Week in MMA & Boxing #23
MMA & Boxing News From the week of
January 12th - January 19, 2016
UFC Fight Night Review
More than four years since he last held bantamweight gold and after multiple knee surgeries kept him on the sideline, Dominick Cruz recaptured the 135-pound belt with a narrow split decision over T.J. Dillashaw in the UFC Fight Night headliner at TD Garden in Boston on Sunday night.
Cruz looked very active throughout the fight and won in my opinion, though it was close. During the post-fight show on Fox Sports 1, Cruz revealed that he felt his foot pop in the fifth round. It was that, not the leg kicks from Dillashaw that were causing him difficulty down the stretch.
“It’s extremely painful. The leg kicks landed, but I’ve been kicked for 12 weeks so it’s nothing new,” he said.
Rousey will not fight at UFC 200
UFC president Dana White told Yahoo Sports that Ronda Rousey will not be competing on this summer’s mega UFC 200 event due to filming for Road House being pushed back. Of course, things are always subject to change, but that’s the story for now.
“She could do both, but the question is, should she do both?” said White. “The filming is in a time frame where she’d finish before 200, but it would be cutting it too close.”
The way things look, given the movie schedule and that Rousey needs time to train unencumbered for such a big fight, that Rousey’s title shot is more likely for the fall, which also means she’s only fighting once in 2016.
The scheduling would be such that the hope would be that McGregor could headline UFC 200 on 7/9 in Las Vegas, with the debut event at the new 20,000 seat T Mobile Arena, with the idea of it being the biggest event in UFC history.
However, putting McGregor (who would theoretically face Frankie Edgar) on a show in March does greatly risk UFC 200, which needs either McGregor or Rousey, preferably both, to be the show they are hoping for it to be.
With the company’s No. 3 draw, Jon Jones, expected to fight Daniel Cormier in April, they could either move him back to July, or it would be too quick a turnaround to get the light heavyweight champion on UFC 200. The April show is planned for Madison Square Garden, and they’d want a loaded show there as well, and that date would make perfect sense also for a Luke Rockhold vs. Chris Weidman fight if that’s the direction. But New York would have to legalize MMA quickly for the MSG date to take place, and there are backup locations for that date.
GSP return for UFC 200?
Dana White, who had been negative on the subject of a Georges St-Pierre return, was on “Off the Record” on 1/13 and when the subject of UFC 200 was brought up, mentioned St-Pierre vs Robbie Lawler or St-Pierre vs. Anderson Silva as two fights that could be on that show.
Diaz let off the hook
The Nick Diaz camp and Nevada Athletic Commission confirmed an out-of-court settlement that would allow Diaz to return to fight in August.
The settlement was agreed upon by the commission as a result of a lawsuit filed and very negative public backlash toward the original suspension of Diaz for five years and a $165,000 fine after his third marijuana test positive in the state, as well as lying on his medical form where he was to list all drugs he had been using and not listing marijuana.
The agreed upon settlement was an 18 month suspension, which, since it would go into effect on February 1, 2015, would make him eligible to fight in any commission jurisdiction on August 1, 2016, as well as the fine being reduced to $100,000.
The commission felt history showed Diaz would never change and they were tired of disciplining him, so suspended him for five years. But five years was excessive in the eyes of many, which led to a public outrage against the commission, which included an online White House petition that garnered more than 100,000 signatures.
This guy has no regard or care for the and I think the Commission are idiots for letting him off hook. And all of his supporters are idiots too. And the UFC and Dana White are the biggest idiots who keep enabling him. Look at this bullshit.
White, on Twitter, pushed the idea of a Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler title fight in 2016. It’s amazing. Diaz can draw, but he hasn’t won a fight since October 29, 2011!!! Think about that. He was gifted one title fight already with Georges St-Pierre.
There are at least three people, Carlos Condit, Tyron Woodley and Johny Hendricks, who deserve title shots right now. A fourth, Rory MacDonald, is the ranked as the No. 1 contender and shouldn’t be far from a rematch. Another, Demian Maia, isn’t far from deserving a shot.
Diaz has done nothing for four years and three months except lose fights, get suspended twice on drug test violations, and make hilarious quotes. He did beat Robbie Lawler 12 years ago, but Diaz should not be mentioned for a title shot at this point unless he at least wins a fight over someone of note.
Plus, the hard fact on Diaz is that he will never change, and every time he’s booked, you run a great risk for him to fail a drug test and get suspended.
Aldo Wants his rematch
Jose Aldo is now saying that he won’t accept any fights from UFC unless the title is on the line. There had been talk of Aldo first facing Max Holloway, and then McGregor defending against Frankie Edgar, with Aldo getting the shot if he beat Holloway. Aldo told Portal do Vale Tudo in Brazil, “Right after the fight, Dana walked in the locker room and told me my next fight would be a title eliminator against Frankie Edgar because Conor was moving up to lightweight as he was struggling to make weight. Of course, I want a rematch with him, since there was no fight. None of us fought, he just connected one good punch and that was it. Cool, congratulations, but that wasn’t what people expected. I live for tomorrow, though. If it’s a rematch or a title fight, it doesn’t matter. I know we will fight again and I know I will win. I know I’m capable. For my next step, I don’t see another fight and I also won’t accept a fight that isn’t for the title.
Damn great for him, and he deserves a shot immediately. Its so disrespectful that he is not being given his rematch after going undefeated for nine years. Pathetic.
Wanderlei Silva Free
Former Pride Grand Prix Champion and 12 fight UFC vet Wanderlei Silva was released today from his UFC contract. Silva last fought in March 2013, knocking out Brian Stann in the 2nd round of a Fuel TV show from Japan. He was then scheduled to fight Chael Sonnen in a fight stemming off the two of them coaching on TUF Brazil. The fight was put off several times due to injuries and then drug testing issues with both fighters.
In Silva’s case, he was approached at his gym by drug testers and famously ran out the back door to avoid the test. He was eventually given a lifetime ban by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. That ban has since been rescinded and both sides are currently in negotiations for a more appropriate punishment. In the meantime Silva has still been at odds with the organization he’s under contract to, including accusing the UFC of fixing fights.
Silva finally got his wish last week. He leaves the UFC with an overall record of 35-12-1 and would almost certainly be highly sought after by either Rizin Fighting or Bellator MMA, where he will make very good money.
Yoel Romero Test Failure
Yoel Romero, who was in line for a shot at UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, is under investigation for a potential doping policy violation.
The UFC reported on 1/12 that on that day, USADA informed them of a potential violation by Romero stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected.
In the UFC release, they stated, “USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Romero. Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.”
That wording would seem to indicate a drug found in the A sample. Romero, who had also just been contacted by USADA, has the choice to ask for his B sample to be tested, or to give an explanation. Once those steps are taken, it is up to USADA to render a decision. Unless the B sample comes in clean, which rarely happens with a dirty A sample, or there is a viable explanation, at that point the exact violation will be reported and any punishment would be meted out by USADA.
If the failure was for a performance enhancing substance, which carries with it a two year suspension for a first time offense, given that Romero is 38, this could end his career, and even if he does come back, it would be very difficult for him to get back to his current level as a title contender.
The test puts Chris Weidman in the driver seat as the first contender for Rockhold’s championship. Rockhold had been told by UFC that his first opponent would be either Romero or Weidman. Rockhold had asked for Vitor Belfort, to get revenge for Belfort’s win over him, but UFC officials had told him Belfort needed at least one more win before they would consider giving him a title fight. There was also a feeling that since Belfort had turned down the fight with Anderson Silva, it’s hard to rationalize then rewarding him with an immediate title match.
Romero had won a No. 1 contender fight over Ronaldo Jacare Souza on 12/12, the same night Rockhold beat Weidman. But the decision was very controversial. Most had Souza winning the second and third rounds, although some, including myself, had the first round 10-8 for Romero and scored it a draw. It was listed as the sixth most disputed decision of 2015, as only 12 percent of the media (two of 17, with three, including myself calling it a draw and 12 scoring for Souza), and 17 percent of the fans agreed with it. So Romero had no momentum for a title shot coming off the fight, which opened the door for Weidman to get a rematch even before this potential violation. In addition, the media voted Weidman as the No.1 contender and Romero was the No. 2 contender.
Romero may have been the most freakishly muscular fighter in some ways in UFC. Some of that is what he was born with, with round muscle bellies, wide shoulders and a ridiculously tiny waist for a guy who probably walked around at probably 210 pounds. But the level of the muscularity, particularly considering his age, was unique, almost like that of a bodybuilder in the 70s or 80s. But he had always looked like that, dating back decades to his days as a world class wrestler from Cuba.
Romero has an 11-1 record, with his only loss coming in 2011, and is coming off wins over Tim Kennedy, Lyoto Machida and Souza.
Diego Brandao, who lost to Brian Ortega via third round submission in a fight he was dominating up to that point at UFC 195 on 1/2 in Las Vegas, tested over the limits for marijuana in a USADA test taken the day of the show.
The UFC announced today that they were informed by USADA of a potential violation for marijuana by Brandao. The test was over the WADA limit of 180 ng/ml for THC. The Nevada limit is 150 ng/ml.
This would be Brandao's first drug test failure.
Kenny Florian, 39, a former star UFC fighter, was being suspended after a controversy from an article he posted earlier in the week on the Fox Sports web site.
The article was a breakdown of tomorrow night's fight between bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw and former champion Dominick Cruz in Boston. Significant parts of the story were apparently almost identical to a piece Lee Wylie had done about the career of famous boxer Willie Pep from December.
TUF Coaches Announced
UFC announced on tonight's show in Boston that the new season of The Ultimate Fighter will be coached by Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha, which will build up to a strawweight championship fight between the two of them on July 8th in Las Vegas.
The title fight will be the main event of the TUF finale, which takes place the night before UFC 200, also in Las Vegas.
The season, billed as Team Joanna vs. Team Claudia, debuts on 4/20 with a two hour special featuring 32 fighters fighting to get into the house. The season will feature male light heavyweights and women strawweights.
The two fought at the end of 2014, with Jedrzejczyk winning via split decision to earn her title shot, which she won, against Carla Esparza. Many had Gadelha winning that fight.
Reebok Uniform Violations
The UFC fined three fighters for rule infractions regarding not wearing Reebok gear, or wearing non-Reebok gear in public during fight week. 12 others have gotten warnings for violation of the Athlete Outfitting Policy. The names of those fined were not revealed, although Donald Cerrone, Rafael dos Anjos and Nate Diaz appear to be the three names. Cerrone and Diaz have admitted they were fined and those close to dos Anjos say he was fined a significant amount. Cerrone said the fine was very steep. “Let’s just say a lot. Think of a number, then double it,” he wrote on Twitter, and later said the fine was in excess of $5,000.
Dos Anjos’ fine was reported by MMA Fighting to be $10,000, so it’s likely all three fines were that amount. He said it was from wearing a patch from his old trunks from his Muay Thai days that he wears to honor his grandmother, who raised him and is ill. Diaz wore jeans instead of Reebok gear to weigh-ins for his 12/19 fight in Orlando and dos Anjos wore an Evolve MMA shirt instead of a Reebok shirt. Evolve is a gym in Singapore that dos Anjos sometimes trains at.
UFC PPV Changes
The PPV plan is UFC 197 on 3/5, 198 on 4/23 (Jones vs. Cormier), 199 at some point in June (the traditional Memorial Day event in Las Vegas is not planned for this year) and 200 on 7/9.
CM Punk Debut Set for UFC 200
Over a year after officially signing with the UFC, it appears as if CM Punk may finally have a date, location and potential opponent for his first professional MMA fight: July 9th in Las Vegas at UFC 200.
The potential opponent is Mickey Gall, a 1-0 welterweight from New Jersey who is currently ranked at #63 on the list of northeastern United States welterweights on Tapology.com. At 5-11 and 23 years old, he will make his UFC debut at February 6th's UFC 196 against Michael Jackson, who will be making his professional debut on the show. This clearly looks like a showcase fight for Gall, who has been told that should he win the fight, he’ll get the Punk match at UFC 200 in July.
The Gall-Jackson fight will be on the Fight Pass prelims of UFC 196. White also confirmed that Punk will be in attendance at the fight.
Gall has been speculated as Punk’s potential opponent for the last week or so after being featured on Dana White’s Looking for a Fight YouTube series. He trains with the Gracie New Jersey Academy and fought in front of White at a regional show at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia (the former ECW Arena in another pro wrestling tie-in).
Rousey Movie Schedule
Rousey has had her role in the movie “Mile 22" cut back. Originally she and Iko Uwais were to be the stars and carry the movie. Director Peter Berg had pitched the idea that the movie would become “the new wave of combat cinema” and pushed Rousey as the star for that project. But STX chairman Adam Fogelson was concerned about Rousey as an actress, and wanted an established star for a third lead role and the movie was rewritten due to his concern over Rousey being able to carry acting scenes.
According to a story in The New Yorker, Berg wanted to introduce Fogelson to Rousey, figuring she’d impress him enough to alleviate his concerns. But the meeting never took place and Mark Wahlberg was hired with a script rewritten to where he is the primary movie babyface and Rousey will be more of sidekick who does less talking and mostly fighting. The story is the movie will have the same amount of action scenes with Rousey as original, but her actual acting scenes were cutback in favor of Wahlberg.
Rousey’s schedule is to also film the “Road House” remake which she will be the lead in, playing a female version of the role Patrick Swayze made famous as a bouncer, as well as film “Mile 22" this spring. “Mile 22,” is the movie being filmed in Indonesia where filming was scheduled at the same time as this year’s WrestleMania.