While the big heads at Zuffa likely don’t believe in curses, they have a pragmatic curse on their hands when it comes to UFC on Fox 9, set to air on December 14.
First came the injury to Ian McCall, dropping him out his fight with Scott Jorgensen (soon replaced by John Dodson). Then the big hit came when lightweight title holder Anthony Pettis bowed out of his headlining fight against Josh Thomson. The UFC did some nifty shuffling, weakening the TUF Finale card on November 30 by shifting it’s headliner – a title fight between Demetrious Johnson v. Joseph Benevidez – to replace Pettis v. Thomson.
Yesterday, the card got hit square in both jewels by the dual announcements by Kelvin Gastellum and Jamie Varner dropping out to injury.
Varner was set to fight Pat Healy on the undercard while Gastellum (the most recent TUF winner, defeating the over-hyped mental midget, Uriah Hall) was set to face Court McGee on the main card. They have been replaced by Bobby Green and Ryan LaFlare. Both of those fighters just competed on the most recent fight card by the promotion.
While the card remains strong from top to bottom – with notable bouts between Urijah Faber v. Michael McDonald, Carlos Condit v. Matt Brown, and Chad Mendes v. Nik Lentz as well as the Dodson v. Jorgensen bout – it is never a good thing when injuries crop up.
Jon Jones has two brothers who play in the NFL. If there is any professional a fighter in the game who has a more direct window into how locker rooms operate, it’s Jones.
It seems even so, he’s incredibly under informed regarding the Richie Incognito story.
When host Eric Bickel brought up the subject, Jones stated he was unfamiliar with it. Bickel then described Incognito physically to which Jones replied:
‘“I’d kill him. Someone tweet him, let him know I’d smoke him. Easy.”
Obviously, Jones was having a bit of fun. He even said he would start threatening the player on Twitter as soon as he could. First, he’ll probably have to find out what kind of a person Incognito really is because when Bickel let his opinions that Incognito was a douchebag be known, Jones had no clue.
For those living under a rock like Jones (just jokes, please don’t tell him where I live), Incognito has become suspect number one in a scandal that saw his locker room interactions with a teammate quit the team. Incognito sent racially slanted, threatening text messages to teammate Jonathan Martin which apparently caused Martin emotional trauma. The scandal has brought up the subjects of bullying and locker room culture in its wake – two areas that have been mutually inclusive within the game for decades.
While we don’t know Jones’ true feelings on the entire case – as made clear by his joking demeanor – if anyone has the powers to find out and form an informed opinion on the matter, it’s him.
Because of his controversial TRT usage, the questions regarding Vitor Belfort’s eligibility to fight in the US have been raised. The issue is his history of drug abuse. After failing a test in 2006, Belfort did not comply with the NSAC’s nine-month suspension and fought in London the following April.
Can a fighter with failed tests and a history of defiance in his past find himself allowed to fight while on drugs in future?
MMAFighting spoke with Executive Director of the NSAC, Keith Kizer regarding the issue of Belfort’s eligibility for a Testosterone Use Exemption.
“Due to his past, Mr. Belfort would need to go before the Commission if he applies for a TRT TUE. This is not anything new. For example, I would not administratively grant Antonio Margarito a contestant’s license so he had to appear before the full Commission — likewise, Dave Herman.”
“The Commissioners could grant (with or without condition), deny, or take other action on any such application.”
There it is. Belfort would have to take the same steps as Josh Barnett to get his fight. Barnett’s history with drug abuse is more rampant, but he was able to play nice and answer all the NSAC’s questions to get himself a conditional application.
Will Belfort get licensed? It seems likely. However, depending on how his review goes, it very likely could be with conditions of pre-testing or more.
Matt Hughes first fought in the UFC in 1999. Three years later he captured the welterweight belt and forged a Hall of Fame career. His years of service to the promotion has led him to a cushy second career as the Vice President of Athletic Development.
In the fight game, athletes are independent contractors. They are free to sign with any promotion they see fit once their contract is fulfilled. Hughes never signed elsewhere.
Other fighters of his era – fellow Hall of Famers, at that – Tito Ortiz and Randy Couture both spent parts of their career battling against the UFC.
Speaking with MMAInterviews Spencer Lazara, Hughes was asked if it saddens him that Ortiz and Couture were not part of the UFC anymore. Hughes doesn’t feel for them.
“The way I look at it, it was kind of their decision. Randy sued the UFC, he’s left the UFC, so he should know that there’s going to be a little bad blood there from what’s happened. Tito, the same way. I think he’s badmouthed the UFC a little bit. So I would say about the UFC, ‘if you’re good to them, they’re good to you.’ Those guys, there’s certain times in their careers, weren’t loyal to the UFC. So now they’re paying the price.”
Since his days in the octagon ended, Ortiz recently came out of retirement only to injure himself again. He works as a manager for other fighters, notably Cristiane Santos – considered by many to be the best female fighter on the planet (don’t tell Ronda Rousey I said that). Couture, meanwhile, has starred in a few actions flicks and otherwise contributes his time as a media personality.
While it isn’t for anyone to judge how someone makes their career or governs their life, it is easy to argue that Hughes has the more secure post-fight career of the three. Hughes sure thinks there is a reason for that.
Simple fact: we age. Simple fact: age erodes. Complicated fact: preventing aging is unethical.
I am not a fan of TRT. It’s obvious to you readers if you’ve read the FD blog posts.
And rather than write an essay on the subject, I’ll simply forward you to Bloody Elbow, where David Castillo unravels why TRT is inasmuch an institutional failure – not only an individuals’.
I guess Dana White was wrong.
Yesterday the FD reported the news that Anthony Pettis was seeing a specialist regarding his aggravated knee injury. Being his third in six months, we deemed it a code yellow situation. It appears we can upgrade that to code red.
Pettis out of his title defence against Josh Thomson on the December 14 UFC Fox 9 card. The card will not lose much weight (pun intended) as Demetrious Johnson v. Joseph Benevidez flyweight title fight will be moved to headline the card.
How bad can Pettis’ injury be? We need only look 20 pounds lighter to see an example: Dominick Cruz has been out 18 months due to knee injuries.
As the FD wrote yesterday, knee injuries are some of the most bothersome in sports. They have long recovery times and generally degrade the injured party even after the recovery process – eroding many of their skills. In the past, knee injuries were career-enders. Within the last ten years, the research and technology involved in many ligament injuries (such as Tommy John surgery for baseball players) is so advanced, some athletes are coming back in near perfect condition – some even stronger.
That is, of course, in sports that don’t involve direct attacks on those injured areas. If the situation is indeed dire, this could be a devastating development for Pettis.
For now, let’s all hope the situation is more precautionary and this is not a chronic injury. So keep an eye on how Dominick Cruz does in his return; we could be looking into Anthony Pettis’ future.
I stubbed my toe so bad once, I had a limp all day. That’s called getting hurt.
Fox Sports reports that Anthony Pettis has been under the evaluation of orthopedic Dr. Steven Sanders of Bone & Joint Specialists following a knee injury. Initial indications are the injury is not sever and surgery is not required.
What does it all mean?
Code yellow. Pettis is apparently healthy enough to defend his belt against Josh Thomson in December. This appears to be more precautionary than serious. This is, however, his third knee injury in half a year. As any athlete can attest, knees are as essential to performance as your brain (though some athletes wouldn’t contend a brain matters). Not toe mention, aesthetically, visiting a doctor at a clinic called the Bone & Joint Specialists is concerning.
Pettis entered the promotion as the Strikeforce lightweight champion but it took him three years to capture the UFC title. A debut loss to Clay Guida followed by a shelved 2012 due to a serious series of shoulder injuries largely contributed to scuttling his initial title chances. It took a text message to Dana White begging for a shot at Jose Aldo for Pettis to get within reach of title gold. He was then forced out of the fight by a knee injury.
The missed title fight with Aldo hardly mattered as Pettis recuperated in time to get an immediate shot at lightweight champion Benson Henderson barely a month later in which he reportedly aggravated his knee.
Knee, knee, knee.