05-08-2012, 02:29 PM
1st Four to Final Four
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Morning Report: Dominick Cruz Becomes the Latest Victim of the TUF Coaching Curse
May 8, 2012 - We've heard of the Madden Curse, the Curse of the Billy Goat, and Cleveland's Basic Existence, but after yesterday's big news, it seems like mixed martial arts now has it's own unlucky cloud from which the occasional bad juju drizzles down. Let's just call it the Curse of the TUF Coaches.
Dominick Cruz and his torn ACL joins a who's who list of recent The Ultimate Fighter coaches to see their match-ups go up in flames well before fight night.
The running list: Jackson-Evans gets put on ice for half-a-year because of Rampage's Hollywood aspirations, Liddell-Ortiz III disintegrates along with Ortiz's neck nerves, Lesnar-dos Santos is doomed by the ghost of diverticulitis, and now this -- the UFC bantamweight champion suffers the mother of all injuries midway through the first live TUF taping in UFC history. That's problems in four out of the past six seasons, in case you were keeping count.
Where we go from here isn't clear, but there are really two main issues to address. 1.) What do we do with Urijah Faber, UFC 148, and the state of the bantamweight division? 2.) What happens with Cruz's coaching spot on the show?
Now, issue No. 1 is much easier to address than No. 2, though each potentially impacts the other. First things first, as much as it sucks, there really isn't any other choice but to create an interim bantamweight strap. Cruz is going to be out another nine months, at best, and we don't need the 135-pound division going the way of lightweight or welterweight.
Right now the consensus top-2 guys to fight Faber in an interim match are Renan Barao or Michael McDonald, and either has a legitimate case for a shot at the interim belt. That being said, I'd shade towards Barao because a hit-list of Escovedo/Pickett/Jorgensen is more impressive than Cariaso/Soto/Torres, plus he's already prepping to fight Ivan Menjivar in a No. 1 contender match at UFC 148.
So, why not keep Faber in the co-main event, flip Barao and his 29-fight unbeaten streak off the preliminaries and into the title slot, and bring in either McDonald or Brad Pickett to take onMenjivar in a new contenders bout. (For those who say it's unfair to Menjivar, keep in mind that Barao-Menjivar was a No. 1 contender match in the same way that Rashad Evans-Phil Davis was a No. 1 contender match.)
Problem No. 2 is much more difficult, however, regardless of whether you favor Barao or McDonald. The thing is, neither of them would be any good as the new coach of Team Cruz. Barao doesn't speak English well, and five months ago McDonald couldn't even get into a bar, let alone order a Jack and Coke.
Ideally, Cruz could still keep up with coaching duties for the rest of the season, but really, that's a pretty selfish request for us to make. So for now it looks like we're stuck in limbo, grasping for something that resembles a right answer. (As if the UFC didn't have enough to worry about already.)
5 MUST-READ STORIES
Dominick Cruz tears ACL. UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz tore his ACL while training on The Ultimate Fighter: Live and was pulled from his anticipated UFC 148 title defense against Urijah Faber. UFC officials have yet to announce Faber's status on the card or whether an interim belt will be created.
Urijah Faber wants to fight Renan Barao for interim title. Longtime WEC champ Urijah Faber both tweeted and released a video asking to fight upstart contender Renan Barao at UFC 148 for the interim bantamweight strap (and subtly implied that Ronda Rousey caused Dominick Cruz's ACL tear).
The MMA Hour. Ariel Helwani is back in your life with a packed lineup for The MMA Hour featuring Chael Sonnen, BJ Penn, Sean Sherk, Don Frye, Renzo Gracie, Braulio Estima, Mike Chandler and MMA Fighting's Ben Fowlkes.
Nate Marquardt vs. Tyron Woodley for Strikeforce welterweight title. Verbal agreements are in place for a July bout pitting Nate Marquardt against Tyron Woodley to decide the rightful heir to the vacant Strikeforce welterweight strap.
Michael Bisping 'pissed off' at Hector Lombard's future title shot. UFC mainstay Michael Bisping didn't shy away from venting his frustration regarding the promotion's plans to fast-track former Bellator champion Hector Lombard into a title shot.
I'll let Tim Kennedy sell you on this one: "You want to see me dancing like a fairy in a Kimono, licking a sword, and prancing around in ranger panties, (then) watch this!"
Another overlooked nugget of violence from the weekend: this 34-second barnburner between Bellator veteran Zelg Galesic and former WEC light heavyweight champ Doug Marshall from Super Fight League 3. (Fight starts at 4:24 for the impatient.)
Chael Sonnen has been making the media rounds to promote his new book, but you could take a hundred guesses and we'd bet you'd never guess what his talking point is for this promo clip. (HT: Middle Easy)
Former UFC bruiser Marcus Davis is inching towards middle-age, so taking his talents to kickboxing probably wasn't the best idea. Just a warning: this one is a little brutal to watch. (HT: Bloody Elbow)