Even as we continue to trundle through an almost unprecedented lull in actual MMA action, the men who make the sport happen are still finding ways to make news. Some of it is good, some of it is bad and some of it is just plain weird.
This week we witnessed one fighter who couldn’t muster any excitement for his own pay-per-view main event, while two others were so worked up they wanted to fight in a hotel conference room. We’ve had one fighter (we think) making his exit from the sport while another prepared to make his entrance. Oh, and we had injuries. We had lots of injuries.
The MMA Hot List tracks trending topics in mixed martial arts. Here’s what we’re talking about as we prepare for UFC 130 later this month …
1. Rampage is just not selling this PPV: Quinton Jackson has seemingly been a fountain of apathy recently. From his declarations these past weeks that he’s only sticking around in MMA until his movie career takes off and that he’s planning pull the plug on fighting in a couple years regardless, to saying he’s “not excited” about fighting Matt Hamill in the main event of UFC 130, it just doesn’t seem like the guy’s heart is in it anymore. So, who wants to save their money for 131?
2. An awful lot of talk about a thumb: Despite what the flurry of rumors might say, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is not ducking Rashad Evans, nor did he lie to MMA fans about the injury to his hand. What did happen was that Jones’ camp bungled the announcement that he won’t need surgery on the dinged-up digit after all. Instead of a professionally crafted press release or personal interview from Jones, manager Malki Kawa put the news out in a series of increasingly awkward tweets, which left a lot of room for interpretation. Once more time: Twitter is not the answer, people.
3. Tito vs. Mitrione? After Matt Mitrione and Tito Ortiz nearly came to blows during last week’s UFC fighter summit (and heavyweight Roy Nelson helpfully filmed it and put it up on YouTube) the MMA world has been all a titter about a possible fight between the two. Mitrione says he’s already talked to UFC President Dana White about a 220-pound catchweight and to his nutritionist about making the cut. Still, no matter how mad he is over Mitrione’s jokes about his personal life, I’m betting Ortiz wants no part of that.
4. Meanwhile, Ortiz did what? Well, reports say he bailed out a murder suspect in Las Vegas. According to the hometown Review Journal, Ortiz fronted the half-million-dollar bond in the release of Keith Herriman who (in the paper’s words) “is charged with 12 felony counts in a plot to have his son, Dominick Harriman, 27, killed in a sordid affair involving an insurance fraud scam and a love triangle with Keith Harriman's former wife.” Yikes. We couldn’t make this stuff up.
5. Aoki finally finds opponent: After a bout with Antonio McKee was rumored and a bout with Shane Nelson was allegedly turned down, Shinya Aoki will now reportedly square off with Rich Clementi at the upcoming Dream show. Why is it that nothing involving Aoki ever seems to go down easily? This time however, it might not be his fault. Which brings us to this …
6. What gives, McKee? The normally bombastic lightweight is playing it uncharacteristically cagey about why he won’t be able to make it to Japan to fight Aoki. McKee, who spent the last few years telling us all how great he was before going one-and-done in the UFC a few months back, says he’s not telling what scuttled the Aoki bout because he still hopes to make the fight happen in the future. He better hurry. At 41 years old, he’s not going to get many more chances to prove he’s one of the best in the world.
7. With a foe now named, Brashear gears up for MMA debut: Former NHL enforcer Donald Brashear remains set on making his MMA debut at an independent event in Quebec on June 4, despite the fact promoters had to pull a switcheroo when opponent Martin Trempe pulled out with an injury. An 0-1 fighter named Steven Begin has been named as a replacement and frankly, I don’t see the problem. Brashear has never been too picky about who he fights.
8. Cerrone also gets last-minute change: Lots of fight booking (and re-booking) news floating around this week. Former WEC lightweight Donald Cerrone is facing a situation similar to that of Brashear and Aoki now that proposed opponent Mac Danzig is out of their clash at UFC 131. Instead, Cerrone will face newcomer Vagner Rocha.
9. Bellator goes big on bantamweights: Bellator’s upcoming 135-pound tournament is shaping up as one of its most competitive to date, with the recent addition of former Olympian Alexis Vila. Vila joins Marcos Galvao, Joe Warren, Luis Alberto Nogueira, Eduardo Dantas, Chase Beebe and Ed West in the announced field.
10. Coleman calls it quits … unless … He gets the chance to fight Herschel Walker? That’s what the MMA legend said this week on the possibility that he ever fights again, something Coleman seems to be waffling a bit on. The former heavyweight champion admits his UFC days are probably over after he got cut in the wake of his loss to Randy Couture at UFC 109. These days, Coleman has been busying himself pursuing some business ventures at home in Ohio, but says he’d “drop everything” for the chance to fight Walker in Strikeforce. Hey, why not?
UFC President Dana White (above) embarrassed after Gray Maynard beat Clay Guida by split decision to win a lightweight bout and the main event of the UFC card in Atlantic City.
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