Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar got into a brawl last night at Bellator 123.
It wasn’t a Jon Jones-Daniel Cormier brawl–the kind where you scream “JUST BLEED” and start shadowboxing.
It wasn’t even a Strikeforce: Nashville brawl between Mayhem Miller and Nick Diaz’s crew–the kind where your eyes can’t leave the TV screen and your heart races.
It was a terribly phony, laughable, obviously staged “fight” that brought down an otherwise stellar Bellator card.
Here’s the rundown:
Bonnar and Ortiz are in the cage. Bonnar tries to take the mic away from Jimmy Smith, who does his duty as a broadcaster and doesn’t let Bonnar take the mic. Bonnar starts insulting Tito Ortiz, saying that everyone who has ever associated with Ortiz hates him now. While Bonnar is going on this rant, you can see a guy in a mask beside him. Bonnar continues his rant and then points to the masked man.
The man begins to unmask. It’s…it’s…
Justin McCully, a former friend and training partner of Tito Ortiz.
Saying the crowd went mild would be too generous. The audience had zero reaction to McCully. This was to be expected as he was a forgettable journeyman who went 2-2 in the UFC and hasn’t fought in three years. Even some hardcore fans might not have remembered McCully, whose claim to fame is beating Antoni Hardonk and Eddie fucking Sanchez.
Then Bonnar started making Jenna Jameson references. Ugh.
It didn’t get any better when Ortiz started talking. Thankfully, he didn’t say much. He called both Bonnar and McCully drug addicts, then shoved Bonnar and a bunch of people came in to separate them. Literally five minutes later an ad ran promoting Bonnar vs. Ortiz (with clips of the “brawl” that happened minutes ago). The match will run on the same night as UFC 180, which is headlined by Cain Velasquez vs. Fabricio Werdum.
This was not MMA’s finest moment by a long shot.
Was it the dumbest thing in the history of MMA? I’ve written about MMA and dumb shit in the past, so I can safely say it’s not the dumbest. It is, however, certainly among such esteemed company as Bob Sapp fighting a cartoon character and Mayhem Miller’s tirade on the MMA Hour in terms of abject stupidity.
It’s a shame this pathetic charade had to play out during what was one of Bellator’s most exciting cards to date. Bellator is in a peculiar position. They have Scott Coker bringing in some much-needed Strikeforce vibes but then they also have the lingering remnants of Bjorn Rebney’s booking. Even when fired, one casts a shadow. In addition, it seems as if Spike/Viacom is spoiling Coker’s plans. Coker never resorted to such pro wrestling hysterics during his time at Strikeforce (the Nashville brawl wasn’t staged and nobody was “unmasked”). It’s uncharacteristic of him to suddenly do it here. If you ask us, choreographing the brawl wasn’t his doing (though he’s just as guilty for letting it happen).
Bellator became a Twitter trend last night. So if nothing else, the farce that was last night’s brawl got the casual fans interested but the cost was any and all credibility Bellator had built up since hiring Coker.