UFC fans will have to wait for the biggest fight of the year. An injury to UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has delayed his upcoming grudge match with Daniel Cormier until January 2015 and take place at UFC 182.
News broke on Tuesday of the delay which comes a week after some pundits predicted blockbuster numbers for the fight coming off of a press conference brawl and a couple of verbal scraps on television. Tensions boiled over last week when Jones and Cormier got into it at a presser. A satellite feed of ESPN’s interview with the two showed a side of Jones none of us had ever seen where he mocked Cormier and called him “p*ssy” several times. By week’s end interest in this fight had grown to levels not seen since Sonnen vs. Silva 2.
Jones is pulling out of the first due to an injury suffered in training. A torn meniscus and a sprained ankle Jones suffered Monday wrestling is the cause of the postponement. While this may sound perfectly reasonable to most, MMA fans are seething at Jones for the delay. Fighters fight with these types of injuries often and Jones delaying the fight due to this is not sitting well with many…including Daniel Cormier.
“I said from the beginning that Jon Jones isn’t afraid of anyone,” Cormier said. “But if I can go in there with a partially torn ACL, I think he should have fought; tough it up and fight.
“I don’t know the extent of his injuries, and if it’s really bad, I’ll take it back. But on the surface, I heard he hurt himself. But people hear ACL, they think you’re out for a year. I’ve been hurt, and I’ve been training. I wish he would have just fought.
“I’m saying tough it out sometimes,” he added. “Sometimes you’ve got to go in there and tough it out and just fight.”
As upset as Cormier is, the postponement may work in his favor. The delay will allow him to seek care for his partially torn ACL, an injury Jones would have surely targeted in the fight. Cormier could likely seek arthroscopic surgery for the ACL and fight closer to 100%. The irony here is that many critics believed the reason Jones wanted to fight Cormier so badly was because he knew Cormier was hurt and wanted to get him before he had surgery.
At first glance this is terrible news on the business side for the UFC. However, Dave Meltzer reports that the UFC would like to stack the January 3 Las Vegas event with Jones vs. Cormier and Ronda Rousey vs. Gina Carano. According to Meltzer, Carano is still in play between Bellator and the UFC. Meltzer predicted a buyrate of anywhere between 1.1 and 1.8 million for that double main-event. I think he’s freaking nuts but I do think it would be a blockbuster.
I do wonder if the buzz will subside between Cormier and Jones by the time we get close to the event. By that point the press conference brawl and verbal spats would have already been several months old. Many of the casual fans will be knee-deep in football by that point. I still think it will do great business, but how long the shelf-life is on this buzz is the big question. Cormier is confident that won’t happen.
“I think people recognize that it’s a big fight,” he said. “I think by January, people will understand, and maybe people will stop thinking about us fighting on stage or getting caught cussing each other when the cameras were on.
There is a big rumor swirling around the world of MMA today. Bellator MMA is expected to make a big announcement later today and the word on the street is that Scott Coker will announce the return to Gina Carano to MMA.
Wait a second, didn’t Dana White all but guarantee that Gina Carano vs. Ronda Rousey would happen in December in the UFC? Well he did and this will go down as another one of his long list of super fight guarantees that he couldn’t get done. Carano has been negotiating with the UFC for the last several weeks so Bellator stealing her away from White and company is a big, big story.
At first read you’d wonder why Carano would opt for Bellator over the biggest MMA company in the world. Yet once you take a step back you can completely understand her choice and I am sure it came down to more than just money. Bellator is owned by Viacom and I am almost positive that television and movie work came along with this deal. For someone like Carano who is a rising action star in Hollywood, the decision makes a ton of sense.
I also think Carano was smart enough to know she was walking into an embarrassing loss in the UFC. I know, you know, and most of us know she didn’t stand a chance of beating Ronda Rousey. Carano hasn’t trained or fought in years and Rousey is superior to Carano in both stand up and ground. I don’t think it would have been the mauling Carano received from Cyborg but it was a no-win situation.
Quite honestly I think it is a great thing for the UFC. Now the UFC will be forced to go back to the negotiating table with Cyborg. Rousey vs. Cyborg is the fight to make here. I don’t think it’s intentional that Dana White has been blowing that fight off. She knows that Rousey would be walking into a buzzsaw. Now that Bellator is back in the WMMA game, there is no way White can let Cyborg hang around out there and risk losing that fight to his competitor.
The announcement is expected to come Tuesday afternoon. Marlos Coenen is also expected to be announced as a new signee. I would guess that Coenen vs. Carano would be put on the books immediately. This is a step in the right direction for Bellator and the first stamp Scott Coker has put on the company since taking over leadership.
I look forward to the Dana White spin on this one.
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon recently took part in a chat with investors and were asked about the UFC. The WWE execs not only dismissed the UFC as competition and explained why the WWE is much better than its non-competition.
This is going to stir a lot of people up today. The happy couple participated in a “Fireside Chat” with Senior Business Analyst Laura Martin at the Needham Interconnect Conference for investors. The UFC was brought up as potential competition which Triple H was quick to dismiss and here is why.
“They aren’t really a competitor to us and I explain this to our talent this way in the Performance Center and every time I say it people will say to me oh, that made it very clear for me: people like UFC, they like boxing, but it’s completely different from what we are. We are like the movie Rocky. We’re a story. We’re a great story that just happens to take place sometimes in the wrestling ring, so if you think about us less of Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match which you’ll watch one time and on pay-per-view and then once that fight’s over it’s kind of done, you know, and you’re really not going to go back and watch it a bunch of times unless you’re a connoisseur of boxing science, you’re gonna watch it one time. But Rocky the movie you will watch over and over and over again. It’s the story, it’s the characters. Boxing is irrelevant to the movie really. It’s a triumph story, it’s a love story, it’s all those things and that’s what we do. We create characters that you gravitate towards, that you connect with, that you passionately engage with, you believe in on a visceral level, whether you hate them or love them. We put them in unique storylines with creative passions and good guys and bad guys and the drama and sometimes love throws. We were married and divorced once on TV long before we did it for real, you know? It was a dry run, that’s why it works so well, we got it out of our system. You know, you have all those components, but that’s what makes us so successful and at the end of the day that’s what makes the Network successful because while a sport, who is gonna go back to watch the Superbowl from ’84? Yeah, right, unless you’re a massive technical football fan! Or who’s gonna go back and watch boxing from five years ago, you’re not, or UFC, it’s the same thing, it’s the same component. But our product is evergreen, because its the characters and the stories that you engage in, that’s what makes a passionate fan of the WWE and it’s lifelong, because even if you move away from it, even if you become a lapsed fan, you get out of college, you don’t have a lot of free time anymore, you get a job, you have kids, you do all those things, and now all of a sudden your kids start to watch, and you get on the Network and you start to watch the Attitude Era or the ’80s, that Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and The Ultimate Warrior that you watched when you were a kid and all that emotion comes flooding back to you and it’s something that you don’t put down, that you don’t walk away from, it’s always there and it’s very easy to get hooked back into it to watch it again.”
The irony here is that he has some very valid points yet also winds up contradicting himself in the process. The point about the UFC having a five-year shelf life with its fans while the WWE has an infinite shelf life may be one of the dumbest things he has ever said. I would take that statement and flip it. While I am not a big UFC fan anymore, I look at the UFC like any sport. I can stop watching baseball today and jump into a game next week, next year, two years from now, five years from now, etc and get right back into it. Chances are while I may not be a hardcore fan of that sport forever I will always have an affinity because essentially the sport will never change. I think the same can be said about the UFC. While you may not be as hardcore as you were when you originally discovered it, you will likely stop on a free event on TV long after your fandom declines. That can’t be said about the WWE.
Look at the WWE audience. They are targeting to kids and families. Kids grow up, find other activities, and are less likely to go back to the WWE. If he was right, where are the millions of people who watched pro wrestling during the Monday Night Wars? It’s been over fifteen years and most of them still haven’t come back. I think his point about the soap opera/entertainment aspect separating them from the UFC is accurate. I never found the crossover in UFC and WWE to be as high as some people. But his analysis is completely off in my opinion.
Quite frankly his wife made more sense in explaining the differences, the differences I have always pointed to as to why they are so different.
“In addition to that with UFC you can pay money to watch a pay-per-view and it can be a terrible fight. Right? The guy you were really rooting for that UFC has been building as a star gets knocked right off and suddenly that person doesn’t really matter anymore and all that investment is lost. You never have that with WWE. We strategically build all of our Superstars and characters and we know when they are going to win and we know when they are going to lose. Uh, we do! [audience laughs] And we build characters and make them these megastars, it’s all very intentional and you’re guaranteed to get your money’s worth. It might not necessarily be the outcome you want, but you’re guaranteed to have a great match, to have a great pay-per-view and you’re guaranteed to be entertained.”
She is dead on. That has always been the difference in my eyes between the WWE and the UFC. That is why I never can understand why they are so frequently compared. The WWE can script their matches, stories, and market their stars without fearing they will lose their big matches. The UFC cannot. Nobody is disputing that and it’s definitely the biggest obstacle in creating stars. It has to be organic.
Unfortunately you aren’t always guaranteed to get your money’s worth. She obviously hasn’t watched Payback.
The UFC has finally got a blockbuster on its hands. Fireworks erupted today between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones in a brawl that has everyone talking. The buzz is now in place to turn this fight into the biggest rivalry since Sonnen vs. Silva.
Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones don’t like each other. That isn’t news. What is news is that a fight broke out at a UFC press conference for the first time I can remember. Jones put his head on Cormier, Cormier put his hands on Jones, and chaos ensued on the MGM Grand floor in a video that has quickly become viral.
To say that the UFC needed this is one of the biggest understatements you will ever read on here. 2014 has shaped up to be a grim year for the UFC with no grudge matches, cancelled cards, and one super fight signed that won’t even happen until next year. That has changed. Judging from the press this brawl immediately received and the buzz created, it is not inconceivable that this fight could top one million buys, saving an otherwise tough year on pay per view.
What may be more interesting than the brawl is a dual interview that took place on ESPN SportsCenter a few hours later. Cormier and Jones were interviewed with a split screen, each giving their versions of the fight. Jones and Cormier also discussed the origins of their beef which goes back a few years. The video is great, specifically with an arrogant Jones telling Todd Grisham that he thought it would be harder to take Cormier down since he is an Olympic wrestler.
I have to admit that when news broke of the brawl, I thought it was a work. After watching this interview I am convinced it was 100% real for one reason. Jones was completely monotone and seemed almost disinterested in the whole thing as opposed to Cormier who was red hot. My biggest criticism of Jones is that he is horrible at promoting his own fights. He is lucky that Cormier sees the big picture otherwise this scuffle probably would mean a lot less.
Unfortunately all of the selling in the world won’t convince me that Jones isn’t going to walk through Cormier. Cormier has a bad knee and has never been in an MMA fight with anyone close to Jones’ level. I think Jones will pick him apart on their feet and Cormier will have a real rough time going into deep waters later in the fight.
Check out the brawl along with several interviews following the melee.
While most of the pro wrestling community was surprised to learn that TNA Wrestling would not be renewed by Spike TV, one former TNA star was not. Rampage Jackson says he saw the writing on the wall which is why we won’t ever be seeing him in TNA again.
Rampage was the first major MMA star to agree to work with TNA and earned TNA some much needed publicity when he came over. Many were skeptical but a hot confrontation between he and Kurt Angle created enough buzz to quiet any doubters. Fortunately for those doubters TNA immediately dropped the able creating frustration among fans and the former Pride FC champion.
Rampage recently appeared on The Fight Nerd and talked about his frustrating tenure in TNA. Jackson opened up for the first time about his frustrations and the lost opportunity between him and Angle.
“To be honest with you, you haven’t seen me in a while. I soon as I saw the operation, there were no plans for me to go back. They had a lot of momentum with me when I came out with Kurt Angle…I was supposed to wrestle Kurt Angle. They lost all momentum. They didn’t utilize me. I gave them a couple of ideas on how to utilize me. They wanted me to wrestle professional fighters in pro wrestling. They had no idea what they were doing in my opinion so no you won’t see me in TNA ever again.”
That is just absolutely amazing to me. I know TNA has its defenders but those plans are indefensible. According to Jackson they were going to book him to wrestle MMA fighters because you know, fans would rather pay to watch the same two guys go through a worked wrestling match as opposed to a real fight. That is just ludicrous to me! If that is the case and I have no reason to doubt him, he is right. They had no idea what they were doing and it’s a damned shame because for one week they had something special with Jackson and Angle. To be fair to the current creative team, Rampage’s creative was handled by the Hogan and Bischoff regime.
Jackson also tells the interviewed that he “saw the writing on the wall” in regards to TNA’s current instability. It’s fascinating in the sense that this guy, who has never worked in pro wrestling, knew how to book his angle better than the actual pro wrestling company.
Check out the interview and more on Rampage’s brief tenure in TNA below.
The UFC are wasting no time announcing their biggest fight on the docket. The UFC announced the return of two of its biggest stars this week and have signed the biggest fight of 2014 on January 31 in Vegas.
Anderson Silva is planning on making a miraculous return next year as he takes on Nick Diaz in a middleweight fight. The fight was signed shortly after Nick Diaz signed a new contract with the UFC a couple of weeks ago. Both fighters are coming off of a loss, one coming off of one of the most brutal injuries in UFC history.
I have to admit that I am surprised by this one. I never expected Silva to come back after suffering that horrific injury against Chris Weidman. It wasn’t the desire I questioned but at his age I never thought he would be able to rehabilitate to an elite level that quickly. That said, I can certainly understand why any athlete with the pedigree of Silva’s does not want his lasting image in the octagon to be of him collapsed and crying in pain.
Nick Diaz is a welcome headache for the UFC. You will rarely see Dana White put up with as much crap as he does from Diaz. Diaz brings an intangible that is currently missing in the UFC and that is personality. Nick is one of the best characters in the history of the company and probably the only one who can sell a fight these days. Forget about the fact that he got demolished by GSP in his last fight, the trash talking, tax evader is back!
The fight injects a much needed boost into the UFC. The UFC came into the year losing three of its top draws in GSP, Silva, and Diaz. While Ronda Rousey has been able to pick up some pieces, she can only do so much without any real competition in her division. 2014 has been the first year I can remember without a true, honest-to-goodness UFC super fight and no matter how you slice it, that has to hurt.
As for the fight I find it to be one of the most intriguing matchups in recent memory. The styles make a very exciting fight on paper. You have two guys here who are at their best when they are on their feet and vulnerable to the takedown. It is to both men’s benefit to keep this one up high and keep it a strike fight. It truly has the makings of an all-out war.
We are still a long way away from Anderson Silva testing his wheels in an actual training camp. The progress has been remarkable but there is nothing like a gritty training camp. I won’t go as far as to say I’ll believe it when I see it, but I do have my doubts. If he can get through a training camp I don’t have any doubt that he’ll be ready to fight. I can’t imagine the Spider getting into the octagon and sacrificing himself to Diaz if he isn’t physically ready for the bout.
The bad news is that we have to wait six-months to see the fight. The good news is that the delay gives us six-months of Nick Diaz trash talking. It’s a win-win for everyone!
There are way too many UFC events to keep track of these days. Some will disagree and call me out on not being a “true fan” but with television ratings and pay-per-view buy rates on the decline, the results speak for themselves. After looking at the totality of events from years past, the problem doesn’t simply lie in the number of events, but the lack of stars. I think the reason why there are so many UFC shows is because they’re hoping to create new stars.
Until now, the UFC has always possessed a number of star attractions to attract an audience. Gracie, Shamrock, Severn, Abbott, and Coleman boosted the company during its inception to mythological proportions. During the dark ages, Ortiz, Randleman, Rizzo, and Miletich kept the company afloat. One reality show later and business boomed like never before. Hughes, Penn, Liddell, Couture, Griffin, Mir, Lesnar, GSP, and A. Silva became household names while fighters from Japan with fierce reputations such as Nogueria, W. Silva, Rampage, Shogun, and Cro Cop traded ring glory for caged grandeur.
Between then and now, the best fought the best. Some won, some lost, but they all got old, and throughout that process, the UFC failed to create new stars. Ronda Rousey, Jon Jones, Chris Weidman, Cain Velasquez, Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo are the current crop of main attractions. However, besides Ronda Rousey, they are all flawed in various ways. Velasquez has no personality and gets hurt too often to build any momentum. Edgar is the ultimate blood and guts warrior, but somehow, he doesn’t move the needle. Weidman needs more time in the spotlight before we can determine if he’s main event or bust. While dominant, Aldo has failed to execute at the legendary standards of his WEC days, which is how he’s marketed. Then there is Jones, who people tune in to see lose more than anything else and will stop watching his fights once that occurs. Not a very promising roster.
You don’t want to manufacture a new star because fans will see right through it and WWE’s modus operandi of creating them is out of the question. So, what’s a fight promotion to do? Hold as many events as possible and hopefully lighting will strike in a few different places. Within the next 30 days, the UFC will hold five cards with 50 fights announced so far. August 16th Fight Night headliner Ryan Bader vs. Ovince Saint Preux is hardly must see TV on a Saturday night. Still, if a spectacular performance emerges from the show, word of mouth will get everyone to rush to their DVR or visit their favorite website for the blow by blow results, but it’s not the same as getting excited for a show and witnessing everything as it unfolds. Along with bout mentioned above, the headline fights on these cards coming up are Lawler vs. Brown, Bisping vs. Le, Henderson vs. Dos Anjos, and Dillashaw vs. Barao II. That line up alone used to make up on one show. Now, we have to watch five whole shows in order to see them.
The UFC has changed their business model. The days of consistently stacked shows are over. A combination Boxing’s singular promotional presentation and MMA’s multiple highlights are now the norm. Like any change in direction after twenty years, there is an adjustment period. Some fans will get used to it, others won’t, and then you’ll have those who simply don’t care. Cub Swanson headlined a show four weeks ago with the promotional hook of him as the next contender for Jose Aldo’s featherweight title.
Swanson won, and earned Fight of the Night honors in the process. Now, the UFC is promoting him while hoping that time has erased his brutal eight second loss at the hands of Aldo, five years ago. Maybe, the answer lies with Connor McGregor. The superstar reaction he received in his home country of Ireland was unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. With three wins inside the octagon, the hype train has left Dublin and heading full speed for Las Vegas, where the true litmus test will take place, on September 27th, in the form of Dustin Poirier. If McGregor can win and get over in the fight capital of the world, that will be proof that the UFC’s new business model can or perhaps is working.
On Saturday night the Octagon touched down in San Jose, California for the 12th installment of the UFC on FOX. The fight card was filled with exciting matchups including a main event where the winner would be next in line for Johny Hendricks welterweight championship. Here are my lessons learned from a fun night of fights on FOX.
Lesson 1: New Number 1 Contender
Robbie Lawler is the new number one contender to the UFC Welterweight Championship. That means we will get to see a rematch of the awesome fight between Johny Hendricks and Lawler from March. Since coming back to the UFC, Lawler has been simply dominant and I did not see this coming.
Lawler lost 5 of his 8 fights in Strikeforce, so there where not many expectations when he made his return to the UFC. In his five fights back, he knocked out Josh Koscheck, Bobby Voelker and Jake Ellenberger. He defeated top contender Rory MacDonald and he lost a narrow decision to Hendricks for the welterweight championship. On Saturday, Lawler defeated Matt Brown, who was on a 7-fight winning streak, to get another opportunity for UFC gold.
If I had to pinpoint one reason why Lawler has had so much success in his return, I think it’s a pretty clear. He’s where he belongs. Maturity has a lot to do with it also, but bottom line is that he’s exactly where he should be and he’s happy. He looked like a fighter who was lacking motivation when he was in Strikeforce and he lost fights against guys he would demolish right now. He is taking full advantage of his second run in the UFC and I would be very surprised if he didn’t hold the gold before his career was over.
Lesson 2: Major Threat at 205
Going into his fight with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira I think it was pretty clear that Anthony “Rumble” Johnson would get an easy win but no way did I think it would only take him only 44 seconds to annihilate Little Nog.
In his first fight since being released from the UFC for his weigh-in mishaps, he absolutely dominated top contender Phil Davis. That performance made it very clear that Rumble was comfortable and extremely dangerous at light heavyweight. After that victory, he shot up all the way to being ranked fifth in the division. On Saturday night, Rumble did to Little Nog what no other fighter has ever done, and if I was a fighter at 205, I’d be scared.
Most of the top fighters are tied up with fights or injuries. In an ideal situation I would love to see Johnson fight Alexander Gustafsson with the winner getting a title shot. Gustafsson was scheduled to fight Jon Jones for the title but a torn meniscus knocked him out of that fight. There’s no word on how long he will be out but that’s the fight I want to see. Daniel Cormier gets the call and will step in and fight Jones for the light heavyweight championship. Rumble and Rashad Evans are teammates so that probably won’t happen. Glover Teixeira would be an amazing matchup but it looks like he will have a fight with Phil Davis next. A matchup with the winner of the Ryan Bader-Ovince St. Preux could be interesting but I feel a fight with either of them is a step down at this point and wouldn’t be worth the risk. Rumble says he wants to fight everyone and keep active so that fight could make sense.
All I know is if I were Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier, I would be expecting a fight with Anthony Rumble Johnson in the very near future.
Lesson 3: Brown Belongs
As mentioned earlier, Matt Brown lost a title eliminator to Robbie Lawler on Saturday night. There aren’t many situations where your stock goes up in a loss but that happened against Lawler.
Personally, I did not think Brown had any chance of winning this fight, let alone survive five rounds against Lawler. Brown was on a very nice winning streak but he hadn’t been in the cage with anyone on the level of Lawler. Plus, with as much as Brown gets hit in his fights, I predicted that Lawler would put him away within 2 rounds. The fight went the distance and he proved me wrong. Even Dana White was impressed, by saying that Brown should move up in the rankings after that fight.
There are plenty of options for Brown next but I think there’s one no brainer. Matt Brown vs. Carlos Condit is the fight I want to see next. This matchup was originally scheduled for last December but Brown pulled out of the fight with a back injury. Condit fought Tyron Woodley where he lost and suffered a torn ACL. No official timetable for his return, but that should be the next fight for both of them.
After tonight’s performance, there is no question; Matt Brown proved that he belongs in the upper echelon of the welterweight division.
Other Notes from UFC on FOX:
Dennis Bermudez looked extremely impressive in his victory over Clay Guida on Saturday night. He now holds the longest winning streak in the featherweight division at 7 in a row and called for a title shot after his win. Not sure he’s there yet but he’s close. The 145-pound division is stacked right now so there will be plenty of opportunity for Bermudez to earn that shot. A fight against Ricardo Lamas would be a good start.
Considering everything Bobby Green has been through, his performance on Saturday night was simply spectacular. He lost his little brother less than two months ago and accepted a fight against the number 3 ranked lightweight in the world on short notice. He’s another guy to keep a very close eye on because he proved he’s ready to contend in the UFC’s lightweight division.
Pat Cummins completely dominated Kyle Kingsbury en route to his second UFC victory in a row. He’s an extremely high level wrestler who will be able to control almost anyone in a grappling match. As dominant as he was, he still has a ton of work to do but is very much someone to keep an eye on.
Jorge Masvidal put on a great performance in his unanimous decision victory over Daron Cruickshank. Masvidal called for a fight with Cowboy Cerrone and without question that’s fun fight to book.
Steven Grossi is a digital video producer who likes to write a little. He’s a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, hardcore MMA fan and a total wrestling nerd. He usually has a strong opinion on anything combat sports related so give him a follow on twitter @SteveOGrossi.
After letting BJ Penn’s official retirement settle in for a few days I came to the conclusion that an MMA fighter’s record does not always tell the whole story. Very much like Randy Couture, Penn had an impact on the sport that goes way beyond his fight record. Here’s a list of some of the things BJ Penn was able to accomplish in the fight game:
Earned his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt in three years.
First non-Brazilian to win gold in the black belt division at the World Jiu-Jitsu Championships in Brazil.
UFC welterweight and light weight champion.
Second fighter in UFC history to hold belts in multiple weight classes (Randy Couture).
Headlined a total of 11 main-events.
Defeated Matt Hughes twice.
Fought former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida in a catchweight fight where Machida weighed 225 pounds.
BJ Penn retires with a 16–10–2 record. To the young fans out there who did not have the opportunity to watch him will see that record and think he’s highly over rated. Another legend in the sport, Randy Couture retired with a record of 19–11. Again, on paper, that’s not as impressive has his stature in the sport would indicate. Like Couture, Penn’s impact and accomplishments greatly overshadows his record.
Penn is widely considered the greatest lightweight fighter in MMA history. He was a true pioneer when it comes to the lower weight classes. Many believe (me being one of them) that without the impact of BJ Penn, there would be no lighter weight classes in the UFC. His fights against Sean Sherk, Kenny Florian, Diego Sanchez, Jens Pulver, and Joe Stevenson put the lightweight division on the map.
Outside of his accomplishments as a lightweight, he made a huge impact in the welterweight division as well. His feuds with Matt Hughes and Georges St-Pierre were legendary. In his 170-pound debut at UFC 46, Penn choked out Matt Hughes to win the UFC welterweight championship. He would later finish off a trilogy with Hughes at UFC 123 where he knocked him out in just 21 seconds. At UFC 56, he lost to Georges St-Pierre in a title eliminator and almost took out the great GSP in the first round. Even though Penn was never able to get the better of GSP, their rivalry will go down as an all-time great.
Of course, you can’t break down all the “great” without talking about the “bad.” I feel his biggest downfall fighting at welterweight was his training. When you are BJ Penn and sitting on top of the world in Hawaii, it’s easy to lose focus in a training camp. He lacked the training and cardio to hang with the greats at 170 pounds. The size of the fighters at welterweight had a lot to do with it, but his cardio didn’t always seem to hold up. It hurts me to say this, but there will always be questions on how much better he could have been. He was a legend of the sport as it is. Imagine if he put everything he had into his training throughout his career.
Regardless of any of that, BJ Penn will always go down as my favorite fighter in MMA history. When he was at the top of his game there was no one more fun to watch. He was truly the definition of a mixed martial artist. He had the ability to finish fights standing and on the ground. The thing I loved most was that he finished fights in a very violent manner. If the opportunity to finish the fight was there, you know BJ Penn was going to go for it. His finishes of Caol Uno, Joe Stevenson, Sean Sherk, Diego Sanchez and both over Matt Hughes were things of beauty. Call me crazy, but I also loved it when he would lick the blood off his own gloves. BJ Penn was a savage in the cage and it was awesome.
BJ Penn is one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport and I want to take this time to thank you, BJ Penn for an amazing career. It was truly an honor to watch you fight. You are the true definition of a fighter and you will forever be known as a legend.
Steven Grossi is a digital video producer who likes to write a little. He’s a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, hardcore MMA fan and a total wrestling nerd. He usually has a strong opinion on anything combat sports related so give him a follow on twitter @GrossiMMA.
If you noticed in my EA UFC review, I sort of took a battle axe to career and kept hitting it in the head until there was nothing but blood, bits of skull and mush left. I was a bit harsh on the career mode overall, but to be honest, EA had it coming. When you put the team behind the Fight Night games in charge, you expect a damn good career mode.
The career mode here, well it’s not. It’s actually quite bad and most of all it’s repetitive with little to no variety. You also have to remember, by not adding another other modes of gameplay like I mentioned in my review, career mode would have to carry the game. Since it doesn’t do that, it deserves the criticism that has been leveled at it thus far. I’m not the only person who’s noticed this; many video game websites have rallied against the career mode.
The general consensus is that career mode is bare bones and boring. With that being said, I’m going to go over some of my issues and then offer what I believe could make the career mode in the next game much better. Or at least not this career mode. Here are some of my main problems that I divulged upon in my review and some I didn’t talk about that. After that, my recommendations to fix career mode.
Mike Dolce and The UFC Gym
When Madden first starting doing Superstar Mode Terrell Davis was your mentor and it made sense. Your player was drafted in the lower rounds and Davis was the 196th pick in the NFL draft. So, it made sense that you had a guy who rose from low round pick to superstar as your mentor. Mike Dolce as your mentor makes no sense. I’m sure Mike Dolce is a swell dude and his Dolce Diet seems to help a lot of fighters in the sport today. Yet, this is the guy that they pick to be your mentor? No offense to Dolce, but he’s not the first guy that I would think of to be the mentor in career mode.
You’d think that a guy like Greg Jackson or Duane Ludwig would be the guy to play mentor in the game. Since they hyped up having to go through the Ultimate Fighter to get in, why pick a guy who lost in the first round of the TUF tournament? I’m not making fun of the guy at all, but he just doesn’t scream mentor to me. If you wanted a TUF alumnus, why not go with Forrest Griffin? He’s pretty funny, won the first season, coached a season and was the first guy to win a title from the show. Compared to Dolce, who is seemingly reading off of a script while watching television or something, Griffin would make training interesting. You train in the UFC Gym for your entire career and I mean your entire career. Wanna go train at Jacksons? Sorry, you gotta play Undisputed 3 in order to do that. While that may not seem bad at all, the problem is that once again there is no variety towards training at The UFC Gym. Every now and then, a fighter will visit the gym and you get to spar with them. So far, Dan Henderson and BJ Penn have dropped by in my career mode.
While this seems like something that could be really cool, you just do the same drills that you usually do. You don’t learn any cool moves from them or unlock anything special; it’s just sparring with a guy who isn’t the generic training partner. If you were invited to train with the guy after the sparring sessions, it would be interesting. Especially when these guys have gyms of their own so it would make sense. In the end, you’re stuck at the UFC Gym until your career is over, so that means no training elsewhere to learn new moves. They made that irrelevant by giving you the option to buy new moves, which isn’t bad at all but have the fun of career mode was traveling to different gyms and learning this move or that move. Since moves are cheap, all you have to do is save up a nice amount of evolution points and buy up. It takes the fun out of traveling to all these different gyms and eventually committing to one.
Train, Fight, Wash, Rinse, Repeat and Lack of Options for Opponents
We all know what this section is about; it’s what most reviewers have hit the game on. You train; fight, train, fight and you do this for forty fights. Yep, there is no option to retire your fighter you keep doing it until you hit that magic number. So, if you’re fighter ends up a brain damaged shell of himself and a threat to others, you still have to play through to the end. The only other way you could end it would be to delete your career and never start one again. What was interesting to me was that the training rarely reflected the fighter I was going against. I was set to face a high level wrestler and none of my training options reflected anything about grappling or takedown defense. Luckily my opponent did nothing but throw the same overhand right and I picked him apart, but then came the big one, which plays into point number two.
After moving up into facing regular opponents, I got a title shot against Cain. It should be noted that my opponents were Travis Browne (Legitimate enough) and Pat Berry (LOL) and now I found myself looking at a title shot. Cain in a 99 and just about kill you with two really good power punches, my guy is a 77 overall. I got Thai Pads, Submission and Heavy Bag for training options, nothing on blocking or using footwork to avoid Cain’s KO power. I did win the fight by controversial split decision and proceeded to defend against: Travis Browne, Cain again, Cain, Junior Dos Santos, Cromier, Junior again and finally Cromier for the second time. You know what would make career interesting? If the champion of the lower division would challenge you to a super fight, something to break up the monotony of facing the same guys. Or even going overseas and defending the belt in PR-
Oh yeah, you guys got rid of that.
In the previous games, you could pick and choose what opponents you fought so you could slowly build your guy over time. If you wanted to take things slowly you could pick and choose while slowly moving up the ladder or you could be aggressive and pick the bigger fights. Now, I would prefer to pick the route of going fight by fighter when my skills weren’t up to par and then gamble when my skills were ready for that. Now, you just get the fights that Joe Silva sends you. I presume this for realism but I also hope that I can complain about pay and get buried by Dana White in the press. Or, if you’re a lower rung fighter, deciding rather eating or paying the electric bill with your fight pay and small sponsor check.
Gotta have that realism.
Snarkiness aside, I’m going to talk about my idea for potentially improving career mode and hopefully somebody from EA reads this. Probably not.
1. Develop a Character
This is where the MMA purists begin to cringe; being able to develop some form of character in career mode would make things interesting. I’m not talking a Chael Sonnen level of being an a-hole, but it wouldn’t be bad to spew some trash talk. You can either go the route of being a GSP like sportsman or go the route of talking trash. Heck, it could have a profound effect on your opponent in the fight, your opponent comes out aggressive going for the kill and you can capitalize on that by hitting some key counter moves. It wouldn’t be much, just something to make career mode interesting which would play into my second recommendation.
2. Develop Rivalries
Like I said, once I won the title in career mode that was basically it, you’d face the big names and then move on to facing randomly generated fighters. I thought that by facing Browne again that I defeated in an eliminator fight and I thought that we’d get a video from Browne or some acknowledgement that I beat him. Nope, just the usual message of you having to face all up and comers. Shouldn’t Browne be my bitter rival since I took away his chance at a title shot? Instead, it’s just treated as a regular old fight; Browne comes out and fights like it is some normal fight. There’s no hype video, no weigh-in stare down or even a threatening video message from Browne or a message from Dana. Overall, develop some rivalries in career mode to add some depth towards the fights.
3. Go the TUF Route or Travel the World
While adding The Ultimate Fighter was a good idea, they really didn’t do much with the concept overall. You didn’t really learn much, the coaches only appeared in messages and you didn’t do any training with them. I’m all for TUF, but they would have to fine tune the basic concept of TUF. I say that your fighter should have the choice of going through TUF and traveling the world, the same way you could in EA MMA. Even better, the game could make usage of the dead promotions that the UFC owns such as the WEC and Strikeforce.
Fight your way from the bottom, maybe go through the dead World Fighting Alliance or throw a bone to King of The Cage for the starter league. If you’re a lower weight guy you can work your way through the WEC to get a contract and same thing for the upper weights in Strikeforce. If you go the route of fighting outside of the UFC, you arrive in the UFC a well-rounded and polished fighter and find yourself in fights against actual opponents right off the bat. Go the TUF route, win it all and slowly go the route of fighting up from the bottom.
4. Realistic Training Calendar
The one thing I have never gotten about career mode in most MMA games is that you can do a few activities and then fight. So, I say have a realistic training set-up, you dictate that level of training you want to do that day: Hard, medium, and easy. If you train hard you can get more XP but you can wear your fighter out by picking hard too many times. You would have to find a middle road with the level of training you pick each day so that you don’t wear your fighter out, but you have built your fighter up for the upcoming fight. You should also have the ability to pick what exactly you want to have your fighter train in such grappling, striking, cardio and strength. It’s not much, but it’s better than stuck with the same three options.
5. Train Where You Want to Train or Bring in Partners
Yeah, no more Mike Dolce and the generic UFC Gym, EA. While your fighter would eventually have to commit to a gym (Similar to Undisputed 3), your fighter should have the right to go train anywhere for any upcoming fight, since most fighters will do that from time to time. Say your fighter has an upcoming fight against a high level wrestler; you could branch out and train at a gym that has a high reputation for wrestling training. You could also have the option of inviting a fighter to train for an upcoming fight, something that EA tried but didn’t do much with. Bring this guy in to specifically train in certain aspects for an upcoming fight and if he has a team of his own, you now have a camp that you train with. If the fighter your training with has a certain special move that you don’t have, you should be able to unlock it and add it to your arsenal of moves.
So there you go my suggestions to make career mode for the next EA UFC better than the one we got. The insane thing is that I believe most of my suggestions came from previous UFC games or the EA MMA game. That’s why those games had better career modes and EA UFC’s career mode is the…inster bad movie here of career modes.
I’m gonna go play WrestleFest now.
Robert Goeman has been writing for CamelClutchBlog since 2014 and has written for FiveOuncesofPain and What Culture. Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/RobertGoeman. After every article, Robert usually does “Talking Points” on twitter, bringin up points that didn’t make the article.