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MMA Roundup: UFC in Brazil, Strikeforce, Bellator

By on December 23, 2010

During a time of year when people seem to be looking back at the past 12 months or ahead to what the next year holds, most of the news has to do with upcoming MMA events that will be coming up before we know it. From the UFC’s announced return to Brazil to a new tournament weight class for Bellator, here’s what you can look forward to in the near future in MMA.

UFC goes back to Brazil, Gracie included?

The UFC rounded up some of their most popular Brazilian fighters to recently announce the organization’s long-awaited return to the home of many of the greatest MMA fighters in history. The event is pegged for August 27, 2011 and would mark the UFC’s first trip to Brazil since October of 1998.

A familiar name has already indicated his interest in being part of the event, as Renzo Gracie’s manager spoke out recently about how Gracie would like to be involved. “Having a UFC in Brazil without a Gracie wouldn’t make sense,” he said. Sure, that may sound about right…but who would he fight? He didn’t look that good against Matt Hughes, after all.

Furthermore, with the wealth of great Brazilian fighters on the UFC’s roster nowadays (including current champions Anderson Silva, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Jose Aldo), there are plenty of marketable options that deserve a spot on the card. Clearly, any Brazilian fighter on the roster would be glad to fight on the card, too. Why give one of those spots to someone who may be an important fighter to the history of the sport but whose best days have long past?

Bellator to debut light heavyweight tournament next season

Speaking of Gracies, Bellator will finally have a light heavyweight tournament in its next season, and one of the participants will be none other than Daniel Gracie. Bellator’s CEO, Bjorn Rebney, says that he’s always had the goal of having a tournament to crown a 205 pound champion, but wanted to wait until there was enough talent to ensure that it would be a success.

Gracie began his career in Japan, fighting in Pride as well as at 2002’s installment of Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye. He had a 3-1 record before fighting in the now-defunct IFL, and brings a 5-2-1 record to Bellator, though he has fought just once in the last four years. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the field fills out, as well as how Gracie will look after such a long layoff leading up to his recent win over Martin Wojcik.

Jan. 29 Strikeforce filling out, though without Mayhem

Not only will Jason “Mayhem” Miller not be fighting Nick Diaz in January’s Strikeforce event, but he also will not be fighting at all, apparently.

Miller was thought to at least be facing Tim Kennedy, if not Diaz, but neither is happening now, for whatever reason. Diaz will instead defend his welterweight title against Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos, who has only had one fight at 170 pounds, but does look really scary, which is something. Cyborg’s win at welterweight was against Marius Zaromskis, who had himself previously been dispatched in the first round by Diaz, so you go ahead and figure that one out, will ya?

In any case, that fight’s happening, as is Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza’s middleweight title defense against Robbie Lawler, who like Cyborg, is 2-2 in his last four fights. Meanwhile, Roger Gracie (this is a Gracie-filled Roundup) will take on Trevor Prangley, who is fresh off of a very close decision win over Keith Jardine. Not very “fresh”, though, since he’s 38 years old, but you know what I mean.

But wait, there’s more! Fans have clamored for more of young MMA superstar Herschel Walker ever since Walker impressively dispatched MMA superstar Greg Nagy in a remarkable debut. Well, Strikeforce is giving us all a late Christmas gift, as Walker will finally return to the cage at 48 years young to face the imposing Scott Carson. Will Walker continue his painfully-slow ascent to the title? Will Strikeforce keep televising the bouts of someone who is essentially an amateur MMA fighter? And finally, when will Strikeforce just create a “sideshow division” where Walker and others, including Dave Batista, Jose Canseco and Kimbo Slice can safely do battle without having to worry about facing actual professional MMA fighters?

Okay, the card isn’t too bad, other than the Walker bout. I’m not too sure how well-deserved the title shots are (even as a Lawler fan), but you can’t argue with the entertainment factor, either.

Ortiz-Minotoro moved to UFC Fight Night 24?

Those of you who have been breathlessly awaiting Herschel Walker’s next bout may also be counting the days until you can get another glimpse of fast-rising MMA prospect Tito Ortiz. Well, you’re in luck, because the man who was just defeated by the great Matt Hamill will be facing Antonio “Minotoro” Nogueira soon, but possibly not on a pay-per-view card. Instead, it’s being said that the fight will be on March 26 during a UFC Fight Night card in Seattle, WA.

It’s always good to see the UFC stick with young fighters who hit a rough patch but have a world of potential, and surely Ortiz will reward their patience by putting together a lengthy UFC title reign at some point. Who cares how many other fighters must be cut in order to subsidize Ortiz’s bloated salary?

Quick Shots

–Speaking of cuts, Dustin Hazelett now joins a pretty impressive group of UFC castoffs that include Todd Duffee, “The Ultimate Fighter” winner Efrain Escudero, Gerald Harris, and the man who beat Fedor Emelianenko himself, Fabricio Werdum. Hazelett has lost four of six, which is pretty bad. However, he’s also 24 years old! Surely the UFC should exercise some discretion if they are going to sign such young athletes and expect them to blossom into elite fighters. Hazelett’s cut isn’t nearly as bad as the others, though.

I can’t help but think that the WEC should have been kept around as a feeder organization for the UFC. Young fighters like Hazelett shouldn’t just be dropped completely. The UFC wants these guys to go to “smaller organizations” and get a few wins before coming back, so why not have the “smaller organization” be a Zuffa-owned one? I’m sure people would still tune in to watch Duffee, Hazelett, Harris, Escudero and others fight in the WEC, right? Stephan Bonnar could headline! Hell, under that scenario, Mac Danzig vs. Joe Stevenson could have been a WEC fight.

–Don’t cry for our boy Duffee, though. He may be facing none other than Alistair Overeem on New Year’s Eve in Japan in the aptly-subtitled “Dynamite: The Power of Courage 2010″ event being co-promoted by Dream and K-1.

On second thought, that may not be such great news for Duffee, so go ahead and cry for him, after all. Being cut by the UFC, then fed to Ubereem? Yikes.

E-Mail Jon Hartley

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