The Weekly Wrap: March 7 - March 13

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By Jack Encarnacao Mar 14, 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 reshuffled the deck for two of its biggest upcoming events, as a knee injury to Frank Mir caused a switch of the light heavyweight and heavyweight title matches at UFC 98 and UFC 100.

Mir, set to face Brock Lesnar at UFC 98 on May 23 in Las Vegas in potentially one of the most lucrative bouts of the year, suffered a knee injury in training and had arthroscopic surgery on in the last two weeks. After some back and forth between Mir’s camp and UFC management, his fight against Lesnar for the heavyweight title was moved to UFC 100, which the company announced this week will be staged July 11 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The shift will give Mir crucial time to appropriately heal his knee.

The announcement of the change was made during the pay-per-view telecast of UFC 96 on March 7, a card that saw Quinton "Rampage" Jackson defeat Keith Jardine by unanimous decision in the main event. If he won, Jackson was to fight light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans at UFC 100. But a victorious Jackson suffered a jaw injury in the fight, so Lyoto Machida was penciled in to face Evans at UFC 98 as a co-main event alongside the Matt Serra vs. Matt Hughes grudge match.

Jackson said he had over-trained for the Jardine fight, and had an entertaining post-fight face-off with Evans that sets the stage for an intriguing bout if Evans gets past the undefeated Machida. Jackson said at a post-UFC 96 press conference that he was not told the UFC was looking to stage his fight with Evans in May until after his bout with Jardine had concluded.

Jackson's victory capped a card from Columbus, Ohio, that marked the third straight year the UFC has run an event to coincide with the Arnold Sports Festival and Fitness Expo. Jackson used boxing almost exclusively to defeat Jardine, knocking him down twice, including once in the final seconds. Jackson earned $385,000 in disclosed pay for the victory, which includes a $60,000 bonus that he and Jardine received for “Fight of the Night.”

The card drew 17,033 to the Nationwide Arena, which translated into a $1.8 million gate. In large part due to reduced ticket prices, that gate figure is a significant drop from the $3 million gate the company raked in at the same building in 2007 and the $2.2 million gate in 2008.

UFC 96 was packed with finishes –- there was no submission bonus awarded because there were none -- and some controversy. Shane Carwin came through in a big way in his live card unveiling, taking a nose-breaking shot from Gabriel Gonzaga before recovering with a straight right that firmly leveled the Brazilian just over a minute into the fight.

The shot would have taken the best knockout bonus on most UFC cards, but that was snatched, unpredictably, by wrestler Matt Hamill, who notched the $60,000 prize with a head kick that flat-lined former NCAA wrestling champion Mark Munoz. Munoz slumped down onto his own knee to punctuate the damage, which resulted in him being left prone on the mat for several minutes. Television announcers barely touched on Munoz’s condition, a move that has gotten UFC and its sister brand, World Extreme Cagefighting, heat from fans and commentators recently. Munoz was administered oxygen in the cage but no serious injuries were found at the hospital, UFC President Dana White said after the show. Munoz was given a 60-day medical suspension by the Ohio Athletic Commission. Another snafu that has plagued recent UFC cards, faulty refereeing, reared its head in a big way at UFC 96. Referee Yves Lavigne was skewered for his officiating of the Matt Brown vs. Pete Sell fight. Brown came out blazing, knocking Sell down with a series of hard shots that, once Sell dropped, compelled Lavigne to step in. Despite that, Lavigne allowed Sell to continue when he stood back up, and Sell took several more punches than were unnecessary, touching off a riotous response from UFC officials at cageside before the TKO stoppage was declared.

Also picking up wins at UFC 96 were Gray Maynard (decision over Jim Miller), Brandon Vera (second-round TKO over Mike Patt from leg kicks) and Tamdan McCory (TKO over Ryan Madigan). Kendall Grove knocked out Jason Day in the first round with a stiff punch in a fight that Dana White had said could have been Grove’s last in the UFC if he didn’t win. Fiveouncesofpain.com reported that Michael Patt was released from the UFC after his loss to Vera.
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