I’m back True Believers, and I could not have asked for a better weekend of fights to usher in the new era of W.I.R. UFC Sao Paulo was certainly the finest offering: almost every fight was of a very high quality and several of them were absolutely spectacular. Fan favorite Clay Guida got stunned (much to my chagrin), Thomas Almeida showed every ounce of that vaunted ability, and Glover Teixeira mostly dismantled Patrick Cummins. As for the featured bout, I’ll admit that I’m bummed with the result. I was rooting heavily for Dan Henderson, but unfortunately he didn’t have any H-Bomb magic this time out. The Mohawked One, Vitor Belfort, pretty much one-shot destroyed Hendo, in an eerily similar fashion to the second fight in their trilogy. A beautiful head kick did Henderson in AGAIN, but it was more bad timing than anything. He ducked to his right and practically simultaneously Vitor snapped out a left kick, and the follow-up was merely superficial. After the fight he said he has his sights set on Luke Rockhold, which sounds to me like he wants NO part of another crack at Middleweight Champ Chris Weidman and would rather face potential leftovers.
Weird, awkward, yawn-producing and occasionally silly. Those are all words and phrases I associate with the situation between Women’s Bantamweight Queen Ronda Rousey, her mother, Travis Browne, Ronda’s head coach and apparently all of us now too. The dirty details of the whole strange sequence are readily available elsewhere, so I won’t go into any of that here. The most newsworthy event of the whole cluster has been made known, and in my opinion it’s kind of a doozy. When Ronda defends her belt against former pro boxing champion and rising star Holly Holm in Australia this weekend, Browne will take the place of Ronda’s mom cage-side, which is definitely a new wrinkle. I’m not sure what it all means in reality but in appearance it does not look good. Could this small issue be the crack in the dam, Ronda’s kryptonite?
In other news, Anthony Johnson has agreed to be the guy who smashes Ryan Bader’s unwarranted cocky face in. In case you had not noticed, I’m excited about the prospects of this fight going the way many a Rumble fight has gone. It goes a little something like this: it starts with a thudding, thunderous series of universe-demolishing canned ham face-busters connecting and crumpling his opponent, and it ends with a referee lunging in to save the felled, finished competitor. I swear I’m not biased when it comes to Bader, not a smidgen.
Of course Team USA had a drunken near-fight on TUF:22 last week, which thankfully did not result in any blows being thrown, though contestant Julian Erosa did get an extra shower courtesy of teammate Chris Gruetzmacher. It will be interesting to see how the team holds up amid internal strife and losing their best striker, Thanh Le, to Team Europe’s Martin Svensson by rear-naked choke in the second round. Svensson talked a big game in the pre-fight promo and he certainly backed it up. Europe’s head coach, Interim Featherweight Champ Conor McGregor, picked his good buddy Artem Lobov to square off with James Jenkins in the next episode, so we’ll find out if Conor will soon come to regret that decision.
Ending this week on a melancholy note, Matt Brown has sadly had to withdraw from his Main Event Welterweight showdown with Kelvin Gastellum, which had been scheduled for later this month on the 21st. I was looking forward to this collision, and now the brass has to scramble to find a replacement for the ultra popular American fighter. Injuries have not been kind to the sport in 2015, especially the flagship promotion. Here’s hoping Brown gets back in the cage soon, and that 2016 is less injury prone.
Photo courtesy of the UFC