Week in MMA & Boxing #34
MMA & Boxing News From the week of
April 9th- April 15th, 2016
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida (22-7) is out of his Saturday UFC on Fox tilt against Dan Henderson due to out-of-competition use of a banned substance.
UFC released the following Wednesday:
"The UFC organization was made aware today by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, that Lyoto Machida declared the usage of a banned substance during an out-of-competition sample collection last week. Machida stated that he was unaware that the substance was prohibited both in and out of competition and, in accordance with the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, his disclosure of usage will be taken into consideration by USADA during any potential results management and adjudication process."
Given this information, UFC officials have elected to remove Machida from his scheduled bout against Dan Henderson this Saturday in Tampa, Fla. Henderson will be re-booked for a new bout in the near future."
This is the first drug test failure for the 13-year fighter. The 37-year-old was looking to snap a two-fight losing streak against Henderson, whom he had beaten by split decision in February 2013.
This week's Fox Card in Shambles
The main card has been decimated by injury and now, this. Due to an injury to Tony Ferguson, the 4/16 FOX special main event from Tampa will be Rashad Evans vs. Glover Teixeira in a five round fight.
At first Nurmagomedov was talked with about fighting Donald Cerrone, and because it was a short notice fight for Cerrone, was asked to fight at 170. Both men apparently agreed and then it got weird. Nurmagomedov on Twitter said that three hours after they had agreed, Cerrone was injured and pulled out and was trying to find another lightweight to step up on short notice, calling out Anthony Pettis. Cerrone later said he wasn’t injured and had agreed to the fight, but there has been no explanation as to why the fight with Cerrone didn’t happen past UFC likely making the decision against doing it.
On UFC Tonight, they reported that UFC was looking to put Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov on the 5/29 show in Las Vegas. Nurmagomedov then sent out a copy of his contract against Cerrone that he signed. Anyway, for some reason Cerrone is not his opponent, and instead he’s facing Darrell Horcher, who makes his UFC debut on the FOX main card, which rules out the Ferguson fight on 5/29. Horcher is 12-1, but the only guy with any name value that he fought, former UFC fighter Philippe Nover, he lost to via decision in 2013. Because Horcher took the fight barely a week ahead of time, both fighters have agreed to fight at 160 pounds instead of 155.
The show begins with five Fight Pass fights at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time, which are Omari Akhmedov vs Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, Drew Dober vs. Islam Makhachev, Cezar Ferreria vs Caio Magalhaes, Randy Brown vs. Michael Graves and the Fight Pass main of Bethe Correia vs. Raquel Pennington. The FOX card starts at 6 p.m. with Hacran Dias vs. Cub Swanson, Court McGee vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio, John Dodson vs. Manny Gamburyan, Michael Chiesa vs Beneil Dariush, Rose Namajunas vs. Tecia Torres, Horcher vs. Nurmagomedov, and Evans vs. Teixeira.
Mir Popped Too
Frank Mir, who is the longest lasting fighter, when it comes to always having been with the organization, on the roster, failed a USADA drug test on 3/20, the day he fought and lost to Mark Hunt in the main event in Brisbane, Australia.
USADA protocol is now to inform UFC when a fighter fails a test so UFC doesn’t book him. UFC then announces that is a potential issue. The drug itself and punishment isn’t meted out until the fighter is given a chance to defend himself.
Mir acknowledged that he failed for a PED but denied use, saying, “To all my fans and supporters, I have recently been notified by USADA that the test I took on the night of the fight came back positive for a substance that I did not take. I don’t know how that is possible as I did not take any performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) to compete. I have never tested positive for a banned substance since joining the UFC and becoming a 2x champion. I ask all of you to hod judgement against me until the facts have been revealed.”
Mir was one of the handful of fighters using TRT, after having been approved for use the testosterone by the Nevada commission before the commission decided against allowing testosterone replacement therapy in competition and the UFC following suit. Mir does a regular podcast and talked at length on the subject.
UFC Croatia Event Review
Junior Dos Santos dominated Ben Rothwell in all five rounds to win the main event of UFC’s debut show at Arena Zagreb in Zagreb, Croatia on 4/10. Dos Santos fought a careful fight, going back to basic boxing, using footwork and distance and relying on his jab to set a UFC record for most punches landed in a heavyweight fight with 157. He also set a record for any UFC fight, regardless of weight, with 92 landed strikes to the body.
That stat pretty much tells you about the workmanlike fight. Dos Santos kept at a distance and kept moving. Rothwell did land some punches, but Dos Santos was far more effective landing jabs to the body. After the fight, Dos Santos noted while he trains in Jiu Jitsu and wrestling, that he is a boxer and needs to fight like one.
The result was a shock to many as Dos Santos was coming off the worst performance of his career, a second round knockout loss to Alistair Overeem on 12/19 in Orlando where he did almost nothing on offense. Rothwell, was coming off probably the most impressive looking win of his career, submitting Josh Barnett on 1/30 in Newark. The last dominant win by Dos Santos was three years ago. Rothwell hadn’t lost a fight in the last three years.
Rothwell was on the short list, with Cain Velasquez and Overeem, of guys that could have been chosen to face the winner of the 5/14 fight with Fabricio Werdum defending the title against Stipe Miocic. Had Rothwell won, and Velasquez and Overeem lost, he’d have been a lock to have been the next contender. But now it’s back to the drawing board.
For Dos Santos, what happens next probably has to wait to see how three key fights, the Werdum vs. Miocic fight, the 5/10 fight in Rotterdam, Holland, with Overeem vs. Andrei Arlovski, and the 7/9 fight with Velasquez vs Travis Browne go.
The show was a significant ratings success, as it was the most-watched UFC Fight Night show that aired outside of prime time in network history, doing 781,000 viewers. FS 1 was also in first place among the sports networks during the 2 p.m. to 5:20 p.m. time slot. The number is strong given that aside from the main event, there were no marquee fights. Dos Santos vs. Rothwell itself peaked between 4:45 and 5 p.m. (the early rounds) with more than 1 million viewers, meaning people did turn it off during the later rounds because it wasn’t much of a spectator fight.
The main event was really the only fight of major relevance as far as contenders went. The fight wasn’t particularly exciting. The show was lacking in name value, but most of the undercard fights went quickly and the action itself was good.
Derrick Lewis, Alejandro Perez, Mairbek Taisumov and Jared Cannonier all took $50,000 performance bonuses. The UFC decided against a best fight bonus, which would have likely gone to the light heavyweight bout with Igor Pokrajac vs. Jan Blachowicz.
Lewis knocked out Gabriel Gonzaga in the semi. Lewis has scary punching power as of his 15 wins, 14 of them have been via knockout. He’s never fought a top tier heavyweight yet. After the win, there was talk of matching him with Roy Nelson, which would be a good test. But even as impressive as his power has looked, you can’t look past the fact he’s been knocked out by Shawn Jordan and Matt Mitrione in the last two years.
UFC in MSG show set
After NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo officially signed the bill to legalize MMA in the state Thursday, UFC announced their first show in MSG will be a PPV event on Saturday, November 12th. They also said another live event will be coming to upstate New York by the end of 2016, assumed to be Buffalo due to the proximity to Toronto which features a significant MMA fanbase.
UFC reiterated in a press release that they will run four shows a year in New York State for the first three years post-bill passage. With MSG, Brooklyn's Barclays Center, Buffalo, Albany, and even Syracuse's Carrier Dome as a longshot, there's no shortage of venues available. UFC mentioned those venues as well as Utica and Rochester in the release.
Given the amount of time it took to pass the bill, expect a pretty stacked card -- the likes of which people expected with UFC 200. If the cards fall right -- always a big 'if' with MMA -- a Jon Jones/Daniel Cormier rematch or a Conor McGregor/Frankie Edgar featherweight title fight paired with Ronda Rousey's return to action would be a pretty great start, wouldn't it? Expect Chris Weidman to also be part of the card depending on his title situation.
Weigh In Changes
There is a major change for the 6/4 show in Los Angeles, and this will also be the case for Bellator’s 5/14 show in San Jose, since both are in California. The commission will allow the fighters to weigh in as early as 10 a.m., giving them six added hours to rehydrate before fight time. They will also be examining fighters with hydration tests. If a fighter is severely dehydrated when they weigh-in, they will be pulled from the show. If a fighter isn’t properly hydrated on the day of the fight (they will be giving fighters hydration tests on fight day), they will be pulled from the show by the commission.
The weigh-in may turn into just something done for the crowd but actually more a crowd appearance than an actual weigh-in since the belief is that most fighters will want to weigh in as soon as possible. In an interview on MMAFighting.com, Urijah Faber, who faces Dominick Cruz on the show, noted that he cuts from 163 to 135 but also said he has experience in gaming the system when it comes to hydration tests from his days as a college wrestler
B.J. Penn returning
B.J. Penn, 37, under the tutelage of Greg Jackson for the first time, makes his comeback as a featherweight for a fight against Dennis Siver on 6/4 in Los Angeles. There had been talk of him facing Nik Lentz for a few months. The goal would be to win some bouts and set up a megafight with Conor McGregor, but the last time Penn fought, against Frankie Edgar, he looked like a shot fighter.
George St-Pierre has all but confirmed a return in an interview this past week with RDS in Quebec. “It’s true, we are talking and we are on good terms. Anything can happen. We’ll see what happens in the next few weeks, few months.” “I can’t give you any scoop. If there is something, UFC will decide how they want to release that. I can tell you that I’m on good terms with them. But sometimes we don’t agree on some stuff.” “There’s a lot of things going on, but I don’t want to get into detail. My contract is very old, even before the Reebok deal, so there’s a lot of things to take into consideration.”
“I went to Las Vegas because I had friends there. McGregor was supposed to fight dos Anjos, and if he would have won, he would have been the first fighter t have two titles in two different weight categories, so I wanted to be there to show him my respect. Unfortunately, the fight was canceled and Nate Diaz got the call. But that was an incredible fight and we got our money’s worth.”
“I will never challenge someone in a lighter category than mine. I was not there for that. It as his show. If he wanted to challenge me, he would have done it. I don’t know if it was his plan, but I was there to watch the fight, not to start one.” “My return doesn’t have to be at UFC 200. I know the Conor Mcgregor will fight Nate Diaz and that’s enough reason for them to have a good card.” “We’ll see what happens. But again, there are things that I can’t talk about. My agents and UFC have a plan and we will see what’s best for me and for them.”
Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes "Controversy"
There were a lot of claims thrown out this past week regarding the matchmaking of Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes instead of Holly Holm at UFC 200 and of the women’s division.
Lenny Fresquez, the manager of Holm, told the local Albuquerque Journal that he was told by UFC that Tate made the call to face Nunes instead of Holm. When that got out, Tate was heavily criticized for lack of business sense, because a fight with Holm would be far bigger.
Tate claimed to MMA Junkie that UFC was the one that brought up Nunes and she was just fighting who the company asked her to. She said UFC felt that since she finished Holm, they didn’t think Holm should get a rematch and with Rousey having movie commitments, they felt Nunes was the next best contender. Tate’s manager, Josh Jones, claimed that UFC never brought up Holm to them.
Fresquez then said, “I talked Lorenzo (Fertitta) at his word. This is what Tate wanted to do.” Based on people I’ve spoken with, Tate’s version is the one most feel is accurate. It’s also notable that after Holm had said publicly she would face Cris Cyborg, giving her a lot of support since Ronda Rousey had said she’d only fight Cyborg at 135, and Cyborg kept refusing saying it was a health issue (even though her nutritionist said she could make the weight in a healthy manner), that when Holm was offered the fight, she turned it down. Holm said she turned it down because she was under the impression she was in line for a shot at Tate and the title, a more important fight.
New Womens Fight for 200
Julianna Pena vs. Cat Zingano, which we reported as being in talks two weeks ago, is now official for UFC 200.
Ultimate Fighter Roster
The roster for the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter, Team Joanna vs. Team Claudia, which debuts with the two hour special on 4/20 on FS 1, was revealed. There will be two eight person tournaments, with men light heavyweights and women strawweights. There will be 16 fights to get into the house that will air on the first episode, and then they’ll pick teams. The men are Abdel Medjedoub (3-0), Andrew Sanchez (7-2), Cory Hendricks (3-0), Elias Urbina (3-0), Eric Spicely (8-0), Jamelle Jones (6-2), John Paul Elias (3-0), Joshua Stansbury (7-2), Kenneth Bergh (3-0), Khalil Rountree (4-0), Marcel Fortuna (8-1), Muhammed DeReese (5-0), Myron Dennis (12-4), Norman Paraisy (15-4-2, 1 no contest), Phil Hawes (3-0) and Trevor Carlson (10-2). The women are Alyssa Krahn (3-1), Amanda Cooper (1-1), Amy Montenegro (7-2) Ashley Cummins (3-3), Ashley Yoder (4-1), Chelsea Bailey (2-0), Helen Harper (4-1), Irene Rivera (6-2), Jamie Moyle (3-1), J.J. Aldrich (2-1), Jodie Esquibel (5-1), Kate Jackson (7-2-1), Kristi Lopez (2-0), Lanchana Green (2-1), Mellony Geugjes (0-1) and Tatiana Suarez (3-0). To show the lack of depth in that division they usually want three fights and at least two wins yet four women on the list don’t even have that qualification. Montenegro (1-1 record), Moyle (3-1 record), Aldrich (2-1) and Esquibel (3-1 record) all have experience in Invicta.
Joao Carvalho, a 28-year-old Portuguese fighter, passed away on 4/11, two days after losing a fight to Charlie Ward on a show in Dublin, Ireland.
The finish of the fight didn’t look unusual. In the third round, Ward had Carvalho’s back and threw about ten hard punches from that position on the ground when the referee waved it off. Conor McGregor, who was in attendance at the show, promoted by Total Extreme Fighting, and held at Dublin’s National Boxing Stadium, said it could have been stopped sooner. Video of the end of the fight showed it was not what would be viewed under normal circumstances as a late stoppage.
Carvalho looked stunned while sitting up after the stoppage, no different from a usual reaction, and then laid down. He was rushed to Beaumont Hospital about 20 minutes after the fight when he started to feel weakened. He underwent emergency brain surgery and was in critical condition before passing away at 9:35 p.m. local time.
Ward is a fighter from SBG in Dublin, the same team as McGregor.
Deaths in combat sports are a sad reality and are a reminder why it is imperative fighters are checked out before fights and proper medical care is exercised during and after fights, and why officials have to be well trained and not allow fights to go on too long. But even with everything done correctly, there will sometimes be tragedies in MMA, boxing and kickboxing.
Carvalho was bleeding heavily from the nose when the fight was stopped. It was said that doctors asked him after the fight if he felt any pain or headaches and he responded he felt no pain or headaches but did feel very tired. The doctors on the premises recommended him going to the hospital for a CT scan. He was described as walking around, talking and smiling backstage before being sent to the hospital. There was nothing out of the ordinary about anything from the post-fight tests but they did order him to be taken to the hospital.
Ten minutes later he complained his head was hurting and started to vomit and five minutes after that he got significantly worse so they immediately put him in an ambulance, rushed him to the hospital, and called the hospital ahead of time.