Finally, we come to a weekend with no fight predictions for The Closing Bell. We still have plenty to talk about though, so let’s get started:
WEC 53 Thoughts
Anthony Pettis lands a highlight reel kick on Ben Henderson (photo courtesy of WEC)
What a way to bid the blue mat farewell!
Anthony Pettis was already considered a flashy fighter, but he really made his star-turn on Thursday evening with an amazing performance in an epic fight against Ben Henderson for the WEC lightweight belt.
The bout turned out to be an instant classic and Pettis’ near-knockout of Henderson, via a spectacular move where “Showtime” launched himself off the fence and used the launching foot to kick the defending champion in the head, was one of those moments where I was anticipating a “Holy shit!” chant from the crowd.
The first UFC bout for Pettis will be a title fight against the winner of the Jan. 1 UFC lightweight championship bout between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard. The newly crowned WEC champ will get a chance to show us if he has anymore crazy moves in his arsenal and also prove that the top tier WEC 155ers can hang with the best the UFC has to offer. I’m already looking forward to it.
The UFC also crowned its first bantamweight champion at the event, as Dominick Cruz took a decision over Scott Jorgensen. It wasn’t entertaining on the same level as Pettis-Henderson, but the fight once again put on display Cruz’s solid skills as a dominant bantamweight. It also set up a perfect first bantamweight championship bout for UFC television between Cruz and Urijah Faber with the possibility of the two appearing as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter before they meet.
Kamal Shalorus has such great wrestling, but he really needs to use it early and often and learn how to finish fights utilizing his strengths rather than just trying to land one of those big knockout punches. He snuck out with the win over Bart Palaszewski, but he was fading in the third round. More wrestling, less trying to knock his foe’s head into the back row of the stadium seats might benefit Shalorus as he transitions to the Octagon.
Donald Cerrone didn’t let me down against Horodecki. Horodecki was the top of the ladder in the IFL, but the holes in his game have become much more apparent in the WEC. Meanwhile, Cerrone continues to look improved and should be an entertaining addition to the UFC’s lightweight ranks.
UFC 124 Thoughts
Georges St-Pierre (photo courtesy of UFC)
Georges St-Pierre might not be leaving UFC president Dana White with many choices other than a superfight with Anderson Silva. The top welterweight challengers at this point are probably Carlos Condit, Jake Shields and Martin Kampmann. Now I’d love to see Condit or Shields in a UFC title fight, but I don’t think they would fare much better against GSP than the guys the champ has already topped. There are also possible rematches against Jon Fitch, BJ Penn or Thiago Alves, but none of those seem very intriguing either.
The call-outs at the event definitely could set up some interesting fights in the coming months. Mark Bocek wants George Sotiropoulos and Jim Miller wants a title shot. I can’t say I’m against either of these proposals. Bocek-Sotiropoulos would be an entertaining grappling affair and Miller definitely deserves to move toward a title shot. I see the Bocek-Sotiropoulos fight as a real possibility, but Miller will have to wait for a while since Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard will vie for the title and the winner will then face Anthony Pettis.
Mac Danzig surprised me and found a way to stick around in the UFC while Joe Stevenson really disappointed me. Stevenson sure has fallen since his days as a lightweight title contender.
Stefan Struve should have a bright future as he grows into his lanky frame. He has to worry about getting knocked out by the heavy hitters, but as he gets better at using his height advantage he should be able to avoid taking those big knockout blows. He’s still extremely young at age 22 and is still growing, both physically and in his skill set.
The Nemesis Fighting Fiasco
Wow, what a crazy mess the Nemesis Fighting event turned out to be.
It seems like Tropical Storm Tomas was trying to tell everybody something last month about MMA events in the Caribbean: They’re not a good idea.
Remember, Nemesis Fighting wasn’t the only event in that part of the world that was rescheduled due to the storm. There was also the Caribbean Gladiators event, set to feature Olympic silver medalist wrestler Sara McMann’s pro debut, in Jamaica.
And what happened to that show? The fighters arrived, only to have the event canceled when the cage was deemed unsafe for fighting. While inconsequential due to the cancellation of the event, McMann also suffered an opponent change, with her new foe weighing in outrageously over the limit.
Now, the Nemesis event is behind us and it turned out to be an even bigger disaster.
The card itself was reportedly full of great fights, but the story detailed by MMA Weekly makes it sound like the only thing that could have been worse for the fighters involved – guys like Keith Jardine, Paul Buentello and Eliot Marshall, to name a few – would be if they had been jumped in a dark alley while in the Dominican Republic.
Bounced checks, allegations of cheating, no time keeper, no judges, no commission, no doctor and some fighters kicked out of the hotel. What a mess.
Something that sounds too good to be true often turns out to be a scam. That’s exactly the case here. The promoter of this event was offering UFC-level money and that should have been the first red flag for these fighters.
When an event is held in a location where there is not a commission to protect the athletes, those athletes really should insist on getting paid at least a portion of their purse in advance. They are risking their health and well-being, sometimes without even medical staff on hand, and they should never have to do that for free.
The Closing Bell will be taking a one week break for Christmas, but it will return on Jan. 1 with a UFC 125 preview. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone!