Chael Sonnen file photo: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
The Weekly Wrap walks readers through the last seven days in MMA, recapping and putting into context the week's top story, important news and notable quotes.
After an uncharacteristically quiet month of July, Zuffa came on strong this week with promotion for the three UFC cards and one WEC card it will hold in the jam-packed month of August. Meanwhile, injuries caused several changes to the month’s lineups.
The highlights came from Chael Sonnen, who lit up a conference call for UFC 117 on Tuesday with inflammatory quotes and memorable proclamations about his stature in the industry and the fight he’s going to take to middleweight champion Anderson Silva on Aug. 7 in Oakland, Calif. A reserved Silva did not engage in any back-and-forth, saying he found Sonnen’s statements “funny.” Silva did part with some newsworthy material, saying he planned to retire as a middleweight, calling into question the much-discussed super fight with Georges St. Pierre and a potential run at the light heavyweight title.
Sonnen suggested Silva only took the fight under pressure from UFC President Dana White, who’s gone so far as to threaten to fire his 185-pound champion if another of his fights drag on as his past three title defenses have. Sonnen ripped Silva’s marketability and personability, but called him a dangerous fighter who will likely send him to the hospital whether he wins the fight or not.
Through translator and manager Ed Soares, Silva said repeatedly he didn’t believe in trash-talking to promote a fight and that his past accomplishments did enough to that end. The UFC still put him on the PR circuit though, booking him as a guest at ESPN’s “X Games” on Thursday in Los Angeles. Similar promotion took place elsewhere in California on Friday for the “UFC Live” card this Sunday in San Diego, as headliner Jon Jones threw out the first pitch at a San Diego Padres game.
Anticipation for the UFC 118 event on Aug. 28 also received a boost as the company announced a partial roster of fighters who are due to appear at the UFC Fan Expo prior to the Boston debut event. Attendees include Anderson Silva, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Chuck Liddell, Urijah Faber, Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz.
While the hype train started rolling this week, the August slate did take some hits due to injuries.
Out of UFC on Versus 2 on Aug. 1 is Thiago Tavares, who wasn’t given a new opponent after an injury forced out his opponent Willamy Freire. Additionally, it was feared Rafael dos Anjos would fall out of his bout with Clay Guida due to an undisclosed illness. Guida, hearing the rumors, posted “Say it ain’t so Rafael!” on his Twitter account. However, most reports indicated dos Anjos would be able to make the fight. The San Diego event will also mark the first time iconic referee “Big” John McCarthy will be assigned to officiate a UFC event since 2007.
Out of UFC 117 on Aug. 7 are Thiago Silva (replaced by Todd Brown against Tim Boetsch) and Stanislaus Nedkov (replaced by Phil Davis against Rodney Wallace). Nedkov was rebooked against Steve Cantwell at UFC 120 on Oct. 16 in London, which the UFC confirmed this week will air on Spike TV on tape delay in the United States. Thiago Silva has suffered from back problems for months. His replacement, an Indianapolis fighter, has suffered one loss in 15 pro fights.
With top draw Urijah Faber out of WEC 50 on Aug. 18, the promotion this week added a fight between fellow Team Alpha Male fighter Danny Castillo and WEC newcomer Dustin Poirier, who’s riding a seven-fight win streak. Faber’s scheduled opponent, Takeya Mizugaki, has not been granted a replacement fight. A lightweight fight between Bart Palaszewski and Zack Micklewright was bumped to the main card.
Out of UFC 118 on Aug. 28 are Jorge Rivera (replaced by Gerald Harris against Alessio Sakara) and Phil Baroni (replaced by Dan Miller against John Salter). Rivera suffered a broken arm and Baroni a collarbone injury in training, MMAJunkie.com reported. The change means Harris, coming off his ESPN-highlight-worthy slam knockout at UFC 116, secures a spot on the live Spike TV preliminary card.