Five Quick Rounds 11.06.12: Hale Bellator’s New Heavyweight King, Arlovski Victorious, Chael Stacks the Deck, and More!
Welcome to another edition of Five Quick Rounds, 411’s fastest-finishing weekly opinion column. I’m your host, Wyatt Beougher, and the fact that I had to wait in line to buy gas today still has my mind boggled. Forgive me if this column seems disjointed as a result.
Round 1: Bellator 79 – No Heavyweight Controversy
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
Bellator 79 took place Friday night, and for once, a main event with Thiago Santos didn’t end in any kind of controversy. The main card started with Ryan Ford picking up a unanimous decision win over Kyle Baker. Former welterweight contender Douglas Lima defeated Jacob Ortiz with a head kick and follow-up punches with only 10 seconds left in the fight. Shahbulat Shamhalaev needed just 1:45 to advance to the featherweight tournament finale, defeating Mike Richman with punches. And, in the aforementioned main event, former light heavyweight finalist Richard Hale continued his impressive streak in the heavyweight division, defeating former heavyweight finalist Thiago Santos with punches in 3:31.
Richard Hale is my pick to become Bellator’s next heavyweight champion, as he’s dispatched both his opponents in this tournament in less than one round combined, and should he win his next fight as impressively as the first two, I don’t see any reason why Bellator wouldn’t award him the now-vacant heavyweight title in the wake of Cole Konrad’s retirement. Shahbulat Shamhalaev also looked impressive, and he’s continuing an impressive 9-0-1 streak since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov in only his third professional fight. Also working in Shamhalaev’s favor is his experience with the tournament format, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he moved on to face featherweight champion Pat Curran.
Round 2: World Series of Fighting Debuts
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
World Series of Fighting held their debut event on NBC Sports Network, marking the first time since its rebranding that the network has televised an MMA event. On the main card, Tyrone Spong made his MMA debut in spectacular fashion, ending Travis Bartlett’s night with a big straight right hand just 3:15 into their fight. Miguel Torres waited far too long to get started against Marlon Moraes, and while he picked up the third round pretty handily, it was too little, too late, as Moraes picked up the split decision (that should’ve been unanimous). In the co-main event, Anthony Johnson (now a light heavyweight, where he probably should’ve been fighting for the past few years when he started missing weight at welterweight) devastated DJ Linderman with a big right hand in just under four minutes. And in the main event, Andrei Arlovski needed just over half a round to KO Devin Cole, landing a big punch and then finishing the fight with ground and pound.
Not a bad debut show for WSOF, although Miguel Torres’ performance was another in a line of disappointing fights that has seen him spiral from Top 5 pound-for-pound fighter when he was in the WEC to losing to a relative unknown in an upstart promotion. If Anthony Johnson can continue to make weight consistently at light heavyweight and look as impressive as he did on Saturday, it’s only a matter of time before he gets called back up to the UFC. And as for the main event, well, Arlovski has yet again claimed to have righted his career, and while he did win impressively, it’s going to take more than a win over Devin Cole and a change in camp (no matter how good Jackson-Winklejohn’s track record is) to make me believe that he’s actually stalled his downward momentum.
Round 3: Bonnar and Herman Busted
**TOUCH OF THE GLOVES**
In the wake of UFC 153, it was revealed that both Stephan Bonnar and Dave Herman had tested positive in their post-fight drug tests, Bonnar for Drostanolone, a performance-enhancing drug, and Herman for marijuana metabolites. This marks the second positive test for each fighter, and each for the same type of drug.
Bonnar retired after the Silva fight, so whatever punishment he receives won’t effect him as much as Herman, who, based on a second positive test for marijuana and some less-than-impressive performances, could be looking at his walking papers from Zuffa. As for Bonnar, there’s a lot of talk in the MMA media right now that he’s tarnished his legacy, a topic that we’ll actually discuss in an upcoming All the King’s Men, and I tend to think that Bonnar’s legacy isn’t really impressive enough to be tarnished.
Round 4: Fight Network Comes to the US
**TOUCH OF THE GLOVES**
Canada’s Fight Network, which since 2005 has aired a mix of boxing, kickboxing, professional wrestling, judo, submission grappling, karate, and MMA, will finally be available in the US. But before you go calling your cable provider, there’s a catch – it’ll only be available as a live streaming network for either $5.99 a month or $59.99 a year.
This isn’t the first time Fight Network has been available in the US, as they aired for a few months back in 2007 with IPTV provider Backspace before being dropped. I can’t admit to being familiar with Fight Network’s programming, but anything that makes more MMA (and pro wrestling) available in the US might be worth a look, if that’s where your interests lie.
Round 5: Jones/Sonnen Set for Newark; Sonnen Sets the Coaching Bar High
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
As previously discussed in this column, Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen’s coaching stints on The Ultimate Fighter will culminate in a title fight in April, and while it was widely believed to take place in Newark, New Jersey (as close as the UFC can legally come to New York City), it was officially announced yesterday and the venue was confirmed as the Prudential Center in “lovely” downtown Newark. Also, Sonnen announced that there was no bad blood between him and former light heavyweight contender Dan Henderson, stating that Henderson would help him coach his team on the show. On top of that, it’s believed that Randy Couture will be helping to coach Team Sonnen on at least a part-time basis.
This move makes sense for Zuffa, as they’ll likely hold weigh-ins in New York City and do a week’s worth of press (at a minimum) about how New York needs to legalize MMA. And while the Jersey crowds have been less than ideal in the past, the main event of this show should certainly be exciting enough to keep their interest, as Sonnen will have sixteen weeks of television to sell the fight (plus the fact that he actually started last year), and Jones is, as always, a maestro in the cage. And while I don’t think Sonnen has much of a chance in the fight, he’s done an excellent job of recruiting coaching talent for his team on The Ultimate Fighter, as there’s no way Jones will be able to recruit a more decorated team of coaches than the Henderson/Couture pair without tapping Georges St. Pierre and pretty much any other champion to come out of Jackson-Littlejohn. My only hope is that Sonnen comes across as a coach on the level of Shane Carwin, who has truly impressed me thus far this season.
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