MMA Insider Alex Donno takes a look at a disturbing trend for UFC’s Dana White and looks ahead at tonight’s UFC 140 featuring Jon “Bones” Jones and Lyoto Machida. Remember you can find our free stream here
You can also listen to a fun and interesting interview Donno did with Bones a few months back.
2011 has been a tough year for UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. The man that UFC President Dana White refers to as the company’s biggest pay per view draw has been forced out of another event due to injury. Back in October, he had to pull out of his UFC 137 fight with Carlos Condit due to hamstring and knee issues. The injury bug has bitten GSP again, but this time it’s far more serious. A torn ACL has forced him out of his highly anticipated welterweight title defense against Nick Diaz on Super Bowl weekend. He will be sidelined for roughly the next 10 months (according to his doctor). Hist last title defense came this past April, in a five round unanimous decision win over Jake Shields. By the time GSP fights again, he will have a year and a half worth of cage rust. An interim welterweight champion will be crowned in his absense. Nick Diaz will fight at UFC 143 as scheduled, but he’ll be taking on Carlos Condit for the interim strap. The event takes place February 4th in Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, there’s a troubling trend plaguing the UFC: fighters making light of sexual assault. You may remember a controversial November tweet from Forrest Griffin, which read “Rape is the new missionary.” It caught the attention of reporters and bloggers far and wide. Griffin managed to provide Dana White with a good enough explanation to avoid losing his job. Miguel Torres, however, wasn’t so lucky. The former bantamweight champion apparently didn’t learn anything from the Griffin twitter controversy. Torres was released from the UFC on Thursday after posting the following tweet: “If a rape van was called a surprise van, more women wouldn’t mind going for rides in them. Everyone likes surprises.” Needless to say, White wasn’t amused. “There’s no explanation for that,” White told Sports Illustrated. “There’s absolutely nothing I could say to make any sense of that. And the fact that he even thinks that’s funny or that’s a joke, it disturbs me. It bothers me. Again, you’re dealing with a guy that’s a smart guy, that owns his own business, that’s been one of the top fighters in the world forever. And I cut him today. He’s no longer with the UFC.”
Surpringly enough, Torres wasn’t the only UFC fighter this week to joke about rape.
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans made an untimely reference to the child sex abuse scandal surrounding former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. In a press conference earlier this week to promote “UFC on Fox 2,” Evans and future opponent Phil Davis engaged in a verbal battle. One that seemed harmless at first. But eventually, Evans dropped this bombshell: “I guarantee you’ll be the first one to take a shot cause I’m going to put my hands on you worse than that dude did them other kids at Penn State.” Davis happens to be a Penn State alum. If you think Evans went too far, you’re not alone. Dana White referred to the comment as “one of the dumbest things you could say.” Even so, he gave no indication that Evans would be punished in any way. Hopefully, the Fox Network isn’t regretting their decision to sign a 7-year contract with the UFC. If the UFC expects to be accepted by a mainstream audience, their fighters must do a far better job of filtering themselves.
On a lighter note, The UFC returns to pay per view on Saturday Night for UFC 140 live from Toronto. Jon “Bones” Jones will put his light heavyweight title on the line against former champion Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida. It’s been a remarkable year for Bones, who in 2011 holds victories over Ryan Bader, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. If he can pull off a victory over Machida, you can make the argument that he’s had the best calendar year of any fighter in UFC history. Jones is a heavy betting favorite at -550, but even so, Machida will likely be his toughest test to date. The one-sided odds just go to show how much respect the betting public has for Jones, and rightfully so. Thus far in his young MMA career, he’s looked like a man amongst boys. Does Machida have the skills to give him a challenge?
Jon Jones holds a handful of physical advantages over the rest of MMA’s light heavyweight division. The most visible of those is his UFC record 84.5 inch reach. His reach will be a full 10.5 inches longer than Machida’s, giving Lyoto the challenge of getting inside the pocket to avoid getting picked apart from the outside. On paper, Machida matches up relatively well in this regard. He’s notorious for his quickness. He’s consistently found success in the striking game by darting in and out of the pocket quickly with accurate punches and kicks. Doing so successfully will be the key against Jones. However, he’s never faced anyone with Jones’ range. He will have to cover an enormous amount of distance to avoid Jones’ long, flailing limbs. That task will be daunting. And then there’s the matter of wrestling. Jones is a former JUCO national wrestling champion, but has shown the ability of a Division 1 All American. He’s had no problem putting opponents on their backs repeatedly, and possesses a slick submission game once the fight hits the mat. It’s likely that Machida, a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, will cancel out Jones’ submission game. But from a pure wrestling standpoint, it’s highly likely that Machida will find himself on his back several times throughout the fight. And when Jones is on top, he’s at his most lethal. His elbow strikes from top position are the most feared in the sport. In March of 2010, a single elbow from Jones was enough to break Brandon Vera’s eye socket. For Machida, staying off his back will be paramount. The fight is scheduled for five rounds.
On the undercard, both of MMA’s famed Nogueira brothers will be in action. In the co-main event, Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will meet in a heavyweight rematch. Mir out-struck Nogueira in December of ’08 en route to a second round TKO victory. However, Nogueira was fighting through a serious knee injury at the time, and pointed to that as the reason for his poor performance. Mir has long been upset by Nogueira making such excuses for the loss, and looks to this rematch as his opportunity to prove that the first win wasn’t a fluke. Mir and Nogueira hold many similarities. Both are black belts in BJJ, with Nogueira holding the superior grappling credentials. Both are regarded as above average boxers, but Mir clearly had the quicker hands in their first fight. And from a size standpoint, they are quite similar in stature. Nogueira is three years Mir’s senior (they are 35 and 32, respectively), but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. The key to this fight may lie in their respective mileage. Nogueira, a veteran of 41 fights, has endured some of MMA most grueling battles. Lately, the 35 year old has looked more like a fighter in his forties (but to be fair, he comes off an upset knockout victory over Brendan Schaub). His chin doesn’t appear as durable as it was in his PRIDE days, and his quickness seems to have lost a step. Mir will likely hold the advantage in athleticism.
The smaller Nogueira twin, Rogerio, will take on UFC legend Tito Ortiz in a light heavyweight special attraction. It’s
possible that both will be fighting for their job. Rogerio has lost two straight fights and Tito has lost four of his past five. A loss for either man could result in his UFC release. On paper, Rogerio will hold the striking edge, with Tito holding the advantage in wrestling. But to Rogerio’s credit, he showed better-than-expected takedown defense in his loss to former NCAA Division 1 national champion wrestler Phil Davis. Tito will likely have a tough time taking him to the ground. For an in depth look at this matchup, check out my interview with Tito Ortiz on Miami’s 790 The Ticket. You may be surprised at how thoughtful and introspective Tito comes off in this interview, as he discusses his recent thoughts of retirement.
On the remaining main card bouts, Claude Patrick meets Brian Ebersole at welterweight, and Mark Hominick takes on “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung at featherweight. Patrick and Hominick are Canadian, so you can expect the raucus Toronto crowd to be enthusiastically behind each of them. Casual viewers will certainly notice Ebersole, if for nothing else but the fact that he typically shaves his chest hair into an arrow (of course, he calls it the “hairrow”). To his credit, he’s a solid and well rounded veteran welterweight. As for Hominick vs Jung, this could potentially be a really fun featherweight fight, even if it only lasts a few minutes. I don’t expect Jung to be on Hominick’s level, but Jung is always coming forward to bring punishment, even if he takes more than he dishes out. Whether it lasts 15 minutes or 15 seconds, it should be an entertaining fight.
UFC 140 goes live on pay per view at 9:00 PM Eastern Time. Prior to that, you can watch two hours of free preliminary bouts on ION television, beginning at 7:00.