Shaquille O’Neal Says He Could Last 45 Seconds Versus Ronda Rousey

Hall of Fame center Shaquille O’Neal believes he could step into the world of mixed martial arts and perform better against UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey than some of her previous challengers. 

OK, so maybe Shaq didn’t explicitly say that, but he did say during TNT’s Inside the NBA he could “last 45 seconds” with Rousey, a time stamp that is significantly better than the 14 seconds of cage time enjoyed by the most recent challenger, Cat Zingano (h/t Fox Sports). Before Zingano, Alexis Davis lasted just 16 seconds with Rousey, so Shaq’s claim of 45 seconds would be nearly triple the benchmark set by other professional fighters.  

Let’s be clear: Any talk of Rousey is silly and should only be discussed in good fun. Shaq embraces the idea of “good fun.” 

Besides being an MMA fan, Shaq has trained MMA and Brazilian jiu-jitsu for years, so he’s somewhat qualified to estimate how long he’d last against the likes of Rousey. 

He’s also a giant, if you weren’t aware. 

At 7’1″ and 324 pounds, Shaq was a man among boys during his 19-year NBA career. He frequently overpowered and embarrassed other 7-footers, and he’s likely put on some weight since his days on the hardwood. 

Against Rousey, the size difference would be comical, and I truly don’t know whether Rousey’s technique would be enough to get the job done without tiring him out a bit first. A guess of 45 seconds seems entirely reasonable when we’re talking about a man of Shaq’s sheer size and strength. 

What do you think? Is Shaq overestimating himself, or could he really last 45 seconds with Rousey inside the UFC Octagon?

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TUF 21 American Top Team vs. Blackzilians: Episode 6 Recap and Results

With American Top Team finally on the board, could it keep the momentum in its favor to make it two victories in a row? Or would the Blackzilians be able to recover and get back the win that ATT picked up in the previous episode of The Ultimate Fighter 21?

The score is 100-50 Blackzilians, and the show basically got down to business right away. ATT picked one of its most experienced fighters, Marcelo Alfaya, to take on hungry, unheralded Blackzilian Jason Jackson.

When fight time came along, things did not go the way many expected it to.

Alfaya, the veteran savage who has fought under the bright lights, put forth an incredibly underwhelming performance against his counterpart. Meanwhile, Jackson, the less experienced fighter of the two, used quickness, a tight jab and takedown defense to thwart any offense from Alfaya.

Jackson stuck and moved, while Alfaya barely put out enough offense for the audience to notice he was there. Alfaya rarely shot for takedowns, something he should have combined with the clinch to stifle Jackson.

It simply didn’t happen.

Jackson won a majority decision and brought things back to the Blackzilian gym. He also raised the score to 150-50, as his team continues to dominate a baffled ATT.

Once again, Dana White was critical of the fight, and I can’t blame him. There was no urgency from either fighter to finish impressively, especially from Alfaya.

 

Season Results

Winner Loser Points Leader
Kamaru Usman (BLK) Mike Graves (ATT) 25 Blackzilians lead 25-0
Luiz Firmino (BLK) Uros Jurisic (ATT) 25 Blackzilians lead 50-0
Valdir Araujo (BLK) Steve Carl (ATT) 25 Blackzilians lead 75-0
Carrington Banks (BLK) Sabah Homasi (ATT) 25 Blackzilians lead 100-0
Hayder Hassan (ATT) Andrews Nakahara (BLK) 50 Blackzilians lead 100-50
Jason Jackson (BLK) Marcelo Alfaya (ATT) 50 Blackzilians lead 150-50

 

Notes and Observations

  • Alfaya is crazy. Like, really scary. He’s the type of guy who gets cut off in traffic, punches the offender’s window in and drags them out of their car. Just watch his pre-fight breathing bit that had Nathan Coy and Mike Graves laughing their butts off.
  • Speaking of Alfaya, in the aftermath of his fight, he told his coaches that he was conserving his energy in the fightespecially in the first round. That is a terrible strategy, especially in a two-round fight. You have to take the Hayder Hassan approach, where you go in aggressively and look to finish early and often.
  • According to the preview for the next episode, since it is halfway through the competition, the coaches will have the option to bring on a maximum of two new fighters and exchange them for fighters currently on the squad. I would assume the Blackzilians won’t exchange anybody, but seeing as Steve Montgomery left the show already and ATT is struggling, I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least one new ATT member. In looking at ATT‘s roster of welterweights, some of its choices could be Joe Ray, Karl Amoussou or some other surprise appearance. Either way, ATT is in desperate need of changes.

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Jon Jones Still Casts Long Shadow in Suddenly Thin Light Heavyweight Division

Give credit to Daniel Cormier for saying what we all were thinking.

Cormier wasted little time winning the light heavyweight title on Saturday at UFC 187, snapping Anthony Johnson’s spirit like dry kindling en route to a third-round submission victory. Cormier had survived an early onslaught of punches from Johnson before his Olympic wrestling won the day, so it made for a nice moment when Johnson insisted on wrapping the UFC belt around his waist.

A few moments later, however, the new champ revealed he had someone else on his mind.

Jon Jones!” Cormier hollered as soon as color commentator Joe Rogan let him get near the microphone. “Get your s–t together! I’m waiting for you!”

From the stands in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, from our living rooms and from inside sports bars across America, the MMA world nodded along.

Yes, we thought, do that. Get your stuff together, Jon Jones. Get it together and come back to us.

The long-reigning, but suddenly former 205-pound titlist was nowhere to be seen, of course. A bit more than three weeks earlier, he’d been stripped of the championship and banished indefinitely after turning himself in on felony hit-and-run charges in New Mexico.

None of us knew where Jones was at that moment. We didn’t know if he was watching or if he heard Cormier’s words. We just knew that—even in his absence—the man many still believed to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world casts a long shadow.

It was just 14 months ago that we were trumpeting the resurgence of the UFC’s marquee weight class. After the instability of the post-Chuck Liddell years and the unchecked dominance of Jones’ early title reign, a suddenly robust crop of contenders were breathing down the champion’s neck.

Jones had survived a squeaker against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 and was headed into a cakewalk versus the thunderously powerful, but one-dimensional, Glover Teixeira. Meanwhile, Gustafsson rebounded with a win over Jimi Manuwa, Cormier was poised to tear through Dan Henderson and Johnson was building a seven-fight win streak at 205 pounds.

Light heavyweight appeared primed for some golden years.

At the time, I even postulated that if Jones could successfully run the gauntlet of Gustafsson (again), Cormier and Johnson during the calendar year of 2015, we’d have no choice but to hail him as the greatest MMA fighter of all time.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get that far.

Jones and Cormier did their part, staging an epic feud that culminated in Jones’ hard-fought, but unanimous decision, victory at UFC 182 in January. He was scheduled to take on Johnson next, but in the wake of the Cormier victory it was revealed he’d tested positive for cocaine. Three-and-a-half months later, Jones allegedly crashed his rental SUV into a car driven by a pregnant woman and then fled the scene on foot.

Public scrutiny around Jones’ perennially beleaguered image abruptly grew too hot. The UFC had no choice but to vacate the title, force Jones into seclusion and insert Cormier against Johnson at UFC 187.

It was the right move in the moment, though, now that we’ve all had a few weeks to let it sink in, a 205-pound division without Jones suddenly seems almost laughably shallow.

That’s how things go in this sport sometimes. An entire weight class can go from renaissance to reclamation project in the time it takes an Albuquerque traffic light to switch from green to red.

Never was this more apparent than at the UFC 187 post-fight press conference, when Cormier did his absolute best to stir up interest in a bout with Ryan Bader. Before Jones’ personal life went kablooey, Cormier and Bader had been scheduled to meet at UFC Fight Night 68 on June 6. No harm in testing the waters to see if it was still viable, Cormier might have figured.

(Warning: NSFW language in video)

“I would love to compete against (Jones),” he told the gathered media, “but he’s going to be away for awhile, so we’ve got to shift our focus. There’s somebody else that needs his ass kicked, too. I think he’s around here. It’s Ryan Bader’s ass and I’m going to beat the s–t out of him next time.”

Bader stormed to the front of the room and had to be held back (sort of) by UFC security, as Cormier stood on the dais and called him “an easy paycheck” and “the easiest fight in the division.” Eventually, Bader was led away and Cormier took his seat. A few feet to the left, the recently defeated Johnson picked up his own microphone, tapped his palm against it and deadpanned: “Any questions for Rumble?”

If Johnson’s quip came off as the highlight of the exchange, there was good reason for that. A potential title match between Cormier and Bader would only underscore how lackluster this weight class seems without Jones.

Bader is riding a four-fight win streak and is No. 3 in the UFC’s unexpectedly Bones-free light heavyweight rankings. But his matchup with Cormier always came off as a comeback fight for the 36-year-old former heavyweight—a bout designed to rehabilitate Cormier’s image after that stinging loss at UFC 182.

The truth is, people are already going to have some difficulty regarding Cormier as the champion. He is one of the most likable fighters in all of MMA, and it felt good to see him finally capture a major title after a career full of coming up just short.

But until Jones returns and those two guys can fight again, we’ll always regard Bones as the best 205-pounder in the world. There’s going to be a lot of this kind of stuff floating around:

Deep down, Cormier knows that. That’s why his first official move as UFC champion was to jump on the mic and challenge Jones all over again.

Bader knows it, too.

“I kind of feel like it’s a little consolation prize,” Bader told the Three Amigos Podcast (h/t Bloody Elbow) of Cormier’s victory over Johnson this week. “There’s a guy that hasn’t been beat, that has been dominating, and is the pound-for-pound best fighter out there, and he had that belt. … And for Cormier it’s somebody out there that’s better than him and beat him. That’s got to be in his head a little bit.”

Whether or not he meant it merely as trash talk, Bader effectively put his finger on the trouble with the current state of the light heavyweight division. With Gustafsson still mired in the doldrums of his own loss to Johnson, there just isn’t anyone in the weight class who can do much to legitimize Cormier’s title reign.

With no idea how long it will be until Jones returns, we’re not even sure how much energy we should invest in reimagining a 205-pound landscape without him in it.

Frankly, that includes the idea of a title fight against Bader. No offense to the former Arizona State standout, but we’ve never been able to think of Bader as a true top contender after he stumbled through a 3-4 stretch from 2011 to September 2013. He capped his current win streak with a victory over Phil Davis, but it mostly came against middling competition.

The idea that he could suddenly jump to the front of the line and fight for the title seems like a poor status update on the health of light heavyweight. And the notion that Bader could actually become the champion? Well, that seems like a worst-case scenario for the prestige of the UFC’s longtime glamour division.

All of which is sort of ironic, when you think about it.

For years, a lot of MMA fans appeared fixated on how much they disliked Jones. His positive drug test and alleged hit-and-run accident only poured gasoline on those sour feelings. For some, there was a certain glee in the news he’d been stripped of the title and suspended.

But if there’s a lesson in any of this, it might be how badly we need the guy and how lucky we’ll be if we ever get him back.

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Bethe Correia Takes Trash Talking Ronda Rousey Too Far with Suicide Comment

Current UFC women’s bantamweight title challenger Bethe Correia just crossed the line. 

In a sport like MMA, a lot—damn near anything—is fair game when it comes to promoting a fight. Say you want to smash your opponent’s head in. Make fun of them. Slam their fighting skills. 

But don’t say what Correia did. 

Speaking with Brazilian outlet Combate about her upcoming tilt with Ronda Rousey at UFC 190, Correia made a comment that officially crossed from “fair game” to “absolutely not.” 

MMA Mania’s Jesse Holland has the transcription

I want to knock her out, show to everyone that she is a lie. She wants to stand up with me, let’s see. I want to humiliate her and show the word she has no MMA. She is focused on movies, books. I am much stronger, I come from a developing country, where people are struggling to survive, not to starve. It is very different from her life of reality. Under pressure, she is proving weak. When her mom put pressure on her, she ran away from home. When she lost, it was because of drugs. That’s not a superhero. She is not mentally healthy, she needs to take care of herself. She is winning, so everybody is around her cheering her up, but when she realizes she is not everything that she believes she is, I don’t know what might happen. I hope she does not kill herself later on (laughs).

Correia seems to be referring to some struggles Rousey outlined in her recently released book, My Fight, Your Fight

Really, Correia bringing up Rousey‘s past personal demons isn’t the end of the world. Recalling some less-than-desirable choices Rousey made on her own is fair game in the world of fight promotion, in my opinion. 

It’s that last sentence that is unacceptable. 

Rousey‘s father committed suicide when she was just eight years old, making the suicide comment completely off limits. There is a slight chance that Correia didn’t know this about Rousey‘s past, but even if the UFC champ didn’t have a deep, personal and tragic connection to suicide, this is an area one should avoid at all costs. 

Suicide—and the conditions that lead to it—are simply off limits. You don’t joke about something that claims almost 1 million lives per year, oftentimes devastating and shattering families in the process. 

Defeating Rousey will say more than enough about Correia‘s merits as a professional fighter without the need for a distasteful comment.

She’ll make headlines and be remembered for pulling off one of the most shocking upsets in MMA history should she emerge victorious at UFC 190. After this latest sound bite, however, don’t be surprised to see Rousey come out harder and more focused than ever. 

A Correia victory was already pretty unlikely in the eyes of most fans and critics. Now, the Brazilian challenger may have made her situation even worse. 

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Luke Rockhold: I’m Better Than Chris Weidman Everywhere

Luke Rockhold would like to make one thing absolutely clear: Chris Weidman‘s win over Vitor Belfort at UFC 187 on Saturday did nothing to diminish the reigning middleweight champion’s standing in his eyes.

But it did nothing to raise his standing, either.

“He fought a deflated Belfort. Vitor had no heart,” Rockhold told Bleacher Report on Wednesday afternoon. “Look at the difference in him when he showed up last week to what we’ve seen in the past. Chris is a tough guy, but that fight didn’t prove anything. Vitor had one burst, and then he was done. He quit.”

Weidman survived a Belfort onslaught early in the first round before taking his challenger to the mat, using hellacious ground-and-pound and finishing him by TKO. In a way, Weidman‘s performance put an emphatic stamp on the era of testosterone replacement therapy for which Belfort was the poster child.

Rockhold, who has been vocal about his displeasure for performance-enhancing drugs and those who use them, felt a special bit of glee at seeing Belfort dispatched so violently.

After the bout, discussion turned to who would be Weidman‘s next challenger. Rockhold, currently ranked No. 1 (behind Weidman) in the UFC’s official rankings, said he is “more than confident” he—and not the Brazilian grappling powerhouse Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza—will be the man selected as Weidman‘s next foe.

Rockhold is the logical contender. He’s ranked higher in the division and has more quality wins. And though it was years ago at this point, Rockhold does own a win over Souza at a Strikeforce event in 2011.

In fact, Rockhold said the UFC will be returning to Las Vegas in September and that a main event with Weidman would just about be perfect. He’d like to face Weidman in Madison Square Garden, but that won’t happen until December, if it happens at all.

Professional mixed martial arts is still illegal in New York, but recent signs from the New York legislation seem encouraging that this might finally be the year the UFC is able to run a show at the legendary New York City venue.

Rockhold has a solution.

“I’ll beat him in September in Las Vegas, and then we can have a rematch for my belt in Madison Square Garden,” Rockhold said.

You must forgive Rockhold if it seems he’s being cocky. It’s just that he believes he matches up very well with the middleweight champion, and he doesn’t mind saying so. He has a case for this fervent self-belief, especially after his stunning ground performance in a submission win over Lyoto Machida earlier this year.

“I’m better than him everywhere,” Rockhold said. “I see it as a fight that will be on the feet. He’s used to guys that don’t want to go to the ground with him, but I don’t mind the ground. I am going to control the fight and I’m going to get in his face. I’m not going anywhere.

“I’m a tactician. I’m a southpaw,” he concluded. “Everything matches up perfectly for me.”

 

 Jeremy Botter covers mixed martial arts for Bleacher Report. 

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