(Gonzaga’s game-plan begins to fall apart at UFC 80; photo courtesy of UFC.com.)
How far the mighty fall: Once the UFC’s #1 heavyweight contender, Gabriel Gonzaga will reportedly be facing Team Punishment journeyman Justin McCully in his next bout, at UFC 86 (July 5th, Las Vegas). McCully will be looking for his second win in the Octagon, after defeating Antoni Hardonk by decision at UFC Fight Night 9 in April 2007; he hasn’t competed since then. The match is particularly important for Gonzaga, who’s been on a two-fight skid since knocking out Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 70. Not only did Gonzaga lose big matches to Randy Couture and Fabricio Werdum, he didn’t look impressive in either bout, leading some fans to question his heart. Fighting McCully is Napao’s last chance to redeem himself; if he doesn’t have a successful showing, you can bet he’ll be a victim of the UFC’s ongoing roster cuts.
In other UFC news…
— Due to a busted ankle, Alessio Sakara has been forced to withdraw from The Ultimate Fighter 7 finale (June 21st, Las Vegas). Replacing Sakara in his middleweight bout against Rob Yundt is Rob Kimmons, a 20-3 veteran of an alphabet soup of regional leagues who will be making his UFC debut.
— The UFC just sent a cease-and-desist letter to Tito Ortiz for wearing the UFC’s championship belt on the cover of his new autobiography, This Is Gonna Hurt. The belt is “intellectual property of the UFC…as such, its use in promotional materials requires the company’s approval per the terms of its standard contract.” Now who’s the bitch?