Five Quick Rounds 10.30.12: Bellator 78, Cerrone Wants a Fight (or a Ride), UK MMA gets SAFE, and More!
Welcome to another edition of Five Quick Rounds, 411’s fastest-finishing weekly opinion column. I’m your host, Wyatt Beougher, and this column is coming to you from my house for a change, as I got a couple of extra days at home due to Hurricane Sandy. I’m hoping that I don’t go back to work to find my apartment and office damaged by the wind or water, but I’m obviously thankful for the extra time at home with my family.
Round 1: Bellator 78 – Welterweight Tournament Continues; Women’s Champion Snubbed
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
Friday’s Bellator 78 featured four solid fights, two of which were to decide the finalists in the season seven welterweight tournament. In those bouts, former champion Lyman Good defeated Michail Tsarev via TKO at 3:54 of the second round, while his next opponent, Andrey Koreshkov, was able to TKO Marius Zaromskis in just 2:14 seconds. Good and Koreshkov will square off in the next two months to decide who will next contend for Ben Askren’s welterweight title. In other main card action, Daniel Straus submitted Alvin Robinson with a rear naked choke with only 9 seconds left in the first round, and Brian Rogers picked up a unanimous decision victory over Dominique Steele. Conspicuously absent from the main card was Bellator Strawweight champion Zoila Gurgel, who earned a unanimous decision win over Casey Noland on the prelims of the show.
And while I can understand the importance of advancing the tournament on the main card, even over a non-title fight, Friday was the first fight back from an ACL injury for Gurgel, who has been absent from the cage for over 19 months, so why would Bellator stick her on the prelims? If it was concern that Gurgel would exhibit ring rust, that’s one thing, but it certainly does nothing for the prestige of their women’s strawweight division when the champion can’t even break onto the main card over Rogers, a guy who hasn’t even made the finals of a Bellator tournament yet. As for the welterweight tournament, Bellator certainly could’ve done worse than having their former champion square off with a undefeated Russian prospect, and I’m actually looking forward to the Good/Koreshkov fight far more than I would’ve if Mediocre Marius Zaromskis had won.
Round 2: UK Promotions Align to Improve Fighter Safety
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
London’s Center for Health and Human Performance just launched a new initiative called SAFE MMA, designed to improve fighter safety in the UK, and they will have the backing of three of the UK’s largest MMA promotions, as BAMMA, Cage Rage, and UCMMA have already signed on. For an initial £600 ($968) fee, combined with an annual £235 (about $379) registration, SAFE MMA will provide the promotion’s fighters with standardized blood and medical testing. The service is also available for gyms, with the annual fees ranging from £60 to £240 ($97 to $387). Along with blood and medical testing, SAFE MMA will provide various experts in sports medicine to dispense advice and tips to fighters.
If you’ve read this column at any point since I started writing it, you’ll know that I’m a firm proponent of anything that improves the quality of life for fighters, especially as it pertains to their safety in and out of the cage. I definitely think this is a step in the right direction for MMA in the UK, and I’d like to see that kind of standardized testing become the norm around the world. Obviously, though, that’s a bit of a long-shot at the moment, as here in the States, there’s not even a standardized system of testing in place due to the various committees and their individual rules and regulations, as well as the fact that mixed martial arts are still outlawed in some states. And while the pricing for SAFE MMA membership may seem high when you first look at it, the organization is a non-profit, so I’m sure that it’s actually likely very reasonable, especially when you consider that some of these organizations hold multiple events per year featuring upwards of 30 fighters.
Round 3: Chad Mendes Resolves Legal Issues in California
**TOUCH OF THE GLOVES**
Back in August, UFC fighter and former featherweight title contender Chad Mendes was charged with assault stemming from an incident at a bar in Hanford, California, on July 29th. Mendes was accused of sucker punching a fellow bar patron and then fleeing the scene before police could question him; however, after court proceedings last week, it appears as though Mendes’ account of events was closer to the truth than what had been published in the media. Not only was the assault charge against him dropped, but Mendes was also able to plead no content to a lesser charge of public disturbance, was sentenced to a fine, and was immediately released.
I’ve been critical of Mendes in the past over this incident, as I don’t think there’s ever a reason for a trained fighter to sucker punch someone, so I’d like to take back anything negative I’ve said about Mendes regarding this incident (I’m not callous enough to believe he’s ever read this column, hence my lack of a personal apology). The sentence is not only good news for Mendes, who avoids any serious penalty and also likely retains his job with Zuffa, but also for the UFC, who can now return him to the logjam at the top of the featherweight division without any fear of public repercussions stemming from bad press relating to the incident.
Round 4: CSAC Begins Overhaul
**TOUCH OF THE GLOVES**
The California State Athletic Commission has appointed Andy Foster as its new executive officer in the wake of former top official George Dodd’s resignation. Foster, at only 33 years of age, has been in charge of the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission since 2008, and while serving in that capacity, he was responsible for overseeing Georgia’s licensing and regulation with regards to boxing, kickboxing, mixed martial arts, and wrestling. Foster also coordinated the GAEC’s fiscal budget, as well as making staff and management decisions and monitoring all aspects of the medical program that covers all professional combat sports participants in the state of Georgia. Foster was hired with the hopes that he can boost revenues in the state by luring more big-ticket events back to California.
A few months back, I talked about how George Dodd was stepping down from his position as the head of the California State Athletic Commission amid allegations that he failed to disclose just how badly the CSAC was hemorrhaging money, as well as how the Commission is likely looking at drastic downsizing or possible closure in the coming year. Since then, I’ve also made mention of the CSAC’s mishandling of the drug testing for the Strikeforce: Rousey vs Kaufman event, but it finally looks as though some good news is coming for the CSAC. Foster is a former MMA competitor and has trained extensively in multiple forms of martial arts, not to mention his career as a referee, trainer, and judge prior to being named as Executive Director of the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission. To say that he has experience in every facet of MMA almost seems like an understatement, and if anyone can save the CSAC in light of its current turmoil, it’s going to be someone with that kind of depth of experience.
Round 5: Anthony Pettis Potentiall Out of Fight with Donald Cerrone, Who Wants to Live Up to His Nickname
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
Last Monday, Anthony Pettis was hospitalized with what was initially thought to be a staph infection but turned out to be cellulitis (a bacterial skin infection that’s actually pretty common). With the hospitalization, it throws into question the status of a potential fight with Donald Cerrone that the UFC has been trying to put together for January of next year. Cerrone expressed his frustration, stating that he has bills to pay and doesn’t want to wait around if Pettis can’t fight in January. Cerrone also mentioned that he walks around at 180, so he’d definitely take a fight at 170 if that was all that was available, while also stating that he’d fight Jon Jones (a teammate) at 205 or Leonard Garcia (his best friend) at 145. And if the UFC can’t get a fight scheduled for him? Cerrone has that covered, as well, having asked for permission to participate at Professional Bull Riders Tour event. For his part, though, Pettis believes he’ll be ready to go by January, so hopefully we’ll get to see what should be a barn burner of a fight.
When most fighters say they’ll fight anyone, anytime, at any weight, it sounds like a great deal of bluster, but if you’ve seen Cerrone fight, you know that he’s nothing if not tenacious, and I’m inclined to believe him when he says he’d fight Jones or Garcia if the UFC offered him either fight. With the recent spate of fighters turning down fights (as well as the more long-standing agreements between training partners like Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch or Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida to not fight one another), Cerrone’s willingness to fight virtually anyone, even on short notice, is a throwback to the sport’s early days. As far as his assertion that fighters should be allowed to do as they please (with regards to outside sports) so long as they don’t have a fight on the slate? I can’t say I disagree with that. Cerrone is the one who has to be accountable for himself at the end of the day, and if he injures himself riding a bull (which is commonplace even for the most experienced of cowboys) and can’t fight for a year or more, he’s the one who has to find a way to pay his bills. I can also understand Zuffa’s desire to protect their investment, but it should then fall to them to make sure that Cerrone has fights lined up frequently enough that he doesn’t have the time to dedicate to pursuing other sports.
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