Five Quick Rounds: Free as the Wind Blows, Free as the Punches Thrown, More
Posted by Evan Zivin on 08.26.2014
From Eddie Alvarez being granted his release from Bellator and signing on to fight Donald Cerrone at UFC 178 to the results of Fight Nights 48 and 49, 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 17 year old girl in Mexico to be here once again!
That could definitely be taken the wrong way so allow me to explain myself. The past few weeks have seen more mentions of the name War Machine than a Marvel fanboy can handle. The War Machine being referenced, however, is the former Jon Koppenhaver, an MMA fighter who competed in UFC and Bellator. He's also been in jail a bunch of times. He's currently looking to head back there after beating up his ex-girlfriend. The whole situation is just awful but it's already been established that he is capable of this kind of behavior. That's why it's not too surprising to hear other people share their own stories of War Machine's wild, reckless behavior. What is surprising, though, is that the individual with the story is none other than UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock and the story ends with War Machine leaving Ken's daughter stranded in Mexico. It would have been nice if Ken had given more details about why War Machine took his daughter to Mexico in the first place or mentioned how and even if she got back but, either way, that's pretty messed up. Ken says War Machine has avoided him every since because Ken will "break his neck" if he sees him. As awful as all of this is, I will say one thing: I'd pay to see that fight. At the very least, I just want to see Ken put him in the ankle lock. C'mon, Ken. Be that World's Most Dangerous Man we always knew you were back when all your moves were fake and scripted and your opponent was paid to play along. I love pro wrestling.
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 Bellator granting Eddie Alvarez his release, Alvarez signing on to fight at UFC 178, and the results of Fight Nights 48 and 49. Let's to it do it.
FIGHTER YOU READY!!!!
FIGHTER YOU READY!!!!
Round One: HE'S FREE!!!!!!
***TOUCH OF GLOVES***
What a long and crazy journey Eddie Alvarez has been on for the last two years. After finishing up his Bellator contract by kicking Patricky Freire in the head in October 2012, Eddie was free to leave the promotion and go fight wherever his heart (and wallet) desired. Well, except that he couldn't. After his negotiating period with Bellator ended, he talked with the UFC and agreed to a deal that included terms like Payperview points, a co-main event under the Jon Jones-Chael Sonnen fight, and all the Bud Light and Harley-Davdisons he could eat. It was a deal that had rarely been seen before guys like Gilbert Melendez could just throw hissy fits and get what they want. It seemed too good to be true, which is exactly why Bellator prevented Eddie from leaving, using their ability to match any competitor's deal with vague promises that could, theoretically be said to match the UFC's deal. Well, it was probably more because Viacom didn't want one of the few legitimate stars the promotion had leave and make money for the competition when, instead, they could force him to stay and be absolutely miserable. I mean, if you're an evil corporate executive who only lives for the bottom line, what choice do you really have? Exactly.
Well, we did it. After all the letter writing and protests and demonstrations (or maybe it was just a couple angry posts in the MMAJunkie comment section), our voices have been heard and Eddie is a free man. After suing Bellator, settling with said evil overlord, winning one fight, regaining the Bellator Lightweight Championship, and preparing for his final fight only to see it fall apart due to an injury, Bellator has granted Alvarez his release. While I still think a lot of the problems with Bellator weren't necessarily due to former President Bjorn Rebney but due to those he had to report to once Viacom bought the company, things have definitely changed since former Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker was brought in to right the sinking ship. While it remains to be seen if the move away from tournaments and weekly events will make the promotion stronger, one thing that Coker has definitely succeeded in is rebuilding some of the goodwill between the promotion and the fans by finally allowing Eddie to leave for the UFC so he can accomplish the one thing he's yet to do in this sport: make actual money. Also, challenge himself against the best fighters in his weight class or something. Congrats, Eddie. No more Miller Time for you. Never again.
Round Two: Eddie Alvarez Gets UFC 178 Co-Main Event, Forces Dominick Cruz to Get More Exposure Instead
***TOUCH OF GLOVES***
It's been a bit of a roller coaster as far as UFC 178 is concerned. If we look at the overall quality of the card, it's quite good. Donald Cerrone, Cat Zingano, Conor McGregor, Tim Kennedy, that Cuban guy who crapped his pants that one time...there may be no Ronda Rousey on this card but there are some very good fighters in matchups that have the potential to be quite exciting. Of course, the main event, a title fight between Flyweight king Demetrious Johnson and Chris "Seriously, even I had to Google Myself" Cariaso, isn't the most attractive way to close out the night, but give the UFC a break. They did the best they could to make up for the loss of the biggest fight of the year between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier due to Jones injuring the finger he uses to delete inappropriate Tweets (obviously that one is a joke...) and we should be happy we are still getting a fight of some significance, however slight it may be, to round out the card. Can't you people be satisfied with anything? Dana White slaves over a hot Octagon all day and this is the thanks he gets? He's even sweetening the deal by adding Eddie Alvarez to the card. It was rumored last month that Alvarez would fight Cerrone on the card and, now that Alvarez is free of his Spike TV shackles, he's finally getting that co-main event he's always wanted. I know someone's financial adviser must be excited.
Of course, to add another fight to the Payperview card means that one of the fights already scheduled has to get bumped to the prelims, and the lucky winner is....Dominick Cruz? The former top bantamweight fighter in the world who is returning after multiple knee surgeries and is ready to compete for the first time in three years to begin his climb back to the championship he never lost? He's the one getting bumped off the Payperview to fight on Fox Sports 1, The Uno? Honestly, it's not the big deal that some people are making it out to be. Cruz is fine with it, as he feels it allows him to give back to the network that's been propping him up and supplementing his income for the last year. The big reason why it's not a big deal is one thing: exposure. You're going to be seen by more people fighting on Fox Sports 1 than you are on Payperview. The same concern was levied out last month when Urijah Faber was chosen to headline the Fox Sports prelims ahead of UFC 175. That PPV did about 550,000 buys. The prelims did about twice that number of viewers. That means there is potentially twice as many people who will see Cruz on Fox Sports 1 than they will on PPV. Sure, most of those people will be hardcore fans who are too cheap to order the PPV, such as myself, than casual fans, but it's not like many of them are going to order the PPV anyway. I mean, Chris Cariaso? Yeah right.
Round Three: Fight Night 48, Michael Bisping Sets UFC's Efforts to Break Into China Back by Battering Cung Le
***TOUCH OF GLOVES***
Another weekend, another five million UFC events taking place in various parts of the world all at the same time. Or maybe it was just two. I dunno. Sure seemed like a lot. I know Dana says these cards "aren't for us" but I wonder if they audiences they're intended for care any more than we do. At least the main event of the UFC's latest Macau adventure was sorta kinda almost relevant. It featured Michael Bisping, The Count You Can Always Count On (I'm sure he'll use that when he retires and opens up a steakhouse in LA) against Cung Le, who fought for the first time in almost 2 years. The way the fight played out wasn't too surprising. Both guys like to strike so we got a striking battle, one that Bisping got the better of through most of the fight. Things started going downhill for Le in the second round when some well-placed punches started closing up Le's eyes to the point he could barely see. The fight continued after that, because UFC only employs the coolest doctors, and Bisping continued to punish Le before he really let loose following a head kick in the fourth round. Bisping threw some punches, kicks, and knees from the clinch and put Le away one minute into the round. So Bisping accomplished what some of us didn't think he could do: defeat a part-time fighter. Good job. And good luck to the UFC as they continue to try to break into mainland China. Maybe they can claim Bisping is Chinese. There. Problem solved. You're welcome, UFC.
The other "major" development that came out of China was Tyron Woodley getting back on the winning track. This fight was his first after getting embarrassed by Rory MacDonald back in June. I'm amazed how many people were counting Woodley out of this fight against Dong-Hyun Kim. I mean, yes, the loss to Rory was really bad but Rory is one of the best fighters in the world. Lots of guys are going to lose to him. Also, who the hell has Kim beaten? John Hathaway? Erick Silva? A fat Nate Diaz? He's a fun fighter to watch but he's never beaten an elite welterweight. I thought Woodley could win this fight, even with him taking it on short notice to replace an injured Hector "Showeather" Lombard (apparently he'll fight in any weather except whatever the weather in Macau is). I thought he could win and win he did. Quite impressively too. Kim came in with some of his flashy strikes, throwing spinning kicks and elbows from the start. Woodley wasn't having any of it, though, as he cracked Kim with a right cross coming out of a spin and dropped him. T-Wood then proceeded to pounce and throw more punches until the fight was stopped 1:01 into the very first round. It was a dominant win and exactly the kind of win he needed after a tough loss. He performed well, he represented his hometown of Ferguson, Missouri well after everything that's happening there right now, and now we can all pretend that Woodley is one of the best fighters in the world because he beat Stun Gun Kim. Yay! Everyone wins!
Round Four: Fight Night 49, I Know Someone Who Isn't Getting a Title Shot
***TOUCH OF GLOVES***
UFC seriously thinks we'll get jealous if they don't run a show here on the same day they run an event overseas, don't they. Maybe they feel bad about forcing us to get up at 7 A.M. on a Saturday to watch a main card, even though most of us are never actually going to do that. Maybe Dana just enjoys messing with all the MMA websites who have to split their resources so that they can cover two events on the same day. I can't say what the end game is - if they think this level of saturation of their product will work out and make lots of money someday - but at least the fights aren't all bad. A lot of them are but we still get some interesting moments. There were a few at the Saturday night card in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The main event of that show featured Ben Henderson, the former UFC Lightweight Champion, who is in an unenviable spot on the card. He's good enough to beat the majority of the fighters in his weight class but he'll have a hell of a time getting a title shot because he's already 2 down against the current champ, Anthony Pettis. The best he can hope for is to maintain his spot near the top of the card because Pettis might lose his title one of these days, which would allow Ben a chance to compete for it again. Whether that happens remains to be seen, since we still won't see Pettis fight for FOUR MORE MONTHS, but it's no big deal. Ben just has to keep winning and he'll be fine. He can do that...right?
Holy Rocky Johnson, Batman! Did I see what I think I saw? Did Rafael dos Anjos knock out Ben Henderson? In the first round? Well, you could say it was a controversial stoppage, as it was a flash knockout that Ben came out of relative quickly. Both men were trading strikes early in the round when Rafael nailed Ben with a jumping knee. Ben tried a desperation takedown before getting cracked with a left hand that dropped him. Ben did appear to go limp for a brief moment after the shot so, while it wasn't the most satisfying finish, it was the right call. Besides, I'm not going to be the one to tell Big John McCarthy that he blew the call. Are you? ARE YOU? Unfortunately, Ben won't be getting any title fights for a while, but I don't think this fight was going to earn him one anyway. So congrats, Rafael. Congrats for the biggest win of your career and congrats for fubaring the lightweight rankings. A couple of fighters got big wins, as Jordan Mein made quick work of Mike Pyle and Thales Leites succeeded in making a Francis Carmont fight interesting by knocking him out. Well, the first round was typical Carmont, using his strength to clinch with Leites to all of our bemusement. Then, Thales got bored and landed a left-right to Carmont and finished early in the second. Good for him. Also, good for Ben Saunders defeating the very tough...uh...whoever he fought. I can't wait to see how he performs against Top 75 competition.
And those were Fight Nights 48 and 49. Don't worry. There won't be another double-header ever again...for five weeks.
Round Five: Lee Mein Corners More Than His Son in Tulsa, UFC Removes Judge for Being a Judge
***TOUCH OF GLOVES***
Let's end this installment with two more interesting tidbits from this past weekend's shows. As noted above, Jordan Mein had a pretty successful weekend. Not only did he win on Saturday by rocking Mike Pyle's world/face, he did so after successfully making weight on Friday, but Jordan wasn't the only one who succeeded at the weigh-ins. Local Tulsa police were also successful...in arresting Jordan's father. James Lee Mein, who corners Jordan for all of his fights, was arrested prior to the weigh-ins on charges of sexual battery. Full details about what happened have yet to be released but, prior to the fight, the UFC released a statement acknowledging the arrest and noting that it stemmed from Mein assaulting a housekeeper at the hotel the fighter's stayed at for the event. No word yet on how serious the attack was and what condition the housekeeper is in. It doesn't sound like it was too serious but, of course, that's not a reason to dismiss what happened. This isn't the kind of story the UFC needs with the Josh Grispi and War Machine incidents still fresh in our minds. This story probably won't have any lasting effect since Lee isn't a UFC fighter and his son really isn't that well known, but it still won't help matters. What the hell is wrong with people? Keep it in your pants, you freak.
As for a story that is more on the positive side, the UFC set a precedent for how they handle judges at their events. It's been reported that UFC dismissed one of the judges they brought to Macau after said judge turned in questionable scorecards. The first two fights on the prelims ended in split decisions and Dana, who was in Macau because Ronda Rousey made him go, felt that one of the judges wasn't performing their job well through those first two fights and removed them from the rest of the event. Usually, nobody in the UFC can just remove judges from a show, as they are controlled by local athletic commissions, but the UFC acts as its own commission in countries without a sanctioning body, such as China, so everything was all copacetic. Well, it wasn't for that judge but most of these judges don't seem to do their jobs correctly so maybe it's good this happened. This is the kind of action that is needed to help solve the poor judging that has plagued the sport. Obviously, you can't fix all judging, as some fights are just really close and hard to definitively determine a winner in, but there are still plenty of occasions where judges get things wrong and they need to be held accountable for it in some way. It doesn't seem like any athletic commissions are actually going to do something about bad judging, so Dana might as well be the one to get the ball rolling. Hopefully it's a literal ball thrown at the judge's face. The man knows how to get things done.
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. UFC 177 is this Saturday. It's Dillashaw/Barao II, aka The Rematch No One Was Asking For. Enjoy the fights and always remember to fight clean, fight hard, fight fair, and never leave it in the hands of the judges...