This Week in MMA
Although the major MMA promotions of today found it too “haunting” to hold an event on Halloween weekend, the week still contained a good deal of news for fans to digest.
The Injury Bug Starches Several UFC Fights
Perhaps the most notable of the week’s offerings were the unusually large number of fighter injuries.
Bellator veteran Lyman Good (1-0 UFC, 8-3 BMMA) was forced to pull out of his scheduled fight against Omari Akhmedov (3-1 UFC) due to an injury. An exciting bout at the outset, this unfortunate occurrence would still be trumped by several other, big-name fights being altered due to injury. Nevertheless, the theme found in this fight’s replacement—as well as the others of the week—is that a solid bout was once again booked. Sérgio Moraes (4-1 UFC) is now scheduled to fight Omari Akhmedov at UFC Fight Night 80 on December 10th.
The injury bug struck again when Joanne Calderwood (2-1 UFC) was forced to withdraw from her scheduled strawweight bout against the ultra-popular Paige VanZant (3-0 UFC) due to a (relatively minor) knee ailment. Although it’s a painful injury, Calderwood reports that she will be ready to resume training again in a couple of weeks. In what was going to perhaps be the largest test of VanZant’s career, many fans were disappointed to hear about Calderwood’s injury. Nevertheless, an ultra-exciting and high-profile replacement was found in Rose Namajunas (1-1 UFC)—resulting in a bout which is just as good (or even better) than the one which was initially planned. This fight is also scheduled for December 10th, at UFC Fight Night 80.
Finally, the ever-unfortunate Khabib Nurmagomedov (6-0 UFC) suffered a rib injury, and was forced to pull out of his fight against Tony Ferguson (9-1 UFC). This is the third scheduled bout in a row that the undefeated Dagestani product has been forced out of—and by his own admission, he isn’t sure if he’ll compete professionally again. This statement was likely made in the heat of the moment, and there’s an excellent chance that the highly touted contender will make an appearance back inside the Octagon; no doubt, the injuries have been frustrating, though.
Nevertheless, a solid replacement was found in Edson Barboza (10-3 UFC). Although the injury was difficult for Khabib—and, to a much smaller extent, the fans—this is really a best-case scenario replacement on about five weeks’ notice (in terms of fight importance and intrigue, as Barboza is elite). The bout will go down on December 11th at The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale (during the UFC’s annual Fight Week).
World Series of Fighting and Bellator Make some Interesting Announcements
Outside of the Octagon, the two other leading US promotions—Bellator and the World Series of Fighting—made some interesting announcements, in a much more positive light than those of the UFC (for the most part).
First, Bellator shocked many fans by releasing some objectively high-level fighters, including, most notably: Alexander Sarnavskiy (5-3 BMMA), Alexander Volkov (6-3 BMMA), and Fabrício Guerreiro (2-3 BMMA). Whether these releases were the results of contractual disputes or legitimate cuts remains to be seen, but one would guess that—based upon the case of Tiger Sarnavskiy, specifically— that they really were legitimate cuts. Tiger trains alongside former middleweight champion Alexander Schlemenko (11-3-1, BMMA), as well as current welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov (0-1 BMMA). During his Bellator tenure, Sarnavskiy was able to (and did, frequently) compete outside of the organization, so there is certainly a bit of mystery here; he was able to fight whenever he wanted, and has some notable teammates also signed with the promotion. Perhaps Shlemenko’s suspension had something to do with his promotional departure (if it wasn’t a legitimate cut).
Bellator, on a more positive note (also depending upon which fan is asked), made a large announcement in signing (or collaborating with) NCAA champion and WWE star Kurt Angle at the upcoming Bellator 145: Vengeance, to make an important announcement. As was made clear by several reports (and a bit of common sense, as Angle is forty-six years old and has likely been taking some sort of PED(s) for a while), Angle won’t be fighting in Bellator.
Spike announced earlier this week that its partnership with Glory Kickboxing would be ending, and Bellator President Scott Coker has been very clear in his desire to promote another Dynamite show (featuring fights from both MMA and another sport); perhaps the promotion is planning a part-MMA/part pro-wrestling show? Time will tell, but that would be an interesting development, to say the least. Angle announcement aside, Bellator 145: Vengeance is a solid free card that airs live on Spike, Friday, November 6th; MMA fans should certainly tune-in.
The World Series of Fighting also had its share of intriguing developments and announcements. Of course, its currently employed welterweight athlete (and former champion), Rousimar Palhares (3-0 WSOF, 8-4 UFC), was suspended for two years by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for failing to release a kimura against Jake Shields (2-1 WSOF, 4-3-1 UFC) at WSOF 22. In addition to this two-year suspension, Palhares was fined forty thousand dollars (his entire fight purse for the title fight against Shields, as the NSAC withheld his win bonus). The entire situation is a shame for the athletes that Palhares has hurt, as well as himself—he’s obviously a talented fighter, and why he couldn’t pull everything together to make some good money towards the end of his career is anyone’s best guess. Palhares will be thirty-seven years old when he is able to fight in the US once again.
In a more positive light, World Series of Fighting announced the rules behinds its upcoming eight-man lightweight tournament—and they’re awesome. Quarterfinal and semifinal bouts will be contested over the course of two rounds—with the option for a third in the case of a draw. Then, the tournament final will be fought over a maximum of three rounds! While likely exciting for most fans, this announcement may be a little bit daunting for some fighters; that’s a lot of potential fighting in one night! Still, one would assume that WSOF is taking care of the participants financially. The awesome tournament goes down on November 20th in Phoenix, Arizona, at WSOF 25. It’s unclear what black magic WSOF used to help the Arizona Athletic Commission decide to allow this many rounds in a single night, but it will certainly make for an exciting card for the fans.
There were some interesting developments in the MMA world this week, and although the weekend was once again void of fight cards, the upcoming weekend’s offerings are pretty awesome. Bellator 145: Vengeance airs live and free on Spike on Friday November 6th, once again, while the UFC heads to Brazil on Saturday the 7th for UFC Fight Night 77, which features a rubber match between seasoned veterans Dan Henderson and Vitor Belfort in the main event (and is an impressively stacked card, for free television).
Frankly, this weekend’s Bellator and UFC events are better than most of the other cards that each promotion airs (the UFC’s cards on free television, that is, but also some pay-per-views!), so fans shouldn’t hesitate to tune in. Enjoy the fights!