So alot has been going on since I was away. Let's address this issue by issue:
Travis Lutter was officially cut from the UFC roster this past weekend. This cut along with the Kalib Starnes cut last week is the first of many coming from the UFC brass. They are finally coming to their senses in regards to the fact that simply being a TUF alum does not make you an instant draw. While both of these fighters are talented they were not dedicated to fighting. Kalib, since coming to the UFC, has been a total disappointment and never really pushed the pace in any of his fights. Lutter on the other hand is very talented but never applied himself athletically to training to be a real MMA fighter. These two are more than likely the beginning of possibly over 50 cuts coming in the very near future. While the rest of the cuts probably won't compare in name to these first two it is obvious that the UFC is sending a message. I agree that the UFC should cut down it's roster. Not only does it make financial sense because the guys they'll be losing most likely won't wind up being stars (if they are smart about who they cut) anywhere else. Ultimately it will free up the current roster to fight more often between more talented and/or entertaining fighters. It seems like the UFC only did this to horde talent away from other organizations which really doesn't make any sense considering the relative lack of top end talent at this point of MMA's progression. Hopefully this roster cut will also free up space for new and hopefully undiscovered talent to shine.
Can Hughes v. Alves and Bisping v. Leben save UFC 85? Probably not. After the buildup of a Lidell v. Shogun fight it's really difficult to regain the steam that was lost after both original main even fighters were scratched due to injury. While this provides a great opportunity for Alves to prove his worth at 170 and Bisping at 185 it is not an awe inspiring show and may not be worth the $45 no matter how many fights they throw on top of this card to put out the fire Lidell and Shogun left in their wake. This card will feature 12 fights as of right now. This is the most the UFC has put in on years. This is mostly to ensure that the fans who bought tickets will show as everyone at home will still most likely only see 5-6 fights as usual. While there are alot of interesting match ups on the card none of these fights stand out as must see TV. I think it'll be a last minute decision as to whether or not I watch.
Mirko "Cro Cop" finally makes his debut in DREAM after his miserable showing in the UFC at DREAM 4 sometime in June. While Jerome "Colossus" LeBanner is not a pushover hopefully this will be exactly what Cro Cop needs to re-establish himself as a force in the heavyweight division so he can come back to UFC and show fans in the US that his run in PRIDE was no joke.
Rob McCullough and Josh Koscheck look at making strong comebacks in statement fights trying to get closer towards title shots. McCullough will fight at the Pulver v. Faber headlined WEC event in June while Kos is looking to build momentum by beating Chris Lytle at UFC 86 in July. While Kos is at least 2-3 fights out of a title shot a good showing against Lytle can put him back in the mix for a rematch with GSP but this time for the title assuming GSP holds onto the title after fights against (most likely) Jon Fitch and (probably) Thiago Alves. Rob is looking for a really good showing against Ken Alexander to get an immediate rematch with Jamie Varner.
Kenny Florian v. Roger Huerta was announced this past weekend to take place at UFC 87 on August 9th. This fight is most likely for the #1 contender spot in the lightweight division after the champion is decided later this month between Sherk and Penn. While Huerta is not as deserving as Ken Flo, if he happens to beat Ken Flo I don't think the UFC has any choice but to give him a title shot considering his massive popularity with the mainstream audience since being MMA's poster boy on Sports Illustrated. This should be an amazing fight and I'm glad the lightweight division is finally producing some serious contenders for the title other than super lightweights Penn and Sherk who both spent time at 170.
Last but not least we'll take a quick look at DREAM 2:
In the lightweight grand prix round 1 rematch between JZ and Shinya Aoki due to a NC in the original fight a month ago Aoki forced JZ to fight his fight and ultimately wound up using his BJJ to negate any JZ attack which lead to a unanimous decision in favor of Aoki. This win puts Aoki into serious consideration for top 5 lightweight in the world.
Kazushi Sakuraba totally handled newcomer Andrews Nakahara. Hopefully DREAM can bring in some tougher competition for the Japanese legend.
Dennis Kang got caught in an armbar by Gegard Mousasi. This looks like the beginning of the end for Kang. He's had a long and what looked like a promising career especially in PRIDE. However, having lost 3 of his last four fights and the only win coming by split decision over no one in particular he does not seem long for this sport.
What a wild and crazy weekend people! It won't take long for another post TUF is on tomorrow night. Keep your ears up and your eyes open and get involved!
Soccer kicks and head stomps,