Week in MMA & Boxing #33
MMA & Boxing News From the week of
March 26th- April 8th, 2016
The Light Heavyweight Title Saga
Cormier Injured and Out of 197
Alot has happened in the last two weeks since our last update. Lets start with the latest and that is UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier suffered a lower left leg injury in training on 3/25, and after at first trying to work through it, and pulled out of his 4/23 title defense against Jon Jones in the UFC 197 main event.
Cormier suffered a full rupture of the interosseous membrane in his left leg on 3/25 while doing a light kickboxing workout. He was hurt when somebody checked a kick. He knew he was hurt but continued sparring, and when another fighter kicked his shin, he went down and was in pain and figured he needed to rest. He was seen limping badly the next day at an amateur wrestling tournament. He got the results of his MRI back a few days later and at first told UFC officials that he was going to fight, but on 4/1, UFC officials told him not to risk fighting when he wasn’t 100 percent.
Cormier should be able to start training in four to eight weeks, and possibly sooner than that. There should be no long-term issues from the injury.
Cormier wrote, "The decision to not fight on April 23rd was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. I’ve been scheduled to fight 18 times and I have made that walk every time. I want to apologize to Jon Jones, Lorenzo Fertitta, Dana White and all of the UFC fans for not being able to defend my title. This truly saddens me, but as with everything else in life, it goes on. The recovery should not take very long an I can’t wait to compete and defend my title again. For all the fans, thank you for your support.”
New Main Event: Jones vs Saint Preux
Jon Jones will now face Ovince Saint Preux (19-7), 32, a former University of Tennessee college football player who was ranked as the No. 6 contender in the division, and has won three of his last four fights, for the interim championship.
Given how quickly Cormier will be ready to fight, it makes creating the interim title even sillier. But in the case of Jones, the reality is, the public sees him as the champion anyway so the interim champion would be seen as the real champion should Jones win.
There were limited options for Jones. He had said he was willing to face a heavyweight, but all the key heavyweights are booked and then it couldn’t be an interim title fight. The only options seemed to be Anthony Johnson, Saint Preux or Glover Teixeira.
Johnson, who was clearly the top guy in the division besides Jones and Cormier, was said to have started training when the orginal fight was annpuncec, just in case something happened. Johnson has won 11 of his last 12 fights, only losing to Cormier, and he knocked Cormier down and had him in trouble in the opening seconds of that fight before losing due to Cormier taking him down and choking him out.
But after UFC attempted to get Johnson on the show, they found out he had undergone oral surgery and would be unable to wear a mouthpiece for several weeks.
Saint Preux is the type of fighter who has wrestling and punching power, but even at his best, he usually fades in long fights after a full training camp. He’s also never beaten a top fighter, as his biggest victim, Mauricio Shogun Rua, was past his prime. He’s the type of guy who would be expected to win most of his fights, fight evenly with the mid-level contenders, but has never indicated to have the level of fighting to be a threat at the championship level. He fought close with Bader, a similar level fighter, but lost due to stamina issues. He was also finished by Glover Teixeira in the third round.
While anything can happen, Saint Preux should look to be a safe opponent.
Jones vs Cormier Getting Hotter
Cormier had offered to help Saint Preux train for the fight and Jones responded by calling Cormier a coward. Jones also made a quick remark on Twitter, before deleting it, writing, “So much for being willing to die,” in reference to a Cormier quote of “I’m willing to die to beat you.”
An August or September date makes sense for the Cormier fight. It is possible, and in fact a strong possibility, that UFC would opt to hold the fight off until November in Madison Square Garden. Those close to Cormier said that he was hoping to fight sooner as he wanted to get in two fights in 2016.
Before the injury to Cormier, the big question was whether Jones would be the one who would have to be pulled from the fight after he was arrested on 3/29 for a potential probation violation on 3/24 due to receiving five tickets.
Jones was held for two days before being released on 3/31 for a potential probation violation. Jones was cited for drag racing, exhibition driving, use of modification of exhaust systems, not maintaining traffic lanes and improper display of his registration plate by Albuquerque police department officer Jason Brown.
Jones claimed that all he did was rev his engine at a stop light and was then pulled over, noting that how could he be drag racing if there wasn’t another car he was racing with, as well as noting he’d only gone a short distance, which he claimed was ten feet, before being pulled over, and wasn’t pulled over for speeding.
However, he was filmed being contentious with Brown, a tape that ended up all over the Internet and airing on UFC Tonight. He called him a “f***ing liar,” “despicable” as well as a “pig.”
He was released by Judge Michael Martinez who told him that if he was brought back before the court one more time, it will not go well for him.
On 4/5, Jones pleaded not guilty to the charges and has a trial set for 5/11 at Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court.
Martinez told Jones that he must get approval from his parole officer whenever he wants to drive. The Bernardillo County District Attorney’s office had asked for Jones to attend anger management classes, driver improvement classes and added another 60 hours to his existing community service from his 2015 charge. Jones’ side agreed to those conditions. The District Attorneys’ office wanted Martinez to also impose a curfew on Jones from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., but Jones’ side fought that and Martinez instead added the provision that he’d have to get permission to drive.
Jones said he would be hiring his nutritionist, Lou Giordano, to serve as his full-time driver.
Jones has completed 76 appearances of community service work.
McGregor vs Diaz 2 at UFC 200
Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz was officially announced as the main event of UFC 200, which takes place on 7/9 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The fight will be at 170 pounds. When the announcement was made on UFC Tonight, they said that Lorenzo Fertitta, Dana White and even John Kavanagh (McGregor’s coach) all wanted the fight at 155, and Diaz himself said he was willing to fight at 155, but for whatever reason, McGregor was insistent on hit being at 170, where it gives Diaz an advantage.
McGregor clearly wants to prove something. The weight difference of 15 pounds is significant because in a 170 pound weight class fight, both fighters will be fighting at 180-185, and Diaz carries that weight better than McGregor. At 155, it’s a better weight for McGregor to be at his best while Diaz has to cut to make it. Diaz said he thought the idea of a rematch was stupid, but since he’ll make a ton of money on it, he’s up for it.
Aldo vs. Edgar for Interim Title
UFC also announced Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar for the interim featherweight title. McGregor isn’t vacating the title, and will at some point face the winner, but the idea is the top of the division has been in a holding pattern and would continue to be. There are good reasons for interim title fights, such as if a champion is injured, but this isn’t one of them.
Tate vs Nunes for 200
UFC announced that women's bantamweight champion Miesha Tate will defend against Amanda Nunes as part of UFC 200.
The fight is confusing on almost every level. UFC is sitting on a goldmine right now in the women's bantamweight division with big money fights on the horizon (Tate vs. Ronda Rousey III, Tate vs. Holly Holm II). A Nunes win would hurt that dynamic since she wouldn't have near the buzz or interest level against any of those other fighters on the level Tate would have. If Tate was a lock to fight on this show, the only logical contenders would have been Rousey or Holm.
Tate signed a new deal with the promotion earlier this week as well.
Rest of the UFC 200 Card
A decision was made to leave Robbie Lawler off the show and use him possibly to headline Augist or September.
Other fights official Cain Velasquez vs. Travis Browne, Joe Lauzon vs. Diego Sanchez, Gegard Mousasi vs. Derek Brunson (a big fight at middleweight as Brunson would establish himself as a top tier guy with a win), Johny Hendricks vs. Kelvin Gastelum and Takanori Gomi vs. Jim Miller.
Dana White talked about maybe another women’s fight added with Cat Zingano vs. Julianna Pena as one of those matches.
The Ultimate Fighter
UFC announced that the 24th season of The Ultimate Fighter, which will be filmed over the summer, will be a 16-man tournament where the winner will get a shot at the flyweight championship in December.
Current flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson defends the title against Henry Cejudo on the next UFC PPV show, on 4/23 in Las Vegas. The timing is such that the winner of that fight could probably get in one more title match before December, although the way the season synopsis works, it looks like the Johnson vs. Cejudo winner will sit out until facing the tournament winner.
The UFC did this once before, in season four, filmed during the summer of 2006 and airing that fall, called The Comeback. The story of that season were that fighters who had been in the UFC either in the past, or still being used but had never lived up to their hype, were put together in tournaments in the welterweight and middleweight divisions, with tournament winners guaranteed title shots in 2007.
The season starts filming in June, and will debut on 8/31. It would likely end in mid-to-late November, with the tournament final being the final regular episode of the season. A few weeks later, in early December, the championship fight will take place.
UFC announced that they would be holding tryouts on 4/25 at Palace Station in Las Vegas, and no doubt they will be picking some fighters they’ve scouted and would be looking to sign for some of the spots. They are asking for fighters between the ages of 21 and 34, with at least three pro fights, and above .500 pro records.
UFC will be bringing in a coaching staff, guest coaches and former opponents of whoever the champion is to help the contestants train to win the tournament and also put together a game plan for the champion.
UFC 198 Brazil is Loaded
UFC put tickets on sale on 3/30 for the 5/14 show in Curitiba, Brazil, and they sold out all 45,000 seats by the next day. They may have sold out the first day, but the system crashed after they had sold 38,000 tickets.
This would be the all-time attendance record for MMA in Brazil, beating some of the stadium shows that were done in the 50s and early 60s. It will be the third biggest crowd in UFC history trailing the 11/15 Melbourne debut show with Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm and the GSP vs. Jake Shields show on April 30, 2011 in Toronto.
The sellout is a combination of the first time ever in Curitiba, the fact it’s in a stadium which I think in and of itself is a draw because it makes the show feel special, the Curitiba legends like Anderson Silva, Shogun Rua and Cris Cyborg fighting, plus Vitor Belfort (who along with Silva are the two biggest MMA stars in Brazil), and a Brazilian heavyweight champion defending.
The match order for the five-fight PPV card as of right now has Anderson Silva vs. Uriah Hall opening the show, followed by Rua vs. Corey Anderson, Cyborg vs. Smith, Ronaldo Jacare Souza vs. Vitor Belfort to determine the probable next middleweight title contender, and the Fabricio Werdum vs. Stipe Miocic heavyweight title main event.
This is notable as far as how it does because Werdum vs. Miocic is a fight that I would figure on about 250,000 buys, but the undercard is really strong and Anderson Silva is a major draw, so it’ll be interesting to see how a name loaded card at a soccer stadium but with a weak marquee main event does.
As of right now, the Fight Pass fights are Renato Carniero vs. Zubaira Tukhugov, Sergio Moraes vs. Kamaru Usman, Francisco Trinaldo vs. Yancy Medeiros and Warlley Alves vs. Bryan Barbarena. The FS 1 fights are Thiago Santos vs. Nate Marquardt, John Lineker vs. Rob Font, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Patrick Cummins and Demian Maia vs. Matt Brown, which is very strong for FS 1 prelims
UFC on FOX Main Event Scrapped
The main event for the 4/16 FOX show from Tampa fell apart as Tony Ferguson had to pull out. Ferguson said on Twitter, “Usually I can power through small bumps and bruises. Doc said I have fluid/blood in my lung. I will heal up.” Ferguson was to face Khabib Nurmagomedov. UFC is looking for a replacement to face Nurmagomedov.
Donald Cerrone at first agreed to the fight, as long as it was at 170 pounds. But three hours after doing so, Nurmagomedov claimed Cerrone pulled out, citing injured ribs.
As of right now, the Rashad Evans vs. Glover Teixiera fight, scheduled as No. 2 originally, is tentatively set as being changed from a three rounder to a five rounder and put in the main event spot
Romero gets suspension reduced
Yoel Romero and USADA agreed to a six month suspension that would be from 1/12 to 7/12 after he tested positive for Ibutamoren, a drug that mimics the effects of Growth Hormone and a PED. Romero, after learning of his positive test, provided USADA with a sample of a supplement he had been taking. The label didn’t list Ibutamoren as an ingredient, but when tested an unopened container of the supplement, they found it contained Ibutamoren.
USADA is now advising athletes not to use the supplement. Because Romero unknowingly had the PED in his system, what would normally be a two year suspension was cut to six months per an agreement between the two sides.
Romero tested positive in a test on 12/16, which was four days after his win via a very controversial judges decision over Ronaldo Jacare Souza. Because he failed a test after the fight, and didn’t test positive before it before the fight or on the day of the fight, he result was not overturned.
Possible Punk Debut?
The July FOX show will be 7/23 in Chicago at the United Center. I could see them wanting the C.M. Punk debut to be there, although the plan had always been for Punk to debut on PPV.
Punk, who is recovering from back surgery, said on the MMA Hour it was at best a 10 percent chance he’d be able to fight Mickey Gall by UFC 200 and doesn’t want to give a date yet on when the fight would happen. He had surgery six weeks ago for a herniated disc in his lower back, and hasn’t started back training, but hopes to be cleared soon.
He made a point to use this to illustrate a difference between Lorenzo Fertitta, Dana White and Vince McMahon. He said when he was diagnosed and was with Fertitta and White, he said that maybe he could take a cortisone shot and train through the injury and fight and they told him not to, that there were PPVs every month and they wanted to him to get the surgery and get fixed up, noting that there are PPV shows every month.
“It was just a relief to finally have a boss who was like, `No, no, just get it fixed, we want you 100 percent, we want you to be healthy,’ and not interested in throwing a band-aid on a bullet would just to parade me out in front of people.
Next Bellator Show
Bellator Dynamite 2 was announced for 6/24 in St. Louis, with a main event of Rampage Jackson vs. Satoshi Ishii, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist in judo. The two will fight at a 215 pound catch weight, which sounds like Jackson doesn’t want to get to 205 since Ishii fights at 205 all the time. Jackson should be the heavy favorite here unless age has really caught up to him. Like the first Dynamite show, the event will combine both MMA and kickboxing with a ring and a cage both set up on the floor.
UFC This Weekend
The first UFC show in three weeks will be an FS 1 show in the morning and afternoon U.S. time from Zagreb, Croatia on Sunday. The show starts at 10:30 a.m. Eastern (or 7:30 a.m. Pacific on a Sunday morning) with Fight Pass bouts of Alessio De Chirico vs. Bojan Velickovic, Cyril Asker vs. Jared Cannonier and Lucas Martins vs. Robert Whiteford.
FS 1 coverage begins at Noon with Filip Pejic vs. Damian Stasiak, Ian Entwistle vs. Alejandro Perez, Mairbek Taisumov vs. Damir Hadzovic, Zac Cummings vs. Nicolas Dalby, Maryna Moroz vs. Cristina Stanclu, Jan Blachowicz vs. Igor Pokrajac, Timothy Johnson vs. Marcin Tybura, Curtis Blaydes vs. Francis Nagannou, Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Derrick Lewis and Ben Rothwell vs. Junior Dos Santos
Pacquiao vs Bradley 3 this Saturday Night
Given the lack of talk an d hype about this Saturday’s fight between Manny Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 KOs) and Tim Bradley (33-1-1, 13 KOs), it’s surprising that there’s a fight at all between these two guys. Compared to their two prior fights against each other in 2012 and 2014, this fight has been very quiet. The lack if interest from boxing fans in the Pacquiao-Bradley 3 fight reminds me a lot of the zero interest fans had in Pacquiao’s fights against Brandon Rios and Chris Algieri in the past. Pacquiao-Rios brought in 470,000 and Pacquiao-Algieri ended up with 400,000 buys. We shall see.