Memorial tributes to the late Victoria Lee and Stephen Bonnar graced Saturday’s UFC Vegas 67 card, while the story of ex-Bellator fighter Keith Lee provided some much-needed positive news this week. It’s your Sunday MMA Quick Hits!
Keith Lee finds a new calling, sparks first feelgood story of 2023 in MMA
2023’s first ten days have pretty much sucked for MMA fans. In a nutshell, Dana White and his wife were involved in a domestic violence incident, Phil Baroni was arrested for murder, Anthony Rocco Martin has been charged with simple assault of a police officer, Dillon Danis dropped out of his fight with KSI, Ilia Topuria was involved in a bar fight, another former UFC fighter was charged with a brutal assault, Victoria Lee tragically passed away at the age of 18, and Diego Sanchez has somehow managed to get licensed to fight in bare-knuckle boxing.
All that comes after a rough end to 2022 with the UFC involved in a betting scandal, three of its fighters for some reason choosing to visit Chechnya to shoot guns and celebrate the birthday of a dictator’s son, and a judging controversy.
So thank you, Keith Lee, former Bellator fighter, who found a new calling as a food critic, and has helped boost business by the thousands for several restaurants. Oh, and he still intends to fight.
MMA Fighting did an upbeat 1-on-1 with Lee recently, which you can check out — or just jump to his TikTok to get his food reviews directly. Or better yet do both.
After a rough start to the year, we all needed that.
Dillon Danis banned by Misfits Boxing
After no-showing a press conference then dropping out of his fight with KSI altogether, Dillon Danis has been banned by Misfits Boxing.
Banned from what isn’t clear, since it’s pretty clear he never had any intention of showing up.
Somewhat unrelated, but here’s a clip of Danis being eviscerated by Ariel Helwani.
Happy holidays pic.twitter.com/7PVOKelqRs
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) December 22, 2022
Baroni formally charged with Femicide in Mexico
Former UFC fighter Phil Baroni, who fought all over the globe in a career that saw stops in Strikeforce, KOTC, Bellator, ONE Championship, PRIDE, and other organizations, has been formally charged with femicide in Mexico.
“Femicide” is generally defined as the killing of a woman or women due to their gender. As previously reported by Cageside Press and other outlets, Baroni was arrested in Mexico after flagging police in San Pacho and alerting them to an unresponsive female in his hotel room. Baroni allegedly told police that after the woman, identified as his girlfriend, confessed to cheating on him, he demanded she take a shower — then physically threw her into the shower when she refused.
Baroni allegedly claimed that the woman later laid down in bed, and that he covered her with a sheet before leaving to get cigarettes at her request. However, per a report by ESPN Deportes (in Spanish), prosecutors identified 37 injuries on the victim’s body.
Multiple sources confirmed Baroni’s involvement to Cageside Press after the allegations first surfaced, as reports initially did not identify the suspect. He’s now looking at a prison sentence between 50 to 75 years, if convicted.
Baroni last fought in MMA in 2019, and later announced his retirement from the sport. He won a boxing match in Mexico the following year, and per his social media presence, has been living in the country.
The former fighter is being housed at the CERESO Venustiano Carranza (state prison) in Tepic.
UFC pays tribute to late Victoria Lee
In an unexpected and welcome move, the UFC opted to pay tribute to late ONE Championship fighter Victoria Lee at the start of Saturday’s UFC Vegas 67 card.
The move comes as a surprise given the promotion often pretends as if the competition simply doesn’t exist — and none of the Lee siblings have ever competed for the organization.
The unfortunate passing of the 18-year old fighter transcends all that, however. Victoria Lee was a kind soul in a sport built on bravado and machismo, whose future looked as bright as the stars, with brother Cristian and sister Angela already hitting those heights.
The sport and world are all the worse without her. Good on the UFC for recognizing that.
RIP Victoria Lee. 🤍 pic.twitter.com/DujknAETVb
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) January 14, 2023
And Stephan Bonnar. Man, what a rough night
A second tribute at UFC Vegas 67 saw the main card open with a tribute to the late Stephan Bonnar.
Bonnar, like Lee, passed away in December, at the age of 45, of presumed heart complications.
Bonnar, along with Forrest Griffin, has long been credited with saving the UFC thanks to their memorable war at the original Ultimate Fighter finale in 2005. Though Griffin won the fight, both men were awarded UFC contracts, with the fight landing them in the promotion’s Hall of Fame in 2013.
Bonnar’s struggles in recent years were unfortunate, and he never achieved the same heights as Griffin in terms of career accolades. Yet his place as a fan favorite at a make-or-break time for the sport should not be overlooked; were it not for the Stephen Bonnars of the world, the UFC might never had made it.
Il a changé le visage des MMA.
Ce soir, nous rendons hommage a Stephen Bonnar. pic.twitter.com/jrE6xXS2Ou
— UFC Québec (@UFCQuebec) January 15, 2023
The KSI vs. FaZe Temperrr card was… unwatchable at times
When your “mystery fighter” is a supposed pro boxer who fans accused of either taking a dive or being the worst pro ever (that’s Luis Alcaraz Pineda, for those unaware) after losing to KSI last year, you’ve got a problem. That was the scene in London on Saturday, where Pineda was revealed as the opponent of TikTok content creator BDave. Or is it DaveB? Dave and Busters? Whatever.
The celebrity boxing fad, outside of Jake Paul, is getting a bit long in the tooth. KSI himself might be able to draw things out, if he keeps getting the right match-ups. But Pineda, a pro who was left winded in a three round fight, versus BDave, was unwatchable. The fact that the “mystery fighter” came out to the Undertaker’s entrance theme (at least initially) felt like a sad parody of Israel Adesanya doing the same last year.
On the plus side, MMA vet Anthony Taylor picked up a win at the event. Full results can be found here.