I'm back from a prolonged absence and I'm sure you're all popping your leftover bottles of champagne because you've missed me so much. Being without internet for almost two weeks made the last two days interesting as I tried to catch up on all the goings on from the world of MMA but I think I'm mostly caught up now. I'm at the very least caught up with today's news so let's do this.
Brock Lesnar and Junior dos Santos on TUF continues to carry the load as far as MMA analysis and news. And we're certainly making sure to do our part to cover all the angles. As Nick Thomas posted earlier today, Dana White was pushing hard on the conference call to erase concerns of Brock Lesnar's lack of credentials to be a coach. While White obviously can't say it I'll just go ahead and remind everyone that it's the "assistant coaches" that do the majority of the training of the fighters on the show. There have been some seasons where the headlining coaches have showed up the bare minimum amount of time to allow for the editing crew to piece together the montages that they need for the TV show. Lesnar has the one credential that matters as a coach and that's his ability to attract a lot of eyeballs.
Nate posted the following earlier today as well:
And top draw Brock Lesnar has been AWOL since losing his heavyweight title to Velasquez in October at UFC 121. Rumors swirled that he was holding out and pressuring Dana White to allow him to headline WrestleMania to make a cool couple of million dollars for a few hours' work. Others said he had lost his taste for fighting and was looking to retire sooner rather than later.
Dana White had openly talked about booking Lesnar and Frank Mir as coaches on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter. But then Mir was rumored to be fighting Brendan Schaub then Roy Nelson. Lesnar had always seemed unlikely for the show due to his infamously reclusive nature and hatred of travel.
But Dana White pulled it off, booking Lesnar and #1 contender Junior Dos Santos to coach the show then face off for a #1 contender's match with the winner getting a date to welcome injured champ Velasquez back to the Octagon.
Really the biggest score the UFC made is that they're making sure to at least get some more real value out of Lesnar's name before any more losses that could render his drawing power more or less gone. Another drubbing like he got in round one of the Carwin fight or the Velasquez fight would erase any of the mystique that is left, so at least they'll get a season of TV out of the situation.
There's also the little matter of JDS not really being a horrible fight for Lesnar. Yes, he reacts very poorly to being hit and dos Santos hits hard. But at the same time he likely can take Junior down and if he is on top he is still a force. It's likely to be a race between a JDS punch and a Lesnar takedown. I'm not saying I'd definitely pick Lesnar, but I'm far from as willing to write him off in this match-up as others. As Jonathan Snowden pointed out earlier, it's really looking like the Year of the Heavyweight.
Jacob Volkmann has been put on administrative leave from his gig as an assistant high school wrestling coach. This has led to some, including David St. Martin of SBNation.com/mma, to say that fighters should be cut some slack for post-fight comments. Regardless of my personal feelings on his statements the big issue is that he's working with kids. Volkmann obviously should not have had to deal with a Secret Service inquiry for his "anti-Obamacare" statements but there is a certain level of responsibility that comes with public behavior when you work with kids. He shouldn't be fired or suffer long-term problems based on his comments, but it's far from unusual for someone in a similar situation to be put on administrative leave. Volkmann is just a much more public figure than most of the teachers or coaches who are put through the same process for actions that bring bad press to their schools.
- Rafael Cavalcante vs. Dan Henderson is a really solid fight. I'm still really curious why Henderson's fight with Jake Shields led to his being written off completely as a relevant fighter. He is talented but ran into a bad fight at a weight that might just not be appropriate for a fighter who is getting older. Since 2007 he's only lost to fighters who are in the top five level talents, I'm just not ready to declare the guy shot because of one fight.
- Tomas Rios posted a link to his Snark Fights blog in a fanshot pointing out that Rory MacDonald vs. James Wilks was off and added:
SnarkFights.com has also learned from sources that MacDonald's management has been offered a choice between bouts with either T.J. Grant or Johny Hendricks.
I really like the sound of Rory Macdonald vs. Johny Hendricks.
- Gina Carano might return to Strikeforce in 2011. With the heavyweight tournament, some decent fights in the welterweight division including Diaz vs. Santos, Henderson vs. Feijao and the possible return of Carano it seems that Strikeforce is positioning themselves for a tremendous year. While it's natural to want to compare Strikeforce and the UFC, the comparisons are pointless. I really have no interest in debating which is better or the reasons why, I just want promotions that put on compelling fights and Strikeforce is doing their part to put together those kind of fights.