This Week in MMA 11/8-11/15
Rousey’s Dethroning and Fighter Injuries Result in a Terrible Week for the UFC
This week had a great deal of news (most of which was negative), as well as some exciting fights. Let’s take a look at some of these top stories, as well as the important takeaway from UFC 193!
Bellator 145 Does Well in Ratings, Beats UFC
The viewership numbers for Bellator 145 (an average of 814,000) were impressive, drawing enough attention to beat the UFC last weekend. Peaking at over one million viewers, Bellator 145 was admittedly stacked with more of the promotion’s stars than UFN 77. Nevertheless, the reality remains that Bellator’s roster and cards are able to attract a sizable viewership. UFN 77 drew an average of 757,000 viewers for the main card—nothing to scoff at, but not enough to win the viewership war.
Bellator Considering a London Event in 2016
In a move that seems to be a logical progression of promoting their roster, Bellator has announced that the promotion will consider holding an event next year in London. With Liam McGeary sitting atop the light heavyweight division, the main event has essentially been decided for such an event; British stars Paul Daley, and Linton Vassell will do well to complement the event, as will the often-forgotten Terry Etim (although he hasn’t competed in nearly two years, this is a great chance to return to competition).
Serra-Longo Star Out with Knee Injury
UFC lightweight and Serra-Longo product Al Iaquinta is going to be out of action for six to eight months with a knee injury. Requiring surgery, the injury is certainly a disappointment for both him and the fans. Having won his last four fights, Iaquinta has proven that he belongs amongst the elite of the lightweight division. To put a positive spin on the news, at least Iaquinta’s recovering will give him more time to enjoy the holidays with his family, while staying warm from the cold New York winter; it would have been hard to take anything positive away from the situation had the injury been sustained in the spring or summer.
Cro Cop Retires, Is Flagged for Drug Violation
Citing a series of injuries sustained over the course of his career, fan-favorite Mirko “Cro Cop” unexpectedly retired from the sport over Facebook, leaving his co-main event spot at UFN 79 in South Korea vacant. Fans were initially disappointed, but the news took an even more upsetting twist when it was discovered that Cro Cop also failed a drug test, after testing positive for growth hormones. Cro Cop claimed that the hormones were to help heal his shoulder—and given his negative test last fight, as well as those throughout his career, his honest approach makes one want to believe him.
With this disappointment aside, Cro Cop has certainly had a storied and successful career. It’s hard to imagine a better last fight for him than his previous stoppage win over Gabriel Gonzaga.
UFC Fight Night 79 Loses Another Fight
In addition to Cro Cop’s removal from the card, MMA fans (especially those from South Korea) were dealt another large blow, as Thiago Alves was forced to withdraw from his main-event position opposite Benson Henderson. Nearly a worst-case scenario for the UFC, UFN 79 has now lost a co-main event and main event competitor just two weeks out from the scheduled date; these circumstances are oddly familiar to last month’s UFN 76 card in Ireland. It remains to be seen whether or not suitable replacements will be found in time. However, just two weeks out from an event in a foreign country, new competitors for these difficult fights will be very hard to find, to say the least.
Luis Santos Misses Weight, Cancels Ben Askren Fight
ONE’s most anticipated match of the year—for American fans, at least—was cancelled just one day before the event, due to a frankly unprofessional Luis Santos. After missing weight for his title bout by a final two pounds, Askren requested that Santos weigh-in at 190 lbs. or less on fight day—with about eight hours to further rehydrate himself (Askren would have also adhered to this weigh-in). Santos agreed, before showing up to this weight-check overweight once again, at 192 lbs. It’s a shame that he was so unprofessional here—win or lose, there were a great number of eyes on him. Askren was still paid his fight purse by ONE, but he certainly paid a great price for this cancelled bout; all of these months without competition truly are unfortunate at his career stage. With another opponent, Askren likely could have had one defense, with another fight lined up now.
Ronda Rousey Dethroned at UFC 193
There were some solid fights at UFC 193, but the bout that will undoubtedly resonate with the public for many years to come is Holm vs. Rousey. Holm demolished Rousey and secured the belt via second-round knockout, after overwhelming and besting the former champion in the first. The finish was vicious and devastating highlight-reel material that has certainly (permanently) damaged the stock of Rousey.
The most disappointed individuals in the arena, beside Rousey and her team, were likely the UFC brass. Even with the rematch considered, this bump in the road will cost the promotion an excellent deal of revenue. Although they’ve certainly had an impressive return on the funds spent to promote Rousey, perhaps this experience will allow them to be less reckless in over-promoting an athlete; while all of this money was able to help build the hype behind Rousey when she was winning, it remains to be seen just how many fans will tune-in now that she’s sustained a loss—or, more pressingly, if she loses the rematch.
Rousey’s defeat puts an exclamation point on the awful week that the UFC has had. From losing the ratings war to the UFC South Korea injuries, and finally this upset, this tumultuous set of circumstances and occurrences makes ONE’s cancelled title-fight situation look like a dream. Hopefully, next week will hold more positive news (in the way of injuries and cancelled fights, that is; the Holm win wasn’t a negative occurrence for fans, just the UFC). Enjoy the fights!