Morning Report: Chris Weidman nearly signed with Bellator before last-second contract controversy

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Chris Weidman is slated to challenge for Anderson Silva's title at UFC 162. It's a stunning accomplishment for a fighter who picked up the game less than five years ago. But in an alternate universe, one without his uncle's caution, things could've gone quite differently.

According to a new report from the New York Post, Weidman nearly signed a multi-fight contract with fledgling Bellator Fighting Championships back in 2010. Actually, "nearly" is an understatement.

Back then Weidman was just a 26-year-old "broke as a joke" prospect hoping to make enough coin to pay his bills, and Bellator had the best offer. As the story goes, Weidman had the contract in hand, ready to sign, with a dinner reservation for his family at Bryant & Cooper Steakhouse booked to celebrate. It was a happy moment; vindication for a risky decision. But fate works in strange ways.

Weidman's uncle is a lawyer, who at the last second asked to peruse the document one last time, just in case he missed anything. And that's when he saw it.

According to Weidman, Bellator officials promised the contract would be a two-year deal. What Weidman's uncle discovered, however, was a tucked away clause that potentially extended the contract's life to anywhere from three to four years, depending on certain circumstances.

"I felt like I was betrayed by them," Weidman said to the New York Post. ... "They never told me that. It was a little sneaky."

"I was so upset. I was so let down. I was excited to go to Bellator."

You already know how the rest of this story goes. Weidman spurned Bellator's offer, and soon after made his UFC debut as a late replacement for the injured Rafael Natal. Had Weidman put pen to paper, he likely could've found himself stuck in a similar situation as Eddie Alvarez, struggling to break away from Bellator's legal grasp as their middleweight champion.

"Everything happens for a reason," Weidman concluded. "Thank God I took my time and didn't just rush into it."

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8 MUST-READ STORIES

Weidman recounts Bellator experience. According to a report from the New York Post, UFC middleweight contender Chris Weidman nearly signed a longterm deal with Bellator in 2010 before a last-second contract dispute sunk the deal.

Barnett signs. After months of contract negotiations, top-10 heavyweight Josh Barnett inked a multi-fight contract with the UFC. USA Today first reported the news.

Mousasi wants Belfort at 185. Gegard Mousasi is currently rehabbing his injured knee, but when he returns, the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion wants to fight Vitor Belfort or another top-3 contender at middleweight.

Bad to worse for Atchley. A day after WMMA pioneer Tara LaRosa accused Addison Sports Management president Brett Atchley of gross misconduct, the floodgates broke open as a slew of female fighters backed LaRosa's claims.

Bellator bookings. Undefeated Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren is expected to defend his title against season seven tournament winner Andrey Koreshkov in the main event of Bellator 97. Season eight welterweight tournament finalists Douglas Lima and Ben Saunders are also scheduled to battle on the night's main card.

Hall leaves Tiger Schulmann's. TUF 17 prospect Uriah Hall relocated from Tiger Schulmann's fight gym to Mark Munoz's Reign MMA in Orange County, California.

Barao officially out, Nelson in. UFC interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao officially withdrew from his upcoming title defense against Eddie Wineland at UFC 161 due to torn ligaments in his foot. As such, UFC officials upgraded Dan Henderson vs. Rashad Evans to the main event, plus booked a heavyweight bout between Roy Nelson and Stipe Miocic for the pay-per-view card.

Rosenthal update. The sentencing date of MMA referee Josh Rosenthal has been shifted to July 2, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. in Oakland, California. Rosenthal pled guilty to federal drug trafficking charges in January after agents discovered over 1300 marijuana plants valued at $6 million during a raid of a facility co-owned by Rosenthal.

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MEDIA STEW

Choking out your girlfriend one second, proposing to her the next. Welcome to the romantic side of MMA.

(HT: BigLeadSports)

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Three quick takeaways from Dana's latest vlog: 1.) I don't know why, but Chael's little somersault at 5:10 surprised the hell out of me, 2.) Dana and Joe Silva's collective 'just saw a car crash' expression as they first noticed Jones' toe is classic, and, 3.) Michael Bisping, man of the people: "Let's get the f--k out of here, I'm getting f--king drunk."

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The latest from Metamoris 2:

Props to New York Ric, who couldn't be more excited for Metamoris 2 if he tried.

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Even with a handful of title defenses under his belt, Benson Henderson can't escape the Showtime Kick.

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You just knew the Gracie brothers wouldn't be able to stay away from Jacare's slick UFC debut.

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Fightland's latest profile subject: Ottavia Bourdain, wife of the Travel Channel's Anthony Bourdain.

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THREE DAYS LATER

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WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE

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BUMMER

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JUST CAN'T SHAKE IT

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WELL...

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WINNER

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced yesterday (Tuesday, May 21, 2013):

  • UFC 161: Renan Barao (30-1) out with injury opposite Eddie Wineland (20-8-1)
  • UFC 161: Rashad Evans (17-3-1) vs. Dan Henderson (29-9) upgraded to three-round main event
  • UFC 161: Stipe Miocic (9-1) vs. Soa Palelei (18-3) cancelled
  • UFC 161: Roy Nelson (19-7) vs. Stipe Miocic (9-1) booked for main card
  • Bellator 97: Ben Askren (11-0) vs. Andrey Koreshkov (13-0) booked for main event
  • Bellator 97: Douglas Lima (24-5) vs. Ben Saunders (16-5-2)
  • Bellator 97: Patricio "Pitbull" Freire (17-2) vs. Rob Emerson (12-10)

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day is a cynical look at the future from devin.wilbourn: Why MMA will one day be boring...

As I've watched MMA over the years I've often wondered where this is all headed. What I mean is that as people get better and better at fighting eventually everyone who competes in MMA (at the pro level anyway) will be high caliber athletes, have a strong foundation in the basics (striking, jujitsu, wrestling etc...), and since we have weight classes will all be similar in weight, especially as fighters become more intelligent about weight cutting. The truth of the matter is I think MMA today is as good as it's ever going to get because the disparities in skill, athleticism and size are what really make fights interesting.

Now I'm sure you may feel compelled to argue that styles make match ups and there will always be styles but I'm not so sure. I would propose that styles just make up the current MMA landscape and culture. Styles however don't win fights, just when you're matched against someone who has a style that is susceptible to yours. What wins fights consistently however is athleticism, discipline, mastery of the game (point fighting included) and game planning. In the short term people will try to emulate fighters like Anderson Silva because he's fun to watch and exciting, but in the long term they will emulate fighters like GSP and Benson Henderson because they aren't fighting with a style, but a quantifiable combination of MMA mastery, peak athleticism, and solid game planning that can be observed and replicated. Bottom line, fighters will eventually care less about fight culture, and more about winning like any other professional athlete, and that will lead them to do what it takes to win consistently, which means mitigating risk, which ultimately means a less exciting fight.

Today however, we are in the unique place in a sport where people are skilled enough to enjoy watching, but there's still enough disparity to make it interesting. We see it with fight's like Anderson Silva and Chris Leban, whereas fights like say Michael Bisping and Alan Belcher are probably more indicative of how most fights will be in the future. Someone only carrying a slight edge over his opponent as both fighters have the tools and athleticism to nullify their opponents attacks, but won't be foolish enough to risk their position. I see it as similar to olympic sprinting, there comes a point where other than a freak athlete like Usain Bolt, everyone is on a fairly level playing field so the race is always very tight. While this is fine in racing, unfortunately fighting just ends up being like nascar, 3 rounds of circling with everyone watching in hopes that someone makes a mistake. I hope I'm wrong about this, I hope there are always freak athletes, and the game has enough possibilities to constantly be evolving and interesting, but I fear this just isn't possible.

I don't think we'll see this evolution for a few more years as the sport is still young, but if you find yourself complaining about the Anderson Silva's and Jon Jones' of the world and long for more title changes, you should bear in mind that the Benson Hendersons and GSP's are the future of the sport because not everyone can be a freak athlete like Jones or a tactical artist like silva. Those fighters are going to be few and far between, and even the ones that do rise will not have the dominance of Silva and Jones because their competition will be GSP's and Benson Henderson's. So enjoy MMA now, at least professional MMA anyway because a day is coming that you will have to have a more refined palate to appreciate the skill on display, much like you do now to enjoy a GSP fight. Yes you'll be able to see the brash unfettered MMA of old in regional circuits, but with it will come a total lack of anything spectacular and a whole lot of two guys who clearly don't know what they're doing. So I say again, enjoy it now, because the next 5 years will probably be the best it will ever be.

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.

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