Yesterday, among the top headlines in this space, we featured a story in which UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos criticized recent decisions made by the UFC to award Alistair Overeem and Chael Sonnen immediate title shots upon their return/arrival to their respective divisions. Dos Santos, of course, has a long and tumultuous history with Overeem, and to put things lightly, the two simply don't get along.
However, dos Santos' shot at matchmakers apparently caught the attention of UFC President Dana White, as White quickly took to The Underground to offer the other side of the story.
"Just an fyi, JDS begged me for the Reem fight," White posted. "Said he respects Cain [Velasquez] very much and thinks he deserves the shot but would like to KO Reem first [because] he hates him. Word for word what he said."
Only in mixed martial arts will the figurehead of the top professional league refute the claims of one of his top athletes on an online message board.
Regardless, it's easy to believe White's words. Thus far Overeem has done an exceptional job getting under the skin of the generally mild-mannered dos Santos. In fact, Overeem must've taken trolling lessons from Chael Sonnen, because he isn't even picking dos Santos to win his title defense against Velasquez later this year.
"I think Cain is going to do good in his next fight," Overeem mused to MMA Interviews. "I think he's going to get the belt. I thought so the first time, and then he lost the belt. But I think this time could be different. So, I will not be fighting dos Santos for the belt, but [instead] Cain."
Oh, MMA. Sometime it really is a soap opera, except one where people try to give each other brain damage and snap each other's limbs at the end of the show.
6 MUST-READ STORIES
Dos Santos begged White for Overeem. Posting on The Underground, UFC President Dana White revealed that heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos "begged" him to book a fight against Alistair Overeem instead of Cain Velasquez, solely because the normally mild-mannered dos Santos "hates" Overeem. Notably, Overeem recently said that despite the rivalry, he expects to fight Velasquez -- not dos Santos -- for the UFC title when he returns to action in 2013.
Blatnick passes away. Former UFC commentator, Olympic gold medalist and MMA pioneer Jeff Blatnick tragically passed away at the age of 55 due to complications related to heart surgery. Among his many contributions to the sport, Blatnick was the man who coined the term "Mixed Martial Arts" as a more viable name than its prior title, "No Holds Barred."
Lesnar never coming back. After recently contemplating a return to mixed martial arts, former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar acknowledged that his body could no longer withstand the sport and he was done for good, according to UFC President Dana White. White also hinted that he gave it one last shot to book a Lesnar vs. Fedor superfight, though it ultimately fell through.
Aldo-Edgar rumblings. UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo's title defense against Frankie Edgar could potentially be rescheduled for January 2013 in Brazil, where it would headline UFC 156, according to a report from Brazilian outlet Clicrbs.
Cane released. Former light heavyweight turned middleweight Luiz "Banha" Cane was released from the UFC after losing four of his last five contests, capped by a unanimous decision loss to Chris Camozzi at UFC 153.
DREAM not dead. Japanese promotion DREAM, long thought to be dead, has arisen to join forces with GLORY and stage their traditional New Year's Eve blowout in Japan's Saitama Super Arena. Several bouts are expected to be announced at today's press conference.
Zombie Prophet has done us the service of compiling this tribute playlist dedicated to the late Jeff Blatnick. If you can, take a moment to relive memories from Blatnick's life, from his days as an Olympic medalist and his experiences as a cancer survivor, to his role as a UFC commentator and a pioneer for MMA rules and judging.
There's no easy transition here, so instead just enjoy Brandon Vera's cameo in the
worst best commercial the world has ever seen.
For some reason I have a sneaking suspicion that doctor wasn't actually a real doctor...
This is the kind of stuff we need to see on FUEL TV. Something different than the usual newsy fanfare and something that shows off these guys' personalities. (International geo-blocked users, this should help.)
Part 2 of Fighter Trivia: Where Dominick Cruz apparently isn't the biggest Twilight fan out there, and Michael Bisping is well-versed on Dora the Explorer terminology.
Very upsetting hearing Jeff Blatnick has Passed away. Met him at Renzo's in late 90's & always been a pleasure whenever ran into him. RIP.— Matt Serra (@MattSerraUFC) October 24, 2012
RIP Jeff Blatnick— Dana White (@danawhite) October 24, 2012
Rip Jeff Blatnick. One of the judges in my first fight. Great judge. Sad day.— Tom DeBlass (@TomDeBlass) October 24, 2012
RIP #Legendary Wrestler and MMA Athlete Jeff Blatnick.The MMA and Wrestling Community looses a true warrior and legend RIP.— Shane Carwin (@ShaneCarwin) October 24, 2012
Wow. R.I.P. to Jeff Blatnick =(— Tom Lawlor (@FilthyTomLawlor) October 24, 2012
Rest in peace Jeff Blatnick, wrestling badass, pioneering MMA spirit, generally good judge and awesome dude.— LIZ CARMOUCHE (@iamgirlrilla) October 24, 2012
RIP Jeff Blatnick. Olympic champ, coined the term MMA, Fight lover/supporter, good guy . Glad to have known you man. bit.ly/Rknqv9— Josh Barnett (@JoshLBarnett) October 24, 2012
AIN'T NO CALLOUT LIKE A KOS CALLOUT
Doesn't look like #UFC has a fight 4me until 2113. So ill just train & get better...— Josh Koscheck (@JoshKoscheck) October 23, 2012
Haha 2013 lol But I'd like to fight Nick D, Damien Mia, Jake E, Roy M any of those guys will do it...— Josh Koscheck (@JoshKoscheck) October 23, 2012
CAN'T STOP, WON'T STOP
Ya know @rampage4real, I was wrong about your acting ability. Calling me out was your best performance yet.— chael sonnen (@sonnench) October 24, 2012
Inside the cage I will be the best Rampage you've ever seen. Out side the cage I'm going to be the best Quinton Jackson you've ever seen.— Quinton Jackson (@Rampage4real) October 24, 2012
Met the coolest kid at best buy today instagr.am/p/RI_Zf1P_Pe/— Quinton Jackson (@Rampage4real) October 23, 2012
Jorge Gurgel (@JorgeGurgel) October 24, 2012
Announced yesterday (Wednesday, October 24, 2012):
- UFC: Rashad Evans (17-2-1) vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (20-5) targeted for Super Bowl weekend
- UFC 155: Michael Johnson (12-6) vs. Myles Jury (10-0)
- UFC on FOX 5: Rafaello Oliveira (15-5) out with injury, Marcus LeVesseur (22-6) in against Michael Chiesa (8-0)
- WSOF 1: Tyrone Spong (0-0) vs. Travis Bartlett (7-2) promoted to main card
FANPOST OF THE DAY
Today's Fanpost of the Day is a stark dose of reality, courtesy of Steve Borchardt: Tomorrow Never Knows: Life After the UFC
It's been said that every ending is a new beginning. We often pull this phrase out of our platitudinal repertoire when trying to comfort a friend who has gone through a bad breakup or to provide ourselves with a boost of optimism after losing a job. The simple kernel of truth that makes this cliche resonate with us is this: even though adjusting to unwanted change is usually hard, life inevitably goes marching on with every passing day. What's not so certain, however, is whether or not tomorrow will be as good as yesterday. This is especially true in the case of professional mixed martial artists after their UFC tenure comes to an end.
Generally speaking there are two paths out of the UFC. The first, and most common, comes when someone is cut after a string of losses. Sometimes this follows the traditional "three and out" pattern where a three fight skid is rewarded with a pink slip. Other times fighters are shown the door after a single loss, particularly following a dull performance that rankles the ire of management (call this "The Gerald Harris Syndrome" if you will). It's a tough situation. There's no clear cut protocol a fighter can follow in order to avoid getting the axe other than winning his every fight and doing so in an exciting manner. The bitter irony, of course, is these two job requirements can often be mutually exclusive to one another.
The second, and far less frequent, way a fighter typically leaves the UFC is through retirement. This can come under a variety of circumstances. Maybe a fighter reaches the age where his body starts to slow down and, despite his wealth of experience, he can no longer remain competitive against the younger generation. Perhaps he's like Kenny Floridan and he suffers a debilitating injury that renders him physically unable endure the grind of training. Then there are those sluggers in the Chuck Liddell mold who have had their ticket punched one too many times and are simply unable to take anymore punches. Far too rare are the Chris Lytle types who not only walk away from the UFC on their own terms, but who also have a well thought out exit strategy that includes a plan for life after fighting.
A comparatively earlier retirement than most professions is a reality every athlete faces but it still doesn't make it any easier to deal with. For an icon of the sport like Tito Ortiz retirement brings with it the challenge of adjusting to life away from the profession that in large part defined him for most of his adult life. While this may be a difficult transition for aging stars like Ortiz, Lidell, Randy Couture, and Matt Hughes to face, at least they do so secure in the knowledge they made enough money to never need to work again. It's a luxury most fighters don't have.
A couple weeks back UFC lightweight Shane Roller announced his retirement following his fourth loss in his past six fights. It's important to note here that "retirement" for Roller doesn't connote the life of leisure spent pursuing one's hobbies that we usually associate with the word. He simply hasn't made enough money as a mixed martial artist to spend the rest of his afternoons playing golf and his nights watching TV Land reruns. Like the majority of mid to lower level UFC fighters who find their tenure with the company at an end, he's going to have to go out and get a job. Roller has a masters degree in health and human performance so he will likely be able to find work in that field, but what about all the fighters who didn't go to college? What career opportunities are out there for a man in his mid to late thirties with a broken down body and little job experience outside of beating people up for a living?
Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.