In this video, Dave Noseworthy discusses the MMA pioneer Vitor Belfort’s last UFC appearance this coming weekend at UFC St. Louis.
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Refereeing’s Loss is Bellator’s Gain
When former Bellator color commentator Jimmy Smith left the organization last week, not many expected MMA veteran referee, John McCarthy, to be his replacement. There is little doubt that McCarthy will make an excellent color analyst. However, it’s hard not to be disappointed that the sport is losing one of the best and most experienced referees.
McCarthy has been part of the fabric of MMA and the UFC in particular, since 1993. He was hugely influential in creating and enforcing the rules of the cage that have changed MMA into the respected sport it is today. Back in early to mid-nineties, the ‘sport’ was fairly labeled by some critics as ‘human cockfighting’. Without McCarthy as an instrumental player in changing regulations and rules, who knows where the MMA would be today.
What we have grown to appreciate most about McCarthy over the past two decades is how simple he makes this tough job look, which can be credited to years of experience and dedication. To the layman, it would appear that it’s a simple as stopping the fight when a fighter is knocked out or submitted. MMA fans know there’s a lot more to it than that.
It’s difficult to remember a moment in recent memory where McCarthy has let a fight go too long, or even stopped a fight too soon. His timing is almost always perfect. His composure and rationale in the cage are unmatched. When McCarthy is the third man in the Octagon we know the fighters are in safe hands.
It’s worth reiterating how important McCarthy is in maintaining the standard of referring and judging in the sport. The sport of MMA is still very young and is growing rapidly and so are the rules. The former LAPD police officer created his own training school known as C.O.M.M.A.N.D. The course teaches the next generation of MMA referees and judges, and there is no better person to be educated by. Referees must complete this or a similar course run by Herb Dean to be licensed as an official.
Former fighter Frank Trigg, who has pursued refereeing since his career wound down, has taken the course. He recently appeared on The MMA Hour to explain just how tough C.O.M.M.A.N.D is. It took Trigg three attempts to pass, emphasizing just how difficult a career path officiating is.
While ‘Big John’ as he is more affectionately known hasn’t completely left refereeing, he will likely no longer be seen in the cage at the biggest shows. The pool of referees trusted with the big title fights is rather small. Normally McCarthy and Herb Dean are tasked with the important title fights.
It’s not all bad that McCarthy is stepping aside for the time being. The likes of Mark Smith, Jason Herzog, and Chris Tognoni have all shown they are capable officials. There is now a great opportunity for them to move into the main event slots. There are also the likes of Yves Lavigne, Mike Beltran and Marc Goddard who can be trusted to referee the big fights.
While it is surprising, it’s understandable that McCarthy is looking for new career ventures. It is no secret that MMA referees are poorly paid relative to other sporting officials. Las Vegas often discloses referee pay when assignments are announced. The pay tends to range between $1000 and $2000 for the night. Trigg explained on The MMA hour that there is no money in becoming a referee and that most also have full-time jobs. McCarthy’s passion for the sport of MMA has been the biggest incentive for refereeing. It is totally understandable that he would take a bigger payday and put all his knowledge of the sport to good use in the commentary booth.
McCarthy will almost certainly be as dedicated to his new job as he was with his refereeing duties. He can also offer a fascinating insight into the officiating of a fight that nobody else can offer. If there wasn’t already an excuse to watch Bellator 192 on January 20th, headlined by Rory MacDonald vs Douglas Lima, then there most definitely is now.
Could Miocic vs Ngannou be one of the biggest heavyweight title fights of all time?
When you think of great heavyweight title fights, fights like Lesnar vs Carwin, Couture vs Sylvia, and Lesnar vs Velasquez may spring to mind. Each and every fight mentioned epitomises what the heavyweight division is all about. The baddest men on the planet taking each other on to become the unofficial ‘baddest man on the planet.’
On January 20th, Cleveland’s own Stipe Miocic will defend his heavyweight title against Francis Ngannou and it has all the makings of a heavyweight classic. But just how good can this fight become?
In one corner you have Stipe Miocic, the defending heavyweight champion. He is a part-time firefighter and a full-time bad ass. Despite being at the pinnacle of MMA, Miocic continues to work at his local fire department whilst defending his strap. It’s part of what makes Miocic so lovable, his down to Earth lifestyle and mentality makes him relatable to many.
Although the focus is on the ferocious striking of the man he is facing, Miocic has some of the best boxing in MMA, he is currently on a streak of four first-round knockouts where has displayed frightening power and skill, dismantling heavyweight greats like Arlovski, Werdum, Overeem and Dos Santos in spectacular fashion. Miocic also possesses the movement of a middleweight and has very good wrestling skills, when he chooses to use them.
Miocic’s last 5 fights
- UFC 211: Stipe Miocic (c) def. Junior Dos Santos via TKO (punches) – Round 1, time 2:22
- UFC 203: Stipe Miocic (c) def. Alistair Overeem via KO (punches) – Round 1, time 4:27
- UFC 198: Stipe Miocic def. Fabricio Werdum (c) via KO (Punch) – Round 1, time 2:47
- UFC 195: Stipe Miocic def. Andrei Arlovski via TKO (punches) – Round 1, time 0:54
- UFC FN 65: Stipe Miocic def. Mark Hunt via TKO (punches) – Round 5, time 2:47
This fight could be a historic one for Miocic who could be the most dominant UFC heavyweight champion since the company’s inception in 1993. A win over Ngannou would see him set the record for the most consecutive title defenses with a total of 3.
In the opposing corner is the man looking to become Africa’s first UFC champion, Francis Ngannou. The heavyweight division seems to be like a revolving door at the top and Ngannou wants to continue that trend by stopping Miocic from breaking the record of consecutive defenses.
Ngannou has an incredible story and has incredible ability. It’s seen him become one of the most popular fighters on the roster despite being with the UFC for only 2 years.
So far in his short UFC career, Ngannou has justified the hype that surrounds him. Since his UFC debut in December 2015, Ngannou is yet to go to a decision and has won each of his 6 UFC bouts. Like Miocic, Ngannou is on a streak of four first-round finishes.
Ngannou’s last 5 fights
- UFC 218: Francis Ngannou def. Alistair Overeem via KO (punch) Round 1, time 1:42
- UFC on Fox Shevchenko vs Pena: Francis Ngannou def. Andrei Arlovski via TKO (punches) Round 1, time 1:32
- UFC FN 102: Francis Ngannou def. Anthony Hamilton via Submission (Kimura) Round 1, time 1:57
- UFC on Fox Holm vs Shevchenko: Francis Ngannou def. Bojan Mihajlovic via TKO (punches) Round 1, time 1:34
- UFC FN 86: Francis Ngannou def. Curtis Blaydes via TKO (doctor stoppage) Round 2, time 5:00
Ngannou is a big heavyweight with freakishly powerful striking. His knock out of Alistair Overeem garnered plenty of attention due to the brutal nature of the uppercut he landed. But it was just a snippet of what Ngannou is capable of.
This fight is the best heavyweight fight for years on paper and it really feels important for the division. Will Stipe break the record or will the unstoppable force beat the immovable object?
This fight feels like it could end up being one of the greatest heavyweight title fights of all time. It’s been a while since we’ve seen two heavyweights in their prime go head to head for a truly spectacular stand up scrap and that’s exactly what we’re getting here.
The fight could potentially be over within one minute and the odds will probably be in favor of a first-round finish, especially given each man’s recent run. But what an exciting minute that would be. Knowing that both fighters have the skill and raw power to end the fight at any moment. That excitement is something the heavyweight division has missed for a long time. Even if the fight doesn’t turn into the classic slugfest we would like it to be, this fight will remain an important one which could see the tide of the heavyweight division turn to a new, positive direction. Whether it’s the most dominant champion ever or the young stud, the heavyweight division is in good hands.
These are the two most marketable heavyweights right now, two of the most popular heavyweights right now and two of the biggest hitters right now. Only one will be considered the baddest man on the planet come the 20th of January. Who’s your money on?
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