Sunday MMA Quick Hits: Pena Campaigning for Rousey Fight, PFL Live Event Wasn’t Live After All

Julianna Pena flexes during the UFC 269 press conference
Julianna Pena flexes during the UFC 269 press conference. Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

It was a slow week to start the month of April, with nearly every major MMA promotion taking the week off. That doesn’t mean nothing of note happened, of course. A current champ has opted to lambaste a former UFC star, Cage Warriors produced a crazy KO, and one of the few events to take place last weekend turned out to not actually have taken place last weekend.

It’s your Sunday MMA Quick Hits — let’s go!

Matt Brown Wants Flat Pay in MMA, No More Show/Win Money

With the UFC’s pay scale in the spotlight yet again, “The Immortal” has weighed in on the subject. Matt Brown was in action at UFC Columbus late last month, and with Ohio being one of the few commissions still publicly releasing purse information, questions immediately came up about how little some athletes on the card were making.

Brown’s solution? Forget show and win money, and move to a flat rate model.

“The performance bonus, even though I’ve gotten a few and it’s made my life a lot better, I’m not so much a fan of that,” Brown told The MMA Hour recently. “Again, that’s a subjective thing. I like to take as much subjectiveness out of this as possible. I think that in a perfect world we’d all get a flat pay. There shouldn’t be a show and win.”

As Brown pointed out, he got “half of the pay” at UFC Columbus, in a fight that really had no loser. “Even if they gave it to me — which they should have — and Barberena walks away with half, he didn’t deserve half of his pay. He deserves his whole pay.”

Brown made $105,000 to show for his fight with Bryan Barberena, and the pair each pocketed an extra $50,000 for Fight of the Night. But that means Brown lost out on another $105,000 in win money, for a close fight that ended in a split decision which could have gone either way.

Cage Warriors 136 Produces Crazy KO

Cage Warriors might be best known for producing Conor McGregor, who was a double champ there prior to the UFC, or more recently, Molly McCann and Paddy Pimblett. But in reality, the UK promotion is one of the best “regional” shows on the planet.

Cage Warriors 136 in Manchester last weekend was a reminder of that, and produced one heck of a highlight reel KO from Manny Akpan. Check it out below.

Julianna Pena Angling for Rousey Fight?

It’s 2022, Ronda Rousey is now firmly in the WWE “Superstar” portion of her career, has been inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, and her fighting days are firmly behind her.

So now’s the opportune time to try and lure her into a fight, right?

Julianna Pena appeared to be doing just that on The MMA Hour this past week, taking a few shots at the women’s fighting pioneer, who was an opposing coach on The Ultimate Fighter 18, which saw Pena win the women’s bantamweight tournament.

“Ronda is so old news, right?” Pena proclaimed on the podcast back on Monday. “I think that what’s incredible about her is that she opened up the door and was destroying people in 10 seconds, and became a star because she was demolishing people in the first round, and that’s great — but she got knocked out twice and never came back. So how legit is she?”

Well, legit enough that people including the current UFC women’s bantamweight champ are still talking about her years later. Pena didn’t stop there, claiming that Rousey “had to go to pro wrestling” and suggesting that the two consecutive defeats to end her career “truly bothers her.”

“If it really truly does bother her and if it gets under her skin at the end of the day to know that, you know, her legacy is kind of ruined by the fact that she never came back and never got back on the horse, then I would like to invite her to please come back,” Pena continued, “and if she would like to come back, I would welcome her with open arms.”

Pena appears to be taking this play straight out of The Book of Sonnen, setting up a future opponent before she’s even close to facing her next one (that would be the rematch with Amanda Nunes). The problem here is, there’s almost no likelihood of this fight actually happening, and it just ends up making Pena sound petty. It’s like calling out GSP in 2022. Don’t do it.

The current bantamweight champ went on to call Rousey a sellout.

“That’s what I’m saying, she’s kind of a joke in the MMA world now, because she’s a — what is the word? — sellout,” Pena claimed. “Like, a little bit of a sellout there. I mean, I guess I understand, right? It’s like, pro wrestling is fake, you get paid millions of dollars, I get it. But for me, for real sh*t, for like the ‘you’re the real, real deal,’ I would say that that’s in the UFC. And if she ever wants any of that real smoke, I’m ready.”

Rousey finished her MMA career with a 12-2 record, having defended the women’s bantamweight championship six times (a technicality, as she was awarded the title after joining the UFC as the Strikeforce bantamweight champ). Pena is expected to defend her own title for the first time this summer.

Casey O’Neill Has Something to Say About That

While Ronda Rousey was busy dealing with the fallout from WrestleMania 38 over the weekend, flyweight Casey O’Neill had something to say about Julianna Pena’s digs at the ex-champ.

“A joke? Because she had a few losses and decided to move on with her life? This isn’t how it should be…” O’Neill wrote on social media. “We should be supporting each other as females in this sport… you can have an opinion on someone’s skills but this isn’t it.”

O’Neill would later go on to sayJealousy & hate are ugly emotions” without specifically referencing Pena.

Bellator 1, In Full

Bellator MMA recently made its inaugural event available on Youtube, free of charge. The 2009 event that helped launch the promotion featured Eddie Alvarez and Jorge Masvidal, among other names.

PFL Challenger Series Show Under Scrutiny

The PFL Challenger Series has had a bit of a rocky start to it. The Professional Fighters League’s answer to Dana White’s Contender Series has had timing issues, and going behind a paywall on fuboTV wasn’t a super popular decision.

That said, all that really matters are the fights— and when there are fights, fans will bet on them. Unfortunately, one recent Challenger Series show was falsely advertised as airing live, and it has now come under considerable scrutiny.

Per a report by ESPN, the PFL Challenger Series 7 card which aired on April 1, 2022 was actually filmed on March 25. However, both the PFL and fuboTV promoted it as a live event, and as a result, sports betting outlets took bets on the fights. Suspicious betting activity soon raised up red flags — with U.S. Integrity, which monitors betting industry movement, sending an alert to sportsbooks the day after the card had aired advising them that the show was pre-taped.

In its alert, U.S. Integrity wrote that “it’s very possible that any potentially suspicious wagering activity is indicative of nefarious behavior.” The Arizona Department of Gaming is removing the PFL from its wagering catalogue, per the ESPN report, while the Colorado Division of Gaming is investigating. Other regions may follow, including Nevada and New Hampshire, who confirmed to ESPN that they were aware of the situation.

The PFL has not revealed why the show was pre-taped, while fuboTV stated that the Challenger Series was normally streamed live, with the April 1 show being the lone exception.

“We inadvertently used the same promo copy for the April 1 show as we did for previous shows, which was a mistake. We regret the error,” Jennifer Press, senior vice president of communications for fuboTV, said in a statement.

The PFL is not the first promotion to air a show via tape delay, as ONE Championship did so consistently in the early months of the pandemic, something that was not always made abundantly clear in marketing.

Some bettors have now reported that their winnings from the PFL Challenger Series event on April 1 have been rescinded.

Car Jitsu Is A Thing

There’s not much to say about this, other than, it exists. Car Jitsu. Jiu-jitsu in a car, on a frozen lake.

We’re just a small step or two away from Man vs. Car.