The Bellator circus came to town in a memorable way Friday night, kicking off a weekend of three fight events in three nights, with WSOF stepping to the plate Saturday night and a UFC Fight Night on Sunday.
And as soon as we get through with this run, the countdown to UFC 196 is on.
So with the pace picking up, let's not waste any time. On to this week's questions.
Not feeling UFC 196?
@chjobin: We are two weeks removed from UFC 196 and I don't feel like I did for Connor's 2 previous bouts. What's happening!?
I mean, first things first. We're still two weeks away from the show at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena. I don't mean to pick on you, here, but I always get a chuckle when people started panicking when a fight hasn't commandeered the nation's sports headlines weeks in advance. If, three days before UFC 196, there's still no buzz for the show, then, sure, it might be time to sound the alarms. But not yet.
That said, this is an awfully fast turnaround for Conor McGregor, who defeated Jose Aldo at UFC 194 (and also a quick comeback for lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, who fought a week after McGregor, but let's be real about who's drawing the house, here). The featherweight champ's three previous fights were all spaced out roughly a half-year or so apart, which is plenty of time to disappear and make the public ready for you again. And, the drama between McGregor and Aldo built up all year long in a way that kept the fire burning. No incendiary proclamation McGregor can make about RDA could make up for that once-in-a-generation slow build.
It was smart of the UFC to simply get out of the way this week, let Bellator have its moment in the sun, and start it's all-out hype fest next week. Why waste promotional bandwidth now when "baby nuts" have drowned out just about everything else?
The UFC has media days in the Los Angeles area next week with McGregor, dos Anjos, and Holly Holm. By this time next week, the machine will be cranking along in full gear and the magnitude of the fact we're going to have the first attempt in seven years at a UFC fighter going after simultaneous weight-class titles will start to sink in -- and that we'll have Holm's first women's bantamweight title defense, to boot. So just give this one a little time.
Kimbo vs. Dada: The worst fight ever?
@RuckerYeah: Kimbo vs. Dada. What the hell did I just watch?
Oh, I don't know ... can something be simultaneously the worst thing ever and the best?
I was watching the fight over at Marc Raimondi's place. In the first round, we were both more or less just surprised Kimbo Slice and Dada 5000 ended up on the ground. By the middle of the second round, when referee Big John McCarthy became visibly disgusted and actually ordered a restart with Kimbo was in full mount (and was completely justified in doing so), we both started laughing. That was when you realized you were watching something transcendentally awful. By the time Kimbo landed an uppercut in the third, followed by a few more that missed, and Dada crashed to the mat like Little Mac just knocked him out in Mike Tyson's Punch-Out, Marc and I were doubled over in laughter and I nearly dropped my laptop to the floor.
This is obviously not the reaction Scott Coker, Spike, and Co. had in mind when they put this fight together.
But at the same time, it's not like this is the end of the world, either. Newsflash for those wringing their hands and worrying about MMA's image: MMA didn't exactly go into Friday night with a reputation as high culture. This is a sport in which people strip half-naked in front of thousands of people and attempt to concuss one another. Bellator events often have "COPS" as a lead-in, not the BBC news, or NPR, or "Masterpiece Theatre." Was it a good night for the sport? No. Obviously not. But this sport survived Elite XC. It will survive Bellator 149.
@JTTreichel: Can you convince me this wasn't the worst pro MMA fight ever?
I mean, again, I found the fight so bad that it was hilarious. Entertainment value has to count for something, right? But that's about all I got for ya in defense of Kimbo-Dada. Oh, and Royce Gracie vs. Kazushi Sakuraba 2 in Los Angeles in 2007 was horrible. The LA Coliseum was 90 percent empty, most of those who were there got free tickets and didn't know either fighter, there was no action for 15 minutes, and there was a whack DJ making bad jokes over the house mic during the fight. That still gets my nod for worst fight I've ever seen.
@hunt5588: Should I feel icky for wanting to watch these side show Bellator events?
You and a couple million other people. I've said this before: Bellator needs to understand there is a shelf life to legends fights. And they need to do a better job using the platform their tentpole events provide to build up-and-coming fighters and help turn them into stars. Kimbo vs. Dada, followed by Royce Gracie's slow motion win over Ken Sharmock, should be a glaring hint from the MMA Gods that you can only go to this well so often.
This will no doubt do a big number, but it will also be a missed opportunity. Emmanuel Sanchez's win over Daniel Pineda was fine, but nothing to write home about. Emanuel Newton vs. Linton Vassell sucked. Derek Campos knocked out Melvin Guillard, but it wasn't a star-turning performance. At some point along the way, just like the Gilbert Melendezes of the world turned into stars under Coker's Strikeforce banner, Bellator needs to make better use of big audiences when they have their attention. Lest fans end up feeling icky and not come back.
Bellator closing the distance?
@christopher_kit: With marquee signings and big name main events - has @BellatorMMA closed the distance with UFC?
I mean, sure, they've closed the distance some. Look at where Bellator was a couple years ago: Stuck in a self-defeating tournament format and unable to gain any traction outside the MMA bubble. Look where it is now: Able to draw a couple million viewers and mainstream attention for its biggest events, with names such as Benson Henderson, Phil Davis, and the returning Quinton Jackson in the fold. They've also been unafraid to take gambles on events like Dynamite which might hit or miss, but at least they try to think outside the box.
Bellator has unequivocally gained ground. Granted, if this was a horse race, Bellator would still the second-place finisher behind Secretariat, with the winner having an absolutely massive lead its not going to relinquish. But Bellator doesn't need to catch the UFC. It only needs to be a viable second option in the MMA world, and to that extent, it is succeeding, even if it doesn't feel that way coming out of Bellator 149.
The UFC's killer 2015, renewed buzz, and more focused promotional abilities? You can pretty much trace that directly back to the night Tito Ortiz vs. Stephan Bonnar shocked the MMA world in Nov. 2014. The UFC got lazy and coasted after it bought Strikeforce and had no real competition. As soon as there was once again a legitimate, stable second promotion in the game, the UFC got back on its game. While there's much to critique in Bellator's approach, the mere fact it's gotten to where it is has been a huge improvement to the sport.
What's the deal with Pat Lundvall?
@kopxpert: Pat Lundvall mentally stable & fit to do her job as a commissioner? What's her problem... like really?
It's not my business to comment on the mental stability of someone I've never met in my life. What is fair game, however, are Lundvall's public actions as a government official who wields significant power of people's livelihoods.
And from what we've seen over the past several years in her role as a Nevada athletic commissioner, Lundvall places perceived personal affronts above the merits of any particular case above all else. This certainly wouldn't make her the first thin-skinned athletic commissioner -- ask John McCarthy about Keith Kizer some time -- but rarely is such rank pettiness ever as open and blatant as when Lundvall is in action, such as this week, when it was Wanderlei Silva's turn to feel the burn.
You would have thought the brushback to the Nick Diaz affair would have knocked a bit of collective humility into the Nevada Athletic Commission. They became a national laughingstock for initially suspending Diaz four years over a marijuana infraction, which, itself, was a reduction from Lundvall's initial suggestion of a lifetime ban.
But no, there we were again on Wednesday, with Lundvall telling Wanderlei Silva's attorney, essentially, that she considered the mere fact he was defending his client insulting. Lundvall suggested four years' suspension. Fellow commissioner Skip Avansino suggested two. The "compromise" of three years once again ends up with a stricter punishment than the NAC's own guidelines for the transgressions under questions.
If Silva decided to basically saw "screw it" and go fight for a big payday in Japan outside of commission purview, would you really blame him?