Posts Tagged ‘Comeback’
Former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre is adamant that he wants to return to action, but UFC executives are sending mixed messages. Will sticky contract negotiations prove to be what finally ends the career of an MMA great? Danny Downes and Ben Fowlkes discuss.
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Downes: Ben, it feels like we’ve been talking about the potential return of Georges St-Pierre ever since he decided to “take a break.” Initially, I thought the only thing that would prevent GSP from returning to the UFC was his own desire. If we’re to believe recent reports, though, the situation is much more complicated.
Contract negotiations appear to have hit an impasse. More than a discussion over dollars and cents, there’s something personal in the mix. Recently on Colin Cowherd’s show, UFC President Dana White said that GSP “doesn’t have the I-want-to-be-a-champion attitude anymore,” and went on to question St-Pierre’s drive to be a fighter.
GSP (23-2 MMA 19-2 UFC) dismissed this as a negotiation tactic and said he was “too smart” to fall for such a ploy, but I have to think that it still bothers him. Before “Money McGregor,” GSP was bringing in all those Canadian dollars. Are you surprised that there’s been this difficulty in getting a deal together? Do you think a GSP return is still an inevitability, or will he really walk away if he can’t get a deal he finds fair?
Fowlkes: What was it Nate Diaz said about not being surprised? Yeah, that. That’s how I feel about this situation.
Back when the UFC first signed its deal with Reebok, I wrote a story looking at how it might affect different fighters, sponsors and managers. GSP was one of the examples brought up by Hayabusa co-president Craig Clement, who wondered how his company’s long-term deal with the former champ would work if St-Pierre ever decided to make a comeback.
“Obviously we’ve got to look at his contract with us, because there’s a conflict there,” Clement said at the time. “He’s contracted, legally, to be wearing Hayabusa in the octagon. What happens when the UFC tells him, ‘We’re sorry, we’re contracted to put you in Reebok’? I don’t know. It should be very interesting, because the other deal with St-Pierre is that he’s also sponsored by Under Armour, which to me is more of a direct competitor (to Reebok).”
That right there? That’s an inevitable conflict that comes with the changing era of UFC sponsorship.
But I don’t think it’s an insurmountable problem. GSP means big money for the UFC. It also means a chance to bring back the Canadian fans, many of whom have felt ignored or underserved by the UFC since GSP’s departure. There’s reason enough for both sides here to find a way to work together.
What I don’t get is how White thinks it’s a good idea to fight this one out in public. If you go around telling people that GSP doesn’t want to fight, all while the former champ is telling them that he would very much like to, how does that serve your interests?
You’re either driving away one of the greatest champions and biggest draws you’ve ever had, or your damaging his standing with fans before his grand return. Why can’t you just admit that you’re working on contract details, and right now you don’t agree?
Downes: It’s not like this is an unheard of tactic. You bring up Nate Diaz. Remember when he was considered not a “needle-mover” by the higher ups? Now he has enough to probably retire and spend the rest of his days in Stockton telling stories at the asparagus festival.
GSP says that he’s too smart to be goaded into a bad deal because UFC management appeals to his pride and machismo. If that’s the case, then he’s too smart to not take a deal because White said some mean things about him.
Whether it’s a contract dispute over his worth or press conference lectures over passive income, GSP is not like most fighters. He has a business mindset. With the trend toward money fights and free agency, it seems like more fighters are gravitating toward this worldview. I welcome fighters finally appreciating their own worth and asking for more, but I wonder how forgiving fans/media will be.
I’ll be the first to call out antiquated fighter tropes like “going out on your shield.” At the same time, couldn’t you make the argument that if St-Pierre can walk away from talks, he doesn’t really care that much?
I’m not saying that he’s scared or that he can’t compete at a high level. I’m just saying that he has other things to do. It’s similar to Ronda Rousey’s situation. She can make a lot of money doing things that don’t involve fighting in a cage. Fighters are only as faithful as their options. Does that change how we view some of the higher profile athletes in the sport? Should it?
Fowlkes: In a recent interview, St-Pierre put it in a way that made a lot of sense to me. Basically, he’s running out of time. He can accept film and/or TV offers, but that will tie him up for the near future. He can keep turning those down in the hopes of a UFC return, but if it doesn’t come together that will leave him sitting around without a paycheck or a plan.
How long do we expect him to do that? He’s a 35-year-old fighter whose acting career is based in large part on having been recently famous for something else. He’s got to strike one of those irons while they’re still hot.
When it comes to sticky contract situations, the promoter’s greatest weapon is time. He has it, and he knows the fighter doesn’t. It’s the same in boxing as it is in MMA. Both sports have long histories of contract talks and court battles that were forced to a resolution once the fighter realized that the other side could afford to drag things out, watching him get older and slower in the process.
St-Pierre is different because, as you point out, he has options. That gives him leverage. He can afford to be firm in his demands. The question is, can the UFC still make a deal with a superstar who doesn’t need to cave if he doesn’t want to? If the answer turns out to be no, well, that’d just be a little too depressing, wouldn’t it?
Downes: It would be, but not as depressing as the backlash. Perhaps I’m being a bit too cynical, but if St-Pierre walks away from the negotiating table to star in another Jean-Claude Van Damme remake (I’m thinking “Hard Target” or “Timecop,” obviously), who do you think will receive the majority of the fans’ anger?
He’ll be another greedy athlete who walked away from millions because it wasn’t enough. The sport has changed since GSP last competed, and it’s not just the Reebok deal and new ownership. The average fight career is short, but fan loyalty is even shorter.
Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Danny Downes, a retired UFC and WEC fighter, is an MMAjunkie contributor who also writes for UFC.com and UFC 360. Follow them on twitter at @benfowlkesMMA and @dannyboydownes.
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UFC lightweight Nick Hein has been many different places, doing many different things.
He has traveled the world as a judo player. He has patrolled the streets as a police officer. He has walked around a movie set shirtless as a fictional undertaker.
But it’s on Saturday, at Hamburg’s Barclaycard Arena, that Nick Hein will be right where he belongs.
“This event in Hamburg, it seems that everything worked out perfectly that I’m now able to fight there,” Hein told MMAjunkie. “People are always saying, ‘I want to fight in Vegas, I want to fight in the MGM,’ No, I want to find in Hamburg, in the Barclaycard Arena, on the third of September. This is my goal.
“The arena is going to be fully packed. I know of course the major shows usually happen in the United States, but I was at the show in Rotterdam where (Alistair) Overeem fought (Andrei) Arlovski and man, that was stunning. It was also sold out and the atmosphere was crazy. So I couldn’t be happier.”
Hein (13-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) fights Tae Hyun Bang (18-9 MMA, 2-2 UFC) in a lightweight bout to open Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 93 main card in his home country of Germany. The entire card streams on UFC Fight Pass.
Hein’s busy past is not exactly new information in the MMA community. While it’s not unusual for fighters to have some form of background in other sports, in the police force, or even the entertainment industry, “The Sargeant” stood out immediately for presenting the entire – highly successful – combo.
“I know that sounds super cheesy, but sometimes you’ve just got to follow your heart”
As different as they may look, the three fields had one thing in common in Hein’s life: whenever a choice had to be made, MMA won.
“I can’t really say, there’s no logical cause for that,” Hein said. “Sometimes you just have a feeling that you want to do something, that you need to do something. It’s like – When you can sleep well, you know you’re on a path. When you sleep horribly, then something is not going in the right direction.
“I remember I was at a training camp in Sao Paulo (Brazil) for judo, and I was miserable every day. I thought, ‘Man, I’m in beautiful Brazil, I’m eating awesome food every day, beautiful people, wonderful weather, doing judo, why am I not happy?’ I wasn’t doing what I really wanted to do. So when I finally did MMA, I felt ‘’This is it. This is what I want to do.’”
Judo, it turned out, would not be the only thing Hein would see himself giving up. After three years of balancing high-level training and “fighting criminals,” it was the 11-year long police officer job – and the lifetime of financial security that came with his particular position – that had to go.
“This is something that everyone wants in Germany,” Hein said. “I basically threw that into the trash bin because I said, ‘If that interferes with my dream of fighting, then I don’t want it.’ So I quit my job. I’m the first police officer in Germany to quit his job because of this sports career and I haven’t regretted it to this day.”
This was not the last time his sanity would be questioned. In 2014, when the pilot to a surprisingly popular TV show in which he played a “very stupid” undertaker got picked up for a whole season, Hein again had to choose. And, though tapings ended up being delayed to accommodate his schedule, the lightweight was willing to take a pass on the show to favor his UFC debut.
“They didn’t understand, they said I must be crazy,” Hein said. “Because first of all, MMA and the UFC, people don’t really know in Germany what that is. And people said, ‘This is really crazy, that is probably the only chance of this caliber you might get and you’re throwing it away.’ But my dream was to be a UFC fighter.”
Of course, he had no way of knowing this in 2010, when an old interest stemming from UFC VHS tapes began to actually materialize. But now, Hein sees that entertaining fans in the octagon might just be the one thing that tied all his seemingly conflicting interests together.
“To be honest, in judo nobody ever does interviews with you,” Hein said. “Maybe once every four years, when there are the Olympic games, but nobody is interested in the people. And then suddenly, today – the UFC is the major brand in MMA, but at the same time, it’s also entertainment. And that’s something I feel very comfortable in. It really came into place for me to do that. At the time, nobody else, not even myself, really knew that it would be a good decision. But I felt it.
“I know that sounds super cheesy, but sometimes you’ve just got to follow your heart and it leads you to where you’re destined to be.”
The miracle and the fairytale comeback
While Hein’s MMA path has been a successful one, it didn’t come without his hiccups. Not that long ago, in fact, the lightweight had a big scare when the herniated disk that removed him from his scrap against Jon Tuck almost took more than just a paycheck.
“It totally took me off track at that moment,” Hein said. “It wasn’t only that day that they said I couldn’t fight, but they also said, ‘You will only be able to ever fight again if you get that thing done.’ And I knew about stories from people that basically had to end their careers because of herniated disk problems. I was devastated, but I got a very very good team, especially in Germany, of physical therapists and doctors that worked hand in hand.
“They executed a miracle on my neck and it really got better. The symptoms went away so fast, I could feel my hand and I came to full strength very fast. It looked like a fairytale story of a comeback.”
Hein’s fairytale continues on Saturday in what will be his fifth UFC outing, against the heavy-handed Tae Hyun Bang. While “The Sargeant” doesn’t dare to predict an outcome, he believes the stylistic matchup is bound to give fans something interesting to watch.
“He brings some things to the table that give it almost a guarantee that it’s going to be exciting.,” Hein said. “First of all, he tries to knock people out all the time. He has power punches, power KO punches, he really swings and at the same time he has the ability to switch sides. Of course, we know that, we worked on that, we also found some gaps in his game.
“I want to finish this fight. I want to finish this fight, to win decisively.”
The elusive finish
If Hein seems perhaps too preoccupied with the manner in which this particular bout ends – well, that’s because he is. After taking all his three octagon triumphs by decision, the lightweight makes no secret of his burning desire to add an elusive flair to his record.
“That is really something that is kind of with me, bothering me all the time,” Hein said. “Especially when I look back on my fight versus (James) Vick, I knocked him down two times in the 1st round and I didn’t finish the fight. And then with (Lukasz) Sajewski, I tagged him in the third round, if I would have been smarter I could’ve finished the fight there.
“I know I can do it but I must admit I failed doing that in the past and this really bothers me. And it bothers me maybe a little more than I try to show it.”
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The 35-year-old has been out of action since a controversial split-decision win over Johny Hendricks in November 2013. However, speaking with UFC Tonight, the former welterweight champion made it crystal clear he’s ready to get back in the Octagon again:
While some competitors come back to the sport for sporadic outings, the Canadian was adamant this wouldn’t be a short-term venutre:
Rumours have lingered for a long time about a potential comeback for St-Pierre, and there’d be a genuine excitement accompanying the return of an icon of the sport.
The division has changed a lot since St-Pierre vacated the title in 2013, following his ninth successful defence, with Tyron Woodley the titleholder after his brilliant win over Robbie Lawler at UFC 201.
On UFC Tonight, the former champion made it clear he’d be keen to go up against Woodley, although he admitted there are other opponents he’d consider facing:
A return can only happen once the UFC sanctions it, and there have been questions from the top about how serious St-Pierre is about getting back in the Octagon. White told The Herd (h/t Damon Martin of Fox Sports) the fighter “doesn’t have that drive and that desire that he once had.”
White went on to suggest that without that determination, you shouldn’t fight. However, the welterweight legend said the UFC boss’ opinion is well wide of the mark, arguing “he doesn’t know anything about me” on UFC Tonight (h/t Shaun Al-Shatti of MMA Fighting): St-Pierre continued:
Let me fight [Woodley], then we’ll see if I want to be world champion again. I understand what he means, and I’m not angry at Dana. He does what he does for the best of his interests. I do what I do for the best of my interests.
One day when all of that is going to be over, we’ll probably be friends, like most of the guys who I’ve fought. But now, it’s like a game. He’s doing his game, I’m doing mine.
It’d be fascinating to see how St-Pierre would fare should he return, and while there seems to be some kidology at play between the fighter and president, it’d be a huge surprise for the Canadian not to get his wish.
There’s certainly a gap to fill in the welterweight division after Rory MacDonald departed the UFC for Bellator recently. However, as noted by MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani, there are a lot of fighters in the 170-pound class pushing for a shot at the title even without St-Pierre in the picture:
After almost three years out of action, many would reason the former champion needs to work his way back up to the top of one of the strongest divisions in the UFC. However, having previously held the strap for a month shy of six years, St-Pierre carries the clout to quickly force his way back into contention.
A return may be a way off yet, with White evidently still unsure about the Canadian’s attitude. But St-Pierre’s quotes seem to suggest he is ready to get back to the grind; given his prestige and profile in the sport, that’ll surely culminate in him stepping foot in the Octagon again.
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Since knocking out Robbie Lawler at UFC 201 to claim the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight title, current champion Tyron Woodley has been handpicking opponents like he was shopping at a fruit stand. Not only did the 34-year-old powerhouse call out Nick Diaz, but he made a case for returning mixed martial arts (MMA) legend Georges St-Pierre.
But after UFC president Dana White announced earlier this week that Woodley will first defend his 170-pound strap against Stephen Thompson, Woodley’s rampant parade was rained on. Contrary to the champ’s belief, Thompson deserves a shot at divisional gold after dismantling former champion Johny Hendricks and former title challenger Rory MacDonald in back-to-back contests.
However, it now seems as if Woodley leaked a conversation he had with GSP regarding a potential comeback fight. The secret texts can be seen below, courtesy of Woodley’s Twitter account:
So it can forever be broken! pic.twitter.com/J6cZM1LbJJ
— Tyron T-Wood Woodley (@TWooodley) August 12, 2016
Interesting to say the least. This sport has seen some wild things when it comes to lobbying for a payday, but it’s rare that a fighter, let alone a champion, goes out of his way to duck a deserving challenger like Thompson and release private correspondence he had with another fighter to the public eye.
It’s safe to say that Woodley is looking to cash in as much as possible since capturing the title at UFC 201. But with GSP’s return uncertain at this time, “T-Wood” will have to bite the bullet, prepare for “Wonderboy” and attempt to knockout another premier Welterweight striker.
The post UFC champion Tyron Woodley releases text messages with Georges St-Pierre regarding comeback fight appeared first on Fightline.com.
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I know this is going to sound crazy, but it seems working full time for the North Weld County Water District, ripe with exciting endeavors like subdivision review, is not the adrenaline rush it appears to be.
That’s probably why former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) interim heavyweight champion Shane Carwin is going to reconsider his retirement and get back into the hurt business.
When your manager emails Joe Silva:
I’m ready to @ufc
— Shane Carwin (@ShaneCarwin) July 27, 2016
Too bad he already missed this window of opportunity.
The 41-year-old Carwin (12-2) hasn’t see the Octagon in over five years, retiring in the wake of his three-round shellacking at the hands of fellow division power puncher Junior dos Santos. That said, a lot has changed since the non-USADA days of heavyweight havoc.
One thing I’m sure that hasn’t changed, is Carwin’s five-ounce kill switch.
Any potential opponents come to mind?
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Here’s an interesting little tidbit about your favorite “Bad Guy,” who may finally be listening to the voice of reason.
It seems former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight No. 1 contender, Chael Sonnen, has re-entered the United States Anti-Doping (USADA) testing pool, which would allow him to compete without applying for the dreaded Brock Lesnar loophole.
But don’t pencil in that comeback just yet.
“Not if the test is as good as I remember it being,” Sonnen told MMA Junkie about his chances of scrapping retirement and returning to mixed martial arts (MMA) later this year.
Despite a couple of high-profile losses to Anderson Silva and Jon Jones, the part-time grappling promoter holds some pretty impressive wins inside the Octagon, including finishes over Brian Stann and Mauricio Rua, as well as a unanimous decision against Michael Bisping.
Unfortunately, the recent lows overshadow the longtime highs, but there is certainly a way to change that…
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Holly Holm went from little-known underdog to Ronda Rousey slayer to forgotten in under four months.
Now, after months of Miesha Tate bashing a mostly silent Ronda Rousey and the fighting world wondering when Rousey will make her return, Holm is set to make hers.
Holm is back for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night Chicago, where she’ll take on No. 7 -ranked Valentina Shevchenko, and like the low-key killer she’s always been, Holm isn’t following in Tate’s trash-talking footprints.
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Michael McDonald was once the next big thing in MMA. A long, strong, and incredibly young bantamweight, he won the Tachi Palace Fights bantamweight title at just 20 years old, made his way to the UFC not long after and earned himself a title shot shortly thereafter by beating respected veterans Chris Cariaso and Miguel Torres.
The good times ended there for McDonald.
Then-champion Renan Barao handily defeated him at UFC on Fuel TV 7, and Urijah Faber dominated him not long after. Then he suffered a series of injuries.
Two years passed and McDonald returned to a radically different bantamweight division. When he left, it was largely comprised of WEC holdovers like Takeya Mizugaki, Scott Jorgensen and Brad Pickett. When he returned, the top-10 was almost entirely made up of a newer, better bred 135-pound fighter.
While his first fight back was a come-from-behind submission win over Masanori Kanehara, one serious question still lingered: How does Michael McDonald stack up against today’s breed of bantamweight?
At UFC Fight Night 91, where he faced John Lineker, the answer proved to be “not especially well.”
From the first bell, the effects of Lineker’s power punching were felt. The normally aggressive McDonald was on his bicycle, working from along the periphery of the cage, relegated to using little more than a fadeaway jab. Eventually, however, Lineker found his opening and exploded into it.
A right-hand liver shot was followed by a clean left hook to the chin, which sent McDonald crashing to the canvas. Lineker chased him to the mat with ground-and-pound, but McDonald managed to escape…for a time. Another brutal left hand would land with a series of uppercuts behind it, leaving McDonald limp and thoroughly, deeply unconscious.
The fight was waved off at 2:43 of the first round, sending many into a state of introspection.
It’s not an especially surprising outcome. Lineker has established himself as one of the pound-for-pound best power punchers in MMA today, earning 13 knockout wins and topping that with more than a few strike-induced submissions on top of it. He has starched a number of solid names and very easily could have fought for the UFC flyweight title if he didn’t have consistent trouble cutting down to the 125-pound limit.
Despite the fact there is no shame in being floored by Lineker’s punches, this leads to an unflattering audit of McDonald’s overall abilities.
McDonald owned a substantial size advantage over Lineker—standing five inches taller—and had plenty of tape to work with on his relatively predictable foe. Still, Lineker managed to get inside McDonald’s guard repeatedly, had no real trouble implementing his “press forward, throw shots to the body and follow up with headshots” game plan.
It’s a win for Lineker that could easily line him up for a title shot. With fighters like Raphael Assuncao, Urijah Faber and Aljamain Sterling all coming off tough losses, Lineker stood tall here and could be just one win away from earning a crack at the belt.
McDonald, on the other hand, finds himself in rebuilding mode. That’s not necessarily a bad place for an immensely talented 24-year-old, of course. Fighters like Robbie Lawler and Rafael Dos Anjos have both weathered far more dire straits and exited with UFC gold. He remains a young, high-upside prospect who can endure in the division for years to come and could easily challenge for the bantamweight title some day.
Not today, however. Today belongs to John Lineker.
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So, how much money does it take to bring back a surprise mega-star for a featured bout on your biggest event of all-time? How does a cool $2.5 million sound?
According to Yahoo! Sports reporter Kevin Iole, current WWE Superstar Brock Lesnar will be earning a $2.5 million purse for his Octagon return tonight against Mark Hunt at the landmark UFC 200 event.
Whether that figure is the overall figure Lesnar will be earning for tonight’s fight, or if he will also earn a percentage of the pay-per-view profits as he did in the past, was not specified by the veteran fight journalist.
UFC President Dana White noted during his UFC 200 pre-fight media scrum in Las Vegas on Friday evening that the deal, which heavily involved Vince McMahon and Triple H of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), where Lesnar is still a contracted performer, will also include some sort of WWE-related promotion on the actual UFC 200 pay-per-view broadcast as well.
Lesnar vs. Hunt is one of the co-featured bouts at the UFC 200 pay-per-view event, which takes place live from the brand new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. For live coverage of the show, which is in progress now.
Brock Lesnar's purse tonight is $2.5 million
— Kevin Iole (@KevinI) July 9, 2016
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