Dan Henderson, who tore his MCL and had to bow out of the UFC 151 headliner scheduled for Sept. 1, 2012 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, was going to be replaced by friend and former teammate, Chael Sonnen, who accepted the fight on just eight days notice.
The only problem?
“Bones,” on the advice of his head coach, Greg Jackson, refused to take the fight. So not only do we lose the “Jones vs. Henderson” main event, we get nothing. Nada. Zilch. Instead, Jones will move forward with his Lyoto Machida rematch, which has been booked for the promotion’s upcoming PPV event on Sept. 22 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
That means Joseph Benavidez vs. Demetrious Johnson is no longer the headlining contest, but as White explains, it’s still too early to make any kind of announcements as to how they’ll merge the remaining UFC 151 fights into future cards.
Needless to say, the “Sin City” fight boss had less than kind words for the Greg Jackson camp and the reigning UFC light heavyweight kingpin, who will also have to face some backlash from mixed martial arts (MMA) fans after becoming the first titleholder in UFC history to turn down a championship fight.
And in Dana White’s eyes, that makes Greg Jackson a “Sport Killer.”
There’s plenty of juicy quotes and real-time updates from today’s (Aug. 23, 2012) media conference call, which you can sift through in our UFC 151 live blog by clicking here.
Much is made of the transition for those elite collegiate and Olympic wrestlers who wish to try mixed martial arts as a post-wrestling career option. On the heels of the 2012 London Olympic Games – which saw Americans Jordan Burroughs and Jake Varner bring home gold medals in freestyle competition – the question about who is next to move from the amateur wrestling ranks to the professional MMA divisions is hotter than ever.
For one Greco-Roman Olympic champion, however, the move wasn’t as easy or fun as he thought it would be.
“For me, it was a different transition,” 2000 Olympic gold medalist Rulon Gardner said to Ariel Helwani on Monday’s The MMA Hour. “I’ve never really gotten into striking and hitting and hurting. I remember being in that fight and looking across [Hidehiko] Yoshida – he’s a very skilled, talented striker and ultimately his submissions and his ability to be able to throw is second to none – but as I was hitting him I’m like, ‘This isn’t fun. This isn’t why I became an athlete.’”
Gardner’s foray into mixed martial arts was shortlived. One bout, to be specific: a 2004 essentially open weight match with 1992 Olympic gold medalist Hidehiko Yoshida at PRIDE Shockwave on New Year’s Eve. Gardner won via unanimous decision.
Despite the auspicious beginnings, something didn’t click for Gardner. Or rather, something clicked, but not in an expected or good way. Whereas in wrestling, Gardner was committed to winning and intensity, he felt MMA asked of him a savagery he simply wasn’t capable of. He didn’t feel right in a sport where the object was to hurt the opponent.
“I enjoyed that first fight and I enjoyed getting back into youth wrestling and that kind of stuff,” Gardner confessed. “I just didn’t have the killer instinct to go out there and just try to hurt somebody. It was almost an unknown feeling to me to feel what I was feeling when I fought, so it was a different journey. I didn’t really know if I wanted to go down to see that part of my personality because it’s a thing you have to pull out of yourself and that; that grittiness. I don’t know if I have that.”
“I’ve been to Rome and I’ve seen the coliseum. I kinda felt like I was a gladiator. I didn’t know if that’s where my calling was in life. I didn’t see myself being that type of fighter,” Gardner continued. “I didn’t see myself as a killer.”
That doesn’t mean, however, he wasn’t close to walking further down the MMA path. In fact, as Gardner revealed to Helwani, the management at PRIDE already had their sights set on Gardner’s next bout: a match with then-PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko.
“They wanted me to jump in there with Fedor. They’d offered me a substantial amount of money,” said Gardner. How substantial? According to Gardner, approximately $ 1 million.
“They loved the idea of me going against Fedor. You have sambo, you have wrestling, you have two of the classic styles of wrestling. They wanted us to go at it. I just said, ‘You know, I have better aspirations right now I want to get into.’”
Among the favorite PRIDE-era matchmaking tactics were the use of Olympic medalist, gold medalists preferably although not exclusively. They were often matched against one another as in the case of Gardner and Yoshida. Sometimes, however, they were fed to more seasoned opponents for, well, sport.
Multiple-time world judo champion and 1992 Olympic silver medalist Naoya Ogawa was butchered by Emelianenko in just 54 seconds in the judoka’s eighth professional bout. 2004 Olympic Greco-Roman gold medalist Karam Ibrahim Gaber was badly knocked out by Kazuyuki Fujita at K-1 PREMIUM 2004 Dynamite in the wrestler’s first and only ever MMA fight.
The lures of the fight game never appealed to Gardner. Not the competition itself or the naked cash grab. “Like I said, it wasn’t truly about making money. Some people in the world think everything’s about money. For me, it wasn’t. I think there are other things that I appreciated about the sport that I loved to learn,” he said.
That doesn’t mean even his close friends didn’t try to talk him into it. “You would not believe how many friends I had said exactly that. ‘Are you crazy? I could’ve went out there, you could’ve taken a dive or something!’” To hear Gardner tell it, that would’ve been a betrayal of the person he was – a person molded in the cauldron of tough but fair competition.
“No, no, no, no, no. That’s not the person I am,” said Gardner, roundly rejected the suggestion. “If you’re going to go out there and prepare for something like that, you train and you develop the technique.”
Gardner just didn’t have the will to put in the time. He told Helwani he didn’t feel like he had anything to prove in MMA and the effort it would take to prepare for someone the caliber of a 2004 Emelianenko in a bout where pain is the objective ultimately never appealed to him.
“It was looking at being a 6 or 8 or 10-month out before I’d even be able to even feel comfortable being in his level because back then Fedor was truly the man that people feared in the world of heavyweight MMA.”
“He was and I still think he is the most dangerous individual out there.”
It’s no secret Donald Cerrone is hankering for a fight against former WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. “Cowboy” ripped Pettis for hiding behind his shoulder injury earlier this month, and followed-up by calling out “Showtime” during the UFC 150 post-fight press conference.
At the time UFC President Dana White seemed receptive to the idea. Now, after twiddling our collective thumbs for a few weeks of match-up limbo, Pettis finally answered Cerrone’s challenge.
“Oh, it is happening,” Pettis declared on UFC Tonight. “He is talking too much mess for it not to happen.”
Pettis has been sidelined since his February ‘Knockout of the Year’ candidate over Joe Lauzon, and after undergoing shoulder surgery he expects to return to the cage by early November. When that happens, he has just one message for “Cowboy.”
“Be ready. I am coming for that title. You’re the only guy standing in my way and I’m coming for it.”
4 MUST-READ STORIES
Pettis sets return timetable, wants Cerrone. Former WEC lightweight champ Anthony Pettis said he expects to be ready to return from injury by early November, and when he does, “Showtime” wants Donald Cerrone.
Weidman told to reject Belfort fight. Speaking with UFC Tonight, Chris Weidman revealed he was told by UFC officials to turn down a potential fight with Vitor Belfort in the hopes of securing a match-up against UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Silva later announced he would sit out the rest of 2012.
McKenzie calls out Edgar. Straight from the files of “it’s worth a try,” TUF 12 alumnus Cody McKenzie took to Twitter to call out former UFC lightweight champ and recent featherweight addition Frankie Edgar. McKenzie, who hails from Washington, asked to fight Edgar on the UFC’s December 8th Seattle card.
Ortiz opens management firm. Recently retired Tito Ortiz is now in the management game. The UFC Hall of Famer started Primetime 360 Entertainment & Sports Management with his longtime business partner George Prajin, inking former Strikeforce featherweight champion Cris Cyborg as one of the firm’s first clients.
After watching Forrest Griffin and Dan Henderson commentate cageside at Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans, it’s somewhat comical to see their spirits deflate with every round of Jones dominance.
Feel like hating humanity for a second? Three women in Dover were arrested for coercing 3-year-old boys in their daycare to fight and then filming it. Yes, you read that right. Now, we don’t know exactly what was going there, but this seems like a pretty accurate recreation.
We’ve featured Michael Page in this space before, and say what you want about the man’s cockiness, but by god is he entertaining. So just trust me when I say you should watch his latest fight against Jefferson George.
Lee “Lightning” Murray is a man of many talents. In 2004, he debuted in the UFC with a first-round armbar victory over Jorge Rivera. And in 2006, he masterminded a £53 million armed raid of the Securitas Depot, aka, the largest cash robbery in British history. So if you feel like slacking off today, here’s a fascinating documentary on Murray’s exploits.
There is a lot of talk about the UFC Hall of Fame, and whether or not it has validity of being a true Hall of Fame. Critics have a point: Some of the best MMA fighters of all time never fought in the UFC, so how can that be called a real HOF? That being said, here is the who I think would belong in the first ever class of the MMA Hall of Fame
(Note: Just like other Hall of Fame’s, the fighter must be retired from active MMA)
1. Fedor Emelianenko (34-4-1)
Titles held: Pride HW champion (1 time and last champion), 2004 Pride HW Grand Prix champion, RINGS Openweight Championship (1 time, last champion), RINGS 2001 Absolute class champion, RINGS 2001 Openweight champion, WAMMA HW champion (first and last)
Notable wins: Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski, Brett Rogers, Mark Hunt, Big Nog, Cro Cop, Kevin Randleman,Mark Coleman, Kaz Fujita, Heath Herring, Semmy Schilt, Babalu Sobral, Hong Man Choi
Notable losses: Bigfoot Silva, Fabrico Werdum, Dan Henderson
Not much has to be said about “The Last Emperor”. For a decade, Fedor reigned supreme over the HW division. While critics say he can’t be the greatest of all time as he never fought in the UFC, Fedor knocked off multiple UFC champions and 12 top ten opponents in his career. As an undersized HW, Fedor finally fell from grace with 3 straight losses before picking up 3 wins on the independent circuit before finally calling it quits. Fedor is a first ballot hall of famer.
2. Chuck Liddell (21-8)
Titles held: UFC LHW Champion (1 time, 4 title defences)
Notable wins: Jose Landi-Jons, Jeff Monson, Kevin Randleman, Guy Metzger, Murilo Bustamante, Vitor Belfort, Babalu Sobral, Alistar Overeem, Tito Ortiz, Vernon White, Randy Couture, Wanderlai Silva.
The godfather of the sprawl and brawl, “The Iceman” remains one of the most dominant LHW’s in MMA history. Liddell still holds the UFC record for wins at LHW (16) and went on two separate 7 fight win streaks in his career. Liddell had a rock solid chin for most of his career, and always put on an exciting fight. For those who haven’t seen him fight Pele in Brazil, that fight is a must watch.
“The Natural”, “Capitan America”, whatever you want to call him one thing is for certain: Randy was the original gangster of MMA. Titles in two different divisions, not to mention being the oldest guy ever to win a UFC title, it’s hard not to respect Randy Couture. To put into perspective how good Randy was, he was voted the Most Valuable MMA fighter in 2007…at the age of 43.
More after the jump…
Found something you’d like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we’ll include it in tomorrow’s column.
The American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) is one of the premier training facilities in all of mixed martial arts.
It’s home to several former UFC title challengers, an ex-heavyweight champion and a wealth of the elite in multiple weight classes throughout our beloved sport.
With all those big alpha male personalities, however, comes conflict.
Tonight was the third episode of Fight Factory on Nuvo TV, a new TV series which follows all the behind-the-scenes goings-on of AKA. The show debuted last week with a combo episode to kickstart the new season and was met with favorable reviews.
Did tonight keep up the momentum?
I’ll keep the answer short and sweet: Hell yes.
There were three primary stories being told on tonight’s episode. The first followed Wayne Phillips, a 5-4 fighter in the gym who is trying to get out of the doldrums of MMA and work his way into a major organization. Viewers were witness to his personal life which included his relationship with his daughter, his sidejob of teaching kids at the gym and finding out just how important a victory in his next fight meant to him.
The second story was Phil Baroni, who had taken a fight to pay the bills. The cameras followed him all the way back home to Long Island where you got to meet his entire family which included his biggest fan, his mother, who implored him to quit fighting and later told him she wouldn’t be attending his fight for the first time in his career.
Lastly, UFC welterweight contender Jon Fitch was given the spotlight as he ventured out of AKA to train with his good friend Josh Koscheck, who’s had a much publicized split with the gym and Javier Mendez. Viewers were given an opportunity to meet his wife, his newborn baby and see just how much of a toll the feud between Koscheck and Mendez has taken on the team and the relationships between the fighters.
Of course, not everything in this world is sunshine and rainbows and the welterweight Phillips was overwhelmed by his opponent, losing a unanimous decision and dropping his record down to 5-5. His team looked like they had some difficult decisions ahead as he simply wasn’t progressing at the rate they were hoping he would.
Again, I applaud the creators of this show for not sugarcoating anything. For every winner in this sport, someone loses and in all honesty, that actually makes for better television because the emotions are so much different and relatable.
(WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE’S NO FOAMING OF THE MOUTH ALLOWED IN THIS ARENA?!)
You might recall that in the immediate aftermath of Ronda Rousey’s win over Sarah Kaufman last weekend, “Rowdy” called out former women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg. Unlike past Strikeforce events, Cyborg was not allowed to enter the ring and cause a full-fledged riot for our entertainment, and in fact was actually removed from her seat in the audience before the fight even started.
Why, you ask? Well, it turns out that the California State Athletic Commission has a rule declaring that any fighter under a current suspension is not allowed inside to be at a professional mixed martial arts event. Cyborg shared your current confusion while she was being removed form the audience, telling Tatame in a recent interview:
I watched all fights but on the last one, Ronda’s, a woman working on the event came to tell me I had to leave because the commission doesn’t accept suspended athletes on the shows. My manager talked to the guys at the commission and there’s really a law that says that.
I was upset for the way they treated me. They could’ve pulled me on a corner and told me, not in front of the fans. I was taking pictures and they interrupted me, saying I had to go. It was very disrespectful. I believe a champion deserves to be treated with respect. Everyone knows an athlete’s life isn’t easy, so all fighters deserve respect. When I was in Brazil I watched UFC and there was no problem.
An odd rule indeed, made all the more unusual by the fact that the commission decided to wait until the main event to inform Cyborg that she wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place, which is the equivalent of letting a homeless man wander into your dinner party uninvited and waiting until the nightcap to kick him out.
And even if she was able to make it to the hexagon, it wouldn’t really have mattered, because the chances of Rousey/Cyborg happening at 135 are about as good as Mayweather/Pacquiao:
I watched it from upstairs, standing up. I thought he (sic?) did a great job fighting, had a good performance. She’s a great athlete on her division. This is my last interview on which I’m talking about her. I’m making clear to the fans who want to see this fight that if it’s up to me and her it will never happen because I’m not dropping to her weight class and she can’t gain few pounds to fight me.
So I’m only talking about her again if I sign a contract because then it will be a fight that will actually happen. It doesn’t depend on me, it’s up to Strikeforce to decide. If they want this fight they will have to come to an agreement so that both of us are happy.
Well, Ms. Borg, it’s not that Ronda couldn’t gain the necessary weight — she fought two fights at 145 under the Strikeforce banner — it’s that she shouldn’t have to. And before some of you more jilted readers jump on me for hugging Rousey’s ovaries (although I would give my right arm to do so. ZING!), please first consider that Ronda is the champ in this scenario. Cyborg was the champ, but managed to fuck that up on her own. And as far as the weight cut is concerned, I recently listened to a pretty great discussion on the matter during a recent episode of The Co-Main Event Podcast, which I would highly recommend you all check out. And I’m not just saying that because Old Dad and Chad Dundas are running it; it is truly as entertaining as it is informative, and the listeners control a lot of the content they discuss. Plus, they have a recurring segment called “Are You Fucking Kidding Me?!”, which is always a good idea.
But anyway, when they came upon the topic of Cyborg’s weight, Dundas brought to light the fact that she had enough trouble enough making 145 in the past, to which Fowlkes responded that it might even make her look worse if she was suddenly able to make 135 on the tail end of a steroid suspension. And while there is no doubting the incredibly muscular physique that Cyborg possesses, I would have to agree with Fowlkes. Guys like Dominick Cruz, Francisco Rivera, and Roland Delorme to name a few stand at roughly the same height as Cyborg, if not taller, and are able to make the cut to 135 with ease. Does Cyborg really have that much more muscle mass than either of those gentlemen? Perhaps in the past, but that is more than likely not the case nowadays.
In either case, we need this fight to happen. The Rousey haters need to see if she can truly be defeated, and the Rousey lovers need her prove that she is truly the best fighter in WMMA history. Let’s face it, Cyborg is the last legitimate threat to Rousey in the foreseeable future, and even Dana White tweeted that the fight would be good enough for a UFC pay-per-view:
That “high” wasn’t frustrating whatsoever. In fact, it was quite odd because of the incredible ease it seemed to take for Weidman to accomplish such a feat. The “low” part was what happened next for Weidman, who many assumed had punched his ticket for a title shot, and that he would be next in line to fight current champion Anderson Silva.
Not so fast, fella.
“The Spider” and his management weighed in on the matter, stating that they didn’t feel “The All American” was deserving of a title shot (a song and dance we’ve heard too many times now from Silva and his camp). But, did Silva’s hesitation to accept the fight cost Weidman in the short term?
You bet your bippy.
Weidman recently was interviewed by Ariel Helwani of “UFC Tonight,” during which the Long Islander discussed the current state of limbo he and his career seem to be in.
As far as he is concerned, everyone wants to make the fight between he and Silva. Everyone, that is, except Silva:
“From what I am being told, it is a fight that the UFC would want to make happen. Now, it is just confusing. I don’t know what is going on. I am waiting to find out from Dana White. I didn’t take a couple of fights from people challenging me, like (Vitor) Belfort, so I could take the Silva fight. But, now it is all up in the air. I don’t know what is going on.”
So, in the meantime, Weidman is left somewhat flapping in the wind until either Silva or the UFC makes a decision regarding who is next.
For now, he’s not putting a timetable on things, but he’s really hoping that Silva will come around and give him the opportunity he’s trained his whole life for:
“I don’t have any deadlines, but I am young and I want to make the most of my career. I have a lot of respect for the guy, I think he is the greatest of all time and I look up to him. I think I am the biggest challenge to him and I think his camp knows that and I think he should challenge me.”
Weidman had one last message for Silva, making his case for why he thinks the man considered to be the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T.) by most fans should relent on sign on the dotted line:
“Hey man, just give me a chance. Obviously I think I am going to beat you and it is a tough one for me to tell you to do. You had one fight when you got the chance, so just give me my opportunity, just give me the fight.”
It makes sense to me, as well as most in the mixed martial arts (MMA), but until it makes sense to Silva himself, we appear to be at an impasse, Maniacs.
Unless, of course, Weidman can somehow switch up his ho-hum trash talk, take a page out of the Chael Sonnen playbook and penetrate the Brazilian’s emotional armor, which has proven to be quite thin.
In women’s MMA, there’s only one superfight that can be made: Ronda Rousey vs. Cris Cyborg. Grappling assassin vs. knockout queen. Former Olympian vs. recent drug cheat. It’s a match made in promotional heaven, but it isn’t without its early roadblocks. The two have already publicly sparred over whether a fight should take place at Rousey’s current division of bantamweight, Cyborg’s old stomping grounds at featherweight, or a catch weight number in between.
That’s only one issue that will need to resolved. Another stems from Cyborg’s recent suspension. Manager Darin Harvey has overseen Rousey’s career from before her amateur days, and he says that if a fight between the two is officially proposed, he would request random drug testing to ensure a level playing field. But he’s not talking just about VADA-style testing. On Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, Harvey said he’d go one step further and request hair follicle testing to ensure that Cyborg hasn’t been using any drugs while on suspension.
Hair follicles capture drug molecules, and testing of the sample is able to detect drugs for up to three months after its original ingestion, according to drug testing experts.
Harvey said he would be willing to pay for the testing to ensure the costs would not dissuade participation.
“I’ll tell you why,” he said. “I believe this is not the first time she used steroids; it’s only the first time she’s been caught.
“I wasn’t surprised,” he continued. “People have speculated but you couldn’t really prove it. Now, it’s been proven. This is my belief. I’m not a doctor but I’ve been around athletes my whole life and I believe that when you take steroids, you alternate your body permanently. Maybe you lose some of the muscle mass, but a lot remains. So she’s permanently altered her body. And I want everything to be to our advantage. She’s been taking male hormones, and it’s not only unethical, it’s freaking dangerous, and you’re endangering the lives of the athletes. She’s coming in there basically with man-like strength or male hormones in her body, and she’s endangering the lives of our athletes.”
Harvey said the decision to request such testing wasn’t a personal one, and that while he’s made very critical comments about Cyborg in the past, that he has heard through mutual acquaintances that she’s a very nice person.
But, he said, he must ensure the fairness of the bout for his client, and for that, he draws a line in the sand.
“I won’t sign the bout agreement unless they agree to random drug testing throughout the camp,” he said. “From the beginning, from the date that the bout agreement is signed, or maybe even before that point, until the day that they fight. And if they don’t agree to that, we wont fight her.”
Harvey acknowledged that these were his personal views alone, which would guide his advisement of Rousey. But if the bantamweight champion decided to forego his recommendation, he would have to go along with her desires.
As far as the weight debate, Harvey reiterated that Rousey would only take the fight at 135 pounds. On that though, he did leave some wiggle room, saying that if the bout ended up on pay-per-view and/or brought with it a financial windfall, there might be some room for persuasion.
“She’s going to have to figure out a way to make the weight,” he said. “And I believe she can make the weight.”
Harvey doesn’t expect Rousey to fight for a few months. His projected return date was somewhere around January, which coincidentally would be around the time Cyborg was free to fight again. But given Rousey’s rising star, other offers are coming her way. They’ll listen to the pitches, but Harvey doesn’t think MMA fans will have to worry about losing Rousey to Hollywood anytime soon.
“We’re exploring every possible avenue anyway we can monetize it,” he said. “If Ronda likes [something], that’s what we’d consider. But she likes to fight. She’s not a mean person but she’s a mean fighter.”
She did it again. In case you missed lasts night action in the hexagon, Showtime Sports has released the full main event for your viewing pleasure. It only took the undefeated champ Ronda Rousey 54 seconds to once again pull off her infamous armbar. Following her sixth straight win in the first round by armbar, …
Miesha Tate gets battered and bruised by Julie Kedzie but keeps her composure on the way to a third round armbar submission win at last night’s (Sat., Aug. 18, 2012) Strikeforce: “Rousey vs. Kaufman” event at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California. It was a strong showing for Kedzie, who hadn’t seen action in over a year, but her loss gives her two straight and creates doubt regarding her place in the division. That’s not the case for Tate, who showed that while you can get her in trouble with your striking, she’s still one hell of a grappler in her own right. A rematch against Ronda Rousey could be looming, though Tate doesn’t necessarily feel she deserves it at this point. With the lack of depth at 135-pounds in Strikeforce’s women’s division, that may not matter. We shall see. For complete Strikeforce: “Rousey vs. Kaufman” results and blow-by-blow coverage of all the night’s action click here.