Sunday MMA Quick Hits: Fitch Blasts UFC 281 Main Eventers, PVZ Books Fight

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Paige VanZant
Paige VanZant Credit: Twitter - @paigevanzant

Another UFC card is in the books, with two major storylines emerging from UFC Vegas 65 on Saturday — Derrick Lewis being forced out of the main event with the show already underway, and James Krause reportedly being suspended from cornering. That wasn’t the only MMA action this week, with the aftermath of UFC 281 still being talked about, plus Bellator and ONE cards. PVZ has a fight announced, and some Nevada athletic commission news. It’s your Sunday MMA Quick Hits.

Jon Fitch questions MMA game of Adesanya, Pereira

Former WSOF welterweight champ, UFC title challenger and Bellator MMA title challenger Jon Fitch is among those critical of the UFC 281 main event.

But rather than simply calling Alex Pereira a one-dimensional champ, he ripped into both fighters who threw down in New York City just over a week ago.

“What an absolute joke. This guy [Pereira] had seven fights, he had seven fights, and they gave him a title fight. Seven fights. In what world does a top sport athlete come in with such little experience? Oh well he’s a kickboxer— I don’t care. It’s a different sport,” Fitch said in a recent video posted to his official Youtube channel.

“He had zero ground. Absolutely zero ground. Adesanya schooled him on the ground. He had less than white belt ability on the ground. One stripe. Maybe one stripe white belt. He had one stripe white belt, and he is in there fighting for the highest belt in the land. Against Adesanya, who is supposed to be the best middleweight fighter maybe ever. Oh, since Anderson Silva, oh my god (sarcastically). Is any of that real? How is that even possible?”

Fitch’s take is one that echoes many, including Brendan Schaub, and generally downplays the striking ability of both men and focuses on their supposed grappling deficiencies.

And while Fitch admitted that he was entertained by the fight, “I’ve never been impressed with Izzy,” he added. “He picks at the guys and runs away. Picks and runs, picks and runs, and wins decisions. The guys who are fighting him don’t move their heads, run in, and try to strike with him. Stupid. They don’t ever try to feint, make him miss, and get to the clinch and take him down.”

“It’s a joke. It’s a joke. Unbelievable.”

Fitch’s hypothesis is generally that the UFC is picking and choosing match-ups. He used Brock Lesnar as another example, suggesting that the former Heavyweight champ had washed out of the NFL, and never made it to the Olympics, only to get preferential treatment by the UFC.

“How many amazing fighters and fights have we had stolen from us because MMA isn’t a free market? Because it’s been monopolized by these greedy slimeballs who control the ranks, control the title, who have these exclusive contracts, who have monopolized this and turned it into a reality show? Keeping the majority of the money to themselves, so that guys who have actual talent and ability don’t want to touch it.”

Hear more from Fitch, who retired from MMA following a loss to Neiman Gracie in September of 2020, below.

Paige VanZant Has Return Date Set for Next BKFC Fight

Paige VanZant’s bare-knuckle career has been a bit of a bust, but the popular fighter and former UFC star will keep on keeping on, with a new date set for 2023. Per BKFC President David Feldman, VanZant will compete in New Mexico next February, with Feb. 27 the expected date.

No opponent has been announced for PVZ’s third bare-knuckle outing. Thus far, she’s 0-2 in the sport, and is badly in need of a win. Especially given her pro wrestling career seems to have stalled following a handful of appearances for AEW — with trainer Gangrel saying last month that he hadn’t heard from the star since her first match (via tjrwrestling.net).

“She did well; she didn’t train as much as I would have liked for her to train, but I haven’t seen her since that match. She did that match, she wrote me, and said, ‘Hey, I’d like to go over the match with you and some critique.’ And I said, ‘Sure,’ and that’s the last I heard from her.”

VanZant recently moved onto OnlyFans after running her Paigefanzant.com website for several years, so she’s not hurting for cash between fights, but if her next bare-knuckle outing goes south, could we see an MMA return?

Ilir Latifi Suspended Three Months After Fighting with Staph

Following Ilir Latfii’s win over Alexei Oleinik on October 1, the Swede revealed he had competed with a staph infection.

Bad.

Staph is contagious, and no one should be competing with it. So it’s not surprising that the Nevada Athletic Commission has opted to suspend the fighter, albeit for just three months.

MMA Fighting was first to report the news, following a commission meeting this past Wednesday. Latifi will have to fork over just north of $400 in legal fees as well.

Given “The Sledgehammer” was mulling retirement following the fight, mind you, the suspension may not really matter in the end.

Minner facing possible sanction for failure to disclose injury

That same NSAC meeting signaled the commission’s apparent desire to get serious about fighters not disclosing injuries. That just happens to coincide with an investigation into suspicious betting activity surrounding the Darrick Minner vs. Shayilan Nuerdanbieke fight earlier this month.

Minner fell to a leg injury early in the fight; just prior to the bout, a massive shift in betting action saw large amounts of money put on Nuerdanbieke to finish the fight inside of a round. While Nuerdanbieke had already been the favorite, the volume of bets coming in triggered a review by U.S. Integrity, an industry watchdog.

The UFC has also announced an investigation via their own betting partner, though promotion president Dana White recently stated there was no evidence to show anyone involved done anything untoward.

Regardless, Minner may now be on the hook with the Nevada commission for not disclosing his injury. “I believe we’re going to also take action against him for not disclosing the injury,” Nevada Deputy Attorney General Joel Bekker said during the meeting (via MMA Fighting).

Minner’s case will be carried over to a future meeting. There’s still the issue of James Krause apparently being suspended from cornering as well.

One More Bit of Commission News

The NSAC has rejected an attempt by the Mixed Martial Arts Journalists Association to ensure promoters provide access to all weigh-ins and live professional events held in the state.

The move, with the support of the Nevada Press Association, came via petition and was made in response to the UFC’s decision to host their October 1, 2022 event behind closed doors. While airing live on ESPN+, all media access to the card was cut off on short notice, as Meta/Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, plus a couple of companions including his wife, were given a private audience.

The downside of this being allowed is simple: the point of a media presence at sporting events is to give an unfiltered (as much as possible) view of what transpires, outside of the usual promotional push. To the extent possible, it keeps things honest. That’s not to say the UFC is doing anything dishonest, but take the Latifi situation, for example: no media was present to question the fighter following the bout on when he’d contracted staph or just why he felt the need to fight with it.

Weigh-ins are another, arguably greater, concern, as fighters have been known to cheat the scale (see: Cormier, Daniel). Not to mention the number of fighters hitting the scale who look like death warmed over following tough weight cuts. Reporting on that brings awareness at least. No media access, less awareness.

The NSAC, however, cited health and privacy concerns in rejecting the petition.

Cageside Live Covers UFC 281

Really, what else could you talk about after a night like that?

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