Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez square off in UFC 155 in Las Vegas. Check out below for SI.com’s Loretta Hunt’s blow-by-blow coverage.
Posts Tagged ‘Junior Dos Santos’
TORONTO — Daniel Cormier is so close to the UFC he can taste it. The Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix champion was in attendance at Saturday night’s UFC 152 at the Air Canada Centre, watching the fights and looking for one.
The undefeated 33-year-old has been promised a prominent spot on the UFC’s roster of big boys once he fights once more in the sister promotion. And he does have a bout scheduled for a Nov. 3 Strikeforce card in Oklahoma City. But no opponent. Frank Mir was to come over from the UFC, where he was a two-time heavyweight champion, but was injured in training and pulled out of the fight this past week.
So now the prom is six weeks away, and Cormier (10-0) is left waiting for a dance partner. He’s hoping to hear a name early in the coming week, but he’s not fretting and he’s not setting a deadline. “When I fought ‘Bigfoot’ Silva, Strikeforce called me just five weeks before,” he told SI.com as he was waiting for the fights to begin. “And I had been in Louisiana for a few weeks, doing nothing. But I fought then, and I’ll fight now, no matter what. I’m not bowing out. I’m not doing that to my Okies.”
Cormier has a history in the state where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plains. He wrestled at Oklahoma State, making it to the 2001 NCAA Division I final. He continued to live and train in the area for several years, twice making the U.S. Olympic team. That deep background in wrestling, aside from allowing him to dictate where fights are fought, has instilled in him a comfort level in taking on whomever whenever.
“I’ve been training for Nov. 3 for a month,” said Cormier. “To get ready for a specific opponent, once one is in place, I just need a few weeks. It depends. Frank was a problem because he’s a southpaw, and I’ve never fought one before. But now if they bring me a conventional fighter, I can fall back into my comfort zone.”
It’s not the softspoken Cormier’s way to call anyone out, but he must have a few names stored away in the back of his mind, right? “The only names that I have in my head are the ones that have stepped to the front and said they want to fight,” he said. “Roy Nelson said he’d do it. Pat Barry said he’d do it. Fabricio Werdum said he’d do it. Those guys are now on my radar. So I know that maybe I should start watching film on them a little bit, start training in accordance with what I might be doing against those guys.”
How does one prepare for a fight that might be against kickboxer Barry or might be against jiu-jitsu ace Werdum? And then there’s the larger issue: Can a fight with either of them elevate Cormier’s status in the same way that the bout with Mir could have? “Any guy from the UFC could do that,” Daniel insisted, before acknowledging, “Maybe not as much as Frank Mir would have.”
That’s an understatement. I mean, a win over Barry, who is 7-5 with losses in three of his last four fights, wouldn’t exactly put Cormier in the crosshairs of Junior dos Santos. Or, um, Cain Velasquez.
Cormier smiled at the mention of his training partner, who by the time Daniel reaches the UFC might once again be the heavyweight champ. “I think he will be,” said the fellow American Kickboxing Academy fighter. “I really do believe it. He’s amazing.”
Should Velasquez regain the belt in his Dec. 29 rematch with Dos Santos, Cormier’s options would be to drop to the 205-pound division — he wrestled at 211 pounds in the Olympics — or go for the heavyweight belt against his teammate. Cormier and Velasquez have discussed that latter possibility. “We’ve talked about it a little bit, not really going into detail,” said Daniel. “But we’ve always said that if a guy is a champion, it’s not fair for his teammate to have to say, ‘I’m going to be No. 2 for the rest of my career.’ So if and when the time comes, we’ll sit down as a family and discuss whether we want to go forward with that. I’ll tell you this: We would not allow it to rip us apart.”
That’s a discussion for a different time. For now and for the foreseeable future, Cormier is working out alongside Velasquez five days a week. And as he sees it, sparring and grappling with the man he believes is the best heavyweight in the world puts him in good standing for his upcoming fight against an opponent who has not yet — “against TBA,” he jumped in. “And it doesn’t really matter who it is. When you’re training with No. 1 or No. 2 every day, the rest should take care of itself.”
– Jeff Wagenheim
The main event was scheduled for five rounds, the other bouts for three rounds. But three of the five fights on the UFC 146 main card Saturday night in Las Vegas did not make it out of the first round, with two of them lasting only a minute or so. In all, we saw four KOs. Why? Because it was the mammoth fight organization’s first all-heavyweight main card. And you know what Jimmy Cliff says about heavyweights: The harder they come, the harder they fall. One and all.
So, since the most we got from the big guys was the 8:14 that, after a Stipe Miocic TKO, left Shane del Rosario as wobbly as a late-night tourist on The Strip, let’s go a full five championship rounds here.
Not with fisticuffs, though, but philosophy.
OK, maybe that’s too lofty a description of the words that were spoken inside the octagon in Sin City over the weekend. But it’s always refreshing to be reminded that — belying their fierce looks, sculpted physiques, abundant tattoos and the occasional red Mohawk — many of these men have depth, compassion and a childlike sense of humor.
SI.com analysts Ben Fowlkes, Loretta Hunt, Jeff Wagenheim and Jon Wertheim provide their predictions for UFC 146 on Saturday in Las Vegas.
Junior dos Santos vs. Frank Mir
FOWLKES: For all his skills and success and experience, Mir still has a suspect chin and an underwhelming takedown ability. The latter has improved in recent years, but the former only tends to get worse with age. JDS has faced better wrestlers than Mir and managed to stay on his feet. There’s no reason to think he won’t do it again here, which is bad news for the former champ. Dos Santos by TKO.
HUNT: Mir has made a career out of stepping into big-time fights, and he’s had mixed success. However, Dos Santos, a striker with power and technique, is Mir’s kryptonite. Dos Santos by TKO.
WAGENHEIM: If Mir can take this fight to the ground, watch out. But how is he supposed to get Dos Santos off his feet? A more likely scenario: Mir goes to the mat all by himself, involuntarily. Dos Santos by KO.
WERTHEIM: JDS has been a tornado to everyone else’s trailer park lately. Mir will seek to take the fight to the ground and grab a limb. That’s not his best chance; it’s his only chance. Dos Santos by TKO.
Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva
FOWLKES: Velasquez has a lot in common with the last man to beat Silva, not the least of which are the coaches at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose. AKA teammate Daniel Cormier had little trouble putting his quickness to use against Silva’s size back in September, and I doubt Velasquez will either. Velasquez by decision.
HUNT: Former UFC champ Velasquez has to be the favorite, even though he’s been nursing his knee back since last November’s loss to Dos Santos. Word out of Silva’s camp is he’s down to a svelte (for him) 270 pounds coming out of one of his best camps ever. Will Silva’s physicality be too much for Velasquez? I’m not so sure. Velasquez by TKO.
WAGENHEIM: One punch last November transformed Velasquez from champion to under-the-radar second fiddle. A sure way for him to get noticed … and get a shot at his old belt: End this fight just as swiftly and suddenly. Velasquez by KO.
WERTHEIM: Silva’s size is the X-factor (XXXL factor) that has enabled him to beat Fedor and succeed in Elite XC. Look for Velasquez, quicker to the punch and the better wrestler, to get back to winning. Velasquez by decision.
UFC heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem’s license application was denied by the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Tuesday in Las Vegas, but the fighter will have the opportunity to re-apply again after Dec. 27, nine months from the date he submitted to a random drug test that revealed elevated testosterone in his system.
Overeem, who’d been removed from a headlining bout against champion Junior dos Santos at UFC 146 on May 26 in Las Vegas by the event’s promoters last Friday, also denied allegations that he had fled the scene once the March 27 random drug testing had been announced following a UFC press conference. Overeem said he hadn’t been told of the testing until he was en route to his lawyer’s office and returned for the test after he was notified.
After nearly three hours of testimony, the NSAC voted 4-0 to shorten the standard one-year waiting period for licensee denials, noting that Overeem and his legal team had presented a “superlative” explanation as to why Overeem’s testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio had come back at 14:1 — more than two times higher than the state’s allowable 6:1 threshold.
David Chesnoff, Overeem’s Las Vegas-based attorney, initially asked for a 45- to 60-day continuance to fortify his client’s case, but the NSAC unanimously denied the request.
Attorney Chesnoff told commissioners that the 31-year-old Dutch fighter’s T:E ratio had been heightened after he’d taken two anti-inflammatory shots provided to him by Dallas physician Dr. Hector Molina in January 2012. Dr. Molina had previously examined the fighter during Overeem’s application process with the Texas Dept. of Licensing and Regulation for a bout against Fabricio Werdum at Strikeforce in June 2011.
Chesnoff’s presentation focused on establishing a timeline to show that Overeem hadn’t taken the medication in the vicinity of a competitive bout and that he never intended it to give him a performance-enhancing edge.
Under oath, Overeem said he’d sought out the physician on another fighter’s recommendation primarily for a re-aggravated rib injury while on the road for a promotional tour and was given a mixed shot for the pain on Jan. 12 in Molina’s office that was ultimately revealed to contain a steroid-based component.
Overeem said he’d also self-injected a second shot from the same vial, given to him by Dr. Molina, on March 23 in Las Vegas under the physician’s direction — four days before the NSAC conducted its random tests. When asked, Overeem told the commission that he hadn’t asked Dr. Molina what was in the medication and the physician had never specified the shot contained steroid-based elements.
However, in separate testimony, Dr. Molina said he’d used the trade name for an aqueous testosterone in the mixture, when describing the medication to the athlete. In later testimony, Dr. Molina admitted he wasn’t sure what names he’d used in describing the drug cocktail he gave the fighter.
Throughout the testimony, both Overeem and his attorneys stated that the fighter had withdrawn from the UFC heavyweight title bout voluntarily, something that hasn’t been confirmed by the promotion to date. Overeem said he’d withdrawn from the bout to clear his name.
– Loretta Hunt
Out of the gate, UFC on Fox is looking very much like a hot stock.
Initial ratings from Saturday’s broadcast indicated a modest success in viewership with an audience of 4.64 million viewers, a figure in the ballpark of the second CBS-televised fight-night that featured Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson. But Fox issued a release on Sunday stating 5.7 million households tuned in to watch Junior Dos Santos club Cain Velasquez to win the heavyweight title.
The initial numbers for FOX said Saturday’s event was only second to ABC’s broadcast of the college football game between Oregon vs. Stanford in adults 18-49 and tied the game with a 7 share in that age group. FOX’s revised numbers projected it to win its time slot in adults 18-34, adults 18-49 and men 18-34. UFC on FOX also beat the numbers for the first MMA event on network television, the Kimbo Slice-led “EliteXC: Primetime,” FOX said.
These are the demographics for which advertisers pay, and they complement FOX’s track record of success in attracting young viewers. The network said it didn’t have much trouble selling ad time for UFC on FOX, same as CBS didn’t for EliteXC when Slice or Fedor Emelianenko or Gina Carano was involved. They were sellouts, and that spells longevity.
But it also brings us to a key question moving forward. Will the numbers garnered by a high-profile fight such as Velasquez vs. Dos Santos still hold when a title isn’t at stake, or when the wattage of an event’s marquee stars is lower? CBS saw a steep drop-off in ratings in cards not packaged with bankable properties such as Slice and Fedor.
This much is sure: The promotion leading into UFC on FOX is a tremendously encouraging sign. The network pushed the show in a big way. What we’ll find out now is whether FOX’s stellar support is enough to drive viewers to future UFC events broadcast on the network. It’s a tough market out there. MMA fans have become choosy with all the product to watch.
What does the Ultimate Fighting Championship look like on live network television? We got a taste of it Saturday when Fox aired the UFC heavyweight championship between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos. For fight fans, this was a pinnacle moment — a chance to share the very best of the sport they love with co-workers, friends and family who’d never watched it before. The fight lasted only 64 seconds, but there was much more than that to glean from this historical broadcast. Here are my observations …
Strong start out of the blocks
Fox Sports Media Group CEO David Hill wasn’t kidding when he told reporters earlier this week the network would add a cheeky viewer warning to the telecast. You knew you were going to be watching something different when Fox flashed this at the top of the hour:
“The following might be the most exciting live sporting event in the history of television, and it’s our duty to say: VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.”
Well played, Fox.