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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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UFC Fight Night 44 – Stephens/Swanson: A View Through The Links

Vitor Belfort coaching Cezar Ferreira in bewteen rounds.

I didn’t have the best seat in the house, but it was pretty good, and the fights were just as solid. Here are a few of the sights from the floor.

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Picking a Fight: UFC Fight Night 44

Remember the Alamo? If you forgot, it’s in San Antonio and so is the UFC this weekend. Also, I’m in San Antonio this weekend to see the action live.

Cub Swanson takes of Jeremy Stephens in the main event. Kelvin Gastelum looks to build on his UFC 171 performance against Rick Story by locking horns with Alexander Gustaffson’s training partner Nic Musoke.  Joe Ellenberger makes his UFC debut, after 5 other opponents drop out of fighting him. Here’s hoping 6 is the lucky number. Also, here are my picks for tonight:

Will Chael Sonnen Get Eddie Bravo’d at Metamoris 4?

Eddie Bravo & Royler Gracie at Metamoris 3. Photo via Metamoris

Eddie Bravo & Royler Gracie at Metamoris 3. Photo via Metamoris

Bloody Elbow has an interview with Dana White that covers everything from the shakeup of the UFC: Macau card with Tyron Woodley filling in for an injured Hector Lombard against Dong Hyun-Kim to the UFC’s expansion into the Philippines.

One of the more interesting notes is that White and UFC don’t have an issue with recently retired Chael Sonnen headlining a submission grappling match against Andre Galvao at Metamoris 4 in August.  In fact, White goes on to say that, just like Invicta FC, Metamoris is just the type of combat sports content that the UFC would like to see become an addition to its subscription-only network, UFC: Fightpass.

In March, Metamoris 3 saw Eddie Bravo and Royler Gracie grapple to a draw in a rematch of their 2003 Abu Dhabi match, where Bravo triangle choked Gracie. After the draw, which most fight pundits actually scored for Eddie Bravo, UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie confronted an exhausted Bravo backstage. Royce Gracie felt compelled to approach Bravo as Bravo was in mid-vomit and harangue Bravo as Jean Jacques Machado rushed to intervene and keep both parties at bay.

Later, Royce Gracie not only confirmed the incident took place, but clarified why he took the opportunity to admonish Bravo.  “My issue with him is simple. I don’t like because he endorses. It’s nothing to do with jiu jitsu he uses, gi no gi, it’s because of what he endorses. We teach kids. His message out there is ‘it’s ok for you to do drugs’.” Gracie later explained to Submission Radio.

Royce Gracie - photo via Peter Gordon

Royce Gracie – photo via Peter Gordon

Gracie, in addition to being an MMA legend and UFC hall of famer hasn’t fought an MMA match since his win over Kazushi Sakuraba in 2007. After the Sakuraba win, Gracie’s license to fight was suspended by the Nevada state Athletic Commission when it was revealed that Gracie had used an anabolic steroid Nandrolone during his win over Sakuraba.

No word on whether Chael Sonnen can expect the same hypocritical finger-wagging from Royce Gracie in a post-fight reprimand should the match between Sonnen and Galavo come to fruition, and no word on whether or not Sonnen will continue his TRT use going into the matchup.

Foot-In-Mouth Award: World Series of Fighting’s Ali Abdel-Aziz

With the news of Bjorn Rebney’s de-throning from atop the Bellator chair and the call-up of Scott Coker to take the reins of the promotion, the response from the MMA community has been fairly positive (both in wishing Rebney well and in praise of his replacement in Coker).

For some, however, Rebney’s departure is a call for celebration.  One such fit of joy comes from Ali Abdel-Aziz, matchmaker of the World Series of Fighting and general off-the-cuff speaker.

Abdel-Aziz is no stranger to letting loose his feelings on Twitter. He got into a heated back and forth with Vinny Magalhaes earlier this year, a fighter not even under the WSOF roster.   He took a very passive aggressive dig at Rousimar Palhares when Palhares had to drop out of a fight with Jon Fitch due to Palhares’ mother’s failing health.

So, it should come as no surprise that Abdel-Aziz had an opinion about Bellator’s changing of the guard.  Unfortunately, Abdel-Aziz continues to talk first and think second.  In an interview with MMA Junkie late yesterday, Abdel-Aziz said of Bjorn Rebney’s ousting:

Today is victory for all of MMA – for me, for you, for all the fighters. Today should be (named) MMA Independence Day. Freedom from slavery, freedom from abuse, freedom from shadiness—this guy left. I don’t want to say his name—just MMA fans should be happy, and I’m very sure a lot of people are.

I’m certain Abdel-Aziz isn’t insensitive enough to actually believe that a fighter being paid to fight on a national stage is akin to someone treated as property to be bought and sold and worked without compensation.  It’s a bad metaphor. Unfortunately, his hyperbolic comparison is also ill-timed considering it was issued on the on eve of Juneteenth.

Obviously, the coincidence and timing couldn’t be worse. Luckily for Abdel-Aziz, the World Cup is on, and MMA isn’t covered in nearly the all-encompassing manner as other major league sports, so all he has to worry about is getting a dumb, fake award for putting his foot in his mouth.

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