FOWLKES: Evans might have the best chance yet to find out what Jones can do off his back, but nothing Iâve seen from the current champ gives me any reason to doubt him. He might have a harder time with Evans than he did with Lyoto Machida, but I think Jones still gets his hand raised via a late finish. Jones by TKO.
HUNT: At the end of the night, when Jonesâ hand is raised, Evans â the most successful fighter to come out of The Ultimate Fighter series â can take stock in knowing that nobody can beat Jones right now except Jones himself. Jones by TKO.
WAGENHEIM: I donât know if Evans is good enough to beat the champ, but heâs good enough to give Jones what no one has given him before: a scrap. âBonesâ has too much fight and too much flair, however, to skip to anyone elseâs Lou. Jones by KO.
WERTHEIM: Most anticipated fight on 2012 so far. Even discounting the obligatory trash talk as hype to pump pay-per-view buys, for the first time, Jones faces an opponent he truly dislikes. Heâs younger, healthier, more creative and has a sizable reach advantage. Short of catching Jones, itâs hard to imagine Evans becoming the first fighter to solve the Jones riddle. Jones by decision.
READERS: In an SI.com poll, 76 percent of our readers said Jones will beat Evans.
Rory MacDonald vs. Che Mills
FOWLKES: Going from Chris Cope to Rory MacDonald is a huge leap in level of competition, and Iâm not sure Mills is totally ready for it. Despite his age, MacDonald fights like a seasoned vet these days â one with very few weaknesses. MacDonald by TKO.
HUNT: If Georges St-Pierre really called MacDonald the next St-Pierre as Dana White claims, that speaks volumes to what the UFC champ/future legend must be seeing training alongside the 22-year-old prospect. Mills, a European circuit vet, is in for a tough night. MacDonald by KO.
WAGENHEIM: MacDonald was climbing the welterweight ladder hand over fist until an injury last fall stopped him cold. Now itâs time for the hot prospect to resume his ascent. MacDonald by submission.
WERTHEIM: What does matchmaker Joe Silva know that we donât? Mills might be a promising fighter but this is a big step up. McDonald â superior on every dimension â takes the fight to ground and wins by strikes. MacDonald by submission.
READERS: In an SI.com poll, 59 percent of our readers said MacDonald will beat Mills.
Brendan Schaub vs. Ben Rothwell
FOWLKES: Rothwell has the edge in power, and probably also has a better chin. Schaub is faster and a little more athletic. Rothwellâs never more than one good shot from victory, but Schaub can do more, and do it slightly better. Schaub by decision.
HUNT: Schaub expanded his training circle with trips to Las Vegas and southern California before settling in Denver with a new camp â which could be initially good or bad for the former AFL football player. Regardless, Schaub is the more polished athlete with great natural instincts. The resilient Rothwell wonât last. Schaub by TKO.
WAGENHEIM:Â Last time we saw Schaub, he was dazzling â until he was dazed. Getting KOâd by Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira ruined what had started out so impressively. Time to begin again. Schaub by decision.
WERTHEIM: Schaub â a former Buffalo Bills practice squad player â has made a nice transition to MMA. An inferior wrestler to Rothwell but he has better hands and quickness. Schaub by TKO.
READERS: In an SI.com poll, 68 percent of our readers said Schaub will beat Rothwell.
Miguel Torres vs. Michael McDonald
FOWLKES: Torres is a tough, experienced fighter, but McDonald (or so weâre told) is the future. Torres is definitely the best fighter heâs ever faced, but as long as he doesnât get too aggressive and take himself out of this one, I think McDonald is up to the challenge. McDonald by decision.
HUNT: Only 21 with two UFC performance bonuses in his four Zuffa-promoted fights, McDonald is a promising talent. He has speed and power over Torres, who might find himself struggling to keep up Saturday. McDonald by decision.
WAGENHEIM:Â McDonald is just 21 but already has 15 professional fights, winning all but one. Maybe his future is now. Or maybe heâs in for some schooling by a veteran ex-champion. Torres by decision.
WERTHEIM: Classic youth-versus-experience fight. Big opportunity for McDonald, 21, to show his stuff. Says here he avoids a sloppy mistake on the ground and wins by decision over former WEC champ. McDonald by decision.
READERS: In an SI.com poll, 65 percent of our readers said Torres will beat McDonald.
Mark Hominick vs. Eddie Yagin
FOWLKES: Hominick got careless against Chan Sung Jung, but donât expect him to make the same mistake twice. He needs a win in a bad, bad way, and Yagin is just the type of fighter he ought to get one against. Hominick by TKO.
HUNT: Yagin was one of the first standouts hailing from Hawaii circa the early 2000s, but he came up short (both in height and performance) against Junior Assuncao during his octagon debut last September. Hominickâs had far more time to perfect his standup game at the sportâs top level. Hominick by TKO.
WAGENHEIM: Coming off a record-tying 7-second KO by Chan Sung Jung, Hominick really needs to move forward. Cautiously. But ultimately with gusto. Hominick by decision.
WERTHEIM: Hominick gets a chance to show that his stunning seven-second loss to Korean Zombie last year was a horrific fluke. Should get back to winning ways against overmatched Hawaiian Eddie Yagin. Hominick by TKO.
READERS: In an SI.com poll, 56 percent of our readers said Hominick will beat Yagin.
Mark Bocek vs. John Alessio
FOWLKES: He doesnât have a style that fans appreciate, but Bocek is an absolute nightmare on the mat. Heâs a suffocating grappler with the skill and the patience necessary to grind out one three-rounder after another. It wonât be popular, but I think heâll do his thing and collect his check against Alessio. Bocek by decision.
HUNT: Alessio, a solid 14-year veteran who fought at welterweight for a good part of his career, has quietly plugged away for nearly four years, waiting for Zuffa to call him back to the big leagues. Of course, his last-minute opportunity comes against Bocek, whoâs as dangerous on the mats as any lightweight out there. Alessio by decision.
WAGENHEIM: Since 2008, Bocek has lost only to Jim Miller and Ben Henderson. Alessio has won 10 of his last 11 bouts, but heâs no Henderson or Miller. Bocek by decision.
WERTHEIM: Alessio has mastered the art of seldom dazzling but usually doing enough to win. Veteran has suddenly won 10 of last 11 fights. Look for him to grind it out on points. Alessio by decision.
READERS: In an SI.com poll, 58 percent of our readers said Bocek will beat Alessio.
Current UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos told Brazilâs âO Globoâ newspaper that he doesnât think Alistair Overeem should be able to get the title shot now that he failed a drug test, but heâd still take the fight.
âIn case it happens, Iâll be glad to fight, but I can say that in case they prove the illegal use of those substances it would disrespectful to the sport and disloyal to me. The amount of testosterone in his body can increase like 30 percent of his strength and aggressiveness, and I heard it from people who really know about this stuff. It would really be unfair, but as a fighter Iâll be ready to fight anyone. If the [NSAC] and UFC want to, Iâll fight him. Iâm a fighter and Iâll always be there to fight, but it sure is disrespectful to MMA and how serious the sport is. Itâs also unfair, itâs unfair to me.
“I have never used these devices to gain strength. I guess the right thing would be blood-test fighters like it happens on the Olympic Games, and not a urine test, since itâs easier to find those illegal substances. We want to know who really the best one is. Itâs not good being the best liar. Being a fake champion and doing many drugs, thatâs not a champion.â
Hard to disagree with dos Santos here. Even if Overeem is allowed to fight, based on a technicality, everyone already knows he âboostsâ in-between fights, and that does cloud the sport. Especially if he were to defeat JDS. Then it would be a media firestorm all over the UFC. Not an ideal situation for a sport trying to gain mainstream acceptability.
International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF), a new non-profit international MMA governing body, announced their foundation to the world in a press release. According to President August Wallen, the new organization strives to provide a stable, professional and democratic community for all national federations and offer support to countries committed to forming new federations where none currently exist.
âThis is a very proud day for us. The IMMAF is committed to be at the forefront of developing MMA as an international sport, from the grassroots level to the elite level, supporting the development of regulations and best practices on health, safety, youth involvement and moreâŠOur vision is for MMA to be recognized as a sport through the full membership of IMMAF in SportAccord and for it to ultimately become an Olympic sport. I know many of us dedicated to MMA dream of the day that the sport has worldwide recognition and this is a first step towards making that happen.â
MMA Worldwide Dream in full effect. The UFC fully supports this and hopefully the IMAAF will do a great job at regulating MMA across the globe. This may not interest the casual fan, but this is huge news.
Frank Mirâs manager, Malki Kawa, told MMAWeekly.com that he still believes his client will be the first choice to replace Alistair Overeem if that is needed.
âI think thereâs a bout agreement in place right now between Overeem and Junior dos Santos, and I think legally if he gets licensed, he has an opportunity to take action or what would happen is they would say âhey Frank Mir youâre going to JDSâ and the 24th comes, which is two weeks away, and then they turn around and say âOvereem hereâs your license.â Well now Frank guess what youâre going back to fight Cain (Velasquez) and Overeem you go fight JDS. So to avoid confusion, what I think is happening is theyâre going to wait for the decision, if Overeem gets licensed, everything goes on as planned. If Overeem doesnât get licensed, then you can bet your house thereâs going to be a replacement. I tend to think that it will be Frank MirâŠâ
I would have to agree. Besides bringing in someone outside the UFC, who else really deserves the shot at JDS? Mir is the only logical situation, and Iâm pretty sure the UFC has it planned exactly as Kawa describes.
In a new blog post at FoxSports.com, UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones called Rashad Evans arrogant and fake. âI look at my opponent as fake, self-centered and arrogant, and he tries to reflect all of what he is on me. Matt Hughes was the first to call him out for being cocky, for being arrogant, way back on the Ultimate Fighter II back in 2005. Thatâs a Hall of Famer in Matt Hughes, a man who is greatly respected by everyone in the sport, and he was the first guy to sniff out what my opponent really isâŠIâm the present and the future of the UFC light heavyweight division. My opponent is the past. And soon all the talk will be over and I will finally be able prove that in the middle of the Octagon.â
Evans is arrogant, no doubt. But I would have to say Jones is more arrogant, and calling Evans âmy opponentâ over and over instead of by his name backs up my statement. Iâm really hyped for this fight though. Only 8 days away!
Nick Diazâs attorney, Las Vegasâ Ross Goodman, has filed a second response to the Nevada State Athletic Commission following their allegations that his client provided false or misleading information to the Commission. âAll of the answers Diaz provided to the Commission on the Pre-Fight Questionnaire (âQuestionnaireâ) were expressly qualified as âtrue and accurate to the best of [Diaz's] knowledge.â In other words, in drafting the Questionnaire, the NSAC expressly imposes only a standard of good faith (and not, e.g., a physicianâs standard) on unarmed combatantsâŠNot only does the FAC allege no facts which could tend to establish Diazâs bad faith in filling out the Questionnaire, but the answers Diaz provided are precisely those that the NSAC should have expected where it elected not to provide definitions of any potential technical terminology on the Questionnaire.â
The more and more I hear Diazâs side (read: his attorneyâs statements), the more and more I see that he has a real shot at getting this dismissed. But, the commission can do whatever they want, pretty much, so it remains to be seen just exactly what will happen to the polarizing welterweight.
As fans of mixed martial arts we are all sometimes prone to hyperbole and overreaction. In the moment, every comeback becomes âthe greatest in the history of the sport.â Every new champion is âthe future of the weight division.â Every green fighter that has run through lesser competition is âa fighter to keep an eye on.â
These reactions are somewhat understandable, the competition inside the cage gets our adrenaline pumping and when we see something particularly noteworthy we tend to view that incident with blinders on, our adrenaline gets the best of us. A perfect example was Joe Roganâs announcement of Tim Boetschâs come from behind victory over Yushin Okami at UFC 144.
Boetsch looked to be on his way to a unanimous decision loss when he came out in the third round and ended the fight with an impressive knockout. A finish that sent Rogan into a frenzy. âThat might be one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the UFC, that was absolutely outstanding,â Rogan exclaimed, surely caught up in the moment. Rogan, still full of adrenaline from seeing Boetschâs win then added, âThat was the greatest comeback I have ever seen in the history of the UFC, that was unbelievable.â
Later Rogan backtracked on his comments, âI called it the greatest comeback in the history of the UFC, it might not be. I think Frankie Edgarâs comeback over Gray Maynard might be the greatest comeback, but it was pretty damn close. I might of got a little crazy there folks.â
Roganâs initial reaction wasnât wrong, it was a man getting caught up in the moment, an announcer turning fan and seeing something incredible and reacting to it right then and there. Rogan offered no cool detachment like some other announcers; he was caught up, just as many fans were seeing the moment live or on pay per view.
Thatâs why we love MMA. We wait for those moments, theyâre what make the sport and the viewing of it great, but that in the moment type of reaction can also backfire.
An example of this is the in the moment reactions that followed the main event of the March 3 Strikeforce card.
There seems to be some questions surrounding Saturday nights Miesha Tate versus Ronda Rousey fight, some controversy that is based around that in the moment type of reaction, controversy that is totally unjustified.
There are questions if Rousey, the new Strikeforce bantamweight champion, cranked the armbar too violently on Miesha Tate or if she was ungracious in victory. The simple answer to both questions is no.
The armbar is the easy one to deal with. Can a fighter crank a submission hold to hard?Â During the course of the fight the answer is no.Â How can a legal move in a sport where you want to force your opponent to submit be done too hard?Â It canât. Itâs impossible. Tate elected not to tap, that was her choice. That choice left Rousey no option but to attempt to force that tap, digging in and eventually earning the submission victory.
Some could argue that the referee stopped the fight too late, but as The Underground points out, fighters have comeback from brutal damage via armbars to win.
Had Rousey left the hold applied too long after the referee called for a release, yes that would have been a problem. She didnât. No problem, no controversy.
As far as the sportsmanship question, I feel that can be dismissed as well. If anything Rousey was honest after the fight when she said she didnât feel too bad about the damage she inflicted and refused to squash her beef with Tate when given the opportunity to do so. For Rousey, the animosity between the two seemed to have crossed the line from trash talk selling a fight, to true animosity and distaste for her opponent, for her to offer up an empty apology would be disingenuous and ring hollow.
Where we could see a problem coming from all of the talk of controversy in the Tate versus Rousey bout is in the mainstream press.
Outside of the bubble that MMA fans live in the thought of two women stepping into a cage may seem barbaric to some. To others it may come across as some kind of twisted voyeuristic fantasy.Â Neither is close to the reality of the situation, that it is a combat sport that these athletes, a former amateur wrestler and Olympic judo player can make a living at.Â Nonetheless, if the story of the âbad sportsmanshipâ or âviolent armbarâ slips out of the MMA bubble and into the mainstream press, there will be head shaking and judgment from those that just donât get it.
So, what was the point of all this?Â Was it just a rant connecting two unrelated topics, or was there an actual point to all of this blathering about?
The point is this, MMA is a wonderful thing, a sport that we all become fully absorbed in, a sport that we often get caught up in and react to immediately without taking a step back and thinking things through in a big picture, outside of the MMA bubble kind of way.
Thatâs one of the joys of the sport, that it allows us to do that, to have an immediate reaction. Itâs also one of the drawbacks to our sport, as that immediate reaction escapes into the larger world and causes finger pointing and possibly limits the growth of the sport.
Notice whatâs missing from that headline? It doesnât ask if Ronda Rousey is the next superstar of Womenâs MMA, it asks if the new Strikeforce bantamweight champion is the next superstar of MMA.
Heading into her main event bout on Saturday nightâs Strikeforce card there were some that questioned her credentials. They said that with just four professional fights Rousey didnât deserve a shot at the title that Miesha Tate, a professional since 2007 had earned with a victory over Marloes Coenen, a professional since 2000.
The naysayers said that her judo background, while it earned her an Olympic bronze medal, was no match for the well-rounded and experienced MMA attack that Tate would bring her way.
Rouseyâs doubters said that she was all hype, a big mouth that talked her way into a title fight that she did not deserve.
On Saturday night, after 4:27 those doubters were silenced as Rousey did exactly what everyone, including Miesha Tate, knew she was going to do, slap on an armbar. An armbar that Tate, for an excruciatingly long time, refused to submit to, when Tate finally did tap she was left lying on her back as she had her damaged arm tended to.
Leading up to the fight there was trash talk and tension and when the fight had concluded and Rousey stood in the cage with the title belt wrapped around her waist she was asked if she wanted to squash the beef to which she referenced the incident that took place at Fridayâs weigh-in:
I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt before, since I kind of started it, but after the weigh-ins, when she got in my face and I pushed her back and she said that I should be fined foe headbutting her, I thought that was kind of, uh, if youâre going to try and act hard, just follow up with it. Donât pull back and be like âoh you should get a fineâ, I thought that was kind of messed up.
That exchange showed the new champâs swagger, something that may have rubbed off from when she trained with Nick and Nate Diaz. In fact, Rouseyâs performance earned her the stamp of approval from Diazâs trainer Cesar Gracie.
Rouseyâs performance on Saturday night will be remembered, she is a legitimate fighters, with legitimate skills. You could say that she still has not been tested and you would be correct, but is that her fault or is it due to the fact that she is so much better than everyone else in the current womenâs division?
Strikeforce has a star on their hands in the 25-year-old Rousey, there is no doubt about that.
Before the post-fight press conference for the UFC on FX 2 fight card began it appeared that the focus would most likely be on Martin Kampmannâs come from behind victory and the upcoming UFC Flyweight title bout between Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez. However that was not to be, as one of the first things that was announced was the fact that there had been a error in the Johnson versus Ian McCall bout and the fight should have been a majority draw, which would have necessitated a sudden death round. Unfortunately the error was detected after the fact and nothing could be done other than schedule a rematch.
Questions after seeing Thiago Alves vs. Martin Kampmann
-Why did Alves go for the takedown? You could look at Kampmannâs victory in one of two ways, a comeback from Kampmann or a mistake from Alves. Alves had Kampmann hurt and instead of looking for the finish while standing he opted to go for the takedown, which Kampmann immediately reversed and slapped on the guillotine choke.Â Should he have kept the fight standing? Was he looking to take the fight to the ground because he thought he could finish it there or was he looking to grind out the last minute on the mat and secure the victory?Â Whatever the logic, it didnât work out.
-Whatâs next for the fighters?Â Kampmann may have punched his ticket to face interim UFC Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit, while Alves may have just saw his name filed under âgatekeeper.âÂ With no Georges St. Pierre and Condit seemingly reluctant to defend his interim crown it will be interesting to see how the UFCâs Welterweight division shakes out.
Questions following UFC on FX 2:
- How bad does the scoring error hurt things? Following the UFC on FX 2 card, it looked like fans were going to be treated to the first UFC flyweight title bout, but that hope disappeared when it was announced that there was a scoring issue in the Johnson vs. McCall bout.Â Now those two fighters must have a rematch to decide who will face Joseph Benavidez for the title. Even if the two fighters are healthy and do not face any suspensions that fight will probably be months away and then the title fight even further away. So, what does Benavidez do? Does he waitÂ and remain inactive? Does he take another flyweight fight and if so, what if he loses? The scoring error creates a lot of questions and issues.
- What do you do with a 26-year-old-fighter that has 17 wins and 17 finishes? Daniel Pineda defeated Mackens Semerzier with a first round armbar submission. The victory was his 17th in 24 professional fights and also his 17th stoppage. Pineda has 11 submissions and 6 T/KOâs. The win was his seventh in a row and of those he only made it to the third round on one occasion. Sure, this was only his second UFC bout, but he may be due for a much bigger test in his third bout, just to see what heâs really made of.
Â Main Card Awards:
-Fight of the Night: I have to give it to the controversy filled Johnson vs. McCall bout. Sure I would have liked to see a fourth round, but the action and the pace that these two delivered in just three rounds was pretty great. It still baffles me that âfansâ dismiss the smaller fighters so readily.
-Performance of the Night: Iâm going to give this one to Kampmann, he was down on all three cards and exploited an error in Alvesâ attack and used that to gain a victory, that he did it while stunned from strikes is even more impressive.
-Finish of the Night: Again, this one goes to Kampmann for the same reasons as above. I could give it to Benavidez, but honestly, did anyone really see that fight ending any other way?