MMA loses one of the good guys in Shane del Rosario
Shane del Rosario was only 30 years old, which is too soon for memorials. The Orange County native passed away less than two weeks after suffering cardiac arrest at his home, where he was found unconscious by his friend, roommate and fellow UFC fighter, Ian McCall, on the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 26.
This time, even as those closest to him held on to the faintest glimmers of hope over this past week, he just couldn’t come back.
I didn’t know Del Rosario personally, but had talked to him before the events he competed in, just small snippets of perfunctory lead-up from which very little is usually exchanged. In every case, though, he came off as laid-back and egoless as can be found in this sport. There was a smile on his face, and a warmth behind the idea of what he was doing. At 6-foot-4, he was soft-spoken and bright. He had a degree from the University of California, Irvine in psychology, could have done anything he’d set out to do, but fighting was his path. And he had genuine affection for his coaches, Colin Oyama and Giva Santana, as well as a strong sense of pride for where he was from. He carried himself very lightly in his 245-pound frame.
The lasting impression in those brief encounters was that he loved fighting, which isn’t always the case in this game. To the point that his UFC debut, which happened in May 2012, felt like a feat of perseverance and -- without exaggeration -- something like destiny.
Because by then he had already dealt in adversity that came from forces beyond his control. Del Rosario was a prospect in the heavyweight division who, with a reputation built around his muay Thai, put together an 11-0 record by early 2011. He defeated Lavar Johnson in February of that year as an alternate in the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix, and was slated to face the other alternate (and eventual winner) Daniel Cormier in June. At the time, with his kickboxing background and the addition of submission skills, courtesy of his coach and mentor Santana, he was making noise as a future contender. He had finished all 11 opponents he’d faced.
But in April of that year -- April 14, 2011 to be exact -- Del Rosario was in a car accident. While sitting idle at a red light he was smashed into by a drunk driver who hopped a median and made a beeline for his car. He suffered severe back injuries and the mental anguish of having been shelved, involuntarily, from his upcoming fight with Cormier. It was as if bad luck had actually zeroed in on him, had actively sought him out, to the point that he contemplated retirement. But the idea of overcoming his personal travail and fighting again pushed him forward. He treated the accident as an obstacle, just something to be gotten over.
It would be a full year before he did compete again, which happened at UFC 146 against Stipe Miocic. Whether he won or lost that fight was immaterial. The fact that he made it -- to the UFC, which had been his goal since he began training with Marcus Ruas many years before, and back to the cage at all, which wasn’t a certainty in those dark times of recovery -- was the story. He lost the fight, but he had returned.
Ultimately, he lost his next bout in December against Pat Barry. The accident may have taken a toll on him as a competitor, yet it didn’t take away from his competitive spirit. He was scheduled to face Guto Inocente at UFC 168, but had to withdraw due to a rib injury he suffered in training.
That was only a couple of weeks before he was blindsided again, this time by something more dire and harder to understand. We don’t have all the answers yet as to why Del Rosario ended up at the Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, where he was taken off life support when his brain never regained activity. And even as the medical reasons are determined it's likely there won’t be answers to satisfy this particular "why," because there never are. It’s too much, too soon, with so much left unsaid. At some point it feels like we’re all just random targets left to dodge incoming bullets.
But if there was anybody who got the most from his short time on this Earth, it was Del Rosario. In a small documentary that FIGHT! Magazine’s videographer Rick Lee did, the man whose nickname was "No Limits" said more than he could have possibly known.
"People should love life. I love life. Everyday I wake up I love life, especially being here [in California] you think, man, life is the freaking best," he said. "Even with accidents or whatever, we’re fortunate to be here. We’re fortunate to have what we have. And during my injury, I was reflecting on that a lot, thinking how lucky I am. Even though I was injured and I couldn’t fight, even though I was going through some dark times I felt I was so lucky to be where I’m at today."
We’re lucky to have had him for the short time we did. The MMA family lost a good one in Shane del Rosario. May he rest in peace.
Shane del Rosario, UFC heavyweight, dies at age 30
Shane del Rosario, 30, died at a hospital in Newport Beach, Calif., nearly two weeks after suffering cardiac arrest.
Teammates Ian McCall and Carla Esparza confirmed the news on Twitter.
The UFC recently confirmed the news and released a statement.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship mourns the tragic loss of heavyweight competitor Shane Del Rosario, who has passed away at the age of 30. Del Rosario suffered a heart attack on Tuesday, Nov. 26 as a result of what doctors believe to be a congenital heart disorder, according to his manager Jason House.
The entire organization sends its deepest condolences to Shane's family and friends.
According to a Sherdog.com report, McCall, del Rosario's roommate, discovered del Rosario unconscious on the floor of their Laguna Niguel residence on Nov. 26. McCall administered CPR and contacted 911, who sent an ambulance which transported him to the hospital.
There was online confusion on Thanksgiving Day after a published report indicated del Rosario died, but del Rosario's manager, Jason House, clarified the situation, saying he was still alive but "needed a miracle."
A lifelong resident of Orange County, Calif., Del Rosario got into mixed martial arts after graduating from the University of California at Irvine, where he earned his bachelor's degree in psychology.
Del Rosario, who also competed in kickboxing, made his MMA debut in 2006 and won his first 11 professional fights, all via finish. This culminated in his biggest career victory, a first-round finish of Lavar Johnson on Feb. 12, 2011, in E. Rutherford, N.J. The bout was an alternates match in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament.
His life changed, however, two months later. Del Rosario was the victim of a drunk driving accident, as an inebriated driver slammed into his car from behind while del Rosario was stopped at a red light. Del Rosario was out of action for more than a year. As he readied for his return last year, del Rosario spoke about putting his frustrations in perspective.
"I had some dark times and it really sucks not doing what you want to do, but I put it all in perspective," del Rosario said. "My thing isn't all that bad. Other people are going through a lot of hard stuff."
Del Rosario returned to competition in 2012 and fought twice, first losing to Stipe Miocic at UFC 146, then to Pat Barry in December.
A member of Team Oyama in Irvine, which includes McCall and Esparza, del Rosario was scheduled to fight Guto Inocente at UFC 168, but recently pulled out with a rib injury.
Ben Askren announces signing with ONE FC, blames 'immature' Dana White
When Bellator granted Ben Askren his official release in mid-November, the undefeated former Olympian thought his obvious next step -- signing with the UFC -- would be a mere formality. As it turned out, things weren't so simple.
"It's been a crazy three weeks, but it ended up turning out pretty well for me. I'll be heading over to ONE FC," Askren announced on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, revealing his deal to be a lucrative two-year, six-fight contract.
"I think my first fight is probably going to be either March or April, and then I'll be joining Evolve MMA team for the end of my camps over there in Singapore."
Askren's announcement ends a turbulent, if unexpected free agency period, throughout which UFC President Dana White expressed little interest in signing the longtime Bellator champion, citing a perceived lack of competition on Askren's résumé.
Despite White's misgivings, Askren met with UFC officials in Las Vegas in late-November, in one last attempt to reach an agreement.
"The meeting went really well," Askren said. "They were all polite, everything was good, and we talked. Honestly when I left the UFC offices, I thought we were going to come to a deal at that point.
"Later that night they call back and they say that they're not interested. It was kind of a weird set of circumstances, and after going through the meeting and everything, it's very clear to me that it's not really about me. It's about Dana's quarrel with Bellator and (Bellator CEO) Bjorn (Rebney) ... because when you look at his main argument -- that I'm not I'm good enough -- it's shenanigans, plain and simple.
"They've got 84 guys on roster, and frankly, I'd beat half of those dudes with one arm tied behind my back and blindfolded," Askren continued. "Some of those guys, they really suck. They're really bad at the sport of MMA. So when it came down to it, I think it's all about the Bellator bickering and whatnot.
"Honestly, if you guys knew all the little bulls--t that on behind the scenes between both organizations, you guys would be cracking up so hard."
Askren continued to elaborate, claiming that Zuffa's ongoing feud with Bellator -- in particular, White's back and forth with Rebney and Viacom officials -- played a significant role in the UFC's decision to not pursue him, despite his obvious fighting credentials. "I can tell you without a shadow of doubt, it definitely has nothing to do with me," Askren said. "I'm not going to air any dirty laundry, but it definitely does not. And that's probably the hardest thing.
"I think (Zuffa CEO) Lorenzo (Fertitta) doesn't let his ego get involved and he's a little more mature, so he doesn't really have the quarrel with Bellator as much as Dana. I think Lorenzo was pro-me, and wanted to get me into the organization.
"When you think that Dana is so immature that he's letting a little bitter rivalry between him and Bellator/Bjorn get in the way of the main point of their business, which is to put the best people in the world in the Octagon and let them fight it out to see who the best is, it's kind of crazy. You'd think by the time someone has a billion dollars and runs one of the biggest sports organizations in the entire world, that they would have enough maturity to get over a bitter rivalry with a different company."
Due to the public, and in a way, bizarre nature of Askren's negotiations, critics have been quick to target both Bellator MMA and UFC officials for the way the situation has been handled.
Askren, though, levies the lion's share of the blame onto White, while making note to defend detractors of his former boss.
"Bjorn (Rebney) is getting yelled at for this situation, which is ridiculous," Askren remarked. "Bjorn was the first person to say to me, ‘Ben, why do you want us to let go of your matching clause? You're going to get screwed by this whole deal.' And I had to say, Bjorn, I'm a big boy and if I screw myself, I'm fine with screwing myself. I'm okay with that. So Bjorn on the one hand gets crucified for holding Eddie (Alvarez) too long, then he has the respect to let me go so I can go try to achieve my goals, and he gets crucified for that, too. So it's like he did one thing, and then he did the opposite thing, and he gets killed on both ends. It's laughable to me."
Once the UFC withdrew its name from consideration, Askren was left to decide between comparable offers from WSOF and Singapore-based ONE FC. Askren admits that the situation almost led to him to retirement, but in the end he decided that he wasn't yet done with competing professionally in mixed martial arts.
Interesting to note, though, is that White may have indirectly swayed Askren's decision with his late-November suggestion that Askren sign with WSOF to "show what he's got."
"That definitely has something to do with it," Askren laughed. "I have a really hard time with people telling me what to do. If I'm your employee and I work for Zuffa, I'm probably going to listen to you.
"But having Dana tell me to go [to WSOF] was something that was definitely, it was in the back of my mind. Like, dude I'm not going to let this guy push me around. I don't event work for this guy and he's going to push me around?"
Askren refused to elaborate on the specifics of his ONE FC contract, though he noted that based on figures he's seen, he expects to earn "more than probably 85 to 90-percent of the guys in the UFC, without a doubt." And while Askren admitted that the sparse competition in ONE FC didn't particularly excite him, he has faith in the promotion's ability to find him stimulating opponents.
Askren's free agency may not have played out like he'd first hoped, but in the end, the 29-year-old welterweight, a man who never particularly enjoyed the trappings of fame to begin with, expressed his satisfaction with the result. His new home is ONE FC, his new part-time gym is Evolve MMA. And if the UFC comes calling in two years, once Askren's deal is done? "I don't know, I would have a hard time," he admitted.
"Dana has just been so disrespectful in the media. It's just shenanigans, like we've talked about. The fact that I'm not good enough. That's laughable and no one really believes that, except the most uneducated fan. He's just been so disrespectful about that, and I really wished he would've said something to my face in the meeting about what his direct issues were, because Dana barely said anything in the meeting. It was more of me and Lorenzo talking than anything.
"Even if they were willing to pay me a lot of money, I think I would have a tough time coming back and fighting for the UFC at this point," Askren finished. "Not saying I wouldn't do it for sure. I would just have to think long and hard about doing it."
Conor McGregor: Diego Sanchez belongs 'in Bellator with the rest of the has-beens'
Conor McGregor discovered early on that making bold proclamations will get you attention in the mixed martial arts game.
It seems the rest of the MMA world is discovering that goading McGregor into a war of words is also a good way to get some face time.
Ireland's finest featherweight is currently in Los Angeles rehabbing the torn ACL which will keep him out of action well into next year.
But other fighters have made it a habit to call out the talkative Dubliner.
Foremost on that list is veteran Diego Sanchez, who ripped into McGregor on an October edition of The MMA Hour. Monday, it was McGregor's turn to fire back.
"The guy is a has-been," McGregor said. "He should be in Bellator with the rest of the has-beens. There's no doubt about it."
Sanchez took exception to an interview and series of tweets in which McGregor took potshots at the featherweight top 10. But Monday, McGregor said the beef dates back to the buildup to McGregor's August UFC Fight Night bout against Max Holloway in Boston.
"Let's go back way back to where it really started," McGregor said. "In the leadup to my Max Holloway fight in Boston, when I was doing all my media campaign and my media workout and all that to do, that has been loser was all over Twitter slinging me and saying ‘who is this guy, Holloway is going to own him,' tweet after tweet after tweet. And even then, I didn't acknowledge it. I said, 'that guy's not in my path, I don't give a s--- about that guy, let him say what he wants.'"
After defeating Holloway and injuring his knee in the process, McGregor, who at the time thought the injury was only going to keep him from training for 4-6 weeks, says he was focused on finding a fight with a ranked featherweight.
"I'm thinking OK who's next, who do I want next?" McGregor sad. I want anyone and everyone in that top 10. I'm doing this interview on the top 10, and they asked me about the top 10 and I give my honest opinion on everyone .... I gave my honest opinion for guys I want to face. Excuse me for wanting to face guys in my top 10. I apologize. And then this has been gets involved once again saying I have no respect."
In McGregor's view of the situation, at this point, he needed to respond.
"So I responded, I call him the fattest, slowest, sloppiest martial artist I've ever laid eyes on," McGregor said. "I told him I'd go to 170, I'd whup his fat ass easy. ... He was the one who started about me. I gave my opinion on the Top 10. Nobody else. I had my eyes up on the top 10. I ignored what Diego was saying on the leadup to the Holloway fight. Then I said OK, I'll push the top 10 aside and I'll go after Diego Sanchez a little bit."
McGregor, then has made it quite clear he'd like to fight Sanchez. One guy he's not likely to fight, though, is undefeated British middleweight Luke Barnatt, who also called McGregor out.
On last week's MMA Hour, Barnatt accused McGregor of buying fake Twitter followers to build his hype. McGregor reacted to Barnatt with disdain.
"Silliest thing I've ever watched in my life," McGregor said. "A light heavyweight eight-foot stick of s--- from England, talking absolute s--- that he knows nothing about. It was the weirdest s---, watching the jealousy come out of the man's pores. A man who isn't even in my own dominion. I thought it was the funniest thing ever. All I know is, when the door shut and the bell rings, no one does it better than me. I walk the walk, I don't just talk the f--- talk. I'm going to walk through that entire top 10."
And then there was Cole Miller, the veteran featherweight who took to the mic after defeating Andy Ogle on Oct. 26 and also called out McGregor.
This time out, McGregor doesn't seem much inclined to escalate things.
"That's a fight that's interesting to me," McGregor said. "Cole's all right, I don't mind him. This f--- sport is crazy. I'm just being me."
All the chit-chat and armchair matchmaking, of course, leads to one big question: When will McGregor actually fight again? He indicated that he'll return home to Ireland at the start of the new year and if all goes according to plan, get back into contact drills in February. A scheduled May, 2014 event in Ireland is a hopeful goal for an Octagon return, but it could be later.
"Doctor says I'll be grappling by February," McGregor said. "That's my prayers answered right there. I'm not a holy man, but I miss the mat so much. It's the only thing that distracts me from everything else. Only thing that eliminates everything else is that time on the mat, studying jiu-jitsu. February is when I can be back, I can't wait to be back."
Be that as it may, McGregor really wants Sanchez. And he wants Sanchez to bring it.
"I want Mark Hunt -Bigfoot Silva s---, yeah? That's what I want to happen," he said. "I will make that fight happen. I guarantee you, before he retires, I'm going to whup him. I'm going to school him in evasive combat."
Mark Hunt: I have 12 screws in my hand after 'pretty good' fight with Bigfoot
Just three days after fighting Antonio Silva in what is being talked about as one of the greatest UFC heavyweight fights of all time, Mark Hunt graciously appeared on the MMA Hour to discuss it.
And, not surprisingly, the laid-back New Zealander downplayed the 25 minutes of action that took place in Brisbane on Friday night, action that the general public has been gushing over all weekend.
"I just thought it was a normal fight," the "Super Samoan" told host Ariel Helwani. "It was pretty good…I thought it was pretty good."
"Normal" and "pretty good" don’t begin to describe the teetering encounter of the UFC Fight Night 33 headlining bout, where both fighters had the other in serious jeopardy on various occasions. The drama only escalated throughout the fight, and yet each man -- bloodied and battered -- was still standing after each round.
In the end, the judges scored the bout a majority draw, which -- contrary to usual fight game taste -- many felt was just. What mystified some people, though, was that the fifth and final round was scored a 10-8 for Hunt to force the draw, rather than the third round, which felt like a more definitive example of a 10-8 round.
In either case, both Hunt and Silva got their arms raised. And three days removed from that decision, Hunt himself was totally fine with it.
"I think we both put our hearts out there and we did pretty well," he said. "I really didn’t mind a draw anyway. We both had our moments in the fight, so it really doesn’t matter to me. I mean, ‘Bigfoot’ popped me and I popped him, so…I wasn’t at all mad about it being a draw. I was sort of like, okay, I can deal with that. I thought it was a good call, the draw."
The obvious question on people’s mind after a memorable fight that was left unresolved is whether or not there would be an immediate rematch. Hunt, who broke his left hand in two places at some point during the fight and will be sidelined for the first half of 2014, said he wouldn’t refuse a rematch.
But then again, given his druthers, the 39-year old fighter said his one-time training partner and friend wouldn’t be his top choice to see again.
"Well, I wouldn’t like to fight [Silva] again because basically I didn’t want to fight him to start," he said. "But I’m an employee here [with the UFC] and this is my business.
"I’m out for a while, my metacarpal bones are broken. But whatever they put in front of me to fight, I’m there. I’m always in there for a battle, that’s for sure. I’ve got my dreams. I want to be the best fighter on the planet."
Hunt said he had feared that he broke his leg in the second round of the battle, and was clearly affected when Silva landed a leg kick. He also thought that he might have broken his right hand, as well, but it turns out both were ultimately okay.
"I just remember I couldn’t hold Bigfoot down," he said. "In the clinch I couldn’t grab him and I thought, ‘oh my gosh.’"
But his left hand wasn’t so fortunate. He broke it in two places at some point during the fight, though he couldn’t remember when. The metacarpal bones on the thumb and the forefinger are broken, and Hunt will be forced to sit out for as long as it takes to heal.
When asked how long he thought he’d be out for, Hunt didn’t sound overly optimistic that he’d return anytime soon.
"The doctor said it would be six months before I could start hitting anything again," he said. "I have like 12 screws in my hand."
Hunt did say that he would test it in three months to see where things were at.