It’s been a busy week in the world of MMA news. With an exciting UFC Fight Night out of Newark, New Jersey, legal developments in some of MMA’s most high-profile cases, and the debut of a mould-breaking new season of The Ultimate Fighter, there’s plenty to catch up on.
Here’s a recap of the week’s biggest MMA news and headlines for those who were away from the web.
UFC on Fox: Rockhold Dominates, Prospects Emerge
In the buildup to UFC on Fox 15, many referred to its main event, a middleweight contender clash between Luke Rockhold and Lyoto Machida, as a true coin flip. From the early vantage point, the tremendous skill of both men made it as tough a fight to call as any. In the, end however, it turned out to be one of the most one-sided beatings in recent memory. While Machida landed a few significant punches in the bout’s opening minutes, it didn’t take the hulking Rockhold long to find his groove.
Machida very nearly didn’t make it out of the first round. In the second, he found himself tapping to a rear-naked choke, concussed and abruptly removed from middleweight contender status. It was just the third time the karate specialist has been stopped in his MMA career, and in defeat, he now teeters on the edge of gatekeeper status. Rockhold, on the other hand, now stands out as the clear-cut, number-one-contender for the winner of Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort’s upcoming title clash.
Elsewhere on the card, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza scored a dominant win over last minute replacement, Chris Camozzi—a man he had already soundly beat less than two years before. Outside of the sound thrashings dished out by Rockhold and Jacare, the other big story of the card was the emergence of some impressive young contenders, as Max Holloway, Paige VanZant, and Aljamain Sterling scored massive wins over their much more experienced opponents: Cub Swanson, Felice Herrig, and Takeya Mizugaki respectively.
It was a big night for the fight community and one that won’t soon be forgotten.
Rampage Is Fighting at UFC 186
Last week, it was announced that thanks to a contract dispute with Bellator MMA, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was being pulled from his UFC 186 co-headlining bout with fellow brawler, Fabio Maldonado. Former hockey enforcer Steve Bosse was pegged as a last minute replacement, and the MMA community mourned the loss of Rampage’s highly-anticipated homecoming.
This week, that announcement was flipped on its head, as the judge responsible for Rampage’s case has reversed Bellator’s injunction, thereby allowing the MMA legend to fight for the UFC. After a harrowing moment, we’ll get Rampage’s comeback after all. The bureaucratic mess has, however, resulted in the fight’s being changed from a 205-pound lightweight heavyweight bout to a 215-pound catchweight bout. Here’s hoping all parties make weight.
TUF 21 Debuts
After 20, long seasons, The Ultimate Fighter’s tried-and-true format was getting a little stale. Despite valiant attempts by the UFC to boost viewership with feuding coaches and all-star casts, numbers were steadily falling. As a result, the organization has made a massive change to its long-running reality show. For the first time in its broadcast history, the show will feature two rival gyms, competing for a cash reward. The gyms involved are American Top Team, home to fighters like Hector Lombard and welterweight champ Robbie Lawler, and the Blackzillians, home to fighters like Rashad Evans, Michael Johnson, and light heavyweight number-one-contender Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.
Whether this format feng shui actually does anything to boost ratings remains to be seen, but after an exciting debut episode on Wednesday night, things are looking good.
Wanderlei Silva Might Actually Be Allowed to Fight Again
Rampage isn’t the only MMA legend with some legal issues on his plate. In related MMA news, Rampage’s three-time opponent, Wanderlei Silva, is in the middle of his very own snafu. Granted, while it’s hard to fault Rampage for his legal woes, Silva’s problems are very much his own fault.
It all started with a drug test—or lack thereof. When testing officials showed up at Silva’s gym for random testing in advance of a scheduled bout with Chael Sonnen, Silva opted to escape through the back door, leaving the MMA world to wonder what he had to hide, and not surprisingly, making an enemy of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. His punishment? A lifetime ban from professional competition.
Now, that ban technically only stands in Nevada, the de facto “fight capital of the world.” Legally speaking, Wandy could fight in areas overseen by other athletic commissions. The UFC, however, would never allow for a contradiction of the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s ruling. And because Silva is under UFC contract, he is unable to take his services elsewhere—say, to Asian MMA league ONE Championship. That’s a tough spot for man who makes his living by fighting.
Thankfully for the Brazilian legend, a judge is going to be taking a closer look at the details of his case in May—which may result in his being allowed to fight again. That’s good news for old school fight fans, and really, anybody with a pulse. Because let’s get real, steroids or not, Wanderlei Silva has never been in a boring fight. His return to competition also opens the door for a long-awaited grudge match with Chael Sonnen—be it in the UFC, or elsewhere.
Phil Davis Heads to Bellator MMA
The UFC may have successfully swiped Rampage from Bellator, but Bellator isn’t coming out of the exchange empty-handed. While the MMA world wondered if Rampage would be allowed to fight at UFC 186, MMA’s second-biggest organization picked up world-ranked free agent, light heavyweight Phil Davis.
In his most recent outing, Davis lost a lacklustre decision to Ryan Bader. Before that, though, he showed the world what he was all about with a dominant decision win over former title-challenger, Glover Teixera—evidence of a hot-and-cold UFC run and one that really didn’t seem to point to gold. As a member of the Bellator roster, however, where the competition is a little less stiff, Davis might just be able to clinch the light heavyweight belt. And either way, we’ve now got exciting clashes between Davis and men like Emanuel Newton, “King Mo” Lawal, and current champ Liam McGeary to look forward to. Our verdict? This is a good move for the talented grappler.