Alistair Overeem: Another quick fall in MMA

The MMA gods can be very cruel.

One minute you can be on top, the next you are at the very bottom.

Such is the case for heavyweight Alistair Overeem. His fight last night at UFC Fight Night 26 was almost a perfect example of how quickly a career can change.

Needing a win over respectable contender Travis Browne, Overeem seemed like the “Demoltion Man” early on, hammering Browne with big fists. He looked like a heavyweight contender once again.

However, just moments later Overeem ate a picture-perfect front kick that led to a surprising KO loss.

Now Overeem finds himself having lost two straight fights and, when you mix in a suspension that cancelled a title fight in 2012, he could be on the chopping block. It’s been a meteoric fall for Overeem, but he’s not the only one that has been in similar position. Here’s a few other notable quick collapses.

Chuck Liddell – The Iceman seemed unbeatable when he was the UFC Light Heavyweight champion in the mid-2000s, but that all changed with a Quinton “Rampage Jackson” hook. One big punch from Jackson ended Liddell’s title reign and set the course for his surprising demise in the UFC. Liddell went on to go 1-5 over the next three years, losing four times by KO. He was forced to retire in 2010 after being blasted by Rich Franklin.

Brock Lesnar – Lesnar seemed too good to be true, and he was. The physically imposing heavyweight broke onto the UFC scene in 2008 and was champion within a year. However, once Lesnar started to meet up with heavyweights that could match his strength and wrestling ability, he quickly turned into a softy. Though he beat Shane Carwin by submission, he was pummeled in the first round and that seemed to destroy his mystique. From there Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem ran right through him and Lesnar decided to retire from the sport.

B.J. Penn – Though Penn is still considered by many to be the greatest lightweight in MMA history, he didn’t go out on a high point in the UFC. He seemed to be a human wrecking ball at 155 pounds after dominating the likes of Kenny Florian, Sean Sherk and Diego Sanchez, but a pair of decision losses to Frankie Edgar seemed to put his career on the wrong track. While he did pick up a quick KO of Matt Hughes after, he looked sluggish in a draw against Jon Fitch and was thoroughly picked apart by Nick Diaz and Rory MacDonald before taking time away. The fear Penn used to put into his opponents is long gone.

Penn to now face Diaz at UFC 137

nullNow that the dust has settled in on the change to the UFC 137 main event, with Carlos Condit replacing Nick Diaz to face Georges St. Pierre for the welterweight championship, the next biggest question was who was B.J. Penn facing that night?

Penn was originally scheduled to face Condit in the co-main event, but UFC President Dana White said he was working on something crazy for Penn, and he hoped that it still take place at UFC 137.

Well, the UFC decided if it could move one fighter, why not just move the other.

Dana White released on his Twitter that Penn will now fight Nick Diaz in the co-main event.

This is crazy but here we go again! Penn vs Diaz 10/29 in Vegas

This should be a tremendous bout as both men have a warrior mentality and they will certainly leave everything in the octagon.

Diaz still gets his shot at a high-profile bout while Penn gets a chance to land a marquee win in the welterweight division.

I think from a matchup standpoint, the changes to both fights make each one more interesting.

Diaz removed for UFC 137 main event, GSP vs. Condit on

nullI see your Nate Marquardt and raise you a Nick Diaz.

In one of the most bizarre situations in UFC history, Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz has been removed from the main event of UFC 137 against UFC champ, Georges St. Pierre, after going AWOL on the company and skipping two press conferences in two days.

After missing three different flights to head to Toronto for a press conference to promote UFC 137 on Tuesday, Diaz stopped communicating with Dana White and the UFC and was nowhere to be found on Wednesday, for another press conference to promote the event in Las Vegas.

White announced at the beginning of the presser that Diaz was removed from the fight and co-main eventer, Carlos Condit, will take on GSP for the title.

Diaz’ trainer, Cesar Gracie, expressed his frustration with his own fighter to MMAJunkie.com.

“I don’t blame Dana White on this at all,” Gracie today told MMAjunkie.com  ”This is a professional company, and Nick is a 28-year-old man.”

“I’ve stuck up for Nick, even when he was wrong before,” Gracie said. “But he’s let a lot of people down. He’s let his team down. We all bought plane tickets to Vegas. We got hotel rooms booked, paid for. We’ve got all that, and Nick just decided not to go to something he’s supposed to. They’re paying him a lot of money, and in this economy where people don’t have money, he’s blessed. He should be thanking God every night how blessed he is.

“And instead, he’s not getting on a plane to go to Vegas. I’m extremely disappointed. He’s done a lot of stuff, but this is the worst of it. If I were him, I would be begging Dana White to get my job back and work your way up to a title shot at some point.”

“I’m not a psychologist,” he said. “I personally think there’s some kind of social anxiety happening here with Nick. Dana said, ‘You’ve got to play the game this much.’ And this isn’t even playing the game. This is about being a man and being responsible. And Nick has done neither in this situation.

“He’s a great jiu-jitsu guy. He’s a great fighter. I’m saying this because I care deeply about the guy. He’s one of my black belts. But in this situation, he is 100 percent wrong, and he got what he deserved.”

There are so many side stories to this happening, but clearly the main one is the odd behavior of Diaz. I sincerely hope he is of good physical and mental health, but he has a lot of explaining to do.

He has certainly blown the greatest opportunity of his pro career and may never step foot inside a Zuffa cage or octagon again.

Carlos Condit may be a tougher opponent for St. Pierre, but we will break down that fight another time.

Also lost in the mix is that B.J. Penn is now without an opponent, as he was set to face Condit at UFC 137 in the co-main event.

MMA News and Notes – Henderson vs. Guida set, Diaz skips media event

nullLost in the announcement of Lesnar vs. Overeem on Tuesday were some other big news in the world of MMA, mostly concerning the UFC.

- In another big fight announcement, MMAFighting.com is reporting that top lightweight contenders, Ben Henderson and Clay Guida will collide on the UFC on FOX undercard. Henderson is coming off his dominant win over Jim Miller at UFC on Versus 5 while Guida defeated Anthony Pettis at the Ultimate Fighter Finale. The winner of this bout could find themselves in top contender status for the lightweight title. It should be a good grappling match, but I see Henderson favored based on styles.

- MMAFighting.com also reported that Matt Hughes has accepted a fight with Josh Koscheck for UFC 135. Koscheck will replace Hughes’ original opponent, Diego Sanchez. Sanchez had to pull out of the fight with a broken hand.

- You can’t a teach a dog new tricks apparently. Despite Dana White insisting that Nick Diaz would conform to the various media requests that are expected of a top contender for his UFC 137 title bout with Georges St. Pierre, apparently the Strikeforce welterweight champion skipped a press conference on Tuesday in Toronto to promote the event. The UFC had to explination for his absence according to the Winnipeg Free Press, but another scheduled press conference is to take place today in Las Vegas. Will Diaz be there? Will he be punished for his absence?

- Fedor Emelianenko will return to action on Nov. 12 when he takes on Jeff Monson for a M-1 event in Russia according to MMAMania.com. Fedor has lost his last three bouts and will face Monson, who is coming off a loss to Daniel Cormier on the undercard of Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum. Stylistically, this is a good matchup for Fedor, but will do nothing to get him back into the American spotlight.

- Another announcement that took place on Tuesday is that the UFC is heading back to Japan in 2012. Sherdog.com reports that Feb. 26, 2012 is the set date for the organization to make its return to Japan, which is nearly 14 years since the UFC first stepped foot in Japan. Expect to see many of the countries top starts on that card.

Jon Fitch is mad as hell and doesn’t want to take it anymore

Jon Fitch has been a No. 1 contender for a long time, but a title fight doesn’t appear to be in his future.

A lengthy recovery from an injury has caused the UFC veteran to be lost in the mix in the UFC welterweight division.

As you can see in the video, Fitch is not happy about being passed up for many of the big fights in the division and he is ready to do something about it.

Fitch has some good points. The guy has one loss in 15 UFC fights, and that was to current champ, Georges St. Pierre.

He is coming off a draw against B.J. Penn, but had that been a five-round fight, it appeared that Fitch was well on his way to another win.

Despite his lack of finishes, Fitch is still one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world and he deserves more respect than he is getting.

Top 10 Welterweight Rankings

nullThis week’s rankings turn to the welterweight division.

It has been a busy couple of months in this division as two of the top 10 suffered losses since my last 170-pound rankings came out.

So, without further ado, here are my top 10 in this division.

1. Georges St. Pierre (22-2) – St. Pierre successfully defeated Jake Shields, but did so by decision. His performance wasn’t great, but it was still enough to end a lengthy win streak by Shields. Instead of moving up to middleweight, St. Pierre will now take on Nick Diaz at UFC 137 in October.

2. Jon Fitch (23-3-1) – Fitch is coming off shoulder surgery and is targeting a return in late 2011. He was originally pushing for a title fight, but is now looking toward a rematch with B.J. Penn. With the UFC implementing five-round main events for non-title fights, Fitch would seem to have the edge there as he got stronger as the first fight with Penn went on.

3. Josh Koscheck (15-5) – Koscheck has been on the shelf for a few months now as he recovers from a broken orbital bone. Koscheck should return in late 2011, and hopefully he can continue to show some solid skills when he gets back. A powerful striker and wrestler, Koscheck has the skills to win it all if he can do the little things to put together the whole package.

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UFC 135 just keeps getting better: Gomi vs. Nate Diaz booked

UFC 135 is already shaping up to be a pretty interesting event with Jones vs. Rampage and Hughes vs. Sanchez, but now it is even better.

MMAFighting.com is reporting that Nate Diaz is making the move back down to lightweight and will face Takanori Gomi.

What has me and other fans excited about this is the legendary matchup between Nick Diaz and Gomi back at Pride 33. Diaz won via submission, but the bout was ruled a no contest after Diaz failed a drug test after the fight.

Still, it was a very entertaining fight, which you can see below. Hopefully Nate Diaz and Gomi can recreate this bout to a certain level.

With Diaz vs. GSP in place, many new options open in UFC

nullWednesday night, Dana White made a big announcement by saying Strikeforce welterweight champion, Nick Diaz, will now face UFC welterweight champion, Georges St. Pierre, at UFC 137 in October.

Apparently White was able to tear up Diaz’ old contract and sign him to a new one that basically allowed White to make any matches involving Diaz that he pleased in either organization.

If White can do it once, he can do it as many times as he would like.

How about Gilbert Melendez?

The Strikeforce lightweight champion has been campaigning for a unification bout with the UFC champion and now, the planned order of contenders in the UFC seems to be shifting.

It appears that Anthony Pettis, who was the No. 1 contender after winning the WEC title, will now have to win two fights before getting a crack at the UFC strap, according to Fighters Only Magazine.

“That kid’s in a bad position. He’s supposed to be the next in line. All this craziness happens. [Edgar and Maynard] both get hurt, and it gets pushed back again. The first one is a draw, then they get hurt, and it gets pushed back again. But this is one of those things that happens in a sport like this,” says UFC president Dana White.

“I respect [Pettis] for stepping up and taking on a tough guy like Guida, and he’ll probably have to fight again before he gets a shot at one of those guys. Sucks for him. It’s a shi–y position for him to be in.”

If Pettis is fighting Guida before Edgar-Maynard III even takes place, why would he have to fight again? This tells me that White has someone else in mind as the next challenger for the UFC belt.

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Diaz opting out of boxing match, is match with GSP set to happen?

nullNick Diaz made it pretty clear that he wants to get paid.

To get paid, the Strikeforce Welterweight Champion was set to enter the boxing ring or accept a champion vs. champion match against UFC welterweight kingpin, Georges St. Pierre.

On Monday, Diaz’ boxing manager, Don Chargin, said in a press release that Diaz will stick with MMA and not enter the boxing ring.

Diaz’ manager, Cesar Gracie, told MMAFighting.com’s Ray Hui that an opportunity has come along that Diaz couldn’t pass up.

“[Boxing] wasn’t just out of nowhere but at this point in time, there’s a certain chance that comes along once in a very long while and it only makes sense to stick to MMA as of right now,” Gracie said. “Nick’s been working really hard to get to this point in his MMA career and it wouldn’t make sense for us to make that transition into boxing right now. If this were a couple months ago or if certain fights had played out differently, we’d definitely be ready to go into boxing, but that’s not how it played out. Don Chargin is a great boxing promoter and he understood our dilemma completely and I thank him for that.”

After meeting with Dana White recently, it seems pretty obvious that Diaz may be getting a bout with St. Pierre in the future. That, or White offered Diaz a big pay increase. My guess is a little bit of both.

UFC eying returns to Montreal, Abu Dhabi in 2011

nullThe UFC is quickly filling out its dance card for the rest of 2011 and it appears that there will be two stops coming outside the U.S. to end the year.

Mike Chiappetta of MMAFighting.com is reporting that the UFC is looking into possible events in Montreal and Abu Dhabi for December of this year.

Sources with knowledge of the situation said there is “a good chance” the company returns to the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, likely in December, but that nothing is confirmed.

The promotion had been expected to host a show there in March before venue issues nixed the idea. Because there are no indoor arenas and the region has a hot climate, the timing of athletic events requires extra consideration. December through February is historically the coolest month in Abu Dhabi, with daytime high temperatures averaging around 80 degrees.

A December return engagement would bookend a rapidly filling 2011 calendar, as events have already been scheduled late into the year. On Thursday, UFC director of Canadian operations Tom Wright told Montreal radio station The Team 990 that the company could return to the city’s Bell Centre in December.

Rumors are swirling that Georges St. Pierre could face Nick Diaz at the event in Montreal, which would make three-straight events that the welterweight champion would be fighting in Canada.

As far as Abu Dhabi goes, the last time the UFC appeared there was UFC 112 where Anderson Silva had his embarrassing showing against Demian Maia and Frankie Edgar upset B.J. Penn for the first time to win the lightweight championship.