One Disappointment After Another: The Week That Was in MMA
I can hear you sharpening the pitchforks already. Don’t lie. You read this title and thought “Oh good, another angry blogger complaining about something – time to bury this mofo in a deeper grave than Elite XC!”
Even worse, this complaining comes on the heels of UFC 145 – the event that marked the triumphant return of MMA to the public sphere after a month-long absence (not counting that little sojourn to the land of Vikings, literacy, and women with dragon tattoos).
In actual fact, I loved UFC 145. This card marked one of the rare occasions where I watched the entire event, from Facebook prelims to the main event, and from start to finish it was an entertaining, exciting night of fights.
Yet this week still represented some serious disappointments for me. So here I am, about to get more complaining done than C-3P0 in all the “Star Wars” flicks. Why is that? I have my reasons – and they’re mostly arbitrary, almost entirely silly, and pretty much nobody’s fault in particular.
You’ve been warned.
The Sideburns do Nothing!
I’m not going to lie – coming into UFC 145, I had a maybe 5% inkling that Chad Griggs could be a force in the Heavyweight division. Not a world beater, not a champion, but a “name” face in the division.
Just in case you’re wondering – yes, I’m aware your respect for me is disappearing faster than a platter of Twinkies sitting next to Anthony Johnson.
Why this strange affinity for Griggs? I have no idea, really. Maybe it was the fact that he was riding a 6-fight winning streak into this fight. Maybe it was because he was the man to pop the Bobby Lashley hype bubble. Maybe it’s because his sideburns are the secret envy of men the world over.
It’s safe to say that 5% inkling has dropped pretty much into the fractional range at this point.
What a beating.
What’s worse, however, was the way Griggs looked on his way to that crushing defeat. On his feet, he was merely outgunned; when the fight hit the ground, he looked as lost as an Italian cruise ship captain. This was a performance that screamed “not ready for the elite level” so loudly you could almost hear it over Joe and Goldie’s humiliating breakdown of all the moments Griggs f*cked up in this fight.
Mark Hominick: UFC Title Contender
Mark Hominick vs. Eddie Yagin was an absolutely beautiful – and beautifully brutal – fight that deserved “Fight of the Night” honors. And no, I’m not going to complain about the decision. This fight was close. It could have gone either way. It’s as simple as that.
I wrote going into this fight that Eddie Yagin was as close to a “rebuild” fight as Hominick was likely to get in the UFC, making this the most dangerous kind of fight for a fighter – one that they’re expected to win.
The loss means Hominick has likely faded from the title picture like Marty McFly’s family in “Back to the Future”. Worse, this loss – his 3rd in a row – means his future in the UFC could be in jeopardy.
Watching one of the nicest, hardest working, and potentially biggest stars in Canadian MMA continue to struggle when he should be shining really makes me feel like chuggin’ from a flask of Canadian Club and listening to some Gordon Lightfoot (what the hell?).
Overeem’s a Cheater, After All
Before anyone starts throwing rocks, let me make it clear: I’m in no position, either of authority or knowledge, to cast blame or judgement on Alistair Overeem. Still, at the risk of rushing to judgement, this is a situation of there being so much smoke that either there’s a fire, or Nick Diaz is breaking in his new bong.
Trying to flee from the building before he could get tested? Changing his reason for doing so about 100 times? Bringing a doctor so incredibly inept that Chael Sonnen’s osteopath looks like Marie Curie by comparison?
The Reem did all that and came off looking pretty damn guilty as a result. The NSAC agreed, serving him with a 9-month suspension that will keep him out of action for the rest of 2012. It would have been a more stinging rebuke if the commission hadn’t spent the last 20 minutes of the hearing extolling the virtues of the man they had just labeled a liar and a cheat.
This ruling forever attaches an astrix to the accomplishments of Alistair Overeem. Everything Alistair has accomplished since he turned Super Sayain a couple years ago – winning the K-1 World Grand Prix, establishing his dominance in Strikeforce, getting a title shot in the UFC – will be thrown into doubt. Everything he does from here on out will carry that same doubt.
This disappoints me because Overeem was possibly the most exciting, interesting guy in the Heavyweight division, a man seemingly destined to become a huge star in the UFC. Now, he has the mistrust of Dana White and the athletic commissions, the scorn of most fans, and a year on the shelf with nothing to do but be forgotten by most casual MMA fans.
No Silva vs. Sonnen II in Brazil
Speaking of controversial fighters forever battling the stigma of past PED use – Chael Sonnen!
Without a doubt, the biggest fight this year – for me, at least – is Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen II. This fight just has everything you look for in any main event: an exciting first fight, two strong personalities, and lots of history. But for me, the icing on the delicious, violence-flavoured cheesecake of Silva vs. Sonnen II was surely that the fight was going to be held in Brazil.
And not just anywhere in Brazil, but in an 80,000 seat soccer stadium. Now anyone who’s seen the two UFC events in Brazil knows that the Brazilian crowd is without a doubt the craziest in all MMA. It’s not even close. And anyone who saw 55,000 Canadians pack the Rogers Centre for UFC 129 last year knows stadium shows have a special sort of significance.
But thanks to United Nations intervention, the biggest fight in MMA history isn’t happening where it should be happening.
First of all, there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write. Secondly, I still can’t wrap my head fully around the problems this U.N summit raised for Silva vs. Sonnen II. Not enough hotel rooms? Surely Rio, one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world, can accommodate both events at the same time. Does anyone really think that the vast majority of those who would have been attending Silva/Sonnen II wouldn’t be from…I don’t know…BRAZIL!?
I suspect this is a case of “some diplomat/politician/bureaucrat is afraid of Rio looking bad to the world by showcasing a cage fighting event while the U.N is in town.” Which is deplorably silly, but at least understandable from the position of someone unfamiliar with MMA.
I’m just disappointed I’m not going to get to see Anderson Silva celebrate among 70,000 of his countrymen should he win – or Chael Sonnen flee from 70,000 of Anderson’s countrymen should he lose.