UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks remains sidelined, and could stay that way until the early portion of 2015.
Most believed Hendricks would be making his first title defense in January against Robbie Lawler, but his wrestling coach, Kenny Monday, recently told ESPN.com that isn’t likely to happen.
“I know everyone would have loved January, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to work out. I’m thinking he fights in February or March.”
Hendricks (16-2) won the title this past March when he bested Lawler in a bout to determine the new champion after Georges St-Pierre surrendered the title. Hendricks lost via decision to St-Pierre in 2013.
Lawler, meanwhile, improved to 24-10 by rebounding from the loss to “Bigg Rigg” and defeating both Jake Ellenberger and Matt Brown.
“The last thing the UFC wanted was to start promoting a fight and have to postpone it if Johny had a setback,” Hendricks’ manager, Ted Ehrhard, said. “He’s well past the point now but the schedule is full. He’s a main event fighter and all the main events are taken.
“It looks like he’ll fight some time in February.”
“UFC Tonight” brought in a pair of guest hosts familiar with the heavyweight division to discuss tonight’s UFC Fight Night 51 main event between Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Andrei Arlovski earlier this week.
Silva and Arlovski will meet from Brazil on UFC Fight Pass in a rematch of a 2010 meeting won by Silva while both were in Strikeforce.
Brendan Schaub, who recently lost to Arlovski, is set to return to action later this year against Travis Browne. He had some keen points about the fighting style of “The Pitbull.”
“I’m hoping Arlovski doesn’t bring the same attitude as he did against me. He seemed scared and tentative against me,” Schaub said. “Bigfoot is a monster. Andrei was flat footed. Bigfoot’s going to come out, take him down, and TKO him.”
As for his own fight, Schaub said “It’s a big one. It doesn’t get much bigger than this. You win this and you’re right in the contender spot.”
Daniel Cormier, a former heavyweight now set to contend for the UFC’s light heavyweight title, wonders if we will ever see the same Arlovski that one ruled by carrying the championship.
“He has to be the guy we remember from back in the day. He can’t do what he did in the last fight against Bigfoot. Bigfoot out-boxed him. I know he’s a better boxer than Bigfoot. Andrei has to change something,” Cormier said. “He hasn’t showed me he’s improved since being gone from the UFC. Bigfoot has all the skills to go in there and smash him.”
UFC president Dana White was in rare form during a recent appearance on “UFC Tonight,” offering up his thoughts on a number of subjects.
One of those matters discussed revolved around Alistair Overeem. The former Strikeforce heavyweight champion was recently knocked out by Ben Rothwell, suffering his third loss in his last four Octagon appearances.
Despite the rough patch, White plans to keep “The Reem” around for the time being.
“He is still one of the Top-10 heavyweights in the world,” he said. “We’ll give him another fight.”
Overeem recently stated that he plans to continue fighting despite the loss.
Is Woodley in trouble for declining fight?
Tyron Woodley declined a fight with Hector Lombard that could have produced a welterweight contender. And while White is never happy with fighters saying no to bouts, he is giving the former college wrestling standout a “pass right now.”
“Woodley doesn’t want that fight,” White said. “Tyron just stepped up on short notice and fought in China. I’ll give him a pass right now.”
White compares Ben Askren to Tito Ortiz
Former Bellator champion and current ONE FC welterweight champion Ben Askren has received quite a bit of attention from White despite never competing for him.
Askren, an ex-Olympic wrestler, doesn’t shy away from saying how he truly feels, and White has taken notice.
“I thought Tito (Ortiz) was the dumbest human being alive,” White said. “This guy is an absolute moron. He’s copying everything that Tito does. You get a lot of attention if you talk about the UFC.
“If he’s happy fighting in Asia, then what’s he talking about me for?”
Askren appeared on AXS TV’s “Inside MMA” last week and was cut off after going on a tangent about the UFC.
Why was Thiago Silva granted another shot in the UFC?
Earlier this year, the promotion cut Thiago Silva following an incident in Florida. After all charges were dropped, White elected to sign him to another contract.
In explaining why they did what they did, White took a shot at the NFL over the recent Ray Rice matter. Rice was cut from the Baltimore Ravens and banned by the league for striking his then-fiance and now wife.
“When I said he’d never work in the UFC again, the SWAT team was surrounding his house, and he looked like he was in trouble. The guy hasn’t been charged with anything,” he said. “There are two sides to this story. Since it happened, he’s said it’s not true. His manager and he have told us what’s happened. But if you believe in the legal process in the United States, he was put through it and was charged with nothing in the end.
“There’s no proof or evidence that he did anything wrong. If there was a tape that popped up like Ray Rice, that would be a different story.”
Firas Zahabi, the head coach at Tristar Gym where former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre trains, believes the fighter will make a 2015 return to action.
GSP retired after a successful title defense over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 last November, citing several reasons. Earlier this year, he suffered a torn ACL, but Zahabi told ESPN that he is ahead in terms of recovery compared to his first knee injury in 2011.
“It’s looking way better than the first time,” he said. “We just finished training and were talking about how his quadriceps got back to size so much faster this time around. No two ACL injuries are the same. We’re learning that.
“In October, he’s going to try really light martial arts training. Maybe hit pads. A little movement. Nothign crazy.”
Zahabi admitted that the two have not discussed any such return to actual fighting, he just has a “gut feeling” he’ll compete again for UFC.
“My personal opinion is he still has plenty of competitive juice in him,” Zahabi said. “I don’t think he’ll be anywhere near fight shape until he’s late 34, mid-34. I think he’s got a few fights in him, but I don’t want to speak for the guy.
“He might retire and no one could blame him.”
St-Pierre has been a very outspoken individual when it comes to including more randomized drug testing in MMA, as he hopes to help clean the sport up.
“From now on, he’s in a place where he doesn’t have to fight a guy if that guy doesn’t do the test,” Zahabi said. “He is a big believer in everybody should be natural. Georges is happy. He’s a natural athlete.”
Hendricks went on to win the vacant title when he bested Robbie Lawler. The two are expected to rematch in early 2015. Along with rehab, St-Pierre has remained in MMA circles, cornering teammate Francis Carmont for his most recent UFC bouts.
Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva became the first person in six years to defeat Alistair Overeem back in 2013 when he weathered the early storm and finished the former Strikeforce champion.
Since, Overeem has also dropped bouts – all via finish – to Travis Browne and Ben Rothwell.
And Silva can do nothing but laugh about it.
“I was flying to Brazil and at the airport and I had the opportunity to sit and watch the Overeem (vs. Rothwell) fight,” said Silvia, in a recent interview with Combate. “He is a comedy, a cartoon. You have to feel sorry for a guy like that.
“He is reaping what he sowed. Who plants the good reaps good. He’s a despicable person and does not deserve much attention from people.”
Silva and Overeem exchanged plenty of words in the weeks leading up to their meeting. Silva returns to action himself Saturday night against Andrei Arlovski at UFC Fight Night 51 from Brazil.
The No. 4 ranked heavyweight continued to lay it on Overeem, saying “he’s a guy who just leave enmity wherever he goes.
“It’s sad to see a person like him, because we never wish harm on a person, never want to see a person in this situation,” he said. “It may be that I gave him issues with his chin. But I’m sure he was psychologically shaken. When he sees a big guy, he must get scared, close his eyes and remember something.”
Prior to the loss to Silva, Overeem was viewed as one of the top heavyweights in the world. He had won 11 in a row and was unbeaten in his previous 12 fights, including wins over Brock Lesnar, Fabricio Werdum and Mark Hunt.