If you've been following mixed martial arts for any length of time, you've figured out the drill: Every time there's a week which, on paper, looks like it's going to be slow, without fail, enough things transpire in our wacky little world to keep websites busy and readers clicking.
Such was the case this week, which started in the afterglow of Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson, ended with the UFC cutting ranked middleweight Yushin Okami just before ranked middleweight Michael Bisping dropped out of his fight with Mark Munoz with an injury, and had a whole in between.
So let's get right into Fightweets, starting with a question that's seemed to bubble just underneath the surface in recent weeks.
Is a Ronda Rousey backlash brewing?
I don't think you're the only person who has come to this conclusion as this season of The Ultimate Fighter has unfolded, commish. Ronda's mom, Dr. Anna Maria DeMars, has also clearly heard the criticism as well. Dr. DeMars, who makes an appearance on next week's episode of The Ultimate Fighter, has put up a blog post which is quite defensive of her daughter.
Among the highlights: "It appeared that Ronda was taunted quite a bit without being allowed to respond, with a deliberate intent to create a certain image for television. Maybe they'll show some of that on the episode, maybe not. For those of you who say she cries too much - she's always cried like that all of her life. Who the hell are you people to enforce a crying quota?"
Rousey's a complex personality. She's intelligent and at her best can be quite eloquent. She's lived with the singleminded, lifelong dedication to a goal that few people other than Olympic medalists can understand. She's transferred that energy over to mixed martial arts, and in the process, done wonderful things to advance the women's side of the sport. She absolutely deserves the praise she's gotten as a women's sports trailblazer.
But that sort of intensity in a bubble can look ugly when the bubble gets burst. In a reality TV setting, in which everything needs to be boiled down to a simple tale of good vs. evil, Tate has shined through as a likable and caring person. I don't know if Dr. DeMars' accusation that the producers are basically egging everyone on to taunt Rousey and bring out her worst traits are true. But Tate's natural charisma makes it easier for the producers to focus on in Rousey's negative moments, and Rousey's fighters didn't help matters for her by losing her team's first two fights.
Most people who become breakthrough stars in our society, whether in fighting, other sports, or entertainment faces a backlash eventually. Between Rousey's public complaints before she even had a chance to watch the finished TUF product and Dr. DeMars' blog post, they seem to know it's on the way. It will be interesting to see how they handle things from here through Dec. 28 and beyond.
Rematch for Gusty?
@ryan211: Jon Jones is fighting Glover next. Did the UFC miss an opportunity by not booking the immediate rematch with Gus?
I can understand the urge for an immediate title rematch, simply based on the UFC 165 main event's sheer epicness (epcicity? epicocity? Point is, the fight rocked). Even Jones came out and said Gustafsson deserves a rematch.
But, as my colleague Ariel Helwani pointed out on Friday's edition of The MMA Beat, the UFC doesn't often hand out rematches to challengers who just lost in their title shot. Gilbert Melendez had a better case for an immediate rematch after his lightweight loss to Benson Henderson than Gustafsson did against Jones, and he didn't get it, either.
The only case of an immediate rematch for a challenger (as opposed to an immediate rematch for a champ who just lost his title) who lost a title fight in recent memory was that of Lyoto Machida vs. Shogun Rua at UFC 104 in Los Angeles, which was pretty much a highway robbery. Gustafsson actually lost his fight. It was close, but it clear. If we're going to get back to the the idea of making title fights which, you know, actually make sense in the divisional scheme of things, then we need to recognize that results matter and the division has to move on.
That said, it's not like Gustafsson is far off from another title shot. Assuming Jones beats Teixeira on Super Bowl weekend and Gustafsson fights a consequential fight and wins within the same time, Jones-Gustafsson 2 could be next summer's blockbuster sequel.
@christopher_kit: If Gusty was more vocal and less humble, would he have got the rematch? Real shame here.
You might be on to something. What if Gustafsson, his teammates, trainers, etc., spent the last week complaining long and loud about the decision? Given the way the UFC reacts at times to such things, Gusty very well might have gotten the rematch. Gustafsson's a class act, so it does seem like if there's any justice, he'll work his way back to another title shot.
@ryan211: I'm not a fan of Okami, but I do not support a #6 ranked fighter getting cut. People should be disgusted
Man, ryan211 is hitting all the big topics this week. For those who may have already checked out for the evening on the East Coast on Friday, within the span of about an hour, news broke that 1. Okami was cut by the UFC and 2. Bisping was out of his fight with Munoz, due to an eye injury, and replaced by Lyoto Machida.
It doesn't take rocket scientist to figure out Okami was cut because of his paycheck. His most recent publicly disclosed payday was $84,000, including his win bonus, for defeating Alan Belcher at UFC 155.
Still, this is a guy who is ranked No. 6 in the UFC's own middleweight rankings, and a guy who has won three of his past four fights. Sure, at 34 it's not like he's a spring chicken, but this isn't a scenario like with Cheick Kongo, whose contracted wasn't renewed after a protracted string of mediocrity. Okami was still winning most of his fights, competitive, and relevant.
So, with all due respect to Michael Bisping, and we wish him a speedy recovery from his injury, it sure seemed like karma striking when Okami's cut was quickly followed by the company losing their hometown hero headliner for the Oct. 26 Ultimate Fight Night card in Manchester, England.
Final thought: Where were all those people who suddenly decided Friday to join the Yushin Okami fan club over the past seven years? Like Jon Fitch before him, fans screamed "boring" about Okami on Twitter and message boards forever. The UFC tends to place a lot of stock in this sort of things, so guess what? If you spend enough time telling the UFC you think a fighter sucks, they might go ahead and cut that fighter.
Framing the picture
@auggie85: Do you feel that Rogan & Goldberg can influence the audience to think who wins? Judges have no commentary
Yup. Mostly Joe Rogan. With Rogan, you take the good with the bad. Rogan isn't your traditional sports color commentator. We know this by now.
That's good in some ways and bad in others. His passion and knowledge are strong points and can really accentuate an exciting fight. But there are still those moments when, in his excitement, Rogan goes overboard. At UFC 165, he repeated the idea that Jones was behind on the scorecards against Gustafsson often during the fight's final rounds. Since a small but vocal minority of Rogan's followers are knee-jerk (to the degree they can't handle even the most mild critique of their idol), Rogan's proclamation that Gusty all the justification they need to run wild on the internet and cry "robbery" when there was no such thing.
It's not like anything's going to change. Rogan and Goldy are part of the scenery, and we've learned to accept that there are more good moments than bad. And hey, it's been awhile since Rogan's gotten the UFC in hot water for an off-color comments, so maybe it's finally sinking in that he needs to lead the edgy comedian persona behind when he's calling fights, and that's a good thing, too.
@aussietmac: How do you think Benson Henderson claiming he would beat the spiders record now hurts his image due to not getting close
I don't think it does. Henderson has always been a guy who has aimed high and had supreme confidence in his abilities. I admire him for pushing himself and setting the bar as high as he can.
That said ... it sure seems like something's in the air with champs taking their eyes off the ball, doesn't it? Junior dos Santos openly talked about wanting to box a Kiltschko last year, then he went out and got horrendously outboxed by Cain Velasquez. Anderson Silva starting piping up about Roy Jones, and got blasted by Chris Weidman. Last week, Jones was talking about everything from acting in movies to boxing (again with the boxing), and ended up in the fight of his life with Gustafsson. And of course, the unsubmittable Henderson got submitted once he started blabbing about Silva's record. All of a sudden, Georges St-Pierre and his endless cliches and unwillingness to look beyond his next fight seems pretty smart.
@DucharmeJay: am I the only one excited for Demian Maia vs. Jake Shields? Very underrated card.
I just had to go back to my timeline and double check this one: Yes, this tweet says actually says "excited" and "Jake Shields" without "not" in front of it.
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