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MMA Roundup-Fitch, Sonnen, Strikeforce’s Scott Coker

By on June 18, 2010

jon fitchWe’ve got a great weekend ahead of us, and the talk of the MMA world is the upcoming TUF 11 Finale on Spike TV. Still, don’t be foolish and overlook this weekend’s WEC event, as the WEC shows are often among the best in the sport on a regular basis. In the meantime, here are some recent news stories along with my (completely unbiased!) reactions to hold you over and get you caught up on what’s been going down lately.

Fitch Would Move to Middleweight to Avoid Fight With Kos

Many teammates and friends- Rashad Evans and Keith Jardine, or any combination of the Anderson Silva/Lyoto Machida/Antonio Rogerio Nogueira trio, for example- have said that they will not fight one another. Jon Fitch, though, has gone so far as to provide an alternate path that would keep him from a fight with training partner Josh Koscheck, should Kos be successful in his fight to take Georges St. Pierre’s welterweight strap.

“It’s a situation where, if Koscheck is able to win the belt and defend the belt, I will move up to 185,” Fitch told Sportsnet.ca. Fitch says that he will have already fought “every welterweight worth fighting” by the time Kos and St. Pierre face off, anyway. That part is actually pretty much true.

The only thing I take issue with is Fitch’s statement that there’s no reason to fight a teammate. Well, if your goal is to be the best fighter in your weight class in the world, and your teammate has the title, that’s a pretty good reason, right? Also, you have to wonder if Koscheck would do the same thing for Fitch, if he were the title holder. It’s a tough situation, for sure. In the end, you’re sacrificing endorsements, more money and the chance to add a championship to your legacy because you don’t want to punch your training partner in the face. Is it worth it? To Fitch, it appears to be.

Chael Sonnen Extends Disrespect to Nogueira Brothers

Like I said a week ago, Sonnen is taking this trash-talking persona (which in all fairness, got him a title shot) a bit too far. Now, Sonnen has trashed two of the nicest guys and best competitors in the sport: the Nogueira brothers. My own words can’t do it justice. Here’s what Sonnen had to say at a UFC 115 question and answer session with fans:

“”He’s [Anderson Silva] got a black belt under the Nogueira brothers. I think a black belt under the Nogueira brothers is like saying, ‘I got a free toy in my happy meal.’ I don’t really understand what the big deal is; one of them is a punching bag and the other one I just ignore. He’s really irrelevant.”

Wow. I really could get behind Sonnen’s feisty attitude when he was playing the “Silva needs to be taught a lesson in humility, and I’m the one to do it” act. Now, though, he is becoming a bit of a jackass, simply insulting whomever he feels like insulting for no apparent reason. Comparing one of the best accomplishments that a martial artist could ever have- a jiu-jitsu black belt from a reputable instructor- to a Happy Meal toy is pretty ignorant. And what is the end game, here? He’s already got the title shot, is he just trying to ensure that Silva really takes it to him? What would be the desirable outcome of that, exactly?

I think a lot of fans are not going to know who to cheer for, at this point: the bored superstar whose head has grown too big or the cocky loudmouth who hasn’t really accomplished anything of note to back up his talk.

Coker Speaks Out on King Mo-Babalu, Kimbo Slice, Middleweight Tournament

A trio of Strikeforce stories follow, thanks to the organization’s CEO, Scott Coker. First of all, Coker took a decidedly-Dana approach on the issue of Renato “Babalu” Sobral not wanting to fight teammate “King Mo” Lawal. “I know that they’re friends, but sometimes friends in this business have to get it on,” he said when asked about a possible fight between the two. Babalu maintains that he will not fight his buddy, and says he is more interested in a fight with Dan Henderson, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens. At least we found one thing that Coker and Dana White can agree on, in the meantime.

Coker also commented on the newly-unaffiliated Kimbo Slice, whose UFC career ended with a thud when he was beaten decisively by Matt Mitrione at UFC 113. After giving Kimbo his props for trying what is a very difficult sport, Coker finished by saying, “for Kimbo to come into the MMA world, I give him a lot of respect. He tried it. And you know what, some things are just maybe better to let them go on their way.” This would seem to be a pretty good indication that Slice will not be joining Strikeforce anytime soon. Of course, with the signings of Valentijn Overeem and Sergei Kharitonov to fill out the heavyweight roster, Coker doesn’t seem to be too concerned about letting a profitable fighter go by. You have to wonder if Strikeforce is perhaps passing because Kimbo’s sticker price is still too high, or because they don’t want to be perceived as a promotion that eats up the UFC’s garbage. Otherwise, why pass on a guy that can give you good ratings for a fight or two? How can you have Herschel Walker on your roster, but not Kimbo?

Finally, Coker’s plan so far in the event that Jake Shields vacates his middleweight title and leaves for the UFC is to stage a middleweight tournament to crown a new champ, which seems like a pretty good idea. Coker said that Tim Kennedy, who impressed at Strikeforce’s LA show this past week, would definitely have a slot in the possible eight-man tourney. Others would include Dan Henderson, Robbie Lawler, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Kazuo Misaki and either Scott Smith or Cung Le, depending on which fighter is victorious in their upcoming rematch.

Such a tournament sounds like a lot of fun for MMA fans to me. I do miss the old school tournament format sometimes, even if I don’t think fighters should be facing more than one opponent in a single night. If done right, though, a tournament allows promotions to have a solid champion by default, as someone has to win three in a row in order to win the title. When you bring in a guy like Henderson and have him lose immediately, then see Lawler lose for the second time in three fights, what else can you do?

E-Mail Jon Hartley

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