It’s been a busy week in the world of mixed martial arts. With an action-packed fight card in Fairfax, Virginia, plenty of matchup announcements, a new PED bust, and some fairly hefty legal drama, there’s plenty to catch up on.
Here are the past week’s MMA news highlights, for those who have been away from the World Wide Web.
UFC Fight Night Brings Plenty of Action to Fairfax
Last weekend, the UFC made a triumphant return to Fairfax, Virginia. What the card lacked in the way of big names, it made up for in excitement.
In the main event, Chad Mendes reasserted himself as the world’s number-two featherweight behind Jose Aldo (sorry, Conor McGregor, it’s true). With a salvo of savage strikes, Mendes turned the lights out on #4-ranked featherweight Ricardo Lamas for a beautiful first round TKO.
Elsewhere on the card, Clay Guida, Dustin Poirier, and The Ultimate Fighter winner Michael Chiesa also scored big wins, while Al Iaquinta and Liz Carmouche scored important, though very controversial decisions over Jorge Masvidal and Lauren Murphy respectively.
The Battle for ‘Rampage’ Heats Up
After a three-fight sojourn in Viacom-owned MMA promotion Bellator, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was scheduled for a highly-anticipated UFC comeback at UFC 186, which goes on April 25th in Montreal. That will not be happening.
When news of Rampage’s UFC return first broke, he was technically still under contract with Bellator, but cited a breach of contract as the grounds for his exit. Bellator, of course, wasn’t cool with this, and promised that they would do everything in their power to keep Rampage. It was a bit of a sketchy situation, but the UFC’s willingness to take the beloved slugger back was fairly reassuring. Surely, it was nothing the Billion-dollar enterprise’s lawyers couldn’t handle.
Fast-forward to this week: a New Jersey court has granted Bellator an injunction which, just two weeks out from fight night, will keep Rampage from fighting for the UFC. As a result, the already-shallow card loses its co-main event, which has in turn forced the venue to offer ticket refunds. Essentially, what we have here is a major power play by Viacom and Bellator, and a big-time detriment to the UFC. Many pundits, however, speculate that this might be just what the UFC wanted.
Let’s not forget that the UFC is currently neck-deep in a class-action lawsuit filed by a number of former fighters. One of the pillars of that lawsuit is that the UFC has a monopoly in the MMA industry. Their losing the battle for Rampage however, dictates otherwise. It indicates some serious competition.
Either way, ticket-buyers in Montreal and fight fans the world over are not happy about Rampage’s removal from the card. His scheduled fight with Fabio Maldonado would have been a barn-burner.
The Nogueira Brothers Return to Action
Despite their recent losses, MMA’s favorite brothers will both soon be returning to action. At UFC 190, which is headlined by Ronda Rousey and Bethe Correia and goes down on August 1st in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, both MMA legends will give it another shot.
The lighter of the two brothers, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, will look to rebound from a brutal loss to Anthony “Rumble” Johnson against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. The bout will be a rematch of the pair’s 2005 classic—one of the consensus best fights ever.
The heavier of the Nogueira bros, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, will in turn duke it out with 7-foot-tall Dutchman Stefan Struve. “Big Nog” will enter this bout having won just twice in the last five years. Struve, on the other hand, enters the bout on the heels of a two-fight knockout skid. This is a must-win heavyweight fight if ever there was one.
Mike Swick is Ready for a Comeback
After more than two years away from the sport (which was proceeded by an earlier two-year absence), The Ultimate Fighter: Season 1 veteran Mike Swick will return to the Octagon. Joining Diego Sanchez as one of just two TUF 1 cast members still competing in the UFC, Swick will take on 12-2 Canadian Alex Garcia at the stacked UFC 189. He’ll be looking for his first win since August of 2012.
Swick and Garcia join the card’s ever-growing lineup which, so far, features only featherweight and welterweight bouts.
Former NFL’er Calls Out CM Punk for UFC Fight
A year ago, this headline probably would have made most MMA fans laugh. Yet here we are in 2015, with former WWE staple CM Punk under UFC contract, and everyone and their mother hoping to be his first opponent.
The latest person to call Punk out, joining the likes of Cathal Pendred, Phil Baroni, and the goddamn Green Ranger in doing so, is former NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman. Merriman has stated that he would not only like to fight Punk, but that the two also have pre-existing beef. Whether a few tweets back and forth actually qualify as “beef” is hard to say, but considering how unlikely this bout is to come to fruition, it really doesn’t matter. After all, Punk is hoping to fight at middleweight (185 pounds) or welterweight (170 pounds). At 6’4 and some 260 pounds, Merriman would probably have to cut off a leg to reach such low weights.
Another PED Bust
In a new instance of a seriously troubling trend, another UFC fighter has tested positive for banned substances. Jorge Antonio Cezario de Oliveira, who was submitted by Christos Giagos in the first round at March’s UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. LaFlare, has been flagged for the steroid stanozolol.
While this is undoubtedly a bad look for the sport as a whole, the UFC has ramped up its anti-doping regimen in a major way. That means that over the course of the next few years, positive tests are probably going to become more and more common. And really, that’s a good thing, because it means offenders are being caught, which will in turn influence potential cheaters to think twice before using performance-enhancing drugs.