Monday started out as a relatively tame news day in MMA. There were a couple of fight announcements that knocked nobody’s socks off (Aisling Daly vs. Ericka Almeida at Fight Night 76, and Brendan O’Reilly vs. William Macario at UFC 193), World Series of Fighting did World Series of Fighting things (announcing a one-night, eight-man tournament which I’ll get back to), and it came out that Charles Oliveira suffered an esophageal tear in his fight against Max Holloway. The evening brought some real news however, and no, I’m not talking about whatever is going on with whatever Anthony Johnson did to a woman this time. It seems that Joe Silva has decided to heed the calls of fans, and not punish Michael Johnson for the work of a couple incompetent judges. His next bout has been scheduled for December’s UFC on Fox 17 card against former title challenger Nate Diaz. This is a very smart booking for Johnson at this point, since Diaz is a far bigger name than Dariush but a much less dangerous fight at this point in his career. Since working his way to a title shot back in 2012, Diaz has competed just four times, going 1-3 (albeit against strong competition) and only holding a win over a greatly diminished Gray Maynard. The actual performances themselves have been bad by Diaz as well. He got ragdolled by Benson Henderson, TKO’d for the first time by Josh Thomson, and received an all-around beatdown from current UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. Johnson, on the other hand, has been on a tear since some early struggles in the UFC. He began his tenure in the Octagon with a 4-4 record, before reeling off increasingly impressive performances against Joe Lauzon, Gleison Tibau, Melvin Guillard, and Edson Barboza. In his last fight, he lost a well-documented split decision to Dariush that was nearly universally panned. Johnson’s high pressure striking style gives opponents fits, as he’s able to stay in their faces for the entire 15 minutes of a fight if need be. Looking at this bout, there is certainly some danger for Johnson in the form of Diaz’ submission game, but the most likely scenario is that Johnson walks Diaz down and lands almost at will on him for 15 minutes. Looking at Diaz’ recent performances, the fact that this will be his second consecutive year-long break between fights, and taking into account Johnson likely coming in with a point to prove, I just can’t see this one going well for the littler Diaz. As for a line, I would expect Johnson to open somewhere around the -260 mark, if not a bit higher. Okay, with that out of the way I said I’d get back to the WSOF tournament. I honestly don’t understand how fully functioning adults can be running this company. Washington state does not allow for ‘Elimination Tournaments’ to be held under their jurisdiction. Holding such an event is considered a Class C felony in the state. There is even the possibility that the athletic director for the state can apply for an injunction with the court to seize all money (which we know WSOF makes none), and assets (is the cage considered an asset?) related to the event. Of course, WSOF may apply to have this event approved, but as yet they haven’t done so (because they are WSOF, after all), and in all likelihood are unaware that their proposed event is even illegal. I, for one, will miss these crazy WSOF shenanigans when they organization eventually folds.
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