MMA Weekly (6/5-6/12): Kimbo Slice Passes Away, Chad Mendes Reportedly Fails USADA Drug Test, Much More
This week in MMA was home to some relatively interesting announcements and one devastating development, as UFC and Bellator veteran Kimbo Slice passed away on the sixth.
Let’s take a look at this week’s MMA news.
Kimbo Slice Passes Away at 42 Due to Heart Complications
On June 6th, Kimbo Slice, whose real name is Kevin Ferguson, unexpectedly passed away from heart complications and failure at just forty-two years of age. He was scheduled to rematch James Thompson in the main event of next month’s Bellator 158 event.
Throughout his multi-year career, Slice did what few others have been able to: he consistently fought tough dudes (in especially undesirable and dangerous settings, in the early days!), of increasingly developed skillsets, and won most of these contests while always promoting them and bettering himself as an athlete.
The proof is in the pudding, as the saying goes, given that Slice’s career was ultimately both profitable and attention-garnering; even after he lost a couple fights, and more pressingly, competed in regulated combat sports for nearly a decade, he maintained these profits and this interest.
Kimbo Slice had a certain “wow” factor to his skills and promotional abilities, and he will be missed by many within the MMA community—as well as many outside of it.
Chad Mendes Fails USADA Drug Test
UFC featherweight star Chad Mendes has failed a random USADA drug test; reports are indicating. At this time, further details of the failure’s nature—substance, amount, etc.—aren’t available.
However, they don’t really need to be for one to surmise that this is bad news for Mendes and his Team Alpha Male family. On the heels of a tough loss for Urijah Faber against Dominick Cruz, the news that, in its simplest form, one of the team’s highest earners won’t be able to compete for even longer (Mendes last fought in December of 2015) is unwelcome.
Former UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis Announces Drop to 145
Anthony “Showtime” Pettis, in an Instagram post, revealed he’s dropping to featherweight for his next contest. The decision follows a clear-cut unanimous-decision loss to Edson Barboza, and before that, dropped bouts to Eddie Alvarez and Rafael dos Anjos.
To classify the news of the drop, and his latest string of losses, as unexpected would be an understatement; after submitting Benson Henderson to win the UFC’s lightweight title and then besting Gilbert Melendez via submission (once again, something which few have been able to do), Pettis seemed legitimately unstoppable. Anyone who claims to have predicted that he’d lose his next three fights after that and then drop to featherweight is either a psychic or a liar!
On the other hand, besides being rough for Pettis, the news actually benefits fans. Despite the excitement and turbulence resulting from Conor McGregor’s defeat of Jose Aldo, there really hasn’t been a lot going on at featherweight; Max Holloway can fight for the belt eventually (once the titles are unified, as Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar’s UFC 200 rematch is for the interim strap), but “eventually” is the key word here, as the current featherweight landscape is gridlocked.
Of course, Holloway already lost to McGregor when the latter was suffering from a torn ACL; while the ever-improving Holloway is certainly better than he has ever been, the reality is that fans have already seen him fight McGregor—and they’ve already seen McGregor fight Aldo and Edgar fight Aldo, and the point is that for as exciting as these matches are, Pettis will be a welcome breath of fresh air to the weight class that seems entirely reliant upon rematches, with few viable contenders rising.
Bellator Announces Several Fights and a New Signing
Let’s start with the signing: skilled featherweight Noad Lahat has been recruited to the promotion in an exclusive deal. This is undoubtedly, at least in part, due to Lahat’s Israel origins, as Bellator will debut there later this year. Nevertheless, the AKA product is ever-improving—to the point that, if he puts it all together, he can become champion. This is a quality addition to the Bellator roster.
As for the fights, most of them have come as a result of necessity—actually, all of them have!
Michael Venom Page will meet Bellator’s most useful athlete, Cyborg Santos, at Bellator 158 next month; this is one of Page’s most dangerous fights thus far, and will certainly be worth watching. With that said, it seems a little bit premature to book him after eating all those unanswered shots against Saad Awad in mid-May. Then again, Hector Lombard just fought Dan Henderson in a similar situation and on a similar timetable; needless to say, that didn’t end well.
Josh Koscheck is injured once again, and his highly promotable rematch against Paul Daley has been delayed. As a result, former welterweight champion Douglas Lima will clash with the Englishman, in what is honestly a better bout than the original; moreover, Lima obviously encompasses a style which is far different from that of Koscheck’s, so it will be intriguing to see how Daley adjusts. The real winner here, though, will be the fan.
Chidi Njokuani, who was to meet Lima at Bellator 156, will now clash with TUF veteran Thiago Jambo Goncalves in what should be a thrilling bout. It’s apparent that Bellator has taken the longstanding fan criticism of booking “easy” bouts for its stars to heart.
The UFC Reveals Several New Fights
Last week’s blockbuster for the UFC in terms of high-profile fight announcements couldn’t possibly be replicated, but this week was still home to a few impressive bout reveals, including:
Reza Madadi vs. Rustam Khabilov at UFC Fight Night: Arlovski vs. Barnett on September 3rd
A solid fight in its own right, Madadi vs. Khabilov is sure to stand-out on this particular Germany card, which in all honesty, is a little bit lacking. For as absolutely awesome, fun, and skilled as Andrei Arlovski and Josh Barnett are—real legends of the sport—the fact remains that they’re both coming off of losses.
It’s hard to ask fans to pay big dollars for tickets to a card headlined by two men who, although able to, haven’t yet returned to their winning ways; Madadi-Khabilov will stand-out stylistically and because of this aforementioned point.
Alan Jouban vs. Belal Muhammad at UFN: Alvarez vs. dos Anjos on July 7th
It might not be the fireworks show that Jouban-Taleb was, but this contest is pretty darn good for a replacement; after his Titan success, Muhammad evidently isn’t scared of the deep waters in the UFC.
Emil Weber Meek vs. Jessin Ayari at UFC Fight Night: Arlovski vs. Barnett on September 3rd
Both men are promotional newcomers, but Meek holds the notable distinction of having KO’d Rousimar Palhares in Venator just a short while ago; this is a solid contest, but the Norwegian will certainly be feeling the pressure of his latest win.
This week in MMA was especially tough because of Kimbo Slice’s passing, but next week—which features Bellator 156 and UFN 89—looks as though it will be a return to normal action for fans.
Enjoy the fights!