With just over a week to go before the year comes to an end, there are a variety of stories I’m keeping my eyes on, and a few recent ones that seemed to have fallen under the radar.
With Urijah Faber hanging up his gloves last week, his legacy will be defined in so many ways. But if we think of who his most bitter rival was, hands down, it was current UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz.
They have gone back and forth for years, spouting verbal and physical jabs towards one another, but last Saturday night, they may have officially buried the hatchet.
During Faber’s post-fight appearance on FOX, he sat next to Cruz, as the panel reminisced over Urijah’s career. Dominick eventually presented Urijah with a new, signed WEC poster. For those unaware of the relevance, it was a poster of the same event where Cruz originally had signed his name over Urijah’s face … this action was what sparked the bitter rivalry between the two.
But this time around, Cruz signed his name off to the side, with the inscription “Your Pal” to which Faber was appreciative. So much so, that the two actually shook hands live on the air. It just goes to show you that with time, even the most bitter enemies can become civil, even if for a moment. Let’s be honest, with Faber’s protege Cody Garbrandt set to take on Cruz next Friday, things will still get heated, and I don’t believe it will stop anytime soon.
Then there’s the instagram reply from Khabib Nurmagomedov towards Jose Aldo Jr.
The Brazilian stated he was recently offered an interim title bout at 155 lbs, with the opponent being Nurmagomedov. To make a long story short, Khabib apparently declined, which meant for an intriguing discussion between Sean Ross Sapp and I, on the most recent Fightful.com podcast.
There is no way I could possibly believe Khabib would turn down a fight with Aldo, unless it was strategic. It just did not make sense. And then he came out with the reply ensuring Jose got the message loud and clear.
“Aldo says, referring to me, that I refused to fight with him.Tell him that I do not bully the little”, stated Khabib, a reference Sapp and I discussed as just one of the few reasons why a bout between the two simply did not make sense.
Nurmagomedov also inferred the reason behind his dismissal of Aldo was definitely strategic. “I want a real battle, and only Tony (Ferguson) can give it to me...I have spent my career in the UFC asking for the strongest opponents, currently in this division we must decide who is stronger, me or Tony?”
I wholeheartedly agree with Khabib’s positioning here but did get a kick out of him taking a shot at Aldo and the UFC. He wrote “Aldo, I advise you not to lose the respect of your fans, including me, do not lose your head, do not fall for the mind games of the UFC, and be yourself.”
Just another fighter on the UFC roster, taking a shot at the big show. Something similar to many other fighters who no longer compete for the organization.
While Mirko Cro Cop had his differences with the UFC and the obligations required from him to promote fights, the Croatian MMA legend no longer has to worry about the tasks he deemed tedious. He now calls Rizin FF home and is set to compete in next week’s Open Weight Grand Prix tournament.
He was originally scheduled to face Wanderlei Silva in his next bout, but “The Axe Murderer” recently pulled out. And Cro Cop was not a happy camper.
On his Facebook page, he fired off a variety of insults towards Silva, calling him “Wanderlei "the Braveheart" Silva” as well as “WANDERLEI "THE CHICKEN" SILVA”.
“He played tough guy on the press conference in July and he called me out for a fight. Then I said to myself, this man has a guts, but now we all see what is he made of, nothing but shit.”
To be honest, I was there for this event and I do not recall Wanderlei calling out Cro Cop, but simply the other way around. From the onset, it seemed obvious to many of us that this was not what Silva was hoping to be his first bout back MMA, since last competing in March of 2013.
His whole acceptance seemed reluctant and Cro Cop could care less, calling him “a scared homie”.
And now I’m wondering what may be in store if these two run into one another, especially considering Mirko posted “Wanderlei, don't you dare to come to Saitama to see the tournament like a guest because I will slap you like a bitch just like you deserve.”
Well, for whatever it’s worth, I leave for Tokyo on December 26th, as I will have the luxury of doing the play by play for the show. Be sure to follow me @ShowdownJoe on Twitter, Instagram and on Facebook as I will do my very best to keep you up to speed on whatever goes down in Tokyo, Saitama or wherever I end up in Japan.