(They can beat up pretty-boys and clowns, but how will Florian and Griffin do against the featherweight elite?)
Now that the UFC has a 145-pound division, it was only a matter of time before a few lightweight contenders decided to chase the belt where the competition’s a little smaller. The biggest name so far is Kenny Florian, who told ESPN.com yesterday that he’s taking himself out of the lightweight mix to try his hand at featherweight:
“I started playing around with the idea: could I make 145? Originally, I didn’t think it was possible,” Florian said. “I spoke with a few nutritionists, got their opinions, told them what my body fat was, my walking-around weight, all that stuff and the general consensus was that it was very possible…[The UFC] is very supportive. They’re very excited about the move…My goal is to get the 145-pound belt, and then go up to 155 and challenge for that belt as well.”
During last night’s episode of Sportsnet’s MMA Connected, the show’s host "Showdown" Joe Ferraro revealed that if Mark Hominick handily beats George Roop at UFN 23 and comes out of the fight without injury, he will fight Jose Aldo at UFC 129 in Toronto on April 30.
"If London, Ontario’s Mark Hominick can defeat George Roop and come out unscathed at UFC Fight Night 23, look for "The Machine" to earn a title shot versus featherweight champion Jose Aldo," Ferraro stated.
A veteran of 27 MMA bouts, Hominick’s only losses in the past six years have come at the hands of three highly-touted fighters: Grispi, Rani Yahya and Hatsu Hioki. His second bout with Hioki, which he lost by a razor-thin majority decision and was contested under the TKO banner is widely regarded as one of the greatest featherweight fights in Canadian MMA history.
For an idea what Aldo-Hominick might look like, check out that fight after the jump.
Although calling the announcement "a monumental one" may have been a bit of an overstatement, the UFC announced today at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro today that it would be returning to Brazil for the first time since Zuffa bought the organization in 2000 and only the second time ever August 27, 2011.
Although he would not commit to naming names of Brazilian fighters who will likely appear on the card because the event is more than eight months away and injuries may change the planned card several times between now and then, White intimated that all of the currently contracted fighters at the presser and guys like Demian Maia, Junior Dos Santos and Wanderlei Silva are all being considered for the card.
In what’s expected to be an official announcement of the UFC’s return to Brazil in 2011, UFC president Dana White and Chairman/CEO Lorenzo Fertitta will be making a special announcement at Rio De Janeiro’s City Hall today at 11 a.m. ET, 2 p.m. local time. White and Fertitta will be joined by UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie, middleweight champion Anderson Silva, light-heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, featherweight champion Jose Aldo, #1 middleweight contender Vitor Belfort, and Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio. You can watch the announcement live in the video player after the jump.
There’s no word on the nature of the injury, but there’s bound to be a plethora of rumors about how Aldo got hurt. We actually have it on good authority that it was groin pull he sustained during his first Smashers Club get together on Saturday night.
Kenny Florian and Miguel Torres co-hosted last night’s episode of MMA Live and it was surprising to hear both fighters praise Zuffa for making the decision to merge the WEC and UFC brands.
The reality is that the promotion will likely not hold as many events per year as both organizations did in the past, so for both fighters to say that the move is a positive one is curious to say the least.
It’s understandable that Torres, who revealed during the show that he will face Manuel Banuelos at UFC 126, would be excited about the merger as will likely see more lucrative paydays and will get more mainstream exposure fighting on the bigger stage, but Florian doesn’t stand to gain much from the move.
Not only will there be fewer slots on each card for him to potentially fight on with 20-plus, he will have to face an influx of tough fighters like Jose Aldo and Torres who will inevitably move up to lightweight in the future.
Also on the segment, Roy Nelson and his magnificent mullet discussed being called out by Brock Lesnar and his feelings on the fight, which he has coveted for some time.
According to a new report from Ariel Helwani, contracts have been sent out to book Jose Aldo vs. Josh Grispi as the UFC’s first official featherweight title fight at #125 (January 1st, Las Vegas). The bout would serve as the co-main event, supporting the lightweight title fight between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard.
Aldo, now 8-0 in the WEC, most recently defended his belt for the second time against Manny Gamburyan at WEC 51 in September. Grispi is also undefeated under the WEC banner, and has slashed through Mark Hominick, Micah Miller, Jens Pulver, and LC Davis, all in under three minutes of the first round. The Massachusetts native was slated to face Eric Koch at next month’s WEC 52 event, but that fight would be canceled if he accepts the Aldo fight. (And why wouldn’t he, really? Besides the obvious.) As we reported previously, Mark Hominick was originally in line to be Aldo’s next opponent; however, his broken hand is preventing him from competing on New Year’s Day.
The cat’s out of the bag, and the "major announcement" turned out to be pretty damn major after all. Dana White announced during a media call today that the UFC is absorbing the WEC beginning in January 2011; the UFC will now feature seven championship weight classes. Here’s how it’ll work…
– Jose Aldo is automatically the UFC Featherweight Champion; he’ll defend his UFC featherweight title at UFC 125 on January 1st against a yet-to-be-determined opponent.
– WEC 53 (December 16th; Glendale, Arizona) will be the final WEC event. The winner of the bantamweight title fight between Dominick Cruz and Scott Jorgensen will become the UFC Bantamweight Champion. The winner of the lightweight title fight between Ben Henderson and Anthony Pettis will automatically face the winner of Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard at UFC 125.