Sunday MMA Quick Hits: An Exploding Eyelid, Cruz Blames the Media, LFA’s Canadian Invasion

Dominick Cruz, UFC 259 media day
Dominick Cruz Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Welcome to Sunday MMA Quick Hits, a brief look at some of the stories you might have missed over the past week. Not to mention, stories we missed this week, in some cases at least! This may or may not turn into a regular column (read: we’ll probably do it when we feel like it, and see if it catches on!).

With the final Ultimate Fighting Championship PPV event of 2021, UFC 269, going down Saturday, that card took center stage — meaning there were plenty of fights and out-of-the-cage developments overshadowed in the past week.

Let’s go!

Eye Caramba!

Sure, it’s not quite MMA, but since the bare knuckle boxing craze has thus far piggy-backed off its more popular modern cousin, we might as well include this. We’ve seen exploding ears before — James Thompson and Leslie Smith, to name just two — but how about an exploding eyelid?

John Nash wound up losing via doctor’s stoppage in the fifth round to Noah Cutter at BKFC Tampa, and for good reason. His eyelid pretty much exploded. So you wanna be a f*cking fighter? This might change your mind (or kill your appetite).

LFA’s Canadian Invasion

It was a good night for Canadian mixed martial arts on Friday, as two of the country’s top talents invaded the LFA 120 card and won big. Tony Laramie, brother of UFC athlete and Contender Series winner TJ Laramie, looked outstanding in his flyweight fight against the previously undefeated Tyus White. Laramie improved to 6-2 with the victory, has won four straight fights, and is just 22-years old. He may very well be joining his brother in the big show sometime next year if he can pick up another win or two, and maybe land a spot on Dana White’s Contender Series.

Not to be outdone, B.C. native Jamey-Lyn Horth Wessels captured the LFA women’s flyweight championship in the main event. After sitting out over a year and a half, Horth improved to 5-0, but not before having to fend off some dangerous-looking kneebar and heel hook attempts by Mayra Cantuaria in the early going. Impressively, however, Horth would beat the Brazilian at her own game, submitting her opponent in the third round.

NBA, Big3 Basketball Star Royce White Has Debut Spoiled

Looking at Royce White and Daiqwon Buckley side-by-side is sort of like looking at Stefan Struve next to Roy Nelson. One, on the surface, is clearly the better athlete, right? Well, that doesn’t always translate to being the better fighter.

Royce White and Daiqkwon Buckley, LFA 120 Credit: Legacy Fighting Alliance

White, once a highly touted NBA prospect drafted early, and who later claimed the league blackballed him over his push for better mental health support, had a fair amount of hype heading into LFA 120 on Friday. However, Temple University fullback Buckley had other ideas, utilizing takedowns and dragging White into deep waters en route to a unanimous decision win on the scorecards.

At least White’s night didn’t end the way Struve’s did against “Big Country.” White may choose to carry on in his MMA career — a single loss certainly shouldn’t spell the end of the experiment — but he still has his day job with 3-on-3 league Big3’s Power franchise.

Dominick Cruz Blames Media After Lodging His Foot in His Mouth

It’s been observed by countless fans over the years, but Dominick Cruz tends to come off like a wholly unlikable human being. The former UFC and WEC bantamweight champion is a wealth of talent and mixed martial arts knowledge, but consistently acts like that kid in your grade school class who constantly ran crying to the teacher for attention — or to rat out a classmate for something completely insignificant.

During the UFC 269 media day this week, Cruz, who works as a UFC analyst when not fighting, was given a very simple question by our own Gabriel Gonzalez. Asked what it was like hearing his colleagues call his fights, Cruz, still an active fighter, praised play-by-play man Jon Anik — then threw Daniel Cormier under the bus, saying he “muted” Cormier when watching fights, adding that DC didn’t do his homework when it came to watching tape.

Wow. Not the reaction anyone was expecting. Cruz had the chance to praise his co-workers. He could have said nothing at all. Instead, he took what was basically a friendly question about his transition to the broadcast booth, fanned on the pitch, threw his bat, and hit his own teammate.

Then, he turned around and blamed the media for his own thoughtlessness. In a face-to-face chat with Cormier, Cruz literally blamed the media for not reporting on the “loving” stuff he said in response to the original question. Except that nearly every major MMA media outlet quoted Cruz in full. MMA Fighting did. MMA Junkie did. Bloody Elbow quoted Cruz as saying he believes Cormier cares about fighters. Despite asking the question that sparked the controversy, our own site opted not to even cover the story, initially, instead leading with Cruz’s belief that he should always be considered a contender (at least until the one-on-one with Cormier happened). When we did report on it — yes, the “loving” stuff was quoted.

This is the worst sort of deflection by Cruz. He wasn’t misquoted. The quote wasn’t chopped to pieces. He simply said what he said, stuck his foot in his mouth, then refused to take responsibility. And it comes at a time when media outlets in general are constantly painted as villainous (often by people who choose to get their information from such reliable sources as “Uncle Frank on Facebook.”). As Cruz continues to transition from active fighter to a seemingly promising broadcast career, it’s clear he still has a lot to learn.

Figlak Bros Lay Foundation for Success

Speaking of fighting brothers like TJ and Tony Laramie, keep an eye on Mateusz and Michal Figlak. The Polish brothers (Mateusz is a welterweight, Michal a lightweight) are 7-1 and 7-0, respectively, after Saturday’s Cage Warriors 132. Both have fought multiple times for the British promotion, against some solid competition — Michal holds a win over fellow prospect Oban Elliot. A year or so from now, we may very well see both on a bigger stage.

Tarps Off, Boys!

When it comes to Canadian MMA, it’s had a good month so far. The aforementioned Laramie and Horth won big at LFA 120. Gillian Robertson put on a dominant performance at UFC 269. And next weekend, Tarps Off Fight Club launches its debut event, Brawl by the Falls.

The main event will see Scott Hudson look to claim another regional title, and potentially land himself a spot in the UFC in the process. It’s big for Ontario, whose MMA scene was on life support a few years back. Now, thanks to BTC, PFC, and now TOFC, there’s life in the sport once more.

What exactly does Tarps Off mean? You’re clearly not a hockey fan if you’re asking that question, bud.

Should She Stay or Should She Go Now?

Gillian Robertson is probably a better person than most of us, as she immediately forgave Priscila Cachoeira for a) missing weight then b) gouging at her eyes at UFC 269.

The rest of us are not so forgiving. Multiple calls for Cachoeira to be cut from the promotion came following the loss on Saturday. It’s an interesting case, to be sure. The Brazilian wasn’t penalized for the foul, because Robertson had a dominant position and was threatening to finish the fight, which she did. Ergo, the ref wasn’t about the break up the action (and may not have seen it clearly if he was focused on the choke/tap).

That said, this is the sort of situation that probably should be reviewed by the athletic commission. The UFC isn’t likely to cut a fighter off a single loss, but this sort of incident really should fall under the commission’s purview.