The art of being a heel

June 5, 2010

There’s usually nothing wrong with playing the bad guy in MMA. Many have successfully embraced the villain’s role to hype a fight to “can’t miss” status. You may hate Brock Lesnar, but you pay to see him destroy or be destroyed. Bottom line.


There’s also<a href="" target="_blank"><strong> a fine line</strong></a> between embracing the character to draw heat and acting like a complete jackass. At UFC 113 Josh Koscheck and Matt Mitrione were comfortable in their own skin – the latter being perceived a prick earned him a money bout against Kimbo Slice, one he cashed in with a second-round TKO. Paul Daley, entertaining in matching Koscheck’s smack with colorful barbs and an amusing Fraggle Photoshop contest, crossed that line and flushed his UFC career down the toilet. That’s a shame. Despite the loss Daley showed grit and mettle, and would have remained one of the welterweight class’ top contenders. Instead Dana White insists he’s burned a bridge.


“He’s done,” White said after the event. “I don’t give a [expletive] if he’s the best 170-pounder in the world. He’ll never come back here again. There’s no excuse for that. These guys are professional athletes. You don’t ever hit a guy blatantly after the bell like that, whether you’re frustrated or not. It was probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen because he is a talented guy, and he is one of the best 170-pounders in the world.”


White deserves credit for nipping Daley’s sucker punch of Koscheck in the bud to where it didn’t overshadow Mauricio Rua becoming the new light-heavyweight champion and Koscheck earning a rematch with Georges St. Pierre, this time for the welterweight championship after coaching opposite him at next season’s The Ultimate Fighter. It’s now White’s responsibility to retain this precedent. Nate Diaz went unpunished for his role in the infamous Strikeforce Nashville brawl. Jake Shields instigated the melee with his shove of Jason Miller. One week later he was White’s guest at WEC 48 and hamming up before the camera. Others have been disciplined, but not released.


Daley’s actions were deplorable and justice was served. Now he must remain an example the next time someone decides to do something stupid.




The Machida Era was expected to last maybe two years, to when perhaps Jon Jones would emerge as his greatest threat. Shogun ended it before it truly began. A big reason why was Machida’s huge mistake to rush in, be the aggressor and blow off his beautiful, patient technique that led to wins over Tito Oritz, Thiago Silva and Rashad Evans. I thought Machida’s escape of Los Angeles would make him better. Now the real test begins.


Other UFC 113 highlights: Mitrione unveiled a triangle, a surprise to almost everyone, but his trainer, Pat McPherson, told me how hard he had been working to improve his ground game. Slice was released from the UFC late Saturday night. That’s two guys whose UFC careers Mitrione has ended. He sent Marcus Jones out to pasture for good at the TUF 10 finale ... Jeremy Stephens appeared to be on the way down after two straight defeats, but he bounced back with win over Justin Buchholz and stunned Sam Stout in a split decision that earned “Fight of the Night” honors. Instead of a never-was, Stephens is suddenly a hot commodity at age 23.




Brett Rogers’ title fight against heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem headlines Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery Saturday in St. Louis, a <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>chance at redemption</strong></a> for the company and for Rogers. This is Rogers’ first fight since Fedor Emelianenko handed “The Grim” his first loss last November. He plans on winning and winning big to earn a rematch.


“I just want to check in and check out right away,” Rogers said. “I don’t care [if it’s quick]. I’m not getting paid by the second. I’m looking for a great knockout, and if I can’t do that, a great ass whooping, one of the two.”




Former UFC lightweight top contender Din Thomas headlines Shine Fights’ “When Worlds Collide” pay-per-view event opposite Strikeforce on Showtime when he faces former WBA/WBC Welterweight and WBC Junior Middleweight champion Ricardo Mayorga in Mayorga’s MMA debut. It’s <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>a huge risk</strong></a> for Shine to try and sell a pay-per-view before establishing firm ground.


“I couldn’t imagine the position they’re in,” Thomas said. “They’re taking a big risk on this card not only with the fight I’m in, but they have some other high-level guys on this card. They’re putting their nuts on the line. They get one shot at this for the whole card and then the main event. I’m actually honored that they put me in a position to where they put everything on the line based on the card and I’m headlining it.”


NBC sports reporter and anchor (New York) Bruce Beck, three-time world heavyweight champion Bobby Czyz and MMA veteran/actor Jason Chambers will call the event.


<em>Follow Jon Lane’s coverage of MMA and the New York Yankees via Twitter <a href="" target="_blank"><strong>@MMAJunkieJon</strong></a></em>.