By all accounts, yesterday was a pretty strange day. The winding saga of Alexander Gustafsson reached a thoroughly anticlimactic conclusion, when Gegard Mousasi ended up being a historic four-digit favorite over an Albanian guy you probably never heard of until his name was announced. Plus, Nick Diaz retired.
Well, kind of. I guess. I mean, you know how it goes.
According to a report from MMAFighting.com's Ariel Helwani on UFC Tonight, Diaz's legal representative, Jonathan Tweedale, confirmed that Stockton's favorite son is indeed dead set on hanging up his gloves for good unless one of two things happens: Either, A.) He gets his rematch against UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, who just dismantled him, or B.) He somehow winds up fighting UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Considering that both of those options are immense long shots, it looks like the UFC is going to have to call Diaz on his bluff. But who didn't see that one coming?
Now come on, let's try to make sense of everything else that happened yesterday with some headlines.
5 MUST-READ STORIES
Gustafsson out, Latifi in. After suffering a cut that reportedly required three stitches, light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson was ruled medically unfit to fight Gegard Mousasi at UFC on FUEL 9 by the Swedish MMA Federation. Gustafsson's training partner, Ilir Latifi, was ultimately selected as a late-replacement. Not surprisingly, Mousasi opened as a historic four-digit favorite over the unheralded Albanian.
Silva pulls April Fools joke. Remember when Wanderlei Silva tweeted that he packed his bags to fly to Sweden and fight Gegard Mousasi, and we all didn't know whether to take him seriously because it was April Fools Day? Well, Wand got us. Hilarious.
Cruz not rushing return. Sidelined UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz offered a status update on his knee rehab to Sherdog. "I'm not gonna let media or anybody else push me on a date," a frustrated Cruz said. "'Give us a date. That's all we want. We want a date, Dominick. Give us a date to look at!' I can't. I want a date. I don't have one. I'm listening to my doctors because if I don't do that, I get hurt again. The focus is 'pull the reigns down', pull the reigns on myself. ... I'm coming back. I'm working hard. No date yet but I'll give it out when I have it. I promise."
TUF 17 results. No spoilers here. Looks like someone at Hulu was sleeping on the job because last night's quarterfinal episode of The Ultimate Fighter 17 hasn't been uploaded yet, but if you want, you can find out the two winners by checking out this recap.
Barnett waiting for 'right deal.' Top heavyweight Josh Barnett explained his continued free agency to Bleacher Report. "For me, it's more about getting the right kind of deal done," Barnett said. "Because if I'm not fighting, I'm okay. I can do other stuff. I've got other things to do. ... It's not like I'm just going to drop off and all of a sudden have to get ready for a fight. What secures your future is what's on paper. That's all I can really count on. The time that it takes to get that correct is the time it's going to take."
Who is Ilir Latifi? This guy.
Okay, but who is he really? Well, Latifi is 7-2, three submissions and two knockouts. He lost to Bellator light heavyweight tournament champion Emanuel Newton two years ago. He had this documentary made about him, and he is the proud star of this highlight reel.
Okay, this has absolutely nothing to do with MMA. But the folks at MiddleEasy brought it to our attention with this perfect line: "This stuff could've saved Gustaffson vs. Mousasi."
Yeah, yeah. Nunchaku and Stone Temple Pilots are great. But the real winner in this video is the blatant pipe on the counter. Don't ever change, Nick.
Oh Wanderlei, we can't stay mad at you.
YEP, SCREW APRIL FOOLS
I catch you wand the best April first ever!! But I would like this to be true!!! O melhor primeiro de… instagram.com/p/Xmr70Dkq4A/— Wanderlei Silva (@wandfc) April 2, 2013
DIDN'T SEE THAT ONE COMING
Mousasi will face Iliir Latifa this Saturday live on @fueltv Latifa is from Sweden and training partner of Gustafsson.— Dana White (@danawhite) April 2, 2013
TUF TALK (SPOILER ALERT)
SPOILER ALERT! TUF semifinalist Josh Samman is taking over this acct for the next half hour. Tweet him your questions with #TUFTalk— UFC (@ufc) April 3, 2013
@stephy_d09 Yes, as well as all other drugs.— UFC (@ufc) April 3, 2013
@sammantx Hardest part was trying to train & compete with injuries. Fighting 4 times in 6 weeks is ALOT Most don't fight that many in a year— UFC (@ufc) April 3, 2013
@jasonlandess It works! Future of G'n'P IMO— UFC (@ufc) April 3, 2013
AFTER URIAH (TUF SPOILER ALERT)
:) told u— Dana White (@danawhite) April 3, 2013
I been hearing repeatedly that this is the best season #TUF ever seen.. It's an honor to hear that, grateful to be apart of it... Cheers!— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) April 3, 2013
And I made weight and fought 4 times in 5 weeks. Ive never put myself through that kind of physical and mental stress via.me/-b1vnpp6— Bubba McDaniel (@BubbaTheMenace) April 3, 2013
Every woman who can make 135lbs & has atleast 1 pro win should be in Vegas April 15th trying out for #TUF18!! Show of hands?— Miesha Tate (@MieshaTate) April 1, 2013
WORTH A SHOT
I will fight Kuiper,do PBP,then fight Mousasi later on,then perform stitches on Gustaffson's cut & perform the drug tests if I must. @ufc— Tom Lawlor (@FilthyTomLawlor) April 2, 2013
24 - the show based around what happens when you mess with Chael Sonnen. Take notes Jonny #UFC159 #4/27/13— chael sonnen (@sonnench) April 2, 2013
23 - the number of veins that will throb through Joe Rogan's neck when he calls this fight #UFC159 #4/27/13— chael sonnen (@sonnench) April 3, 2013
Announced yesterday (Tuesday, April 2, 2013):
- UFC on FUEL 9: Alexander Gustafsson (15-1) out with facial laceration, Ilir Latifi (7-2, 1 NC) in against Gegard Mousasi (33-3-2)
FANPOST OF THE DAY
Today's Fanpost of the Day comes to us from dpk875, who takes a look at: Prospects and Initial Perception
The signing of the "Best Bantamweight in China" by UFC should be big news. By all accounts Tuerexun Jumabieke is a very good fighter, and should be able to hang right away with the bottom level of the UFC's BW division, while potentially developing into a UFC mainstay. China is a key market that UFC is targeting, so we know that he will be given every chance to succeed.
Inside though, I know that this fighter is coming from a country that has no track record of producing successful UFC fighters so why should I get too excited. It also got me thinking about how I view a prospect just based on the country he is from. Fair or not, just hearing what country a prospect is from puts an instant stereotype in my mind. I don't just judge the style of fighter, but the quality based on what reputation his home country has for producing MMA talent. I started listing the countries by Tiers that define them based on the general quality of their MMA prospects, and with some stereotypes next to the countries. I really want to know if I'm on track here and if other MMA fans views things the same way...
Tier 1 - Fighter's coming out of these countries have access to top flight camps, and solid regional fighting scenes. The vast majority of UFC and Bellator Champions and contenders are from the first tier.
Brazil (BJJ, Muay Thai), USA (Wrestling, well rounded)
Tier 2 - Fighters have access to good camps, but not always the most well rounded games. Some of their countrymen have found success at the highest levels, but the country as a whole has yet to flood the top 15.
Canada (If it was just WW's, they would be Tier 1), Great Britain (No Wrestling), Netherlands (Strikers), Japan (Judo), Korea (judo), Russia (Sambo), Sweden
Tier 3 - I'm not sold on the level overall level of training if fighters want to compete at the highest levels. There are not many fighters from these countries competing in UFC or Bellator and bringing the skills and training from elite level camps home.
Poland, Australia (No Wrestling), Philippines (145 and below), South Africa (Still learning), France, Singapore (Evolve), Croatia (Trains w/ Cro Cop)
Tier 4 - MMA is new, and there is no established track record of success in biggest promotions. When I hear about a prospect from these countries I need to see it before I believe any hype.
India (Super Fight League), Indonesia, China (Learning and growing), Italy, Egypt
There are or will be individual exceptions to each and every country on this list. I'm just trying to help it make sense when someone is quoted as saying "fighter XX is the best prospect in country Y," sometimes that really means something... other times, not so much.
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.