Randy Couture is one of the most beloved fighters in MMA thanks in part to his ability to win fights he is meant to lose and also because he’s always willing to give reporters and fans his time, regardless how turrible or oblivious they may be.
(In his next fight, Bader would like to face someone of great historical significance. Anybody got Kimo’s number? Pic: MMA Convert.)
Contrary to popular belief, the UFC middleweight division has not quite cornered the market on making strategically advantageous call-outs. While the world’s 185-pound fighters are lining up to let everybody know how much they’d all love to fight Michael Bisping – which is like so 2010 – their light heavyweight brethren are also making requests of UFC matchmaker Joe Silva. It seems that at least a couple of 205-pounders have been spending some time on the “Fighters” page over at UFC.com and thinking to themselves, “Let’s see here, who can I beat?”
Ryan Bader, for one, emerged this week from whatever dark room he’s been huddled in, rocking back and forth since UFC 126 to tell ESPN.com he’d very much like to fight Tito Ortiz. Cuz, why not? Sure, just a withered shell of his former self, Ortiz hasn’t won a fight since 2006, is barely clinging to his career and seemingly can’t make it to the cage without a serious back injury, cracked skull or giant laceration over his eye, but still … fighting him would mean A LOT to Bader. You know, on a personal level.
(Ricco Rodriguez battles Randy Couture at UFC 39 while wearing the henna tattoo that almost brought down an industry. Photo courtesy of Sherdog.)
This Saturday, former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez faces TUF 10 vet James McSweeney in the co-main event of BAMMA 5 (MEN Arena; Manchester, England), which you can watch live via $10 online pay-per-view at bammatv.com. With 10 consecutive wins already under his belt — and his personal demons under control — you’d think that a decisive win over McSweeney would move Rodriguez one step closer to a UFC return. That’s what we thought anyway, until we asked Ricco about it on last week’s episode of The Bum Rush Radio Show. (The interview with Rodriguez begins at the 1:30:11 mark.)
As it turns out, the recent report that claimed Rodriguez was on the verge of signing a new contract with the UFC was mostly hot air. And in fact, it would be a minor miracle if “Suave” got anywhere close to an Octagon during his lifetime. Here’s the excerpt from our Bum Rush interview, in which Ricco Rodriguez — for the first time ever — explains why he’s been blacklisted from the organization.
RICCO RODRIGUEZ: No, [the report] definitely wasn’t accurate. There were some talks to possibly get into the UFC, but that opportunity is just not available, and I just don’t ever see myself returning to the UFC. Dana holds a grudge pretty well, and he has his reasons, and I don’t blame him. I understand what I did at that time, and it was a tough pill to swallow and he has every right to be upset with him…The truth of the matter is, is that I single-handedly almost tore down the UFC at one point in my career. A lot of people don’t know this, and you’ll probably be the first one that I’ll ever admit this to.
("Tell me again what it was like hanging out on the set with Hocky Balboa.")
When a story emerged last week that less than a month prior to the bout Vitor Belfort had jumped ship from training with Shawn Tompkins at TapouT Training Centre in Las Vegas in favor of holding his camp for his February 5 UFC 126 showdown with UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva at Xtreme Couture, the Internet exploded with theories about the obvious fragile mental state of "The Phenom" and fans and pundits quickly began writing off the former UFC heavyweight champ’s chances in the fight.
According to Belfort, the truth is, although he returned to working under the tutelage of Tompkins for this camp, he never really actually stopped training at the Randy Couture-helmed gym.
In a recent Twitter post Vitor (who incidentally trained almost exclusively with the Xtreme Couture coaches he’s working with now like Gil Martinez and Ray Sefo for his planned UFC 122 fight with Yushin Okami that was scrapped in favor of the Belfort-Silva bout next month) wrote that Tompkins was way off in his assessment of the situation.
"I dont think I have anything nice to say other than just ignoring it all. I have the right to choose who to train with. I have loyalty and respect and that is why I didn’t hide[the fact that I was also training at Xtreme Couture] from him," Belfort tweeted. "He tooks this more personally. I made my choice and this is just his opinion of it and nothing more."
(The last time Big Daddy got paid on time and in full.)
By Cage Potato contributor Chris Colemon
Only 17 years removed from its inaugural bout, the UFC is just now exiting its awkward teen years and developing into a suave, sophisticated adult. After an extended bout of growing pains that at times threatened the sport’s very existence, MMA is finally coming into its own. Today’s fans witness seemingly daily achievements and milestones that speak to the sport’s rapid expansion. In 2010 alone, the UFC held its first events in Abu Dhabi and Australia, opened offices in China, set a new North American attendance record for an MMA event, crowned its first Mexican heavyweight champion, and launched their first attack in the Battle for New York.
But the UFC’s epic tale is not unlike any other in that each chapter begins where another one ends. For every historic first, there is an all but forgotten last.
Here is a short list of some of the UFC’s important lasts – the rules and regulations sacrificed in the fight for our sport’s survival.
On paper, Machida, who was robbed of a decision over Quinton Rampage Jackson at UFC 123 in November after losing the light heavyweight belt to Mauricio Shogun Rua in May at UFC 113, is probably the UFC’s number two light heavyweight contender at the moment behind Rashad Evans, making the announcement that he will be facing an odds defying game plan master like Couture in his next bout somewhat of a head scratcher.
The cost vs. reward ratio is skewed in Randy’s favor.
If he beats the 47-year-old nearly-retired former champion, he beat a 47-year-old former champion, which shouldn’t raise his stock much in the UFC’s light heavyweight class. If he loses to Couture, he’ll have lost three fights in a row and will likely be relegated to fighting mid-card against Krzysztof Soszynski in his next bout, while Couture will likely get a crack at winning the UFC 205-pound belt for a record fourth time in his career by facing Shogun.
Although he says that he isn’t specifically fighting to win a title shot, Couture is cognizant that a win over Machida would put him in line to face Rua (the other fighter besides Lyoto that he named as being the two opponents he would take a break from acting to face) for the title.
In the interview above with MMA30′s Dave Farra, Couture talks about how he plans to bring the fight to Machida and also touches on some topics near and dear to him, including why his protegee Gray Maynard was somewhat sluggish in his UFC 125 fight with Frankie Edgar and his former Team Quest stablemate Chael Sonnen’s recent rash of bad decisions.
Chicks dig fighters — even the ones who talk funny. But even with the natural advantages that come with muscles, scars, and fame, we’re still occasionally surprised by the lady-killing ability of some mixed martial artists. Of all the MMA PUA‘s, these six are the most accomplished…
DEAN LISTER Notable conquests: WWE star Milena Roucka (aka ‘Rosa Mendes’), model Flavia Mazoni Notes: ‘The Boogeyman’ is semi-retired from the sport these days, choosing instead to spend his time training hopeless cases. But in his prime, Dean Lister was just as notable for his ability to attract exotic beauties as he was for his in-cage exploits. Grappling ability plus a cartoonishly strong-looking jawline is a combination that women can’t resist, apparently.
MATT HAMILL Notable conquests: Bikini model Wendy Foster, a super-hot former fiance named Brittany, an old girlfriend that was apparently down for whatever. Notes: Snagging a Hooters Girl of the Year would be an accomplishment for any man. But to do it without the use of one of your five senses? Bro, that’s legendary. (Then again, deafness is probably an asset when you’re pretending to be interested in your girlfriend’s stories.) Matt Hamill’s ex-fiance, a bartender from upstate New York, was just as hot, and of course there were those rumors of Hamill’s partner-swappin’ lifestyle with a freaky old flame. Respect the Hammer.
First reaction: Pretty cool fight, right? The consummate game-planner versus the man who, despite recent back-to-back losses, remains the light heavyweight division’s most intriguing puzzle. It sort of makes sense for both guys too, I mean, as much as paying a 47-year-old man money to get punched in the head can ever make sense. For Machida, it would be a nice win for a guy who sorely needs to prove he still belongs among the 205-pound elite. For Couture, well, he said he wanted interesting challenges and opponents don’t get much more interesting than Machida.
Second reaction: Hold up. Should we really be excited about this? Like, aren’t we just enabling the old man now? And at what point do we all become complicit in Randy Couture’s demise?
("Look, Brandon, I’m sorry. If you take your hand away, I promise I won’t slap you in the face again." / Photo courtesy of MMAFighting)
UPDATE: A clip of Silva playing Vera like a bongo has been added to the end of this post…check it out while it lasts.
The third round of Thiago Silva vs. Brandon Vera at UFC 125 represented one of the most humiliating beat-downs in recent MMA history, as Silva seemingly got tired of punching Vera about midway through the round and just started slapping him in the face until the fight was over. With Vera’s job likely on the line that night, it was the worst possible final impression to leave with his bosses — as if that mangled schnozz wasn’t enough.
After the fight, top light-heavyweight contender Jon Jones fired up Twitter and posted the following: "Wow that slapping was so disrespectful.. id love to give him a slap in the face…Dominating someone in a fight is 1 thing, looking to simply humiliate them is another..Traditional martial artist always seemed to show honor and respect.. Anyways what’s done is done, I’m headed to the gym to make sure nothing like that ever happens to me."
We say: Eff the haters, Thiago. You’ve just joined a very select group of MMA fighters who have demonstrated their dominance through slapping and spanking. The other members of the MMA Bitch-Slap Hall of Fame are after the jump…
If you want to see the best segment of the UFC’s Ultimate Insider series, you fast forward to the "Unguarded" portion of the show which features fighter interviews conducted by the UFC’s best kept secret, a behind-the scenes interviewer named Elizabeth who’s putting Ariel Helwani on notice.
Fortunately for those of you who don’t want to have to go through each episode they missed, the fine folks at the UFC took the time to splice together the highlights from the season in the 13-minute video above that includes Randy Couture retelling the story of his first ass-kicking, Josh Koscheck recalling how he "became" a dick, Carlos Condit talking about why he became a fighter and Dan Hardy explaining that he doesn’t like getting punched in the face.