UFC 131 created several title contenders, highlighting June 2011.
June was a return to action after a May relatively devoid of in-cage action and what a return it was. MMA fans were treated to a contender-rich UFC card, the semifinals of the Strikeforce Grand Prix, a UFC on Versus card, Bellator kicking off its Summer Series and there was plenty of controversy involving Nate Marquardt and Joe Rogan that had the industry and fans talking.
June 2011 - Earning Their Shots
Junior dos Santos originally had been tabbed to fight then-UFC Champion Cain Velasquez, but a shoulder injury forced the champion to turn the match down. JDS then accepted a match with Brock Lesnar and they signed on for The Ultimate Fighter's 13th season as coaches but medical issues forced Lesnar to pull out of the match. Shane Carwin was asked to faced Santos in a No. 1 contender's match where Dos Santos picked Carwin apart and emphatically earned his shot at UFC gold.
On that same card, Kenny Florian made his debut at 145 and won a narrow victory over Diego Nunes, earning him a title shot against Jose Aldo. Mark Munoz survived being rocked and a back crucifix attack against Demian Maia, earning a victory and entry into the upper tier of middleweights.
On the Strikeforce side, Alistar Overeem won what would his final promotional match in a less than thrilling scrap with Fabricio Werdum, while in Bellator, Pat Curran dropped down to featherweight and looked like a force of nature when he slapped a Peruvian Necktie on a Peruvian fighter.
UFC on Versus 4 was meant to highlight the UFC welterweight division, pairing the up-and-comer Rick Story Nate Marquardt who was making his welterweight debut. But the fight never happened as Marquardt failed his medical exams due to abnormal testosterone levels and was cut from the UFC. Local favorite Charlie Brenneman was called on to replace Marquardt on a few hours notice and then proceeded to upset Story.
Marquardt would later break his silence on Ariel Helwani's MMA Hour show, addressing why he was cut and sparking a debate on the role of TRT in MMA.
UFC color commentator Joe Rogan decided to weigh in on a twitter outburst of Rampage Jackson, posting on a popular online forum and using some choice language when referring to Yahoo reporter Maggie Hendricks. This situation caused enough outcry for Dana White to issue an official statement and Rogan issued an apology.
Strikeforce heavyweight Brett Rogers was arrested in late-June and was charged with domestic assault after police accused Rogers of striking his wife and then choking her. Rogers had just lost to Josh Barnett and was out of the Strikeforce Grand Prix. His new boss White reacted quickly, releasing Rogers immediately.
More on the month that was June after the jump...
Other Things that Happened
In an Strikeforce Grand Prix alternate bout, Daniel Cormier had an impressive decision win over Jeff Monson that would later prove to be important...Fans were once again teased by the prospect of MMA in New York as a bill passed the New York State Assembly that included legalizing MMA. Just fourteen days later, the bill was dead and all parties continue to wait for resolution.
Rumors were abound that the UFC was looking to purchase the G4 Network and turn it into their own network...at the TUF 13 Finale, Clay Gudia defeated Anthony Pettis and Tony Ferguson became the season winner....Robert Drysdale notched MMA victory #3 at AFC 6...the IBJJF World Championships were held.
Past Monthly Recaps: