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UFC 2012-13 Winter Events Preview

December 28, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Happy Holidays, CamelClutchBlog faithful.  I sincerely hope everyone enjoyed whatever holiday they may or may not have celebrated this year.  I don’t think there is a politically incorrect way (and if there is, please tell me) for me to address the arrival of 2013 so I’d like to start by wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year.

Speaking of healthy, I think we’d all like to wish a healthier 2013 for so many fighters who’ve been injured.  Yes, there is the purely selfish part of all of us who wants them healthier so they can entertain through this sport we love so much, but they obviously suffer from the lack of a paycheck.  Is GSP’s “Camp For Only One Fighter Like In Boxing” approach the answer, as Dana White recently mentioned? I have no idea.  If I knew how to stop fighter injuries, I feel like that information would be very valuable to promoters, gyms and bookies and I’d probably have heard from somebody by now.

But alas, I digress.  With over 30 events between pay-per-view, cable and free TV this year, not to mention compilations and weekly T.U.F. episodes, the UFC has been busy.  With one heavyweight title fight to go and a 2013 that’s shaping up nicely, let’s take a 30,000 foot view of what’s coming up and key fights look for in the year ahead.  Honestly, I could speak at length about each and every one of the fights that’ll be mentioned (particularly the Super Bowl weekend card) but again, this is more of a snapshot.  I’ll leave the in-depth analysis to our very own Lee McGregor, who’ll paint you a detailed portrait, complete with flowers and shading and colors and happy little trees.

These are just my thoughts, mind you, so if there’s something you feel I missed or a grievance with anything I say, throw it in the comments. Just don’t immediately jump to trolling. Let’s talk. No big whup.

UFC 155: Dos Santos vs. Velasquez II

What a difference a year makes.  Last November, the UFC debuted on Fox with then-champ and “we’d-later-confirm-he-was-injured” Cain Velasquez getting KO’d in 64 seconds by Junior dos Santos.   This Saturday, the UFC rings in the New Year with the anticipated rematch.  Since then, JDS successfully defended the title against Frank Mir and Velasquez healed up, turning the Octagon into a crimson Jackson Pollack at UFC 146 (using Bigfoot Silva’s face as the palette) along the way.  A healthy Velasquez looking to avenge his only loss makes him even more dangerous so I don’t see JDS swinging for the fences and clubbing him into 2013, but either way, this is a great fight.  As for the rest of the card, losing Forrest Griffin/Phil Davis was a bit of a blow, but if anything, I am most pumped about Jim Miller/Joe Lauzon in the co-main event.  Other key fights on the undercard are Brad Pickett/Eddie Wineland, Melvin Guilliard/Jamie Varner and the return of Todd “Don’t Let the Mike Russow Punching Bag Punch You Back” Dufee to the heavyweight division against Phil De Fries.

UFC on FX: Belfort vs. Bisping

Time to save your pennies with a PPV-less January since the UFC doubled up for February (more to come later).  No need to go into withdrawal, though, since there are back-to-back weekends of free fights, starting January 19th with Belfort vs. Bisping on FX.  The Brazilian returns home both in terms of geography (the fight is in Sao Paolo) and weight (his new home of 185) after moving up to LHW against champ Jon Jones.  Barring that near-upset armbar, Belfort spent most of the title fight getting beaten like a redheaded stepchild, but there’s no shame in that considering it was against Jonny Bones.  Bisping rebounded from a questionable decision loss to Chael Sonnen in January with a solid UD win over Brian Stann in September.  A win for either fighter should raise the question of a title shot, if only for the fact that the division is shallow and the idea of Silva vs. GSP or Jones super fights have subsided.  I’m prematurely picking Belfort, but Bisping’s surprising me lately so if he can survive the onslaught, I wouldn’t put it past him to get a tight decision.  Also, T.U.F: Brazil finalist Daniel Sarafian makes his UFC debut against C.B. Dolloway, Gabriel Gonzaga takes on Ben Rothwell in heavyweight action and undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov takes on Thiago Tavares.  Finally, be sure to catch Edson Barboza against Justin Salas on the Fuel undercard.  His hype train got derailed a bit by Jamie Varner at UFC 146, but he’s an exciting fighter with lots of KO power and I see him getting back on track in a big way in his home country.

UFC on FOX: Johnson vs. Dodson

I like the UFC’s decision to put a flyweight title fight on free TV with some great support behind it.  “Mighty Mouse” and Dodson, the first T.U.F. finalist to get a title shot since season 5, will make viewers at home think they hit fast-forward with a breakneck pace that’ll hopefully get some lighter weight class fighters their dues.  Johnson has only one finish between his stint in WEC and now the UFC, but I for one didn’t expect him to hold off Joseph Benavidez to become the promotions first 125 lb champ.  I’ll give Dodson the power advantage so if he can frustrate Johnson by stuffing his takedowns and landing a few shots, I think he’ll pull off the win.  Much like a good sitcom with an excellent supporting lead, Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis has early “Fight of the Year” potential and puts the winner in LW title shot discussion (perhaps more so for Pettis than Cerrone given the story around a Pettis/Henderson rematch).  While it might not have direct title-shot implications, Glover Teixeira vs. Rampage is the kind of fight you invite your non-MMA friends to watch since there’s a good chance someone is getting knocked out.  On the undercard, Ryan Bader tries to stay relevant at 205 against Vladimir Matyushenko and hopefully Clay Guida does not employ his “punch and run” game plan like he did against Gray Maynard when he takes on Hatsu Hioki.

UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar

The first super card of 2013 is happening Super Bowl weekend on February 2nd.  It feels like we’ve been waiting forever now to get the featherweight title fight between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar.  I personally blame motorcycle accidents and rematches.  After questionable back-to-back title losses at lightweight  (I know I’ve said questionable twice already, once when referring to Bisping/Sonnen, but really watch Henderson/Edgar 1 and 2 and tell me Edgar didn’t win at least one of those fights), Edgar moves down to 145, the weight class everyone keeps saying he belongs in.  Aldo has not lost since 2005 and is one of the most exciting fighters in all of MMA. Edgar is going to have to drag Aldo into deep water, where we saw shades of him fading against Mark Hominick. Again, another “Fight of the Year” potential before March.  Before you even get to the title fight, though, the main card has three other fights that could headline a Fox or FX event in Rashad Evans vs. Lil Nog, Alistair Overeem vs. Bigfoot Silva (should Overeem win, he’ll probably be given a shot at the winner of JDS/Cain) and Jon Fitch vs. Demian Maia.  Oh, but my favorite fight on the undercard? Joseph Benavidez vs. Ian McCall, who both came up short in the inaugural flyweight tournament, but this could be a #1 contender fight to face the winner of Johnson/Dodson.

UFC on Fuel TV: Barao vs. McDonald

Kudos yet again to the UFC for giving an interim title some legitimacy and not using it as a marketing ploy to be used for unification bouts! Renan Barao, fresh off handing Urijah Faber what seems like his 100th title-fight loss at UFC 149, will defend his interim bantamweight title against Michael McDonald.  No, not the guy from The Doobie Brothers.  The guy who knocked Miguel Torres out of the UFC at UFC 145 and hasn’t lost under the Zuffa banner. Yup. That guy. Add to that a main card with two swing-for-the-fences LHW fights in James Te Huna vs. Ryan “Greatest Robot/Split Celebration in Octagon History?” Jimmo and undefeated Jimi Manuwa vs. Cyrille Diabate. Oh, and Brock Lesnar’s German kickboxing mini-me (!) Denis Siver looks to extend his featherweight winning streak to 3 against Cub Swanson.  All in all, I love this card and how it’s booked.  The UFC is ever so slightly increasing exposure for up-and-coming fighters but minimizing their own risk of underperforming by putting it on Fuel.  Paul Sass, if you’re reading this, another “Sassangle” submission on Danny Castillo on the undercard would be just fine with me.

UFC 157: Rousey vs. Carmouche

Welcome to the “Rhonda Rousey Show,” ladies and gentlemen.  UFC’s first ever women’s champion Rhonda Rousey will have the first ever women’s MMA fight in the promotion against Liz Carmouche, who’s riding a two-fight winning streak coming out of Invicta FC.  Again, if we’re playing wheelchair matchmaker and the “business” around the card’s composition, the UFC is supporting this inaugural lady’s scrap very well with a potential #1 contender fight at 205 between Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida, perennial contender Urijah Faber vs. Ivan Menjivar, two struggling but game HWs in Lavar Johnson and Brendan Schaub plus the return of Robbie Lawler both to the UFC and to welterweight to fight Josh Koscheck.  While I don’t necessarily agree with the timing since the UFC will be hot off a big card like 156 and I fear people might get tight with their wallets with two fights in one month, they’ve paired Rousey up with a tough fighter to build a story around and it should make for a solid landing.  No disrespect to Carmouche, but I, like many, anticipate another armbar victory for Rousey.

Quick Hits – March & Beyond…

– UFC on Fuel TV (March 3): Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann and Stefan Struve vs. Mark Hunt? The fans of Saitama Super Arena will go home happy.  One, if not two, of those fighters will need to be woken up by smelling salts.  Not sure if Siyar Bahadurzada will be able to match his 42 second KO of Paulo Thiago against a durable Kim Dong-Hyun, but it’ll be fun to see him try. Also, Diego “The Dream” (really, you have to chuckle) Sanchez returns yet again to 155 against Japanese legend Takanori Gomi. TONY ROBBINS. YES.

- UFC 158: St. Pierre vs. Diaz (March 16): GSP fighting in his hometown of Montreal again? I’m shocked.  Not sure I agree with Nick Diaz jumping Johnny Hendricks for a title shot after a loss/weed suspension, but it’s a bigger draw and GSP’s been very vocal about wanting to take out the “disrespectful” Diaz.  Speaking of Hendricks, he’s slated to fight Jake Ellenberger and Carlos Condit looks to rebound from his loss to the champ in a rematch against Rory Macdonald.  Lots of potential storylines for the UFC welterweight division hang in the balance.  Grab a Labatt Blue and enjoy.

– BEYOND: April 27 is when Chael Sonnen gets his shot at the LHW belt against fellow T.U.F. coach and current champion Jon Jones in NJ. In related news, Twitter and wit will get you title fights regardless of records in that particular weight class and this season of T.U.F. will actually be worth watching; Anderson Silva will return mid-late 2013 in a non-super fight.  If he wants Anderson Silva money, my bet is he’s hoping Bisping beats Belfort in January; for the love of God, will someone get Eddie Alvarez, Gilbert Melendez and Daniel Cormier in the UFC already?

Chael Sonnen: The Voice of Reason: A V.I.P. Pass to Enlightenment

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Dan Henderson’s Coach Upset With Ronda Rousey Headlining UFC 157

December 19, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The MMA world is still buzzing about Ronda Rousey headlining the upcoming UFC 157 card but not everyone is happy about it. Dan Henderson will be sharing the card that night and according to his camp, he and not Rousey should be the headliner.

You knew this was going to come at some point right? Quite frankly I am a little surprised that fighters in the UFC have kept quiet one way or the other on the topic. Rousey coming in, getting a title, and immediately being thrust into a pay per view main event is a big deal. Someone has to have an opinion one way or the other right?

Enter Gus Pugliese. Pugliese is Dan Henderson’s striking coach and a part of Team Quest. Gus took to Facebook to vent his frustrations and question why Rousey and not his athlete is headlining UFC 157.

Ronda is headlining UFC 157. Here is why I have a problem with that. Ronda is the champion of Strikeforce with 6 wins in less than 2 years of a mma professional career. That’s impressive regardless of who she has fought. However, she is not the UFC champion yet. She still has to win this fight to get that belt. On the other hand , we have Hendo, who has also been the Strikeforce champion (never lost the belt),Pride champion in 2 different weight classes; he has been ranked #1 contender for the UFC 205lbs, and #6 by many pound for pound best fighter. His resume is second to none, moreover, he is fighting a former champion, Lyoto Machida. Now why aren’t they main event? Is Ronda a better market value? I don’t know, but her fight could be quick as usual and we could be missing another historic 5 rds fight between 2 legends and possible hall of famers. I’m not saying she doesn’t deserve to headline an UFC event, but certainly not this one.

Well actually he is saying that she doesn’t deserve to headline a pay per view and it happens to be UFC 157. Gus makes some valid points here but loses a lot of credibility if you start reading some of his comments. Pugliese probably would have been better off ending his rant here. But instead we got this.

Whether Hendo can go 5 rds or not, its another discussion. The point is that Ronda shouldn’t be headlining this event. I don’t even think Hendo vs Machida would go to distance. This organization is slowly losing its credibility because its president seems not to keep an opinion. He changes his mind more than a woman changes her tampons.

And there you have it. A credible opinion immediately loses all credibility by making a dumb joke about tampons. It is a shame because he actually had a bit of a point up until he let poor judgment get the better of him.

We can argue whether it is fair or not for Rousey to headline a PPV but I question the business decision behind it. Everyone fighting on this show is now relying on a bonus that is tied to not only a female fight, but a fight that isn’t even very appealing to even casual female MMA fans. This experiment of Dana White’s is fun but at the end of the day there are a lot of fighters who could pay the price for this decision.

Would Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida in a five rounder been such a big draw? Maybe but at least you have an idea of what you are getting with that kind of a fight on top. Nobody has any idea what kind of business this will do with Rousey at the top.

Chael Sonnen: The Voice of Reason: A V.I.P. Pass to Enlightenment

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Dan Henderson Vs. Lyoto Machida Set For UFC 157

November 23, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC light heavyweight champion will get closer to a clear cut top contender on February 23, 2013. Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida will meet at UFC 157 in a battle of former Strikeforce and UFC champions in hopes of providing the UFC with an undisputed number one contender.

The announcement is now official and the fight will likely headline or semi-main event the UFC 157 event in Anaheim, California in 2013. Henderson will be coming off an arguable fight of the year for 2011 victory over former champion Shogun Rua while Lyoto Machida comes off of a one-sided dominant win over Ryan Bader.

This fight had been rumored for awhile yet the UFC appeared hesitant to pull the trigger. Henderson’s time table for returning has always been an issue as multiple reports indicated various dates in which he could return. Machida has been idle since the Bader win and with champion Jon Jones already booked for April the UFC opted to move forward with its two top contenders.

Where this gets real muddy is that Shogun Rua vs. Alexander Gustafsson will take place shortly on the next UFC on FOX special. UFC president Dana White has indicated that the winner of that fight would be first in line for a UFC light heavyweight title fight. I would have to imagine that the winner of Henderson vs. Machida would get priority with the winner of Rua vs. Gustafsson being the backup should the new contender face a long layoff due to injury.

To make matters even more complex there is the Jon Jones vs. Anderson Silva fight hanging over the division. The UFC is obsessed with making this fight in 2013. If Jones defeats Sonnen he won’t be able to take another title fight and the Silva fight before the end of the year. If Silva vs. GSP doesn’t happen, I could see the UFC holding Silva out until after Jones vs. Sonnen and doing whatever they can to make that fight happen. If that is the case you could be looking at a scenario where nobody is challenging for the UFC light heavyweight title in 2013 other than Chael Sonnen.

This is a really complicated fight. I have a hard time with Henderson having to take another fight after earning a title shot when you are now looking at two challengers in a row who were handed shots without merit. I put the whole UFC 151 blame on Henderson for failing to tell the UFC about his injury and I think this is a backhanded punishment from the company.

As for Machida that is another tough one. I never felt that he earned the title shot in the first place. A win over Ryan Bader gets you a title shot? Yet for whatever reason a giddy Dana White proclaimed Machida the new top contender to the world on FOX. Machida declining short notice fights with Jones put him in this position. I don’t blame Machida for turning down arguably the last title shot he’ll receive in a long time due to short notice. Putting Machida back in a fight almost makes White look foolish after calling the guy the top dog in the division in front of a national television audience.

Machida has opened on one sports book as a -240 favorite to Henderson as a +180 underdog. This now makes Henderson’s third fight in a row in which he will enter as an underdog. I love Henderson in this fight. Machida hasn’t decisively beaten an elite fighter in over three years ( I’m not counting an aged Randy Couture fighting his last fight as an elite win). I’ll take the guy coming off of wins over Rua, Fedor Emelianenko, Rafael Cavalcante riding a four-fight winning streak any day. Quite frankly I expect a bit of a boring fight here with Machida running and Henderson chasing for 3-5 rounds. Yet in the end I expect Hendo to take the win.

Chael Sonnen: The Voice of Reason: A V.I.P. Pass to Enlightenment

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Dan Henderson Confirms Planned Lyoto Machida UFC Fight

November 01, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Dan Henderson’s knee injury days before UFC 151 sent the light heavyweight division into a tailspin. Where does Henderson fit into the picture once he returns? According to Hendo, it won’t be in a championship fight.

Dan Henderson has sat on the sidelines the last few weeks and watched his UFC light heavyweight title opportunity go up in smoke. UFC president Dana White threw the entire division for a loop when he named Chael Sonnen, a fighter who hasn’t fought in the division in years, as the number-one contender. Henderson now confirms that unlike Sonnen, he will indeed have to fight to get his title shot.

Henderson joined Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour for a revealing interview this past week. Henderson had some interesting things to say to the MMA reporter including what is next in his UFC career. Helwani asked Henderson about a rumored fight against Lyoto Machida which is now no longer just a rumor.

“I think that’s what’s being talked about,” he said. “We’ll wait and see. I don’t think it’s a secret. Dana already announced he was going to try to put him and me together.”

Helwani indicated that the fight could come as soon as UFC’s Super Bowl weekend show. That would stack the show with three marquee fights if you include Edgar vs. Aldo and the rumored Little Nog vs. Rashad Evans fights. My hunch is that either the Henderson or Evans fight moves off of the event but as of now that appears to be the working plan.

It is a really tricky situation here when you look at how this whole UFC 151 situation played out. Henderson earned his title shot with the win over Shogun Rua and hasn’t lost a fight in the UFC in years. Taking the title shot away from a guy due to injury sends a mixed message and isn’t really fair. On the other hand, Henderson really screwed the company by withholding his injury status for a reported two weeks. This is absolutely a punishment to Henderson and at the end of the day, I don’t know how fair that is yet the show must go on.

Interestingly enough Dave Meltzer recently reported on his F4Wonline.com podcast that the working plan was for the UFC to go with Jones vs. Henderson in February. Jones wouldn’t have been medically ready to go which put the fight on ice. Henderson told Helwani he would have coached opposite of Jones on TUF if asked. In hindsight you have to really wonder if Sonnen vs. Jones was a necessary evil at all.

Henderson vs. Machida is certainly an interesting fight. On paper you’d have to favor Machida. On the other hand, who has Machida beaten lately that was an elite fighter? An aging Randy Couture and overrated Ryan Bader would be it. Until someone stops Henderson I’d favor him in the fight. I just think that when people analyze Machida they are breaking down the Machida of old and not the Machida of the present.


UFC: Ultimate Fight Collection 2012 Edition

Chael Sonnen: The Voice of Reason: A V.I.P. Pass to Enlightenment

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UFC’s Stance On Short Notice Title Fights Is Unfair

October 18, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The top UFC light heavyweight fighters are in an uproar over Chael Sonnen getting to the front of the title line. UFC president Dana White has made his message crystal clear. Accept your short notice title fight or move to the back of the line and that just isn’t fair.

White blasted Lyoto Machida, along with a few others for not taking a championship fight against Jon Jones on short notice. White’s message was clear in a recent media call. You may have earned the title shot but you can just as easily lose it if you don’t take the fight when offered, short notice or not.

”Everyone of these guys that are b*tching about a title show now, were offered the fight and turned it down. They refused to fight Jon Jones. Now they’re bummed out because Chael stepped up on eight days notice and he’s going to coach The Ultimate Fighter and fight him? I mean, it’s pretty simple. “(Jones and Sonnen) will do this,” White continued. “They’ll fight, and then we can continue to have the light heavyweight division rolling and have an absolute No. 1 contender when Jones comes back (from injury).”

UFC fighters, fans, and media are still reeling over the announcement that Chael Sonnen would go from defeated middleweight to a light heavyweight championship shot against Jon Jones. Top contenders, specifically Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida have both taken to Twitter to express their outrage over the fight.

With all respect,but for me Chael does not deserve The title shot,I would like To know What He had done in LHW for deserve!!” – @LyotoMachidaFW

I guess I should just quit training to win fights and to be exciting for the fans and just go to shit talking school.” – @DanHendo

If these two elite light heavyweights expected any sympathy from UFC president Dana White, they better think again. White blasted these along with other top light heavyweights for refusing to fight Jon Jones on short notice at either UFC 151 or UFC 152. The message White sent to his fighters was clear. While his fighters may have earned the fight, he could just as easily take it away if they don’t do business the UFC’s way and quite frankly, that is just not right.

Losing a title shot temporarily due to an injury is one thing. Losing it altogether because of an injury or short notice is something unique to the UFC. Dan Henderson is a prime example. Henderson will now have to wait for his title shot. To be fair, Dana White did say in a recent conference call that Henderson’s status is still up in the air. That is fine. But White has also been saying how Henderson needs to now fight Lyoto Machida to get the title shot. Champions get hurt all of the time and are rewarded with an immediate fight with the interim title shot when they return. Heck, Alistair Overeem was suspended for failing a PED test and is getting a title shot off of suspension. But for some reason Henderson has to now fight another fight to get a shot that he rightfully earned due to an injury?

Lyoto Machida was declared the number one contender by Dana White after he thrashed Ryan Bader on Fox. I had a problem with it at the time but hey, that was the declaration. Machida was then contacted and asked to take a fight with Jones on short notice for UFC 152. Having not trained at all while the champion was deep in camp Machida declined the fight. Machida was not in shape and felt that he couldn’t prepare for the short turnaround time. He was then ridiculed by White and told to go to the back of the line. In what kind of sport is this acceptable?

The Machida situation is really the problem here. Machida earned (according to the UFC) a title shot against Jones. Machida fought and trained hard for that opportunity. Being that this was his second title shot, it was all or nothing for this fight. Machida had everything to lose walking into a fight with Jones unconditioned and without a proper camp. He earned the right to a full camp. I get the machismo aspect of this in that fighters fight but this is also a business. Jones had a full camp of conditioning, Machida didn’t. The UFC didn’t have to book Jones that quickly. They could have waited. It should be up to Machida as to whether he wants the full or short camp. Penalizing him for not taking it is quite frankly unethical.

Dana boasted about how Chael Sonnen was the only one who wanted to step up and fight Jones on short notice, like he is some kind of warrior or something. Sonnen had zero to lose! He didn’t earn a title shot and was not even in line to get one (little did we know). Of course he stepped up to fight Jones. He stepped up the same way Vitor Belfort did. None of those men were risking a thing. I am sure that Brandon Vera, Stephan Bonnar, or Ken Shamrock would have as well. The big difference between those guys and Machida, Henderson, or Shogun Rua who turned down the fight is that those guys were playing with house money. The other top contenders worked hard to earn a title shot and shouldn’t be asked to blow it because the UFC needs a main-event.

Would the UFC have given Machida or Rua another title fight in the near future as thanks for taking the title shot on short notice? You know the answer to this and that is why Dana White is being a spoiled, selfish, brat with this new edict. Title shots that are earned should be respected. Sure while it’s nice to do Uncle Dana a favor, what will these fighters get for their gamble?

UFC: Ultimate Fight Collection 2012 Edition[/amazon_link]

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Jon Jones Vs. Chael Sonnen Announced For TUF and UFC Title Fight

October 16, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Nobody can accuse Jon Jones from running Chael Sonnen any longer. The UFC light heavyweight champion will not only fight Sonnen in 2013 but will coach against him on The Ultimate Fighter season 17.

This should be a good one,” said White. “Jon has accepted the fight. He knows the fans want to see that fight.”

I can’t say I am surprised. Jon Jones recently gave an interview where he said he was interested in coaching on The Ultimate Fighter and also recently said that he’d fight Chael if that’s what the fans wanted. I actually sent out a tweet on Monday predicting this exact scenario including the TUF gig.

Dana White broke the news to the LA Times on Tuesday in a story that has a lot of MMA fans and media scratching their heads. Sonnen will go from getting thrashed by Anderson Silva in the second round to an immediate championship fight in his light heavyweight debut (well return after a lengthy absence) As entertaining as this sounds, it makes even less sense than giving Vitor Belfort a title shot. The fight will go down on April 27.

The fight comes at a very odd time for both the champion and challenger. Sonnen signed to fight Forrest Griffin in December while Jones was expected to fight either Lyoto Machida or Dan Henderson. My hunch is that this fight has a lot more to do with the abysmal The Ultimate Fighter ratings this season as opposed to championship integrity.

The big losers here are Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson. Henderson was scheduled to fight Jones at UFC 151 but had to pull out due to injury. Machida was told he was getting the next title shot after he dominated Ryan Bader on Fox. Machida declined a recent opportunity to fight Bones at UFC 152. My hunch and nobody will say it is that the UFC are still real upset with Henderson for canceling with little notice and Machida for turning down the shot with little notice.

What makes this even more complicated is that White recently announced that the upcoming UFC on Fox fight between Mauricio Shogun Rua and Alexander Gustafsson could determine a top contender. That fight is in December so that would mean that the winner would have to sit out at minimum 7-8 months for his title shot. That also means is that the earliest Machida or Henderson have at even sniffing a title shot is next fall.

There are both reasons to get excited and reasons to cry foul over the latest news. Chael Sonnen has simply talked himself into a title shot here. He may be entertaining to read on Twitter but the fact is that he just got beat by Silva and has never even fought in the division. This is hardly what I would call challenging Jon Jones. It is also another case of the UFC trying to shine up a mismatch which smart fans at the end of the day will see through and will probably take a pass.

I think it is safe to say that the UFC is more interested in business than sport. That is fine and I can’t disagree with it, but don’t claim otherwise. This fight is being made purely for business reasons. There is reason that title fights don’t sell on UFC pay per views like they used to. I love great fight-hype and Chael may be the best, but this really sets the UFC back as far as I am concerned quite a bit when it comes to sports legitimacy. At some point you have to question whether the UFC should even have titles or just go back to the Super Fight titles like the old days.

The plus of course is that this will generate tremendous interest into The Ultimate Fighter. TUF is a dying franchise, drawing just over 600,000 viewers this past week. There is certainly no guarantee that coaches will make a difference as Brock Lesnar did not have nearly the impact on TUF as some, including myself speculated he’d have. However, I have to think that Chael will play the game (unlike Brock) and deliver such compelling television week to week that fans who stopped watching awhile back will reconnect with the show.

UFC: Ultimate Fight Collection 2012 Edition

Chael Sonnen: The Voice of Reason: A V.I.P. Pass to Enlightenment

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Jon Jones Talks UFC 151 Cancellation and Dana White

September 06, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

UFC 151 is the story that just won’t go away. UFC champion Jon Jones is now starting to speak out against his critics and give his side of the story. Unfortunately the champ is doing more damage with every word that comes out of his mouth.

I won’t rehash all of the specifics of UFC 151 because if you are taking the time to read this blog, chances are good you already know what happened. Jones has been vilified by the UFC, fans, media, and fellow fighters for refusing to fight Chael Sonnen on eight days notice. Dana White blamed the cancellation of UFC 151 on Jones unwillingness to take the fight. Jon Jones disagrees.

Jones gave a fascinating interview to Ariel Helwani on MMAFighting.com. What is so fascinating to me is just how clueless Jon Jones really is. He certainly doesn’t come off as the great businessman he proclaims himself to be in this 40-plus minute interview. The irony is that while I don’t think Jones did anything wrong, I came away from this interview liking Bones less than I ever did before.

What Jones is missing in this big picture here is that people really don’t like him because they think he is phony and arrogant. That is fine if he is trying to be a pro wrestling heel, but a guy with a Nike endorsement needs people to like him. Jones compares himself at one point to LeBron James talking about the criticism James gets, but Jones is missing a key point. The NBA and MMA are two entirely different sports with different sized audiences. James can afford to be hated by 25% of the NBA audience because that leaves 75% of millions people to market to. Jon Jones doesn’t have much left to market to if 75% of the MMA audience finds him unlikable.

One point Jones makes which is very important to this whole mess is that he claims Dana White never told him that UFC 151 would be cancelled if he didn’t fight. That is a big difference maker if true. I find it hard to believe after listening to White for a week rant on Jones and Greg Jackson that this point was never conveyed to Bones. If this is true, it is really hard to blame Jones.

Jones talked quite a bit about why he turned down the fight. Quite honestly, I still don’t understand it. While I do believe that he has every right to accept and turn down fights as he pleases, he only seems to muddy the waters here with this convoluted attempt at an explanation.

The main reason I didn’t take the fight is basically because I talked to my head coach, my muay thai coach and my boxing coach, they know my weaknesses and strengths, they know how my muscles react. Each coach said, straight away that they think I can win the fight but they ALSO said that the want me to be aware that the styles are different, They have different kinds of clinch games, different takedowns… I’m not going to go through all the details of his game because it will sound tacky to those who don’t understand fighting but to sum it up, Chael Sonnen is a southpaw, has different takedowns, different subs, different ground and pound, he’s just a completely different warrior. Taking the fight would be ignorant.

One thing that is incredibly irritating about Jones throughout the interview is that you get the impression he is talking down to the fans. Jones repeats throughout the interview how fans don’t understand MMA and don’t understand the business of MMA. Jones at one point says he is trying to educate the fans. You don’t need to be a chef to criticize bad cooking. Telling someone they are an idiot and that he is here to enlighten them is probably not the best way to make amends with a fan base that absolutely hates you.

One of the points Jones makes is a great one, yet again his approach will only get him more heat with fans, fighters, and the UFC. When asked about other fighters criticizing him he says, “All the fighters that are insulting me on the card, I’m not the one who is saying that you’re not good enough for pay per view.

As much as you may hate Jones, he is right. That is what I never understood in the first place. Dana White put the blame on Jones for costing fighter’s their payoffs and the UFC losing $2 million in advertising. The UFC cancelled the show! The UFC could have proceeded with the show, charged money, and taken one on the chin for the fighters on the show. The UFC chose not to proceed with the show because they presumed nobody would buy it. Why not go on with the show and offer fans a free PPV with a purchase of UFC 151? The reason the UFC cancelled the show is in essence, because the fights they booked weren’t strong enough to sell. That is not Jones’ fault. However, I probably wouldn’t have said it the same way.

One of the biggest reasons the MMA community hates Bones is because they think he is fake. The consistent preaching of religion and family has made Jones a big target. Jones however still doesn’t get it. Jones continues to preach religion in the interview and at one point says all he has ever tried to do was be a good representative for the UFC. I’d be a lot more empathetic if the man wasn’t arrested just a few months ago for totaling his Bentley drunk with two women in the car in the early hours of the morning.

The line that is really getting attention is when Jones responded to a question about how he felt about Dana’s tirade on the conference call. White blasted Jones on the call and Jones wasn’t happy.

I felt like a piece of meat.

I never disliked Jon Jones and I even blogged last week about how Dan Henderson was to blame for this mess, but Bones is doing himself no favors with these interviews. One of the first things a good “corporation” will do as he calls himself is hire a publicist. It’s time for Jon Jones to get one!


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Dan Henderson Is Getting A Free Ride In UFC 151 Debacle

August 28, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC 151 fallout continues and it isn’t getting easier for Jon Jones. Media and fans continue to vilify Bones for not taking a new fight after Dan Henderson got hurt. Yet surprisingly nobody has pointed the finger at Hendo. Is Dan Henderson getting a free ride at the expense of the Bones Jones?

Henderson started making the media rounds on Monday, shedding a lot of light on what actually went down leading up to him pulling out of the fight. UFC president Dana White chastised Jones for almost an hour when the UFC 151 cancellation was made, giving Henderson no culpability in the debacle. Yet the more I hear from Hendo and his team, the more I am starting to wonder why Henderson has avoided any shrapnel in this explosion.

The timeline of Henderson’s injury leading up to UFC 151 has become clearer in recent days. Henderson and his coaches are claiming that Dan got hurt three weeks ago in training. Henderson’s muay thai coach Daniel Wiorin broke down the timeline in a recent interview with Fighters Only.

Dan Henderson got hurt three weeks ago sparring when he went to defend a takedown,” Wiorin said. “He had to be away for training for two-to-three weeks. It was very difficult for him to refuse the fight. All the team had to convince him not to do it.

We did a final sparring to evaluate his condition and he really didn’t have the chance to fight with Jones,” Wiorin said. “It is so depressing for everybody.

Henderson told Ariel Helwani that he kept mum on the injury, fearing that news of the injury would spread to the Jon Jones’ camp and give the champion a big target in their scheduled UFC 151 fight.

“I was very optimistic,” he said. “I was told the MCL heals real fast and should do fine. I had just under a month before the fight so I was pretty optimistic it would get better. I was told not to do anything to stretch it and make it feel unstable and it would heal up a lot faster. That’s what I was trying to do. So I could move around on my feet. As long as I was moving forward and backward, it wasn’t too bad.”

“I think it would be a decision I’d be regretting for a long time,” he said. “I felt like I need to be 100 percent going in against somebody like Jones, or close to 100 percent. And I feel like the fans would like to see me at 100 percent as well.

Henderson then offered his own criticism of the champion for turning down the fight which resulted in the card being cancelled.

Ultimately it was his decision not to take a fight with Chael,” he said.> “I don’t think it’s unfair that he’s been blasted like that. All I know is, that’s not the decision I would’ve made. Obviously he has his own reasons. I can’t think of any reason why I wouldn’t take a fight like that. Other than being injured, if I’m healthy, in shape and ready to fight that day, it doesn’t matter who they want me to fight. I’ll fight, especially if I’m champ.”

It’s not the decision he would have made, yet he pulled out of a fight because he felt he wouldn’t be close to 100%? Am I missing something here?

I never once thought that Dan Henderson had much responsibility in getting the show cancelled until now. Think about it for a second. Henderson injured his knee three weeks prior to the event! He chose to keep it quiet which I understand, but it was probably the most selfish decision made throughout this whole mess. What if Henderson told the UFC three weeks ago that he was hurt? What if Henderson told the UFC two weeks ago that he felt he couldn’t go? Instead, Henderson held up the entire card until the last minute, resulting in all of the chaos we all witnessed last week.

Jon Jones is continuing to get a lot of heat from fans and critics for not taking the fight on eight days notice. Yet Henderson was injured badly enough three weeks ago that he knew his fight was in jeopardy. The UFC would have had plenty of options three weeks ago as opposed to scrambling eight days out to save a show. I can understand why Henderson didn’t want the injury news out, but in turn an entire event was held hostage in the process. Shockingly he is not getting any heat for this whatsoever. What gives?

Jon Jones has turned into the biggest scapegoat in UFC history. I am not a big Jones fan, nor am I a hater like most are these days. I am just an MMA fan that can look at a situation logically without fandom clouding my judgment. You may not like Jon Jones for turning down the fight, but Jon Jones is not the fighter responsible for cancelling UFC 151.

That fighter would be Dan Henderson.

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Dana White’s Jon Jones Rant Damaged The UFC Forever

August 27, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

UFC president Dana White blasted Jon Jones for refusing to fight at UFC 151. Yet a few days later I think it is fair to ask whether White’s honesty will cost Zuffa more money over the next decade than any cancelled event could ever account for?

Now that the dust has settled I think it is fair to look at the situation with a little more clarity. To recap, Dan Henderson had to pull out of his UFC 151 fight with champion Bones Jones. Jones declined the opportunity to fight Chael Sonnen as a replacement with eight days notice. Without a main-event, UFC 151 was outright cancelled, costing the company millions of dollars in paid promotion that will never be recouped. White has put the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of his champion.

White went nuts on Jones on during the press conference in which the cancellation was announced. White claimed that he has never seen a situation where a world champion has refused to step up and fight. White pondered to the media why Bones who had been training an entire camp would turn down a fight with a fighter who hasn’t trained in weeks? White criticized Jones’ business acumen and claimed their relationship would not be the same. White also blamed Jones for costing the undercard fighters their salaries which were lost when the card was cancelled. In other words, Jon Jones is a selfish coward.

MMA fans and even some members of the media flooded the Internet, blogs, and talk radio shows with anger and hatred directed at the light heavyweight champion. I listened to one show where caller after caller said they would never buy another Jon Jones fight again. I read several blogs which were flooded with comments from fans that refused to ever purchase anything featuring Jones out of principal alone. The situation got ugly fast and by the end of the day Dana White probably cost his company more money than Jon Jones or anyone else that has ever refused a fight in the UFC.

Dana White became the UFC, Zuffa, and Fox network’s worst enemy last week. By White passionately telling his fans that Jones was a coward and cost young, struggling fighters their money, he made Jon Jones arguably the most hated champion in UFC history. I can’t think of a worst business move than vilifying the man who is positioned to be the face and future of your company in such public fashion.

The UFC, FX, and anyone else invested in UFC 151 won’t get their money back. Yet in the big picture of Zuffa, the money lost will be recouped going forward with other revenue sources. Two years from now, Zuffa won’t even notice the money lost from UFC 151. However, what they will notice is a trend of disappointing buyrates featuring the public face of their company. Believe me, Dana White will be kissing Jon Jones’ butt a year from now like nothing ever happened. He may forget but the fans who passionately follow the UFC and MMA won’t forget so fast.
White’s mouth is a problem and continues to be a problem for the UFC. Sitting on Fox seconds after Cain Velasquez was knocked out and criticizing one of his biggest stars does nobody any favors. All of those nasty promos he cut on Tito Ortiz probably cost the UFC millions of dollars when they decided they wanted to start promoting Tito. The damage done last week to the company will be unprecedented going forward. When Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva retire and they have to rely on Jones, this company is screwed thanks to Dana White.

Dana White wants to sit there and blame Jon Jones for taking food out of fighter’s mouths. How about the fact that White has severely damaged potentially the biggest drawing card in the company over the next few years? Fighters will be making a lot less money if 250,000 people are buying Jon Jones’ fights as opposed to 850,000. Cancelling UFC 151 may have cost these fighters money in the short term, but over the long term Dana has cost them and their peers more money with his mouth.

The irony here is that Jones is already having problems connecting with MMA fans. Jones has been a disappointment as a draw thus far as champion, something Dana was quick to point out during the press conference. I know that some people think that the fans will forget about this after Jones puts together a few wins, but the UFC is already having problems selling their champion. If and it is a big if Jones rebounds after whatever public relations hit he takes here, he will still be a disappointing draw. It would take a miracle for Jones to become a consistent draw on the levels of GSP or Anderson Silva after last week.

Fighters like Jones come along once in a lifetime. It is easy to say they will have other stars, but history says different. You can count the number of true UFC superstars the company has ever had cross into popular culture on one hand. There is an “it” factor that is an intangible you can’t create in a gym or promotion piece. Jon Jones is one of the only fresh faces to have that “it” factor in years and the arrogance of the UFC president has marginalized that star factor quite possibly forever.


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UFC, Not Jon Jones Responsible For Cancelled UFC 151

August 26, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

UFC 151 is cancelled and the blame for this has been placed squarely on the shoulders of the UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Bones Jones. While it is easy to vilify Jones, is the champion being used as a scapegoat by the real man responsible for this mess, Dana White?

Dana White cut a scathing promo on Jon Jones last week during a conference call announcing the cancellation of UFC 151. Jones was scheduled to fight Dan Henderson in the main-event. Henderson hurt his knee and Jones was offered Chael Sonnen as a replacement. Jones turned down the fight claiming he needed more time to prepare, the event, was cancelled, and the UFC is blaming Jones for this entire mess.

It is easy to chastise Jones for his action. MMA is a sport based on machismo. Nobody wants to look at the big picture. To the average fan watching at home, it should be simple for a fighter to get in and fight on one day, two day, two months notice, etc. After all, Royce Gracie fought multiple times in one night right?

I am not saying Jones was right or wrong for turning down what appeared to be a cake walk of a fight on paper. I do know that if the New England Patriots had the New York Jets on their schedule months earlier, prepared for the Jets, and eight days out the NFL wanted to change opponents on the Jets, Bill Belichick would do everything he can to fight that change. MMA is no different than any other sport and at the championship level, there are a lot of moving parts in preparing for a fight. Again I am not saying that Jones was right or wrong in turning down the fight. I just think there is a lot more considerations to be made when you are fighting at the highest level of a sport.

Once Jones turned down the fight the show was cancelled. Dana White has called Jones’ trainer Greg Jackson a sport killer for his influence on Bones’ decision. White also blames Jones for costing lower level fighters money and opportunity. Yet at the end of the day the decision to cancel a show should rest on the shoulders of the company president not the world champion. White is looking to deflect and has sacrificed his world champion in order to cover his own butt.

Why was it up to Jon Jones to save the show? The UFC has hundreds of fighters under contract. Why couldn’t Dana White call up Rashad Evans, Michael Bisping, Frank Mir, Roy Nelson, Carlos Condit, Jose Aldo, Cain Velasquez, etc, etc to fight? Heck, Anderson Silva would have fought on the show but the guy was never even asked. Why is it up to Jon Jones to take a fight on eight days notice to save a show? Yes I know he had a full camp, but Sonnen didn’t. Do I expect any of those guys to have stepped up and taken a fight with no/little camp on eight days notice? Of course not. My point here is that once Jones said no it was easier to cancel the show and blame Jones than to have a press conference the next day and vilify 20 fighters for not wanting to take a fight on eight days notice.

Why is it up to Jon Jones to make sure the undercard fighters are paid? This is a multi-million dollar business. The UFC has plenty of money in reserves. Jon Jones didn’t cancel the show. The UFC should (and they may) make up for any expenses the fighters incurred for losing out on the show. The idea that it was up to Jon Jones to sacrifice and not the UFC in order to make sure these fighters got paid is just ludicrous!

Would the UFC promote an event from scratch on pay per view with eight days notice? Could they? They absolutely could and Jones could have taken the fight with eight days notice. But would they? Would they be able to properly advertise and promote an event on eight days notice? Would they be able to get proper media in eight days? Would they take a bath on the show? Maybe they would or maybe they wouldn’t but the idea is just as risky as Jones taking the fight on eight days on a different level.

The real problem here is the idea that Dana White is trying to pain the UFC as victims while turning their world champion who did nothing wrong into the biggest villain MMA has seen since Brock Lesnar popped the fans the middle finger. An executive with integrity would have either a) had a backup plan or b) taken full responsibility for the lifeline of the event. Maybe if they didn’t have an event practically every weekend he would have had a strong enough undercard that could have survived without Jon Jones in the main-event?

Instead the UFC will cost their company more money in the long run by using the biggest future of the star company to mask one of the biggest business blunders in professional sports history.


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