The Weekly Wrap: Jan. 17 - Jan. 23

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By Jack Encarnacao Jan 24, 2009
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.

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The Ultimate Fighting Championship's debut card in Dublin, Ireland -- UFC 93 on Jan. 17 -- left many close observers scratching their heads after the dust settled on the evening’s key bouts.

A close three-round scrap between Dan Henderson and Rich Franklin went to Henderson mostly due to his takedowns and top control, though one judge confusingly gave all three rounds to Franklin. Questions also swirled around the conditioning of one-time light heavyweight boss Mauricio "Shogun" Rua after he proved just as exhaustible as his 44-year-old opponent Mark Coleman, back in his first UFC fight since 1999. The three-round battle between the two saw Coleman absorb hard leg kicks en route to diving for Rua's ankles repeatedly for takedowns. He was dropped by a sluggish but hard punch combination in the third round. A winded Rua was scolded by the MMA blogosphere for the performance although the live crowd was intensely into the fight; Coleman called the stoppage premature and said to Rua “I respect you, but I can beat you.”

And in another puzzling outcome, well-tenured middleweight Denis Kang flubbed his UFC debut against the hot-and-cold Alan Belcher. Kang controlled the first round convincingly but shot straight into a guillotine choke in the second for the loss.

UFC 93 drew a sellout 9,369 fans to the O2 Dublin Arena, which translated into a $1.3 million gate. The turnout likely locks in regular Octagon returns to the Irish capital. UFC President Dana White told the media after the show that he felt the crowd was one of the most fervent the company has ever had.

Payroll for the show was not disclosed, but the UFC did release to whom it handed out $40,000 bonuses. In an unusual move, the company delivered two "Fight of the Night" payments. Marcus Davis and Chris Lytle received $60K each for their standup war, which Davis took by split decision after both fighters threw a total of 492 strikes, according to CompuStrike. Rua and Coleman also got the bonus for a bout that saw the live audience switch from chants of "Shogun" in the first round to chants of "Coleman" in the third, as the Dublin faithful got behind the UFC Hall of Famer as a gritty survivor. Meanwhile, Belcher earned the “Tapout of the Night” bonus, and Denis Siver earned “Knockout of the Night” for his spin kick that set up a forceful TKO win over Nate Mohr.

The results of UFC 93’s top two bouts set up what will be two of 2009's bigger fights. Henderson's win, in which Franklin suffered a badly scratched cornea from an accidental eye poke, puts him on a collision course with Michael Bisping, who took in the proceedings from cageside. Henderson, a two-time Olympic wrestler for the United States, will represent his country again as a coach on season nine of “The Ultimate Fighter,” while Bisping will coach the opposing United Kingdom team. The show is in production now, and will premiere April 1 on Spike TV.

Rua's win over Coleman puts him in against Chuck Liddell at UFC 97, which is tentatively set for April 18 in Montreal. The UFC has been working to match Liddell and Shogun for over a year, as the bout was originally set to headline UFC 85 last June before injuries got in the way.

Also picking up wins at UFC 93 were Rousimar Palhares (in a bout that may have been veteran Jeremy Horn's Octagon swan song), Eric Schafer, Martin Kampmann, Tomasz Drwal and John Hathaway.
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