Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports 1 day 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.
Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports 9 days ago
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.
Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports 13 days ago
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.
Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports 24 days ago
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.
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.
LAS VEGAS — In case the point she made in the Octagon on Saturday night wasn't quite emphatic enough, Cat Zingano scanned the crowd until she found her boss.
The 32-year-old Colorado native had just finished off a tough opponent, Amanda Nunes, in brutal fashion, raining down ground-and-pound strikes until the referee waved off their UFC 178 bantamweight bout in the third round.
And after making such a statement in her first fight back after a tumultuous year-and-a-half out of action, Zingano was going to make damn sure UFC president Dana White, seated in the first row at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, fully understood what just happened.
"You probably didn't hear it, but she was screaming at me after the fight," White told reporters at the post-fight news conference. "She ran over and started screaming, 'Do you see me? Do you see me?' I said 'Yes, I see you.' "
The undefeated Zingano's moment of triumph was 17 months in the making. She had a memorable UFC debut in April 2013, when she rallied from a shaky start to finish former Strikeforce champion Miesha Tate in the third round.
White realizes it, as well.
Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports 2 mths ago
Jim Ross will leave his trademark cowboy hat home when he makes his mixed martial arts commentating debut on Oct. 3.
The hat symbolized the pro wrestling character of "Good Ol' JR," made familiar to millions of fans who tuned into World Wrestling Entertainment broadcasts over the past two decades.
The 62-year-old Oklahoman is semi-retired after 40 years in the wrestling business. While he's proud of his body of work, the popular longtime broadcaster has long wanted to call an MMA event.
He'll get that opportunity next month, when he serves as the play-by-play announcer alongside color commentator Chael Sonnen for the BattleGrounds MMA one-night tournament in Tulsa, Okla.
"This is a bucket-list item for me," Ross told Yahoo Sports. "This is something I've always wanted to do."
Ross is destined to go down as a beloved figure within his realm. While the characters in the ring came and went, Ross was the omnipresent voice of the proceedings, making him easily identifiable to both hardcore wrestling fanatics and those casual viewers who like to pretend they don't watch wrestling, but secretly tune in.
Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports 2 mths ago
Eddie Alvarez knows he'll have a metaphorical bull's-eye on his back when he makes his UFC debut.
The company's lightweight division is arguably the deepest weight class in any mixed martial arts organization. The upper ranks at 155 pounds are filled with some of the sport's finest athletes in their primes. The bottom and middle rungs feature veterans with chips on their shoulders who can still beat anyone on any given night and youngsters eager to make their mark.
The Philadelphia native will cut a long line when he makes his UFC debut on Sept. 27 against red-hot Donald Cerrone in the co-main event of UFC 178 in Las Vegas.
All eyes will be on the newbie. And the Philadelphia native wouldn't have it any other way.
"That's exactly how I want it," Alvarez (25-3) told Yahoo Sports. "I'm at my best when I feel like I've been backed into a corner. I've done a lot of hard work to get here, so if they don't like it, line 'em up and I'll fight them one at a time."
"It sucked," Alvarez said. "I don't want to spend much time dwelling on the past, but it sucked."