Five Quick Rounds 01.29.13: Brock/Fedor, Silva, More
Welcome, friends, to Five Quick Rounds, 411’s fastest-finishing weekly opinion column. For the last time, I’ll be your host, Wyatt Beougher, and this is the big one. Fortunately, there was plenty of MMA news to cover this week, not least of which was UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes’ retirement. I was going to dedicate a round to that story, but then I realized I didn’t want Hughes’ farewell to active competition upstaging my farewell to this column, so you’ll just have to deal with it. I know the 411 tradition is to put all the acknowledgment/thanks at the end of the column, but I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who ever makes it that far (and, honestly, I don’t even do that every week), so it’s going here. First off, thanks to Larry Csonka and Ashish for giving me the tremendous opportunity to make my opinions known for the past year and change, and I’d be disingenuous if I said I could’ve done it without them, because I literally couldn’t. Larry is seriously the greatest boss in the world, which is why I’m still hanging around (and why so many of the other “retired” guys still show up from time to time). To Jeremy and Samer and Jeff and Jonathan and all the other guys who had kind words for me when I first took over this column – I probably would’ve quit if it weren’t for all of you, and I value your opinions more than you probably will ever realize. To the Frenchies – thanks for taking the heat off of me and being the butt of all of the jokes during what should’ve been my rookie hazing, and especially to Stew, for taking what I wrote on Tuesday, copying the good bits, and then making it much funnier (and far more gratuitously filled with T&A) on Wednesdays. And, lastly, and truly most of all, thanks to TBerg for giving me the opportunity to participate in Fact or Fiction long before I ever wrote for this site. I literally wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for him, and I certainly wouldn’t have had the privilege of hosting Fact or Fiction (which, as I mentioned, I’m going to continue to do).
Oh, crap, I forgot about Dustin, didn’t I? Thanks for making sure I wasn’t the least coherent, least likable guy on the 411 MMA roster for the majority of my time on this column. Couldn’t have done it without you, bud.
Alright, now that you’ve successfully skipped the mushy crap, let’s get to the news one last time, shall we?
Round 1: UFC on FOX 6 Features the Flyweights
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
UFC held their sixth FOX show on Saturday night, and it ended up being a solid card with some great fights throughout the prelims and the main card. As always, I’ll be focusing on the main card, but if you can catch the prelims somewhere, I’d highly recommend it. In the opening bout, Ricardo Lamas defeated Erik Koch with a brutal series of punches and elbows at 2:32 of the second round. Anthony Pettis needed just 2:35 to deliver a crushing liver kick that ended Donald Cerrone’s night. Glover Teixeira took three rounds on two judges’ cards and two on the third in winning a unanimous decision victory over Quinton Jackson. In the main event, flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson retained his title in a very hotly contested five round fight, picking up the unanimous decision.
You have to feel for Erik Koch, who lost his title shot when Jose Aldo was in a motorcycle accident and who will now be lucky to sniff the title scene again before 2014, but kudos to Lamas for putting together a solid win streak. A lot of talk has been around pairing Lamas with the Korean Zombie, and if you don’t want to see that fight, you’re probably not an MMA fan. The winner of that fight would certainly have earned a title shot against the winner of this weekend’s Jose Aldo/Frankie Edgar fight, and it should be a fun little scrap to boot. As for Anthony Pettis, it looks like he’ll finally get a UFC lightweight title shot, but I don’t like his odds against either Benson Henderson or Gilbert Melendez. Henderson has improved tremendously since losing to Pettis (even winning 411 Fighter of the Year for 2012), and I think Pettis is going to go into the fight looking to do something flashy, and it’s going to cost him against whoever the champ may be. Glover Teixeira thoroughly outfought Quinton Jackson, and I think it’s safe to say his “Rampage” days are over. With Hollywood not exactly knocking down his door, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jeremy Lambert is right and Rampage looks to the world of professional wrestling from here. He’s had a very respectable MMA career, he’s made a tremendous amount of money, and I just don’t think his heart’s been in fighting since he backed out of the Rashad fight to make The A-Team. And the flyweights…I made a statement in tomorrow’s Fact or Fiction about Demetrious Johnson potentially hurting the growth of the Flyweight Division because he’s absolutely not a finisher, but the more I think about it, the more I think he might be good for the division, simply because the UFC already has three dominant champions in GSP, Anderson Silva, and Bones (arguably five, if you count Cain and Rousey) and seeing a fighter who can lose rounds early and then come back to win the fight could actually be a nice change for a division still looking to establish itself.
Round 2: Bellator 86 Showcases King Mo and Ben Askren
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
Bellator 86 was live on Spike last Thursday and the main card featured two welterweight quarterfinal bouts for this season’s tournament, as well as King Mo’s Bellator debut and Ben Askren defending his welterweight title against Karl Amoussou. In the night’s opening fight, Ben Saunders took all three rounds from Koffie Adzitso to advance to the welterweight quarterfinals, and former tournament winner Douglas Lima joined him in the next round, using punishing leg kicks throughout the first round and opening minutes of the second that left his opponent, Michail Tsarev, unable to continue the fight. Muhammed Lawal made his long-awaited Bellator debut, and he needed just under four minutes to dispatch the heavily-overmatched Przemyslaw Mysiala, landing a perfect punch to the jaw that ended Mysiala’s night. In the main event, Ben Askren actually showed some killer instinct, beating up Karl Amoussou from the guard until he earned a doctor’s stoppage at the end of round 3.
Bellator’s second show on SpikeTV did an excellent job of continuing the momentum of their debut, featuring solid action and three finishes out of the four fights on the main card. Saunders is always going to be a dark horse in these tournaments, and while I doubt he’ll be able to get past Douglas Lima if they face off in the semis or finals of the tournament, he’s still a very solid, very dangerous fighter. Bellator got all they could ask for out of King Mo – he came out and looked like a star, using good head movement to avoid the majority of Mysiala’s strikes and then landing a big punch that won him the fight. Mo’s pretty obviously the biggest fish in Bellator’s small light heavyweight pond, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him with gold around his waist by June or July. I’ll admit that I thought it was foolish for Bellator to put Askren in the main event of their second show, because I thought his lay and pray style of fighting would’ve been exactly the thing to lose Bellator the additional viewers that they picked up in their Spike debut, but I give him all the credit in the world for actually attempting to finish the fight, and then being able to beat Amoussou down so bad that it was actually stopped. The picture up there says it all, I think.
Rick Hawn to Donate Extra Sponsor Check to Charity Matt Hughes Retires
**TOUCH OF THE GLOVES**
Originally, I was going to talk about how Rick Hawn had one of his sponsors cancel a $1500 sponsorship check after his loss to Michael Chandler last week, and how Bjorn Rebney actually did something good by sending Hawn a check for the amount, and how Hawn subsequently decided to donate that check to either an animal shelter or a homeless shelter. But between Hawn and his sponsor, it’s a case of “he said-he said” and I don’t really want to get into that mess, so I’ll just say kudos to Hawn for doing the right thing even when it appears that his sponsor wouldn’t. But seriously man, MATT HUGHES RETIRED.
Confession: Matt Hughes got me back into MMA. I started watching at the beginning, thanks to an insanely cool high school gym teacher who taught us CPR (as was mandated by the state) and then thought that UFC was more beneficial than any other health-related curriculum, and I followed what Randy Couture was doing from his UFC debut up until his current retirement, but it was the Matt Hughes/Royce Gracie fight that really got me back into the sport as a whole. I remember there being a palpable level of excitement for the fight amongst my male coworkers, something that had previously been reserved exclusively for Tennessee Volunteers football up to that point in my 14 months in the Knoxville area. I remember going to Hooters with a couple of guys from work to watch the show, and I can still feel the excitement running through the crowd like an electric current as the main event started. Up to that point, it had been pretty raucous (as you can imagine when you combine Southerners, attractive young women in revealing clothing, and alcohol), but the din died down drastically as the opening bell rang and the fight began. Less than five minutes later, the decibel level had doubled from the pre-fight range and I can assure you that a great many ounces of beer were consumed in the five minutes immediately following Hughes’ stoppage of the UFC legend. In recent years, Hughes saw the sport pass him by, and he struggled with younger, faster competitors who could keep the fight standing and exploit his striking defense. Considering he last fought in 2011, I think Matt knew that it was time to hang up the gloves, and kudos to him for doing so when he did, rather than trying to hang on to past glories while risking further damage to his brain like some of his peers have done. And while Randy Couture will always be my favorite fighter, there’s always going to be a special place in my heart for “The Country Boy” for reminding me just how much I really loved this sport.
Round 4: Ed Soares is Still a Douche
**TOUCH OF THE GLOVES**
In an interview last week, Ed Soares, manager and unnecessary translator of UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, mentioned that he didn’t think his client was interested in a fight with Chris Weidman. Soares mentioned the GSP fight in passing, but said that he thought Anderson wanted to fight Cung Le, who he felt was on an impressive win streak and had a bigger fan following than Weidman. UFC President Dana White responded that he has to go through this Soares nonsense every time he proposed a fight for Silva, and that the UFC was waiting to see if something else fell into place before they officially announced anything regarding Silva’s next fight.
With Michael Bisping’s loss last Saturday, Weidman’s name almost immediately leapt to the top of the list of fighters who could next face Anderson Silva. Weidman is 5-0 in the UFC, has beaten two (at the time) top 5 middleweights in his last two fights, and he’s been campaigning to fight the champion ever since he finished Mark Munoz last year. So of course Ed Soares would say that Silva wants to fight Cung Le, a forty-year-old part-time fighter with Hollywood aspirations in the midst of a two-fight winning streak after being KOed by Wanderlei Silva. And that’s 2011 Wanderlei Silva, not the 2005 variety when it actually wouldn’t have hurt Le’s title aspirations all that much. Disclaimer: I loathe Ed Soares, so this doesn’t surprise me a bit, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Weidman’s name isn’t on the marquee across from Silva’s when the “something else” (likely the GSP superfight) doesn’t actually fall into place. While I doubt Weidman will be the man to unseat the most dominant champion in UFC history, he’s at least got the tools to do so, as he is an above average MMA wrestler who actually has the ability to finish a fight from the top (unlike Chael Sonnen).
Round 5: Brock/Fedor?!?
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
In an interview after UFC on FOX 6 on Saturday night, Dana White revealed that the UFC was nearly able to put together a Brock Lesnar/Fedor Emelianenko fight in August of last year, and that the fight was tentatively slated to headline the Dallas Cowboys Stadium show that never materialized. According to White, negotiations with Fedor were all but finalized when Emelianenko’s father died, causing the Last Emperor to remain retired so that he could spend the rest of his days with his family rather than in a training facility. Brock Lesnar, who had already returned to the WWE by that point, had agreed to come back to MMA to face Emelianenko, but when the Russian opted for retirement, Lesnar decided to remain a sports entertainer and farmer.
Man, talk about what could’ve been. This would’ve been a huge one-off fight for the UFC, and to know that it was so close to happening is certainly a huge disappointment to this MMA fan. As someone who spends a lot of time away from my family because of my occupation, I certainly can’t fault Fedor for his decision, as I’d never begrudge a man more time at home with the people that he loves. But as an MMA fan, I almost wish Dana had never revealed this information, because it’s a very real disappointment to know that a dream fight like Lesnar/Emelianenko was thisclose to being real (even if it would’ve come about two years after its optimal date).
Thanks for joining me this week, and I hope to see all (one of) you every week for Fact or Fiction. Remember, if you haven’t signed up for Disqus (411’s new comment system) yet, make sure you do so. We’re sincerely hoping to improve the overall level of discussion here at 411, and we’d love it if you were a part of that! If you have any feedback, leave it in the comments, email me at the link below, or let me know on Twitter: @webeougher or on Google+. Thanks for reading, and this column has been a real pleasure for me to do for the past year-plus. .411 MMA has, in my opinion, the best fans of any zone on the site, and without you guys coming here day in and day out to read what we have to say, there wouldn’t be an MMA Zone. So thank you, 411 readers, for giving us this opportunity!