Five Quick Rounds 08.19.14: Jones/Cormier, Gustafsson, More
Posted by Evan Zivin on 08.19.2014
From the postponement of Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier due to injury and Alexander Gustafsson demanding his title shot back to Bellator bringing back its women's division and the results of Fight Night 47, 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 Dog the Bounty Hunter to be here once again!
I've been avoiding talking about it. I still don't want to but I should at least acknowledge how relieved I am that War Machine has been apprehended. The former Jon Koppenhaver, noted washout of such MMA promotions as UFC and Bellator, was captured in Simi Valley, California last Friday, wanted on several charges of battery and assault for savagely beating his ex-girlfriend, adult actress Christy Mack. Now, I'm a fair person. I am willing to believe in the idea of "innocent until proven guilty" as one of the tenets that makes our justice system work (sometimes...) but the evidence here is pretty damning. Not only is there Mack's account, which if you haven't read, is pretty horrific, but the fact that, not only has War Machine been arrested and jailed more than once for assault and battery within the last few years, he's also attacked Mack in the past. It wasn't anything as serious as what he just allegedly did but would it really surprise anyone that War Machine would commit such a heinous act? Especially, if the story is true, after he saw Christy with another man when he thought they were still together? The man is a psychopath. I mean, he's the man who legally changed his name to freakin' War Machine. He was always capable of doing something like this and, if what happened is true, which it more than likely is, then I hope War Machine gets everything he has coming to him. I'll leave it to the comments to make jokes about him "getting along" with his new prison buddies. I'm better than that. Well, at least this week I am.
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 postponement of the Jon Jones/Daniel Cormier fight, the rise of Chris Cariaso to the main event, Alexander Gustafsson demanding his title rematch, the results of Fight Night 47, and Bellator bringing back the women's division. Let's to it do it.
FIGHTER YOU READY!!!!
FIGHTER YOU READY!!!!
Round One: Jones-Cormier Pushed Back Due to Injury, UFC Uses "Postponed" Correctly For Once
***TOUCH OF GLOVES***
What a wild three weeks it has been. That's how long it's been since it was announced that the main event of UFC 178 on September 27, a rematch between UFC Light heavyweight Champion Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson, was off due to a knee injury to the challenger. With UFC's official Swedish dreamboat out for the rest of the year and with a Payperview at risk of losing its main event, which pretty much equals death with the current product, the UFC made the obvious choice: they booked Jones against Daniel Cormier, the UFC post-show analyst who fights on occasion. It really was a no brainer. Cormier has been wanting a fight with Jones since back when he was still an adorably pudgy heavyweight. These two have bickered back and forth with each other for years and it was the fight Jones wanted before everyone told him to nut up and take the Gustafsson fight. Plus, with Cormier's 15-0 MMA record and the obvious distaste both men have for each other, it was only a matter time before these two ended up locked inside the Octagon together anyway. They can't even wait to get inside of the cage, as the brawl at the MGM Grand two weeks ago showed us. All we had to see was Jones toss a small, bald man around (...that doesn't sound right) and Cormier throw a shoe and we were set to throw as much money at our TV's as we could for this fight. That is how you order a Payperview, right? It's been a while since I ordered a show so I'll have to remember to stop at an ATM.
Or not. Yes, MMA fans, it looks like, once again, we've had things too good and the MMA Gods have stepped in to bring us back to Earth by taking this fight away from us. The announcement came last Tuesday that the title fight had been plagued by another injury, this time to Jones. That, of course, meant that we weren't getting a Light Heavyweight title fight for September. Sorry kids, Christmas won't be coming early this year. And by "kids," I mean "Dana and the Fertittas." This year so far has been one of the weakest in terms of Paperview buys UFC has seen in years and, while I still don't think the Jones-Cormier fight was going to do a million buys, it definitely could have been the biggest selling fight of 2014. Now, that distinction is probably going to go to the Chris Weidman-Vitor Belfort fight in December. DAMN YOU, VITOR!!!!! Looking on the bright side, if that is possible here, 2014's loss will be 2015's gain as the UFC are not cancelling the fight but are moving it to UFC 182 on January 3. We'll still get the fight but with a couple more months of Twitter bickering and casual death threats on the set of sports news shows. Plus, it allows Cormier the chance to heal up, as he took the fight despite a lingering knee injury he's had for months. That's because he's a boss and Jones isn't. Jones wasn't willing to take the fight injured but it's that kind of thinking that is partly why he is the champ. So enjoy the extra two months you get with the belt, DC is coming eventually.
Round Two: Alastair Overeem is the New Sport Killer, Chris Cariaso is Now a UFC Main Eventer
***TOUCH OF GLOVES***
So what happened? What did Jones do to hurt himself? How did it happen? Why would he intentionally do something like this to deprive us of this fight? It was going to be the biggest fight of the year. It was the fight that was going to save us from another boring, meaningless fight card in a year that is chock full of them. It was the fight that could have set the sport back on the right track and lifted us from the doldrums of the world we currently live in, where 5 round fights between Ryan Bader and Ovince St. Preux are a thing. It could have been all that and a bag of chips but now it's gone. It's gone and it's all Alastair Overeem's fault. According to Jones' trainer, Greg Jackson, Jones was defending a takedown from the former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion when he stepped wrong and twisted his knee and ankle. The damage was bad enough that Jones underwent surgery last Thursday to repair the damage. Damn it, Overeem. You wanna talk about sport killers? This guy, I tell ya. The reason he is at Jackson-Winklejohn MMA in the first place is because he got kicked out of the Blackzilians, allegedly due to injuring Guto Innocente on purpose. Past training partners, such as Anthony "Rumble" Johnson, have also alleged that Overeem purposely hurt training partners. I don't know if it's true and if it is, why he would do such a thing. Maybe it's part of the mood changes he's experiencing as part of his transition off TRT? I dunno. DAMN YOU, VITOR!!!!
So, however the injury occurred, the reality is that UFC 182 is now set to begin 2015 with a bang. Also, that UFC 178 needs a new main event. It needs one badly because it's a really good show. Unlike UFC 176, which wasn't that strong of a card without a big title fight at the top of it, UFC 178 is packed with talent. There's Dominick Cruz vs. Takeya Mizugaki, Cat Zingano vs. Amanda Nunes, Donald Cerrone vs. Bobby Green, Dustin Poirer vs. Conor McGregor, and Tim Kennedy vs. Yoel Romero. Those are all fights big enough to main event smaller UFC shows and we're getting them all at UFC 178. They can't let this card fall apart, and UFC won't because it found a new main event. The new main event for UFC 178 will be....Demetrious Johnson vs. Chris Cariaso? Really? UFC is going to replace what was surely going to be the biggest fight of the year with the champion who, in his last title defense, drew the lowest buyrate in 9 years? Personally, I like Demetrious. He's one of the most well-rounded fighters in the world and he seems like a fun guy to be around, but I know a lot of fans don't share that sentiment, either due to his low finishing rate or how he's too nice or just the general stigma this society has against guys under 5'10" who have the audacity to fight for our amusement. Oh well. I still like him and UFC 178 is still a damn good show. Plus, I'm sure Jones and Cormier will still be a part of the night...watching the fights...on TV...from home....*sigh*. Maybe I'll just blame this all on Chris Cariaso instead. Will that make me feel better? Nah. It's not the same. It's just not the same.
Round Three: Alexander Gustafsson Just Wants ONE. MORE. MATCH.
***TOUCH OF GLOVES***
It seems like UFC has gotten everything taken care of regarding the Jones-Cormier fight, or as least as best as they can considering the shit sandwich all these injuries have given them, but there is still one more factor to think about: that of Mr. Gustafsson. After news of the injury and the postponement came out, Gus chose to respond to it and did so in the most respectful manner: by demanding he get his title shot back. Gustafsson feels that, with Jones' injury putting him on a timetable to return around the same time that Gustafsson will be back, that it makes sense to re-book the original fight that was supposed to happen before our lives got turned upside-down. I can completely understand where he is coming from. The fight was, after all, his fight to begin with and it is still a fight we all want to see. Nobody has come closer to making Jones look human inside the Octagon than Gus and it does still make logical booking sense to put the two together again to see if Gustafsson can correct his mistakes from the first fight and become the man to finally beat the dominant champion. Even if he doesn't win the fight, we could still end up with another Fight of the Year on our hands. I don't know if the rematch will be as good as the first fight, since part of what made it so special was how unexpected Gustafsson's performance was, but when you have two technically gifted fighters who can take it as much as they can dish it out, you know you're in for a good time. Or at least in for something that's actually worth paying money to see on TV.
On the other hand, the fight isn't Gustafsson's anymore. He lost it when he pulled out of the fight last month. UFC still wanted to put on a title fight, Cormier said "Hells yes" when the opportunity to fill in was presented to him, and now we have Jones vs. Cormier. It's certainly not fair that Gustafsson now has to wait even longer to get his title rematch but it also wouldn't be fair to take the fight away from Cormier after UFC already gave it to him. Plus, with the fallout from the brawl and the "literal" death threats and all that fun stuff, UFC would be crazy to throw that away now just to make Sweden happy. They ain't all that. These shenanigans have created a much greater appeal for the Cormier fight among casual fans than the Gustafsson rematch and, with a few more months of deleted Tweets and Instagram call-outs from their kids, the fight has potential to do a million buys. As good as the rematch may end up being, I don't think it will do those numbers. So, might as well strike while the iron is hot and still smells like Dave Sholler's head sweat. Plus, if Gustafsson is planning to return at the beginning of the year, he can always fight at UFC 182 in the co-main event. Gus doesn't want to fight again before getting his title shot but, unless he wants to be out for an entire year, he's going to have to. This could actually work out better for him, as UFC 182 will give him a big platform to make his case for the fight he deserves and, when the rematch finally does take place, it will do even bigger numbers than it would have before. Now UFC just has to decide if they want to give Gus a tough fight, such as Anthony Johnson, or a fight he's more guaranteed to win. Eh, they'll just put Ryan Bader in there. In the end, it's always Bader.
Round Four: Fight Night 47, It's Always Bader
***TOUCH OF GLOVES***
There once was a man from Bangor
Who said he didn't get what he paid for
He watched the UFC
And saw Bader beat OSP
...I don't know how to end this limerick
Actually, the UFC's debut in Maine on Saturday night ended being a pretty decent show all-around. The main event was a clash between light heavyweight prospect Ovince St. Preux and Top 10 gatekeeper Ryan Bader. It was a fight that came together at the UFC 174 post-fight press conference when Dana White was asked what was next for both men after both were victorious that night and Dana shrugged and said, "I dunno, I'll probably just have them fight each other." And fight each other they did. The two Division I college athletes went after each other for 25 minutes. The biggest factor in the fight ended up being Bader's wrestling, as it usually is in his fights. Bader had relatively little trouble taking St. Preux down for the majority of the fight. He didn't always do much with his takedowns but, whenever Bader wanted the fight on the ground, he was almost always able to get it there. The most success St. Preux had was when he was able to keep the action standing, lighting up Bader a bit in the second round before scoring his own takedown. Things got away from St. Preux the longer the fight went, as he gassed out, and Bader comfortably won at least three rounds of the fight to take it by unanimous decision. So OSP gets his momentum halted as Bader continues to do his thing. What's next for either man? I don't really care. Where's Practor at? Is he still here? This is supposed to be his thing.
I wasn't entirely ready to write Gray Maynard off before his co-main event fight against Ross Pearson. I think Maynard in his prime wouldn't have had much trouble getting a win over Pearson and he looked good through the first round of their fight, although it was very close. Then, in the second round, after shaking off a takedown attempt from "The Bully," Pearson hit Maynard with a hard combination that sent him crashing to the canvas. A few more punches followed and Maynard now has his third straight knockout loss. That's not good. I'm not going to say he should retire but he definitely has to think about the long-term concerns for his health if he decides to continue his fighting career. Hey, if he hangs the gloves up now, maybe Dana will offer Gray one of those sweet UFC Gym jobs that he gave Krzysztof Soszynski. Also on the card, Tim Boetsch returned to his native Maine to deliver one of his patented comeback victories against Brad Tavares, Alan Jouban knocked out Seth Baczynski despite not having a Wiki page, Sara McMann got back to her winning ways by laying on top of former Invicta Bantamweight Champion Lauren Murphy for three rounds, and Jussier da Silva looked like the fighter we expected him to be two years ago by dominating former Bellator champion Zach Makovsky. Congrats, Formiga. Thanks for ruining our parlays.
And that was Fight Night 47. Next up is...another double-header? Really? Haven't they learned by now?
Round Five: Bellator Announces Women's Division, Scott Coker Enters Lover's Quarrel with Dana White and Gina Carano
***TOUCH OF GLOVES***
With all the changes that Bellator MMA will be going through over the next few months in preparation for next year, when we get our first real look at what Bjorn Rebney-Free Bellator looks like (now with less trans fats!), one announcement was made this week that is definitely a good sign for the future of the promotion, that being the re-introduction of women's fighting. That's right. The ladies are coming back to Bellator with the announcement of a new women's featherweight division. This isn't the first time women will be fighting in Bellator. Bellator actually got into women's fighting years before UFC, featuring women in their very first season, culminating in a tournament to crown Bellator's first Women's Strawweight Champion during Season 3 in 2010. This tournament was won by Zoila Frausto Gurgel, who would then go on to never defend the belt, vacating it when she signed with Invicta in 2013. That's right. She's one of the longest reigning champions in company history and she never defended the belt. I think it's because she was too busy buying back all the organs she had removed so she could make 115 in the first place. Anyway, Bellator still featured women's fights in the intervening years, but the company let the division fall into disrepair and ended up dissolving it altogether a year ago. It was a sad day for people who A) care about women's fighting, and B) care about MMA promotions other than UFC. I think there's about 4 of us.
Well, happy days are here again! There haven't been any major plans announced yet for Bellator's new women's 145 lbs. weight class but two signings have been announced for it: Julia Budd, a Thai kickboxer who has gone undefeated in 4 appearances for Invicta, and Marloes Coenen, the Dutch veteran who some of you may remember as the former Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight Champion. It's not too surprising that new Bellator President Scott Coker is looking to some of the athletes he's previously worked with to be the foundation of this new weight class, which is why it isn't too surprising that he may be courting another big name to join the promotion: Gina Carano. Before this announcement was made, there were rumors floating around that Bellator was talking to the fighter-turned-movie....star?...about fighting for them, essentially trying to steal her away from Dana White, who has been trying to get Gina to sign on to fight Ronda Rousey. As much as I'd love to see Gina fight Ronda, I could see why she might be enticed to go to Bellator instead. Not only would it guarantee a lesser chance of her getting her arm visciously ripped off, she wouldn't have to worry about trying to cut to 135, which I doubt she can do at this point in her life. Plus, she can be the Queen of Bellator instead of the beauty pageant runner-up she'd be in UFC, especially after she loses to Ronda. Hopefully she makes a decision soon, probably around the time the new Fast and Furious comes out. Hey, it's Hollywood. Always gotta have something to promote, right? Only in theaters!
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'll be back in 7 for more Five Quick Rounds. There's a fight in Macau and Tulsa on Saturday. Yep. Taking the world by storm. Enjoy the fights and always remember to fight clean, fight hard, fight fair, and never leave it in the hands of the judges...