Week in MMA & Boxing #23
MMA & Boxing News From the week of
December 25 - January 11th
Due to the holidays, we have been away for a few weeks, but we are back with all the news from the past two weeks!!!!
UFC 197 Huge Event
Alluded to by UFC President Dana White on UFC Tonight Wednesday, Bleacher Report's Jeremy Botter cited multiple sources in reporting Thursday night that UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor will move up in weight to challenge UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos in an effort to become the UFC's first dual belt holder and their third fighter to win belts in two weight classes.
If the report is accurate, the fight will happen at UFC 197 on March 5th in Las Vegas with a co-main event of women's bantamweight champion Holly Holm vs. Miesha Tate, a fight that became quite clear after White said that the 10-0 Holm's next title defense would not be against Ronda Rousey as he had originally said. Holm dominated Rousey to win the title in a shocking upset via 2nd round knockout in November while the 29-year-old Tate (17-5) is riding a four-fight winning streak after downing Jessica Eye in a July unanimous decison win.
White and other UFC officials had previously shot down any other previous champion who said they wanted to move up in weight, win another title, and defend both belts. The 19-2 McGregor, however, has a lot of bargaining power and a fight against the talented but promotionally flat dos Anjos (25-7) is the biggest draw of a fight the champion currently has.
UFC 195 Review
Few shows had as many close fights as UFC 195, which was headlined by Robbie Lawler retaining his welterweight title on a very controversial split decision over Carlos Condit in a spectacular fight which is going to be tough to beat for match of the year.
This makes all four of Lawler’s UFC championship fights that ended up being decided in the fifth round. In his first title challenge with Hendricks, he lost in the fifth round. In the rematch, it was also even and he won it in the fifth round. With MacDonald, he was behind and needed a finish to retain, and got the finish in the fifth round. Here, while it seemed the majority had Condit up 39-37 going into the fifth, two of the three judges had it 38-38 and Lawler took the fifth and won the fight. The fifth round, with both going all out, somewhat similar to round two, except at maybe three or four times the speed and volume, saw Condit land more, but Lawler had the harder punches and kicks.
It was already a match of the year candidate going into the fifth, but the climax was really special, and one of the best rounds in UFC history. When it was over, both stood, side by side, exhausted, leaning on the cage. Both did nothing but put over the other as far as being a warrior after the fight was over, with Condit saying he thought he won three of the five rounds, but had a matter-of-fact attitude about the decision not going his way.
Condit, on paper was not deserving of a title fight ahead of either Hendricks (who lost the title on a close decision and then won his first fight back, and has a win over Condit) or Tyron Woodley (who was ranked ahead of Condit and also has a win over him). Condit had lost three of his previous five fights. However, as far as booking to give fans an entertaining title fight, Lawler vs. Condit stylistically figured to be the most exciting title fight possible, and it more than delivered.
And really, that was the story of the fight. Condit landed much more, but Lawler’s shots were harder.Virtually everyone agreed that Lawler won rounds two and five, and Condit won one and four. The decision on all three judges cards came down to round three. Tony Weeks gave it to Condit, but Chris Lee and Derek Cleary scored it for Lawler.
But they were in the minority. We did a poll where about two-thirds felt Condit won. A media poll on MMADecisions.com had 15 saying Condit won, three saying Lawler won, and two had it a draw.
Condit had a 176-92 edge in significant strikes. No fighter in UFC history has ever landed 84 less strikes than their opponent and then lost the decision in a championship fight. Condit had the edge as far as volume in all five rounds. But pure strikes landed doesn’t factor in how hard the strikes were, and that gave Lawler two rounds solidly.
Round three, where Condit outlanded 22-11 in significant strikes, saw Condit in control most of the round, but Lawler landed the hardest shots of the round early on. While I had Condit winning, and on first viewing thought it was obvious, rewatching round three, it was clear it was close enough to where scoring the round for Lawler wasn’t a bad call.
Such a close call, where most people thought the title should have changed hands, it makes sense to book a rematch, particularly since at this point there will be far more interest in Lawler vs. Condit again than Lawler vs. Tyron Woodley, who would be the guy next.
Dana White on UFC Tonight said, “I don’t know. They were just in a five-round war. I’m not talking to them about fighting right now. It was a very close fight. It all depends on how you scored the third round.”
But Condit was also very matter-of-factly talking that he may retire. He had said it a few times leading up to the fight and said it again after. It was a surprise, because Condit is only 31, and has never been knocked out in a fight, and Condit is also coming off arguably the best performance of his career, even if he lost. He had said that had he won the title, he would have stayed to defend it.
2015 BUSINESS YEAR IN REVIEW
Largest Event Attendance -
Estimated North American PPV Buys -
$2 Million Dollar Gates -
UFC grew across the board, most notably in PPV where the year, carried by Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor, had a 109 percent increase in buys per event.
Askren approves new Weight rules
Ben Askren, the ONE welterweight champion, talked this past week for the first time regarding the first step ever at removing massive weight cutting from MMA by his promotion.
Askren said with the new regulations banning cutting weight by dehydration, by ONE, and constant weigh-ins, that he would be moving to 185 pounds. He said that he expects most of the previous welterweights to also have to do that, and that he’d still be fighting the same guys he was, just they’d all be 15 pounds heavier. He said that some fighters, noting Luis Santos, who walked around at closer to 200, probably can’t even make 185 as a walk-around weight so didn’t expect to be fighting him again.
Askren said he had to pass hydration tests like ONE will be implementing during his days as a college wrestler, and said he doesn’t know how people can cheat those tests.
Askren, who is one of those guys who is going to say what he thinks under any circumstance, which may be part of the reason he’s not in UFC right now, said this is a huge step forward for MMA because he’s still going to be fighting guys the same size.
UFC and every major organization should closely watch and monitor ONE for what does and doesn’t work when it comes to this new policy. If there are flaws, and every change will have them, they can be learned from. But there is at least a chance, and maybe a good chance, that this new method is far superior to the existing method.
A lot of people on the outside like it because the reality is you’d get better fights if guys didn’t spend the last week dehydrating themselves of 10 to 20 pounds, sometimes more, to make weight. For fighters, this goes against everything they’ve been taught, from the beginning of their careers, or if they came from a boxing or wrestling background, their whole competitive lives.
For UFC, the idea that fighters need to be within six percent of fighting weight eight weeks out is an interesting proposal. Where UFC has an edge on ONE and other promotions is it already has USADA random unannounced testing, and they could expand that to having unannounced weigh-ins when they do those testing to see what weight guys are and if they are off weight when USADA comes during camp, they’re moving to another weight class, although that’s a nightmare since bouts are made so far in advance.
I sense this new ONE program could be a logistical nightmare, and if it doesn’t work, at least we learn, but if it does, or there are things about it that do, UFC can sit back and wait and work with the commissions to implement the best aspects of it in a year or so when we’ve got a lot more knowledge.
Silva vs Bisping on Fight Pass
Anderson Silva vs. Michael Bisping was announced as the new main event for the 2/27 Fight Pass show in London. It’s yet another major move by UFC to build up Fight Pass numbers by putting on what is by far the biggest fight ever live on the service. The fight ended up happening because UFC was having trouble putting together a Silva vs. Vitor Belfort fight. Bisping in the conference call promoting the fight, said that he got the fight because Belfort turned it down. Silva had knocked out Belfort with a front kick in their first fight.
This is the first time they’ve given away a viable PPV main event on Fight Pass, as one would think with Silva’s name and Bisping’s hype ability, they may have been able to do 350,000 buys for a fight like that, which is more than anyone but the big three (Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey and Jon Jones) will likely be drawing.
DC got sense knocked into Him
After previously saying he wouldn’t fight Jon Jones in New York state, Daniel Cormier on UFC Tonight said he was up for facing Jones on 4/13 in Madison Square Garden. He at first said that he knew Jones would be cheered over him at the Garden, but didn’t think that would happen anywhere else and didn’t want Jones to be rewarded. He also said that since he had already wrestled in Madison Square Garden, the idea of getting to compete there that almost every top star in UFC craves wasn’t something he felt he needed
Tibau Drug Test Failure
The UFC reported a possible second drug test failure by Gleison Tibau, this time from a test taken on the day of his 11/7 fight with Abel Trujillo. The drug in question was not revealed. The UFC statement was that USADA had notified both Tibau and the UFC of a potential anti-doping policy violation related to a test taken the day of his fight in Sao Paulo. While not expressly said, the way the statement read sounded like Tibau’s A sample had come back positive and they were awaiting the result of the B sample. Tibau had failed a USADA out of competition drug test a few weeks earlier, the first fighter to actually fail a USADA test, but the results weren’t reported until after the fight, which Tibau won via choke and referee stoppage in the first round (Trujillo was upset because he wasn’t out at the time of the stoppage).
The drug was never listed for the failure of that test either, although Tibau claimed that on the out-of-competition first failure it was for EPO, a drug that is very difficult to test for. The thing that concerns me is that this came out on 12/23, or more than six weeks after the fight. There is still not an official violation announced nor suspension announced for Tibau’s first failure. One of the big complaints from the Anderson Silva drug test failure was that he failed a few weeks before his fight with Nick Diaz and still fought. Everyone at the time agreed that was a major timing issue, including the Nevada commission which vowed to get test results of out-of-competition tests back quicker.
With the new USADA program, commissions looking to save on money are likely to think that since UFC has its own out-of-competition program that just doing tests the day of the fight would be sufficient. But in this case, we’re talking six-and-a-half weeks before we even hear of a possible violation, and that’s way too long
Nick Diaz is Nick Diaz
Diaz was on Chael Sonnen’s podcast last week and said that Georges St-Pierre was on steroids when he beat him in their 2013 fight. He also said that except for his brother, and Frankie Edgar (why he singled out Edgar I have no idea), he thinks just about everyone is on steroids.
He also claimed he knew the drug testing for his fight with St-Pierre was bogus, because he said there was no way he, as in himself, not St-Pierre, would have passed the testing if it was legit because he was using pot up until the fight feeling that it was his last fight of his career so he saw no reason to stop and didn’t care if he failed the test, but, in fact, passed the test. This was a guy going for the championship. So there you go.
Fans want Aldo vs McGregor 2
UFC did a fan poll on who people would like to see Conor McGregor face next. Jose Aldo won, with 39%, to 37% for Frankie Edgar and 20% for Rafael dos Anjos. It does amuse me when I read people saying how stupid UFC is for booking rematches, when historically the rematches are what the masses would rather see because of the story involved and prior hype.
While I would have put Junior Dos Santos against Fabricio Werdum and not Cain Velasquez, I also knew more people would have rather paid for the Velasquez fight than Dos Santos or Stipe Miocic. I guess with the benefit of hindsight seeing how Dos Santos just looked, he wouldn’t have made for a great opponent
UFC announced this lineup for the 2/6 UFC 196 show in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand, with Fabricio Werdum vs. Cain Velasquez for the heavyweight title, Johny Hendricks vs. Stephen Wonderboy Thompson, Roy Nelson vs. Jared Rosholt, Ovince Saint Preux vs. Rafael Feijao Cavalcante, Derrick Lewis vs Damian Grabowski, Josh Burkman vs. K.J. Noons, Sean Spencer vs. Mike Pyle and Alex Nicholson vs. Misha Cirkunov.
Conor vs Floyd?
Conor McGregor vs. Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr. would be, in many ways, the greatest fight of all time. However unlikely to happen, there's been at least some trash talk brewing recently. McGregor was mad that Mayweather tried to claim it was racial why McGregor and Ronda Rousey were stars, where he noted that Laila Ali was beautiful but was never the star Rousey was and that fans hate him for trash talking but like McGregor.
McGregor said the Irish have been oppressed for there entire existence and there was once a time where just having the name McGregor "was punishable by death." He then said he'd be willing to fight Mayweather on an 80/20 split, noting he'd get the 80, because Mayweather's last PPV bombed so badly.