(Friday’s match was Fallon Fox’s first bout since coming out as the sport’s first transgender athlete. Rolando de la Fuente/CFA)
(PhatzRadio / AP) — Heavily scrutinized transgender fighter Fallon Fox (3-0) submitted Allana Jones (2-2) with a rarely-seen north-south, shin-to-throat choke at three minutes and 36 seconds into the third round at Cage Fighting Alliance 11 on Friday at the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, Fla., advancing to the promotion’s featherweight tournament final.
It was Fox’s first bout since coming out as the sport’s first, on-record transgender athlete on Mar. 5, a controversial announcement that has divided the MMA community and drawn national media attention. Fox underwent gender re-assignment surgery in 2006 and has been on hormone therapy for nearly a decade.
The 37-year-old Fox, who ended her previous two bouts in a combined two minutes and 39 seconds, was likely ahead on the scorecards prior to the tapout, though this was by no means a walkover for the polarizing fighter. Jones, a boxer with excellent footwork, was a challenge for the flat-footed Fox early on, though Fox got some significant punches through as the fight progressed and out-muscled Jones to the ground two times through the second round. On the canvas, Fox clearly excelled with transitions, positioning and submission finesse.
Fox’s superior strength was apparent, though not overwhelming enough to argue that she had an unfair advantage over Jones. Regardless, this will be a continued sticking point for detractors, who seemed in ample attendance to condemn Fox’s efforts. However, at 3-0, Fox’s skill level seems on par with her peers and she has work to do on her waning stamina past the first round.
Jones’ most stinging jab at her opponent might have been her less-than-subtle choice of entrance music with Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like A Lady,” but in the cage, it was Fox’s night.
Fox, who fights out of Chicago’s Midwest Training Center, will face Ashlee Evans-Smith in the women’s featherweight tournament finals for a $20,000 grand prize. Smith received a bye to the finals after opponent Anna Barone withdrew from their contest prior to weigh-ins.
Main-event heavyweights Mike Kyle and Travis Wiuff took a backseat to the highly-publicized ladies’ bout, but their quick rematch ended the night with an exclamation point.
The heavy-handed Kyle (19-9) flattened top-tier journeyman Wiuff (68-18) with a counter left hook and follow-up shots to earn a technical knockout win 21 seconds into the first round of their rematch. The 35-year-old Wiuff connected first with a right hook, but dropped his hands enough to create the opening Kyle needed.
Wiuff, a two-time UFC veteran, lay grounded for a couple of minutes tended to by medical personnel before he could regain his footing. Kyle and Wiuff’s first encounter in 2010 was deemed a no contest, after Kyle threw a punch after the second-round bell.
Rounding out the main card:
• Luis Palomino (21-8) floored Robert Washington (15-8) with a perfectly-timed overhand right for the knockout victory three minutes and 23 seconds into the first round of their lightweight contest.
• CFA interim featherweight champion Sean Soriano (8-0) was just too much on the canvas for previously undefeated challenger Elvin Leon Brito (7-1), who survived to the final bell, but dropped a shutout unanimous decision loss. The 23-year-old Soriano took mount multiple times in the first round and maintained an advantageous top position for the majority of the bout, transitioning seamlessly through a variety of submission attempts with some effective ground-and-pound mixed in. Soriano sliced Brito’s face open with a standing knee in the third round, which gushed profusely into the championship rounds. Blackzillian team prospect Soriano is one to watch.
• Aging flyweight veteran Alexis Vila (11-3) defeated Czar Sklavos (7-3) by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27). Sklavos had the 42-year-old Vila on his heels early in the first round, but Vila landed some key takedowns to break up Sklavos’ crisp striking and sway the judges.
• Eddie Gordon (6-1) submitted Delgado (6-3) with a rear-naked choke at one minute and 32 seconds into the second round, setting up the finish with an explosive double-leg slam.
Velasquez not taking heavyweight title for granted
Cain Velasquez fights Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva for the second time Saturday
Their first fight ended in a first-round stoppage for Velasquez
Velasquez hopes to complete the trilogy with Junior dos Santos
The first time Daniel Cormier went a few rounds in sparring with current Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, it didn’t go so well.
Velasquez (11-1 mixed martial arts, 9-1 UFC) wasn’t the champion back then. He was just another fighter on the fringes of the heavyweight top 10.
Maybe that’s why Cormier, the former captain of the U.S. Olympic wrestling team who was just transitioning into an MMA career, figured he wouldn’t be so tough.
“I remember thinking, ‘Holy cow, have I ever got some serious work to do,’” Cormier says of that first sparring session at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose. “At the time, Cain was just kind of on his way up into the top 10 of the division. He hadn’t established himself as the man yet. I thought, ‘If there are 10 guys better than him in mixed martial arts, this will be the hardest sport I’ve ever done in my life.’”
If you had asked Velasquez about his career goals back then, the answer probably would have been simple. Like most ambitious young fighters, he wanted to be a UFC champion. But now that he has won the belt, lost it and won it back again, it’s no longer quite so easy.
As Velasquez heads into his second rematch in as many outings at UFC160 on Saturday, the question seems unavoidable: What — or, more precisely, whom — does the UFC heavyweight champion really want?
The assumption embedded in that question is that there’s not much to gain in a fight against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (18-4, 2-1 UFC), whom Velasquez faces for the second time in a 12-month span. Their bout headlines Saturday’s event in Las Vegas.
The last time they met, in May 2012, Velasquez steamrolled the Brazilian en route to a bloody first-round finish. But Silva has rebounded with two consecutive UFC victories — first against Travis Browne, who injured his hamstring early, and then against former Strikeforce champ Alistair Overeem, who seemed to be cruising to a victory before tiring in the final round and suffering a surprising knockout loss at the hands of Silva.
Those dueling upsets earned him a shot at Velasquez, but it has yet to earn Silva much respect. Velasquez comes in as a heavy favorite according to oddsmakers, though don’t tell him that Silva didn’t earn the right to be here.
“I think (Silva) has proven himself with the last two fights he’s had,” Velasquez says. “There’s no lucky breaks. We saw what he did to those guys. He deserves the shot.”
That’s fine for Silva, but what does it do for Velasquez? If he beats the big Brazilian again, it’s no big deal. That’s what people are expecting. The fact that he did it with such apparent ease the first time they fought might make a lot of fighters complacent about preparing for the rematch. That’s not the case with Velasquez, according to his head trainer, Javier Mendez.
“It could be an advantage or a disadvantage if you don’t take him seriously,” Mendez says of Velasquez’s previous win against Silva. “I know Cain is taking him very seriously. His thing is, whoever they give him, whoever’s the challenger, that’s his job. He’ll go take care of that guy.”
And that, according to his coaches and training partners, is the extent of Velasquez’s ambitions as champion. His first reign was cut short by one big blow from Brazilian striker Junior dos Santos. Velasquez took the belt back in the rematch in December, leading many to anticipate a trilogy fight between the two.
“I think we’ll fight again,” Velasquez says of dos Santos. “I have to win my fight and he has to win his fight, but it can happen.”
Cormier, who has become Velasquez’s main sparring partner, says the champ has trained as hard for underdog Silva as he did for his shot at redemption vs. dos Santos. That might be partly because of the lesson he learned the first time he had possession of what has proved to be the most difficult UFC title to retain. There’s no such thing as an easy title defense in the division; no UFC fighter has successfully defended the belt more than two consecutive times.
“Cain loves being the champion,” Cormier says. “He works hard because he understands the prestige and the importance of being the UFC champion. At the end of the day, that’s what means most.
“He’s a guy who’s all about providing for his family, and that’s what being the champion allows him to do and do it comfortably.”
In a division full of so many big, bad men waiting for a crack at his belt, true comfort might be fleeting.