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Morning Report: Dana White says UFC safer than NFL; Daniel Cormier listed as historic favorite over Dion Staring

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Esther Lin

Peruse over the mixed martial arts betting board for the month of January, and something in particular might just catch your eye. But first let's work backward to get there.

The third biggest favorite of the month? It's good ol' Glover Teixeira. According to the folks over at, the streaking slugger is slightly less than a 3-to-1 favorite to defeat former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. Likewise, January's second biggest favorite goes to this weekend's headliner, Nate Marquardt. The new Strikeforce welterweight champ is favored to defend his belt by a healthy 3-to-1 margin over challenger Tarec Saffiedine.

Both of those lines, however, pale in comparison to what comes next. In the case of Daniel Cormier vs. Dion Staring -- former Olympian/top-3 heavyweight/grand prix champion vs. dude that looks like Guile -- Las Vegas is currently listing Cormier as a surreal 20-to-1 favorite to win. Yes, you read that right. For the betting uninitiated, that means you'd need to lay down a whopping $2,000 on Cormier just to see $100 of profit.

It's a stunning line, no doubt. By comparison, Jon Jones and Ronda Rousey are only 10-to-1 and 11-to-1 favorites in their respective upcoming bouts, and Anderson Silva opened as a mere 13-to-1 favorite over Stephan Bonnar.

Though as old-school fight fans may remember, a line this lopsided isn't exactly unprecedented. Back on February 24, 2007, at Pride 33, a little known judoka sporting a meager 2-1 record closed as a 25-to-1 underdog to one of the sport's most heralded boxers. 23 seconds later, the arms of Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou were outstretched in jubilant victory, and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira laid unconscious on the mat.

So to quote the immortal Gus Johnson, sometimes these things happen in MMA, no matter how far-fetched they may seem. Though it's probably best if we press onward to some headlines before you and your wallet get any reckless ideas.



Overeem receives license. The Nevada State Athletic Commission voted unanimously to grant Alistair Overeem his fighter's license at a hearing Tuesday morning in Las Vegas. According to NSAC's executive director Keith Kizer, Overeem passed five self-administered drug tests between June and December, as well as two commission-issued tests on November 16 and December 21. Overeem is now cleared to fight Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva at UFC 156 on February 2, 2013.

White talks concussions. Said UFC President Dana White on why mixed martial arts is safer than professional football: "If you get knocked out or you get hurt whatsoever in the UFC, three months suspension. You are on suspension for three months and you cannot come back until you are cleared by a doctor. You can't have any contact whatsoever. In the NFL, you're not going to lose Tom Brady for three months."

Daley secures fight. Bellator MMA has allowed Paul Daley to book a fight against Patrick Vallee at Cage Contenders 16 in Ireland on February 23, 2013, while the British slugger works through legal struggles that currently prevent him from traveling to the United States, according to a report from Fighters Only.

Marquardt willing to fight St-Pierre. Strikeforce welterweight champion Nate Marquardt is confident a return to the UFC is imminent despite his heavily-publicized falling out with Dana White in mid-2011. And when he does get there, "The Great" would be open to fighting his good friend, UFC champion Georges St-Pierre, in an eventual title unification bout.

UFC names 2012's 'Fighter of the Year.' The fighter of the year for 2012? It's UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, according to the folks at "Smooth" fought three times last year, twice edging Frankie Edgar before dismantling Nate Diaz at UFC on FOX 5.

Herman believes Shields was on PEDs. Zuffa middleweight Ed Herman is "pretty sure" Jake Shields was on performance enhancing drugs for the pair's UFC 150 bout, citing Shields' "puffed up" physique, among other signs. Shields initially defeated Herman via unanimous decision, however the win was eventually overturned and Shields was suspended six months after testing positive for an unspecified banned substance.



Feel free to check out Alistair Overeem's NSAC hearing, if you're into that sort of thing. Five internet points to whoever can make it through all 11 minutes without falling asleep.


This is about as endearing as it gets. From the favela to UFC featherweight champion, Jose Aldo gets all giggly as he shops for his first-ever suit after receiving the UFC belt.


What are Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida up to these days? Well, since you asked so nicely...

(HT: Bloody Elbow)


Today's Strikeforce Rewind: Fedor Emelianenko vs. Fabricio Werdum, aka the moment the MMA world collectively imploded on itself.


Nate Marquardt is the latest Strikeforce champion to receive the 'I Am a Fighter' treatment from Showtime.


Want to know if Cain Velasquez's popularity is growing in Mexico? Just check out the clip he tweeted below. Yes, this really is an autograph signing.


Flywin doesn't mess around. Cain Velasquez seizes back his title, and less than two weeks later this chill-inducing highlight is already uploaded for our viewing pleasure.















Announced yesterday (Tuesday, January 8, 2013):



Today's Fanpost of the Day comes courtesy of MikeWellman88, who dons his prognosticator hat for: Who Sinks & Who Swims When Strikeforce Closes Its Doors

This Saturday Strikeforce comes to its long overdue end as a mixed martial arts promotion. With its previous two scheduled events getting cancelled because of injuries (more so due to lack of star power on the cards themselves, but injuries being the direct reason), this is the 'stacked card' we were promised. There are a lot of factors that played into how this card took shape, from executive dealings, to fighters politicking, and a some others we will attempt to pick through here, along with predictions of who will and won't advance to fight in the UFC.

It is somewhat surprising that Nate Marquardt is one fight away from a return to the UFC. Fighting your way back to the big show isn't uncommon, but what is uncommon is doing so after being black listed by Dana White. Hence I provide you with this youtube video which should provide some context into the nature of Nate The Great's departure from the UFC.

(As a side note, it's important to ask yourself if Dana would have blasted Marquardt this heavily had this news come out post-fight, rather than pre-fight, preventing the fight from happening.)

With a win over Tarec Saffiedine on Saturday, in his first and only welterweight title defense, Marquardt is poised to actually make that UFC welterweight debut that never came about due to the failed medicals caused by his high testosterone levels. Will he be welcomed back if he were to be upset by Saffiedine? Would Saffiedine be thrown into the deep waters of the UFC 170 lbs division with said upset? Will the loser, whomever he may be, end up in the octagon?

Prognostication: If Nate Marquardt wins, he get's the 'one fight away' treatment where he'll be matched up with a top 6 or so welterweight, with a title show looming beyond that. Should the upset occur, I can't see Tarec Saffiedine getting thrown into the deep water at welterweight and surviving, leaving him to wade the waters of the middle of the pack, or sink and end up fighting elsewhere.

2011 Heavyweight Grand Prix Winner Daniel Cormier and runner-up Josh Barnett are also on the card in Oklahoma City, facing Dion Staring and Nandor Guelmino respectively. The logical next move for the winner of a heavyweight tournament in an organization with no heavyweight division outside of that tournament, which happens to share owners with the UFC, would be to fight in the UFC itself, but that would deny the good folks at Showtime one last night to get some butts in seats and some eyes on their channel. So here we are with Daniel Cormier, a fighter who is arguably one of the top three heavyweights in the world, facing Dion Staring.

Who is Dion Staring, you ask? Well he is on a six fight win streak, and has a professional record of 28-7. Not bad, on the surface. Staring's most recent win was over a man with two wins and 13 losses. The man he beat prior to that has a pro record of 24 wins and 19 losses.

Prognostication: I'm not even going to entertain the idea of Staring winning this fight, so after Daniel Cormier wins and is able to escape Strikeforce, he will move into the UFC to most likely challenge Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title in mid-2013. Just for the sake of typing it, I also would say that Cormier would still enter the UFC on a loss.

Jumping quickly into the Barnett vs Nandor Guelmino fight, which is another instance of the aforementioned motivations of the Showtime executives to capitalize on the build-up of the 2011 Grand Prix. I could easily envision neither of these fighters making it into the octagon, however unfortunate it would be. Barnett in Strikeforce has seen a career resurgence, one of the few men in the organization to do so. It would be a shame to deny him at least one chance to prove himself in the octagon.

Prognostication: Barnett wins, and heads to the UFC against a fighter like Todd Duffee or Pat Barry.

More predictions after the jump...

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.