Week in MMA & Boxing #31
MMA & Boxing News From the week of
March 5th- March 11th, 2016
Diaz chokes out McGregor
Nate Diaz’s win over Conor McGregor shocked the world and was another piece of proof that size matters.
McGregor was carrying more weight than he had ever carried before. It was muscle, but that still slows you down and changes the conditioning dynamic. Diaz fought the smarter fight, knowing his gas tank was limited, and laid back while McGregor exhausted himself early. McGregor landed shots that would put down a featherweight, but Diaz is much bigger and can take a punch.
McGregor’s featherweight knockout power is not welterweight knockout power. He’s just not physically big enough whether he can put on the weight or not. Diaz is not a big puncher, but he’s a volume puncher, and he was hurting McGregor late. McGregor going for the takedown was suicidal, because Diaz has great submissions and it’s clear McGregor has a weakness on the ground.
Tate chokes out Holm
Miesha Tate’s UFC women’s bantamweight title win over Holly Holm literally changed the direction of UFC.
Tate vs. Holm was an incredibly dramatic fight. From a purely emotional standpoint in the sense of capturing the live crowd, it was one of the greatest fights in UFC history. McGregor vs Diaz was your classic bloody brawl that had the crowd on its feet. Tate vs. Holm got them far deeper.
Holm was the clear crowd favorite starting out, riding the momentum of being the one who beat Rousey. It was also clear Tate was slower, not as strong, and didn’t hit hard enough to beat her standing. But Holm is a counter fighter so Tate stayed back, got beat up in the first round, and looked for openings for takedowns. But she was either too slow or not strong enough to take advantage of them. In the second round, she surprised Holm and got her down, and gave Holm a one-sided beating, and worked to finish her.
The crowd completely flipped toward Tate here. There’s the natural inclination to root for the upset, particularly when you know the fighter is physically outgunned but you can see they are mentally not going to break. But Holm came back to win rounds three and four. Since the second round was a 10-8, it was 38-37 going into the fourth round.
Every move mattered, but Holm was still beating her on her feet. Tate tried for takedowns and couldn’t come close. She couldn’t beat her standing. It was clear Holm was winning the round and keeping the title. But the crowd was just hoping for Tate to pull it off. Then, suddenly she got behind her and in a desperation move, got Holm off her feet and just held on for dear life as she tried to get a good ground position. Then, she got it, and then it was her world. All of a sudden, instead of a sure loss, Tate was doing enough to win the round, but it was still going to be a draw and Holm would keep the title. Then, she got fought and fought for the choke. Holm was standing, and flipped Tate off her back, but Tate doggedly held onto the choke while falling to the ground, and Holm had to tap at 3:30.
196 did Huge Business
McGregor vs. Diaz may have been the final confirmation, if that’s even necessary, of what the public wants from big fights in 2016. There was no championship at stake. Diaz came into the fight with a 19-10 record and had lost five of his last ten fights. His main claim to fame is that he was a good fighter, who always lost to great fighters, and he was the younger brother of Nick Diaz. The Diaz brothers are wildly popular due to the attitude they exude of never backing down in fights and beating to their own drums.
Still, he figured to be someone who would swear a lot at McGregor, build great heat, and draw a good number to give McGregor a name victim since Diaz was taking the fight on short notice, and stamina was a big part of the brothers’ success in the cage. It being a welterweight fight, something Diaz was able to talk his way into, allowed him to have even more of a size advantage. But it was thought that it would give McGregor credibility in a new weight class.
Dana White said after the show that it looked like it was going to break every company record. Internally, after the show, those in UFC were still talking of it as being the biggest PPV in company history.
Preliminary numbers have varied greatly, but appear to be significantly higher than either the November (Rousey vs. Holm) or December (McGregor vs. Aldo) shows, which both topped 1 million buys. There are a wide variety of estimates out there, but if you average them out, it appears to be 12 to 15 percent above both of those shows, which would figure to be more than 1.1 million buys and maybe a lot more than that.
At this stage it could vary greatly in either direction because not all numbers are consistently above both. UFC does have instant access to its iPPV numbers and their own estimates at first are based on that. Those numbers are believed to be the highest ever although nobody has outright said that. But one would think when White talked about being the biggest PPV number ever right after the show, it was those numbers that would be his indicator. People are far more apt to buy iPPVs as time goes on as compared to the past, so a number there that blows away UFC 100 isn’t necessarily proof that this will beat UFC 100 numbers. But that hasn’t changed that much since December, so UFC probably does have a good indication already regarding beating November and December.
McGregor was clearly the key, but Diaz was far stronger as an opponent than not only Rafael dos Anjos, but also Aldo. Holm was strong as well, not at the level of Diaz, but not far behind Aldo, as a draw for the show. Holm vs. Tate tracked much higher than the Chris Weidman vs. Luke Rockhold fight in a similar position on UFC 194 as far as support went. It’s hard to say because it’s a McGregor show, but just based on interest, it does appear the women’s fight was very big, and that’s a huge affirmation of the future of women after Rousey is gone.
At least two records were broken. The weigh-ins did 358,000 viewers, breaking the FS 1 record of 294,000 set for the McGregor vs. Aldo weigh-ins. What’s notable about this is the weigh-ins aired on FS 1 on a three-hour tape delay, and aired live on web sites all over the country, had been covered by ESPN and other sports media. It also aired live on FS 2, where, even with the smaller universe, they did 145,000 viewers, as much as many live fights on the station have done.
The pre-fight show did 767,000 viewers, also an FS 1 record. The McGregor vs Aldo pre-game show did 556,000 viewers, and the prior record was 606,000 for the pre-game show before the Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler II fight on December 6, 2014.
The post-fight show did 377,000 viewers, up from 344,000 for McGregor vs. Diaz. It was the fifth most watched post-fight show in network history.
A Friday night replay of the Countdown show, which had already aired several times during the week, did 320,000 viewers, the most-watched Countdown show ever on FS 1.
The prelims did 1,843,000 viewers headlined by Brandon Thatch vs. Siyar Bahadurzada (which peaked at 2,082,000 viewers), which was the second biggest PPV prelims number ever on FS 1 behind the McGregor vs. Aldo show that did 1,931,000 viewers. But that show had Urijah Faber vs. Frankie Saenz, and Faber is a legit difference maker when it comes to ratings (peaking at 2,380,000 viewers on FS 1). You factor out Faber and really, the UFC 196 number is far more impressive. And even with Faber, the 196 prelims beat the 194 prelims overall in the 18-49 demo. FS 1 was also the most-watched cable network in Saturday night prime time in the 18-49 demo.
UFC 196-related video streams did 60 million viewers that night, up from the prior record of 27 million for UFC 194. In particular, an Ariel Helwani video of McGregor that night done after the fight had 14.8 million views, the most-watched video for something UFC related on Fox Sports.
What does the win mean for Diaz and Tate?
Diaz and Tate came off the show, due to the nature of their wins, as people who came in as popular stars but are now bona fide superstars, probably right behind the Rousey, McGregor and Jon Jones big three.
Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White were talking about Lawler vs. Nate Diaz as the next welterweight title fight. On one hand, it makes no sense. Diaz was rag dolled by much younger Rory MacDonald when they fought previously and hasn’t shown a thing against a true top welterweight. He has some good wins at lightweight, including Donald Cerrone, but was beaten handily by dos Anjos. But from a money standpoint, short of GSP, Lawler will draw far more with Nate Diaz than anyone.
Rousey vs. Tate is a monster fight now, probably the single biggest fight that can be made right now. If Rousey was to win that fight, and she’d be a heavy favorite, Rousey vs. Holm becomes even bigger. However, the Rousey schedule makes that weird.
Will Tate wait until November, or what if it’s early 2016? At some point soon they need a firm date from Rousey or they have to make other plans for Tate.
And while that could go either way, Holm would appear to have the edge because her takedown defense is good, but she had two lapses that cost her the fight. Without that, she jabs her way to a decision that may not be a good fight. If we go with the idea right now there are two monster women fights on the table, that match eliminates one of them.
What does the lost mean for Conor and Holm?
Going into UFC 196 on 3/5 in Las Vegas, McGregor was the company’s money machine, expected to headline UFC 200 against Robbie Lawler for the welterweight title, or perhaps even Georges St-Pierre. The latter, which would have been the biggest fight in UFC history, was heavily rumored and talked about.
Now those plans are off the table.
It hurts him in the sense he’s not fighting Lawler (which is a good thing for him) or GSP, but he can still talk and he’s still featherweight champion.
The other fight, which wasn’t going to take place at UFC 200, but also would have done unprecedented numbers, was a return or Ronda Rousey, challenging Holly Holm for the women’s bantamweight title. Well, that will probably have to take a back seat to Tate vs Rousey 3.
Or they could also do a Tate vs. Holm rematch at UFC 200 with Rousey facing that winner, which takes care of them having to sit.
What's next for Conor?
McGregormost likel y will be on UFC 200 defending his featherweight title against either Aldo or Frankie Edgar. He himself thought as much, and said he’d survey the situation and see which opponent the fans would want to see the most. But he had reservations about Aldo, noting Aldo has pulled out of so many fights and that Aldo was the first person approached to fill in when dos Anjos got hurt, and turned it down.
Edgar has five straight wins but McGregor vs. Aldo was one of the biggest fights in history, a long-time grudge and it would be the bigger drawing fight of the two. While purists may complain, time and time again, it has become clear what fans want in 2016, and it’s a grudge and trash talk with larger than life personalities, not a series of wins by people like Edgar or Tyron Woodley leading to title fights.
UFC Big Fight Press Conference
All of the fights previously discussed were announced at a press conference called, Unstoppable, right before weigh-ins on 3/4 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena with all the announced headliners on every show from 4/10 to 7/8 and it was a huge success. Check out our full coverage here.
Lets look at the build that was done at the press conference for some of the big upcoming shows. One of the things is that it’s clear from the success of McGregor that more and more fighters have seen that building up grudge matches and promos are so important to paychecks.
UFC 197 Jones vs. Cormier
The crowd started out more for Jones, and Cormier got a mixed reaction when introduced. Jones then did the humble thing about learning from his mistakes, saying he’s five months sober for the first time in years, how he’s growing up and is a different person, etc., which the crowd was behind him on. Another aspect of this rivalry is that the crowd believes Jones is the rightful champion based on their first fight (Jones won clearly, but then got stripped of his title and suspended for a hit-and-run accident which was after a series of issues), and Cormier is the pretend champion.
The reality is even though Cormier is champion, based on the first fight, and that Cormier will be 37 come fight time and Jones 28, that nobody believes Cormier can win. He said that he’s just concentrating on beating Cormier and it’s not a personal thing. Cormier then went after him, and the crowd itself, noting that Jones was fake, and that Jones had called him a pussy backstage and had nearly gotten into a fight with one of his teammates. Then he acted incredulous at the crowd for booing him, noting he’s been sober for life and never got into legal trouble nor got stripped of the title. Jones came out with one of his old title belts and Cormier knocked him with the idea he didn’t learn because he still came out with a title belt that he was stripped of. Jones said he was going to beat his ass again. Cormier came off like a bitch crying, and very sensitive at being boo'd.
The company has officially announced its first outdoor stadium show in Brazil, taking place as a PPV card, UFC 198, on 5/14 from Curitiba, Brazil at the Arena da Baixada Stadium.
The main event will be Fabricio Werdum defending the heavyweight title against Stipe Miocic. The rest of the show at this point has Ronaldo Jacare Souza vs. Vitor Belfort in a fight where the winner is likely to get a middleweight title shot, Patrick Cummins vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Matt Brown vs. Demian Maia, Bryan Barbarena vs. Warlley Ales, Thiago Santos vs. Nate Marquardt, Evan Dunham vs. Leonardo Santos, Yancy Medeiros vs. Francisco Trinaldo and Kamaru Usman vs. Sergio Moraes.
UFC officials were saying that 42,000 tickets will be put on sale on 3/30, and with late seats opening up, they could put as many as 48,000 in the building. There is talk of doing 15 fights on the show, with seven Fight Pass fights to open things.
At the press conference, they said nothing basically.
UFC 199 will be 6/4 for the company’s debut at The Forum in Los Angeles with Luke Rockhold vs. Chris Weidman for the middleweight title and Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber for the bantamweight title.
Weidman was out there in full force knocking Rockhold and they probably ended with more heat with the crowd than any match except Jones vs. Cormier.
Weidman joined in with Jones in knocking Cormier and Rockhold as well as the entire AKA team. Even though it was in Las Vegas and at first the crowd was behind Rockhold when he and Weidman pushed it as East Coast vs. West Coast, when Weidman backed up Jones, the crowd started getting behind Weidman. Weidman showed a quick wit when Rockhold came back at him and he said that Rockhold was veering from the script DC wrote for him.
Cruz and Faber went at it with Faber going after how bad Cruz and Dillashaw looked physically once USADA stepped in. Faber seemed a little forced with his material but Cruz did not seem happy at the insinuation, as Faber talked about how Dillashaw suddenly looks like he hasn’t gone through puberty he was so skinny and that Cruz was skinny with back fat, and also noted that Cruz’s body is too fragile and always gets hurt, and he’s only finished one guy in UFC and always wins by close decision. Cruz of course noted that Faber always loses when he’s going for the championship.
The Ultimate Fighter
The new season of The Ultimate Fighter debuts on 4/20 and the buildup video looked like there were a lot of fireworks involved. What has come out is that the heat with champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and challenger Claudia Gadelha was similar to Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate in 2013. You can never fully predict the public, but there was a feeling that Joanna, who has gotten really popular since her challenging for the title, is the one who comes across the worst.
There was also an incident, not on camera, where Joanna threw a water bottle at Gadelha and they got into a legit fight with punches and kicks being thrown. Dana White said that Joanna hit her with a water bottle but Gadelha said Joanna threw the bottle at her and missed, but she kicked Joanna which didn’t miss. White’s description was that it happened just after filming had ended. “Claudia goes, `Shut the f*** up.’ She goes, `I’m so sick of listening to your mouth.’ and they started going at it, and I pulled them apart.”
At the press conference, the tension with Jedrzejczyk and Gadelha was less talking but came off as even more legit. They were actually sitting near each other because of a communications issue and quietly security was sent to be close in case something went wrong, which didn’t, although they did in arguing bring up the fight they had just had in the UFC Gym.
Fight Week in July
The title fight is scheduled for 7/8 in Las Vegas, as part of three straight nights of shows for International Fight Week. It’s basically the UFC’s attempt to get July to be their version of WrestleMania. The goal includes booking an arena in Las Vegas for a Hall of Fame ceremony, but we’re a few years away from that. But there will be a Hall of Fame ceremony that weekend at the UFC Fan Expo. There will be a 7/7 show (Thursday) which will be for Fight Pass. There will be a 7/8 show on FS 1 with the women’s strawweight title fight, and then the main UFC 200 card on PPV on 7/9.
6/18 Fight Night
The company also announced a 6/18 card in Ottawa for FS 1, headlined by Rory MacDonald vs. Stephen Thompson in a fight that will likely determine a contender for the welterweight title. This would be the company’s debut in Canada’s capital city.
VanZant on “Dancing With the Stars”
Paige VanZant was announced as one of the cast members for the new season of “Dancing With the Stars” on ABC. The series debuts on 3/21, head-to-head with Raw. VanZant, a fighter who became a star more for her looks than her fighting ability, headlined the 12/10 UFC Fight Pass show in Las Vegas, losing to Rose Namajunas in a fight where she was badly outclassed. She had won her first three fights and was noted for having great cardio and a fighting heart to make up for inexperience and lack of all-around skill.
This season’s roster will also include football legend Doug Flutie; reporter Geraldo Rivera; actress Mischa Barton; TV personality and former wife of Donald Trump, Marla Maples; actress Jodie Sweetin of “Fuller House;” ABC Good Morning America meteorologist Ginger Zee; Von Miller of the Denver Broncos; Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers; singer Wanya Morris of Boyz II Men; America’s Next Top Model winner Nyle DiMarco; and Kim Fields, an actress known in another generation for the TV series “The Facts of Life,” and is now on “Real Housewives of Atlanta.”
VanZant, 21, has a dance background before she became a fighter.
Glover Steps Up
An injury to Mauricio Shogun Rua has led to him pulling out of the No. 2 fight on the next FOX show on 4/16 from Tampa. Rua was to face Rashad Evans. Evans will now face Glover Teixeira.
Ken Shamrock is out of his match with Dan Severn on 3/20 for the URShow.TV Internet PPV in Phoenix. This stems from the Royce Gracie fight on 2/19 as he received a medical suspension by the Texas doctors which ends on 3/21.
The 57-year-old Severn will now be facing 50-year-old David “Tank” Abbott in a rematch of their 1996 fight, which Severn took Abbott down and beat him on the ground the entire 20 minutes straight in what Abbott used to joke was being prison raped by Freddy Mercury.
Roy Jones Jr.’s opponent in the boxing match will not be a fan, but be Vyron Phillips, an MMA fighter with a 5-3 record. The Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. pro wrestling match and Michael Bisping vs. Chael Sonnen grappling match remain on the show.
The company is paying a lot of money for talent trying to make a name for the company but aside from UFC, I don’t know of anybody who does more than a few thousand buys for iPPV shows. Jim Ross will be the lead announcer on a broadcast team that will include Rampage Jackson, Sean Wheelock and Jenn Sterger as well as Cyrus Fees (who did some announcing for Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling) as a backstage interviewer and social media correspondent and Justin Roberts as ring announcer.