Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago
The rebel who bucks the system has long been a popular archetype in combat sports. The fighter who kicks ass, takes names and thumbs his nose at authority will always draw the sort of fans who live vicariously through their antihero.
But when the fighter stops kicking ass, things can take an ugly turn.
Such was the case this week for UFC lightweight Nate Diaz. Coming off a self-imposed, year-long exile in protest of his pay rate, the Stockton, Calif., native had a train wreck of a return, one that was capped with a one-sided decision loss to Rafael dos Anjos at UFC on FOX 13 in Phoenix.
Diaz first raised eyebrows Wednesday, when he missed a public workout session, although that's not unprecedented for either Nate or older brother Nick.
Thursday, Nate vented his frustrations in an interview with MMAFighting.com. He ripped on the UFC's recent signing of former pro wrestler CM Punk ("[Expletive] him and [expletive] his situation") and the UFC's announcement of an apparel deal with Reebok, which will replace independent fighter sponsorships ("They're going to make us all look the same, like we're in a cult").
Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports 10 days ago
LAS VEGAS — Most fighters pretend they never hear any criticism. As they tell it, they stay off Twitter, don't go to mixed martial arts websites, and don't even know message board forums exist.
Consider this one of the many ways Anthony Pettis isn't like most fighters.
The UFC lightweight champion was sidelined for the past 15 months. In part, this was because he spent several months filming the current season of "The Ultimate Fighter." But mostly, it was due to a knee injury, exacerbated in the Aug. 2013 fight in which he defeated Benson Henderson for the belt.
Pettis heard every last comment labeling him injury-prone and questioning whether he'd ever truly live up to his vast potential. Which made his second-round finish over former longtime Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez on Saturday night at UFC 181 all the more sweet.
"The best way is to prove them wrong," Pettis said at the post-fight news conference at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. "For me, I was injured, so I couldn't really prove myself or fight. I had to be quiet and just let them talk. Tonight, I was able to prove everybody wrong."
Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports 16 days ago
LAS VEGAS — Through the lowest of lows, Cat Zingano never took her focus off the welfare of her son, Brayden.
The undefeated UFC women's bantamweight contender had her fortune take a tumble in the summer of 2013, when a bad knee injury caused her to pull out of a coaching slot alongside Ronda Rousey on "The Ultimate Fighter," as well as the title shot at Rousey's belt which went with it.
Then things got considerably worse in January, when the 32-year-old's husband, Mauricio, committed suicide.
But no matter how bleak it seemed to get, Zingano was determined to show her 7-year-old child that a human being can persevere, no matter what life might throw his or her way.
"When life is going to present you with tons of problems — really hard ones, some less hard, some debilitating — it's what you do about them that matters," Zingano told reporters at a recent UFC media event. "I really want him to see. I want to make a good example."
While Zingano knows she's got a motor that won't stop, she can't quite pinpoint when it gets turned on.
Follow Dave Doyle on Twitter: @DaveDoyleMMA.
Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports 22 days ago
LAS VEGAS — The strategy Nick Diaz should employ when he meets Anderson Silva in a highly anticipated superfight at UFC 183 on Jan. 31 in Las Vegas seems obvious to armchair observers: Attack Silva's left leg, which was so hideously broken last year, and do so early and often.
It might seem like a no-brainer to the layman. But then, that's what separates the people outside the Octagon from the elite level-competitors on the inside.
Diaz, the former Strikeforce welterweight champion, told reporters at a recent UFC news conference that he's not going to focus on Silva's leg, because doing so could throw him off his all-around game plan.
"When someone tells you a fighter's injured and they tell you to go after an injury, it really throws you off," Diaz said. "It would be sad to lose a fight on account of, you're trying to concentrate on capitalizing on someone's weakness when it comes to injury and something like that, [rather than fighting] your fight without worrying about something like that."
The pride of Stockton, Calif., was just getting warmed up.
Ask Diaz about any subject, and you're going to get a blunt answer.
SAN DIEGO — The chant tore through the Valley View Casino Center on Saturday night, as the Southern Californian fans urged on the local hero: "Tito! Tito! Tito!"
There was a wrinkle on this one, though: This wasn't during Tito Ortiz's fight against Stephan Bonnar, which is when most fight chants go down. Like an adoring audience begging a rock star for another encore, Ortiz's name echoed around the arena long after the house lights went up at the end of Bellator 131, with both Ortiz and Bonnar having long since returned to their dressing rooms.
It was the final touch on an evening which affirmed one of the more improbable storylines to emerge in mixed martial arts: Long after he had been written off, two years after his retirement and a year after his first aborted attempt at a comeback, Tito Ortiz, the UFC Hall of Famer, is once again a player in the business as the calendar gets set to flip to 2015.
Once Ortiz was announced as the winner, he finally returned Bonnar's taunts, making vulgar gestures which cost him a $2,500 fine out of his disclosed $300,000 purse.
Once again, Ortiz wouldn't take the bait.
SAN DIEGO – On Saturday night, the name Tito Ortiz will top the marquee at the Valley View Casino Center, the venue formerly known as the San Diego Sports Arena.
The UFC Hall of Famer didn’t have an easy road getting back into the main-event spotlight.
There were six losses in his last seven UFC fights, a stretch in which he was competitive in every fight but rarely got the W, leading to his 2012 retirement. There was the litany of injuries and surgeries. There were the pleas from fans and media to stay retired. There is the endless stream of mockery from former boss Dana White, among others.
And yet, a few months shy of his 40th birthday, the former UFC light heavyweight champion remains a needle-mover.
What that says is a major television conglomerate still has faith in Ortiz’s drawing power, even when so many others don’t.
For his part, Ortiz pins the current state of his career as a matter of believing in himself, no matter what others have to say.
Follow Dave Doyle on Twitter @DaveDoyleMMA.
SAN DIEGO — Stephan Bonnar was always a company man. The light heavyweight from the Chicago area always said the right things and did what he was told as he parlayed his legendary 2005 fight with Forrest Griffin into a career which appeared to end with an induction into the UFC Hall of Fame.
"I've always been funny, a nice guy, say the right things, a go along to get along type of person," Bonnar said at a recent Bellator MMA media day and fan festival.
But with time to sit back and think about things in the wake of his retirement, Bonnar decided it was a time for a change in approach.
"Just being retired and watching everyone try to be so proper and PC," said Bonnar, who meets Tito Ortiz in the main event of Bellator's Nov. 15 event at San Diego's Valley View Casino Center. "Not just in MMA, but in other pro sports, you just want to say 'C'mon man, tell me what you really feel.' "
For his part, Bonnar knew he was taking a calculated gamble and was ready to live with the consequences.
For his part, Ortiz claims he barely even knew Bonnar's name back in the day.
Mixed martial arts' longest-reigning current champion had just defended his title in a career-defining, Fight of the Year-contending showdown.
And yet UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo had a challenger barely ranked in the division's top five on his mind when he took mic.
"My court is full now," Aldo said, after scoring a unanimous decision over Chad Mendes on Saturday night in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. "I am the king, Chad is the prince, and there is a joker now."
Mendes, for his part, took things another step and mentioned the "joker" by name when it was his turn to address the crowd.
"The one person who is lucky the decision didn't go my way is Conor McGregor," Mendes said. "I'm still looking forward to whipping your ass, buddy."
While post-fight callouts are nothing new, the scene at UFC 179 was unique. Both of the top two fighters in the division, having engaged in a battle that will be long remembered, went out of their way to try to goad someone beneath them on the pecking order, one who conveniently happened to be seated at cageside.
UFC light heavyweight contender Phil Davis has been doing his part to audition for the moniker. The former NCAA wrestling champion out of Penn State is 4-0 in the UFC against Brazilian foes, including a victory over former champion Lyoto Machida in Rio de Janeiro.
And while Davis won't go so far as to proclaim himself as the new "Brazilian Killa," he won't protest too hard if others want to give him that tag.
"I'm not about to go calling myself that, but if someone else wants to go ahead and say it, then go for it," Davis said in a recent interview with Yahoo Sports. "It's OK by me."
Davis (12-2, 1 no-contest) will put his buregoning "Brazilian Killa" reputation on the line Saturday night in Rio in the co-main event of UFC 179, when he meets Glover Teixeira in a bout with pivotal light heavyweight division implications.
"It's not like I haven't done this before," Davis said. "Brazil has been good to me."
Davis seems to grasp the stakes involved in the matchup, so the often-opinionated fighter is making sure to come at Teixeira with respect.
Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports 2 mths ago
If it wasn't already official, it is now: Conor McGregor is the UFC's new anointed one.
The charismatic Irish featherweight leads the race to fill the headline void left by the absence of pay-per-view stars Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva.
UFC president Dana White hinted on the company's website late last week that McGregor is likely next in line for a featherweight title shot, following the winner of the Jose Aldo-Chad Mendes rematch in the main event of UFC 179 on Oct. 19.
According to White, McGregor, who is 4-0 in the UFC, will be considered for a title shot ahead of others because longtime champion Aldo has already defeated so many of the top contenders at 145 pounds.
"Here's the thing: If you go down the list, every one of those guys has fought Jose Aldo already," White told UFC.com on Thursday. "Conor hasn't. So who do you line up next for the champ other than Conor? Everybody else has fought him."
If McGregor does meet the Aldo-Mendes winner, it wouldn't be the first time the UFC has gone all-in on giving someone with big-money potential the fast-track treatment.