The UFC’s first TUF season in China is over. Zhang Lipeng defeated Wang Sai to become the first-ever Chinese Ultimate Fighter winner.
But I’m sure most of you don’t really care too much about that. After all, TUF china was a show with a recruitment policy so lax that an 0-0 yoga instructor somehow made it into the cast.
Despite the questionable levels of talent present, there were a few important fights on the card—relevant matches and interesting clashes of styles. Which fights were those? We’re gonna recap them for you.
Coming off three consecutive victories against Paulo Thiago, Siyar Bahadurzada, and Erick Silva, South Korean welterweight Dong Hyun Kim is one of the most successful Asian fighters currently competing in the UFC. Naturally, the UFC has booked him to headline the TUF China Finale, which goes down March 1st at the CotaiArena in Macau. Kim will face British vet John Hathaway, who is riding his own three-fight win streak, although against somewhat weaker competition. Plus, Hathaway was inactive for all of 2013 due to ulcerative colitis, so yeah, this kind of feels like a squash match. The fight will be scheduled for five rounds; neither Kim nor Hathaway has ever competed in a five-rounder before.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the contender spectrum, TopMMANews is reporting that Hatsu Hioki and Ivan Menjivar will face off in a featherweight bout at the TUF China Finale that could end with the loser getting the axe. Once considered to be one of the greatest featherweights in the world, Hioki has struggled to find his footing in the UFC, and has lost three consecutive decisions to Ricardo Lamas, Clay Guida, and Darren Elkins. As for Menjivar, the “Pride of El Salvador” went 0-2 in 2013, dropping fights against Urijah Faber and Wilson Reis.
His back now firmly planted against the wall, Yamamoto will be given one of his toughest tests to date in what is surely his do-or-die fight with the UFC. “Kid” will face Ivan Menjivar at UFC 165: Jones vs. Gustafsson. TVA Sports was the first to announce the booking yesterday:
Make no mistake, no matter how last night’s main event was going to end, it was going to be an important moment in UFC history. For the first time in the promotion’s history, two female athletes would be competing in the UFC. Squash match or not, the historical significance of the fight and the freshly minted UFC Women’s Bantamweight title were enough to bump the fight up to main event status.
I’ve seen dozens of writers today write about how “predictably” the main event ended, but I can’t help but feel that this does a severe injustice to the fight we were treated to. Yes, it ended in a first round armbar victory for Ronda Rousey, and no, literally nothing else about this fight was predictable.
This is in large part a credit to challenger Liz Carmouche. Few people gave Carmouche any sort of chance to win, as clearly reflected by the betting odds for the fight. Yet for the first time last night, Carmouche was able to expose holes in Rousey’s game, and make the women’s champion look beatable. She wasn’t Rousey’s slightly-resistant grappling dummy – she was a very worthy challenger who almost finished Rousey with a rear-naked choke, and has teeth marks on her arm to show for it. Let’s all stop and admit that none of us expected this from her.
Leading us through the UFC 157 main card will be actual fighterElias Cepeda, who will be slapping down round-by-round results after the jump beginning at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT. Refresh the page every few minutes for all the latest, and please throw in your own insightful commentary in the comments section. Thanks for joining us.
(The relevant ranting starts around the 20 minute mark, but scroll back to the 12:40 mark if you want to see White basically have a mental breakdown when discussing Jon Fitch.)
When the UFC announced that their latest batch of mass firings included none other than former #9 ranked welterweightJon Fitch, the MMA community responded somewhat alarmingly to say the least. When Dana White stated that the decision came as a result of Fitch’s price tag being too high — at a paltry 66K no less — it revealed a bigger problem that could be looming on the horizon for the UFC: Overspending. As BG pointed out, multiple television deals and decreasing pay-per-view buys could at least be partly to blame for the UFC’s recent string of…let’s just call them frugal decisions.
But as it turns out, Fitch & Co.’s departure is just the beginning. Oh yes, a great deluge of firings is headed our way, Potato Nation, one consisting of up to 100 UFC fighters. And if you think the first name that Dana White would place on the potential chopping block would be one of the Shane Del Rosarios, Keith Wisniewskis, or Leonard fucking Garcias* who are currently winless in the promotion, well you just don’t know how The Baldfather thinks. Believe it or not, former WEC champion Urijah Faber was the first to be mentioned as in danger of losing his job with a loss at UFC 157. When asked if his “down the ladder” argument in relation to Fitch applied to guys like Faber, White was characteristically frank (24:50):
Could be Saturday [that he's cut]. You never know, There’s over 100 guys. We’re heavy.
The argument to cut Faber instead of Fitch already makes sense when considering both fighter’s records in the promotion (Fitch: 13-3-1, Faber: 2-2), and that argument only gains more momentum should Faber lose to Ivan Menjivar — who he is currently a 3-to-1 favorite over — tomorrow. But from a business standpoint, releasing as hot a commodity as Faber (or fighters like him) into the arms of “Viacom MMA” seems like promotional suicide, does it not?
For the first time in UFC history, a card will not only feature but be headlined by a women’s title fight in the bantamweight division. We know what you’re thinking, “How are they going to fit an entire kitchen into the octagon?” but hear us out for a second. Pitting Olympic bronze medalist Ronda Rousey against Marine tuff Liz Carmouche, UFC 157 will look to break down the wall that has existed between men’s and women’s MMA for almosttwo years now. We kid, we kid, but will the UFC’s women’s division steal the show come Saturday night? And technically speaking, can you steal a show when you are the main event? These questions and others will be answered this Saturday night in Anaheim at the (R)Honda Center.
And with any big MMA event comes the opportunity to chip away at (or add to) those crippling debts we all are surely facing. So join us after the jump as we highlight some of the undercard and all the main card bouts for UFC 157 with the hopes of cashing in on some attractive betting lines, which come courtesy of BestFighOdds as always.
Currently, Chiesa is right around -225, but look for that line to close around -300 by fight night. Anton has been more of a threat on the mat than on his feet thus far in his UFC run, but giving up almost half a foot in height to the Alpha Male-affiliated Chiesa will do him no favors in either department. Chiesa should be able to control this fight with his size advantage and continue his Cinderella story in the UFC.
A proven fight-finisher, Struve has stopped his last four opponents in the Octagon (Pat Barry, Dave Herman, Lavar Johnson, and Stipe Miocic), while Hunt has earned victories over his last three (Chris Tuchscherer, Ben Rothwell, and Cheick Kongo). Though Hunt will enjoy a sort of home-field advantage — he’s had nine previous MMA fights at the Saitama Super Arena, while Struve will be making his Japanese debut — he will also be giving up 13 inches (!) in height.
A little over a year ago, Georges St. Pierre was riding high. He had defended his belt for the sixth straight time against Jake Shields at an event that both obliterated North American attendance records and satisfied his home country’s need for bloodshed without having to sacrifice his first born child, as is tradition. Although he was being bashed by some critics for his apparent lack of finishing power, “Rush” would quickly meet a challenger that would bring out the inner killer his fans had been waiting for since UFC 83. Needless to say, things were going well for old GSP.
Yes, after blowing out his ACL, the welterweight kingpin was forced out of action for so long that even his stand-in championwent missing in an apparent attempt to find him. In the time since we last saw St. Pierre, his beloved homeland of Canada eeked out a respectable 36th place in the Summer Olympics, celebrated the 60th anniversary of one of their biggest television programs, and even closed the book on one of the most bizarre crimes in the country’s history. So overall, it was a decent year for any Canadian not named Georges St. Pierre.
But come November 17th, all that will change for at least one man, as GSP is set to finally make his triumphant return to the cage at UFC 154. And to celebrate his return, we’ve decided to dig up the fight that started it all. It took place in January of 2002 in Montreal and pitted the future champ against future UFC/WEC bantamweight (sheesh) Ivan Menjivar in his professional debut.