Swedish sensation Alexander Gustafsson is going to put his six fight win streak and legit claim to #1 contender-ship in the light heavyweight division on the line against Gegard Mousasi April 6. The UFC just announced that the pair will headline UFC on FUEL TV 9 this spring.
If it wasn’t for his young age and the long line of people talking themselves into title shots against champion Jon Jones and the huge mess that has ensued, Gustafsson would likely already be considered worthy of challenging “Bones.” As it stands, Gustafsson has to keep on fighting and winning to earn his shot.
Following his first-round submission loss to Gegard Mousasi at Saturday’s Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine event, Mike Kylereportedly told Ariel Helwani that he was throwing in the towel on his MMA career: “It’s not in me anymore. That was my last one,” Kyle said. Assuming that the 32-year-old AKA product keeps his word, Kyle’s overall record ends at 19-9-1 with 2 no-contests, competing as a heavyweight and light-heavyweight over the last 12 years.
How you react to this news will probably depend on how long you’ve been following the sport. If you’re a relatively new fan, you probably think of Kyle — if you think of him at all — as one of Strikeforce’s dependable space-fillers, who was always there when a guy like Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva or Fabricio Werdum needed an opponent. Kyle’s single greatest accomplishment over the last three years was his upset knockout of Rafael “Feijao” Cavlacante in June 2009; their rematch last year ended in a 33-second submission loss for Kyle, but the result was overturned due to the Brazilian slugger failing a drug test.
But if you’ve been an MMA fan for a long time, you might still think of Mike Kyle as a scumbag, a shameful black mark on an already nasty business. Here’s how we summarized Kyle’s greatest hits in our “10 Most Despicable People in MMA” list from April 2008, where we stuck Kyle at #3, between Nazi fighter Melvin Costa (#4) and UFC president Dana White (#2):
Bit Wes Sims‘s chest during their fight at UFC 47. Repeatedly kneed Justin Eilers in the balls during their fight at UFC 49. Poked Tsuyoshi Kosaka in the eye during a Pancrase match in October 2005. Poked Krzysztof Soszynski in the eye during a Strikeforce match in March 2006. Two months later, he illegally soccer kicked Brian Olsen during a WEC match, knocking him out, then punched him several times while he was unconscious, despite the ref’s efforts to pull Kyle off…
I’ll be completely honest: I didn’t watch Strikeforce’s farewell card live last night. I recorded it, and watched it when I was done watching football. Am I just that dedicated of a 49ers/Packers fan? Not quite; last night was the first time I watched either team play all season. Rather, my mentality was that I haven’t been changing my schedule to accommodate Strikeforce events for the past two years now [Author Note: Damn, was the buyout really two years ago already? Time flies when you're watching something die.], so why start now for the promotion’s grand finale.
Reading through the collection of Strikeforce tributes online, it’s obvious that I’m not the only one feeling this way. Articles and tweets about the demise of Strikeforce have been respectful, but not overly-sentimental, and the comments sections of various liveblogs covering the event didn’t exactly blow up for the occasion. There were none of the regrets, what-nows and what-could-have-beens that usually come along with failed business ventures – just a few awkward goodbyes as Zuffa prepared to pull the plug on the machine that no longer served any purpose.
And honestly, why would anyone other than Strikeforce’s employees, fighters and Scott Coker feel any differently? The death of Strikeforce doesn’t mark the end of a promotion that has been pumping out relevant fights for the past two years. It isn’t the death of an alternative option for fighters not wanting to sign with Zuffa. It isn’t the even the end of free MMA on basic cable.
I guess it would be different if this card was stacked with the fighters who made Strikeforce Strikeforce, such as Cung Le, Nick Diaz, Alistair Overeem, Ronda Rousey, Gilbert Melendez and Luke Rockhold, but they’ve either been assimilated into the UFC by now or they’ve pulled out of the event due to injury/apathy. Instead, this card served as one final night of squash fights – one of which actually ended differently than you may have expected.
Like a spirit guide leading us from one realm of existence to the next, Jim Genia will be sticking round-by-round results from the “Marquardt vs. Saffiedine” Showtime broadcast after the jump, beginning at 10 p.m. ET. Make your voices heard in the comments section, and please, let’s honor this moment.
There’s no need for a wordy introduction here: Strikeforce has officially become so incompetent that it can’t even die correctly.
After canceling two consecutive events, Strikeforce planned to have an absolutely stacked grand finale on January 12, 2013 featuring three title fights and Heavyweight Grand Prix champion Daniel Cormier. Much like everything else that Strikeforce has planned since being purchased by Zuffa, things quickly went wrong. First, lightweight kingpin Gilbert Melendez got injured/realized he was in a no-win scenario fighting for Strikeforce again and pulled out of the event. Now, middleweight champion Luke Rockhold is also off of the card, citing a wrist injury as the reason for his departure. According to The MMA Corner:
The MMA Corner has learned from sources close to the camp of Rockhold that the middleweight champion has suffered a wrist injury and has been forced to withdraw from his scheduled Jan. 12 title defense against Lorenz Larkin.
For nearly four years, the Japanese MMA promotion DREAM did its best to carry the mantle of PRIDE, presenting the same mix of top international talent and freak-show comic relief, all inside of a traditional ring, rather than a filthy American cage. But we were hit with some sad news this weekend as multiple sources reported that DREAM has ceased day-to-day operations, and will no longer be producing events. So as we like to do when great MMA traditions die, let’s take a look back at some of the fights that made this promotion so unique, so entertaining, and so balls-out insane…
Though Kazushi Sakuraba’s fame was partly based on his willingness to absorb damage from larger fighters, the level of savagery that Melvin Manhoef inflicted on him during their meeting at the Yokohama Arena probably should have convinced Saku to walk away from the sport. The moment when Manhoef drags Saku away from the ropes by his leg so he can dive in to continue the assault (see the 2:43 mark above) remains one of DREAM’s most indelible and brutal moments.
Another tradition that DREAM inherited from PRIDE? Absurd mismatches. At the time of this fight, Aoki was widely considered to be a top-3 lightweight, while Gardner was an obscure 13-7 journeyman who was coming off a loss to Brian Cobb. Aoki’s domination on the mat was no surprise, but the fight became legendary for how it ended. Stuck with Aoki on his back, Gardner took advantage of a brief pause in the action — and the near-silence in the Saitama Super Arena — to wave to the crowd and shout “Hello Japan!” Aoki immediately wrapped up Gardner’s neck and choked him out, causing the crowd to break out in laughter and Bas Rutten to cry “Oh my God it is so dumb! So dumb! Why?!” Some things just can’t be explained, Bas.
When it was announced yesterday that Mike Kyle sustained an injury, forcing him out of his planned Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey main card bout with Gegard Mousasi, speculation arose that Mousasi would likely be scratched from the event. If the UFC brass would sign off on a crossover bout between Gegard and one of its fighters, the fight could be salvaged and Mousasi could get an upgrade opponent in the process.
Yeah, she spent more time on the cage than in it. (Photo: Las Vegas Sun)
Since the late 90′s I’ve seen the same assertion rear its head on MMA email lists, usenet groups, and internet forums from time to time: The best fighter in the world isn’t in the cage or the ring. He’s toiling away in a South American coal mine or defending his land in Sub-Saharan Africa. His legend will never extend beyond the shores of his remote Pacific island and he’ll never be able to prove his abilities to the world. To a certain degree, this must be what life is like for Gilbert Melendez.
Finding out that your company is staying afloat and that your job is secure would normally be terrific news, but despite his admirable towing of the company line, you have to know that “El Niño” was gutted when he realized that Strikeforce wasn’t going anywhere and neither was he. The bright lights, big networks, and top paydays of the UFC will not be his. More importantly, neither is the opportunity to prove himself against the best in the world.
Can you believe it’s been over three months since Strikeforce put on a legit non-Challengers card? The promotion finally gets back to business tonight with two title fights — Gilbert Melendez vs. Jorge Masvidal in the lightweight division and Cris Cyborg vs. Hiroko Yamanaka at women’s featherweight — plus a light-heavyweight bout between Gegard Mousasi and Ovince St. Preux that could produce a contender to the vacant belt.
Round-by-round results from the “Melendez vs. Masvidal” main card broadcast on Showtime will be collecting after the jump beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET, courtesy of CagePotato liveblog rookie Steve Silverman; please do your best to make him feel welcome. Refresh the page every few minutes for all the latest.