Following Jon Jones‘ most recent traffic-related mishap — which saw “Bones” break a pregnant woman’s arm in a 3 car accident, flee the scene, get stripped of his belt, slapped with a 6-month suspension from the UFC and 18 months of probation — it seemed as if the troubled champion maybe, finally, had seen the err of [...]
So I guess it’s about time that we start taking Stephen Thompson seriously as a title contender, eh?
Matched up against former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks in the main of event of Saturday’s Fight Night 82, the general consensus seemed to be that “Wonderboy” would ultimately succumb to the wrestling prowess of “Bigg Rigg” as several more talented grapplers had before him. Of course, you can’t exactly outwrestle your opponent if you can’t touch him, and it appeared as if Stephen Thompson was fighting from the future.
Utilizing his trademark karate stance and a level of accuracy that rivaled Anderson Silva‘s UFC debut, Thompson not only tore through Hendricks, he did so almost effortlessly. He stuffed the former champ’s takedowns, beautifully managed his distance, and mixed up his attacks with almost machine-like precision, cracking one of the game’s most lauded chins in the process. Once you take away a man’s steakhouse, you take away his fire, I always say, and Hendricks looked like a man without fire on Saturday. The guy with a canon of a left hand just isn’t there anymore, it would seem, and a credit is due to “Wonderboy” for the ease with which he was able to nullify Hendricks.
Fight Night 82 also featured Roy Nelson’s return to the win column, a horrifically broken jaw, and an early contender for “Knockout of the Year,” so check out all the highlights and results after the jump.
Welterweight Tim Means might be best known for once getting KO’d by a sauna, but it turns out that he’s actually a pretty talented fighter in his own right (and boasts one of the best nicknames in the game to boot). Since returning to the UFC in 2014, “The Dirty Bird” has put together a respectable 5-2 record, with wins over TUF 19 finalist Dhiego Lima and George Sullivan among others.
Fresh off a second round starching of John Howard at Fight Night 80 in December, Means was set to welcome Donald Cerrone to the welterweight division at Fight Night 83 later this month in a fight that had “fireworks” written all over it. Unfortunately for us, Means’ recent out-of-competition test happened to have FAILURE written all over it as well, resulting in “The Dirty Bird” being pulled from the card and yet another main event being placed in jeopardy.
(“If anyone from the bank shows up looking for a guy named Edward Targaryen, you never heard of him, okay?” via Getty.)
It has been a whirlwind handful of months for the Ronda Rousey camp, to put it lightly. Her loss to Holly Holm aside, it would appear as if Rousey’s support system is crumbling to the ground around her, or at the very least, setting all the charges for an eventual explosion.
A few years ago, when it was time for free agency in the NBA, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all decided to each take a little less money and play together for the Miami Heat. How did that turn out? Oh, not too bad. While they failed to live up to the expectations placed upon them, they still managed to win back-to-back championships and made the NBA Finals four years in a row.
What does this have to do with mixed martial arts?
Much like James, Wade and Bosh are considered three of the very best players in the NBA, there are currently three MMA fighters on the free agent market that have the opportunity to introduce a sea change to the sport.
You might not know this, Potato Nation, but there’s a 19-year old kid who’s been making quite a splash in the UFC over the past few months. He goes by the name of Sage Northcutt, and while we may not have been paying him quite as much lip service around these parts as everywhere else, it’s safe to say that he has all the star-making potential that the UFC could use more of in these post-Rousey times.
Of course, with Northcutt’s incredible rise to popularity has come the inevitable, almost inexplicably-cruel backlash, and boy did Northcutt ever receive that following his hype train-derailing loss to short-notice opponent Bryan Barberena at UFC on FOX 18 last weekend.
The injury-forced withdrawals of both Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum from UFC 196 presented the UFC with a peculiar, if not unfamiliar scenario, and left many fans wondering what magic the promotion still had up its sleeve after all these years. Would Dana & Co. book a freakish but totally watchable fight to serve in its place, ala UFC 153? Would they bring Ben Rothwell in to save the day, ala what they should have done with Fight Night 76? Or would they throw their hands in the air and outright cancel the event, ala UFC 176? The options were literally limitless.
As it turns out, however, the UFC went and pulled a rabbit out of its hat that not many of us saw coming, bumping up the co-main event between Johny Hendricks and Stephen Thompson to main event status and shifting the card from its previous pay-per-view spot to the totally free (depending on your cable package) Fox Sports 1 network instead.
“A non-Fight Night, numbered UFC event on free TV? What madness is this?!” we cried with a mix of astonishment and jubilation. It was an unprecedented move, to be sure, and one that unfortunately was too good to be true…
(“Addishunally, I put fawhth dat mouthguards should be replaced wit’ slices of gabagool.” via Chris Weidman’s instagram)
Next to mankind’s eternal battle with death, the UFC’s battle with New York legislatures might be the most one-sided and ultimately futile effort in the history of ever, and I say that with 100 percent sincerity.
Dominick Cruz vs. TJ Dillashaw, UFC Fight Night 81
January 23rd, in Boston, Massachusetts Eddie Alvarez vs. Anthony Pettis, UFC Fight Night 81
January 23rd, in Boston, Massachusetts Anthony Johnson vs. Ryan Bader, UFC on FOX 18
January 30th, in Newark, New Jersey Fabricio Werdum vs. Cain Velasquez II, UFC 196
February 6th, in Las Vegas, Nevada Johny Hendricks vs. Stephen Thompson, UFC 196
February 6th, in Las Vegas, Nevada Donald Cerrone vs. Tim Means, UFC Fight Night 82
February 21st, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Cody Garbrandt vs. John Lineker, UFC Fight Night 82
February 21st, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Marcos Galvao vs. Eduardo Dantas II, Bellator 150
February 26th, in Mulvane, Kansas Anderson Silva vs. Michael Bisping, UFC Fight Night 83
February 27th, in London, England Michael Page vs. Fernando Gonzalez, Bellator 151
March 4th, in Thackerville, Oklahoma Conor McGregor vs. Rafael Dos Anjos, UFC 197
March 5th, in Las Vegas, Nevada Holly Holm vs. Miesha Tate, UFC 197
March 5th, in Las Vegas, Nevada Mark Hunt vs. Frank Mir, UFC Fight Night 84
March 20th, in Brisbane, Australia