Five Quick Rounds 10.23.12: Bellator Results, Huge TUF Announcement, Tag Team MMA, and More!
Welcome to another edition of Five Quick Rounds, 411’s fastest-finishing weekly opinion column. I’m your host, Wyatt Beougher, and it was a slow week, event-wise, with Bellator being the only major promotion to run a show. Fortunately, there was plenty of other news in the last week, so let’s get to it!
Round 1: Bellator 77 – Lightweight Tournament Underway
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
Bellator 77 took place Friday night, and it featured the quarterfinal round of the season seven lightweight tournament, which will determine Michael Chandler’s next challenger. Ricardo Tirloni used a D’Arce choke to submit Rene Nazare in 1:13 of the second round, Marcin Held won a unanimous decision victory over Murad Machaev, Dave Jansen submitted Magomed Saadulaev with a guillotine choke 41 seconds into the third round, and Rich Clementi picked up a narrow split decision win over Alexander Sarnavskiy. All four fighters (Tirloni, Held, Jansen, and Clementi) will advance to the semifinal round and find themselves closer to a six-figure payday and a chance to win the Bellator lightweight championship.
Another solid night of fights for Bellator, and while I wouldn’t favor any of the four guys who remain in a fight with Michael Chandler based on their performances on Friday, they’ve still got the semis and final to impress me enough to where I think they’ve got a shot at unseating the champion. Even if Chandler’s eventual challenger doesn’t look all that impressive in the tournament and goes into the title fight with Chandler a heavy underdog, I can’t imagine Chandler will take his eventual opponent lightly, having won his championship in what is still considered to be an upset over then-champ Eddie Alvarez.
Round 2: Two-on-Two MMA?
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
Former WEC fighter Chance Farrar, whose biggest claim to fame was probably losing a featherweight title bid against Urijah Faber in the pre-Jose Aldo era, has been promoting Desert Rage Full Contact Fighting since 2007, and while they’ve only run 10 shows so far, it’s probably a safe bet that their 11th show will be the one that puts them on the map, so to speak. Farrar has scheduled a two-on-two fight for the event, featuring two teams of two fighters fighting in as many five-minute rounds as it takes for one side to be completely eliminated. The fights will be contested under the unified rules of MMA, although elbows and knees will not be allowed, and when one fighter is forced to submit or is (T)KO’ed, there will be a one-minute break period to get the eliminated fighter out of the cage and then the round resumes. There will be two officials for the contest, and weight classes are decided by the combined weight of the fighters – lightweight fighters must weight less than 350 pounds combined, middleweight fighters must weigh less than 425 pounds combined, and heavweight fighters must weigh less than 500 pounds combined.
In theory, this could add an entirely new dimension to MMA, not just in terms of the fights themselves, but also in terms of the strategy and coaching that goes into each fight. If you’re facing a team of grapplers with poor stand-up, do you focus on putting together another team of grapplers or stand-up fighters with good takedown defense? Once the fight starts, how do you make your fighters change the pairings inside the cage if the match-up isn’t a particularly good one? If one fighter is in a dominant position. However, without seeing the full rules and at least a handful of actual fights, I’m not convinced that this is anything more than a gimmick. It’s a real shame that Japanese MMA is all but dead, as I think this would’ve caught on immensely there. Yarennoka 2013 could feature a main event pitting Fedor Emelianenko and Jeff Monson taking on Bob Sapp and Shinya Aoki! In all seriousness, best of luck to Farrar, but I’m reserving the right to withhold judgment on two-on-two fights until after I’ve actually seen some.
Round 3: Riddle and Rivera Test Positive, Serve Suspension, Lose Wins
**TOUCH OF THE GLOVES**
Back in July, both Matt Riddle and Francisco Rivera won their respective fights at UFC 149 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada; however, news came out late last week that both fighters had tested positive (Riddle for marijuana and Rivera for an over-the-counter stimulant) in post-fight drug screens. By the time the news was released, both Riddle and Rivera had served their suspensions, and there was no news at the time of their fights being overturned. That came the following day, when the Calgary Combative Sports Commission confirmed that both fights would be ruled no contests.
If you’ve read this column before, you know that I’m against the use of both PEDs and recreational drugs amongst professional fighters, as I believe neither has a place in the sport (and yes, I do agree with TRT, so long as the program is legitimately prescribed and controlled by a reputable medical doctor – currently, it’s a system in need of an overhaul). With that in mind, I think this is a good call by the Calgary Combative Sports Commission to follow through and overturn the results. While it’s doubtful that Riddle’s marijuana use had any effect on the outcome of his fight, it’s very possible that Rivera’s stimulant did, and if they had opted to only overturn one fighter’s win while upholding the other’s, it would’ve opened a jar of worms that I don’t think the sport needs right now. That’s why I’ve been supportive of the NSAC’s decision to suspend Nick Diaz following his drug screen failure for marijuana metabolites after his interim welterweight title fight with Carlos Condit. And while I support Riddle based on his time on The Ultimate Fighter, he needs to give up the weed around fight time so that it doesn’t end up screwing up his career – he’s not in quite the same position as Nick Diaz, and I’d imagine a one-year suspension would pretty effectively spell the end of his career as a fighter.
Round 4: UFC Continues Holiday Tradition
**TOUCH OF THE GLOVES**
Every year for the last handful of years, the UFC has given fight fans a pretty good Christmas present in the form of a stacked year-end show, and this year’s show is shaping up to be no different. We know the show will be headlined by a heavyweight title bout between champion Junior dos Santos and the man that he won the belt from, Cain Velasquez, and also that it would feature a potential middleweight title eliminator between Tim Boetsch and Chris Weidman; however, three more fights have been announced in the past few days that only add to the value of the card. First, it was announced that Phil Davis would be stepping in to replace Chael Sonnen in his fight with Forrest Griffin (more on Sonnen next round), and then two great featherweight fights were added to the card in the form of Erik Koch vs Ricardo Lamas and Brad Pickett vs Eddie Wineland.
First off, the addition of Phil Davis to the card might not add too many potential sales, but Griffin/Davis is definitely a fight that could do wonders for either man’s career. If Davis wins, he’ll have beaten a former light heavyweight champion, while if Forrest wins, he finds himself in Tito Ortiz’s shoes after Ortiz was able to beat Ryan Bader last year – it will extend Griffin’s relevancy in a division where he’s been more or less relegated to the outskirts. As for Koch/Lamas and Pickett/Wineland, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if the winners of those two fights move on to fight one another in a title eliminator, and what a stretch of great fights that could set off for the featherweight division, especially when you factor in the fight between Renan Barao and Jose Aldo that’s on the horizon and the return of the Korean Zombie. In a division that’s been lampooned for its lack of depth, this could be exactly the shot in the arm that the featherweight division needs.
Round 5: The Ultimate Shake-Up
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
The UFC held a conference call last Thursday to discuss the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter, and while this isn’t an extraordinary occurrence on its own, it ended up being “must-listen”, as it featured the first verbal jousting of newly announced coaches Chael Sonnen and UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. During the course of the call, it was revealed that Jones and Sonnen would each coach a team of fighters, culminating in a PPV fight in April that will likely take place in New Jersey, which is the UFC’s equivalent of Madison Square Garden (since they’re not actually allowed to promote shows in New York City) and also that the show would be moving from the Friday night timeslot that it’s occupied since moving to FX earlier this year.
This is a huge boost for The Ultimate Fighter, as Jones and Sonnen have actual animosity for one another, and Sonnen’s personality is probably the only thing that can get Jones back on track to being a fan favorite, as Sonnen revels in playing the heel persona. When you add in the fact that TUF will be moving from Friday night, which has become a television graveyard since the halcyon days of ABC’s “TGIF”, and I think you’ll see a pretty significant improvement in the ratings for the show. Unfortunately, this probably means that they won’t make any additional (and much needed) changes to the format of the show, but at least the UFC is trying to do something to make it watchable. I’d be watching this even if I wasn’t going to end up covering it for the site.
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