Week in MMA & Boxing #16
MMA & Boxing News From the week of
November 7 - November 13, 2015
This week’s show is one of the biggest shows of the year, and as a live event, the second biggest in UFC history, as the long-awaited debut in Melbourne, Australia at Etihad Stadium. The last attendance number we’d heard was 46,000 tickets sold as of about two weeks ago.
The show starts at 6:15 p.m. Eastern with Fight Pass fights with Ryan Benoit vs. Ben Nguyen, Steven Kennedy vs. Richard Walsh, Daniel Kelly (multi-time Australian judo Olympian) vs. Steve Montgomery and James Moontasri vs. Brendan O’Reilly.
At 8 p.m. on FS 1 it’s built around Australian favorites with Richie Vaculik vs. Danny Martinez, Anthony Perosh vs. Gian Villante, Kyle Noke vs. Peter Sobotta and Jake Matthews (a 21-year-old lightweight who looked to have been the country’s best hope for a native star, but lost to James Vick in his last fight).
The PPV fights are Jared Rosholt vs. Stefan Struve at heavyweight, Uriah Hall vs. Robert Whittaker which is an on paper good action fight, Mark Hunt vs. Antonio Silva in a rematch of one of the best heavyweight fights ever, a five-round draw on December 7, 2013), and the two women’s title fights with Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Valerie Letourneau for the strawweight title and Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm for the bantamweight title
Shamrock vs Gracie 3
For years, Shamrock and promoters talked about doing another rematch. Gracie’s side was never up for it. As best we can tell, now that Shamrock is 51, and looked so bad against Kimbo Slice, Gracie’s mentality changed.
Gracie, who said the fight was actually agreed to one month ago and he’s already started training for his comeback, expects to fight at 180 pounds. Shamrock will probably be 20 to 25 pounds heavier. The fight was announced on 11/6 at Bellator’s show in St. Louis, for 2/19 at the Toyota Center in Houston.
The Texas Department of Licensing Regulations has approved of an open weight fight, meaning that unlike in just about every other approved fight, the two don’t have to be in the same weight class. So the questions of whether a commission will allow it are already answered.
Gracie will by 49 and Shamrock will be 52 come fight time. The combined 101 years of age will make it the oldest fight on a major league promotion show in the current version of MMA.
Of course, the goal is to set a new Bellator viewing record, putting Shamrock, Gracie and Kimbo Slice all on the same television show. The idea should be to then load the show up with Bellator’s best younger fighters, but similar attempts to do that haven’t made new stars.
Cro Crop retires to avoid embarrassment
Mirko Cro Cop announced his retirement on 11/9, 19 days before a scheduled fight on the UFC’s 11/28 debut in Seoul, South Korea.
Cro Cop was scheduled in the No. 2 bout on the show, beneath the Benson Henderson vs. Thiago Alves main event. Cro Cop was scheduled against journeyman Anthony Hamilton, but due to shoulder problems, which had continually worsened in training, he not only pulled out of the fight but announced his retirement at the age of 41.
He said his muscle snapped and his shoudler has a lot of fluid in it, there may be a ruptured tendon and he may need surgery. He said that between kickboxing and MMA he’s had 79 bouts (the actual number is 126, with 45 in amateur boxing, 27 kickboxing and 45 MMA fights). He said this was a final decision and it’s the best thing.
The UFC announced on Wednesday that Cro Cop has been notified by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency of a potential violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and has been provisionally suspended. The UFC released a full statement on their website on Wednesday.
"UFC announced today that a scheduled bout between Mirko Cro Cop and Anthony Hamilton in Seoul, South Korea has been canceled. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has notified both Mirko Cro Cop and UFC that he has been provisionally suspended at this time due to a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation," the statement read.
"USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Cro Cop. Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time in the process."
Its a damn shame.
UFC Fight Night Thoughts
Vitor Belfort was clearly off of TRT this time, but the results of his third fight with Dan Henderson were identical with the second.
In a battle of the most two enduring legends in the UFC, absolutely nothing happened for more than 90 seconds as the two men stood there and moved slowly. Suddenly, just like in the first fight, Belfort landed a head kick, and seconds later, it was over.
For Henderson, who was pushed in the commentary as the greatest American MMA fighter of all-time (there is no way he was better than Jon Jones), being knocked out for the fourth time since 2011 (he had never been knocked out prior to that) and being 45 years old should be the end of his career, although it’ll probably take divine intervention to convince him that’s the right decision.
The 11/7 Fight Night drew the third lowest ratings so far this year for such a show in prime time, with 757,000 viewers, down 13 percent from the prime time Fight Night average for 2015 (not including the Conor McGregor fight).
Belfort had knocked out Henderson two years to the week of this fight, and that fight did 722,000 viewers, so in reality, this is just a fight people didn’t really care about that much two years ago.
As far as the fights themselves, Patrick Cummins, as a great of a wrestler as he is, just doesn’t have the stand-up to hang with the top tier light heavyweights, and was finished by Glover Teixeira early in the second round.
Teixeira as a light heavyweight is in a somewhat similar position to Vitor Belfort as a middleweight. Light heavyweight has its top tier of Daniel Cormier, Jones, Anthony Johnson and Ryan Bader (and Teixeira knocked out Bader). Teixeira is right behind them, but when he faced Jones, he was ineffective all five rounds. Middleweight is loaded on top with Chris Weidman, Luke Rockhold, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Yoel Romero, with Belfort right behind. But Belfort was finished in the first round by Weidman.
The other star of the show was Thomas Almeida, a bantamweight who has as 21-0 record, who looked great in the stand-up in finishing Anthony Birchak. Almeida feels about two wins away from being ready for a title fight or title eliminator fight.
Georges St-Pierre is going to make a decision shortly on whether his career is over or not. St-Pierre has been training with Freddie Roach in California this past week, and the plan is to do a six-week test fight camp shortly, but not until after 11/21, since Roach will be busy with Miguel Cotto for his boxing match with Canelo Alvarez.
If, at the end of the six weeks, he feels like he wants to fight again, he’ll negotiate with UFC for a return date. If he doesn’t feel like he wants to fight at the end of the camp, he’ll retire.
1/30 UFC on FOX
UFC announced five fights for the 1/30 FOX show in Newark, NJ. Because this is during the NFL playoffs, this is usually the biggest FOX show of the year, but with Ryan Bader in the main event, they are going to be challenged to make that happen. Bader vs. Anthony Johnson is the main event, where the winner will get a shot at the winner of the Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones light heavyweight title fight. They are making it as difficult as possible for Bader to get the shot.
Other fights are Jake Ellenberger vs. Tarec Saffiedine, which could be a FOX fight, and three prelim fights in George Sullivan vs. Alexander Yakovlev, Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Joaquim Silva and Felipe Oliveri vs. Tony Martin
Ronda on Video Game Cover
EA Sports officially announced its second UFC video game, EA Sports UFC 2, that will be released in the spring. UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, to no surprise, will be featured on the cover.