This Week in MMA & Boxing August 6, 2015
MMA & Boxing News From the week of
July 31 - August 6, 2015
Ronda Rousey had been UFC's legitimate biggest drawing card since the retirement of Georges St-Pierre when you factor in the name value of the opponents she was pulling her numbers with.
Rousey was challenged last Saturday night by Bethe Correia. There were two storylines in place leading to a grudge match aspect. Correia worked harder on trash talk than any previous Rousey opponent, although it was difficult connecting given her trash talk was in Portuguese. But she said that Rousey was mentally weak, and if she beat her, she hoped she wouldn't commit suicide. Suicide was the magic and distasteful word, given that it is not a secret that Rousey's life was shattered as a young girl when her father committed suicide. Correia immediately apologized and claimed she didn't know, but many people were skeptical since that aspect of Rousey's life has been heavily promoted.
The fight was criticized by many because Correia, although she was 9-0, had never beaten a top ten fighter and there was skepticism whether she was all that good standing or on the ground. And Rousey had just Rousey'd (the new colloquial term created by Paul Heyman after her last fight) Zingano, a one-time Olympic hopeful in wrestling, black belt in BJJ, and strong striker. And that one lasted 14 seconds, and was Rousey's most impressive performance in a career of 11 straight pro wins and three amateur wins, 13 in the first round, 11 in 66 seconds or less.
The key is, now more than ever, Rousey draws from an audience that not only no other fighter draws from, but they aren't even necessarily sports fans. She's become a symbol for the empowerment of women, a pretty girl who posed in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and ESPN Body issue has somehow become a hero in the quest against objectifying woman athletes for their physical beauty.
Since the end of February, she had roles in one of the five biggest grossing movies of all-time, although it was really a small role in an extended fight scene, a role as herself in the Entourage movie, won two Espy Awards, beating Floyd Mayweather for fighter of the year and winning woman athlete of the year, and was on the cover of Sports Illustrated where she was labeled the most dominant athlete on the planet. She also released an autobiography, appeared in several television commercials and even made a guest appearance at WrestleMania that tore down the house.
What we do know is that based on early numbers, it looks to be ahead of UFC 189, which had Conor McGregor (which is currently looking at being in the 800,000 to 850,000 range), a record amount of promotion, and a strong undercard. But that show was expected to do big numbers and this was not expected to do anywhere close to that.
From all indications, what was unique about this show is Rousey finally hit huge with women, both young and old, a category UFC is not strong with. She had some popularity with women going in, but nothing like here. Sports bar patrons and owners noted the completely different make-up of the clientele, in particular older women, much older than the usual UFC fan base. The exact reasons are hard to ascertain, but the two brought up the most were her comments about Floyd Mayweather Jr. after beating him for Fighter of the Year, and her talking about doing bikini shoots while weighing about 150 pounds. Of course her success with her quick wins also had a lot to do with it.
UFC 190 Card
Rousey Rousey'd Correia, knocking her out in 34 seconds. This sets up a third fight with Miesha Tate, likely on either 12/5 or Jan. 2.
Claudia Gadelha earned herself a women's strawweight title shot at Joanna Jedzrejczyk by winning a one-sided decision over former WSOF champion Jessica Aguilar.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, a 39-year-old who had taken several careers worth of beatings, looks to have finished his career after losing a decision to Stefan Struve. Nogueira was the first-ever Pride heavyweight champion, as well as RINGS champion and interim UFC heavyweight champion. He was considered the best heavyweight in the world from 2001 until his loss to Fedor Emelianenko in 2003, and you could make a case he was No. 2 until his loss to Frank Mir in 2008. But his loss to Struve was his fifth loss in his last seven fights.
The show drew 14,723 fans, a near sellout. FS 1 had a strong overall weekend. The prelims did 1,322,000 viewers, up from 849,000 three weeks earlier for the McGregor show. As far as prelims go, it was the third biggest number for shows on FS 1, trailing UFC 168 (Anderson Silva vs. Sonnen; Rousey vs. Tate) and UFC 183 (Anderson Silva vs. Nick Diaz).
The $50,000 bonuses went to Rousey and Maia for best performance, and to Mauricio Shogun Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira for the best fight, even though the consensus by far was that the TUF bantamweight final of Delino Lopes vs. Reginaldo Vieira should have gotten that nod.
Cris Cyborg Justino
Much of the talk was of Cris Cyborg Justino, with Dana White saying they'll make the fight tomorrow if Cyborg can make weight, and Rousey saying that if she can make 145 all juiced up, she can get off the juice and make 135. Justino then threatened to sue her over those remarks, although Justino did make 145 all juiced up, more than three years ago against Hiroko Yamanaka.
ESPN Sports Center was pushing the idea of that fight, with Cyborg saying that since Rousey cleaned out her division, when a fighter cleans out their division, they move up to the next division, which would be 145. Cyborg said that she's instead ready to meet her at 140, and said nothing about dropping to 135, where, if she made that weight for a fight, would get the Rousey fight next. Justino has said this week she'll fight her next fight at 140.
Last week White talked about how, if that match were to take place, it would do 2 million buys. Everyone laughed. Now he says 2.5 million buys. That may be promoter hyperbole and still sounds like a ridiculous number (however the betting line on a real number those two could be expected to do has grown from more than 1 million to 1.5 million or more, and when it comes to the big fights, they usually, because of general public late interest and them becoming must-see events, usually over perform expectations.
But either way, but people are not laughing so loudly anymore at high Rousey buy rate predictions. Like with Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, it now appears to have been in everyone's best interest that this fight never happened in early 2013 when UFC first tried to put it together, because whatever it would have done then, it would more than double and possibly triple that number now.
Cyborg on Twitter threatened to sue Rousey for saying that she was fighting at 145 pumped full of steroids and that she could get off and make 135. Justino noted that she is subject to the same testing Rousey has to undergo. Well, not exactly. Justino was tested at her fight but Rousey was tested at least three times during her camp as part of the new drug policy with USADA.
UFC 189 Buy-rate Update
The Conor McGregor vs. Chad Mendes fight did closer to 800,000 to 850,000 buys. As noted, this was a hard one to estimate early because if you look at some of the major market key systems, you'd think it did 1 million or so, but it did not do consistent numbers at that level everywhere. It ended up doing along the lines of the Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier fight, although the latter didn't come close to the highs in certain markets, but it was more consistent throughout.
It's still an amazing number and still shows McGregor as the biggest drawing card in the company given that the featherweights had never done much beforehand and it was a change in opponent that only had two weeks of build.
UFC Mega PPV
Right now it looks like Conor McGregor vs. Jose Aldo and Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate will be a double headliner, just a question of whether it'll be on 12/5 or Jan. 2. Dana White was still talking about running 12/5 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, although also said they hadn't yet booked the venue, and with the Calgary Hitmen moving their 12/5 game and UFC having a hold in Calgary, it could be there, in which case the McGregor and Rousey fights would likely be on Jan. 2. The Los Angeles Times also reported the 12/5 date in Dallas for both fights.
There have been reports from within the company earlier in the week of the Jan. 2 date, but it's safe to say the plans are for "the biggest show ever" with McGregor and Rousey, on one of those dates. The arguments are that just the idea of doing the show in Dallas and drawing whatever it would do, and the Manny Pacquiao numbers were less than 40,000 paid there when he was still at his peak, would make it seem like a bigger than ever event and a seminal moment for the company whereas MGM they play all the time.
I believe Dallas will help slightly in PPV numbers, and perhaps more because Rousey and first time ever at that stadium will garner a ton of publicity that just a regular show at the MGM Grand won't get. But there are economic advantages of Las Vegas, as more people from Ireland would fly to Las Vegas and they can charge higher ticket prices and the cost of running the event would be significantly lower. With all the money that can be made on gamblers coming to town, Las Vegas and the casinos are going to want that show badly.
Upcoming Title Fights
Between the 11/14, 12/5 and Jan. 2 shows, they have the heavyweight, middleweight, welterweight, lightweight (most likely, as Rafael dos Anjos is coming off knee surgery), featherweight, bantamweight (touch and go, Dominick Cruz has targeted December to be ready but that's still up in the air), and both women's titles that can be defended, so that's eight titles in three shows.
Robbie Lawler vs. Carlos Condit is the likely headliner in Melbourne and there was talk of Joanna Jedrzejczyk defending her title that night against Claudia Gadelha. Granted, given the odds, a couple of those title fights are going to fall apart due to injuries, but the timing really does work out to where they can do two monster shows and a third strong show on those three dates. They also have one FOX date on 12/12 where they could put one of those title fights.
Dana White talked about Fabricio Werdum defending his heavyweight title in either January or February. It was interpreted the way he answered a question on that subject that it would be Werdum vs. Cain Velasquez. But he didn't outright say that.
The making of Frank Mir vs. Andrei Arlovski (with Arlovski previously being the most likely contender for Werdum) would leave Velasquez and Stipe Miocic as the only two viable contenders on the roster since Junior Dos Santos is expected to face Alistair Overeem as soon as Dos Santos is ready which is believed to be the end of the year. Fedor Emelianenko making a comeback is also a possibility.
The thing is, to get Emelianenko, they are probably going to have to pay well into seven figures, which means to justify it, it has to be a match that will draw big. I think that's Werdum or Velasquez, but I think Fedor outdraws Velasquez at this time. There is the question of Velasquez vs. Werdum at sea level that can be used to promote the rematch.
UFC on FS1 this Saturday
This week's show is 8/8 in Nashville with bouts on Fight Pass, FS 2 and FS 1. The Fight Pass fights start at 6:30 p.m., with Anthony Christodoulou vs. Scott Holtzman, Roman Salazar vs. Marlon Vera and Jonathan Wilson vs. Chris Dempsey.
The FS 2 fights at 8 p.m. have Sirwan Kakai vs. Frankie Saenz, Willie Gates vs. Dustin Ortiz, Sara McMann vs. Amanda Nunes (a win by Nunes could put her in line for a Rousey match) and Oluwale Bamgbose vs. Uriah Hall.
The main card starting at 10 p.m has Ray Borg vs. Geane Herrera, Chris Camozzi vs. Tom Kong Watson, Timothy Johnson vs. Jared Rosholt, Smilin Sam Alvey vs. Derek Brunson, Beneil Dariush vs. Michael Johnson and Ovince Saint Preux vs. Glover Teixeira.
Upcoming UFC Fights
Ariel Helwani on UFC Tonight reported on a number of ideas for the 9/5 PPV from Las Vegas, which is headlined by Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson for the flyweight title. They had talked to Frankie Edgar about a fight with Jeremy Stephens, but Stephens won't be ready by that time.
Julianna Pena vs. Jessica Eye has been added to the 10/3 show in Houston. A win by Pena could put her in line for a title shot, because she and Holly Holm have the biggest names of those Ronda Rousey hasn't beat, besides Cyborg.
After Dana White said he wouldn't let Kelvin Gastelum move back to 170, a weight he had missed a few times even though Gastelum asked, Gastelum has been booked at 170 for the 11/21 main event at Arena Monterrey against Matt Brown. Since it was such an issue in Mexico City, the elevation in Monterrey will not pose a problem at all. Diego Sanchez, who started in UFC as a middleweight, fights in his fourth different weight class, featherweight, debuting at 145 on the same show facing Ricardo Lamas.
Jorge Masvidal was talking about a fight with Dong Hyun Kim on the 11/28 show in Seoul, South Korea. Benson Henderson, whose mother is Korean, has asked to be put on that card.
Mayweather's next fight Set
In what is expected to be the final fight of his illustrious 19-year career, boxing superstar and pound-for-pound king Floyd "Money" Mayweather (48-0, 26 KOs) will put his undefeated record and WBC and WBA Welterweight World Championships on the line against power-punching, two-time welterweight world champion Andre Berto (30-3, 23 KOs) Saturday, Sept. 12 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, live on SHOWTIME PPV.
In electing to fight Berto, Mayweather passed over other more deserving opponents, including titleholder Keith Thurman; top contender Amir Khan, a former unified junior welterweight titlist; and former welterweight titlist Shawn Porter.
Selling a match with Berto -- for a likely price tag of $64.95 (more for HD) -- probably will be very difficult, especially considering how many people remain upset and disappointed over the Pacquiao fight.
Mayweather's six-fight deal with Showtime/CBS will have included fights with Guerrero; Canelo Alvarez (2.2 million pay-per-view buys, third-most in history); Marcos Maidana, whom he fought twice; Pacquiao; and Berto.
PBC on ESPN
Danny Garcia (31-0-0, 18 KOs) stopped Paulie Malignaggi (33-7, 7 KOs) in the ninth round of the main event of the second PBC on ESPN card Saturday, August 1st.
The show, which included an opening fight where Daniel Jacobs (30-1, 27 KOs) beat Sergio Mora (28-4, 9 KOs) in the second round when Mora injured his right ankle, took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and went up against UFC 190 on pay per view from Brazil with the UFC prelims airing on Fox Sports 1.
The show did 1,073,000 viewers.
Palhares Stripped for being Dirty
Rousimar Palhares added yet another gorgeous submission to his highlight reel, with his win over Jake Shields last night, but his dirty tactics continue to be a story i just about all of his fights.
Palhares debuted a new technique: an eye gouge from the bottom. Referee Steve Mazzagatti repeatedly warned Palhares but did not deduct a point and allowed him to continue scratching his fingers across Shields' face.
Palhares locked in a brutal Kimura that immediately scored the tap. In vintage Palhares fashion, however, he refused to relinquish the hold and gave it a clear extra tug for good measure.
It's standard operating procedure for Palhares, who has earned a well-deserved reputation as a dirty fighter, based on his habit of refusing to let go of submission holds when he was in UFC, which got him cut.
WSOF President Ray Sefo announced on the MMA Hour that he's stripping Rousimar Palhares of their welterweight title as well as suspending him from the promotion after he not only did his usual thing and didn't release a submisssion hold immediately when the referee stepped in, but also repeatedly raked and gouged Jake Shields' eyes during the fight.
If you didn't see the fight, this wasn't your usual MMA eye poke that happens standing; he was very clearly, purposefully thumbing Shields' eyes on the ground while referee Steve Mazzagatti never went past a warning. The Nevada State Athletic Commission is witholding Palhares' win bonus for the time being.
Brawl in the Stands
A wild brawl broke out between the camps of Khabib Nurmagomedov and the Diaz brothers before the main event of World Series of Fighting.
According to Sherdog.com, The brawl started after Nate Diaz and Nurmagomedov -- whose feud has been simmering on social media -- ran into each other in the crowd. Nurmagomedov was there cornering his younger brother, Abubakar Nurmagomedov, as well as fellow Russian Islam Mamedov. Nate and brother Nick Diaz were at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino to support teammate Jake Shields, who fought Rousimar Palhares for the WSOF welterweight title.
During the main-event walkouts, it appeared that Nate was walking by the area where Nurmagomedov was seated. Words were exchanged, and although Sherdog.com was cageside, it was difficult to see exactly who threw the first punch. Sources have told Sherdog.com two stories: It was Nate after a heated verbal exchange, or it was someone in Nurmagomedov’s camp that threw the first punch and Nate was protecting himself.
Nevertheless, things escalated quickly. WSOF executive Ali Abdel-Aziz jumped out of his seat and got a hold of Nate after he took a swing at Nurmagomedov. Security briefly squelched the skirmish and Nate was escorted away from the Russian. As Nate was exiting the arena, he and Khabib traded barbs again from a distance and Diaz asked him to take the fight outside. In the midst of that, Nick Diaz and teammate Martin Sano Jr. appeared on the other side of Nurmagomedov. Nick hurled a drink at Nurmagomedov, and that was the spark that set the keg on fire. The Russian and his team turned their attention to Diaz and Sano. Tempers flared and Sano rushed someone in Nurmagomedov’s camp. Punches and kicks were being thrown by all as security tried to wrangle the feuding parties before things got really out of control.
Ronda Rousey lands Movie on her Life
Paramount Pictures announced Monday that they have finalized a deal to have Ronda Rousey star in a major movie about her life, based on Rousey's recently-released autobiography, "My Fight/Your Fight," which she wrote along with her sister.
Mark Bomback has been hired as executive producer. Variety broke the story, saying Bomback has just started working on adapting the book to the big screen. Rousey has three upcoming movie projects on her plate with the next one being "Mile 22," which is scheduled to shoot in January 2016.