Dana White couldn’t put Holly Holm-Ronda Rousey rematch at risk

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Just over a month after Holly Holm shocked the world by knocking out Ronda Rousey at UFC 193, Holm’s manager Lenny Fresquez told the Los Angeles Times that he’d like Holly to defend her bantamweight title against Miesha Tate while Rousey recovered from her long list of injuries suffered at the hands and feet of Holm.

It only took 36 hours for UFC president Dana White to blow up Fresquez’s fantasy. White told the L.A. Times that Rousey is up next for Holm. The UFC is targeting July 9th for the fight in the new Las Vegas arena.

Despite Fresquez’s wishes to keep Holm away from an eight month layoff, it’s easy to see why White wouldn’t dare risk a loss by Holm before her rematch against Rousey.

UFC 193 was the second largest pay-per-view event in the history of the company with over one million buys. Holm-Rousey II as the main event of UFC 200 would have a great chance of surpassing the record mark of 1.6 million buys set by UFC 100.

There’s just simply no reason for White to put Holm against a formidable opponent in (17-5) Tate. Even though Miesha is perhaps best known for tapping out to Ronda at UFC 168, she’s in the upper tier of fighters in the bantamweight division and Holm’s performances before KO’ing Rousey were lackluster to say the least.

In February, Holm made her UFC debut and defeated (5-4) Raquel Pennington by split decision. Holm showed improvement from her horrendous debut in July when she defeated 38-year old Marion Reneau, but it was nothing compared to the comfort level she showed in the octagon against Rousey.

White is smart enough of a business man to understand that a rematch between Holm and Rousey has appeal that goes beyond just the bubble of sports. Ronda Rousey is his biggest star (shhhh…. don’t tell Conor McGregor) and her comeback story is going to grab the attention of people who normally don’t feel the need to order a UFC PPV, which is exactly the sweet spot any promoter wants to reach.

Even though Rousey recently told ESPN the Magazine that she is facing a long recovery after her loss to Holm, it’s in the best interest of White to preserve what could be the biggest fight in UFC history.

Twitter: @ScottDargis

Floyd Mayweather to start MMA training ‘soon’

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Floyd Mayweather beat Conor McGregor in the boxing ring back in August. Now, Mayweather is eyeing a turn in the octagon.

The 41-year-old Mayweather, who retired from boxing following his win over McGregor, confirmed to TMZ Sports that he would “soon” begin training with UFC welterweight champ Tyron Woodley.

Mayweather thinks it will take him less than a year to acclimate to MMA.

“Even if it takes six-to-eight months, whatever it takes, we want to make sure that everything is done correctly, is done the right way,” Mayweather said.

Mayweather doesn’t believe his skill-set will require extensive improvement. He graded his wrestling skills as “probably a seven” out of 10, but he could “take it up to a nine if possible.” His real weakness is kicking, which Mayweather graded as just a four. But his hand game? “On a scale of 1-10, it’s 100.”

Mayweather was hesitant to say who he would face in his MMA debut, though he was asked directly about a rematch with McGregor.

“I really don’t know,” he said. “We can’t say. That’s why I pause, you know?  I can’t really say, you know? I have to talk to my team, speak with my father and then see how it’s gonna play out.”

Like his boxing match with McGregor, Mayweather and his team want “the right numbers and we would make it happen.”

Tony Ferguson betting favorite against Kevin Lee in UFC 216 main event

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A nine-fight win streak and fight fans’ preference to see strikers win out over grinders might be why Tony Ferguson is such a big favorite against Kevin Lee at UFC 216.

Ferguson is the -225 betting favorite with Lee coming back at +175 as they meet for the interim lightweight title at UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Saturday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

As noted, Ferguson has won his last nine bouts, ending six early for a nice 66.7 percent rate. For his part, Lee has won five consecutive bouts, ending four early.

Ferguson prefers to work at distance with jabs and kicks, gradually chipping away at his opponent. The 33-year-old is a more well-rounded fighter than the 25-year-old Lee, so laying chalk is justifiable since this bout could go either way.

There is a good case to take Lee and the plus money, though. Lee is far beyond the typical lightweight in how often he attempts takedowns and how often he winds up gaining control. Succeeding in that strategy would leave Ferguson unable to use his best assets.

Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (-1200) is a massive favorite against Ray Borg (+700). Johnson is simply too complete a fighter to lose against a boxer-wrestler type such as Borg, but Borg has a great ability to get off of his back and will make Johnson work for the win. Eleven of the last 14 UFC fights (78.6 percent) in which one fighter was a favorite of -1200 or more ended with a stoppage, and based on form Johnson should extend the trend.

The potential upset on the main card involves the heavyweight tilt between former champion Fabricio Werdum (-260) and Derrick Lewis (+200). Werdum’s weakness is his striking defense and Lewis has secured 16 of his 18 career MMA wins via knockout, which seems like a lethal combination in Lewis’ favour. Werdum’s chances of winning likely rest on him wearing Lewis down or getting a takedown that sets up a submission.

As well, Beneil Dariush (-240) is favored against Evan Dunham (+190) on the UFC 216 odds in a lightweight bout that is likely to be heavy on grappling, increasing the possibility of it going the distance. Four of Dariush’s last eight fights were decided by a decision, while Dunham’s four-fight win streak consists entirely of victories by decision.

As long as Dariush stays aggressive in the stand-up game – and he likely won’t have to worry about walking into a devastating punch against a grinder like Dunham – he should be able to get the win.

And Kalindra Faria (-200) is favored against UFC newcomer Mara Romero Borella (+160), a replacement opponent who took the fight after  Andrea Lee was pulled out for not having an up-to-date anti-doping clearance.

Faria is the more seasoned fighter and her ability to throw combinations has helped her score knockouts in more than half of her 18 career professional wins. Romero Borella is undefeated in her last six fights, but prior to that was finished by strikes in three consecutive fights, so there’s potential for an early ending.