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Sunday, June 14, 2009

UFC 99 Highlights and MMA news info !

Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic’s return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship was a short one.

Not long after stopping Mostapha Al-Turk in the first round of UFC 99 on Saturday at Lanxess Arena in his first fight in the UFC since back-to-back losses in 2007, Filipovic informed UFC president Dana White that he had signed a three-fight contract with the Japan-based DREAM.

White had signed Filipovic less than a month ago to a one-fight deal, the first time in more than nine years that he’d done that. He had worked out terms on two additional fights, but said he’d only put pen to paper for Saturday’s bout.

He brought Filipovic back because he knew the Croat is still very popular and Filipovic insisted he wanted to make a run for the title.
Mirko Cro Cop Eye Pokes Mustapha Al-Turk UFC 99

That proved not to be the truth. After turning down much tougher opposition, including Cain Velasquez, who defeated Cheick Kongo later on the card, he wound up with the lightly regarded Al-Turk.

But instead of getting a shot at big names like Randy Couture or Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and fighting his way into title contention, Filipovic opted to bolt for Japan.

“Isn’t that a dirty [expletive] thing to do?” White asked rhetorically after being queried about Filipovic’s deal with DREAM. “He [expletived] me. The first time in the history of the company I do one over the phone. He promised me a three-fight deal and he [expletived] me.”

Filipovic looked unsteady and hardly impressive in defeating Al-Turk, who is winless in the UFC. He never landed one of his vaunted kicks and the fight ended not from a punch but when he poked Al-Turk in the eye with his finger.

Referee Dan Miragliotta didn’t see the poke, so it was regarded as a clean blow and Filipovic won by stoppage.

Filipovic was fighting five months to the day after knee surgery, one of several injuries he said kept him from performing at his best in his first stint in the UFC. Before the fight, he called his 1-2 UFC record “the black spot” on his career.

While speaking with reporters on a prefight conference call, Filipovic enthused about his return and said he was gunning for a title shot. All the while, he apparently knew he was in it for a one-fight deal.

He texted White on White’s cellular phone and told him he wanted to return. White said Filipovic declined numerous opponents.

Apparently, Filipovic, who is from Croatia, wanted to fight in Germany and use the UFC bout as a tuneup. He did and is now Dream bound, but he’ll almost certainly never fight in the UFC again.

“He didn’t keep his word,” White said, who said he’d had a two-hour talk with Filipovic on the day Filipovic texted and asked to be able to return. “He talked about honor and all this other [expletive] and he [expletived] me.

“He fed me this bull [expletive] about wanting to take a run for the title, and what I think he did was, he went out and did this. He turned down every other [expletive] fighter I offered him, because I needed him to fight Cain. He didn’t just poke Al-Turk; he poked me, too.”

As is his custom, Filipovic skipped the postfight news conference and could not be reached to comment on the DREAM deal.

Hardy played mind games: Dan Hardy won his grudge match against Marcus Davis, pulling out a split decision. He won 29-28 on the scorecards of judges Doug Crosby and Tony Weeks. Davis prevailed on Andy Roberts’ card by the same score. Yahoo! Sports also had it 29-28 for Davis.

There was bad blood between the two because of a war of words on the Internet. Hardy said he was just trying to provoke Davis because he figured correctly that Davis would take it seriously and that it might affect the way he fought.

“I used a lot of psychological warfare and it bothered him,” Hardy said. “My intention was to bother so it would have an effect on the fight.”

Davis stormed from the cage and declined to shake hands with Hardy. He also failed to appear at the postfight news conference, though he issued a statement in which he demanded a rematch.

“He came into my dressing room to talk after and I said I won,” Davis said in his statement. “He said it was close and he wouldn’t argue. That took something, I guess, but he’s not apologized for going too far with the talking. I won the fight.”

Bonus babies: Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva had an entertaining slugfest before the crowd of 12,854 and wound up winning Fight of the Night honors. They took home an extra $60,000 each for that.

Mike Swick, who stopped Ben Saunders in the second round, won Knockout of the Night. The Submission of the Night went to Terry Etim, who defeated Justin Buchholz with a D’Arce choke. Swick and Etim also earned an extra $60,000.

Big fights: Swick said he was looking for a big fight after scoring back-to-back wins over Jonathan Goulet and Saunders in fights in which he was the bigger name and had the most to lose.

He said he’d like a fight with former welterweight champion Matt Hughes, saying it would be an honor for him.

White had another suggestion since Swick kept talking about big fights.

“Swick is going to fight Rich [Franklin] next at 170,” White said, jokingly, since Franklin fights at light heavyweight
There is little doubt that Wanderlei Silva is, physically at least, nowhere near the fighter he was three or four years ago, when he was dominating the PRIDE Fighting Championship’s middleweight division.

He’s long been among a handful of the most popular fighters in mixed martial arts, but his popularity may be at an all-time high despite losing to Rich Franklin in a 195-pound catchweight bout Saturday at Lanxess Arena in the main event of UFC 99.

The crowd of 12,854 roared its approval when Silva walked to the cage and then cheered him vociferously throughout the back-and-forth slugfest.

Franklin, the former UFC middleweight champion, used movement and more accurate punching to pull out the win in the entertaining fight. But as he spoke to in-ring interviewer Joe Rogan after the bout, the crowd booed lustily.


It is rare to ever hear Franklin booed, as he’s long been one of the UFC’s top attractions and entertaining fighters. Such was the love the crowd had for Silva, who has now lost five of his last six, that it scorned Franklin in favor of the Brazilian.

Franklin said it didn’t bother him and that he actually half-expected it, given Silva’s rock star status among MMA fans.

“Wanderlei has done more in this sport than I have,” Franklin said. “I have a lot of respect and admiration for him as a fighter, much like the fans.”

Every now and then, Silva rocked Franklin with one of the powerful rights than helped him score some of the most dramatic knockout victories in the sport’s history. Too often, though, Silva threw only one punch at a time and Franklin, using his lateral quickness and cage awareness, would dance easily out of range.

If Silva were a two-fisted puncher, he may have had a chance to change the outcome. Instead, Franklin was able to circle frequently away from danger and, except for brief moments when he was on queasy street, he was never in serious jeopardy.

Silva at one stage said he wanted a rematch with Franklin, though he later said he wasn’t sure what the future would hold for him.

“I don’t know about my future,” he said softly, picking at welts and abrasions that covered his face. “My fans are the reason I fight. I love it. The emotion inside the octagon is unbelievable. I love it and I love to share the emotion with the fans. The fans understand this and because of that, the fans respect me.”

So, too, do his opponents. Franklin agreed to meet Silva at a limit of 195 pounds on Saturday as Silva is transitioning from 205 pounds to 185.

Franklin conceded he felt the power at 195 and said he thought Silva could make a major impact at 185.

“He’s always coming forward and once his arms start moving, he’s quick, he’s explosive and he’s dangerous,” Franklin said. “I got caught up in it in the second round and he rocked me a little in there.

“I’ll tell you what: Wanderlei’s been fighting at 205 pounds and he’s a strong fighter. Moving down to 185, he’s going to be strong in that weight class. He’s dangerous. He has knockout power for the 205-pound weight class. When he gets down to 185, it’s going to be even that much worse [for Silva’s opponents].”

Whether he’ll ever make it into the cage for a 185-pound match remains a question, however. Unlike in April, where he said at the postfight news conference following UFC 97 that ex-light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell would retire, UFC president Dana White wasn’t willing to end Silva’s career on Saturday.

He said he’d have a conversation with Silva soon in Las Vegas, where both men live. Silva is one of the sport’s treasures and White needs to do right by him.

What the right answer is, though, is ticklish. No doubt, when he recovers from Saturday’s bout, Silva is going to want to fight again.

One of the reasons he’s so beloved is because he’s always ready to go to battle.

Occasionally, though, fighters like that need to be saved from themselves. He’s been knocked out hard three times in his last six fights and has lost all but one of those.

He’s a wealthy man and said he won’t have to work again once his fighting career is over. Fighters take a risk every time they step into the cage, but the risk increases after a lengthy career and a fighter ages. Silva has lost at least a half-step of quickness and is now getting hit more flush than ever.

With the quality and precision of strikers at an all-time high in the sport, that’s not a good sign for a guy who makes his living standing in front of an opponent and throwing knockout blows.

If Silva opts to fight again, which I suspect he will, UFC matchmaker Joe Silva (no relation) will have to choose his opponent very carefully. And he’ll have to pay particular attention to Silva’s reflexes.

Silva has done far too much for the sport to be trotted to the gate just because he’s a draw. The minute the UFC brass sees the signs of deterioration, they need to go to Silva and pull the plug on a wonderful career.

That night may not be here, but it’s clearly near.

Results for UFC 99:
Rich Franklin vs Wanderlei Silva - Franklin (Decision)
Cheick Kongo Vs. Cain Velasquez - Velasquez (Decision)
Mirko Cro Cop Vs Al Turk - Cro Cop (TKO)
Mike Swick Vs. Ben Saunders - Swick (TKO)
Marcus Davis Vs. Dan Hardy - Hardy (Decision)
Spencer Fisher Vs. Caol Uno - Uno

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