Five Quick Rounds 11.27.12: Overeem, Sonnen, the Injury Bug, and More!
Welcome to another edition of Five Quick Rounds, 411’s fastest-finishing weekly opinion column. I’m your host, Wyatt Beougher, and I’m back for another week of news, and I’ll be honest, it was a slow one. I hope everyone (who celebrates it) had a great Thanksgiving weekend. I enjoyed time with my family and friends, played in our tenth annual tackle football game on Thanksgiving morning, and just generally enjoyed a couple of extra days off of work.
Round 1: Overeem Clearing Hurdles to Return
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
Currently suspended UFC heavyweight Alistair Overeem made some pretty significant progress along his path back to the cage last week. It was announced that Overeem and his former management company, Golden Glory, had dropped their respective lawsuits against one another and reached a settlement that would put an end to the year-long legal wranglings between the two. Overeem initially sued because he felt Golden Glory forced him into a bad deal (to the tune of 35% of his pre-tax earnings) and that they owed him over $150k in back pay, while Golden Glory countersued that Overeem had breached his contract and still owed them 30% of his payout for his win over Fabricio Werdum in Strikeforce. Also, the NSAC released a statement that the UFC would be allowed to promote Overeem’s upcoming fight with Antonio Silva (currently scheduled for UFC 156 in February), in spite of Overeem not yet officially being reinstated by the Commission.
As long as Overeem continues to comply with the terms set out by the Nevada State Athletic Commission to ensure his reinstatement, especially submitting to (and passing) random drug tests, this news is a huge step forward for the former Strikeforce heavyweight champion and prohibitive UFC number one contender. Not only can the UFC proceed with its promotional campaign to build interest for Overeem’s fight with Silva (and eventually title fight with the heavyweight champion), but Overeem no longer finds himself in the financial quagmire that he’s been trapped in since November of last year. That should help him to better focus on his training and preparing for the fight, and while I think he’ll dispose of Bigfoot Silva pretty easily, it wouldn’t be impossible for Silva to score the upset. Anything that ends up with a more focused ‘Reem is good for the sport, and I’m actually starting to look forward to this fight. Here’s hoping that the Dutchman doesn’t screw things up again.
Round 2: Chael Sonnen’s Name in the News
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
Former middleweight contender and upcoming The Ultimate Fighter coach Chael Sonnen was in the news again this past week, but for a change, it wasn’t because of anything Sonnen himself said or did. Instead, details were announced for the 2012 World MMA Awards were announced, and in addition to the awards ceremony taking place on January 11th, 2013, in Las Vegas, it was announced that Sonnen would return as co-host of the event, a position that he filled in the 2011 edition. Also, Sonnen’s opposing coach Jon Jones went on the record as saying that he still didn’t feel that Sonnen had earned a shot at Jones’ title, but that he would be giving Sonnen one just to shut the outspoken middleweight up. Both Jones and Sonnen also talked about their respective histories for the show, as Sonnen was asked to be an athlete on the first season, while Jones was turned down for a later season of the show because he was only 20 years old, leaving him one year shy of the age requirement to be on the show.
As far as the World MMA Awards go, this shouldn’t be all that surprising, as Sonnen is still known for his personality and he and co-host Molly Qerim did a fine job last year in the same capacity. “If it ain’t broke…” and all that. When it comes to Jones’ statement, he certainly isn’t wrong, as Sonnen hasn’t done anything at light heavyweight to earn a title opportunity, but that’s the business side of the sport, and Sonnen will sell the fight as if he has a legitimate chance at beating Jones, something that the champion can certainly use after a string of performances that have left him looking unbeatable. Plus, with Jones’ reputation somewhat tarnished in 2012 due to his DUI, comments he’s made in the media, and inadvertently leading to the cancellation of Zuffa’s first UFC show, Sonnen’s heel routine can only help Bones’ public persona, something that’s certainly important to his Nike sponsorship. Also, and maybe it was just me, but I thought it was cool that both Sonnen and Jones have a history with The Ultimate Fighter prior to coaching it.
Round 3: WMMA Round Up
**TOUCH OF THE GLOVES**
Invicta FC announced the details regarding their next show last week, including the fact that it would be headlined by a strawweight (115 pound) title fight between Carla Esparza and Claudia Gadelha. Also announced for the show are Shayna Baszler vs Alexis Davis, Sarah D’Alelio vs Amanda Nunes, Ediane Gomes vs Hiroko Yamanaka, and Leslie Smith taking on an opponent to be announced. Also last week, Olympic wrestling silver medalist and undefeated WMMA prospect Sara McMann tweeted that details were being worked out for her to join the UFC roster alongside women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. McMann, who had been signed to Strikeforce after a successful debut in Invicta, saw her fight with Liz Carmouche at Strikeforce: Cormier vs Mir evaporate when that show was cancelled after an injury to Mir was exacerbated by Strikeforce’s inability to find a replacement opponent for Cormier that was suitable to Showtime.
This should be another solid card from Invicta, and it is my sincere hope that going forward, they will be able to continue the working agreement that they had with Strikeforce as the UFC determines how best to establish their own bantamweight (and potentially featherweight) women’s divisions. As for the Sara McMann rumor, there are two ways that the UFC could utilize the Olympic silver medalist – either she becomes Rousey’s first UFC opponent, or she ends up coaching the fall season of The Ultimate Fighter against Rousey, leading up to a title shot. Either way would work fine, although I think Miesha Tate would be the better counterpart for Rousey on TUF based on their history. One big news item this week from the world of MMA and one pretty significant rumor to boot, and while both pale in comparison to the announcement last week that Ronda Rousey would be the first woman signed to a fighter’s contract in the UFC, as well as its first bantamweight champion, this is still big news for the still-fledgling sport.
Round 4: The 2012 Injury Bug Continues Into 2013
**TOUCH OF THE GLOVES**
Once upon a time, Strikeforce’s Champions show, tentatively scheduled to be their last before ceasing operations, actually lived up to its billing; however, the injury bug that plagued so many cards in 2012 appears to be continuing into next year, as the proposed January show has already seen a pair of Strikeforce’s champions forced to drop out. Two weeks ago, it was revealed that lightweight champion Gil Melendez would likely not be healthy enough to defend his title against Pat Healy in a fight that was originally scheduled for September. Then, on Sunday, news came out that middleweight champion Luke Rockhold would not be recovered from a wrist injury that originally forced him off of the cancelled November 3rd card. Late last week, word leaded that Chris Weidman had injured his shoulder and would not be able to fight Tim Boetsch at UFC 155 on December 29th. Weidman has a torn labrum and either a dislocated or separated shoulder and will need surgery, keeping him out of action for 3-6 months.
And while I was clamoring for Weidman/Boetsch to be a title eliminator fight (or at least determine who would face the winner of Bisping/Belfort in a title eliminator fight), the bigger blow here is the loss of two title fights on what is very likely to be Strikeforce’s final card. I suppose it’s a telling sign of Strikeforce’s legacy that a show titled Champions is currently scheduled to feature only a single title fight (a welterweight tilt between champion Nate Marquardt and Tarec Saffiedine). If Rockhold’s opponent, Lorenz Larkin, had been injured instead of Rockhold, I could see the UFC sliding Rockhold in to face Boetsch, but alas, it’s not to be, and Boetsch will instead face Constantinos Philippou in what should be an exciting brawl.
Round 5: Henderson vs Machida Coming?
***TOUCH OF THE GLOVES***
Word leaked last week that the UFC was in the process of finalizing the details on a light heavyweight bout between Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida. Henderson and Machida are both former light heavyweight champions (Henderson in Strikeforce and PRIDE, Machida in the UFC), and both men were supposed to fight Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight title last fall. Henderson’s title hopes were dashed by a severe knee injury that saw the UFC cancel their first-ever show under the Zuffa banner in early September, while Machida turned down an opportunity to fight Jones later that month because he didn’t feel as though he’d have adequate time to prepare. Since then, rumors had swirled about the two facing off in a title eliminator fight, and it appears as though those rumors are coming to fruition.
This is a fight that just makes sense, or at least as much sense as anything can in the wake of the crazy two-week period around Labor Day. Ideally, both Henderson and Machida would’ve gotten their title shots without having to fight one another, but this fight not only resolves which man is the number one contender to Jones’ title, but also gives the winner a big-name win heading into the fight with Jones. On top of that, Dana White has said that this would be the co-main event on UFC 157, and with the names and stakes involved, you have to wonder just which fighters are going to headline the card.
One thing that I didn’t discuss in the rounds this week was Dennis Hallman’s house burning down on Thanksgiving Eve. If you remember, Hallman was released by the UFC after missing weight for his scheduled fight at UFC on FX 5. Dana White still paid Hallman both his show and win purses, and he stated that it was because of all the personal trouble that Hallman was going through. When you add in the loss of his home and personal possessions, I think the least we can do as MMA fans is keep Hallman in our thoughts (or prayers, if that’s your thing). Here’s hoping to an upswing in luck for “Superman” in the coming months. 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!