TUESDAY NEWS DIGEST 9/20: UFC’s new matchmaker, AXS TV developments, Ronda Rousey, Dana White, Nate Diaz (w/Hiscoe’s Analysis)

By Mike Hiscoe, MMATorch contributor

(Matt Roberts) USA TODAY


Some major shakeups are happening at the top level of UFC and working their way all the way down to two of the top independent MMA promotions in the United States.

When news broke earlier this month that longtime UFC matchmaker Joe Silva would be retiring at the end of the year, there was much speculation as to whether Sean Shelby would assume the full workload or if someone would be brought in to replace Silva. Today we got our answer from UFC as Legacy Fighting Championships owner Mick Maynard will be stepping in to work alongside Shelby and will be assuming the role of Vice President of Talent Relations. Maynard was on-stage for the UFC 203 weigh-ins, sparking rumors of a potential role with the company.

Legacy is one of the more notable independent MMA promotions, recently launching the career of Sage Northcutt after being featured on UFC’s “Dave White: Lookin’ for a Fight” web series.

As part of the trickle down effect of Maynard’s departure, Legacy also announced Monday via press release that they are merging with WFA to create the Legacy Fighting Alliance. Both groups had been partners with AXS TV and the merged group will continue to broadcast on the cable network, airing 30 live events in 2017, bringing AXS TV’s MMA schedule to a total of 45 live events.

Another effect of the move is the cancellation of “Inside MMA,” a weekly news program that’s been covering the sport since 2007. The reason given for the cancellation is the increase in live events.

When the Joe Silva story broke, we knew it was going to have major repercussions, and they look to have begun even before he’s left.

Hiscoe’s Analysis: Maynard has done a good job of making a name for himself in the crowded landscape of regional MMA. Turning out fighters like Holly Holm and Henry Cejudo along with discovering the potential in someone like Sage Northcutt bode well for his ability to do the job. That said, the job of UFC matchmaker is a difficult job to prepare for as there’s no job like it and what it means to be a UFC matchmaker is evolving constantly. It will be interesting to see if he takes over the heavier weight classes from Silva or if Shelby takes those duties or if they split the job in another way.

It’s amazing to me that there’s room in the marketplace for UFC to run in the neighbourhood of 45 live events a year and now for AXS TV to be airing 45 live events of their own. Throw in the other major cable MMA players, Bellator and WSOF, and there’s more fighting on TV than even the most dedicated fan could hope to follow. For a snapshot of a very different time, check out Wade Keller’s report earlier today on the hiring of Maynard, as there’s a quote from the first UFC matchmaker Art Davie talking to Keller in 1995 about a time when UFC had to take out ads in martial arts magazines in order to find fighters to fill out their bimonthly events. UFC is trying to corner the regional market by airing as many of these groups as possible on Fight Pass so it’s good to see that there will be regional MMA available for viewing outside of the UFC umbrella, and keeping some competition alive.


-Cris Cyborg continues to try to goad Ronda Rousey into a fight in a video provided by TMZSports.com. Cyborg criticised Rousey for not fighting since her loss last year to Holly Holm and for not moving up in weight like Conor McGregor has.

-Speaking of moving up in weight, Cyborg told “The MMA Hour” Monday that she weighed 165 lbs. that day. She needs to weigh-in for her 140 lb fight with Lina Lansberg on Friday morning.

-Last Saturday’s “UFC Fight Night: Hidalgo” drew 826,000 viewers on FS1.

-Nate Diaz passed all of his UFC 202 post-fight drug tests, but his use of cannabidiol in a vape-pen at the post-fight press conference is still being investigated, Jeff Novitsky told MMA Fighting.

-UFC Canada head Tom Wright told Submission Radio that they will go ahead with UFC 206 in Toronto regardless of whether Georges St-Pierre fights on the show or not. “We don’t need a Canadian, necessarily, to headline the event,” Wright said.

-In an interview in Brazil, Dana White said that “there’s a good chance” Ronda Rousey fights Amanda Nunes before the end of the year. The fight has been rumored for UFC 207 on Dec. 30.

-Nunes recently won the 2016 Equality Visibility Award at the Equality California Awards last weekend. Nunes is the first openly gay UFC champion.

-UFC is currently investigating a May domestic violence arrest of Alex Nicholson. Police reports state Nicholson picked up his fiancee and dropped her on the ground outside a 7-Eleven convenience store. The charges were eventually dropped when the accuser failed to appear in court. Nicholson is still scheduled to face Sam Alvey on Oct. 15.

-After a brief hiatus, Ben Saunders has re-signed with UFC.


-Ian McCall vs. Neil Seery at UFC Fight Night in Belfast on Nov. 19.

-Jim Miller is in for Al Iaquina against Thiago Alves at UFC 205 from New York City on Nov. 12.

-Zak Ottow in for Bobby Green vs. Josh Burkman at UFC Fight Night in Portland on Oct. 1.

-Hisaki Kato vs. A.J. Matthews and Goiti Yamauchi vs. Ryan Couture for Bellator 162 from Memphis on Oct. 21.

(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)

NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S MONDAY NEWS DIGEST: Diaz “fight strategy” to fall on purpose could have cost him fight, Punk opponent volunteers lining up, Gustafsson vs. Nogueira

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