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MMA Alternate History: What if the WWE Purchased the UFC in 2001 Instead of Zuffa?

(McMahon poses with legendary WWE manager Paul Bearer (RIP). / Photo via Getty)

By Matt Saccaro

MMA history contains many compelling “what ifs” that could’ve changed the fate of the sport. If one path is taken, disaster. If another path is taken, absolution.

Some “what ifs” are more compelling than others. Not much changes if Floyd Sword or Rudyard Moncayo decides to never step into the cage. The timeline remains intact if Anderson Silva doesn’t get a DQ loss against Yushin Okami at Rumble on the Rock. But there are scenarios where the entire sport can change — where the timeline can split like in Back to the Future Part II.

This is the start of a series at CagePotato where we examine such scenarios, using historical fact to help create realistic historical fiction. Here is our first historical conundrum:

What if Vince McMahon Purchased the UFC in 2001?

In 2001, Vince McMahon’s WWE (then WWF) purchased the decaying WCW and the fledgling, bankrupt ECW. That year, McMahon’s XFL hosted its first (and only) season. It was quite a year for Vinny Mac. He destroyed his two rivals and expanded into a new sport.

2001 was also the year that Zuffa purchased the UFC from the company’s original owners, SEG. SEG was cash-strapped and could no longer carry the burden of running an MMA promotion in a country that was, at the time, hostile to MMA. The Fertitta Brothers bailed out Bob Meyrowitz and SEG, and the rest is history.

But what if, for one reason or another, The Fertitta brothers didn’t buy the UFC and give it to Dana White like they were tossing their kid the keys to the Ferrari? What if Vince McMahon decided to add another three letters to his shopping list…U, F, and C?


Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman II Set for UFC 168 on Dec. 28; Rousey vs. Tate II Added as Co-Main Event

(Video via ESPN)

Never put too much stock in the words of a man who has just been knocked out. Anderson Silva seemed to insist to interviewer Joe Rogan immediately after getting KO’d by Chris Weidman at UFC 162 a week ago that he was not interested in a rematch.

But there was the language barrier thing and the typical Anderson Silva cryptic speech thing to take into account but perhaps more than anything — we were listening to the stream of consciousness reactions of a freshly concussed man. Maybe that’s why UFC President Dana White has spent almost every minute since insisting to the media that the mega-rematch between “The Spider” and “The All-American” would definitely happen.

And, it will. The middleweight title clash is now scheduled to take place December 28th as the main event for UFC 168. The organization’s big New Year’s Eve show will also feature the women’s UFC bantamweight title rematch between Ronda Rousey and Meisha Tate II as its co-main event.

White told Yahoo! Sports that he believes the Weidman/Silva rematch will be the biggest fight in the organization’s history. “White several times Saturday said he thought the bout would be the biggest in UFC history and said he thought it could do between 1.2 million and 1.4 million on pay-per-view,” they reported.

“The UFC does not release its pay-per-view figures, but it is believed that UFC 100, at 1.25 million, is the best-selling pay-per-view the promotion has done.”

Anderson Silva released a short taped statement to ESPN telling fans, “I back. Trust me. I back.” Of course, that was followed by a wink.

Oh, Anderson. We can’t quit you.

- Elias Cepeda


Chris Leben Granted Pain Killer TUE at UFC 162

(Photo via Getty Images)

Well, this is interesting. The Nevada State Athletic Commission didn’t grant any new therapeutic use exemptions (TUE’s) to fighters for last Saturday’s UFC 162 event but they did grant the first ever TUE for prescription opioid Suboxone to Chris Leben.

The middleweight lost a split decision to Andrew Craig at UFC 162. He has been winning an even more important battle for sobriety, however.

MMA Junkie has been following the story. “The veteran fighter’s exemption offers proof of his efforts to get clean following a well-documented struggle with drugs. In November 2011, he tested positive for oxycodone and oxymorphone following a loss to Mark Munoz at UFC 138 and was suspended by the UFC for one year. It was the second time the promotion benched him following a positive test for the synthetic anabolic stanozolol in October 2008,” they wrote.

Leben has been to rehab and says he’s been sober for fifteen months. Addiction to pain killers is one of the least-talked about pandemics in MMA so Leben deserves credit for making his struggle public.

The NSAC also deserves credit for recognizing when certain controlled substances should be allowed for use by athletes. Better that Leben take a strong opiod under a doctor’s care while during the training and fighting that causes his body pain, than he self-medicate unbeknownst to anyone.

As for his active MMA career, Leben has now lost three fights in a row, and four out of his last five. He is only thirty two years old but has been fighting professionally for eleven years and that takes a toll on the body and mind.

For his part, Dana White told reporters after UFC 162 that he is concerned for Leben, unsure if the TUF 1 veteran will be kept on in the UFC as a fighter but also seem to express a desire to help Leben stay productive and make a living. ”Chris Leben has the type of personality that can go off the deep very easily in a lot of negative ways. I really care about the kid,” White said.

“I like him a lot. I love him. So I’ve got to figure this thing out.”

- Elias Cepeda


Don’t Believe the Hate, Stephan Bonnar Is a True Hall of Famer

(Photo via Getty Images)

By Elias Cepeda

Yesterday morning I watched the video of Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar’s UFC Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which is embedded at the end of this post. Really, I watched to see and hear from Bonnar.

Nothing against Forrest. I love watching the guy fight and he embodies everything that is great about MMA, but I’ve always had a special interest in “The American Psycho.”

Bonnar, or “RoboCop” as they used to call him back in Chicago where he trained with Carlson Gracie Sr. and began his career, was just the second guy I ever interviewed for a professional story, back in 2005. The guys you’ve covered for nearly the entirety of their careers always hold a special place in your heart.

I interviewed Bonnar a number of times over the first few years of his UFC career but since then I have only connected with him a couple times for interviews. The last time I spoke with Stephan was over the telephone for a feature at when he came out of retirement to fight Anderson Silva last year. It has been a rough roller-coaster year for Bonnar — who sort-of retired after putting together a three-fight win streak in the Octagon, came back only to be shredded by Silva at UFC 153retired again (for real this time), had a son, and failed a drug test for steroids — and I was interested in what he had to say at his Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Especially since so many writers have taken the occasion to criticize him and give the UFC flack for including him in its Hall of Fame. I’d always taken it for granted that he and Forrest Griffin both would one day be inducted.

It just made sense. The two of them lifted The Ultimate Fighter and the UFC out of obscurity with their epic slobber-knocker in the season one finale. Griffin won, but Bonnar fought so well that he too was given a UFC contract.

In all, Bonnar would have two razor-close decision fights with Griffin, who himself made history as the first-ever fully unified (UFC, Pride, Pride Grand Prix) linear 205-pound champion. For nearly a decade, Bonnar fought the best and toughest the UFC had to offer and the only guy to truly out-class him was Anderson Silva. That fight, of course, happened because Bonnar was willing to come out of retirement and help save an event for the UFC and the fans.

There’s good reason to believe that professional mixed martial arts would not exist today if not for the UFC. There’s also good reason to believe that the UFC would not exist today if not for TUF 1, and the unforgettable climax that Griffin and Bonnar provided in their finale bout.


Nick Diaz Broke Up With His Girlfriend, So Now He Wants to Fight Again

(Instagram: Letting the whole world see images of intimate moments that will later fill you with sadness and loathing since 2010.)

Last week, Nick Diaz posted a picture of himself with a woman he identified as his ex, and wrote “Never Post pictures of your girlfriend on Instagram Especially if you love her. #xgf #x #ftw #hatelife #might #have #to #slap #the #winner #tomorrow #need #a #fight #danawhite.”

As best as we could guess, Nick was saying that he wasn’t in a good emotional place right now, probably because of a recent break-up, and he wanted to fight the winner of UFC 162‘s main event between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman. Now, Diaz calling out the winner of a middleweight title fight despite his two-fight losing streak at welterweight makes about as much sense as him saying not to post pictures of a girlfriend on an Instagram post where he posts a picture of a girlfriend, but dammit we were intrigued.

At the UFC 162 post event scrum, Dana White confirmed that Diaz had contacted him directly, asking to come out of his self-described retirement and fight again. “[Nick] texted me that he broke up with his girlfriend and he wants to fight,” White told reporters.


[VIDEOS] UFC 162 Post Event Presser, Dana White & Roy Jones Jr.

After last night’s stunning UFC 162 event, everyone wanted to know what former champion Anderson Silva had to say as well as new middleweight king Chris Weidman. Silva’s cryptic in-cage post fight interview with Joe Rogan only intensified that desire and raised new questions.

Check out the above video of the UFC 162 post-event press conference to hear more from Dana White, Silva and Weidman. After the jump, check out video of White’s post event media scrum and an interview with former boxing champ Roy Jones Jr. who still wants to fight Silva.


Is it Possible to Fix The UFC Hall of Fame Induction Process?

(Well? Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)

By the time that this is published, the ceremony that will make Stephan Bonnar an official member of the UFC Hall of Fame will be underway. Bonnar’s resume includes an 8-7 UFC record, a flawless 0-0 record in UFC title fights, two failed drug tests and the significance of his TUF Finale bout against Forrest Griffin – a fight so important to UFC history that it has its own Wikipedia page. Bonnar also is on good terms with Dana White, which is arguably the most important criterion for induction into what is supposedly the UFC’s highest honor.

Regardless of how you feel about Bonnar’s induction, that last sentence should make you feel uncomfortable. A company that already has trouble convincing non-fans that it isn’t glorified professional wrestling selects people into its hall of fame the same way that the WWE does – by allowing one person to dictate who is worthy of the honor. Both halls have some debatable inductions. Both halls have some notable omissions. Neither hall is taken seriously by most fans of either sport.

While many articles have been written about how Bonnar’s induction highlights everything that’s wrong with the UFC Hall of Fame selection process, pretty much none of them offered any solutions. Below you’ll find a few suggestions to fix the hall, as well as reasons that they may not work. Let’s start off with the most obvious fix…


Pre-UFC 162 Video Party [Weigh-Ins, Dana White, Countdown & More]

UFC 162 is now just hours away, you potato heads. So, we’re bringing you a collection of UFC 162-related videos to help you get through the pre-game home stretch.

After the jump you’ll find video of yesterday’s weigh-ins, the full Countdown to UFC 162, Dana White‘s pre UFC 162 media scrum and Joe Rogan holding court and taking questions from fans at the UFC 162 Q&A. Short of video footage of Dave Herman peeing in a cup 63 times in order to get cleared to fight at UFC 162, we’re not sure what else there is out there.

So quit complaining and start pissing off your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife early by making UFC 162 an all-day event. All videos after the jump.


Roy Jones Jr. Flying to UFC 162 to Discuss Fighting Anderson Silva With Dana White

(Please enjoy this Roy Jones Jr. boxing highlight video. And then, please remember that all those fights happened a very long time ago, in a very different sport than MMA)

Sadly, we may be closer than ever to an Anderson Silva vs. Roy Jones Jr. fight. On Thursday, Dana White told MMA Junkie that the former boxing pound for pound champ is coming to UFC 162 this Saturday in Vegas to discuss fighting Anderson Silva in the UFC.

Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole also confirmed with Jones Jr. that he is meeting with White to discuss fighting “The Spider” under MMA rules in the UFC. Jones Jr., of course, is a future hall of fame boxer that is at least ten years out of his prime.

For years, Jones Jr. looked unbeatable but over the past ten years he has lost seven times in fifteen outings, four of those losses coming by way of ugly KO or TKO. The forty four year-old needs to give up fighting of any kind for the good of his health.

Jones Jr. has been so far gone for so long that, even in 2009 when Silva was vocal about wanting to box him, it seemed like a dangerous proposition for the former Olympian. Add a half decade and MMA rules into the mix and a Silva vs. Roy Jr. fight sounds almost masochistic.

For whatever reason, thogh, Anderson Silva has kept Jones Jr.’s name in his mouth for years, now. Often times it looked as if he used the threat of boxing Roy as a bargaining chip with the UFC but this is the first time that White has seemed at all open to the idea of his middleweight champ fighting Jones Jr. and they are talking about doing it in MMA.

As we all know, if White wants to put together a sham boxing vs. MMA bout in the UFC, he can get it done. We’re not sure what Silva or White think they will accomplish by trotting out yet another sadly brain-bruised former boxing champion to the Octagon and having a UFC legend beat them with ease, but it now appears that this “super fight” might be the only one we’re getting with Silva anytime soon.

Then again, this is far from the first time Jones Jr. or Silva have campaigned for this fight. Heck, it isn’t even the first time Jones Jr. has said he’d go to a UFC event to watch Silva in person and try to make a bout happen. Despite all that, the fight has never happened.

Let’s hope it still won’t. Ultimately, we can’t blame promoters for being promoters and fighters for being fighters.

How can Dana White ignore two huge names saying they want to fight each other and make him a lot of money? How can we fault fighters like Roy for wanting to fight, even when they are far removed from their prime?

Ultimately, it will be the responsibility of any and all athletic commissions to not allow this fight or any like it to happen.


Great Dana White Vlog or Greatest Dana White Vlog?

UFC 162 takes place this Saturday in Las Vegas and organization President Dana White has released his first video blog of the week leading up to the event. It’s pretty good.

In it, UFC Hall of Fame fighter Chuck Liddell teaches TUF finalist Uriah Hall how to set up his deadly over hand right punch, as well as wrestles around with Mike Tyson and Royce Gracie. Liddell protege Glover Teixeira gets to meet Tyson, a hero of his and Uncle Dana personally makes the streets of Vegas safer.

Enjoy the vlog in between charred meat sessions today, all you American taters. For our Canadian friends – enjoy work, suckers!

Crap. I guess I’m working today too…and without that whole socialized health care benefit to boot.

Still, ‘Merica!