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A few thoughts on this rainy Tuesday in New York …
I still can’t believe what happened in that third round between Alex Volkanovski and Brian Ortega. We have obviously seen some great things in some big fights over the years, but I can’t recall a champion being thaaaat close to losing his or her belt, overcoming the odds and then winning. What a moment. I’d be absolutely shocked if that is not the round of the year.
I think Ortega’s corner should have stopped the fight after the fourth round. I know it’s a tough spot to be in but he was done. Among the many things I’d love to see change in this sport are corners feeling more empowered to call it a day, as we often see in boxing.
I really don’t understand why the UFC booked the Max Holloway vs. Yair Rodriguez fight when they did. Would anyone be mad if they just booked Volkanovski vs. Holloway 3 right now? It’s the fight that makes the most sense. By far. Now you have Holloway fighting two months after Volkanovski’s win, which means his timeline is completely out of sync with the champ’s. This after he’s been siting out since January. What’s the point of this? Rodriguez is great, but he hasn’t fought since October 2019. Why did he have to fight Holloway next? Again, how does this make sense for Holloway? He should be fighting for the belt next.
My only explanation for this bizarre booking is they will consider doing Volkanovski vs. Henry Cejudo? I know Cejudo hasn’t won at 145, but he’s been talking about this fight long enough to where I think it’s worth looking at. Cejudo lost all leverage during his “retirement” — and I think he’s handled it all wrong — but he is still a former two-division champion and Olympic Gold medalist. I dunno. That’s all I got.
As of right this moment, the Petr Yan vs. Cory Sandhagen fight isn’t a done deal, I’m told, but it is moving in that direction. This is a booking that makes sense when you consider TJ Dillashaw is coming off surgery and Rob Font isn’t available at the moment, sources say. I thought Sandhagen deserved the nod against Dillashaw anyway, and, if he wins, Sterling-Sandhagen 2 would be fun, as well.
I feel for Sterling, who is no doubt getting heat for withdrawing from the fight, but a neck injury — or lingering neck issues — is no joke. You can’t go in there with a bum neck. I’m told he wasn’t cleared by the UFC medical team and that’s why there has been no talk of stripping him. My question is, why was this fight booked and promoted when he wasn’t cleared? Seems like a big risk to take when dealing with someone coming off neck surgery, no?
I see a lot people calling for Sterling to get stripped, but I have always believed that a champ should get a year to defend their belt before that happens. He won the belt in March. Let’s give him a little more time.
Merab Dvalishvili can be a big star in this sport. He’s great.
I’m officially over the Tyron Woodley-Jake Paul tattoo bet. Now we got people debating if it’s a real tattoo or not? Time to move on, everyone.
I have so much respect for how Israel Adesanya has handled all the drama surrounding the New Zealand government’s treatment of the City Kickboxing team. I love that team’s bond and loyalty towards each other. It’s a beautiful thing. I suspect all the credit must go to head coach Eugene Bareman, who is one of those rare non-fighters in this sport who doesn’t seem to crave attention.
By the way, did you see Izzy’s video reacting to UFC 266? That is real, genuine stuff. Love. Friendship. Camaraderie. Unity. When he yells, “fight Volko, fight,” you can hear the passion in his voice. It’s a tremendous watch. His YouTube channel has become one of the best in the sport.
Speaking of great YouTube channel’s in MMA, shoutout to Michael Bisping, who has really upped his YT game these days. Love to see fighters, old and young, do this sort of thing.
I don’t really have much to say about the Jon Jones situation at the moment, but man, what a sad situation this all turned out to be. It seems like every time we think he’s turning the corner and is staying out of trouble, something like this happens. Doc Gooden, Daryll Strawberry, Jon Jones. The details are pretty bad.
As much as it pains me to admit, I think we may need to move on from Islam Makhachev vs. Rafael dos Anjos, for now. It just seems like one of those matchups that wasn’t destined to happen.
I’m happy that some of y’all are finally starting to figure out that the UFC “leaks” news to reporters before fighters agree to bouts. This is not cool. Why do they do this? Well, sometimes it’s to put pressure on fighters. Sometimes it’s just careless. Sometimes it’s because they are afraid another outlet or reporter is going to get it first, so they jump the gun. Either way, it’s not right and we all need to be better when it comes to reporting this stuff.
And before you say, BUT ARIEL, YOU USED TO GET STUFF FROM THE UFC, I always double and triple checked stories. Always. To the point where it used to piss off the ones telling me the news. “You don’t believe me,” they’d say. It’s not that, but you always have to confirm with multiple sources.
Any time a guest fails to show up on my show it really bugs me, but Cesar Gracie bailing mid-show was super duper disappointing. Someone needed to answer for all the things Nick Diaz said last week. And truth be told, a few people were surprised I was giving Gracie “the platform” of my show considering his polarizing past. Gracie has always been good and straight with me, but I’m no dummy. I know what has been said. Regardless, I felt like he was the best person to explain why Diaz seemed to not want to fight Robbie Lawler last weekend, so to bail an hour before he was about to come on was incredibly weak.
Here’s hoping Nick can finally surround himself with the right people who will guide him in the right direction in his post-fighting days. It’s not too late. There’s still a ton of money to be made for Nick. He’s a star and will always be. Just look at Mike Tyson. His life was spiraling out of control and he was able to turn things around. He’s a huge success story now. Nick Diaz Inc. can be a great business, too, but it won’t work if he’s surrounded by the wrong people, again.
A few more nuggets on the new MMA promotion, the WFL:
* The organization will launch initially with 8 mens weight classes (135, 145, 155, 170, 185, 205, 225, 265).
*Team owners will vote on when female divisions will joining.
* Amongst the many current issues that the WFL will aim to remedy is extreme weight cutting.
* Each team will compete in six regular season competitions alternating between home and away events with four weeks between regular season competitions and five weeks between playoff competitions.
* Each event will have eight fights, one bout at each weight class between a home team athlete vs. away team athlete.
* Every fight will have a total of four points available (four points for a finish win, three points for a decision win, two points for a draw, one point for a decision loss, zero points for finish loss).
* Highest team total wins the league championship, however, the individual weight-class results determines who advances to the playoffs and their respective seeding.
I am told WFL officials have been meeting with a lot of prospective owners lately. Potentially, some recognizable faces to MMA fans will be attached.
Mazal tov to Ronda and Travis.
Have a great day, friends. Thanks for your continued support.