While a lot of the big news stories of 2011 focused on the business outside the cage, July had several great moments inside it, headlined by two grizzled veterans picking up huge victories and the beginning of the road that brought Alistair Overeem to Friday's UFC 141.
July 2011: Hendo, Tito & A Guy Named Alistair
Tito Ortiz was essentially left for dead in the UFC following a multiple year losing streak, excuses and a complete stripping of the bravado and character that made him into a huge draw years and years ago. Heading into his bout with Ryan Bader, no expected Ortiz to win. Somehow by a miracle of MMA Jesus, he knocked Bader down and sunk in a guillotine choke for one of the biggest upset wins of the year.
That led into events later in the month which went like this: Rashad Evans and Phil Davis were set to headline August's UFC 133, but Davis hurt his knee and had to pull out. Lyoto Machida agreed to take his place and then backed out when he was denied more money, leaving the pay-per-view in turmoil. Ortiz was asked to fight Evans and originally said no. Then, he said yes. In general, UFC 133 was snakebitten as Antonio Rogerio Nogueira pulled out of his fight with Rich Franklin and "Ace" was removed from the card when he declined a fight with Alexander Gustafsson instead.
The Strikeforce Light Heavyweight title wasn't up for grabs, but that didn't stop people from watching Dan Henderson battle Fedor Emelianenko in one of Strikeforce's biggest matches of 2011. After being knocked down by a Fedor right hand, Henderson held on and after a scramble, snuck a right hand under Fedor's arm while both were on the ground that flattened "The Last Emperor" for the first round TKO. It was Fedor's third straight loss and would be his last fight in Strikeforce. It would also be the final fight in the promotion for Henderson, but for different reasons.
The focus on this last week of 2011 has been on Alistair Overeem's battle with Brock Lesnar at UFC 141, but how did the Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion get to the UFC? It all began in July when Overeem wasn't happy with Zuffa and felt "disrespected" with them wanting him to fight on September 10 when he was recovering from injury. Within a few days, he was out of the Grand Prix, replaced by Daniel Cormier and found himself cut at month's end. Overeem also said he was going to compete on a United Glory event in October, along with fellow Strikeforce fighter Sergei Kharitonov. That, of course, never happened.
For the rest of a busy month, follow us after the jump.
Other Stuff That Happened
The UFC booked two big matches for UFC 136 as the rescheduled Frankie Edgar/Gray Maynard 155-pound title bout and 145-pound champ Jose Aldo vs. Kenny Florian title match were inked...When it came to title belts, Jon Jones said to not ask him to autograph one...Miesha Tate defeated Marloes Coenen for the Strikeforce 135-pound title...Nate Marquardt continued to be ridiculed by fighters and signed a BAMMA deal...Despite not being able to fight, Chael Sonnen was rumored for bouts against Lyoto Machida and Brian Stann.
Chris Leben knocked out Wanderlei Silva at UFC 132 and was slotted to face Mark Munoz in the first non-title five round UFC main event...Dana White wanted Silva to retire and scored fights with Justin Bieber. Despite all this, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira said White "is not a god"...135-pound champion Dominick Cruz defeated rival Urijah Faber by unanimous decision in the main event of UFC 132.
Rampage Jackson made fun of Randy Couture on Twitter...Kimbo Slice announced his pro boxing debut...Dan Henderson's use of testosterone replacement therapy came to light...Bellator booked Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler for October...The UFC targeted February 2012 for their Japan show...ESPN Outside The Lines inspirational story Rad Martinez signed with Bellator...MMA Nation was formally announced.
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