It has been another busy week in the world of mixed martial arts. With an action-packed card in Montreal, Canada, some key UFC roster additions like Michelle Waterson, several new matchup announcements, and most notably, the tragic fall of a UFC champion, there is plenty to catch up on.
Here is a roundup of the week’s biggest headlines for those who have been away from the World Wide Web.
Mighty Mouse Breaks a Record at UFC 186
Last weekend, the UFC made a successful return to La Belle Province with UFC 186. And though the card took quite a lot of criticism for the depth of its lineup—well, the lack thereof—it actually turned out to be one for the ages.
The main event featured a UFC flyweight title fight between dominant champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, and highly-hyped Japanese prospect, Kyoji Horiguchi. Leading into the bout, nobody questioned the talent of the hard-hitting Horiguchi, though most expected that at just 24, he was too inexperienced to hang with Mighty Mouse. The expectation was simple: he’d land a few good shots, but in the end, he’d be dragged to the wrong end of a one-sided decision by the champ. For 24 minutes and 59 seconds of the bouts total 25 minutes, this looked like the way things would unfold. Mighty Mouse took his challenger down at will, dominating him in every facet of the game, and all signs pointed to a sound unanimous decision win for the champ. Then it happened. With just 1 second left in the bout, the champion locked up an arm-bar, and coaxed out a tap. It’s the latest stoppage in UFC history, and because it occurred in the final second of a five-round fight, it’s a record that can’t be beat.
In the co-main event of the evening, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson made his successful return to the UFC. Despite earlier reports that a Bellator injunction would keep him from the card, the veteran slugger did in fact make his homecoming. That turned out to be bad news for his opponent, the ever-game Fabio Maldonado. The Brazilian found himself on the receiving end of Rampage’s best performance in years.
Elsewhere on the card, Michael Bisping defeated CB Dolloway by unanimous decision, while John Makdessi scored an impressive first round KO, and undefeated Brazilian prospect Thomas Almeida made it 19-0 with a savage, first round stoppage of the veteran Yves Jabouin.
Jon Jones is Stripped of his Title
Despite Mighty Mouse’s impressive win and Rampage’s long-awaited comeback, the biggest story of the week comes courtesy of former (yes, former) UFC light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones.
It all started with a hit-and-run. Early reports stated that Jones had blasted through a red light, slamming into a pregnant woman’s car and breaking her arm in the process. From there, it’s reported that the pound-for-pound king grabbed some cash and some drugs (first, it was said to be cocaine, though now reports say marijuana) and fled the scene. And finally, after some 36 hours of silence and speculation, he turned himself in.
The price of Jones’s bail was $2,500—a steep bill for the average Joe, but a drop in the bucket for a UFC champion. Naturally, he was able to pay this amount and leave jail fairly quickly. But of course, that isn’t where the story ends.
Jones now awaits sentencing for his crime, and has been stripped not just of his light heavyweight title, but also of several lucrative sponsorship deals, including one with athletic apparel titan, Reebok. He’s also been handed an indefinite suspension, and has been removed from the UFC’s official rankings.
For fight fans it’s a tragic turn of events. Love him or hate him, a Jon Jones fight is a beautiful thing to behold. Of course, there is a silver lining.
Jones was scheduled to take on the brick-throwing Anthony “Rumble” Johnson at UFC 187. Having been removed from the card, Jones will be replaced by his old nemesis, Daniel Cormier, who will now take on Rumble for the vacant title. It should be one hell of a fight.
Cowboy Gets A New Opponent
Anthony Johnson isn’t the only fighter on the UFC 187 bill to experience a late-in-the-game opponent change. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is facing a similar issue. His originally-slated opponent, talented Russian grappler Khabib Nurmagomedov, has been forced out of their scheduled bout with an injury.
Nurmagomedov will be replaced by talented Canadian striker, John “The Bull” Makdessi, who laid waste to Shane Campbell last week in Montreal. From the early outlook, this clash between Makdessi and Cerrone—who are both potent finishers—looks like it should be a real gunfight. That said, Cowboy vs. Nurmagomedov was a real-deal number one contender fight. The winner would have been the clear cut, irrefutable next opponent for UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos. So while this rodeo-style, Bull vs. Cowboy matchup should be a fun one, it doesn’t hold a candle to the fight we originally expected. The injury bug bites again.
The UFC signs “The Karate Hottie”
Even in a week marred by controversy and injuries, the MMA world is not without its good news. In a seriously key addition to its strawweight roster, the UFC has signed form Invicta atomweight champion Michelle Waterson, AKA“The Karate Hottie.”
As a fighter who is talented, attractive and charismatic, Michelle Waterson has all the makings of a star in the UFC’s newest division. With a win or two, we can all but guarantee that Michelle Waterson will find her way to a divisional title shot. To that end, we already know who her first opponent will be. She’ll look to make good on her new UFC contract with W over talented The Ultimate Fighter alumnus Angela Magana. The two will duke it out at the TUF 21 Finale, which goes down on June 12 in Miami, Florida, and is headlined by a lightweight battle between Benson Henderson and Michael Johnson.
Josh Barnett Chooses the Big Screen over the Cage
Many fight fans have been wondering as to the status of Josh Barnett, one of the game’s most dangerous and experienced heavyweights. Barring a stint on the pro-grappling circuit, it’s been over a year and a half since we’ve seen Barnett fight. And considering the current lack of big-name talent in the UFC heavyweight division, it’d sure be nice to have him back.
Unfortunately, it sounds like we’re in store for more waiting. Barnett has announced that instead of an Octagon return, he’ll be shifting his focus to the film biz. He’s accepted a role in an upcoming film, the details of which are not yet known.
For fight fans, it’s a sad bit of news. Barnett is nearing 40 years old, and probably doesn’t have many competitive years left in him. That’s probably precisely why he’s taking this role, though. At 37 years old, running lines is probably a little more appealing than getting punched in the face.