This Week in MMA
Outside of two exciting fight cards, this week held a good deal of interesting news for MMA fans to digest. While not all of it was positive, there were some bursts of sunshine in these developments, to say the least. Let’s take a look at what the MMA world had to offer this week!
Edmond Tarverdyan—A Bum?
While the above headline might seem like a bit of an exaggeration, this week’s news has provided a pretty large indication that there might be some truth to the charge. Ronda Rousey’s longtime coach, Edmond Tarverdyan, filed for bankruptcy earlier this year (although the news was just now revealed), citing over $700,000 in debts! While some fans are quick to jump on those encountering hard times in the MMA world, these same fans may be very correct in jumping here; to amass such a debt while coaching the most profitable fighter in the UFC really is ridiculous—to the point of being almost difficult to achieve. Fans can reach their own conclusions, of course, but it appears as though Ronda Rousey’s mother—who came off (according to some) as a bit too harsh in her criticism of Tarverdyan prior to this story being released—may have been correct.
The NSAC (Partially) Caves
Many fans were happy to hear that the large movement from the MMA (and non-MMA) community in voicing their disproval of the Nick Diaz suspension paid off. The NSAC and Diaz’s team are actively engaged in talks that could reduce his original suspension to one holding a sixteen-month competition hold and a $100,000 fine. While this is certainly better than the original sentencing, a minority of fans (myself included) were still upset with this “negotiated” verdict. Sixteen months and one hundred grand are nothing to scoff at—certainly too much for a violation of this nature. Nevertheless, this is a (partial) step in the right direction.
Two MMA Veterans Retire
The week also featured the retirement of two solid MMA competitors, in Bellator vet Brett Cooper and UFC veteran Alan Belcher. Belcher last competed against Michael Bisping at UFC 159 in April of 2013, losing a (coincidentally enough, as Bisping would later require eye surgery as well) Unanimous Technical Decision in the third round after suffering a debilitating eye poke. “The Talent” retires with a 9-6 UFC record, and fans won’t be forgetting his well-composed, first-round triumph over Rousimar Palhares anytime soon.
Bellator veteran Brett Cooper also retired this week, on the heels of a first-round loss to fellow Bellator veteran Maiquel Falcao. During his time with Bellator (and even after his departure), “Fudoshin” fought some of the best around. Fans won’t soon forget his tough-nailed second encounter with Alexander Shlemenko, nor his second-round finish over Kendall Grove. Still under thirty years of age, the future looks bright for Cooper, both in the sport of MMA and otherwise.
The Injury Bug Strikes, but is Unable to Ruin a Fight
The injury bug struck yet again inside the UFC, as Matt Brown was forced to withdraw from his scheduled main event tilt against Kelvin Gastelum at The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America 2 Finale on November 21st, and was replaced by Neil Many. A bout that is this close to Thanksgiving and scheduled to go down outside of the US is a tall order for any athlete on under one month’s notice, but Magny even OK’d the main event continuing forward with the originally scheduled five-round duration; talk about a tough (and company-minded) athlete! This is a best-case replacement for the fans, as well as Gastelum, as this newly scheduled fight rivals the quality of the Matt Brown bout. By taking this fight, Magny will tie former UFC fighter Roger Huerta for the most Octagon appearances in a year, with five fights.
Bellator 145: Vengeance Delivers Solid Fights, Interesting Announcements
Bellator 145: Vengeance delivered some solid action for fans attending live in St. Louis, Missouri, as well as every fan watching live on television. Although, outside of the initial main-card bout between two up-and-coming prospects in Justin Lawrence vs. Emmanuel Sanchez there weren’t any major upsets, the fights were largely competitive and interesting. Certainly, the main event stole the show, as Daniel Strauss defeated Patricio Freire to secure the Bellator Featherweight Championship in an absolutely thrilling affair. With that victory, Strauss has cemented an ultra-interesting circle of top-level featherweights vying for the belt, in him, Pat Curran, and Freire. It will be interesting to see who fights for the title next, to say the least.
The event also featured some interesting (undeniably, these announcements piqued the interest of fans; whether or not this was a good thing will depend on who one speaks to!) announcements about Rizin, as well as a future tent-pole Bellator event.
The largest surprise and takeaway from these announcements is that Bellator will pit Kimbo Slice against Dhafir Harris (Dada 5000) in the co-main event of a February 19th event in Houston while Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie will clash in the main event. At the time of the bout, the two main-event competitors will hold a combined age of over one hundred years!
Many fans were angry, many were intrigued, and many typically casual fans were alerted—perhaps justifying the announcements. While most fans are, at the very least, curious about the results here, the promotion will need to really stack the rest of the card with solid, top-level matches (much like the fights that Vengeance supported) to truly interest hardcore fans. However the rest of the card fills out, the fact remains that the action will be live and free—it really is hard to complain about for that price!
UFC Fight Night 77: Belfort vs Henderson 3 Goes-Off as Expected
The UFC delivered a solid card this weekend, headlined by a rubber match between longtime veterans Dan Henderson and Vitor Belfort. Much like the Bellator 145 card, the event featured solid fights that were more competitive than the final results would indicate—with minimal upsets, similarly. In fact, the only upset on the televised preliminary and main card portions of the event came when Clay Guida was defeated by Thiago Tavares via first-round submission.
The largest takeaways from the event were likely just how dangerous Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira is, the legitimacy (and ever-improving nature of) Thomas Almeida, and the still-dangerous strikes of Vitor Belfort. Certainly, these weren’t the only things that stood out during the event, but they were perhaps the most noticeable.
The fights and news were solid for MMA fans this week, and the upcoming events indicate that the fights, at the very least, will be solid in the near future. The UFC returns next on November 15th (Saturday night in the US) with UFC 193: Rousey vs. Holm. Bellator will hold its next show on November 20th as Hisaki Kato competes against Melvin Manhoef. The World Series of Fighting will hold its heavily anticipated eight-man, one-night lightweight tournament at WSOF 25, also on November the 20th (fans will need to be quick to switch channels!). More immediately, ONE Championship will hold its Pride of Lions event on Friday the 13th, featuring an anticipated rematch between welterweight champ Ben Askren and Luis Santos. Finally, as usual, AXS TV will deliver some outstanding live and free MMA action, as Legacy Fighting Championships 48 takes goes down in Louisiana (also on the 13th).
There’s a lot to look forward to here for MMA fans; enjoy the fights!