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MMA Round Up: Chuck Liddell Returns & Rampage Jackson a Homophobe?

By Scott Heritage

This week sees the return of Chuck Liddell to active competition and also Rich Franklin to a proper weight class instead of the “Franklinweight” fights the UFC has been giving him of late. Also random blood testing makes its way into MMA and Rampage Jackson gets himself into trouble, not to mention a change to MMA judging for the upcoming UFC event.

Josh Koscheck and Georges St. Pierre appear to be taking a leaf out of boxing’s book after agreeing to undergo random blood testing before their upcoming fight. The pair will meet once again in the octagon after the next series of The Ultimate Fighter airs, which has just started production. Koscheck allegedly received a phone call from the camp of former Lightweight champion BJ Penn informing him that GSP was taking some kind of illegal substances. Presumably taking this as the truth, he then declared that he wanted random blood testing.

Does Koscheck really believe this is true just because a noted enemy of St. Pierre’s supposedly said it?

I would think not. More likely he intends to play the villain role for the upcoming Ultimate Fighter series, perhaps even at the behest of foul-mouthed UFC boss Dana White. The rivalry between Rashad and Rampage eventually generated one of the best selling UFC pay per views of all time, and with what would be considered a weak drawing card around it.

Penn famously accused GSP of ‘greasing up’ during their fight which he alleges cost him the victory. Greasing up in this case refers to the application of Vaseline like substances to make the body slippery, making it hard for an opponent to lock on submissions or use their wrestling effectively. After a short investigation involving everyone from the fans on the forums to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Georges was found innocent and Penn as widely criticized for being a crybaby.

In the end St Pierre quickly agreed to the testing, stating that he had nothing to hide. BJ Penn denied ever having made the call, although made it clear he has his suspicions, and Koscheck apologized to GSP for the remarks. All in all a rather strange incident for all involved.

I don’t think GSP vs. Koscheck will turn out to be that bog of a rivalry either way though. Firstly the steroid accusation stuff has been played in a much bigger way recently in boxing, so most of the angles have been covered there. Secondly, GSP isn’t known as someone who likes to talk trash about his opponent, and there is only so much fuel Koscheck can throw into the fire without response. Thirdly and most importantly, not that many people see Kos as a big threat to Georges.

Rampage vs. Rashad was seen as a close thing both with the fans and the odds makers before the fight. Kos has already been beaten once by GSP and although improved doesn’t appear to have anything else in his arsenal that will make matters different this time around. Although a highly decorated wrestler, Koscheck was dominated on the ground in their last fight, which took place at UFC 74 about 3 years ago. Since then Kos has improved his hands and shied away from his wrestling in most of his recent bouts. Wisely he kept British power puncher Paul Daley grounded, but more from self preservation than a complete return to his roots. Even if he is again training his wrestling though, there isn’t any reason to suspect that he will be more successful against GSP this time around.

On the subject of Rampage Jackson, the fighter/actor has landed himself in hot water with gay rights groups this week for branding acting “gay” and saying that it makes you soft. Obviously not a move that either his bosses in the UFC or at the movie studios need at a time when he is supposed to be promoting the A-Team movie. By way of an explanation he said that he was only joking, and that he knows what it is like to be discriminated against being a black man from Tennessee. Although not exactly the apology the groups were looking for, this was probably just about enough to dodge some of the bad press he might have encountered. Then just hours ago he twittered: “I don’t care what the media say about me, I don’t see anything wrong with being homophobic, if that’s what u r, but I’m not”. Can someone hand Mr. Jackson a bigger shovel?

Although he didn’t seem to enjoy the acting process, or perhaps blames it for having lost his latest fight, he did seem to greatly enjoy the WWE experience. Appearing as BA Baracus as part of the promotional tour to support the A-Team movie, Jackson and his co-stars appeared as guest hosts on Raw Monday night. I do have a point, bear with me. Jackson himself has said several times that he will be leaving the UFC when his current contract is up, and as changeable as his mind seems to be most of the time, I’m making an early prediction that this isn’t the last time we have seen him in WWE regalia. He already has the larger than life persona as well as athletic ability. Not to mention he can carry on wrestling for a lot longer than he will be able to with MMA and can keep making movies at the same time.

Demian Maia has talked about some of the in ring antics of Anderson Silva on the latest edition of Inside MMA, and gets across some points that have been mentioned by others in the past. He says Silva is not as humble as he makes out and that he changes his personality from one moment to the next. Noticeably the middleweight champ also speaks English better than he sometimes lets on, preferring to speak through his manager for no apparent reason at times. Chael Sonnen has said similar things of late, and takes on Silva next in what we all hope won’t be a repeat of the antics Silva displayed against Maia.

The judging panel for UFC 115 will partially consist of some former fighters rather than the often ambiguous athletic commission appointed judges that most events feature. Many fans have called for a higher standard of judging for events, and former fighters could be the ideal candidates given that they know better than most what is actually happening. If Bill Mahood, Chris Franco and Lance Gibson do a good job with the event, then one of MMA’s oldest questions might finally be answered; what to do with older fighters to keep them from having to continue fighting.

Most credit Herb Dean as being an exemplary referee because of the fact that he has a mixed martial arts record himself, and the same principle will be in effect on Saturday with the judges. We will see how that pans out, but if successful I for one would like to see this implemented in other locations as well.

One final note, Kimbo Slice has denied that he will be returning to bare knuckle fighting and insists that he is still going to compete in MMA. No news yet on who he will be fighting for, but apparently several promotions are interested.

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