This weekend, UFC 130 begets the "TUF 13" finale begets UFC 131 begets the next leg of the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix. Not that we want to get overly biblical about it, but the flood is coming.
'Bout time. After an unprecendented lag in MMA action, last Saturday's show seems destined to be remembered for Quinton Jackson's bad behavior outside the cage than anything else. Best to wash that taste out of our mouths as soon as possible Good news is, with a fairly interesting card on tap, the "TUF" finale should do the trick.
The MMA Hot List tracks trending topics in mixed martial arts. Here's what's on our minds this week.
1. Pettis puts it on the line: By virtue of becoming the final WEC lightweight champion five months ago, Anthony Pettis was once "guaranteed" a shot at UFC gold. Now it seems like he'll have to win one, maybe two bouts before that'll ever happen. This weekend he takes on Clay Guida in the first, thankless leg of his journey toward capturing the prize UFC brass promised him before he ever set foot in the company. Did he deserve the title shot right out of the shoot? Probably not. Is he still kind of getting screwed here? Probably. Wait, can both those things be true?
2. Guida not hiding his ambitions: The lightweight gatekeeper is making no bones about the fact he needs to take Pettis down and keep him down to win this fight. In recent appearances he's been up to the challenge, crafting a three-fight streak over a string of B-listers. Guida has been in the UFC so long he'd feel like a bit of an underwhelming title contender, but a W over Pettis would certainly qualify as his biggest victory since at least 2009. Maybe ever.
3. So, "TUF 13" finale, huh? We won't know until tonight which two reality show contestants will advance to the live finale of "The Ultimate Fighter" season 13. Seriously though, does it really matter? For longtime viewers, the seasons are likely all starting to bleed together in our minds and "TUF" winners frankly seem a dime a dozen at this point. With no indication that any of the current cast will make a dramatic impact on the UFC welterweight division, it feels like much ado about not much.
4. Carwin, JDS promise slugfest: Both of the heavyweight contenders booked for the UFC 131 main event love to bang and they said they're not planning anything different for June 11 during this week's media conference call. On paper, Shane Carwin appears to have a decided wrestling advantage over Junior dos Santos, but with dos Santos already preparing for the wrestling-based attack of Brock Lesnar, doesn't sound like he plans to fall back on his college experience. "We're knockout artists," Carwin said. "That's how Junior fights and that's how I fight."
5. How much rust should we expect? Unknown. By the time they finally get in the cage, both dos Santos and Carwin will have been out of action for nearly a year owing to injuries, both to themselves and others. Still, something tells me these two powerhouses will be looking for a fast start, so I wouldn't anticipate much of a feeling out process or too much tire-kicking if I were you. Sonnen drops verbal bombs on Anderson Silva With these two, the trash talking goes way back.
Sonnen drops verbal bombs on Anderson Silva
With these two, the trash talking goes way back.
6. Hioki en route: The best featherweight in the world not currently under the Zuffa, LLC. umbrella may wind up there soon. Reports say Hatsu Hioki has vacated his Shooto 143-pound championship with an eye on an American move and that he'll be in attendance at UFC 131 in Vancouver. Hioki and the UFC have played footsie in the past. If he inks a deal with the company, it'll constitute another injection of talent into the already stacked 145-pound division.
7. Sonnen, Silva resume sniping: After a short respite, middleweight champion Anderson Silva and embattled former challenger Chael Sonnen are back at each other's throats this week. Silva had some unflattering things to say about No. 1 contender Yushin Okami's decision to train with Sonnen recently and Sonnen fired back on Twitter. I'd give you the particulars, but it hardly seems worth it at this point. Sonnen's future is still up in the air after his indefinite suspension was upheld in California late last month. Now it's starting to feel like even Silva misses his foil.
9. Story deserves step up, but not Fitch: After his win over Thiago Alves at UFC 130, Rick Story turned his nose up at the idea of a rematch with Jake Ellenberger and said he wanted to fight perennial top welterweight contender Jon Fitch. Now Fitch is turning his nose up at Story. When he returns from shoulder surgery, Fitch says he's only interested in a rematch with either BJ Penn or Georges St. Pierre. He also says he's taking career advice from Rashad Evans. Gotta wonder, is that the best idea?
10. Pellegrino takes five: The UFC lightweight will put his fighting career on hold in order to focus on teaching, his family and other "business opportunities." If this break turns out to be permanent - which he admits it might -- it'll mean Pellegrino's career reached its zenith during a four-fight win-streak from 2008-10. "Batman" seems like one of MMA's more likable guys and I wish him well, whatever his pursuits.