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Morning Report: Dominick Cruz Becomes the Latest Victim of the TUF Coaching Curse

Esther Lin, MMA FIghting
Esther Lin, MMA FIghting

We've heard of the Madden Curse, the Curse of the Billy Goat, and Cleveland's Basic Existence, but after yesterday's big news, it seems like mixed martial arts now has it's own unlucky cloud from which the occasional bad juju drizzles down. Let's just call it the Curse of the TUF Coaches.

Dominick Cruz and his torn ACL joins a who's who list of recent The Ultimate Fighter coaches to see their match-ups go up in flames well before fight night.

The running list: Jackson-Evans gets put on ice for half-a-year because of Rampage's Hollywood aspirations, Liddell-Ortiz III disintegrates along with Ortiz's neck nerves, Lesnar-dos Santos is doomed by the ghost of diverticulitis, and now this -- the UFC bantamweight champion suffers the mother of all injuries midway through the first live TUF taping in UFC history. That's problems in four out of the past six seasons, in case you were keeping count.

Where we go from here isn't clear, but there are really two main issues to address. 1.) What do we do with Urijah Faber, UFC 148, and the state of the bantamweight division? 2.) What happens with Cruz's coaching spot on the show?

Now, issue No. 1 is much easier to address than No. 2, though each potentially impacts the other. First things first, as much as it sucks, there really isn't any other choice but to create an interim bantamweight strap. Cruz is going to be out another nine months, at best, and we don't need the 135-pound division going the way of lightweight or welterweight.

Right now the consensus top-2 guys to fight Faber in an interim match are Renan Barao or Michael McDonald, and either has a legitimate case for a shot at the interim belt. That being said, I'd shade towards Barao because a hit-list of Escovedo/Pickett/Jorgensen is more impressive than Cariaso/Soto/Torres, plus he's already prepping to fight Ivan Menjivar in a No. 1 contender match at UFC 148.

So, why not keep Faber in the co-main event, flip Barao and his 29-fight unbeaten streak off the preliminaries and into the title slot, and bring in either McDonald or Brad Pickett to take on Menjivar in a new contenders bout. (For those who say it's unfair to Menjivar, keep in mind that Barao-Menjivar was a No. 1 contender match in the same way that Rashad Evans-Phil Davis was a No. 1 contender match.)

Problem No. 2 is much more difficult, however, regardless of whether you favor Barao or McDonald. The thing is, neither of them would be any good as the new coach of Team Cruz. Barao doesn't speak English well, and five months ago McDonald couldn't even get into a bar, let alone order a Jack and Coke.

Ideally, Cruz could still keep up with coaching duties for the rest of the season, but really, that's a pretty selfish request for us to make. So for now it looks like we're stuck in limbo, grasping for something that resembles a right answer. (As if the UFC didn't have enough to worry about already.)



Dominick Cruz tears ACL. UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz tore his ACL while training on The Ultimate Fighter: Live and was pulled from his anticipated UFC 148 title defense against Urijah Faber. UFC officials have yet to announce Faber's status on the card or whether an interim belt will be created.

Urijah Faber wants to fight Renan Barao for interim title. Longtime WEC champ Urijah Faber both tweeted and released a video asking to fight upstart contender Renan Barao at UFC 148 for the interim bantamweight strap (and subtly implied that Ronda Rousey caused Dominick Cruz's ACL tear).

The MMA Hour. Ariel Helwani is back in your life with a packed lineup for The MMA Hour featuring Chael Sonnen, BJ Penn, Sean Sherk, Don Frye, Renzo Gracie, Braulio Estima, Mike Chandler and MMA Fighting's Ben Fowlkes.

Nate Marquardt vs. Tyron Woodley for Strikeforce welterweight title. Verbal agreements are in place for a July bout pitting Nate Marquardt against Tyron Woodley to decide the rightful heir to the vacant Strikeforce welterweight strap.

Michael Bisping 'pissed off' at Hector Lombard's future title shot. UFC mainstay Michael Bisping didn't shy away from venting his frustration regarding the promotion's plans to fast-track former Bellator champion Hector Lombard into a title shot.



I'll let Tim Kennedy sell you on this one: "You want to see me dancing like a fairy in a Kimono, licking a sword, and prancing around in ranger panties, (then) watch this!"


Another overlooked nugget of violence from the weekend: this 34-second barnburner between Bellator veteran Zelg Galesic and former WEC light heavyweight champ Doug Marshall from Super Fight League 3. (Fight starts at 4:24 for the impatient.)


Chael Sonnen has been making the media rounds to promote his new book, but you could take a hundred guesses and we'd bet you'd never guess what his talking point is for this promo clip. (HT: Middle Easy)


Former UFC bruiser Marcus Davis is inching towards middle-age, so taking his talents to kickboxing probably wasn't the best idea. Just a warning: this one is a little brutal to watch. (HT: Bloody Elbow)










Announced yesterday (Monday, May 6, 2012):

- UFC 148: Dominick Cruz (19-1) pulled from title defense against Urijah Faber (26-5)

- Strikeforce: Nate Marquardt (31-10-2) vs. Tyron Woodley (10-0) tentatively set for welterweight championship match in July

- UFC on FUEL 4: Rafael Natal (14-3-1) vs. TBA

- UFC on FUEL 4: Tom DeBlass (7-1) vs. TBA



Today's Fanpost of the Day is a look at the ongoing evolution of UFC on FOX, courtesy of hobbie: UFC on Fox: Have We Learned Anything Yet

France learned lessons from the two wars - they were just the wrong lessons. They were too focused on re-fighting the last war, while their enemies were figuring out how to win the next one.

I wonder if the UFC and Fox aren't making the same mistakes with their strategy for "UFC on Fox". And more importantly than that - what have the lessons of UFC on Fox really been thus far?

Let's take a look at the UFC's thought process for these events so far. We'll start with the first card, where the thinking went something like:

Big, Important World Title Fights Are All That Matters

For the first UFC on Fox, we got Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez for the UFC heavyweight championship of the world - and nothing else.

The thinking here was pretty clear: for our debut effort, fans need to feel they're watching something truly epic. We don't have time to introduce a whole card of fighters, so we'll focus only on the main event, build the two men fighting in it up like gods in the PR, and put make it for the heavyweight championship, which any sports fan can understand the significance of.

The ratings for UFC on Fox 1 shows that, to a large extent, this strategy was successful. However, as Joe and Goldie tell us so often, "anything can happen in MMA." And having your clash of the titans end in 64 seconds was a jarring letdown for the months of promotion that preceded it. Fans tuned in expecting to see The Hulk vs. Thor. Instead, they got The Hulk vs. Loki (Avengers humour - if you haven't seen it yet, my condolences on being trapped under that rock all weekend).

Found something perfect for the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's post.

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