Fans in Manchester stepped it up to support a show lacking serious star-power even though UFC Fight Night 30 lost British middleweight Michael Bisping. In turn, the involved athletes repaid them with a number of entertaining rumbles and highlight-reel finishes. Some quick takes – Rosi Sexton is too tough for her own good and shouldn’t be fighting in the UFC at 135 pounds / Andrew Craig choked as much as Luke Barnatt excelled / John Lineker needs to understand his job is at risk, win or lose, if he misses weight one more time / It’s time to cut Alessio Sakara / Norman Parke has a bright future / Still scratching my head as to how Ryan Jimmo went down with a leg injury but only ended up with a seven-day medical suspension / Jimi Manuwa is a fierce striker but needs to face an elite opponent before I’m buying into the hype / Melvin Guillard was robbed regardless of what the current rule about illegal knees states / 2014 will be a rough year for Mark Munoz / Lyoto Machida’s addition to the middleweight division is one of the greatest things to happen in 2013.
Pickett went on record as stating he was considering a drop down to 125 pounds after a fairly successful run at bantamweight including wins over Mike Easton, Ivan Menjivar, and Demetrious Johnson. If he can slim down in a healthy manner I’m all for the move. He’s 35, so it could be tough, but Pickett’s never been a huge 135er so flyweight certainly seems within his reach and the division could definitely use his presence.
It’s hard to feel bad for Bellator/Viacom after banking so hard on two injury-prone fighters past their prime to headline the organizaton’s initial foray into PPV. While Tito Ortiz-Quinton Jackson would have made for a fantastic fight five years ago, neither has been divisionally relevant in some time and are simply riding the success of old accomplishments in terms of marketability. However, it’s unfortunate for the lesser-known competitors who would have landed new fans as a result of being on the show, as well as Eddie Alvarez who was one step closer to freedom with a PPV appearance based on his current deal with the company. Additionally, it’s obviously never a positive when a fighter goes down with an injury as was the case with Ortiz, so hopefully the former UFC champion heals up fine and re-considers his interest in returning to the ring.
There are a handful of ways the UFC could have gone with Gustafsson after the 26-year old Swede nearly dethroned light heavyweight champion Jon Jones but few folks expected to see the organization book a March meeting with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. In short, it’s a winnable fight for Gustafsson against an opponent who has fought a total of two times in the last two years. Nogueira is seasoned, but he’s a medical mess and can only lay claim to one big win (over Rashad Evans) in the last five years. In reality, Daniel Cormier would have been a more logical option considering his own status as a top contender. However, it seems the UFC might want to have Gustafsson available to face Jones or Glover Teixeira if one of them bows out of their February fight, so sidelining him until March makes sense from that perspective.
WSOF held an event over the weekend but the show flew under the radar for the most part. It’s a shame really, as the lineup featured a number of recognizable veterans including Miguel Torres and Jon Fitch, and ultimately delivered some solid action come showtime. Some of the evening’s highlights included Torres being submitted in the first frame, Fitch barely scraping by with a Split Decision victory, Marlon Moraes pulling off a sub-minute knockout of Carson Beebe, and Steve Carl choking Josh Burkman out cold to become welterweight champion.
“Cowboy” is set on the idea of dropping down to featherweight and plans to finally make the move after his UFC 167 scrap with Evan Dunham. According to Cerrone, he doesn’t diet and wouldn’t have any problem shedding ten pounds. File this one away in the “believe it when you see it” category. Cerrone is fairly tall for a 145er and occasionally looks somewhat sucked out when weighing in as is.
2013 has been the most memorable year of Jason Miller’s career but not in a good way. He’s had multiple run-ins with the law based on domestic abuse and most recently made headlines for an incident involving UFC middleweight Uriah Hall. Stories surrounding the situation vary, but video of the confrontation show the two exchanging words with Miller being particularly provocative, calling Hall – who is black – a “bitch ass nigga”. In response, Hall took a swipe at “Mayhem” and the two were immediately separated. Though they aren’t likely to ever meet in the cage, Hall at least endeared himself in the eyes of UFC President Dana White who despises Miller. When asked if Hall would be punished for the matter, White joked he might actually consider giving the Ultimate Fighter 17 finalist a bonus.
Drysdale entered the UFC with a reputation as one of the finest grapplers out there, transitioning his success from the tournament scene into a 6-0 run as a Mixed Martial Artist. He may exit it with a very different tag attached to his name. The 32-year old was popped by the Nevada Athletic Commission for an elevated testosterone level when applying for a license to compete (a ridiculous 19:1 ratio). While Drysdale was returning from an injury and may have attempted to rush the process, coming in dirty for your debut with a number that would even make Chael Sonnen scoff is definitely not conducive to a long stint in the Octagon.
With Tito Ortiz off the table, Jackson was handed recently-released UFC veteran Joey Beltran for his Bellator debut (November 15 / Bellator 108). The bout clearly has no impact on the rankings but it should still be an entertaining effort. “Rampage” has always complained about running into wrestlers who want to take him down to the mat and “hump him” en route to a decision nod, but he definitely won’t have that problem with an aggressive striker like Beltran. It should be a bit sloppy but a spectacle nonetheless.
The UFC has confirmed Nova Uniao teammates Renan Barao and Jose Aldo will both put their divisional titles on the line at UFC 169, giving fans a double-dose of championship action on Super Bowl Weekend. Barao will attempt to remove the interim label on his strap when he takes on linear champ Dominick Cruz who will return to the ring after more than two years on the shelf due to injury, while Aldo is on tap to finally lock horns with vicious finisher Ricardo Lamas. Both bouts should be fantastic in terms of technique. The quartet of competitors are all well-rounded and none have any real weaknesses to speak of save for Cruz’s ring rust.
Welcome back to the 10-Point Must! Every week I’ll give my thoughts on ten topics from the past seven days with hopes the readership will contribute their takes as well in the Comments section. This time around, subjects range from a few fighters looking to change divisions to fallout from recent events to a couple of clashes booked for the coming weeks/months. (Photos by USA Today Sports Images)