TNA Wrestling are at a crossroads and president Dixie Carter thinks she has found an answer with MMA fighters. The good news is that Dixie acknowledges that the company needs to develop new talent. The bad news is that she is looking outside of her company to do it. I guess it’s too late to get the money back from the Wrestling Matters campaign.
I’ll give Dixie Carter a lot of credit. Even in the face of criticism she is sticking to her guns. Dixie and TNA are looking for answers after major budget cuts and weeks of inconsistent ratings. Most suggested a change in creative direction yet the president disagreed. Dixie went searching for new talent and what she found were aged, injury-ridden former UFC stars.
Dixie has had a fascination with blending MMA stars into her company for awhile now. Unfortunately it has yet to work. She had the right idea with King Mo but it never seemed like she was on the same page with her creative team. She’s at it again with Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz and the jury is out on how that will all pan out.
Dixie is looking for answers. Dixie is looking for the next hot talent to build up and it is not the independent wrestling circuits she is scouting but the UFC loss columns as she told the Ministry of Slam podcast.
“I’ve gotten criticism for bringing these guys in but when you’re looking for talent and there’s only two teams, where do you go to get your star players from? You’re going to mostly look to each other and then every once in a while, you’ve got to build your own talent which takes a lot of time.
So here are two guys that are major superstars. Both come from wrestling backgrounds, and both are training their butts off right now to be in the ring. I think it’s a great way of trying to find some superstar talent and not having to take so many years to try to grow somebody’s stardom. Both of these guys are so well-known and they love professional wrestling. They’re committed and they’re training, and I’m excited for people to see their potential. I think it’s a great way of looking for new talent, and talent that have never been seen before in our world.”
The irony in those statements is just amazing considering who they are coming from. Dixie has had a roster of her own talent for over ten years. In that time TNA never spent more than a few months building up any of their own talent sans AJ Styles every once in awhile. The idea that she is so concerned with building up her own talent on a show I just watched headlined by Bully Ray vs. Sting in an angle involving Ken Anderson is just ironic in so many ways.
I do agree with her on one point. She does need to get unconventional in her recruiting. I don’t think there is a problem at all with that philosophy. I don’t think there is a problem going out there and recruiting MMA fighters. The difference between TNA and the WWE is that if WWE signs you, you are a WWE talent. If TNA signs you, you are doing TNA part-time. If TNA were out there scouting amateur wrestlers and MMA fighters, signing them, and prohibiting them from competing in MMA that would be a great idea but that isn’t what they are doing.
TNA instead are signing aged MMA fighters who are broken down and have no interest in retiring from fighting at present. How can you invest money into these guys when there is a good chance they are going to be exposed as slow, hurt, and old in their fights? You can but it is just wasting money.
Either Dixie is flat out lying or she is being lied to if she thinks that Tito Ortiz and Rampage Jackson are that committed to their pro wrestling training. Rampage isn’t even planning on training until he is done fighting.
“Well I’ve always wanted to be a pro wrestler since I was a kid, but now that I’m older and have had a lot of injuries, people don’t understand the toll that wrestling takes on your body. I just don’t think I can do that now while I’m fighting, but when I retire from fighting and go full time into pro wrestling, then I think I can go and get more extensive with my style and my moves.”
Obviously these parties are not on the same page with company speak. As I said I think it’s a smart move to think outside of the box when it comes to scouting talent. Dixie just happened to stumble into the wrong box. What Rampage is even doing on television at this point other than promoting Bellator is another question. Tito hasn’t said it but how committed to training can he be after coming off of major back surgery?
Do you know what is really surprising to me about Dixie Carter? This is a woman that came from public relations. She may not know wrestling but she is supposed to know public relations. For a woman that says one dumb thing after another on Twitter or interviews you’d certainly never know it. Telling your critics that the answer to building new talent are Tito Ortiz and Rampage is just about the dumbest thing I have ever heard say…and that says a lot.
Tito Ortiz is the newest member of team TNA Wrestling which is starting to look like a retirement home for former UFC stars of the 1990s. The August 1 warning reveal has been mocked on social media ever since questioning whether this was a shrewd signing or a colossal miscalculation.
It’s funny because the wrestling world has been in a rage ever since Tito Ortiz walked out on Impact Wrestling as the newest member of TNA. Fans have taken to social media to express their outrage, humor, and disappointment while Dixie Carter and her crew are likely celebrating over scones and mimosas. Bjorn Rebney probably has the biggest smile realizing that he and Spike TV have found themselves a sucker.
Signing Tito Ortiz isn’t necessarily a bad move. Tito has been in TNA before and has a history with the company. Tito is a big MMA star no matter how you slice it. You can mock him but the man was on Celebrity Apprentice and is a name that most casual MMA fans and even wrestling fans recognize. In terms of MMA he is one of the biggest draws in UFC history so signing Tito isn’t all that bad.
The miscalculation here was the timing. Tito’s signing comes weeks after you just brought out Rampage Jackson who has been a huge disappointment thus far, practically muzzled compared to his days in Pride FC and the UFC. It also comes months after King Mo and the company made such a big deal about a guy that was KO’d several weeks later. Unfortunately for Tito the waters have been so muddied that even a big UFC star like him won’t make a difference.
The other problem here is that TNA Wrestling bought what are essentially broken down, used cars. According to several MMA reporters Tito’s spine is in rough shape and physically he is hurting. Tito retired from MMA because he physically couldn’t do it anymore. Pro wrestling may be a work but it is very physical and for a guy that has a badly beaten back, he can only be a disappointment inside of the wrestling ring.
I am not sure what the approach is here with TNA. Obviously this is a company with serious financial issues. The company has recently cut a bunch of talent and were reportedly late on making payments to its talents. In other words this is a desperate company right now that needs something to turn this company around. Is bringing in washed up MMA fighters who are badly damaged going to do anything for their pro wrestling audience?
There is a reason that pro wrestling fans watch TNA and not Bellator. Pro wrestling fans want their pro wrestling. Remember when TNA went on a marketing blitz to let the world know that “wrestling matters”? This is not the pro wrestling that your fans signed up for. TNA have been losing fans all summer and I can’t imagine they are going to come back because all of the sudden Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz are in the company. I just don’t see it.
I’ll give TNA the benefit of the doubt here and assume that someone else is paying Tito and Rampage’s tabs. TNA is getting free talent so why not use them right? I think it’s pretty clear that Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff aren’t fans nor understand MMA. Free or not at some point you either have to take a pass or just stand up to Viacom altogether if you are being bullied. For all we know Viacom owns a part of TNA. I don’t know that but I am starting to think that because the program has turned into a promotional vehicle at the expense of TNA storylines.
I also have to think that this could greatly backfire on Bellator. The idea of getting this free promotion for an upcoming fight is nice. Yet what if fans start misinterpreting your company as pro wrestling? What if the Rampage vs. Tito fight gets the perception that it was worked between two pro wrestlers? MMA fans don’t want to be played like fools and they certainly don’t want to buy a fight they think is fixed. Let’s not even get into the possible repercussions that Bellator could face from commissions if they think something is up.
At the end of the day I can’t see this being a positive move. Now if we didn’t just see Rampage and Mo in TNA I’d like it a lot. Unfortunately you have a company that is now featuring washed up UFC and ex-WWE stars at the top looking even more like a second rate wrestling promotion than ever before.
This week’s TNA Impact Wrestling opens with the members of Bad Influence hanging out in the back. Kazarian is complaining that the “August 1st guy” won’t answer his DMs on Twitter. Kaz makes some joke about the “July warning”, and then Christopher Daniels says he knows someone who can find out.
We see Taz trying to enter the building, when two Atlus Security guys tell him he’s not allowed in the building, per the orders of Hulk Hogan. Taz throws a tantrum, then says both of these guys will be fired as a result of not letting him in the building.
Tonight’s episode is being broadcast from Wichita Falls, TX. In the BFG Series, we’ll see AJ Styles vs. Austin Aries, plus Chris Sabin vs. Manik in a “Champion vs. Champion” match.
We see the video for the #August1Warning guy, Tito Ortiz. I mean, the mystery man who we don’t know who will be brand new to the company. Yes, that’s it. Anyway, Tito “Mystery Man” Ortiz will reveal himself to the world in a “surprise that will garner worldwide headlines” according to Dixie Carter. Guess she forgot Ortiz has worked for the company several times in the past, and did absolutely nothing for them then.
Austin Aries comes out, and he says there’s a lot of things going on in TNA, and they’re all focused on the World title. We’re in the midst of the BFG Series right now. He congratulates Chris Sabin on winning the World title, but with that congratulations comes a warning. You are the hunted, and it’s fitting that the man who handed over the X-Division title now has an “X” on the back. Sabin, you’re looking at the man who will win the BFG Series and become the next World Champion. Everyone is in for a treat. The fans wanted it, and they got it; tonight, for the first time on SpikeTV, Austin Aries faces AJ Styles. This is a match everyone has been dreaming about since Aries came back to the company, and that means everyone. Everybody wants to see Aries/Styles, and tonight, we get it. They call it “The Phenomenal One” vs. “The Common Denominator of Greatness”. They are two of the greatest that have ever stepped inside the ring: The man who put TNA on his back for a decade vs. the man who will put TNA on his back for the next decade. If there’s anyone who has any doubts, he will erase those doubts tonight.
Bobby Roode interrupts the promo. He says let’s stop talking about dreams and start talking about nightmares. He’s been living one since Destination X last year when Aries beat him for the World title. Roode has had a crap year, and ever since that night, everyone including himself has forgotten what he is capable of in the ring. He was the longest-reigning World Champion in the history of TNA. He became the leader of “The Selfish Generation”. Dammit, he is the It Factor of professional Wrestling. Starting tonight, the game is going to change. Bobby Roode is going to go back to what brought him to the dance the first time. He’s going to do the things that made him champion the first time around. He only cares about one thing now, and that’s getting back the World title. Starting tonight, he once again proves it pays to be Roode. Aries agrees with Roode on everything. He hopes Roode makes it to the finals of the BFG Series, so he can beat Roode once again. Good luck. Aries leaves the ring as Hernandez makes his way out for the opening match.
MATCH 1-BFG Series: Bobby Roode vs. Hernandez
Apparently, fans voted for this match. Anyway, Roode attacks Hernandez on the ramp before the match officially starts and throws him off. Commercials.
Back from the break, Roode is chopping Hernandez in the corner. He hits a back elbow off the ropes, then goes for the cover for 1. Hernandez reverses an Irish whip and hits a standing avalanche. Roode hits a back elbow out of the corner, but gets a shot to the gut while coming off the middle rope. Hernandez goes for an over-the-shoulder backbreaker, but Roode escapes and hits a spinebuster for 2. Roode throws Hernandez to the floor, then heads outside near the announce desk. He picks Hernandez up and whips him shoulder-first into the stairs before rolling him back in the ring for 2. Roode rakes Hernandez across the back, then chops him across the chest in the corner. Hernandez gets corner-whipped, and Roode follows up with a corner clothesline. He runs into a boot, and Hernandez backflips to the top rope. Roode cuts him off and goes for a superplex, but Hernandez shoves him off before missing a top rope splash. Roode quickly applies the Bowflex, but Hernandez powers out and counters into a back suplex. Hernandez hits a clothesline and a Polish Hammer before Roode comes back with a chop. Hernandez recovers and hits a Pounce. He goes outside for Air Mexico and connects before calling for the Border Toss. Roode escapes and bumps into the ref. The bump is enough for Roode to hit a low blow and roll up Hernandez with a handful of tights, but he still only gets 2. Roode rolls to the floor and grabs a folding chair from outside, throwing it into the ring. He follows up with two more, and the referee begins throwing them back out. Roode goes outside and pulls a beer bottle out from under the ring while the ref’s back is turned, and smashes it over Hernandez’s head to get the 3.
WINNER: Bobby Roode, who picks up 7 points and finally gets on the board.
AI stops the Main Event Mafia in the back. Sting says we’ll have to wait and see what happens with “August 1”, and Angle then says they have an offer for Aces and Eights that they can’t refuse.
Here is the updated BFG Series leaderboard: 1-Magnus (49); 2-Samoa Joe (26); 3-AJ Styles (22); 4-Christopher Daniels and Mr. Anderson (tie, 21); 6-Jeff Hardy (17); 7-Austin Aries (14); 8-Hernandez and Bobby Roode (tie, 7); 10-Kazarian and Jay Bradley (tie, 0); 10-Joseph Park (-10).
ODB is warming up with Eric Young in the back, excited that she’s getting back in the ring and doesn’t have to count 3 for anyone anymore. EY says he can’t be out there tonight because he’s dealing with Joseph Park. He opens the door next to him to see Park warming up. He says he’s been crunching the numbers, and when Park bleeds, he loses control, and then loses matches. EY has the answer, and it’s something inside one of those reusable lunch bags.
Chris Sabin approaches Manik in the back, who has his mask off and his back turned so we can’t see his face even though we’ve already seen it several times. Sabin congratulates him on winning the X-Division title last week. Manik says he worked hard as TJ Perkins for 15 years and accomplished nothing. Manik has been a rebirth for him, and it brought him the X-Division title. Sabin says they’re not the biggest, but they have the most heart, and that’s why he wants Manik one-on-one and wants him to bring his A-game into their match.
A stretched white Hummer pulls up to the building, containing Tito Ortiz. I mean the “mystery man”.
MATCH 2-BFG Series: Jay Bradley vs. Joseph Park (w/Eric Young)
Bradley did an interview earlier. People see a 0 next to his name. After a few Boomsticks, the points will start adding up really quick. EY opens the lunch bag and hands Park a set of boxing headgear, which Park puts on. Bradley attacks him from behind , then tries to slam his head into the turnbuckle, which does no good. Bradley instead punches him in the stomach and elbows him in the back of the head before trying to remove the headgear. Park comes back with a hiptoss before getting hit with a back elbow and a jumping kneedrop for 2. Bradley goes back to the headgear once more, with no luck. He drops some elbows to the back of the head before missing a running boot in the corner. Park rolls him up for 2, and Bradley then hits the boot on the second try. He drops a series of elbows for 2, then pie-faces Park before going after the headgear once more. Park thumbs him in the eye, but Bradley recovers and clubs Park down before hitting another jumping kneedrop for 2. Park escapes a side headlock and knocks Bradley down a couple of times before hitting a bodyslam. He calls for the Closing Argument, but Bradley yanks him down by the headgear strap. Park trips Bradley and applies a Boston crab, but Bradley gets a rope break. As Park is arguing with the ref, Bradley boots him out of the corner and hits a sloppy back suplex into a backbreaker. He manages to get the headgear off this time and throws it at EY. Bradley calls for the Boomstick, but runs into a Samoan drop for 3.
WINNER: Joseph Park, who picks up 7 points. However, he’s still at -3, which keeps him in last place.
We see the MEM sitting around a table in an office. Kurt Angle asks if anyone knows anything about the August 1st warning. No one does. Sting moves on and celebrates Bully Ray no longer being champion. Second, there might be a sacrifice that needs to happen, which means they might have to take a risk. Everyone is in, so they’re good to go. Angle says they will now make A and E an offer they can’t refuse. Quinton Jackson says he’s here to fight for whatever reason. Oh, yeah. Tito Ortiz.
MATCH 3-Champion vs. Champion: World X-Division Champion Manik vs. World Champion Chris Sabin (non-title)
Sabin applies an arm wringer, and Manik (“Kinam” spelled backwards) counters into his own. Sabin counters back, then applies a hammerlock. Manik escapes before getting shouldered down to the mat for 2. Manik hits a monkey flip, and Sabin does the same for 2. Manik recovers and hits a sunset flip for 2. Sabin rolls through and misses a pair of kicks. Manik also misses one before going for a headscissors. Sabin cartwheels out and we get a stalemate. Commercials.
Back from the break, Manik hits an elevated snapmare and a shoulder to the gut before hitting a satellite fujiwara armbar. He turns it into a la magistral for 2 before doing an Ultimo Dragon headstand in the corner. Sabin grabs the feet and tosses him to the outside. Manik lands on his feet, but gets hit with a step-up enziguri that knocks him to the floor. Sabin goes outside, picks Manik up in a fireman’s carry, and drops him face-first on the apron before rolling him back in the ring for 2. In the corner, Sabin applies a foot choke, then snaps off a float-over suplex for 2 before applying a rear chinlock and turning it into a modified surfboard. Sabin breaks the hold and hits a kick to the spine, then applies an armbar before going back to the surfboard. Manik breaks the hold with a flipping dropkick and then hits a hurricanrana, sending Sabin into the ropes. Manik springboards off the middle rope into an inside-out legdrop. He follows up with a springboard dropkick for 2, then goes for his finisher. Sabin counters into a crucifix for 2 before getting hit with a sit-out powerbomb for 2. Manik goes up top, but Sabin cuts him off and hits a chop to the chest. Sabin climbs to the middle rope, hits a couple forearms and lands a delayed vertical suplex for 2. Sabin picks Manik up, and now they trade forearm shots. Manik ducks a chop, hits series of punches and a jumping side kick before Sabin hits a boot off the ropes. Manik escapes Hail Sabin and goes for his finisher once more, and Sabin counters into a victory roll for 2. Sabin hits an aces crusher and a thrust kick to the face before connecting with Hail Sabin for 3.
WINNER: Chris Sabin. As we’re watching replays of the match, Bully Ray attacks Sabin in the ring. He takes his wallet chain off, yells at Sabin and kicks him in the ribs. Manik tries to step in, and Ray takes him out. Sabin gets up, hits some forearms and chops on Ray before knocking him out of the ring with an enziguri.
We get another look at the white Hummer. Thrilling footage, I assure you. The camera pans over to Taz, who complains about not being let into the building. He’s now going to expose August 1. He opens the back door of the Hummer and mocks what he sees. The camera goes into the Hummer, and all we see is a laptop playing the “#August1Warning” video.
Next week, Christopher Daniels takes on Kazarian in a BFG Series match. This cuts over to AI asking Bad Influence about that match. Daniels says TNA has been against them since day one. Kaz calls it bad management, and Daniels says it puts them in a bad position. He points out that Kaz has no points yet, and Kaz gets irritated. Daniels says he won’t just give the points up, and Kaz says he’ll take the points before dumping Daniels’ appletini on the ground.
MATCH 4: Gail Kim vs. ODB
Kim goes chest-to-chest with ODB, then pie-faces her. ODB tackles Kim and hits some mounted punches as Kim rolls to the apron. ODB goes outside, climbs up to the ramp, then charges at Kim, who is against the ropes. ODB picks her up for a running powerslam, but Kim escapes and shoves her into the ropes. ODB sidesteps a kick and hits some forearms to the chest before getting back in the ring for a 2-count. Kim reverses a corner whip, but ODB blocks it and boots her in the stomach before mounting the middle rope. Kim cuts her off and shoves her to the mat before blowing a kiss to the crowd. She climbs back down and kicks ODB in the ribs before foot-choking her in the opposite corner. Kim hits some forearms and a European uppercut before landing a running seated dropkick to the chest for 2. Kim knee-chokes ODB over the bottom rope, and ODB comes back with some shots to the gut. Kim shakes them off and hits a running clothesline for 2 before pulling ODB up by the hair and throwing her to the corner, where she hits the body attack through the ropes. From the apron, Kim hair whips ODB down and gets back in the ring for a pair of 2-counts. Kim hits a few more forearms, but ODB ducks a clothesline and hits a forearm of her own. Kim comes back with a boot to the chest, but ODB shakes it off and hits some forearms. She boots Kim off the ropes, lands a clothesline, a running knee and a shoulderblock before hitting a fall-away slam. ODB kips up and calls for the running powerslam, which connects for 2. Kim stumbles to the corner, where she blocks a charge, ODB counters and shoves her to the floor, and that’s where Kim goes for the figure-4 around the ring post. ODB boots her away, so Kim tries to drag her to the floor. ODB uses her leg strength to whip Kim into the ring post while still halfway inside the ring. ODB goes outside, where Kim suckers her into the steps. Kim assaults ODB on the outside with punches when the bell rings.
WINNER: Double count-out. The referee pulls Kim off of ODB, and that’s when ODB attacks Kim. The ref pulls her ODB off
AJ Styles is in the back, saying that his match with Austin Aries tonight being a “dream match” is BS. His “dream match” with Jeff Hardy was BS, too. He’s hungry, and if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. The BFG Series is about the title and the money that comes with it. There’s no place for dreams, just like heroes. Tonight, he becomes Austin Aries’ nightmare. Thanks for that rambling promo, AJ.
Another “#August1Warning” video for not Tito Ortiz.
A and E are in the back somewhere, with Bully Ray saying MEM have seen The Godfather too many times. Right now, he’s obsessed with destroying Chris Sabin at Hardcore Justice and getting his title back. He puts Mr. Anderson in charge of dealing with the MEM. Brooke Hogan enters the area and says she’s been looking for Ray. She asks about his rematch with Sabin and signing the contract next week. She’s heard things about the contract that might not be in his favor, and he might not want to be on her bad list. She then makes some stupid remark about being his ex-wife. Oh, god. They’re going to put a divorce clause as a stipulation in the title match. Sonofabitch…
Next week, Mr. Anderson will face Magnus in a BFG Series match, in addition to Kaz/Daniels.
MATCH 5-BFG Series: Austin Aries vs. AJ Styles
Lock-up to start the match, and the two jockey for position. AJ eventually gets Aries into the corner, giving a clean break in the process. Another lock-up, and AJ turns it into a headlock. He avoids a back body drop off the ropes and hits a swinging arm drag before going back to the side headlock. AJ avoids a leapfrog and shoves Aries, knocking him outside and onto the ramp. Aries comes back into the ring and goes for another lock-up. AJ applies an arm wringer, and Aries counters into a fireman’s carry. Aries holds onto the arm and applies an armbar, which AJ counters into a headscissors. Aries kips out, misses a dropkick, and AJ goes for the Calf Killer. Aries escapes and goes for the Last Chancery, and AJ escapes as well. Aries applies a side headlock now, and AJ counters into a waistlock. Aries counters and rolls AJ up for 1 before sliding to the floor. AJ goes for a baseball slide, but Aries moves, slams AJ into the apron, then comes off the top with an elbow to the head. Back in the ring, Aries goes up once more, and AJ knocks him to the floor with a dropkick. AJ hits a slingshot cross-body as we go to commercials.
Back from the break, AJ is still in control, hitting a backbreaker. Aries tries to fight back with elbows before he runs into a dropkick. AJ snapmares Aries and kicks him in the spine before hitting an elbow to the back of the neck. Aries comes back with some forearm shots to the face until AJ applies a full-nelson, turning it into a dragon suplex. Aries rolls to the floor, and AJ heads outside as well. He slams Aries into the apron and rolls him back in the ring, where he applies a rear chinlock. Aries fights out until AJ hits him with a forearm to the back. Aries gets sent into the corner, where he blocks a charge and hits a rolling elbow. He follows up with a clothesline off the ropes, then lands a series of elbows to the back of the neck before going for the brainbuster. AJ blocks it and goes for the suplex into a neckbreaker, and Aries counters into a backslide for 2. He hits a knee to the face before being backdropped to the outside. Aries lands on his feet, hits a shoulder to the gut from the apron and then lands a neckbreaker through the ropes. Aries goes up top and connects with a missile dropkick. AJ crawls to the opposite corner, where Aries hits a running dropkick. He goes for the brainbuster again, and AJ blocks it with a knee strike. Aries sets him on the top rope and goes up for a superplex, but AJ fights him off. Aries persists and goes for it again, but AJ lands on his feet and hits a hanging neckbreaker out of the corner for 2. AJ goes outside and goes for the springboard 450 splash, but misses. Aries hits some knees to the face and applies the Last Chancery. AJ rakes Aries in the eyes, so Aries lets go and hits some more knees to the face. AJ blocks one and counters into the Calf Killer, which Aries somehow counters into a brainbuster for 2. Aries pulls AJ to the corner, then goes up top for the 450 splash. AJ gets his knees up. AJ clotheslines Aries against the ropes, and he falls through to the ramp. AJ goes for another springboard, and Aries trips him, causing him to land on the outside. Aries goes for the brainbuster on the ramp and AJ counters into a standing gourdbuster. He looks for a piledriver, and Aries backdrops him to the floor. Aries tells the referee to start counting, then goes for a suicide dive instead. AJ sidesteps him and sends him chest-first into the ring steps. Both men make it back into the ring at 9, continuing the match. AJ is up to his feet first, and now the two trade right hands and forearm shots. Aries takes the advantage with chops to the chest, but AJ ducks another rolling elbow. Aries ducks a clothesline, hits a sick back suplex and follows up with a rolling elbow. AJ recovers and nails the Pele, and both men crash to the mat. The two barely lay their arms over each other for a pin, and Aries gets his shoulder up at 2 while AJ’s stays down for 3.
WINNER: Austin Aries, who picks up 7 points and goes into a 3-way tie with Mr. Anderson and Christopher Daniels for 4th place. Good match, but talk about an anticlimactic ending.
The Main Event Mafia make their way out to the ring. Sting says he put the MEM back together for 2 reasons. The first was to take the World title from Bully Ray, and the second was to eliminate A and E. They haven’t succeeded at the second one yet, but they will, and they’re going to start by making an offer to A and E that the group can’t refuse. Before Kurt Angle can announce that offer, A and E come out, led by Mr. Anderson. Anderson says the MEM failed last time because Angle ended up in the back of a pickup truck. The MEM cheats, and that’s the only reason why Chris Sabin is the new World Champion. A and E can fight dirty, too, and they’re not backing down. Angle tells him there will be serious consequences for not backing down. Angle offers a 5 on 5 match between the two at Hardcore Justice. In that match, whoever gets pinned will have to leave TNA for good. Samoa Joe tells them this isn’t a negotiation, which leads to a brawl between the two groups. The MEM clear the ring, and Anderson accepts the challenge on behalf of A and E.
The lights go out and some generic music plays as, shock of shocks, Tito Ortiz comes out to almost no reaction whatsoever. He then just stands there for the next 2 or 3 minutes with a stupid look on his face, saying nothing.
End of show.
Even though I knew that Dixie’s “big surprise” would be disappointing and Tito Ortiz, she exceeded my expectations and made it even more disappointing by delivering a segment that fell completely flat in every way possible with absolutely no crowd reaction.
Dustin Nichols is a freelance writer, and you can keep track of all of his work on his Facebook page, which can be found at www.facebook.com/DustinNicholsWriter. Oh, and if you like bodybuilding, check out his mom’s official site by clicking the banner below:
Bellator MMA announced that their first pay-per-view event is scheduled for November 2, 2013 and the main event will feature Quinton “Rampage” Jackson against Tito Ortiz in a light heavyweight showdown. This is probably the best fight you can make outside of the UFC from a name value perspective. That maybe where the buck stops, however, as there are several pros and cons that can either make or break the event – and maybe even the company.
This is a fight we thought would never happen since the friendship between these two fighters is well documented as going back to the dark ages of the sport. When Tito ruled the Octagon, Rampage was slamming his way through the ranks of PRIDE. Both were trained by striking coach Colin Oyama and often had the same people in their entourage such as Tiki Ghosn and Justin McCully. However, this is not a fight that people were clamoring to see because their friendship basically made the bout out of sight, out of mind, unlike the proposed Brock Lesnar vs. Fedor Emelianenko fight that the masses wanted to see.
Bellator needs help in the promoting department because their television ratings are fair at best. Rampage and Tito are two of the best self-promoters in Mixed Martial Arts and can hype a fight like nobody’s business. Their names are more recognizable than the majority of current UFC champions and as a result, Bellator will gain access to promotional avenues they’ve never been granted before. This fight will peak the curiosity of casual fans who normally don’t give Bellator a second look. Holding the event at the Long Beach Convention Center is the perfect venue for this fight. Both sides of the main event reside in Southern California and should be able to sell out the arena which can hold 13,500 people for theater events.
The combative variables inside the cage are more than meets the eye. Tito Ortiz has never evolved passed simply taking someone down, propping them up against the fence and throwing punches and elbows enroute to a decision. Even the way he shoots for takedowns hasn’t changed by just going straight in for a power double with his head down half the time instead of using angles to time his shot. Quinton Jackson is more well-rounded but he has completely fallen in love with his Boxing over the last five years. Fighting on the ground is not an option for the Memphis native as only a highlight reel knockout will satisfy his pugilistic affinity. Mixing up shots to the head and body will keep Ortiz uncomfortable as he attempts to set him up to land a right hook. Ortiz has had great-to-bad cardio over the years. Rampage has never had good cardio. If that is the case on fight night, it will be easier for Ortiz to take him down and inflict damage.
Dana White’s statement of “No one watches Bellator for free” holds some merit, but the larger issue maybe the resume of the main attraction. Tito and Rampage are coming off of three straight losses. Tito is no longer the fighter he once was, Rampage has just started his downward slide and neither fighter is relevant in the championship discussion. As a result, this fight will be a turn off to anyone who favors sport of spectacle. It is, however, by far the most interesting thing Bellator has ever attempted to do. Before this announcement, I couldn’t convince anyone to come over my house to watch a Bellator card. Within minutes of the announcement, my phone and Facebook account was flooded with messages regarding the fight. Nostalgia is a powerful thing as Ortiz and Jackson were a lot of people’s first favorite MMA fighter. That could be the key to Bellator’s success because as of right now, more people are talking about them than ever before.
Atlee Greene is a columnist for Gerweck.net and Forces of Geek.com. He also writes about wrestling, mma and comic books on his own blog and can be read here. Follow Atlee on Twitter @MidnightLogicGo
For the first time in a long while, wrestling fans are talking positively about TNA. Their August 1st campaign is causing quite a stir and people are excited to see the debut of a new talent. At the time of this writing, rumors are swirling around the internet stating that the debut could be anyone from Davey Richards, to John Morrison, to former UFC Champion Tito Ortiz. Again, at the time of this writing it could be anyone, but with Bellator’s decision to book Tito Ortiz vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson another TNA signee, I can’t help but think that Tito Ortiz is the August 1st debut.
Now, some wrestling fans might be groaning at the thought of another Mixed Martial Artist on Impact Wrestling, but what if all of these crossover appearances by Bellator fighters are part of a bigger plan? A plan to have Mixed Martial Artists go head to head with professional wrestlers in an all out interpromotional war!
So far TNA has access to King Mo, Tito Ortiz, and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Two out of those three are well known in mainstream culture and the third is an up and coming superstar in the making. Why not capitalize on the Bellator deal by having them destroy the TNA roster with strikes, knockouts, and their combined charisma. Hide their negatives as wrestlers and accentuate their other positives. I don’t want to see them do arm drags and lock ups, I want to see them destroy everything in their path. They could even play up the stereotypes wrestling fans have about MMA fans and create an interesting dynamic between the two. Most wrestling fans think MMA fans are assholes and a lot of MMA fans think wrestling fans are nerds so I think they could capture the imaginations of the fans.
Bellator can even get in on this as well on their end. Kurt Angle has always expressed an interest in fighting a Mixed Martial Arts contest. Rumors spread years ago that he talked with Dana White about competing in the UFC and those talks fizzled and nothing ever came of it. How awesome would it be if Kurt Angle, an Olympic Gold Medalist competed in a real life battle in the cage? You can play up the storyline and have him face Tito Ortiz or Rampage on Bellator TV or PPV and further it that way. If he wins then it would be great for TNA and if he loses it wouldn’t really hurt him since it would be his first MMA contest. Kurt Angle competing in a Bellator cage would spark interest from both wrestling fans and MMA fans and I think it could be a win-win for both companies.
I would even bring back MMA/wrestler hybrids to be a part of the MMA team just to even it out a bit and do special appearances. I wouldn’t have them be regulars but I would have them further the story a bit. MMA guys with wrestling history like Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Bobby Lashley, Bob Sapp, and even Daniel Puder. Puder hasn’t been seen in wrestling since appearances in ROH a couple of years ago and he already has a built in history with Kurt Angle and knows how to get a reaction from a crowd. TNA can even make a championship for them to hold while the storyline is running. They can call it the hybrid championship and do worked shoot fights which were big in Japan with the UWF promotion. Emphasize their skills and I think it could be something completely new for this American audience.
Now, this may be a crazy booking idea I had but I think it could create some buzz for TNA to capitalize on their deal with Bellator. They have the tools they just have to use it. We will see how TNA does utilize these MMA guys and hopefully it will mean better things for TNA than bad.
What do you Camel Clutch Blog Readers think of this idea? Put your comments below and tell me how you would book a TNA vs MMA invasion.
Leave it to Jon Jones to crush the hopes and dreams of UFC fans. Just days after UFC president Dana White told the media that the UFC had plans for a Jones vs. Anderson Silva fight in the fall, Bones made sure to remind fans that super fights in the UFC are simply more myth than reality.
The ironic thing about super fights in the UFC is that these big dream fights are often talked about for years yet rarely ever signed. I’ll give the UFC credit for pulling off Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz after a couple of failed attempts but their inability to sign the mega bouts is a hump that the company just seem to get over.
In the case of Anderson Silva vs. Jon Jones it appeared that there was some real activity here in regards to this fight actually being made. After saying no for almost two years, the Spider had a recent change of heart and has started talking openly about his desire to fight Jones. Dana White quickly hopped on that bandwagon and both he and the UFC middleweight champ even seemed to have a date in mind, the 20th anniversary event.
And then Jon Jones came along to remind you that dream fights in the UFC don’t happen that easily.
Jones is doing media for his upcoming UFC 159 headliner with Chael Sonnen and was asked about fighting Silva on Monday’s conference call.
Jon Jones has his eyes set on bigger fish than Anderson Silva. Jones is eyeing Tito Ortiz, specifically Ortiz’s record of five UFC light heavyweight title defenses. Saturday’s fight against Sonnen will tie that record. Jones wants to break it and according to the champ, that is more important than any super fight. Jones told the media that after Sonnen he wants to defend the title in November before entertaining super fights. When asked specifically about the Silva fight Jones responded, “I said what I said.”
Likable guy isn’t he?
Now I will say this before I declare the November fight dead with Silva. This could simply be a public negotiating ploy by Jones. Silva is saying yes, the UFC certainly wants it, so at this point Jones does have all the cards when it comes to negotiating. Jones has said no to fights in the past that wound up being signed, such as the one this Saturday. Maybe this is nothing more than a negotiating tactic.
Jones likes to call himself a “business man.” What kind of sane business man would pass up an opportunity to make the most money he has ever made by fighting Silva (on the anniversary show nonetheless) for a title defense against Lyoto Machida?
Jones is a wealthy man but he doesn’t draw big buyrates and he hasn’t been on top that long. He is preparing for a fight now that has less interest than any championship fight he has participated in on pay per view. The Silva fight would be a life changer for him. He can go chase Tito’s record after the Silva fight. Timing is everything and fighting Silva on the 20th anniversary show would give the UFC its biggest fight ever. If he is sincere, passing that pay day up for a record that quite honestly nobody really cares about is just insane.
This would also explain Dana White’s recent statements regarding Anderson Silva vs. GSP. That super fight (which White guaranteed) was dead. GSP was scheduled to fight Johny Hendricks and the company was looking at Silva vs. Jones for the fall. Out of nowhere White told reporters last week that the company was making another play for that fight and were waiting on GSP for an answer. Maybe Jones is serious and now realizing that they have no mega fight set up for the 20th anniversary show, the UFC went back to the GSP-Silva well?
There also has to be some responsibility placed on the UFC here. It is one thing when boxing dream fights can’t be made due to rival promoters. The UFC promotes all of these guys and yet fails time and time again to pull off these mega fights. Nobody is forcing these guys to fight so unless you have verbal agreements from these guys, it is time to stop teasing the public with talk of these mega fights that never deliver.
Dana White had his say and now it’s time for Randy Couture to speak out. A week after Dana brutalized his former UFC champion in the press, The Natural is fighting back. Randy has a different take on his departure from the UFC than his former boss.
It was an all out war a week ago when Bellator and Spike announced that they had signed UFC Hall of Fame fighter Randy Couture away from the UFC. Couture will not only be a part of Bellator’s new reality show, but will also be a fixture on Spike TV. Dana White wasn’t impressed and unloaded on Couture shortly after the news was announced.
“I’m happy that he’s gone. I’m happy that he’s gone forever and that he’s with them. I don’t respect him at all. Not even a little. The only time that Randy Couture is ever a man is when he steps foot the cage. As soon as his big toe steps out of the cage, he’s the furthest thing from it. That’s it. That’s the way I feel about him. I don’t at all disrespect what he did in this sport. As much as a man that I think he’s not, he was 100 percent man when he stepped in that cage. It is what it is. And just to clarify to you guys, Randy Couture, it was around Christmas time and his lawyer sends in a letter and bails on the last [FOX] show that he’s doing for us, after they begged me for a fu#king job. So I’m like, ‘What the hell’s going on around here?’ I dig around and I find out that he’s talking about doing a deal with Bellator and Spike. I call his lawyer and I went ‘me’ on the lawyer — is the best way I can explain it — and then I called Randy. I called him over and over again and he wouldn’t even answer his phone. Then he texts me and says, ‘What’s up boss? I hear you’re flipping out. I did not sign a deal with Spike or Bellator but I’m talking to two other networks right now.’ I said, ‘If you tell me that you did not bail on my last fucking fight and go do a deal with them, I don’t give a shit what network you sign with. I don’t care if it’s freakin’ HBO, The Food Network, I could care less who it is. Are you saying you did not sign a deal?’ ‘I did not sign a deal with them. Stop worrying, relax, and have a great Christmas. We’ll talk later.’ To this f**king day sitting right here right now we still have not talked. I knew the whole time that he was doing the deal even when I was talking to him and he was lying to me not even to my face, not even though the phone but through texts.”
Couture is now telling his side of the story and according to the former champ, Dana and the UFC could have prevented this rift. Couture says that he gave the UFC every opportunity to keep him after he retired and it was the UFC who showed very little interest in doing so.
“I gave the UFC and Dana every opportunity to find a way to significantly use me since I retired a year and a half ago,” he explained. “They acted like they were doing me a favor by giving me the four events on FOX a year as a commentator.”
Couture is one of many former UFC pioneers that are largely ignored by the company after they retire due to long lasting personal issues. Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Tito Ortiz, and Couture are all fighters who helped break ground for the company and are left with few if any opportunities while guys like Matt Hughes, Chuck Liddell, and Kenny Florian are well taken care of. Couture sees Hughes’ recent UFC gig as a big sign of intentional disrespect.
“In my professional estimation, they had an opportunity to keep me and use me. They chose not to, and a week later, after this whole thing leaks, they give a job to Matt Hughes in a significant fashion. Frankly that was a big ‘f–k you’ to me from Dana. And that’s exactly what he intended to do.”
It’s funny because I have never been a Couture fan but I was thinking the same when I heard Dana come out and blast him. This is a man who the company propped up as the Godfather for years and yet you barely see or hear from him on UFC related events. It seems like Dana wants its all. He wants to screw with guys like Couture and Ortiz yet gets upset when anyone God forbid take a job elsewhere.
Again I am not a big Randy fan and I understand what he tried to pull years ago but the second they brought him back that should have been forgotten. The idea that you’d ban a father no matter who he is from cornering his son is just downright embarrassing. He says he’s happy to see Randy go yet he pulls a power play like that? My thinking then and now is that if Dana was so upset that Randy left, why didn’t you have him under contract in the first place?
Dana White is coming off like a big baby here. He’s mad that people take jobs elsewhere yet he has no intention of hiring them. He can’t have it both ways. It’s time to start developing some kind of post-fight career for the UFC fighters and sign them to contracts similar to what the WWE does with their legends for marketing and appearances. Until the UFC does this, they have nobody to blame but themselves when their former stars work for the competition.
Cristiane Cyborg Santos is done dancing. If the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Dana White aren’t willing to meet her halfway on her demands for a catchweight fight with champion Ronda Rousey, she would rather fight somewhere else.
UFC Hall of Fame fighter and manager of Santos, Tito Ortiz broke the news on a recent edition of Inside MMA on Axis TV. Ortiz told Bas and Kenny that Santos is done playing games and if the UFC won’t meet her halfway at a 140 pound catchweight fight with Ronda Rousey, she wants to be released from her contract with Zuffa.
“Right now, we’re actually waiting for the UFC to release her,” Ortiz said. “We asked for them to release her, and Dana actually talked to me (Thursday). They gave an offer, and I went to Cyborg and she didn’t want to do it, so we asked for her release. Since they’re not having a 145-pound weight class, what else can they do?
Dana White confirmed that the UFC did have Santos under contract and owed her fights from her Strikeforce deal. Santos has been suspended since December 2011 for failing a PED test. Santos, Rousey, and White have been publicly negotiating the WMMA Superfight for the last few months. White and Rousey have been adamant that Santos must come down to 135 for the fight where Santos asked to meet in the middle at 140. Neither side appeared to budge so at this point Ortiz and Santos are ready to fight elsewhere.
I have written a lot on this story and to this day I really don’t understand the UFC and White’s position. I get it. Santos cheated and got busted for a PED. But, his stance on Santos has been different than any other fighter that has ever failed a drug test. Nick Diaz will be challenging for the title coming off of a loss and a failed drug test in several weeks. White’s support of Rousey not wanting to come up a mere five pounds for a fight that will do more for WMMA than any fight (other than a Rousey vs. Carano fight which won’t happen) is just simply mind boggling.
The interesting piece to this story is that Ortiz revealed that the UFC planned to farm Cyborg out to Invicta Fighting Championships and not even book her in the UFC since they only have a 135-pound division. I found that fascinating. Is there something going on behind the scenes with Invicta and the UFC? It would make perfect sense the UFC have only one WMMA fight booked right now and only a handful of other fighters under contract.
What this also shows me is that the UFC have no idea what they are going to be doing with their women’s division. Dana had some kind of a weird obsession with Rousey and had to get her in the UFC with no kind of sound plan. What happens if Rousey loses at UFC 157? What happens if the show is a flop? Who is next if she wins or loses? I think the best idea here would have been some kind of a 4 girl tournament to create some other stars and other matchups while buying time for Santos and Rousey to come together. That didn’t happen and right now the UFC has a one star and the only drawing opponent ready to walk.
The public seems to have taken Rousey and the UFC’s side in all of this. I am a bit surprised, especially since everyone including White blasted Jon Jones for running from a fight with Sonnen back at UFC 151. To me this is another case of the UFC failing to sign an obvious money making superfight which has become a real big problem if you ask me with Zuffa.
How a UFC champion can get away with running her mouth and yet balking at a fight over five pounds is something I’ll never understand. At this rate my money is on Invicta has a better shot of getting the fight done if Rousey and WMMA can’t cut it in the UFC.
Tito Ortiz walked away from the UFC in 2012 leaving behind the glitz, the glamour, the adrenaline rush, and the money of being a superstar UFC fighter. That is why it should be of no surprise that the former champion is considering a comeback.
The ink on his retirement papers is barely dry, yet the UFC Hall of Fame fighter is already talking about a comeback. Ortiz reveals in a recent interview that if he can take care of a number of injuries, he would be open to a fighting again. Is this just another ploy by Ortiz to stir the pot or are we on the verge of seeing one of the UFC’s biggest stars back in the octagon?
BloodyElbow.com talked with Ortiz and snagged a fascinating interview with the former champion. Ortiz talked at length about his injuries and the toll that MMA has taken on his body. That wasn’t a surprise. What was surprising is what he said after running down a laundry list of war wounds.
“Right now, I’m only four weeks out of neck surgery, and then I have to get the ACL surgery. I still need to recover from that before I start thinking about anything, and if I’ll compete again. You never know, I may come out of retirement. It’s all about how my body recovers.”
Ortiz goes on to say that it was Frank Shamrock (talk about irony) that has inspired his thoughts of a comeback. He also tells Bloody Elbow that a comeback wouldn’t necessarily happen in the UFC octagon. Ortiz doesn’t appear delusional about his comeback plans when he tells the interview that the chances of a comeback are “one in a million.”
What would the UFC do if Ortiz called, said he was healed, and wanted to come back? The easy answer is that the UFC would decline. Dana White tries to come off as a compassionate promoter but let’s take a look at his history. He has promoted Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Royce Gracie, and Mark Coleman well past their primes. Ortiz is still a draw and the attention he would draw on a comeback may be too much to pass up. In other words I think if he is medically cleared he’d get another UFC fight if he wanted it.
I am a Tito Ortiz fan but I think I speak for many when I say I hope he stays retired. Ortiz always prides himself on what a great businessman he is, so why do any more damage to your legacy if the money isn’t needed? Ortiz just turned 37 (today actually) and would probably be 38 or even 39 by the time he actually did get back inside the octagon. I have a lot of doubt that Ortiz would be able to keep up with the younger, faster, stronger fighters currently in the UFC at half speed.
Nevertheless, leave it to Tito to get the talk going.
MMA fans won’t have to wait much longer to watch Ronda Rousey’s UFC debut. The newly crowned 135 pound UFC champion will have her first title defense at UFC 157. The fight will headline the February event featuring Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida in support.
The UFC made the fight official on Thursday. Dana White confirmed that Rousey will defend the UFC 135lb. women’s championship against Liz Carmouche at UFC 157. The fight is not just the first signed female fight in UFC history but the first female MMA fight to headline a pay-per-view event ever! In other words, this is a historic event.
The news comes 24 hours after the UFC’s own Brazilian website listed Rousey vs. Cristiane Cyborg Santos as the headliner for UFC 157. Lines were obviously crossed somewhere as Cyborg later told reporters that while they were negotiating, she wouldn’t be ready to make 135 pounds by February. Although I would not be shocked to see Cyborg fight on this show at 145 to move the rivalry forward.
According to Rousey and White, Carmouche was not the first choice to fight Rousey. White admitted to reporters that Carmouche was the lucky or unlucky third choice to take the fight. White said that two fighters turned down the fight, Cyborg and Miesha Tate. Although both sides disputed that claim, with Tate calling it a “straight up lie” on Twitter and Cyborg’s manager Tito Ortiz denied also Dana’s claims.
I found it a bit ironic that some people in the social media world were criticizing the choice of Carmouche as challenger. Some questioned whether she deserved the title shot or not. In my opinion, Rousey is a made-up champion anyway. She never beat anyone in the UFC to earn the title. The UFC should have had at least one fight to determine a champion. I know Rousey was Strikeforce champion but so were Dan Henderson, Alistair Overeem, and Nick Diaz when they came to the UFC. All I am saying is that anyone arguing over the credibility of the title is missing the big picture.
The UFC will be headlining UFC 157 with this fight. I think this is a huge gamble and a little bit of a disappointment considering that Henderson vs. Machida is underneath. I understand why, but it is a bit of a bummer not to see Hendo and Machida get five rounds. The UFC is taking a major risk here in headlining a pay per view event strictly off of Rousey’s name. This is certainly not a fight anyone is clamoring to see.
Since day one I think the UFC has played this deal all wrong with Rousey. Unless you were bringing her in to fight Santos right away, it’s got a big chance of failing. Rousey can get on talk shows but at the end of the day are fight fans going to pay $50 to watch her fight just anyone? What if the fight with her and Carmouche disappoints? Carmouche is also no joke and is very capable here of pulling off the upset and blowing up all of their plans to market Rousey. I just think you need a deeper roster and the UFC should have at least made the division 140 pounds to open it up to more females.
I also still don’t understand why Rousey and the UFC are unwilling to move up a mere five pounds to fight Santos. There is something going on here and I can’t say I get it. Dana has no problem pressuring guys to fight outside of their weight classes when it is best for business. Asking Santos to drop ten pounds to fight Rousey while Rousey refuses to go up a mere five pounds seems a bit unfair. The whole idea that this big fight is being held up over five pounds is absurd.
I know it isn’t the popular opinion here but I see this as Rousey being afraid to fight Santos. Rousey likes to talk a lot of trash on Cyborg but at the end of the day she is unwilling to take this fight over five pounds. Her excuse is more or less principle and that if Santos wants to fight the champ that she should come down to her weight. That is all fine and good but at the end of the day she is costing herself and the UFC potentially millions of dollars over principle? Jon Jones was vilified by his peers in the MMA community for turning down a fight yet nobody says a word about this other than Cyborg’s camp? There is more to this than five pounds and the fact that the UFC backs her up on it really blows my mind. The UFC has done more to coddle this fighter than any other newly signed fighter that I can ever remember.
We’ll see what happens at UFC 157. If Rousey is not the big draw that the UFC is banking on her tune and/or Dana White’s may change pretty fast.
To date there have been fifteen seasons of The Ultimate Fighter that have aired in the USA on Spike TV and FX, plus a sixteenth season that is currently airing on FX. Add to that a completed season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil and a currently airing season of The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes (UK vs. Australia) and there have been thirty professional fighters who have served time as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter.
With the recent announcement of Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen as upcoming coaches for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter, many people have seen through the UFC’s charade, and are criticizing the UFC’s decision to forego the sporting aspect of the UFC and instead focus solely on the business aspect of the UFC. Despite what fans may believe about the decision to use Sonnen and Jones as coaches on the next season of the UFC’s flagship reality show, they are still intriguing choices as coaches. Not only for the potential entertainment value of the trash talk and banter between the two, but also due to the wealth of MMA talent and knowledge that these two men can pass on to the future athletes of the UFC.
In honor of the potential that Jones and Sonnen bring to the next season of The Ultimate Fighter on FX, here is a look back at the history of The Ultimate Fighter. A look at the Top Five Coaches in The Ultimate Fighter history.
Honorable Mention – Tito “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz
Record as a Coach: 16-11
Record in Coach’s Bouts: 1-0 (Victory over Ken Shamrock)
Winner’s Coached: Kendall Grove (Season 3), Michael Bisping (Season 3)
Tito Ortiz was one of the original stars of the UFC so it was no surprise that he was called on to coach one of the first seasons of The Ultimate Fighter. Ortiz coached the third season opposite his nemesis Ken Shamrock in the third fight of their trilogy of fights. Creating high ratings and high entertainment because of the constant squabbling between the two coaches, the competition much like the fights between Ortiz and Shamrock were fairly one-sided. Ortiz was the coach of both the winners of the third season. Ortiz also fared well as a coach on his second stint during TUF 11 opposite Chuck Liddell. However, he wasn’t able to finish the season or participate in the coach’s bout due to a back injury that removed him from the show.
Honorable Mention – Georges “Rush” St. Pierre
Record as a Coach: 11-3
Record in Coach’s Bouts: 1-0 (Victory over Josh Koscheck)
Winner’s Coached: Jonathan Brookins (Season 12)
Despite being one of the biggest draws in the history of the UFC and a long-reigning Welterweight Champion, GSP has surprisingly appeared on The Ultimate Fighter as a head coach once. Coaching opposite Josh Koscheck for the twelfth season of the reality show, GSP’s team went 5-2 throughout the first round of the competition, and both of the finalists were from Team Rush. In addition to his impressive coaching performance, GSP also dominated Koscheck in the coach’s bout. GSP was responsible for coaching Jonathan Brookins to victory during his season as a coach. GSP also coached briefly during The Ultimate Fighter 4: The Comeback, but during that season there were no head coaches, only fighters stopping by to help out.
#5 – Rich “Ace” Franklin (The Ultimate Fighter 2, The Ultimate Fighter 11)
Record as a Coach: 3-2
Record in Couch’s Bouts: 1-0 (Victory over Chuck Liddell)
Winner’s Coached: Rashad Evans (Season 2)
Franklin has always been known as the UFC’s company man for his willingness to step up on late notice and fight at different weights. Whatever his bosses needed. That was also the case for his second stint as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter. During the eleventh season of the show an injury to coach Tito Ortiz caused the UFC to need a suitable replacement for the post-show coaches bout. In stepped Rich Franklin both as a replacement fighter and as a coach for the final episodes of the show, during that episode he managed to advance his only remaining fighter Kris McRay into the live finale. Franklin also served as a coach on the second season of the reality show, although he coached against his good friend Matt Hughes and there was no post-show coaches bout. Franklin’s fighters during the second season dominated the Heavyweight portion of the competition and he was the coach of eventual winner and future UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans. In his late replacement bout against Chuck Liddell, Franklin scored a victory by TKO over Chuck Liddell.
#4 – Urijah “The California Kid” Faber (The Ultimate Fighter 15/ TUF: Live)
Record as a Coach: 10-5
Record in Coach’s Bouts: 0-1 (Loss to Renan Barao)
Winner’s Coached: Michael Chiesa (Season 15)
Faber coached opposite his Bantamweight rival Dominick Cruz on the debut season of The Ultimate Fighter on FX. Adding a live twist to the show, it failed to produce a significant ratings hike. Faber brought in his Team Alpha Male teammates to help him coach and provided a lot of guidance to his fighters. A talented wrestle-boxer himself, Faber made a bit too much of an effort to shape his fighters into that mold. Still one can’t argue with his results as his team was able to take five of the eight first round bouts, and the two finalists of the show were from Team Faber. Despite his impressive record as a coach, a knee injury to Dominick Cruz scrapped the traditional coaches bout at the end of the show. Instead Faber faced off against replacement Renan Barao Pagado for the Interim Bantamweight Championship but was soundly outworked over five rounds and lost the bout.
#3 – Michael “The Count” Bisping
Record as a Coach: 15-13
Record in Coach’s Bouts: 1-1 (Loss to Dan Henderson, Victory over Jason Miller)
Winner’s Coached: Ross Pearson (Season 9), James Wilks (Season 9), Diego Brandao (Season 14)
Bisping is famous for not only being a Light Heavyweight winner from the third season of The Ultimate Fighter, but also for being extremely successful as a coach on the show. Bisping made his first appearance on the show coaching Team United Kingdom opposite Dan Henderson and Team USA on the UK vs. USA edition of The Ultimate Fighter. Bisping coached his UK brethren to victory in both the Lightweight and Welterweight divisions. Despite coaching both winners from this season of the show, he was posterized in highlight reel fashion at UFC 100 by an H-Bomb from Henderson in the second round. Bisping coached opposite Jason “Mayhem” Miller in the final season on Spike TV before transferring to FX. Despite a fairly even coaching gig against Miller, Bisping dominated him in the coach’s fight and coached another winner as Diego Brandao won the Featherweight division of the show.
#2 – Rashad “Suga” Evans
Record as a Coach: 13-1
Record in Coach’s Bouts: 1-0 (Win over Quinton Jackson)
Winner’s Coached: Roy Nelson (Season 10)
Rashad Evans is another one of the former winners of The Ultimate Fighter that eventually made his way to the other side of the table and served time as a coach on the Heavyweights only tenth season of TUF. Coaching opposite his arch-rival Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Rashad’s season was filled with trash-talk and back and forth bickering between not just the coaches, but also the fighters. Rashad’s fighters dominated Jackson’s throughout the entire competition, including posting a 7-1 mark in the first round of the competition. Evans completely out-coached Jackson and then when the coach’s bout came up at UFC 114, Evans out-classed Jackson inside the octagon. Evans’ accomplishments are also most notable for having the highest ratings in the history of The Ultimate Fighter. Although the inclusion of internet sensation Kimbo Slice was definitely a major factor, the grudge between coaches was an important factor that helped the show gather a peak viewership of 7.25 million.
#1 – Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell
Record as a Coach: 12-6 (although the format for TUF 1 was different than following seasons)
Record in Coach’s Bouts: 1-1 (Victory over Randy Couture, Loss to Rich Franklin)
Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell is not only one of the most popular fighters in the history of the UFC, perhaps even the most popular, but he was also one of the most successful coaches in the history of the show. Coaching the original season of the show opposite Randy Couture, Liddell’s team was extremely successful. The format of the show was significantly different to following versions, mainly because of the inclusion of team challenges, which eliminated fighters before they even fought. However, Liddell’s team excelled at challenges, winning nearly all of the team competitions for the season and eliminating many of Couture’s fighters before they even fought inside the octagon. When it came down to the finals of the show, Liddell’s fighters dominated as both Griffin and Sanchez won their respective divisions under Liddell’s tutelage. In the coach’s bout after the show, Liddell knocked out Couture to win the UFC Light Heavyweight title.
During his second coaching gig opposite Tito Ortiz, Liddell once again found his fighters dominating. An injury to Tito eventually led to an opponent switch, which opened the door for Rich Franklin to step in and take a bout against Liddell at UFC 115. Despite coaching another fighter to victory on this season of the show (Court McGee), Liddell was on the wrong end of a knockout in this coach’s bout, as Franklin flattened Liddell in the first round and sent the Iceman into retirement.
Despite his loss in his final coaches bout, Liddell remains a successful coach from the show and is responsible for launching the careers of several big names who are still in the UFC today. Names like Forrest Griffin, Diego Sanchez, Josh Koscheck, Kenny Florian, Court McGee, Brad Tavares and Kyle Noke.
A long time ago Eric approached me with the idea of writing a blog about “The decline of Lyoto Machida.” I was instantly intrigued, but thought that we might be of two different minds on the subject. With his recent victory over Ryan Bader and his upcoming title shot, I thought it might be worthy of discussion.
My original idea was to talk about what happened to the Era of the Dragon reigning with terror over the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division. Many people were so drawn in by his style and his seeming invincibility that he was heralded as an undefeatable champion after signature wins over Thiago Silva and Rashad Evans. Both wins were massive for Machida. They were both nasty knockouts over top competitors, and the second one over Evans actually earned him the UFC Light Heavyweight title. What has happened since? He’s gone 3-3, earning a close decision over Mauricio Rua, before dropping the title to him in the rematch and getting knocked out cold for his trouble. He also dropped a controversial decision to Rampage Jackson and was choked out cold by newly minted undefeatable champion Jon “Bones” Jones. The wins were far less impressive, the previously noted close decision victory of Shogun, a highlight knockout over the aging and retiring Randy Couture at UFC 129 and the recent victory this weekend over Ryan Bader.
However, what started with a mere look into what’s happened to the Era of the Dragon, I decided to watch every single one of The Dragon’s UFC bouts thus far. What will follow is going to be a breakdown of each fight, some thoughts on the outcomes and general musings about what kind of impact it’s had on his career. Obviously, most of you will be more concerned about his more recent bouts, so I will focus much of my effort on his most recent events, but bear with me through the whole thing. I’ll also be offering a bit of technical insight into Machida’s style and it will be one of the focal points, as we take a look at how The Dragon has evolved as a fighter inside the UFC’s octagon.
UFC 67: All or Nothing (February 3, 2007) – Lyoto Machida defeats Sam Hoger via Unanimous Decision
This is Lyoto’s UFC debut fight. It’s extremely difficult to find footage of this bout as it took place on the Preliminary portion of the card. However, this was the first introduction for most people to the style of Lyoto Machida. He plays his usual style to a tee here. He looks unquestionably nervous at first, but settles in as the bout wears on. The main story of this entire bout is the lazy and sloppy striking of Hoger and how much Machida makes him pay for it. He nearly finished Hoger with an impressive couple of knees from the clinch, but Hoger survived to the final bell. Basically, not much to glean from this fight besides it being the novelty of Machida’s first bout in the UFC.
UFC 70: Nations Collide (April 21, 2007) – Lyoto Machida defeats David Heath via Unanimous Decision
This is actually somewhat notable because Machida was originally scheduled to take on Forrest Griffin at this card, which would have been a significant step up in competition immediately, and might have actually launched his career a little sooner. Instead Griffin got a nasty staph infection and was replaced by Heath. The fight was rather un-interesting until the last round of the bout. Knowing he was down two rounds to none, Heath threw caution to the win and charged Machida and he paid dearly for it. Machida nailed some knees in the clinch and pounced on his hurt opponent, but couldn’t earn a finish. This bout was actually removed from the Spike-TV Tape-Delayed broadcast, because it was deemed too boring, and was yet another blow in Machida’s introduction to US fans.
This was considered a bit of a step-down for Machida as he was coming off of a dominant win over the previously undefeated David Heath, but Nakamura was a talented Japanese fighter with big fight experience. Machida came out noticeable more aggressive in the first round, going after the Japanese judoka. Machida actually showed off how dangerous his grappling was in this bout as he handled the black belt level Judoka on the mat with ease. This bout was featured on the Main Card and was probably the first real introduction that fans had to Machida, if they had not seen him fight live.
Sokoudjou entered the UFC with a whirlwind of hype. He was coming off of massive knockout upsets over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona, both in Pride and besting both men in under two minutes. Machida absolutely dominated Sokoudjou, showing some slick striking and then once again showing his impressive grappling skills. This also marks Machida’s first finish in the UFC and was extremely impressive as he submitted another top-level Judo fighter in the second round via Arm Triangle Choke.
UFC 84: Ill Will (May 24, 2008) – Lyoto Machida defeats Tito Ortiz via Unanimous Decision
Widely considered to be Machida’s toughest test to date, Ortiz was definitely the biggest name that The Dragon had ever faced. It was also Machida’s first bout against a wrestler and many wondered how he would fare. The bout was about as one-sided as it gets, with Ortiz’s only real offense being a Hail-Mary triangle choke at the end of the third round that stunned Machida. This is one of the most important bouts in Machida’s career as it really began the Era of the Dragon and made people realize just how impressive his ‘elusive’ style was. Ortiz was the biggest name he’s faced to date and Machida walked through him. His wide karate stance allowed him to shrug off nearly every takedown attempt that Ortiz threw at him, and we continued to see just how effective Machida is at fighting at a distance.
UFC 94: St. Pierre vs. Penn2 (January 31, 2009) – Lyoto Machida defeats Thiago Silva via KO
The true arrival of the Era of the Dragon. Machida took on the then-undefeated Brazilian Thiago Silva. Before the fight Machida had talked about training strength and conditioning for the first time in his career and using weight training in his pre-fight regimen and the results speak for themselves. Machida used the same countering and elusive style that he had in the past, but against a significantly more aggressive opponent. Silva constantly moved forward, but was always met with punishment for his mistakes. After scoring two knockdowns in the first round, there was only five seconds remaining in the round when Silva shot for a takedown out of desperation. Machida was able to stuff the shot and trip Silva to his back, before landing a huge right hand from standing position that knocked Silva out cold and announced to the world that Machida could put on exciting performances. The win is also notable as it earned Machida a UFC Light Heavyweight title shot.
UFC 98: Evans vs. Machida (May 23, 2009) – Lyoto Machida defeats Rashad Evans via KO
This is quite possibly the masterpiece of Machida’s career to date. Evans was by far the most decorated wrestler that Machida had ever faced and was a talented and speedy striker in his own right. Many fans wondered what would happen when Machida faced someone who wasn’t afraid to trade leather with him but could also take him down if needed. The results speak for themselves, as Machida fought a perfect fight. He allowed Evans to basically beat himself. Machida out-landed Evans in Significant Strikes 28-4.
I’ll dive into a bit of technical analysis for this bout, as it really is one of the best examples of why Machida’s style causes so many fighters fits. Machida traditionally fights from the Southpaw stance, Evans fights from an Orthodox stance, this allowed Machida to keep a lot of distance between the two men at all times. What this also does is allows Machida tons of time to react to any potential takedown attempts by Evans, although he really doesn’t attempt any in this bout. Re-watch the fight and notice the distance between the back legs of both fighters, it’s an integral part of Machida’s fight strategy.
This is also notable for Greg Jackson’s game plan of back-pedaling vs. Machida = win strategy. Machida is by nature a counter-striker and Jackson and company thought that by engaging less against Machida they would be able to turn the tide in their favor. Instead what they got was Evans not engaging actively and Machida being able to land shots un-punished leading to the worst beat down of Evans’ career.
UFC 104: Machida vs. Shogun (October 24, 2009) – Lyoto Machida defeats Mauricio Rua via Unanimous Decision
This was an extremely close and highly controversial decision. It was also a highly entertaining bout between two of the best in the sport. Machida won the bout 48-47 on all three judge’s cards. Machida was able to win the first few rounds, while Shogun was able to capitalize on his stronger cardio and outwork Machida in the final rounds. This bout was highly controversial and many fans though that Shogun should have won the fight. I actually scored the bout for Machida, 48-47 with Machida winning the first three rounds and Shogun the final two. For those who disagree or are hating on that, re-watch the fight with no Commentary and you may see the fight more objectively. The other area of controversy is that Fight Metric had Shogun out-landing Machida in every round.
Let’s talk about some of the things that Shogun did to solve the puzzle that is Machida. First of all, Shogun was far more aggressive than really any of his previous opponents have been. Shogun has an absolutely insane chin, which allows him to be a bit more reckless than most opponents are able to against Machida. In rounds where neither fighter lands any significant offense the fighter moving forward is often rewarded for being the aggressor, Rua took advantage of this. Shogun was also willing to fight from the clinch and work for takedowns to score points. While Machida rarely shoots for traditional takedowns, he does at times look for trips and takedowns from the clinch.
One thing that also led to Machida struggling in this bout is that Shogun looked incredibly quick. Machida’s game relies heavily on timing and being quicker to the punch than his opponent. In fact this is an important part of the karate style of fighting. The basic idea of karate is to react at the same time as your opponent and land before he does. Shogun entered this bout in significantly better physical shape than his previous UFC bouts and it showed, as Machida looked surprised when dealing with the quickness of Shogun. However, he was able to stay composed and was able to control the range of the fight throughout the first rounds of the bout.
UFC 113: Machida vs. Shogun 2 (May 8, 2010) – Mauricio Rua defeats Lyoto Machida via Knockout
Rua basically goes with the same strategy as he did in the first bout, constantly moving forward with kicks. It’s in this bout that Shogun exposes what is quite possibly Machida’s biggest weakness and that is basically his refusal to keep his hands up and protect his own chin. As men more intelligent than I am have pointed out in the past, this is a direct result of his karate background. In point-contact karate fighters score points when they strike and then return their hands to their waist position, which explains why Machida does it frequently.
After a back and forth first few minutes, which featured a nice takedown by Machida and an excellent sweep and return to feet for Shogun, Machida forgets that he is best fighting at range and gets in close with Shogun. Instead of covering up in close, Machida tries to brawl with one of the best wild punchers in the game. After throwing a knee, Machida moves out with his hands down and allows Shogun to tag him with a massive overhand right hook.
It’s hard to glean anything significant from this bout, except for the major mistake Machida constantly makes. Keeping his hands down as he moves out. The other thing that can be gleaned from this pair of fights with Shogun is that crowding Machida is an effective strategy if you’re willing to stick to it and constantly pressure Machida. Getting in close and not being active is a sure-fire way to get pummeled, but if you can focus on keeping him busy, crowding him in close can certainly be effective.
Despite Shogun’s success against Machida in their pair of bouts. A close loss, which many felt he won and a decisive knockout victory, I would heavily favor Machida in a rematch, especially after seeing their performances at UFC on Fox on Saturday night. Shogun looked slow and sloppy in their bout, while Machida looked razor sharp and focused.
UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida (November 20, 2010) – Quinton Jackson defeats Lyoto Machida via Split Decision
The end of an era? Many people consider this to be the spot where The Era of the Dragon died, however, it’s tough to say that in a bout that was so close and so controversial. Basically, the scoring in this bout came down to the first round, as Jackson cleanly won the second and Machida decisively won the third. In my opinion this one went the wrong way, but the first round was action light so it’s forgivable. In the first round Machida definitely looks slightly gun-shy and tentative, and doesn’t want anything to do with the power punches of Rampage.
In the second round Rampage once again calms out stalking Machida. Jackson works the bout to the cage and uses his significant size and strength advantage to control the bout against the fence. This is seen by some as another weakness of Machida, as he is small for a Light Heavyweight, cuts little weight to make 205 pounds and is physically unassuming compared to most of the much larger men who fight at 205. In the third round Machida takes over. After a flurry of punches from both men, Machida works the bout to the mat and controls Jackson, nearly securing an arm bar submission and working from mount for much of the round. After the bout even Rampage admits that he thought he lost the bout.
UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields (April 30, 2011) – Lyoto Machida defeats Randy Couture via KO
The Return of the Dragon. After struggling through back-to-back losses Machida faced Captain America himself. There’s not much to take from this bout as it lasted barely over a minute. Many people thought that Randy might be able to dominate the fight, by getting inside and using his dirty boxing to punish Machida. He never got the chance as Machida used a highlight reel Jumping Switch Kick to end the fight and Randy’s career. This was a huge win for Machida as it re-energized fans to see Machida fight, reminded them how dangerous he could be, and actually catapulted him into a title bout against Jon Jones.
UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida (December 10, 2011) – Jon Jones defeats Lyoto Machida via Submission
In Jones, Machida fought a fighter like none other he had ever faced. A quick and talented striker, with a massive reach and a strong wrestling base. Machida was able to find success in the first round and actually looked like a legitimate threat to Jones and won the first round on many people’s scorecards. It remains a moot point, since in the second round Jones took over the bout and worked over Machida before landing a big left hand and then choked him out cold with a standing Guillotine.
Let’s take a look at some of the things that made Jones so successful against Machida. The first is definitely range and reach. Jones has an 84-inch reach, which is insane for the 205-pound class. This huge reach allows him to fight on the outside as well as anyone. Machida does best from the outside, but he uses that by stepping in when his opponents commit and punishing them before darting back to the outside. Against Jones who has a huge reach and is an accurate striker with the ability to use leg kicks, that major strength is negated.
Another thing that Jones did well was his ability to switch stances. Like I mentioned earlier Machida is a Southpaw striker who feasts on orthodox strikers, because of the distance between the rear legs of the two fighters. When Jones turned southpaw himself, he severely closed that distance and allowed himself instead of Machida to control the distance that the fight took place at.
Jones was also able to ‘out-Dragon’ed the Dragon.’ What I mean by this is that he made excellent use of feints and fakes to counter Machida. Lyoto does some of his best work when his opponents over-commit to strikes and leave themselves open to counters. After two solid rounds of throwing leg kicks, Jones was able to fake a kick and throw a right hand that crushed Machida as he was trying to counter the kick. He caught Machida coming in wildly and that right hand was what set up the eventual submission victory.
UFC on FOX 4: Shogun vs. Vera (August 4, 2012) – Lyoto Machida defeats Ryan Bader via TKO
This one should be fresh in everyone’s minds. Machida put on a striking clinic on Saturday night, absolutely battering Ryan Bader for two rounds, before finally finishing him midway through the second round. We’ve seen the types of fighters that have the most success against Machida. Quick, accurate and talented strikers who can crowd Machida successfully and work inside. Bader is neither quick, nor accurate and besides having a powerful overhand right, is not a talented striker. Bader was unable to close the distance against Machida, and basically was made a fool of.
Throughout the first round and a half Machida controlled the distance against Bader, used leg kicks and excellent defense to control the bout and avoid taking nearly any damage. As Bader began to get more frustrated, it created more and more openings for Machida to score points. Finally midway through the second round, Bader charged forward behind a jab and a right hand. Machida is able to simply step back out of the way of the jab, before delivering the crushing right hand that ends Bader’s night instantly.
Moving onto the future, what lies ahead for Machida is another crack at Jon Jones, should Jones get by Dan Henderson at their upcoming bout at UFC 151, which will likely be no easy task for the champ.
Machida proved that he is as dangerous as they come on Saturday night and it was somewhat of a return to form for Machida. However, we’ve always known that Bader is the exact type of fighter that The Dragon feasts on; a wrestler with sloppy footwork and unimpressive striking. The question will be how does he deal with a strong wrestler, with capable footwork and impressive game planning.
Be it Jones or Henderson, the only major differences might be a thunderous right hand, or the reach of a giant.