GrappleTalk Newswire October 14, 2013 – UFC 166 Special

Welcome to the GrappleTalk Newswire, your weekly insight into all the important stories in MMA in the past week. The Newswire contains everything you need to know in the world of Mixed Martial Arts, and you can get it delivered right to your email inbox before it is publicly available by signing up below – just enter your email address and hit return. If you are a subscriber the Newswire will arrive at least 24 hours before it is posted here, and you will also receive exclusive offers and content. You can also sign-up at bit.ly/grapplenews.

This week’s GrappleTalk podcast was possibly the biggest yet, with John Dodson telling us why he wants to fight Megatron and Kevin Iole dropping by to talk about Fight Night 29. Click here to listen!
Coming up on Thursday will be Damon Martin from FoxSports.com and UFC 166 co-main event fighter ROY NELSON! Tweet your questions for Roy to @GrappleTalk.
——————

This week’s Newswire is unashamedly focused on UFC 166: Velasquez .vs. Dos Santos III. The feud that has consumed the heavyweight division for almost two years is (probably) coming to a head on Saturday night, with each owning a victory over each other. However, both have a claim to not being at their best in defeat. At UFC on Fox 1, Cain Velasquez was reportedly nursing a knee injury that he blames for not being able to execute his game plan before  being knocked out in quick fashion. At UFC 155 last new year, Junior Dos Santos cites a number of personal problems as well as kidney issues for his decidedly below-par performance which one judge scored at 50-43. Their first meeting was an historic moment for the UFC as it was the first fight ever to take place on Fox, and a peak of 8.8m people tuned in to see Junior Dos Santos take the heavyweight title in just 64 seconds, stunning Velasquez and most of the UFC world. In between their three fights Velasquez has twice TKO’d Bigfoot Silva, the first being one of the more bloody UFC bouts in recent memory, while Dos Santos finished Frank Mir and Mark Hunt. Both of them fought those fights at UFC 146 and UFC 160, so UFC 166 will be the fifth card in a row where they have shared the spotlight. Most pundits and fans are picking Cain Velasquez to retain his title against Dos Santos at the second time of asking, which would draw him level in the UFC heavyweight title defence stakes – albeit that is a record that stands at two – and the betting lines currently have Dos Santos at around a 2/1 underdog. However, this is a very difficult fight to call. It could well go either of the ways the first two fights went – Dos Santos is a strong striker who is always a knockout threat, but Velasquez is just so dominant when on his game. This fight is likely to be an epic and a fitting conclusion to the trilogy. The co-main event also showcases the heavyweights, at least for the time being, as Velasquez’s cornerman and training partner Daniel Cormier takes on Roy Nelson. Cormier has already said he will move down to light heavyweight win or lose, but a win over Nelson will certainly give him momentum and help him move towards a 205 pound title shot. Cormier is a heavy favourite here, and that’s probably in part due to Big Country’s last performance against Stipe Miocic. It is somewhat perplexing that a loss to a fighter on the fringes of the top ten has earned him a fight with arguably the third best fighter in the heavyweight division, but the build up and animosity between the two made this fight almost inevitable. After going back and forth online, the two decided to mock up and sign their own bout agreement rather than wait for the UFC. Cormier will clearly look to wrestle Nelson and neutralise his striking advantage and defend his undefeated record, while Nelson will want to finish as quickly as possible – Big Country hasn’t won a decision since 2007, and has never won a fight that went the distance in the UFC. —————— The rest of the main card makes for a very exciting evening of fighting, making UFC 166 already a candidate for card of the year. Diego Sanchez and Gilbert Melendez will likely put on an exciting contest, and if Sanchez can make weight these two could both be contenders at 155 pounds. Sanchez missed weight by two pounds in his win over Takunari Gomi in his return to lightweight, and the Ultimate Fighter season 1 winner has a whopping five FOTN bonuses to his name in his eight year UFC career. On the other side, the final Strikeforce champion will look to get his UFC career kickstarted after a razor-thin decision loss to Benson Henderson back in April. Many, including me, think that Melendez won that fight and is very unlucky not to be UFC champion. A win for Melendez here will have him back in the conversation for a title shot in the crowded lightweight division. In the card’s third heavyweight showdown, finishing specialists Gabriel Gonzaga and Shawn Jordan will square off in a fight that is almost guaranteed to offer excitement. Jordan was in one of those fights earlier this year, when he knocked out Pat Barry in under a minute at UFC 161. Gonzaga has nine career knockouts as well as six submissions, and the BJJ black belt has arguably the best jiu jitsu in the heavyweight division. Rounding out the card at the other end of the weight scale are exciting flyweight competitors John Dodson and Darrel Montague. Montague makes his UFC debut after being the highest ranked non-UFC flyweight since the division was created, and Dodson looks to come back from a nine month lay-off since his loss to champion Demetrious Johnson. —————— The UFC 166 undercard is one of the more stacked in recent memory and the welterweight debut of Hector Lombard against former Strikeforce champion Nate Marquardt really highlights this. After being a highly touted acquisition from Bellator, Lombard really disappointed in his first three UFC fights at 185 pounds which included losses to Tim Boetsch and Yushin Okami and has made the decision to drop down to welterweight. His undeniable skills could allow him to be a factor at 170 pounds, but first he has to get through a tough test in the veteran Marquardt. The former UFC middleweight title challenger was the victim of a brutal knockout at the hands of Jake Ellenberger on his return to the UFC, but is still not a man to be taken lightly. The main event on the undercard sees Tim Boetsch take on CB Dolloway. Boetsch was due to take on final Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold until Rockhold fell victim to the injury bug, but this fight is still an intriguing one. Boetsch saw a four fight win streak snapped by Costa Philippou and lost to Mark Munoz in July at UFC 162, while Dolloway is coming off two decision victories. If he slides to three losses, Boetsch’s position in the top ten could be at risk. Jessica Eye will debut against the experienced former champion Sarah Kaufman, with the dangerous striker heavily favoured. Kaufman has ten knockout wins on her record, but Eye has just one loss to her name and boasts a submission win over former Bellator champion Zoila Gurgel. Rounding out the prelim card is a fight no one would have predicted would happen, as George Sotiropoulos will take on KJ Noons. Sotiropoulos was once a real contender at 155 pounds putting together a seven fight win streak in the UFC, but recently has slumped to losses against Dennis Siver, Rafael Dos Anjos and Ross Pearson, two of those by knockout. Many expected the Australian to retire after the TUF:Smashes coach fight against Pearson, but after a ten month lay-off he returns to the octagon. A loss here against Noons should really see Sotiropoulos retire, but Noons is bringing a decidedly unimpressive record into the octagon. 1-5 in his last six, Noons dropped a decision to Donald Cerrone in May at UFC 160, and another loss here would likely see him seeking employment elsewhere. —————— The big story coming out of last Wednesday’s Fight Night 29 was, unfortunately, Rousamir Palhares and his failure to release a heel hook submission when Mike Pierce tapped. The BJJ black belt is well known for his leg lock submissions, but he is also known for his propensity to hold on to them too long – in 2010 he held on to the leg of Tomasz Drwal despite Drwal tapping repeatedly, and was subsequently suspended for ninety days by the New Jersey athletic commission. Palhares is also reported to have committed the same offence in smaller fights a number of times, and as a BJJ black belt and a master of that particular form of submission he really has no excuse for his behaviour. One picture doing the rounds showed Pierce screaming in pain, the referee trying to pull them apart, and Palhares’ hands still wrapped around the leg. The UFC had little choice but to cut him, particularly given the precedent of Paul Daley lashing out at Josh Koscheck one a fight was over a few years ago. There are obvious differences in the two scenarios, but the fact that remains that physical damage could have been inflicted after a fight was legally over in both cases and that both showed serious errors in judgement. Palhares has maintained his innocence, but it is likely that he has ended his UFC career. It is somewhat sad given that Palhares looked huge at welterweight and could have been a force in the division, but he has no one to blame but himself. Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney has said he doesn’t want him either, but time will tell if that turns out to be true. Palhares needs to spend a lot of time with a sports psychologist and demonstrate some serious changes in behaviour before any reputable promoter should consider putting him back in the cage. —————— After his release from the UFC, perennial middleweight contender Yushin Okami has signed with the World Series of Fighting as had been expected. Upon his release UFC president Dana White said, much like when the UFC released Jon Fitch, that Okami could earn his way back in to the UFC by putting together some wins elsewhere, and the WSOF offers some interesting opponents for him. Former WEC champion Paulo Filho, Jesse Taylor or Danillo Villefort would make sense as initial opponents for Okami to line up against when he makes his WSOF debut in early 2014. —————— This week’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter included a fight that will go down as a classic in the show’s history as Jessamyn Duke and Raquel Pennington did battle for a place in the semi finals of the tournament. After three rounds of relentless stand up action Pennington took the deserved decision victory over the taller Duke to give the win to Team Tate. If you haven’t checked out this episode go back and check it out, and see just why the ratings for the episode with a women’s fight are getting such a ratings bump, a trend that continued this week. While this fight was really entertaining, it has taken on something of a life of its own as the supposed ‘Griffin/Bonnar of women’s MMA’, a tag the UFC have been happy to let be thrown around. It was good, it wasn’t that good. Mostly because that fight wouldn’t be as good in 2013 as it was in 2005. —————— This week’s article of the week is once again from MMAFighting.com, this time written by Dave Meltzer on the complex issue of weight cutting, and whether or not it actually gives fighters any real advantage. Check it out here. —————— That’s all for this week’s Newswire. If you enjoyed it please share it around and tell a friend, and be sure to subscribe to receive it early next time! Subscribers also get exclusive content and offers, so it’s well worth it. Subscribe at bit.ly/grapplenews, or sign up below – just enter your email address and hit return.

Author: Callum Leslie

Callum Leslie is lead MMA writer for PlaceToBeNation.com, providing features, columns and live event coverage. He also hosts the GrappleTalk podcast which has interviewed Rashad Evans, Roy Nelson, Alex Gustafsson and many more. Send Callum an email