Five Quick Rounds 10.16.12: UFC 153, Alvarez Goes Out in Style, UFC Heading Back to Brazil, and More!
Welcome to another edition of Five Quick Rounds, 411’s fastest-finishing weekly opinion column. I’m your host, Wyatt Beougher, and what a night of fights we had on Saturday! From top to bottom, UFC 153 was one of the best cards the UFC has put on in quite some time, and that’s coming from a card that seemed doomed when headliner Jose Aldo and co-main event fighter Rampage Jackson both pulled out of the card in quick succession. But since Round 1 is dedicated to UFC 153, let’s get to it, shall we?
Round 1: UFC 153 – Stephan Bonnar is the Fly
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
So Saturday night saw the UFC run another show from Rio, and apart from the lack of internet connection at the HSBC Center that left us without Dana White’s “valuable” Twitter “insight”, it was a great show. The main card started with Demian Maia needing just 2:30 to submit Rick Story with a rear naked choke, and the action continued from there, as Phil Davis dominated Wagner Prado using his wrestling for the better part of two rounds, only to submit the Brazilian with an anaconda with only 31 seconds left in the second round. In the next fight, Jon Fitch unsurprisingly picked up a unanimous decision win over Erick Silva, but surprisingly (for Fitch anyway), the fight wasn’t one that casual fans could call boring. Glover Teixeira battered Fabio Maldonado for two rounds en route to a doctor’s stoppage victory, and Big Nog proved that BJJ does in fact work on Dave Herman, picking up an impressive armbar victory. In the main event, Anderson Silva delivered a crushing knee to Stephan Bonnar’s chest and finished him with ground and pound with only 20 seconds remaining in the round.
As I mentioned in the intro, this was a great night of action, from Maia looking like a force to be reckoned with at 170 to Davis breaking out the anaconda choke that he beat Alexander Gustafsson with. Follow that up with Fitch having a fight of the year contender fight with Erick Silva and Glover Teixeira absolutely hammering Fabio Maldonado for nearly 10 minutes, and you’ve already got a great show. The addition of another sentimental win for Big Nog and a dominant showing by Anderson Silva, both fighting in their home country, and UFC 153 is going to be hard for the UFC to top and should mark the start of what is traditionally one of the UFC’s best booked seasons, which will culminate in another stacked year-end show. One thing that I think bears mentioning is that Teixeira was left wobbly at the end of the first round when Maldonado connected with a head kick, and that while Silva finished strong, he initially stumbled backing away from Bonnar’s opening salvo, which allowed Bonnar to press him up against the cage and land a few strikes. From there, though it was all Silva, as he easily avoided Bonnar’s strikes until the American Psycho got overly aggressive, at which point he delivered the knee and essentially ended the fight.
Round 2: Bellator 76 – Alvarez Goes Out Victorious
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
Bellator 76 took place on Friday night, and the main event featured what most figure to be former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez’s final fight with the promotion. The night started off with season seven featherweight tournament quarterfinal action, as Shahbulat Shamhalaev stopped Cody Bollinger with strikes in 4:49 seconds, Mike Richman needed just 22 seconds to end Jeremy Spoon’s night, Wagnney Fabiano armbarred Ako Stepanyan in 3:24, and Rad Martinez earned a unanimous decision victory over Nazareno Malegarie, meaning all four men will advance to the semifinal round of the tournament. In the main event, Eddie Alvarez landed a big kick and followed it up with some punches to pick up the KO victory over Patricky “Pitbull” Freire with just six seconds left in the first round.
Any time you only have one fight go the distance on the main card, that’s an impressive accomplishment (unless the card is filled with mismatches, which I don’t think this one was), and the highlight of the night was easily Alvarez dispatching Freire, who just can’t seem to get the job done in big fight situations. As for Alvarez, that was the final fight on his Bellator contract, and with Dana White already showing interest in him (prior to signing Hector Lombard), it’s probably only a matter of days before Alvarez joins the Zuffa roster (although Bjorn Rebney will have his infamous matching rights period before the contract can be officially signed. Overall a good show, and a great end to an excellent Bellator career for Alvarez.
Round 3: UFC Plans Brazilian Fight Series
**TOUCH OF THE GLOVES**
On the heels of such a great event from Brazil, it only makes sense to talk about a small story that came out last week about the UFC planning a Brazilian fight series in the near future. While the plans are in their infancy, it sounds like a Brazilian version of the Indian fight series I talked about a few weeks back, which would see the UFC run a series of smaller shows at smaller arenas featuring all-Brazilian talent to be broadcast primarily in Brazil.
As one of the hotbeds of prospective MMA talent, Brazil is certainly an ideal location for this, and you certainly can’t fault the UFC for spearheading their global expansion in Brazil. As the fans proved on Saturday night, Brazilians are rabid for MMA, and The Ultimate Fighter:Brasil averaged 10 million viewers per week, numbers that its US counterpart would absolutely kill for. All in all, I think this is an excellent move for the UFC, and one that I think they should certainly explore in Japan and Europe as well – run a series of smaller shows to build up interest and find exceptional local talent, then highlight them with your bigger stars on international PPVs.
Round 4: Strikeforce Rumor Round-Up
**TOUCH OF THE GLOVES**
If you’ve been a fan of MMA for any length of time, you know how quickly rumors crop up and also how quickly they’re usually squashed. Such was the case of Strikeforce last week, although in this instance, where there was smoke, there did end up being fire. After my deadline last week, MMA Junkie reported that Strikeforce was going to be closing its doors and cancelling all remaining shows. Shortly thereafter, Ariel Helwani tweeted that he had spoken to sources within both Zuffa and Showtime that had refuted that notion, and that Strikeforce would continue “business as usual”. A few days later, word came out that Strikeforce was cancelling their November 3rd show due to the injuries to Frank Mir and Luke Rockhold, and that they would hold no more events in 2012, instead looking to focus on a big event in 2013.
I think I would’ve been more disappointed in this news if it meant I wasn’t going to get to see the Liz Carmouche/Sara McMann fight, but since that was already postponed due to an injury to McMann, it’s not as big of a deal to me. It still stinks for the fighters slated to appear on the card, and from the perspective that that’s one less free MMA show this year, but honestly, with three fights already scrapped due to injuries, it shouldn’t have come as much surprise. The biggest winner in all this is World Series of Fighting, who will now be able to hold their debut show unopposed on the channel formerly known as Versus. On the bright side, if this leads to a January show featuring Rousey/Cyborg, Cormier/Mir, Melendez/Healy, and Rockhold/Larkin, then that’s a great way to send the promotion off. And, if nothing else came out of Strikeforce’s dismal 2012, at least we got to see Rousey turn into a full-fledged star and there’s now the slight chance that the UFC will feature a women’s 135-pound division.
Round 5: UFC on FOX 5 Nearly Sold Out; Features Potential Title Eliminator
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
Following UFC 153, Dana White gave some insight to the status of the UFC’s next foray onto FOX, scheduled for December 8th at Seattle’s Key Arena. White said that the event had nearly sold out before he left the US to head to Brazil, and that he expected it to be sold out by Saturday night (according to Ticketmaster via the link on UFC.com, the show is not yet sold out). Ticket sales for the show will likely be helped by White’s announcement that the Mauricio Rua/Alexander Gustafsson co-main event will very likely decide Jon Jones’ next challenger.
While it’s somewhat telling that the show hasn’t sold out in spite of being on sale for seven days now (eight days by the time you read this, although it could be sold out by then), it’s still a good card that features the aforementioned Rua/Gustafsson fight and is headlined by a lightweight title tilt between Benson Henderson and Nathan Diaz. The addition of number one contender status to the co-main event can’t hurt the ticket sales, even if some fans are wary of similar proclamations by White. Based on the fact that both Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida, who White had previously crowned as number one contenders, have now had that distinction taken away from them (and will likely have to fight one another in the early part of 2013 for the title shot AFTER the winner of Rua/Gustafsson), I’d take White’s proclamation with a grain of salt.
Thanks for joining me this week, and I hope to see you next week! 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+. I’ll see you back here for more Five Quick Rounds next Tuesday, so until then, remember 411 MMA for all of your mixed martial arts needs!