File Photo: 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.
In one of the most eventful nights of 2010, an era at 205 pounds was brought to a jolting end before it even got started, a passion-evoking foil emerged for Georges St. Pierre and the Ultimate Fighting Championship cut loose a Top 10 welterweight and the biggest ratings draw the sport has seen.
It was almost exactly one year ago when the beginning of the “Machida Era” in the UFC’s light heavyweight division was declared, a concept that just this month was picked up in a feature on Lyoto Machida in ESPN’s magazine. The spread made the case that Machida’s deferential dominance could recast the sport in the public’s eye, but by the time Mauricio "Shogun" Rua was done with him at UFC 113 on May 8 in Montreal, Machida could have passed for a relic.
Rua, who mostly used leg kicks to batter Machida during their first encounter in October, let his hands fly in the rematch, using an overhand right to counter and drop Machida three minutes into the first round. After a few shots on the ground, Rua notched his 16th professional victory. With it came the UFC title and stardom that will endure.
Rua, who came into the fight seven weeks removed from an appendectomy, told ESPN’s “MMA Live” that he copiously reviewed his first fight with Machida for the bout, as opposed to studying tape from throughout Machida’s career for their UFC 104 clash. The loss brought the sport’s most impressive undefeated streak to an end, as Machida relinquished a belt that has not been successfully defended two consecutive times since 2006. UFC President Dana White told a Sacramento, Calif., radio host the winner of the UFC 114 main event between Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Rashad Evans would get the first shot at Rua.
In the UFC 113 co-headliner, the next contender at welterweight was decided in an eventful affair between Josh Koscheck and Paul Daley. Koscheck gestured as if he was settling in to strike with the British bomber, only to snag opportune double-legs that kept Daley horizontal for a majority of the contest. As he held dominant position toward a unanimous decision, Koscheck admitted he made unspecified remarks that sparked Daley’s ire. In an ugly scene, Daley swung at Koscheck well after the final horn, a move that made him the target of White’s scorn and earned him his UFC walking papers. Koscheck accused Daley of oiling his body before the fight to avoid takedowns.
Daley’s late punch was being investigated by Quebec’s athletic commission for possible license penalties. White told MMAFighting.com he asked Daley about the scene in the cage. Daley responded that he had not heard the bell and shrugged when he was asked if he wanted to continue fighting in the UFC. White promised to never let Daley back into the Octagon under any circumstances. Daley issued apologies two days after the event and claimed no such ignorance. Shortly thereafter, Daley, ranked No. 7 at welterweight by Sherdog.com, was in negotiations with an Australia-based promotion to fight in July. He was also talking with the Dream and Sengoku promotions in Japan.
Koscheck, a savvy antagonist, ignored UFC analyst Joe Rogan’s question about Daley’s antics after the win and played up boos he was receiving from the crowd. Many of them were sparked by a moment in which Koscheck claimed Daley caught him with a knee when he was down; the strike appeared to mostly miss his head. Koscheck promised his hometown Penguins would defeat the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and that he would unseat St. Pierre, whom he will now coach against on the next season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” The title fight will take place at the end of the year; the Canadiens took the series 4-3 from Pittsburgh on May 12.
UFC 113 took place before 17,647 fans at Montreal’s Bell Centre, a venue that has hosted the two largest crowds in UFC history. The UFC 113 mark looks to be the fifth-highest in company history, behind UFC 97 (21,451), UFC 83 (21,390), UFC 68 (19,049) and UFC 110 (17,831). The UFC raked in a handsome $3.27 million at the gate and dished out $65,000 performance bonuses. Rua collected the “Knockout of the Night” payout, while “Submission of the Night” went to Alan Belcher and “Fight of the Night” went to Sam Stout and Jeremy Stephens.
The show also marked the end of the Kimbo Slice experiment in the UFC. Kevin Ferguson, who has drawn the highest television ratings in the sport’s history, including record-smashing marks on “The Ultimate Fighter,” was released after a sound loss to Matt Mitrione. Looking his sharpest to date, Mitrione used leg kicks and submission attempts to keep Slice on the defensive and shut down his punches. The former NFL player took mount in the second round and dropped punches for the TKO on an exhausted Slice.
The other two main card bouts saw Belcher and Stephens prevail in watchable scraps. Belcher used body kicks and a near piledriver in a round two rear-naked choke submission victory over Patrick Cote, who was fighting for the first time since October 2008 and two knee surgeries. Cote suffered a hand injury in the bout that will require yet another surgery. Belcher declared himself ready for UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva following the victory. Stephens and Stout’s nip-tuck lightweight battle saw Stephens land harder punches but Stout work a steady diet of leg kicks. Stephens was given the split decision nod despite landing a dozen less hits than Stout in the bout, according to FightMetric.
While Spike TV did not air any preliminary bouts for UFC 113, the pay-per-view was bolstered by a higher level of ESPN coverage than any UFC event to date. ESPN2’s “MMA Live,” an Internet-based show on a television trial this month, aired a one-hour preview special from the Bell Centre, featuring analysis from Kenny Florian, Rashad Evans and St. Pierre. A half-hour post-show program featured interviews with winners and clips of the night’s key finishes -- footage the UFC tends to embargo.
Also picking up wins at UFC 113 were Joe Doerksen (round two rear-naked choke submission over Tom Lawlor), Marcus Davis (round two TKO over Jonathan Goulet), Johny Hendricks (majority decision over T.J. Grant, who was deducted a point for groin shots), Joey Beltran (unanimous decision over Tim Hague), Michael Guymon (unanimous decision over Yoshiyuki Yoshida) and John Salter (round one injury TKO over Jason MacDonald).
MacDonald’s left leg buckled under him during a takedown, brining a quick stop to his bout with Salter. MacDonald posted on his Twitter account that he broke his tibia and fibula and dislocated his ankle in the awkward landing; he underwent surgery this week. Goulet and Yoshida were cut from the UFC following their losses, MMAFighting.com reported.