WHAT a difference a week makes, says Matt Bevan writing for Fighting Fit, This time last week, we were basking in the glory of a historic night at Madison Square Garden at UFC 217, but this week has been all about fights falling through and Conor McGregor, albeit for all the wrong reasons.
There were fights, good ones too, led by a bloody battle between Dustin Poirier and Anthony Pettis, who suffered a rib injury and subsequent loss to “The Diamond” in Norfolk, Virginia and AJ McKee continued his run towards a featherweight title shot in Bellator after he got past Brian Moore by submission at Bellator 187 in Dublin.
It was supposed to be a good week for Bellator, who as well as the Dublin card, announced a tournament to crown the new heavyweight champion in the organisation, featuring names such as Fedor Emelianenko, Frank Mir and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
But, Conor McGregor showed up to card at the 3Arena and stole the show and not in a good way either.
McGregor’s teammate Charlie Ward knocked out John Redmond at the end of the first and then all hell broke loose, as “The Notorious” launched himself into the cage to set off a wild celebration and melee. He should have been nowhere near the cage, as he had no licence to be in the corner of Ward.
Bellator officials attempted to remove McGregor from the cage, including referee Marc Goddard, who at Gdansk in Poland told McGregor to remove himself from the vicinity of the cage, as he supported another teammate Artem Lobov in a losing effort to Andre Fili.
McGregor was less gracious this time around, getting in Goddard’s face and shoving him away, as he went to check on the fallen Redmond. Add to the list of charges slapping a Bellator official as he was removed, it all adds up to a bad night for McGregor and an embarrassing one for the sport.
It’s almost as if he believes that rules don’t mean anything to him. In this scenario he had no right to be anywhere near the cage and let’s face it, the repercussions would be entirely different if this was a fan who decided to storm the cage. Where was the security?
Some will pass it off as McGregor simply being Conor, but this is a step too far. The book should be thrown at him. It would be for anybody else. As for Bellator, they’ll just be grateful for more publicity.
The UFC had a poor week as well, as the headliners for UFC 218 and UFC Shanghai, both fell apart, whilst one of the biggest on the big UFC 219 card at New Year also disappeared into the wind.
Frankie Edgar and Dominick Cruz, two of the most recognisable names in MMA, both suffered injuries meaning their fights with Max Holloway and Jimmie Rivera are off and UFC 218 was searching for a new main event, whilst Rivera’s big opportunity has gone up in smoke.
Thankfully for Holloway, the UFC’s featherweight champion, he will still fight in Detroit, as he will face Jose Aldo, the man he beat in June to unify the division instead. As Holloway said himself: “It is what it is.”
Whilst it’s unfortunate for Edgar, who had a chance to become the latest name on the list of two weight UFC champions, there is nothing wrong with this match-up as Holloway and Aldo remain the two top featherweights out there at the moment. The only man who can be bitter is Ricardo Lamas, who has now lost his shot at getting revenge over Aldo.
As for Rivera, there is hardly a queue to take on the captain of the who needs him club. A win over Cruz would have propelled him into the position of #1 contender in the bantamweight division, but now he is just hoping the UFC find him someone to keep him on the card.
Current bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw has set his sights on taking on flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, whilst a rematch with Cody Garbrandt remains the real money fight in the division. A win over Cruz for Rivera would have boosted his bargaining power no end, but now he may well be passed over due to his lack of name recognition.
As for UFC Shanghai, it was all supposed to be about Anderson Silva. He was due to face Kelvin Gastelum, who was previously forced out of a previous clash between the pair at UFC 212 in June after he failed a test with USADA for marijuana.
Silva is the one failing a test this time, for a second time since 2015 and at 42 his future in the sport, particularly the UFC is in serious doubt. It’s a huge knock for the UFC as this card on November 25 was due to be their first in Mainland China, having previously hosted three events in Macau.
With Silva out, we were waiting to see who would step in and the announcement took us all by surprise. Just a week after losing his middleweight title to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 217, Michael Bisping will step into the Octagon and go up against Gastelum at the Mercedes Benz Arena.
Say what you want about Bisping’s provocative nature, but you have to respect him for this. Just a week after losing out on the biggest stage, he’s getting back in there to face one of the UFC’s top prospects in the middleweight division.
Hat’s off to Michael Bisping. He is the definition of a true fighter.