MMA Stock Report for July: Who Rose, Who Fell, Who Stayed the Same
It was an interesting month, this July 2013. The pound-for-pound king was plucked from his perch. A new middleweight monarch rose up to replace him.
But there was more. There was an exciting UFC 162. There was an unexciting UFC on Fox 8. There was plenty of action on the minor league circuits. And, as always, there was plenty of crazy stuff going on outside of the cage.
Here's a look at those in the MMA community—fighters, promotions and even a whole city—that experienced a rise or fall this month in their stock rating. I know the headline says "stayed the same," but we don't play that on my watch. You're up or you're down, brah. That's that.
I originally was going to do 10, but I had to expand to 15. Here we go.
The 31-year-old Strikeforce transfer wasn't much more than a check in a box when he got his opportunity with the UFC. But Brian Melancon made plenty of the chance by knocking out Seth Baczynski in literally the last second of the first round of their Facebook prelim fight at UFC 162.
Now he gets another scrappy underdog in The Ultimate Fighter upstart Kelvin Gastelum. That should be fun. It goes down in late August at UFC Fight Night 27.
No recent TUF contestant had more momentum, either in the cage or in the court of public opinion, than Michael Chiesa. He experienced adversity on both fronts Saturday at UFC on Fox 8, when Chiesa tapped to Jorge Masvidal's D'Arce choke at 4:59 of the second round.
In the ensuing seconds, an agitated Chiesa pulled a Forrest Griffin, storming out of the cage without waiting for the official decision or congratulating Masvidal.
Can he recover? Of course he can. But even his leonine beard couldn't cover up the bad look for Chiesa Saturday night.
In her first fight since signing her first multifight deal with a national MMA promotion, Holly Holm delivered. The world's top-ranked female boxer and all-around physically attractive blonde woman won her debut for Legacy Fighting Championship with an exclamatory face-kick knockout.
Pretty auspicious, if you ask me. She's now 4-0 as an MMA fighter. Oh, and she fights at bantamweight, by the way. Just saying.
Late last week, Bellator dropped the hammer on two of its more nettlesome employees, middleweight Maiquel Falcao and welterweight Paul Daley. Both were released because of their various legal and criminal issues.
For Daley, it was mainly rooted in an old assault charge, and the visa problems it caused. For Falcao, it was (most recently anyway) a brutal gas station brawl that was caught on video. A friend of Falcao's who was very badly beaten in the altercation remains hospitalized in Brazil.
There appears to be a decent chance that Daley could find a soft landing in Great Britain's Cage Warriors promotion, where champion and UFC prospect Cathal Pendred awaits.
I see no such soft landing for Falcao.
That's in addition to all the general UFC broadcasting work he's been doing and will continue to do, plus the ACC football games he'll call for Fox Sports South. Not too shabby at all.
After he retired, Stann received accolades for "leaving at the right time." Good on him for doing so, but my point was and is that it's a lot easier for Stann to do that than your average fighter. But that's no reflection on Stann. He definitely earned this shot.
Shane Del Rosario
In the midst of other, higher-profile injury announcements, the noting of Shane del Rosario's injury in the runup to UFC 162 was more procedural than anything else. Card change announced, on to the next news cycle.
But when I saw the news that Del Rosario would miss his date with Dave Herman, it gave me a twinge. Coming up through M-1 and then Strikeforce, the California heavyweight never met a chin he couldn't break, notching eight knockout wins as part of an 11-0 record.
And then, on some random day and through no fault of his own, the car Del Rosario was driving was struck by a drunk driver. Del Rosario sustained a serious back injury. A bout with Daniel Cormier was scuttled, and Del Rosario was on the shelf for more than a year.
Still, the UFC snapped him up; he still had big-time potential, after all. His first fight in the UFC? A second-round TKO loss to Stipe Miocic. His second? A second-round flash knockout from Pat Barry.
The Barry fight was seven months ago. He got his shot with Herman, but his injury means his waiting will continue. He's only 29 years old, but Del Rosario's had a career's worth of misfortune. Here's hoping he turns it around some day. But as of now, it doesn't look like that day is coming anytime soon.
Fine, maybe it sounds like a bad Saturday morning cartoon. But that doesn't mean people aren't going to watch it.
After a Death Valley-low 0.3 mark in its debut, Fight Master: Bellator MMA steadily rose in the ratings. The show appeared to attract interest by allowing winning fighters to select their own coach, rather than the other way around. Plus, the fighters choose from a group of luminaries like Randy Couture and Greg Jackson.
After coach selection, the format changed, and the ratings took a hit. But it still seems the show may have some staying power. And hey, maybe the finale can air on pay-per-view. Right below that Roy Jones-Rampage Jackson Dunk Tank Showdown, or whatever it was.
The City of Seattle
Maybe I expected too much. Maybe my standards were too high for the beautiful northwestern city that gave us Payton and Kemp, Junior Griffey and The 12th Man (well, unless you count College Station, Texas, ahem).
Maybe I should take into account the fact that Seattle had hosted another UFC event just seven months before with UFC on Fox 8. Maybe I should remember the early West Coast start times or hard-to-resist Washington-state summer weather.
Maybe. Or maybe I should point out the cavernous echo of Key Arena even as the main card got underway. Or those constant choruses of Ric Flair-style "WOO!" ululations that bounced among those empty seats again and again throughout the evening.
I thought you were a better sports town than that, Seattle. I cluck my tongue in your general direction.
This one speaks for itself. The on-again, off-again Robbie Lawler ran his record in this particular UFC tour of duty to 2-0 with his win Saturday night. And he did it in style, with a temple-kick knockout of Bobby Voelker that would have been a Knockout of the Night shoo-in if the undercard hadn't included Melvin Guillard pounding Mac Danzig's life force out of his body.
Lawler, however, has had problems with top contenders throughout his career. Guys like Jacare Souza, Babalu Sobral, Nick Diaz, Jake Shields and Tim Kennedy. I'd like to see him get past someone like, say, Mike Pierce before we throw him in there with the Rorys and Condits of the world. Just a thought.
I believe I remember the film. A down-on-his-luck fighter reinvents himself. Suspension/probation behind him, he rededicates himself to training, perhaps with a new camp. He's in the best shape of his life. You're going to see a new guy, which much resembles the old guy.
Chris Leben isn't the only person to read this script into the void. Far from it. But when he looked flat and outmatched against Andrew Craig at UFC 162, he may have hit a personal in-cage nadir, given all that preceding cinema. And the fact that it's the first three-fight losing streak of his career.
The only thing he displayed in the fight was that same granite chin he's always had. How long will he be able to rely on that? No one knows, but unless something changes it may not be much longer.
Mark Munoz had his own personal struggles. He gained a lot of weight after losing to Chris Weidman in 2012, and spent a year away from the bright lights. He lost the weight but remained a wild card coming into his UFC 162 tilt with Tim Boetsch.
But the standout wrestler defeated Boetsch, and is now set to face Michael Bisping in the fall, perhaps with a title shot hanging in the balance. Not bad for one night's work.
How did you spend your July? Because T.J. Grant spent his pulling out of that lightweight title fight with Benson Henderson because of a concussion sustained during jiu-jitsu training, then defending himself against claims that the UFC compelled him to step aside so a flashier and famouser and previous Bendo-beater in Anthony Pettis could face Bendo in Pettis' hometown of Milwaukee.
That's not a good month.
Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino
No longer "Cyborg" Santos (following her divorce), Cristiane Justino stayed the same in MMA action, regardless of past. After pounding out a talented but overmatched Marloes Coenen at Invicta 6, Cyborg was Invicta's first featherweight champ and the owner of a 13-fight unbeaten streak.
Is there anyone else out there better suited to beating Ronda Rousey? I can't think of anyone.
I'm not going to rehash what has already been hashed into the ground, exhumed, burned, mixed with horse urine to form a thin slurry, rehashed, baked into a cake and fed to a dyspeptic elephant. I'm not going to do it.
Because as you know, Anderson Silva clowned too close to the flame at UFC 162 and paid for it. Middleweight champion and pound-for-pound king no more, at least for now. The rematch should be a bit interesting for the MMA GOAT. But at the moment...
See previous slide.
None of that is to say Chris Weidman didn't earn it. He's the total package, he's young, he's undefeated, he's charismatic and he's the first new UFC middleweight champ since before the invention of the microchip.
Yeah, it's pretty much Weidman's world right now. Yessssss.