Rumors began to swirl on Friday that UFC men's bantamweight interim champion Renan Barao was injured and out of his UFC 161 main event bout against Eddie Wineland. The UFC confirmed the news today, and promoted Dan Henderson's bout with Rashad Evans to the main event.
Both fighters are former champions who are coming off losses. Evans, who was once the UFC light heavyweight champ, loss to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Jon Jones in his last two fights. One-time Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Henderson lost to Lyoto Machida at UFC 157. With their fight happening in just a few weeks, the bout will be three rounds instead of the usual five for main events.
Barao's injury means that both champions of the UFC's men's bantamweight division are now injured. Dominick Cruz hasn't fought since October of 2011 due to knee injuries. If Barao can't return soon, will there be an interim interim belt?
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UFC president Dana White put out his first video blog for UFC 160, and it's a behind the scenes look at the UFC's last pay-per-view event. The moments not to miss:
-- Bryan Caraway and Pat Healy discussing Healy's submission. Caraway, who had the only other submission win at UFC 159, said he was cheering for Healy to win by a knockout, not a submission, so that the Submission of the Night bonus would be Caraway's. The strange thing is Caraway did end up with the bonus because Healy's win was overturned by a failed drug test.
-- Michael Bisping yelling, "[Expletive] you guys!" to no one in particular
-- During warm-ups, Chael Sonnen showed off acrobatic skill. After losing to Jon Jones, he still showed a side that doesn't come through when he's trash talking to sell a fight.
UFC 160 is Saturday in Las Vegas, and we want to know how you think it will go down. Give us your picks and we'll run some of them here on Cagewriter. Here's how to do it. Check out the Cagewriter Facebook page to vote on a winner. Tell us why you think your pick will win in the comments of the poll, and some picks will run here on Friday. Click on each fight for its poll:
As the poet Pitbull said, let's have a real good time.
As a state legislator in Wyoming, Bryan Pedersen helped author the bill to legalize and regulate MMA in his home state. This weekend, he will test that bill by fighting at the Colosseum Fight Series, the first fights in Cheyenne since the bill passed.
Pedersen, who is 38 years old, has trained in MMA for the past four years. Like many fighters, he originally tried out the sport for fitness reasons only. But once MMA was allowed in his state, and Cheyenne was set to host fights, Pedersen couldn't help but say yes to an offer to fight on the CFS card.
"This is not something I normally do," he said to the Wyoming Star-Tribune. "But I really believe in the sport."
He served for six years in the Wyoming state legislature. Now a financial consultant, he plans on making this both his debut and retirement bout. The weigh-ins will take place at a familiar venue for Pedersen -- the steps of the Wyoming State Capitol Building.
Pedersen is taking the fight seriously, as he drives an hour and a half daily to Easton Training Center in Colorado, the training home of UFC veteran Eliot Marshall.
"I have a goal," he said. "Without a goal, you wouldn’t do it. It creates a sense of urgency and panic. Because every day I’m not training, my opponent is probably getting better. And I’m not."
He's the latest government official to set his sights on the cage, though Pedersen appears to be taking his fight more seriously than the two mayors in south Florida who are planning a bout. Perhaps MMA should become part of the legislative process.
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Who stood out in Saturday night's fights?
No. 1 star -- Vitor Belfort*: We will be watching highlights of that knockout for years to come. The timing, explosion and landing spot of the kick were just perfect. The knockout was so great the UFC didn't even have to say who they were talking about when they announced who the $50,000 Knockout of the Night bonus was awarded to.
#UFConFX8 Fight of the Night, Martins vs. Larsen; Sub of the Night, Jacare. KO - c'mon now, be reasonable. 50K each.
— UFC (@ufc) May 19, 2013
Then why the asterisk? Because it's hard to look at what Belfort did and not wonder if the testosterone replacement therapy he used throughout his camp played a part. His late-career resurgence doesn't pass the smell test.
No. 2 star -- Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza: Did Chris Camozzi even realize he was in the arm triangle choke that Souza so expertly applied? Souza's performance on Saturday night served notice to the UFC middleweights. It also earned him a $50,000 Submission of the Night bonus. All in all, it was a pretty good start in the UFC for the Strikeforce veteran.
No. 3 star -- Fabio Maldonado: Perhaps it wasn't the prettiest win of the night, but it got the job done against some tough odds. Maldonado withstood a kick to the groin that made even me wince and came back to win by decision. That's more than enough to earn a star.
From his rousing entrance to his quick submission win, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza had a memorable UFC debut at UFC on FX 8 with a first-round win over Chris Camozzi.
Souza is one of the UFC's best BJJ practitioners, and he put on a show on Saturday night. He took down Camozzi, and smoothly worked him on the ground until Souza caught him in an arm-triangle choke. It was so smooth and fast that Camozzi was choked out within seconds. The fight was stopped at 3:27 in the first round.
Souza, whose nickname means "alligator" in Portuguese, celebrated with his trademark crawl around the cage. He stood up and led the raucous crowd in gator chomps.
This is Souza's fourth straight win, and all four wins were by stoppage. He has shown a more well-rounded game during his recent Strikeforce fights, but had no problem returning to his jiu-jitsu roots in the win over Camozzi. With such a strong debut, Souza should be in the conversation for a middleweight title shot soon.
Vitor Belfort gave fans in his home country of Brazil plenty to be happy about at UFC on FX 8 on Saturday, delivering a first-round knockout of Luke Rockhold that is sure to make UFC highlight reels for years to come.
Belfort held off Rockhold's takedown attempts early, and then set up to deliver a perfect knockout kick halfway through the round. Near the fence, Belfort landed a spinning kick to Rockhold's face. It landed flush, and Rockhold fell to the ground. Belfort finished with ground and pound. The fight was stopped at 2:32 in the first round.
It's Belfort's second straight win by knockout. He knocked out Michael Bisping in January, and before that, moved up to light heavyweight and lost a title fight to Jon Jones. His record is now 23-10. He already has a loss against UFC champion Anderson Silva, but is this fight enough to ask for another title shot? He wouldn't say.
"I'm here to fight. I don't pick fights. I accept fights," Belfort said after the win.
There was plenty of bad blood between the two before the fight began. Belfort is one of the UFC fighters who has an exemption to use testosterone replacement therapy. Rockhold viewed this as sanctioned cheating, and wasn't afraid to say so. The two had to be separated during Friday's weigh-ins as Rockhold got in Belfort's face.
This was Rockhold's first fight in the UFC. He is now 11-2, with most of his wins coming in Strikeforce, where he was the middleweight champion.
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It's been a crazy, crazy week in MMA. Let's get right to finding out what's hot and what's not.
Not -- Pat Healy: After a memorable, double-bonus winning fight at UFC 159, Healy tested positive for marijuana. He lost his bonuses, worth $130,000. It was a very costly lesson.
Hot -- Bryan Caraway: He was the only other fighter at UFC 159 by submission, so he picked up Healy's vacated bonus.
"When you use an anti-gay slur, even not to describe a gay person, what you tell all gay people is, 'My subconscious wanted to find the worst insult it could, and what it came up with ... was you.'"
In using the f-word to describe Caraway, Diaz not only used the language of hate, but also put his own standing with the UFC in jeopardy.
Not -- Paul Kelly: Since losing to Donald Cerrone at UFC 126 and getting cut by the UFC, British fighter Paul Kelly's life has taken a surprising turn. He was convicted for trafficking heroin in the United Kingdom. He is reportedly facing a long prison term.
Still taking temperature -- Luke Rockhold and Vitor Belfort: The two will face off on Saturday night in Brazil on FX. Considering the bad blood between the fighters, this should be a fun one.
UFC lightweight Nate Diaz has been suspended by the promotion for using a homophobic slur in a tweet about fellow fighter Bryan Caraway. After Pat Healy lost his UFC 159 Submission of the Night bonus for testing positive for marijuana, the bonus was given to Caraway. Diaz apparently didn't think Caraway should have accepted the money. Apologies for the language he used in the tweet showing on Cagewriter:
I feel bad for pat Healy that they took a innocent mans money and I think the guy who took the money is the biggest Fag in the world ..
— Nathan Diaz (@NateDiaz209) May 16, 2013
He followed that up with a slur against women.
— Nathan Diaz (@NateDiaz209) May 16, 2013
The UFC responded quickly, suspending Diaz as they investigate what their next move is. The promotion issued a statement on the matter.
"We are very disappointed by Nate Diaz's comments, which are in no way reflective of our organization. Nate is currently suspended pending internal investigation and we will provide further comment once the matter has been decided."
Diaz's Mike Kogan manager then responded that Diaz wasn't using a homophobic slur. Instead, he told MMA Junkie that Diaz was using a misogynistic term.
"Guess what? The word [expletive], at least in Northern California, and where Nate is from, means bitch. It means you're a little punk. It has nothing to do with homosexuals at all. So when Nate made the comment that he made, he didn't make it in reference to homosexuals or calling Caraway a homosexual. He just said it was a bitch move."
Calling someone that word isn't OK, either. Kogan's defense of his fighter is completely out of touch with the UFC's fighter code of conduct, which reads that a fighter will be disciplined for "insulting language about a person's ... gender or sexual orientation." Whether it's a misogynistic or homophobic term, fighters are specifically told not to use it by their code of conduct.
The UFC is in Brazil again for Saturday's UFC on FX bouts. The top of the card holds a contentious bout between two fighters who clearly don't like each other. What do you need to know before tuning in?
Will Luke Rockhold keep octagon jitters at bay? Luke Rockhold spent most of his career in Strikeforce. He worked his way up through the challengers system to become the promotion's final middleweight champion. Now, he finally gets a chance to show he belongs in the UFC. He won't have an easy entry, fighting Vitor Belfort, who is coming off of a TKO win over Michael Bisping in January. Will he avoid octagon jitters and keep his fight streak alive?
Has Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza continued to grow as a fighter? Souza well-credentialed in jiu-jitsu, but his fight game has become more well-rounded in recent bouts. He'll face Chris Camozzi, who is on a four-fight win streak. Will Souza show the complete fight game he did in Strikeforce?
Is Nik Lentz among the best of the loaded featherweights? Since dropping down to 145 lbs., Lentz is 2-0. He'll face Hacran Dias on his home territory. Both fighters have a chance at getting closer to Jose Aldo and the featherweight belt with a win. Which one will come away the winner?
Mayors in competing cities often place bets when there sports teams face off. Quite often, they offer the city's signature foods and gifts. For this year's Super Bowl, the San Francisco mayor spent a day in service in Baltimore after the Ravens won. But two mayors in south Florida are upending that tradition. They'll be the ones competing.
Carlos Hernandez, the mayor of Hialeah, and Michael Pizzi, the mayor of Miami Lakes, plan to square off for charity. It started as a discussion over dinner -- and a few drinks -- over who could beat each other up. It snowballed from there.
Hernandez, 52, says he has trained with the Gracies, one of MMA's most important families. Pizzi has another plan.
"Carlos is an athlete into aerobics," Pizzi said to MMA Junkie. "I'm of the Tank Abbott (and) Roy Nelson school of training, which is have a six-pack of beer, get off a bar stool and knock the guy out in the first three punches."
While Nelson does like to show off his belly, he's in a bit better shape than Pizzi says.
The two mayors haven't set a date for the bout yet as they are still looking for a promoter. The Miami Herald reports the fight will take place in Hernandez's home turf of Hialeah. Money they raise from the bout will go to programs benefiting children in each mayor's city.
Vitor Belfort started his MMA career in 1996. To give you an idea of how long he has been around, consider this: When he made his debut, Michael Jordan and the Bulls were about to embark on their 72-10 season. Bil Clinton was the president. Yahoo was just two years old. "Beverly Hills, 90210," the greatest television show of all time, was on the air, and I was a senior in high school.
Since that first fight, a 12-second knockout of Jon Hess, he's fought 31 more times, putting together a record of 22-10. His 33rd fight is Saturday against Luke Rockhold, the 28-year-old Strikeforce middleweight champ.
Now 36, Belfort fought twice in a tournament at UFC 12. He knocked out two opponents in a total of two minutes. He went 1-2 against Randy Couture, beat Wanderlei Silva but lost to Kazushi Sakuraba. He's fought in Pride, Affliction and the UFC. He had Jon Jones in an armbar, coming the closest to beating Jones of any of the light heavyweight champion's opponents.
But the longevity of his career has contributed to the controversy swirling around him now. Like Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen and Quinton Jackson, Belfort is one of the fighters who is on testosterone replacement therapy. It's allowed with a doctor's note, but not all fighters are for it. Rockhold thinks Belfort taking testosterone, a hormone that helps athletes add muscle and aggressiveness, is fishy.
"Just look at his physique," Rockhold said. "Look at how he looks at [36 years old]. You can't tell me that at his age, something like that looks natural. TRT use is something I don't agree with at all," Rockhold said. "It's a way to get around the system. They say TRT is needed for low testosterone, that it's a medical condition. Well, what causes low testosterone? Prolonged steroid use is one cause."
Testosterone also naturally decreases in men as they grow older. With TRT, fighters get the benefit of their years of experience without one of the drawbacks of being an older fighter.
Pat Healy made a memorable cross-over from Strikeforce at UFC 159. He submitted Jim Miller and won two bonuses to steal the show at the April event. Unfortunately, he also tested positive for marijuana after the fight. His fight result has been changed to no-contest, and he will have to give up the bonuses that totaled $130,000.
Thanks everyone for their support, made a huge mistake and gotta pay for it.
— Patrick Healy (@BamBamHealy) May 15, 2013
Healy both tweeted about the positive test and released a statement. He will be suspended for 90 days. Healy attributed the positive test to a night out with friends a month before the fight.
Marijuana's acceptance in the United States is growing. Medical marijuana laws are becoming more common, and it's legal in two states. However, it's still a banned substance that state commissions test for, and fighters know this going into their bouts. Healy apologized in his statement, and said he should have been a better role model.
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After losing to UFC champions Anderson Silva and Jon Jones, Chael Sonnen called out Wanderlei Silva for a bout. Silva responded on Fuel's "UFC Tonight," and his words just may gross you out.
"Jon Jones and Anderson Silva have been too nice to Chael. I want to suck his blood. I want to smell it. Not just fight – I want to hurt him. Chael is a joke, man. He’s going to be second forever. He’s never going to be first," Silva said to Ariel Helwani.
MMA is a bloody sport, and we're used to seeing blood cover fighters, their clothes and canvases. But we are not vampires, sparkly or otherwise. Blood sucking, Wanderlei? Really? Perhaps Wand is a fan of the "Twilight" novels, but let's keep the vampire aspects out of MMA and in young adults novels, OK?
After winning her Invicta debut with a rear-naked choke, Laura Sanko was scheduled to fight on Invicta's July card. She had to pull out of her atomweight (105 lb.) bout. It wasn't an injury that knocked her off the card. She can't fight because she's pregnant.
Thx for all the well wishes! Sry I've been off twitter 4 a bit but this pregnancy is kicking my bootie so far&was waiting to tell the news!
— Laura Sanko (@laura_sanko) May 11, 2013
Sanko said she's about two and a half months along, so she will be well into her second trimester when the fights take place on July 13. Recent fights have been called off because of cuts, dehydration and injuries of every sort. It's nice to see a fight called for a good reason.
Female fighters have to submit proof of a negative pregnancy test before fights to get licensed. As an extra precaution, Invicta, an all-female promotion, does additional testing. Sanko found out with enough time that Invicta did find a replacement. Cassie Robb will fight Livia Von Pletterberg in Sanko's place.
This is Strikeforce champion Tarec Saffiedine's 2-year-old son, and he has some training to do on this laundry basket. Check out his technique on low kicks. Clearly, he has been watching his dad and learning from him. The older Saffiedine is making his UFC debut in July against Robbie Lawler. Will he be as effective as his son is against the laundry hamper?