Here is a roundup of the week’s biggest MMA headlines for those who have been away from the World Wide Web, including an MMA fighter topping the list of the most dominant athletes alive. Despite being the first weekend without a UFC event in over a month, it’s been a busy few days in the world of mixed martial arts. With intriguing matchup announcements and lineup shuffles, organizational changes, controversy, and more, there’s plenty of MMA news to catch up on.
Ronda Rousey Named Business Insiders Most Dominant Athlete
While it was Floyd Mayweather who kept his undefeated record intact with a win over Manny Pacquiao last weekend, it is UFC women’s bantamweight queen Ronda Rousey who is being recognized for her dominance. The champ has snagged the number-one-spot on Business Insider’s 50 most dominant athletes alive. And while these lists tend to generate a good deal of controversy, it’s hard to argue to argue Rousey’s top spot.
She is, of course, a former Olympic Judoka and the first and only women’s bantamweight champion of the UFC. It’s not her accolades that have earned her the top-spot on BI’s list, however. It’s the way she’s amassing those accolades. Rousey hasn’t defended her belt with decisions or back-and-forth fights. Every one of her title defenses has been as dominant as any in MMA history. From her first round knockouts of Alexis Davis and Sara McMann, to her thrashing of Miesha Tate, to her first round arm bars of Liz Carmouche and Cat Zingano (the latter of which took just 14 seconds), Rousey has knocked away her challengers like baseballs in a batting cage. Despite fighting the very best talent that her division has to offer, she’s never broken a sweat. And while that could change if she ever enters the cage with the fearsome Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, for the moment, Rousey’s reign remains a truly unquestionable thing. Kudos to ya, champ.
UFC Reveals Payment Tiers of Reebok Deal
Since the moment it was announced, there have been many questions surrounding the UFC’s partnership with athletic apparel giant, Reebok. The deal, which will provide all fighters on the UFC roster with personalized Reebok uniforms, would remove the need for fighters to chase down their own sponsors, but also removed the fighters’ ability to maximize their profits by working with the sponsors that benefited them the most. Whether the Reebok deal would turn out to be a positive or negative development for the UFC’s athletes, then, really came down to the numbers which, until this week, remained shrouded in mystery.
We now have a better sense of how the payment structure will work. While payment tiers were originally expected to coincide with fighter rankings, they’ll now be determined by fighter seniority. That is, the amount a fighter is paid for flying the Reebok flag depends on the amount of fights they’ve had inside the UFC, and in Zuffa-acquired leagues like Pride, Strikeforce and WEC. The details are as follows:
Fighters with five or less bouts under the UFC banner will receive $2,500 per bout, while those with 6-10 UFC bouts will receive $5000. Fighters with 11-16, in contrast, will receive $10,000; fighters with 16-20 will get $20,000 and fighters with 21 and over (very few active competitors fall into this category) will receive $25,000. The only bouts where this seniority system doesn’t apply are title fights, where the challenger will receive an automatic $30,000 for repping Reebok, and the champion will receive $40,000.
For fighters who have had difficulty locking down sponsors in the past, this announcement is likely to come as a breath of fresh air. For those up-and-coming fighters who never had any issues raising sponsorship funds, on the other hand, this payment scheme is bound to sting a little bit. Cody Gibson, the UFC bantamweight who first broke the news in a tweet that his since been deleted, doesn’t seem too sure about the new system.
New Orleans and Berlin Fight Nights Get New Main Events
The injury bug is becoming as much a fixture of the MMA world as the Octagon itself. This week, it struck again in a big way.
Its most notable victim was Alexander Gustafsson, a former light heavyweight title challenger, who was expected to face Glover Teixera in the main event of UFC Fight Night: Berlin in June. Instead of seeking a replacement opponent for Teixera, the UFC has instead opted to scrap the fight altogether. The card’s new main event will be a strawweight title fight between Polish champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and American challenger Julianna Pena. While it sucks that we’ll have to wait to Gustafsson get back in there, this is a pretty solid replacement.
The UFC’s return to Germany isn’t the only card that got a new main event this week. Though it wasn’t due to injury, the organization’s May return to New Orleans has also seen a major lineup change. In the wake of Jon Jones’s recent ordeal, which lost him his light heavyweight title, one half of New Orleans’s main event, Daniel Cormier, was pulled from the card to fight Anthony “Rumble” Johnson for the now vacant 205-pound title. That left Cormier’s original opponent, Ryan Bader, without an dance partner. Instead of finding a replacement for the powerful American wrestler, the UFC has moved a middleweight clash between Dan Henderson and Tim Boetsch into the main event spot. A heavyweight bout between Matt Mitrione and “Big Ben” Rothwell will now serve as the card’s co-main event.
UFC Announces Hall of Fame Overhaul
Not only is the HoF expected to enjoy a real, physical location in the near future (almost certainly in Las Vegas), but it will also be reorganized with four new categories.
The first category, entitled The Modern Era, will honor fighters who made their debut after the year 2000. This section is likely to include fighters like Georges St. Pierre, BJ Penn, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and perhaps Jon Jones, in the future.
The second category, named the Pioneers Era, will honor pros who made their debut before the year 2000; likely shoe-ins being men like Dan Henderson, Anderson Silva, and Kazushi Sakuraba.
The third category will honor figures who, though important to the UFC, do not compete as fighters—Bruce Buffer, Joe Rogan, Burt Watson, and Dana White being likely candidates.
The final new category of the UFC Hall of Fame will honour the organization’s best fights. Expect the addition of Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar, Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg, Diego Sanchez vs. Gilbert Melendez, Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson, Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua, and many others to earn their spot in history as part of the HoF.
Chris Weidman Gets His BJJ Black Belt
Chris Weidman is already the proud owner of the UFC middleweight title. Now, he’s also the owner of a black belt in Brazilain Jiu Jitsu, a hard-won and truly monumental accomplishment for any practitioner of the art. Weidman receives this honor under Matt Serra and Renzo Gracie.
Though Weidman has seemed eager to throw hands of late, his dangerous ground-game has never been a secret. This just makes it all official. Good luck, Vitor Belfort—you’re going to need it.
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