Bellator Casts Stephan Bonnar in American Psycho 2

 

Bonner

American Psycho 2: Electric Bugaloo

In 2000, Lions Gate Films released a theatrical version of the Bret Easton Ellis novel American Psycho. Its modest $7 million dollar budget pulled in over $30 million dollars, and Lion’s Gate saw this success as reason enough to release a direct-to-video sequel American Psycho 2 starring a then unknown box office starlet named Mila Kunis.  Fans of the original film and the book saw the release of the sequel as odd (if not confusing), but Lions Gate simply saw an opportunity to make a quick buck off the surprise success of the original film.  In fact, a script for an American Psycho sequel didn’t even exist.  The production company found a script in its archives with a serial killer and worked in a scene with the main character from the original film (someone not named Christian Bale), and attempted to tie it together to the original by throwing the title “American Psycho” on it.  American Psycho 2 currently holds an 18% audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, proving it’s difficult to follow up an original with a half-baked sequel, especially if it’s only released to be an ATM machine.

So when word broke this morning that UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar had signed a new contract to fight in Bellator, many MMA fans also cocked their heads sideways. No one outside of Forrest Griffin or Chuck Liddell has been as much of a UFC company man historically as Stephan Bonnar. In addition to fighting for the UFC, Bonnarwas a familiar voice to WEC broadcasts, calling the action cageside.  So to see him emerge from retirement and jump ship to rival promotion Bellator is as odd, at least as odd as seeing a sequel to a movie with a cult following and modest reviews.

The fact that Bonnar took his nickname The American Psycho from the title of the book & film of the same name is quaint, but when you consider the parallels in the movie’s sequel and Bonnar’s own follow-up to a post-UFC career, the nickname is suddenly more than apropos.  It’s uncanny.

Bonnar will always be linked to his showdown with Forrest Griffin, and that fight will outlive everyone involved in putting it together. Despite your feelings on the way they fought, there is no doubt it was a watershed moment in MMA. There is a pre-TUF/post-TUF demarcation in the history of MMA thanks in part to Stephan Bonnar.  Whatever your feelings are as to the rest of his in-cage bona fides, Bonnar can hang his hat on that, an accomplishment to which few can lay claim.

In the last fight of his UFC career, Bonnar lost to then-middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva in violent fashion.  To add insult to injury, Bonnar later tested positive for the anabolic steroid Drostanolone in said match with Silva.  Bonnar, quietly, retired shortly after the loss.  Still, Bonnar’s fight with Griffin in 2005 gave the UFC its identity and a huge audience, and Dana White announced that he was inducting both Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2013, a huge feather in the cap for someone who never fought in a championship fight let alone won a belt for the promotion.

No one asked for a Stephan Bonnar sequel.  I’m not even sure Scott Coker sought out Bonnar specifically. This seems more of a move by Spike TV who remembers what Bonnar did for the channel back in 2005 when he and Griffin put on the fight that put the UFC (and Spike TV) on the map.  If Bellator plans to build its brand using former UFC fighters as the basis for its future, I doubt it has a long-term strategy in mind.  Having Ortiz, Rampage, Kongo, Couture, and now Bonnar as part of its smells more like a tactical solution than a strategic one. However, what most people may fail to realize is a tactical solution was exactly what the first season of The Ultimate Fighter was.  Tactical solutions can put a plateaued product on the right track as long as there is follow through, as long as there is an evolution into something more strategic. If nothing else, Bonnar’s signing begs the question what will Bellator’s follow through be?  That’s what makes his signing intriguing.

Sure, bemoan the matchups of Bonnar/Ortiz, Bonnar/Rampage, or Bonnar/King-Mo all you’d like. Bonnar himself has already started the promotion digs Tito’s direction in a Bellator press release.  Ready yourself for Tito bringing up Bonnar’s past steroid abuse and for Bonnar lambasting Ortiz’s chronic injury-prone body.  Much like American Psycho 2, Bonnar/Ortiz, Bonnar/Lawal, and BonnarRampage aren’t matchups anyone is clamoring for.  However, sometimes, those things that have the least demand end up delivering the most.  I’m not saying a potential Bonnar/Ortiz matchup will deliver more than a rematch between Will Brooks and Michael Chandler.  I don’t know if Bonnar has enough left to make a run at Bellator’s 205-pound title.  Bellator’s light-heavyweight roster is thin enough that a couple of wins may just find him on the path to title contention.

Bonnar should use Huey Lewis as walkout music.

What I am saying is that I’ve seen American Psycho 2, and it’s not bad.  If you watch it as a movie onto itself outside of the shadow of the first film, it’s a fun flick. If MMA fans can get out from under the shadow Bonnar cast in his UFC run, if they can make room for the possibility that Bonnar is at the very least an entertaining fighter, maybe they can make room for the possibility that Bonnar has a fun fight or two he can contribute under the Bellator banner.  Bonnar/Griffin 1 & The Ultimate Fighter was the avenue by which a whole generation of MMA fans entered the sport.  Stephan Bonnar’s follow-up to his UFC run may not garner the same attention, but it definitely will not go unnoticed. There are many reasons to produce a sequel. Here’s hoping that Stephan Bonnar and Bellator find the right audience.

PICKING A FIGHT – UFC FIGHT NIGHT 47

Pardon my absence from the premises as of late fellow Donnybrookers, but with the news of Josh Grispi, the ridiculousness that is War Machine, and the injury to Jon Jones, it’s been a pretty miserable time to write about MMA.

Regarding the War Machine news, I didn’t want to give it more ink than what’s out there. I didn’t have the fight in me to point out to the “alpha male” War Machine fans that nothing screams “alpha male” quite like beating up your girlfriend and then cowardly going on the lam. I didn’t have the pluck to debate people who think Christy Mack’s line of work prevents her from being treated like a human being and not being beaten to near death.   I lost the inclination to hear two sides of the story because if you saw the pictures of what War Machine did to Christy Mack, you know there is nothing about the other side of that story that could have justified him putting hands on the woman he supposedly loves.

There simply wasn’t anything worthwhile to mention regarding the combat landscape.  Even the silver lining of Cathal Pendred donating his portion of Mike King’s forfeited Fight of the Night performance purse to a Children’s hospital wasn’t enough to pull me out of the MMA doldrums.  Though good on Cathal. There’s a reason that guy has a following, and I’m starting to think it has less to do with his fighting abilities and has more to do with him being a good dude.

Yes, this is Cathal Pendred pulling a George Costanza rescuing a beached baby dolphin.

Yes, this is Cathal Pendred pulling a George Costanza and rescuing a beached baby dolphin.

And Robin Williams died.  And the news out of Ferguson, Missouri gets worse and worse. And it just felt like a good time to take a hiatus.

Similarly, the UFC has taken a powder and been on hiatus since July 26, one of the promotions longer breaks in recent history.  For the contingent of fans decrying the oversaturation of UFC events, the last three weeks have been Xanadu.  For everyone else, it’s been shark week, which apparently is just as staged as the WWE. So this Saturday’s free UFC event from Bangor, Maine, live on Fox Sports 1, is a welcome return to form for everyone who watches fights.  Everyone except Maine’s own Tim Sylvia.

In the main event, Ryan Bader locks horns with Ovince St. Preux which does little in the way of advancement with a Bader victory and barely moves the needle with an OSP win. Bader is the favorite, so it will be interesting to see what game plan he implements. Will he stand with the unorthodox of OSP, or will he control OSP on the ground?  For OSP, Bader represents a clear step up in competition, so he shouldn’t expect to Von Flue choke Ryan Bader.  It won’t be that easy.  What everyone should dread the most about this match-up is the likely abundance of references to OSP’s “athleticism” or his being “an athlete.”  They will come fast and furious. Do not make a drinking game out of it, or you will likely not make it out of the second round.

In the co-main, Gray Maynard steps in for an injured Abel Trujillo to take on Ross Pearson.  Maynard may be the bigger fighter, but if Pearson can avoid the takedown and keep things standing, look for Pearson to capitalize on Maynard’s perceived inability to take big shots.  For Maynard, one too many hardline KOs have left many fans wondering if he can still take a shot.  However don’t dismiss Maynard’s ability to give shots, primarily when he shoots for a takedown.  If Maynard gets back to his takedown roots, he could make Pearson’s night a long one.

The Fight Night 47 card also sees the return of Sara McMann, the one-time UFC Women’s Bantamweight contender and Olympic medalist who hopes to rebound after a one-sided shellacking by Ronda Rousey earlier this year.  McMann is the overwhelming favorite for a reason.  She’s a wrestler, and she’s a top flight grappler. Look for McMann to secure the takedown at will and land big shots en route to a referee stoppage.

As always, feel free to come back to ridicule my picks as I am proven wrong.

Clearly, Jon Jones Is Really Tired of the Media Stunts

DCJJStare

After Alexander Gustafsson decided to poke the bear late last week and tease UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones about an injury the champ sustained in training, Jon Jones was quick to respond.  Jones, in typical Jones fashion, decided to take the opportunity to address how he was not only focused on his next opponent, Daniel Cormier, but that he was tired of the media shenanigans.

Of course that was 24 hours ago.

Today, Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier decided to fight for free, well ahead of their UFC 178 matchup in September.  Wrapping up a media Q&A in the lobby of the MGM Grand to promote the fight, Cormier and Jones took to the stage for the cameras to carry out the age-old staredown photo-op, when Jones decided a face-off simply wasn’t enough and that he wanted to be in Cormier.  Head-to-head became literal and then exchanged shoving, and soon fists, were the order of the day. MMA Fighting captured the entirety of the brawl here, where Jones showed that his commitment to stopping “media stunts” is about as consistent as everything else he does outside of the cage.

Of course the most telling aspect of the pre-fight fight comes when Jones, pleased with the carnage, stood a top a nearby podium amid the public he and Cormier almost put in danger and crowed, loudly and intensely as only a man who abhors media tomfoolery can be.

Growl! via MMAFighting.com

Growl! via MMAFighting.com

And of course, Bones Jones couldn’t simply let the dust-up speak for itself and took to Twitter to needle Cormier.

Cormier went on to respond to Jones’s taunt via Twitter (presumably after he was able to locate his shoe).  Now, it stands to reason that the Nevada State Athletic Commission will likely review the incident, but the bigger issue may be that the fight spilled into the general audience.  All it takes is one person to to file suit, and suddenly, Cormier and Jones are taking on civil litigation instead of exchanging fisticuffs.

With that, a highly-anticipated fight for UFC 178 suddenly became much bigger. Nothing, however, captures the moment from the perspective of the UFC brass quite like UFC PR Director Dave Sholler in this shot:

ShollerWhat’s the over/under for when the mea culpas begin to be issued?

Thiago Silva Returns to Fighting… Despite Reports, It Won’t Be in The Octagon

I'm pretty sure Silva won't be returning to the Octagon.

I’m pretty sure Silva won’t be returning to the Octagon.

If there was any real question about how the “mainstream” views MMA, this should tell you a great deal.

The video, which you can see here, flat out states that Silva will be fighting in the Octagon.

Thiago Silva was arrested in February and charged with aggravated assault and battery that came on the heels of an alleged confrontation with his estranged wife.  You can read more about his arrest and the fallout here.

As far as the claim that Silva will be fighting in the Octagon, yes, it’s lazy reporting.  Yes, all it would take is an extra step or two to call the UFC and figure out that Thiago Silva is not a part of its organization and will not be stepping into the “Octagon”.  Yes, it’s sensationalistic and misleading to use the UFC’s name and trademark in the story when he doesn’t have ties to the UFC anymore.  Yahoo, should know better.  Hell, they could go and ask Kevin Iole.  More than that, though, it demonstrates how the UFC brand name can cut both ways.

In the end, I suppose it could have been worse.  The news outlet and Yahoo could have used a picture of this Thiago Silva in the report:

photo via WikiCommons

Thiago Silva; photo via WikiCommons

Musical Chairs: Injury Forces Aldo Out of UFC 176; Could Rousey Take Over Main Event Duties?

Ronda Rousey & fan; photo via Pedro Gaytan

Ronda Rousey & fan; photo via Pedro Gaytan

Word late yesterday was that UFC Featherweight champ Jose Aldo was pulling out of his main event fight with Chad Mendes due to an injury sustained in training.  This puts the UFC in a bit of a bucket of syrup as it already has four events scheduled for August with two of them PPV events, UFC 176 and UFC 177.

Now, the speculation machine is running at full tilt with who can be booked on such short notice. During the media scrum on Thursday for UFC 175, Ronda Rousey spoke to a glut of reporters when Fox Sports reporter Marc Raimondi dropped this little nugget:

It wouldn’t be the first time Rousey has come to the UFC’s rescue. However this assumes two things.  One, she will beat Alexis Davis Saturday night. Two, the UFC has a potential opponent lined up.

With the odds on a Rousey win being as lopsided as they are, and with her history of finishing opponents, and for the sake of argument, assume she does win. It still leaves her without a legit opponent.  Cat Zingano, the former contender, has just started to return to training, but Dana White believes she needs a warm-up fight before she cashes in the ticket to a title fight she earned by TKOing Miesha Tate last year.  Despite White’s reluctance to allow Zingano an immediate shot considering the rough year she has had, there may be few options left.

Unless of course you look to the outliers.

Surely you haven’t forgotten about the circus that took place when Dana White and Ronda Rousey took their two-person promotional act on the road and floated the idea of Gina Carano coming in to the UFC challenge Rousey after 5 years of being out of the sport?  That speculation of course was deaded when it was casually announced over Twitter on a Friday night (during a Bellator broadcast) that Rousey would be taking on Davis, despite weeks of teasing the media and MMA fans that Gina Carano was UFC-bound.

With Rousey going on record that she would gladly step in and fight on a month’s notice, a showdown with Carano might be exactly the kind of silver-lining the UFC needs to save the August 2nd card, even if the fight itself makes absolutely zero sense from a competitive aspect. Unfortunately for the UFC, just because Rousey is willing and ready to fight at a moment’s notice doesn’t mean Carano is ready.  In fact, according to Bloody Elbow, negotiations between Carano and the UFC have come to an impasse.  However, if Carano’s management team isn’t using Aldo’s injury as an opportunity to get what they want from the UFC, she needs better representation.

Consider then the other outlier opponent in Holly Holm. If the rumored negotiations between Holm and the UFC are going as swimmingly as Dana White would like for everyone to believe, Rousey could have a legit threat on her hands, or a very real challenge at the very least.  Holm, who last fought in April and suffered a broken arm, may not even be ready for primetime let alone a PPV, but she remains an intriguing out for Rousey.  Holm is an accomplished stand-up fighter who would likely give Rousey fits on the feet.  However, even if her contract negotiations are progressing positively, it remains unknown whether or not her arm is healed enough for her to begin training.

Then, there is Cyborg, but I have a feeling that Rousey might want to take more than a month to prep for Cristiane Santos. Also Santos would need to drop to 135, and I doubt she has been working to that lately.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility to see Rousey headlining the August 2nd card. Who is standing across from her in the cage remains to be seen, but I’m willing to bet if the tumblers fall into place, Cat Zingano will finally get her chance at the title.

Then again, if Eddie Alvarez can get out of his Bellator deal now that Bjorn Rebney is out, where there is smoke, there could be fire.