The Greatest MMA News Column 01.01.13: New Year Edition
With how dominant Velasquez was in winning the fight, dos Santos will likely have to put together a couple of wins before getting another shot at the title, especially if Velasquez still holds the belt. A Velasquez win also means Daniel Cormier, the top heavyweight in Strikeforce, will likely move down to light heavyweight in order to avoid fighting his friend and teammate Velasquez. That opens the door wide open for Fabricio Werdum, who would have been in the running along with Cormier for a title shot. Now, if Werdum beats Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira next, he’ll likely get a title shot. Next in line for Velasquez is probably Alistair Overeem. Overeem is slated to fight Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in February and most assume a vicious knockout will take place. It will be interesting if an upset takes place because there would be no top heavyweight contender ready. Werdum is fighting Nogueira in the summer after their season of TUF: Brazil airs. Silva would be an option if he hadn’t already lost a one-sided first round TKO to Velasquez in May. Next in line in that case would appear to be Stefan Struve, 24, who is almost certainly not ready to answer the problems Velasquez poses for him.
In a match-up with Overeem, Velasquez seems to stand a very good chance. Historically, Overeem is a guy that folds when the fight isn’t going his way (though he hasn’t faced such a scenario in years), he has a questionable chin, he has stamina issues, and he isn’t comfortable when pressured. Even as recently as the Fabricio Werdum fight, when Werdum – a far less talented striker than Overeem – aggressively pressed forward with strikes he found some success. Velasquez is a guy that at his best won’t stop pressuring Overeem, which will tire him out and make him backpedal which puts him out of his element. My feeling is the champion will be able to take Overeem to the ground, but we haven’t seen anybody take this version of Overeem down so it’s somewhat of an unknown. Certainly, Velasquez leaves openings which Overeem can take advantage of and if he becomes too far-reaching with his takedown attempts Overeem possess brutal knee strikes. Velasquez should be favored in the bout, but Overeem always has the power and skill to end it.
UFC plans 20th anniversary show for November in MSG. UFC President Dana White unveiled the company’s tentative plans for their 20th anniversary show in November. White noted the UFC has reserved a date that month at Madison Square Garden in New York City and they have at least one fight in mind. As far as the idea of an anniversary show, it’s a good one because it’s something special that feels different from other PPV shows, like UFC 100 did. The idea of holding it in New York is bold considering the sport is still illegal there, but legalization efforts have gained steam in recent years. Should the sport become legalized there, the first UFC show in Madison Square Garden is going to really well at the gate, and the selling point of an anniversary show will allow them to bump up ticket prices even higher. Another benefit of running in the world’s most famous arena is the enhanced coverage from New York media, which would in theory help PPV business for the show. As far as the fight, it sounds like they’re looking at either Georges St-Pierre vs. Anderson Silva or Anderson Silva vs. Jon Jones. Of course, a bajillion-and-one things could go wrong before November for any one of these aspects of the plan, so I wouldn’t get my hopes up just yet. One interesting point is that if the fight they’re targeting is one of the superfights (and I’d bet it is), it’s a change in direction from saving it for a big stadium show. My feeling is they’re moving towards the anniversary show at Madison Square Garden idea in order to put everything in their favor to make the next UFC 100. That means a perfect storm of a great lineup, great timing, and great media coverage. If all goes well over the next 11 months, that event would have no excuse to not be one of the top two money making events in MMA history.
Michael Bisping to receive title shot with win over Vitor Belfort. Michael Bisping has been in the mix as a middleweight title contender since dropping down to the division in 2008. In that time he’s been one win away from a title shot on two occasions. The first was when he took on Dan Henderson at UFC 100, which didn’t go well for “The Count.” Then at UFC on FOX 2 he was put into a fight against top contender Chael Sonnen after Sonnen’s original opponent Mark Munoz fell to injury. That fight went much better for Bisping, but he found himself on the wrong end of a close decision. Since, he took home a clear decision win against Brian Stann and he’s in a position once again where he’s one win away from a title shot. Belfort is a really tough fight for Bisping, albeit certainly a winnable one. An Anderson Silva vs. Bisping match is one that would do well on PPV and perhaps even pull great numbers considering Bisping’s ability to sell fights. Back to the Belfort fight, that’s easily the biggest headlining fight of any show UFC has run on FX to this point, so it will be interesting to see where the rating lands. Such shows have never surpassed 1.4 million viewers, but one would think this is the fight to do it. Taking place on a Wednesday as opposed to a Friday should help as the former is a better night for television viewership in general. If the show doesn’t become the highest rated of the UFC on FX series to date, it’s a disappointment.
Dana White not keen on one-armed Nick Newell fighting in UFC. Nick Newell was one of the feel good stories of 2012. The 26-year-old fought three times over the course of the year and won all three, including two stoppages. Overall, Newell has attained a 9-0 MMA record with just one fight going the distance. In a media scrum earlier this week, White said of Newell’s shot at making it to the UFC, “it’s hard to fight with two arms, you know what I mean?” To me, this whole story is pretty stupid. One arm, no arms, or eighteen arms, if a fighter has demonstrated the ability to compete at a high level then there’s no reason not to accept them into the UFC or any other major MMA organization. At this point, Newell has yet to fight a high level opponent, so there’s a fair amount of difficulty in assessing his skill level. His last win over Bellator veteran Eric Reynolds was impressive considering Reynolds’ experience, but I’d like to see him take on an opponent of a bit higher caliber.
Dream 18 results. I still haven’t seen the show, but here are the results from the zombie Dream show. Shinya Aoki beat Antonio McKee via verbal submission. That’s Aoki’s second win since losing to Eddie Alvarez in April. Tatsuya Kawajiri beat Michihiro Omigawa by decision. Kawajiri still hasn’t lost at featherweight since dropping down last year. Bibiano Fernandes submitted Yoshiro Maeda. Melvin Manhoef beat Denis Kang with a knee to the body. Hayato Sakurai beat Phil Baroni, who has now lost six of his last eight fights. I wouldn’t be disappointed if both retired with that fight. The last Dream featherweight champion Hiroyuki Takaya lost a split decision to Georgi Karakhanyan. In an upset, Will Brooks (8-0) took home a TKO win over Satoru Kitaoka. In the sole women’s fight of the show, Marloes Coenen easily beat an overmatched Fiona Muxlow by submission. Hopefully Coenen makes her way to the UFC’s new women’s division.
On the kickboxing side of things, Semmy Schilt won a 16-man tournament, defeating Daniel Ghita in the final round. Schilt previously won the K-1 World Grand Prix four times. There were a number of notable names involved in the tournament. Sergei Kharitonov lost in the first round. Gokhan Saki made it to the semifinals before losing to the much larger Schilt. Anderson “Braddock” Silva, not the Anderson Silva, fell to Saki in the quarterfinals. Despite a 3-4 record, Braddock didn’t have a bad 2012. Two of those losses were controversial decisions to top stars Badr Hari and Remy Bonjasky which I think should have went the other way. Bonjasky was in the tournament as well, but made it to only the quarterfinals. Perhaps the biggest name on the card, Peter Aerts, lost in the first round due to injury. Aerts, 42, is one of the only stars remaining from K-1’s heyday when he was among their biggest names. He had a deep run in the K-1 World Grand Prix in 2010, including a thrilling win over Schilt, but was destroyed by Alistair Overeem in the finals.
Thanks for reading; I hope you enjoyed it. Happy New Year to all. Feel free to leave any feedback in the comment box or at the e-mail address below. Follow @Dan_Plunkett