opt not to follow suit, and though the NSAC didn't cite fairness of competition as a leading cause of the ban, the Ultimate Fighting Championship had the following to say on the subject:
The Ultimate Fighting Championship fully supports the decision made today by the Nevada State Athletic Commission regarding the immediate termination of therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). We believe our athletes should compete based on their natural abilities and on an even playing field. We also intend to honor this ruling in international markets where, due to a lack of governing bodies, the UFC oversees regulatory efforts for our live events. We encourage all athletic commissions to adopt this ruling
So is this the right move for the sport? Do you feel fighters have been able to gain an unfair advantage over the competition? Will the playing field be levelled? And what do you think of the NSAC's claim that TUE's were too resource-demanding without enough pay off? Is that the real reason, or is fairness the real agenda?
With the implementation of the ban on TUE taking immediate effect in the state of Nevada, Vitor Belfort was quickly removed from his UFC Middleweight title fight scheduled to take place in Las Vegas against champion Chris Weidman. Belfort was quick to point out that he hadn't, in fact, pulled out of the fight, writing on his Facebook Fan Page that:
"I never gave up fighting in UFC 173 and never mentioned it. Therefore, all information posted in any mass media advertising that is not true.
What I announced was that I will be resigning "TRT" and not "giving up the fight" to continue my dream of fighting.
The UFC decided to put another opponent in my place because I didn't have time to fit the new rules of the NSAC. According to the UFC, I will face the winner of Weidman vs Lyotto (sic) within the new regulations of all the Athletic Commissions.
I'm sorry that this happened, and I appreciate the strength and understanding of all fans, sponsors, UFC and athletic commissions ".
It would later be revealed that Vitor Belfort had also been subject to a random drug's test at the behest of the NSAC on February 7th, tying in with the 2013 World MMA Awards that took place in Las Vegas, and that the results would not be published publically. Belfort's lawyer stated that the test results are ‘not relevant as Vitor is not applying for a license to fight within Nevada at this time' – and since Belfort did not provide consent for the NSAC to publish the results, they shall remain a mystery to MMA fans the world over.
Belfort's lawyer also clarified that ‘with this change at the commission, there is no time for Vitor to drop his TRT program, secure a license for a May 2014 bout and leave Zuffa with time to properly promote the bout.'
What do you make of this news? Does Belfort have something to hide given his unwillingness to share the results of his drug test with the NSAC? Will any such results come back to haunt Belfort in any future applications for a license to fight in Nevada? Or is all of this being blown entirely out of proportion? Belfort's lawyer clearly admits Vitor was on a TRT program, but given that that was legal at the time, has ‘The Phenom' done anything wrong?
Your comments please!
As a result of Vitor's removal from the upcoming UFC Middleweight title fight, Lyoto Machida has stepped in to face reigning kingpin Chris Weidman! Machida has looked excellent at 185 lbs, stopping Mark Munoz with a first round head kick KO, before outpointing talented Georgian Gegard Mousasi recently. Machida certainly presents a different type of challenge to Weidman, albeit he and Vitor at least share a propensity for scoring devastating KO's, as well as being masters at counter striking.
Machida is a hyper-talented karateka, equally at home landing fight-ending blows with his hands or feet, and is a master at counter-wrestling and dictating distance. Now that he is, in the eyes of many, competing at his ‘true' weight class, Machida is a highly fancied, highly feared opponent for anyone in the middleweight division – but perhaps if anybody is naturally talented enough to deflect his challenge, it's Weidman.
Weidman already boasts two wins over Black House supremo Anderson Silva, so beating his training partner may seem a very accomplishable feat – but with Machida potentially out to avenge ‘The Spider', this is a mouth-watering clash. Machida has already been forced to drop a weight class after being overmatched by the outstanding Jon Jones, another wrestling-based phenomenon, which will certainly give Weidman fans confidence – but there will be plenty of people expecting this fight to go the other way.
Dana White had this to say regarding the new match up: UFC President Dana White stated, per an official statement from the UFC, on the new matchup: "With today's ruling by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, who's undefeated since dropping to 185 pounds, will fight champion Chris Weidman in the main event of UFC 173 in May. Machida was dominant in his last two fights, beating Gegard Mousasi and knocking out Mark Munoz."
So, do you think Weidman-Machida is a better fight than Weidman-Belfort? How do you expect Machida to fare? And can he depose the newest of the UFC's super champions so soon?
Outspoken British middleweight Michael Bisping, who suffered a head kick KO defeat to Vitor Belfort last year, has this week branded ‘The Phenom' a ‘cheat'. Bisping tore into Belfort, stating that "Vitor's a cheat, simple as that. He'll go out and try to find another way to cheat. He'll find another way of manipulating the system, or he'll try. For a guy that talks about Jesus, you should want to step in there the way God intended him to be. He's a hypocrite."
Bisping added that"This is a guy that failed a drug test in the past, and now he's taking TRT. For a while, he wouldn't reveal the fact that he was on TRT, and now he's very pro-TRT, and now that they've banned it, he probably will just find another way to do it."
But Belfort-baiting wasn't the sole agenda of Bisping this week. Bisping stated that he was glad TRT users had been ‘branded the cheats they have always been', and other fighters added their voices to his support of the NSAC and the UFC's decision to ban such programs.
Brian Stann stated that "I knew the day would come at some point that we would wake up and realize how ridiculous it is (to grant TUEs for TRT)", while Tim Kennedy had little sympathy for TRT users – he said: "I don't care. I hope they leave. I've always said if you failed a steroid test, I thought it was ridiculous that you could get a TRT exemption, let alone continue to fight in the sport. In cycling, if you fail a steroid test, you can have a lifetime ban from the sport."
Travis Browne also weighed in with his thoughts, commenting that: "We're all physically built different, and that's part of our bodies (with) our testosterone levels. I want an 84-inch reach. But at the end of the day, I can't get it. Just because something is available to you in a synthetic form doesn't mean that it's OK to take it. If you want the fight to be completely fair, it's not about raising the testosterone levels to what you think is fair. Your body produces a certain level. Your levels are at those levels for a reason," while Chael Sonnen, a previous exponent of TRT, backed the decision. "The rules are the rules – that's it," Sonnen said. "Yesterday, it was legal, so quit complaining. Today, it's illegal. That's it. Quit complaining. End of conversation. Testosterone's out."
So what do you think of the plethora of fighter opinion? Is Bisping right to brand Belfort ‘a cheat'? Is Sonnen disingenuous when he tells other fighters to ‘quit complaining' when he has not only used TRT in the past, but busted for illegal PED's? Do Kennedy, Stann and Browne all make fair points? Or should TRT remain legal?
TUF: China is in the books, and Zheng Lipang was crowned the victor after posting a split decision win over Sai Wang. Lipang, who has a record of 8-7-1, hardly looks to be the future of the UFC Welterweight decision, but with the right kind of booking, UFC officials could help his star rise in his homeland of China. The question is, out of all the fighters at 170 lbs currently in the UFC, who do you feel Lipang would match up well against?
The main event saw Korean ace Dong Hyun Kim turn out John Hathaway's lights with a spinning back elbow in the third round, advancing to 19-2-1 overall. Kim has now won 4 straight fights, and is 10-2 (1 NC) in the UFC. With losses coming against Carlos Condit and Demian Maia, does this win now put Kim on the verge of a top 5 ranking at welterweight? Or has the Korean yet to truly impress? Certainly wins over Matt Brown, Nate Diaz, Siyar Bahadurzada, Erick Silva and Paulo Thiago are nothing to sniff at, but can Kim compete with the top 170 lb fighters like Johny Hendricks, Jake Ellenberger, Jake Shields and Rory MacDonald? Let us know your thoughts!
Meanwhile, in Bellator, King Mo Lawal and Rampage Jackson both qualified in their light heavyweight tournament quarter finals. Though the semi final brackets are yet to be set, would you like to see this fight ASAP? Or would you rather wait, hoping both fighters progress to make a super final? Or do you simply not care about this fight? Let us know below!
This week's model of the week is Michelle Waterson!