July was MMA’s craziest month ever. So crazy that we’re still marveling at it into the second week of August. So here’s a recap of July’s good, bad, and ugly.
The UFC’s landmark card didn’t disappoint: Brock Lesnar continued his ascent in the sport by smashing Frank Mir, Georges St. Pierre remained dominant against legit threat Thiago Alves, Dan Henderson finally had a signature performance in his UFC career by knocking out Michael Bisping and Yoshiro Akiyama christened the pay per view with a war against Alan Belcher.
On the undercard, UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman kept his career afloat by besting Stephan Bonnar, proving his time to hang ‘em up may be further away than previously thought. With a reported 1.5 million in pay-per-view buys, UFC 100 was a smash success.
For the Fans
UFC President Dana White did work in July.
He picked up top UK welterweight Paul Daley heavyweight International Fight League vet Ben Rothwell and signed the “Phenom,” Vitor Belfort. According to White, Belfort will fight Rich Franklin at UFC 103 instead of Henderson because, “The fans didn’t like it so we’re going to change it.” Now that’s customer service.
White also put aside his highly public feud with Tito Ortiz, bringing the Huntington Beach Bad Boy back to the UFC. Fans enjoy watching the former UFC light heavyweight champion, whether it’s to see him win or lose, so the move is decidedly for the fans.
Fighting for (the) Dream
One of the sport’s better comeback stories flew under the radar during Japan’s Dream 10 welterweight tournament. Paulo Filho was battered severely by K-1 beast Melvin Manhoef for two minutes before taking the victory by armbar. The mental toughness displayed by Filho was a shocking counterpoint to his absent-minded loss to Chael Sonnen at WEC 36. The bout was a step in the right direction for the Brazilian, who has been in a well-documented battle with depression and substance abuse.
Marius Zaromskis also continued living his dream, knocking out Hayato Sakurai and Jason High by head kick on the same night en route to becoming Dream’s first welterweight champion. The tournament format creates another name. And even in defeat High emerged as a fighter to watch.
From the moment Josh Barnett tested positive for steroids, Affliction: Trilogy began tail-spinning out of control. Despite the positives that came from the wreckage, 22 fighters sweat and bled through training camps and all they got for their effort was a lousy t-shirt.
Lesnar Shoots Foot with Silver Bullet
Being a poor sport is one thing but pissing off a sponsor is quite another, and Brock Lesnar bit the hand that feeds his bosses by taking a shot at Bud Light after his win at UFC 100. He finished the routine by making a crude reference to getting down with his wife. Poor taste (and less filling).
On the Shelf
Injury is part of any sport and definitely part of mixed martial arts. For example, UFC 98 had five of 11 fights require adjustments due to injury. Strikeforce’s Aug. 15 show has suffered a similar fate as heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, lightweight title holder Josh Thomson, and Joe Riggs had to pull out of their respective fights due to injury.
Matt Hamill was also hurt in July, and withdrew from his UFC 102 scrap with Brandon Vera.
M-1 Global vs. Zuffa. ‘Nuff said.