Five Quick Rounds: The Rise and (Literal) Fall of One Bad Mofo
Posted by Evan Zivin on 09.02.2014
From Renan Barao getting pulled from UFC 177 and TJ Dillashaw's win over Joe Soto to Jose Aldo shoving Chad Mendes and Stephan Bonnar signing with Bellator, 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 Wanderlei Silva escaping from his gym to flee another drug test to be here once again!
While we're still waiting to learn what Wandy's punishment is for his drug test-related antics earlier in the year, one thing we do know is he better get used to more drug tests if he wishes to continue fighting, as UFC announced their intentions to begin randomly drug testing all of their fighters by the end of the year. It will be enhanced, year-round, out of competition testing meant to find drugs of abuse and other PED's. This is an important step the UFC is vowing to take in cleaning up the sport. If there's one thing that is needed to get drugs out of the sport, it's drug testing that isn't predictable, such as only testing guys the night of events, and testing that goes after fighters even when they aren't preparing for a fight, since these guys still train all year and can still benefit from the use of these substances even when they don't have a fight coming up. The only concern I have for this plan is the cost. One of the reasons the testing in this sport is so poor is the cost of performing the tests, which most athletic commissions can't afford for more than a few fighters per event. It's probably not cheap providing health insurance for their 500+ roster. It's going to be even more expensive to have a drug testing agency up all of their asses year round, especially since most of the fighters don't live down the street from UFC headquarters. Still, I applaud them for being the industry leader that they are and taking this big step towards cleaning up the sport. Also, thanks for ensuring Chael Sonnen doesn't come back after his suspension is over. Jerks.
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 UFC 177, including Renan Barao falling (literally) out of the main event, Jose Aldo "pretending" to shove Chad Mendes, and Stephan Bonnar signing with Bellator. Let's to it do it.
FIGHTER YOU READY!!!!
FIGHTER YOU READY!!!!
Round One: UFC 177, TJ Dillashaw Defeats Joe Soto, Renan Barao Orders Extra Large Popcorn
***TOUCH OF GLOVES***
Live, from the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California, it was UFC 177 on....wait, what? TJ Dillashaw? Joe Soto? Where was Renan Barao? JUST WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?
What a rough life UFC 177 had. It was criticized from the very start, being headlined by a title rematch between new UFC Bantamweight Champion TJ Dillashaw and former champ Renan Barao at a time when very few were interested in seeing that fight again. Seriously, they fought in May and it wasn't close. TJ mauled Barao. TJ pounded on Barao for four rounds and then, to put an exclamation point on the royal ass-whipping he was dishing out, TJ kicked Renan's head off to put no doubt in anyone's mind that he won that fight. It was a good fight for how definitive it was, especially considering the attitude you see in so many fighters who look to just do enough to win rounds and then hope the judges agree with their performance. Dillashaw knew that if he was going to beat Barao, a concept that was completely unheard of in the nine years Barao had gone without a defeat, he was going to have to take the fight to him and prove to everyone that he was the better fighter. Many of us were amazed TJ even got the fight to begin with, since Raphael Assuncao was the more deserving challenger at the time, but TJ made the most of the opportunity he was given and proved to everyone that he is an elite fighter deserving of our attention and praise. He knew what was at stake and he did everything he needed to show who the true alpha male at 135 is. No offense, Urijah.
So, after the battering Barao took in the first fight with TJ, it seemed only fair that he should fight once or twice and earn a rematch with the champion, to prove to us that he deserves a second chance. Well, now he's going to have to do just that after what happened last Friday. Barao didn't fight on Saturday. He didn't even make it to the scale to weigh in. What happened was, according to Barao, he was shedding the last few pounds he needed to make 135 in the bathtub in his hotel room. When he was finished, he got out of the bath a little too fast, which, in his electrolyte-depleted state, caused him to black out, which resulted in him falling and cracking his head on the wall in the bathroom. This led to Barao being taken to a hospital, where medical officials prevented Barao from cutting any more weight, leading to the UFC removing him from the title match. This incident, of course, highlights some of the dangers of cutting weight that I'm sure my colleagues will be discussing later in the week. I'm not going to say Barao should stop cutting to 135 because of what happened. After all, he's been fighting at bantamweight since 2007 and hasn't had an issue making weight before last weekend. He said this is part of the system he uses to cut weight so it does work. He just needs to be more careful that he doesn't screw up the weight cut. Or have someone with him at all times when he's shedding those last few pounds to make sure something like this doesn't happen again. Or go read Mike Dolce's book. Or go eat Mike Dolce's book. Or something. Seriously. Don't screw up again.
Round Two: Joe Soto came to Fight, Actually Fought (Unlike Some People)
***TOUCH OF GLOVES***
So, with news that Renan Barao was out of his title rematch with TJ Dillashaw, the question then quickly moved to thus: so who the hell is TJ gonna fight now? Considering the quality of the rest of the card, or lack thereof, UFC needed Dillashaw to stay and fight to prevent canceling another Paypverview. Plus, the show was happening in Sacramento, TJ's home base, so UFC needed him to fight to save the live gate, since I'm sure at least half the crowd was there just to see someone get Dillashawed. So, with only 24 hours before the fight, meaning there was no time for any ranked bantamweights who would have been available to fly in and be able to make weight, the UFC did the only other thing they could. They took Joe Soto, one of only two other bantamweights fighting on the card, and gave him an instant title shot. That's right. Joe Soto was getting a title shot in his UFC debut. I'm pretty sure that hasn't happened before. Right, Gil? Right. Well, if UFC was going to give some random guy other than Chael Sonnen a title shot, they could have done a lot worse. Not only was Soto entering the UFC as the Tachi Palace Fights Bantamweight Champion, he was also the very first Bellator Featherweight Champion, who lost that title when he clowned around and got knocked out by Joe Warren (thanks for the reminder, Bellator!). I think most people expected Eddie Alvarez to be the first Bellator champion to get a UFC title shot but I can deal with this. TJ was probably going to make quick work of him anyway, right? Right?
All I can say is, if the only metric we were to use to determine how good a fighter is was how well they performed in their last fight, then Joe Soto is a better fighter than Renan Barao is. Where Barao got thrashed continually round after round, Soto managed to stay competitive with Dillashaw for most of the fight. That's impressive considering that, not only had Soto been preparing to face a much different opponent just a day before, he'd been preparing for a 15 minute fight and ended up going almost 25 with the champ. The difference in ability between the two was quite apparent, though, as Dillashaw was practically running circles around Soto with his foot movement, moving in and out of the pocket and landing combinations almost at will. It didn't, however, seem like Dillashaw was putting a lot of power behind his punches. His strategy definitely seemed to be more of a war of attrition against Soto than trying to overwhelm him and end things early. I guess he didn't want to do something foolish and risk being on the wrong end of the biggest upset of all time. All time. No, TJ picked his shots and found a way to end the fight in the fifth round with a head kick. Just like the Barao fight. Good on Dillashaw for, once, again, looking for the finish late in the fight and congrats on defending his championship. Now TJ can relax for a bit until he starts getting ready to fight Raphael Assuncao. Well, at least until next month when Dominick Cruz jumps ahead of him in line. Hey,it's not UFC's fault. If more people knew who Raphael was, they wouldn't have to make these kinds of booking decisions. It's for our own good. Or their own good. Or their own bank accounts.
Round Three: Rest of UFC 177, Danny Castillo Lays on Tony Ferguson, Does Nothing, Asks What More Could He Have Done
***TOUCH OF GLOVES***
And to think, UFC 177 was a Payperview that started out with two title fights and almost ended with none. To say that enthusiasm was low for this show would be an understatement. I made a point in the 411 Roundtable last week that I didn't feel this show was worth the price tag UFC put on it. In fact, I made several. It annoyed at least one person in the comments, to which I say: Yay! I got a comment section to acknowledge my existence! What fun, but I stand by what I said. Did the card turn out to be good? I'd say so. Was it better than most of us were expecting? Absolutely. Was it worth $60? I don't think so but, then again, there are very few things I am willing to shell out that much money for, especially something that, at most, only provides three hours of entertainment. Still, I'd imagine most who saw the event won't feel like they necessarily got cheated out of their money. Well, unless you really wanted Danny Castillo to beat Tony Ferguson. The two co-main eventers had a close 15 minute scrap that came down to whether the guy on top of a ground battle deserves to win even though he's not doing anything and the guy on the bottom is delivering more offense even if he can't get up. In this case, the judges got it right, giving the fight to Tony by split decision. If Danny had done more over the first two rounds, I could see him possibly winning, but no. Tony was more active and went for more submissions, not to mention beating him in the stand-up battle earlier in the fight. Yes, Sacramento. Your man lost. Then he made a homophobic prison joke. Maybe he didn't deserve that birthday watermelon after all.
If there was one fight I was looking forward to, other than the main event that was not meant to be, it was the women's fight between Bethe Correia and Shayna Baszler. I find the whole Four Horsewomen thing kind of amusing and, as a pro wrestling fan, a little insulting. The Four Horsemen was a legendary stable that took four of the best wrestlers of the era and combined them to create the most feared and respected stable of all time. The Four Horsewomen is Ronda Rousey and her three friends, none of whom have proven to be anywhere near the Rowdy One's level. Bethe already dispatched Jessamyn Duke in April and now has taken out Member #2 by stopping Baszler with strikes in the second round. Shayna was actually winning the fight through the first round but Bethe unloaded with strikes in the second, forcing "Big" John McCarthy to stop the fight. I love that Bethe has made a story out of knocking off this "stable" and, with this being her third straight UFC win, it may be only a matter of time before she gets her chance to take on the champ. Remember, to be the woman, you've got to beat the woman. WOOO!!!! Also on the card, Carlos Diego Ferreira kept his momentum going by knocking out Ramsey Nijem in the second round, Damon Jackson tried to reverse out of a Yancy Medeiros guillotine and still got choked out for his troubles, and Anthony Hamilton demonstrated a non-invasive way to remove Ruan Pott's kidney by punching it repeatedly. Also, I can't wait to see Henry Cejudo fight, assuming he's ever able to make weight for a fight again. Fingers crossed!
And that was UFC 177. Fight Night 50 is on Friday. It's a better card on paper than UFC 177, which means it will probably end up sucking. Thus is the way of the world.
Round Four: Jose Aldo Shoves Chad Mendes, Says He Did It Just Because He Wanted the Attention, Dad
***TOUCH OF GLOVES***
While one Nova Uniao vs. Team Alpha Male rivalry has been put on ice for the time being, things have certainly been heating up for the other, between Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes. The two were hoping to have a rematch of their cage-grabbing, knee-to-face classic from UFC 142 at UFC 176 but that ended up not happening when Aldo injured himself in training and pulled out of the fight. Well, Aldo either legitimately hurt himself or intentionally pulled out so he could have the rematch at UFC 179 in Brazil, but that's for someone who owns more tinfoil than I do to decide. I need to go grocery shopping one of these months. At least pushing the fight back to October didn't slow down the hostility between the two men. If anything, it kicked things up a notch, as the postponement of the fight caused Mendes to go on social media and accuse Aldo of faking the injury. Aldo then countered by claiming Mendes was taking steroids. Touché. Then, things got taken to another level last Wednesday. The two were part of a pre-fight press conference at a Sao Paulo soccer stadium that Dana White wishes he could fill and, during the always-fun staredown between the two, Aldo shoved Mendes. It was a good shove. Nothing that we haven't seen before but solid, Four stars. It was also quite surprising considering that Aldo isn't the type of fighter to engage in those kinds of shenanigans. He usually saves his inappropriate touching of other men for fight night: when he's shirtless, sweaty, and hormonally unbalanced. Aw yeah. Fighting.
While I find it amusing that some people are asking for disciplinary action for Aldo's shove, even though we've seen fighters shove each other tons of times (if Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier have yet to be reprimanded for what they did, Aldo definitely won't get anything), any purpose it served in selling the fight is gone anyway due to the comments Aldo made right afterwards. It was literally a day after the incident when Aldo ruined the moment by telling Brazilian media that it wasn't necessarily staged, but it didn't come from genuine hatred or any other emotion. It came as the result of a meeting that Aldo's head coach Andre Pederneiras had with the team suggesting his fighters could do a little more to promote their fights as a way to get more attention on them and help advance their careers. Pederneiras has always been one to tell his fighters to show respect and let their fights do the talking. That's right. If anyone is going to say or do something stupid, it's Dede himself. Well, I guess he's starting to realize that fighting alone isn't always enough to earn you the big bucks. Not if you aren't wrecking dudes every time out. Guys like Chael Sonnen didn't deserve the opportunities and money they got, but you can't deny their tactics got results. So while I prefer my rivalries to have genuine hate behind them, I understand what Aldo was trying to do. That being said, don't do it again. Or at least don't admit it was fake. The idea is to make money, isn't it? Do they not have money in Brazil anymore or something? I honestly don't know.
Round Five: Stephen Bonnar Vows to Tarnish Legacy by Coming Out of Retirement and Signing with Bellator
***TOUCH OF GLOVES***
Hey, remember Stephen Bonnar? I do. I remember everything. Well, everything except where I left my keys. If any of you find them, let me know in the comments. I always liked Stephen. He's a representative of the era in which a lot of us really started getting into MMA. His fight with Forrest Griffin at the very first Ultimate Fighter Finale was a wild fight and is still considered by Dana White to be the most important fight in the UFC's history. The company we know today may look a lot different if that fight way back in 2005 hadn't kicked so much ass. Or not. Bonnar came out on the losing end of that battle, but he proved to have the heart (and the chin) of a true warrior and he became one of the most popular fighters of the era because of those qualities that made his fights so much fun to watch. Also, because he's insane. I guess there was a reason his nickname was "The American Psycho." Well, I suppose it's possible he got it because he's a fan of the book. Or the movie. Or Phil Collins. Sussudio. He had to have been at least a little crazy to fight as recklessly as he did. He also did steroids, of which he got popped for twice, including after his very last fight, which led to him retiring so UFC wouldn't be forced to fire him. Still, you can't say he had a bad career. He was never champion but he had his moments, one of which was big enough to get him enshrined in the UFC Hall of Fame. That right there is a huge show of support from the organization that was with him through good and bad for 7 years. Now Stephen just needs to sit back, relax, enjoy retirement, and don't do anything stupid to ruin that goodwill.
What's that? Stephan just announced he's coming out of retirement? And he's doing so to fight in Bellator? Oh. Well, I guess one man can only put up with playing golf for so long. Or whatever retired fighters do. It doesn't surprise me that Stephan wants to fight again. Punching people is what he loves. He devoted his life to it and it was never going to be easy to give up, especially because I don't think he really wanted to give it up back in 2012. He did it to save face with the fanbase and with his bosses. Well, it appears that, not only is Dana cool with Bonnar joining Bellator, he willingly released Stephan from his contract so he could do so. Remember, just because he retired doesn't mean his UFC contract had ended. If he still had fights remaining, UFC could have enforced the deal and blocked this "blockbuster" signing. Dana did, however, allow Stephen to leave and he did it mainly for one reason: because Stephan has vowed to go kick Tito Ortiz's ass. It sounds like Bellator is down with that and we may be getting the very first fight between UFC Hall of Famers in another organization. Honestly, that works for me. Pitting the two against one another doesn't hurt the momentum of any established Bellator stars, plus it could be a good fight. It's also a throwback to an era of MMA many of us still cherish and, as long as I don't have to pay $60 to see this fight (sorry), I'm sold. Does it hurt Stephan's legacy to take this fight? Who cares. I 'm still excited. I hope Forrest shows up for the fight. It would make the moment all the more special. I can't wait.
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. We've got UFC AND Bellator action coming at you on Friday night. What will most people be watching? Probably something else. Enjoy the fights and always remember to fight clean, fight hard, fight fair, and never leave it in the hands of the judges...