Week in MMA & Boxing #20
MMA & Boxing News From the week of
December 3 - December ,11 2015
UFC 3 Day Blockbuster
The biggest undertaking in UFC history is this week with three shows on successive nights in Las Vegas, culminating in UFC 194, among the deepest shows in company history.
Fight Night on Fight Pass
The week started Thursday night on Fight Pass, where in the main event, VanZant, young fighter they are banking on to be a star, was dominated and destroyed by Rose Namajunas. Good grief was it a beating.
While VanZant held on for much longer than many fighters would have, surviving a whopping eight takedowns and five different submission attempts over five rounds, she couldn't get past 23-year-old Namajunas, who was the runner-up during the fall 2014 season of the UFC's reality show The Ultimate Fighter.
The Ultimate Fighter Finale Show
The 12/11 show, which starts at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time at The Chelsea, and 8 p.m. live on FS 1. Due to fighters from the current season of Ultimate Fighter being on the show, including the TUF championship fight, the entire show has not been released. Bouts announced are Konstantine Erokhin vs. Gabriel Gonzaga, Geane Herrera vs. Joby Sanchez, Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Jason Knight, Mike Pierce vs. Ryan LaFlare, Joe Lauzon vs. Evan Dunham, Edson Barboza vs. Tony Ferguson (which is a big fight at lightweight) and Edgar vs. Mendes.
Edgar vs. Mendes is a hell of a main event.
The PPV on 12/12 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas starts at 6:30 p.m. with Fight Pass fights at 6:30 p.m. with Marcio Alexandre Jr. vs. Court McGee, Yancy Medeiros vs. John Makdessi and Magomed Mustafaev vs. Joe Proctor. Then on FS 1 at 8 p.m. is Kevin Lee vs. Leonardo Santos, Warlley Alves vs. Colby Covington, Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger vs. Tecia Torres and Urijah Faber (yes fighting in the FS 1 main event) vs. Frankie Saenz. The PPV has Max Holloway vs. Jeremy Stephens, Gunnar Nelson vs. Demian Maia, Romero vs. Souza, Weidman vs. Rockhold for the middleweight title and Aldo vs. McGregor for the featherweight title.
Two of the year’s most intriguing championship fights and a No. 1 contenders fight take place on Saturday night on a main card where, perhaps for the first time ever, all ten fighters on the main card at one time or another have main evented a UFC show.
Aldo vs McGregor
Featherweight champion Jose Aldo Jr., working on an 18 fight winning streak, defending against interim champion Conor McGregor, in what could be the first featherweight fight to top 1 million buys.
Predicting the outcome is tough, which can be said for a number of fights this weekend. Aldo, 29, has only lost one fight in his career (25-1), a submission loss fighting at lightweight, shortly after his 19th birthday. He’s a proven commodity with no apparent weakness. He’s difficult to take down, even more difficult to keep down, is a complete stand-up fighter known for blistering low kicks, and while he rarely goes to the ground, he’s excellent with submissions. At one point his stamina in a long fight was in question, but he’s gone five rounds his last two fights with no problem. But it has been 14 months since he last fought and he is coming back off broken ribs suffered in June.
McGregor, 27, is the single greatest talker in the history of the promotion. He’s won 14 fights in a row since submitting in 30 seconds to Joe Duffy five years ago. His listing of victims is nowhere close to that of Aldo. In a sense, he’s still unproven against top competition. It was said UFC was protecting him from wrestlers, but his last win was over Mendes, the best wrestler in the division. But Mendes had only two weeks to prepare for the fight. Still, his movement on his feet and accuracy of his kicks to the body, as well as his boxing is top notch. He’s freaky in his ability to take a punch, and has never been knocked out.
The Mendes fight did show that McGregor has good takedown defense, but he can be taken down and controlled. Mendes probably won the first round and was winning the first four minutes of the second round clearly, before McGregor got up and destroyed a tired fighter. Aldo rarely tries for takedowns, but if Mendes showed a weakness, the game plan would be to take it to the ground and play a higher percentage game if you can. On the fight, it comes down to stamina, if the IV ban makes a difference, and whether McGregor can take out the body of Aldo with his spinning kicks and boxing, or if Aldo can take out the legs of McGregor with his kicks early, and thus take away his movement in the latter rounds.
Even with Aldo’s long winning streak and proven wins, McGregor is the slight favorite, with lines ranging from -117 to -135.
Weidman vs. Rockhold
Every bit as intriguing is the middleweight title fight with Chris Weidman vs. Luke Rockhold.
Weidman, 31, has a 13-0 record, and defeated Anderson Silva on July 6, 2013, in Las Vegas to win the title. Weidman speaks well, comes across as a great representative of the sport, a family man with three kids who won the title not all that long after his home was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy.
Weidman has good boxing and great wrestling and Jiu Jitsu, but his best trait is that he’s a competitor. Anderson Silva was considered the greatest fighter in the sport when Weidman met him the first time, and Silva was trying to embarrass him and Weidman responded by knocking him out, and then dominated the rematch.
Rockhold, also 31, has a 14-2 record, getting his title shot by destroying Machida on 4/18. He lost his second pro fight eight years ago, and came back to destroy six men in the first round, before winning a decision on September 10, 2011, to take the Strikeforce title from Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. With the exception of a May 18, 2013, knockout loss to a gassed up Vitor Belfort from a head kick, he hasn’t faced any serious adversity in his fights.
Rockhold is taller and has more reach, with devastating body kicks. The keys here are whether Rockhold will be able to hurt Weidman early with his kicks, and if Weidman can take Rockhold down and then hurt him on the ground if Rockhold is off balance from throwing the kicks. Both claim they’ll have a strong advantage on the ground. Rockhold has excellent Jiu Jitsu, and while he doesn’t have the wrestling credentials of Weidman, who placed as high as third in the NCAA tournament, he has a strong wrestling background from working for years with Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier.
The key to the weight include whether Rockhold, as the bigger man, will be able to throw Weidman around, whether Weidman will still have the wrestling and ground edge being smaller, and how that affects both men if the fight goes past three rounds. Rockhold is still untested in a war, but Weidman is untested in a fight where he’s not the bigger and stronger guy who can go to his wrestling when needed.
Weidman is the favorite, ranging from -140 to -175. Still, most insiders are split on this fight and thinking it’s going to be one of the toughest big fights to call all year. The general feeling is either man has the capability of finishing the other.
Holm vs. Rousey ll
Dana White pushed that Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey would be the next fight for both when doing media this week. “I think that if we didn’t make the rematch, me and Lorenzo should probably lose our promoters’ license,” he said on Mike & Mike on ESPN. “Yeah, that fight’s going to happen. I don’t know when, but that’s the fight that will happen.” White has predicted, and I’m pretty confident this is the case, that if such a fight happens, it will break the UFC 100 PPV record. That said, unless Rousey is convinced there is a mistake she made and will win the rematch, going right to the rematch may not be in her best interest because she needs to make changes.
UFC is pushing the idea that the first loss humanized her and has made her a bigger star, and there are stats that back that up (but the only stat that really means anything is the one we won’t know until the next PPV number comes in), a second loss will make a huge negative difference
As far as a date goes, she said that it might be three to six months before she can even eat an apple or take impact to the face because a few of her teeth are unstable from the knockout kick. If that’s the time-line, she may not be ready for UFC 200.
Rousey will be on the cover of the new ESPN Magazine even after her loss and in that issue is her first interview since losing. The only quote released ahead of time from the interview is her saying, “Maybe I can’t do it all before my prime, before my body is done, but fuck it, maybe I can.” She went into major depression after the loss. When she did her first interview and was asked about her feelings about the response to her loss, she said that she turned off her phone, hasn’t looked, and has just been having long conversations with Mochi (her dog in some of her TV commercials). “I need to come back, I need to beat this chick. Who knows if I’m going to pop my teeth out or break my jaw or rip my lip open again. I have to fucking do it. It doesn’t matter. I have to do it.”
Rousey said, “I got hit in that first round...I cut my lip open and knocked a couple of my teeth loose. I was out on my feet from the very beginning. I wasn’t thinking clearly. I had that huge cut in my mouth and I just spit (the blood) out at my feet. Then they brought the bucket over and I’m like, `Why didn’t I spit in the bucket?’ I never spit on the ground. It was like a dumbed-down dreamy version of yourself making decisions...I was just trying to shake myself out of it. I kept saying to myself, `You’re okay, keep fighting. You’re okay, keep fighting. “I just feel so embarrassed. How I fought after that is such an embarrassing representation of myself. I wasn’t even fucking there."
The ESPN story got her reaction to the charges of dating Travis Browne and her anti-domestic violence stand with Mayweather, saying it was really, really hard, but she knows he didn’t do anything. She said it was tough because she knew she was in a terrible position, either breaking up with the guy for the benefit of how it would look to the public even though she didn’t believe he did anything wrong, or taking heat from people who believed the story and would use it to call her a hypocrite.
She also said in the story that she realizes her career is going to be viewed based on what happens in the rematch, and said, “Either I’ll win and keep going or I won’t and I’ll be done with everything.
It was notable her mother wasn’t at the fight and the article quoted her mother as saying before the fight, “I did not think she was in the right place, and I couldn’t pretend any longer that I thought she was.” But Rousey said she’s staying with trainer Edmond Tarverdyan.
UFC 200 for rematch?
Dana White said there is no pressure on her to fight on any specific date
However, Lenny Fresquez, the manager of Holm, met with UFC officials on 12/7 and said they told him Rousey would be cleared and ready to fight on UFC 200 and gave him the 7/9 date for the fight. Fresquez said he didn’t think Rousey should fight her that early and didn’t know if she’d be ready but was assured that was the fight.
He said he suggested Holm vs. Miesha Tate and then Rousey, giving more time for Rousey to recover and getting a title fight in first, and said he was told UFC was all booked up and there was no show open that would allow for such a fight. In other words, UFC has decided they don’t want to risk a fight for either Holm or Rousey that could get in the way of that rematch taking place on that date.
World title rematch signed
White also did an interview saying that the Fabricio Werdum vs. Cain Velasquez fight, that had been talked about for March in Rio de Janeiro, would instead take place on 2/6 in Las Vegas on the night before the Super Bowl card.
Canelo vs Cotto PPV Numbers
HBO has claimed 900,000 buys and $58 million in revenue for the Canelo Alvarez vs. Miguel Cotto fight on 11/21. To me, this was boxing’s most important number of the year because Alvarez is the best young draw in the business. The number is neither a home run nor a failure. Under 700,000 with all the hype, I’d have considered a bad sign for the future. Oscar de la Hoya’s predictions of 1.5 million to 2 million sounded like promoter hyperbole, but there were boxing people earlier this year who told me they thought it had potential to do 1.5 million, which in theory would be a great thing for boxing’s future.
The problem is still that if Alvarez doesn’t beat Gennady Golovkin in what is his most important fight, his drawing power will decline, and there’s no indication Golovkin, or Alvarez will be a PPV draw yet against just a normal opponent the way Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao were. This was the biggest boxing PPV number that didn’t involve Mayweather, Pacquiao or De La Hoya since 2002.
Speaking of Mayweather and Pacquiao, the updated PPV numbers have now topped 4.65 million for that show. I don't how he doesn't comeback for a rematch. Smh.