Both Yahoo! and MMAWeekly.com had correspondents in New Castle this weekend to cover UFC 80. Here are some of the bigger revelations to come out of the event, with my thoughts included. I’ve also added some other UFC-related news that came out over the weekend, in case you missed it:
- Arloski’s next fight looking like O’Brien: Various sites are reporting that Andrei Arlovski is expected to face Jake O’Brien at UFC 82 in Columbus, Ohio on March 2 in a story we reported earlier this week. This match has yet to officially been signed but O’Brien is expected to sign a bout agreement soon. No word on what Arlovski’s plans are but it looks like he might not have any other choice but to accept the fight if he still wants to become a free agent on April 15. Sounds to me that the UFC is resigned to the fact that Arlovski is unwilling to commit to the promotion long-term and the UFC wants to do everything they can to send him out with a loss. O’Brien’s style will make it very tough for Arlovski to impose his will. It’s good match making from a business standpoint for the UFC. O’Brien isn’t a major name right now so if he loses to Arlovski then it means he got a win against someone that isn’t one of the promotion’s key players. And if O’Brien pulls off the upset, it hurts Arlovski’s market value and makes O’Brien a more well known commodity.
- White confirms Oritz vs. Machida match speculation: UFC president Dana White reportedly said that Tito Ortiz will be fighting again in May, so long as he signs a bout agreement to face Lyoto Machida. Like Arlovski, it looks like the UFC will be pulling a power play of sorts with Ortiz. Ortiz has one fight left on his contract and is due to become a free agent in June. If he doesn’t take the Machida fight then he runs the risk of not being granted free agency. All indications that I’ve heard is that Ortiz does not want this fight but may have no choice but to accept it. He’d like to fight more of a marquee name that will draw a bigger buyrate but with one fight left on his current contract, the UFC is unlikely to risk having a marketable fighter lose to someone who could potentially be fighting for another promotion soon.
- White says Cro Cop uncertain about next move: According to White, Mirko Cro Cop is undecided about his future. Huh? Didn’t he just say on the Hustle show that he’s committed to MMA and that he won’t continue to disappoint his fans? Cro Cop’s camp is continually saying he’s re-focusing himself while White says Cro Cop is uncertain about fighting. What’s the real story? Is Cro Cop not being sincere or is the UFC trying to re-negotiate with Cro Cop so they can schedule him for fights without having to pay such a bloated guarantee?
- Davis still wants a shot at Gomi: Marcus Davis has asked in the past for a match against Takanori Gomi and reportedly asked for it again last night. While their styles would mesh well, I’m not sure we’ll see Gomi face Davis if he were to sign with the UFC. I’m not sure if he can make 155 pounds, but they money needed to bring him in wouldn’t be well spent if he was simply going to be inserted into the UFC’s crowded welterweight division.
- UFC awards lower bonuses after UFC 80: The UFC awarded several $35,000 bonuses after the show. Wilson Gouveia received knockout of the night, B.J. Penn got the bonus for submission of the night, and the fight of the night bonus went to Paul Kelly and Paul Taylor. No word as to why the bonuses were $35,000 as opposed to $55,000 but my guess is because the European shows are still losing money. That makes and everything, but if I’m B.J. Penn, why would I agree to fight in Europe again if I know my potential bonus won’t be as much as it would if I were fighting in the U.S.? Twenty thousand dollars is a huge difference.