The Weekly Wrap: July 11 - July 17

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By Jack Encarnacao Jul 18, 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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From the pre-fight hype to the forceful in-ring performance to the post-fight histrionics, UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar simply did what he does best in his rematch with Frank Mir at UFC 100, which by several indications was the most-watched event in the organization’s history.

Lesnar, who with the absence of Oscar de la Hoya and Chuck Liddell might be the biggest draw in pay-per-view, used his size and power to bloody and topple Mir for a second round TKO victory on July 11. Mir, who managed to roll for a kneebar and clip Lesnar with a jumping knee, had one of his hands trapped behind him while Lesnar landed 14 heavy punches that rendered Mir’s face puffy.

Lesnar then sparked a week’s worth of media and Internet outrage, getting in Mir's face after being declared the winner and then flipping the bird to the jeering masses. Lesnar stayed cocky post-fight, and went so far as to knock the UFC’s main sponsor, Bud Light, in his exuberance on the microphone.

UFC President Dana White, who said on The Opie and Anthony Show that UFC 100 was “the night of saying stupid s---,” was not pleased with Lesnar’s Bud Light remark, and Lesnar apologized in a post-fight press conference. A majority of UFC 100 media coverage was weighted toward explications about Lesnar’s behavior, and analysts struggled with the fact that Lesnar’s unsportsmanlike actions will, if UFC history is any indication, lead to an exponentially higher level of interest in seeing him defeated in future fights.

Who could do that became a big question coming off the Mir win, which moved Lesnar from No. 5 to No. 3 in’s heavyweight rankings. Dana White said post-fight that No.1 heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko will eventually come to the UFC to challenge Lesnar. But that’s not likely to happen until the UFC agrees to co-promote the bout with Emelianenko's M-1 Global handlers or agree to a shorter-term contract. The Fedor-UFC standoff is drawing broader interest, as Time magazine ran a July 10 article about the situation, which ranked in the magazine website’s 10 most popular stories over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Tom Atencio of Affliction, whom Emelianenko fights for Aug. 1 against Josh Barnett in his toughest test in years, told that he is working on a contract that would keep the Russian committed to Affliction through 2012. Short-term, Lesnar's next challenger will probably be the winner of the Shane Carwin-Cain Velasquez fight at UFC 104 in October, White told the Opie and Anthony Show. Another likely contender would be the winner of the Randy Couture-Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira fight at UFC 102 on Aug. 29.

Lesnar collected $400,000 for his UFC 100 victory, plus a percentage of pay-per-view buys. Mir made $45,000 in disclosed pay for the loss.

The post-fight behavior of the other titleholder who retained at UFC 100 couldn't have contrasted more sharply with Lesnar’s. Georges St. Pierre was humble yet hurting following a dominant five-round route against Thiago Alves. Alves was hardly able to get off any muay Thai as St. Pierre closed the distance and took Alves to the mat time and time again. Unlike his fight with another top-shelf wrestler, Josh Koscheck, Alves showed little ability to stop St. Pierre’s takedowns. St. Pierre tore a groin muscle in the fourth round, allowing Alves to gain top position for a moment and threaten for the only time in the fight. St. Pierre shut out the pain to ground Alves and hold him down for the last two rounds.

St. Pierre said post-fight that a last-minute change in the locker room, which saw him go out second instead of third on the pay-per-view broadcast, prevented him from getting in his normal stretching routine and may have contributed to the injury. Unless cleared by a doctor, the injury puts St. Pierre on a medical suspension until January.

Wincing in pain, St. Pierre, who made $400,000 in disclosed pay for the win, deferred questions from Joe Rogan about facing Anderson Silva to determine a pound-for-pound king. St. Pierre, who garnered the loudest cheers of the evening from the live crowd, called the welterweight division "stacked" and seemed to indicate that he wants to knock off more challengers before moving up in weight. The winner of a fight between Mike Swick and Martin Kampmann at UFC 103 on Sept. 19, which the UFC confirmed this past week, will be next in line for a 170-pound title shot.

The two main events, and an especially high level of media and viral buzz, helped UFC 100 tie the second largest gate in UFC history, as 10,842 spectators paid $5.1 million to be on hand at the Mandalay Events Center in Las Vegas. That is the same tally as UFC 83 last April in Montreal, despite having double the spectators in the Bell Centre. UFC 66, which took place in Dec. 2007 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, holds the UFC gate record at $5.39 million. The MGM has a slightly larger capacity than the Mandalay Bay, and UFC 100 could have conceivably set the gate record if it was staged there. The UFC held a sold-out closed-circuit viewing of the event at the MGM Grand.

With two of the UFC's biggest pay-per-view draws on the card, UFC 100 has a shot at setting the buy-rate record for a UFC event, which is believed to be 1.06 million buys for UFC 66, headlined by Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz.

UFC 100 was the first card to air on the Televisa 9 network in Mexico, exposing it to an audience of 10 million people, which alone could have put UFC 100 in front of more eyeballs than any other event to date. The card was broadcast in a total of 95 countries, and was featured in several Top-10 Internet search lists over the weekend. The show received widespread media coverage, including's "MMA Live," which did multi-day coverage from the arena, and ESPN News covering the weigh-ins.

Specials on Spike TV the week before the event drew big ratings, with an average of 1.3 million people watching a countdown of the UFC's 100 best fights and 1.1 million watching a "Countdown" special, the highest in the series' history.

Elsewhere at UFC 100, Dan Henderson had a trademark performance against rival Ultimate Fighter coach Michael Bisping, scoring a clean knockout with his looping right in the second round and raining an additional elbow down on the Brit's prone carcass. Bisping took several minutes to rise from the canvas, while Henderson acknowledged he dropped the elbow to “shut Bisping up,” a comment he backed off later. Henderson will likely face the winner of the UFC 102 Demian Maia vs. Nathan Marquardt fight to determine the next challenger for Anderson Silva's middleweight title, though Henderson told he would seek a fight with a top 205-pound contender if he doesn't get Silva next. Henderson was awarded a $100,000 bonus for “Knockout of the Night,” a performance bonus that was beefed up significantly for UFC 100.

The show also saw the UFC debut one of Japan and Korea's biggest ratings draws, Yoshihiro Akiyama. Akiyama, who entered the arena to the classical “Time To Say Goodbye” that was his trademark in Japan, took extensive damage to his face, but answered Belcher's strikes with the greater volume of punches over three rounds. Belcher landed with leg kicks and put Akiyama down with a looping left in the first, and the two scrambled on the ground in the second with Akiyama holding top position for most of the round. Akiyama was declared the winner by split decision.

Both fighters received a $100,000 pay boost for having the night's best fight. Akiyama told Japanese media that he suffered a broken right orbital bone in the fight and that he misunderstood five seconds instead of five minutes as the length of time he had to recover from a groin strike he absorbed early in the fight.

Perhaps the most notable outcome on the UFC 100 preliminary card was Mark Coleman, 13 years after he first entered the Octagon, using his trademark ground-and-pound to defeat Stephan Bonnar. Passionate celebration ensued for Coleman, 44, who stepped out of his Ohio comfort zone to train in Las Vegas for the fight. Also picking up wins were Jon Fitch (decision over Paulo Thiago in the night’s final fight), Jon Jones (second-round guillotine over Jake O'Brien), Jim Miller (decision in a bloody affair with Mac Danzig), Dong Hyun Kim (decision over T.J. Grant) and Tom Lawlor (first-round guillotine over C.B. Dollaway). Lawlor's upset win earned him the best submission payday.
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