5 Rounds on Nick Diaz’ petition, CM Punk, GSP, UFC in Ireland and Rousey/Browne

Updated: October 16, 2015
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A weekly feature to Sideline Sports Report, each Friday “5 Rounds” will take a look at the biggest storylines and questions in the UFC, Bellator MMA and the rest of the MMA world heading into the weekend. We’ll preview big fights for the weekend shows, talk news and look back at the MMA week that was each and every Friday.

Round 1
Nick Diaz White House petition reaches over 100,000 signatures

The tale of Nick Diaz will now sit before the President of the United States.

Yes, that President.

Yes, Barack Obama.

Almost immediately after the Nevada State Athletic Commission levied a five-year suspension against Diaz for possibly smoking marijuana in violation of their rules, an official “White House petition” was started to get Diaz’ situation in front of the Commander in Chief. Anyone can really start a petition to the White House, but it takes 100,000 signatures to pass a threshold to be reviewed by the President, or the President’s office. Not that anyone expects Obama or whoever actually reviews some of the petty petitions that cross his desk to even bat an eye.

But still, passing the threshold with time to spare (at last check, over 113,000 people had signed the petition) to try and reverse the NSAC decision is a huge step and a cultural spike into the NSAC’s opinion that Diaz needed a near lifetime ban simply because he didn’t play ball with their overly laughable politics.

When the MMA community jumped on board to support Diaz, it was no shock. Michael Chiesa and Ronda Rousey were a couple of the more vocal critics of Diaz’ ban. It was actually Chiesa’s sharing of the petition on Twitter that prompted me to sign the petition. But when longtime foe Georges St. Pierre offered any help he could give and pop star Cher chimed in too, things took off even more. Diaz was wronged and that much is clear through any of the literature about the situation that you read on the web. It is unlikely that anyone from the White House will undo that and the NSAC will not change their stance unless forced to.

So does the petition fall on deaf ears? Absolutely not. It is a major stance against a governing body and it will do wonders to show the NSAC that they cannot simply fly under the radar because of their status in the world.

Round 2
Will we ever see CM Punk in the octagon?

With the recent news that Phil “CM Punk” Brooks had an injury setback in training, there has to be a question of if we will ever see the former WWE superstar actually compete in the octagon.

His coach Duke Roufus, several members of his Milwaukee-based fight team and longtime friend and mentor Paul Heyman have all been outspoken about Brooks’ drive, determination and will power to get to the day where he will debut in the octagon, but a lot of skepticism remains and for good reason.

The most damning of the arguments against Brooks is who exactly he would fight. This isn’t UFC 3, so a fighter debuting on this grand stage at 0-0 in their professional career is more than absurd. But with Brooks’ name value (or stage name value), he is going to have to be put, likely, on a main card of a pay per view. After all, while his motives may be pure, the UFC’s signing of Brooks is only for monetary reasons. So putting him on any other card or any other part of the card that isn’t on pay per view makes the entire move pointless.

The only real opponent who could be an interesting draw so far is Cathal Pendred, who has verbally spared with Brooks on Twitter. But with Pendred’s seasoned background, that fight is a stretch.

Brooks’ age, lack of experience and now an injury all work against ever seeing him in the UFC. But maybe that is for the better. Maybe Dana White and the UFC can avoid the sideshow antics that Bellator MMA employs when it puts people like Kimbo Slice and Ken Shamrock in the cage together.

Round 3
GSP teases a comeback, but are we going to fall for it?

The longtime welterweight kingpin St. Pierre is teasing a comeback. But don’t bite just yet.

The two-time UFC welterweight champion, who retired as the champion in 2013 with just two blemishes on his record told a Canadian reporter this week that he may return to the sport.

“I’m starting to get the feeling, more and more, to come back. I watch the fights to see what’s going on in my division, and I’m staying in shape,” St. Pierre said.

But let’s not get our hopes up. St. Pierre has fought just four times in the last five years. That’s four times in the three years of that half-decade that was active as a fighter. Injuries were starting to plague St. Pierre, prompting delays in fights and interim champions. And aging doesn’t stop either just because you are out of the sport. At 34, St. Pierre is still a young man but one with a lot of MMA mileage on him in 27 fights. And he was slowing down two years ago. While he hasn’t lost since 2007, he hadn’t finished any of his last seven fights.

Now let’s not get this wrong, St. Pierre is arguably the GOAT (greatest of all time) in mixed martial arts. His fights would still draw and the pay per views would still sell. There are loads of intriguing matchups for him in the UFC in the welterweight division like rematches with Johny Hendricks and Carlos Condit or truly even a battle with current champion Robbie Lawler. And oh so many of us would still pay good money to watch a GSP-Anderson Silva ‘super fight,’ even years after the super part has worn off.

But that doesn’t mean that St. Pierre would be successful. With every passing hour that he stays out of the octagon, no matter how healthy and fit he is, a GSP return gets a little more cringe worthy. Nobody wants to see him come back and get thumped around the cage and really not many want to see him come back and be half of the man he used to be.

So don’t tease us Georges and better yet, don’t tease yourself.

Round 4
UFC shows lack of depth on European cards

In 2014, the UFC was getting a lot of displeasure for the lack of depth in their non-pay per view cards, mostly due to a rash of injuries taking out main events and co-main events. They’ve skated by in 2015 with deeper cards and less injuries overall.

That changes with October 24’s UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Duffy in Ireland now that the best fight on that card is off that card. The fact is that Dustin Poirier vs. Joseph Duffy is a poor man’s main event that is really only acceptable on Fight Pass. All along, the draw to the card was the heavyweight title eliminator bout between a surprisingly surging Ben Rothwell and top contender Stipe Miocic. Now, with Miocic out with an injury as of Tuesday, the card has lost it’s vastly most appealing fight.

The fans will still be rabid, we are in Dublin after all with an Irishman in the main event across the cage from a guy who likes to talk trash to Irishmen. The crowd will be crazy and they will rally behind Duffy and new co-main eventer Paddy Holohan.

Norman Parke versus Reza Madadi was originally announced as the new co-main event. An interesting enough fighter with a lot of grit, but did anyone ever actually think they would call Parke a co-main event fighter? Even more so, by elevating Parke to that spot, the UFC and matchmaker Joe Silva were also forced to elevate Madadi, who hasn’t fought since a 2013 upset over Michael Johnson due to that whole ugly “being in prison” situation. It doesn’t exactly look good for the UFC to have a convicted burglar headlining a show just seven months after his 14-month prison stint.

Luckily, or not, they remedied that Madadi issue by changing the co-main event to include Irishman Holohan taking on Louis Smolka. But at least Madadi has a name win to his credit and Parke has an international season of The Ultimate Fighter, which he won, under his belt. Unless you are watching the Fox Sports 1 prelims and follow Conor McGregor‘s word like it is the gospel, you probably don’t know Holohan that well and chances are, no matter how hardcore of a fan you are, you can’t tell Smolka from the guy standing next to you at Starbucks.

And it all comes on the heals of short sighted booking. It is events like October 24’s that make it seem like after a strong run of contender heavy shows that Silva either draws names out of a fishbowl, throws darts at names on the wall or let’s a toddler plan overseas shows.

Round 5
The Ronda Rousey/Travis Browne love fest

Is this how it is going to be? Are we going to be stuck in the world of Ronda Rousey/Travis Browne being all lovey-dovey?

After rabid rumors about the pair of UFC fighters and training partners being a couple, Browne confirmed the relationship this week and it opened a Pandora’s box that probably nobody cared about. Soon Rousey too released a statement about the relationship and all of the sudden there were pictures of them out and about on the town all over the MMA-web.

And it’s great for them, maybe a feeling of freedom in their relationship. But this isn’t VH1 so the MMA community has really no need for “Ronda finds Love.”

“I don’t talk about my personal life much. That’s why it’s called ‘personal life,'” Rousey told ESPN. “It’s true that Travis and I are in a relationship. I’ve really enjoyed the time we have spent together and getting to know one another. And that’s all I’m going to say about it.”

For someone who doesn’t care to make her personal life public, Rousey was all over headlines this week with her released statement, tabloid-friendly photo op jaunts with Browne and her mother badmouthing her coaches. Browne, for his part, had chimed in days before with his own very basic, caveman-esque explanation.

“Dating is for children,” Browne said. “Dating is for kids. Over the summer, through all the sh*t that I had to shuffle through, that I had to sift through, Ronda and I started talking throughout the summer and I’ll say now that we are together. She’s my woman and I’m her man. There’s no boyfriend, girlfriend stuff. There’s no dating. We’re together.”

The heavy controversy in the relationship has come from the fact that Browne is still married, even if estranged from his wife. Even more, he has spent most of 2016 in limbo due to domestic violence accusations from his wife. Even after the UFC’s investigation kind-of cleared Browne in wrongdoing, his wife holds steady to the allegations and has bashed Rousey in the media for dating a man who beats women.

Browne stays steadfast that his ex-wife is a little crazy.

“I’m a lot of things. I can be an asshole. I can be mean,” he continued. “But putting my hands on a woman is absolutely not in me. That goes against everything in my DNA as a human being,” Browne said.

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