MMA Odds and Ends for Tuesday: New York, New York?

madison-square-garden-2There were three big pieces of news over the past 24 hours that bear mention, but the biggest of the group was certainly the UFC’s announcement of a planned event for Madison Square Garden in April of 2016. Based on the current schedule, the event — to be held on April 23rd — would be UFC 198. Despite falling two events short of the milestone UFC 200 card, the organization would be certain to book a massive show for their debut in one of the world’s most famous arenas. The UFC still has a great deal of legal wrangling to go through before the event can take place, but they laid out their plans in the press release announcing the event on Monday. The UFC legal team has made the contention that the current law — and enforcement of said law — has unconstitutionally prevented MMA events from taking place in New York. If things fall in place for the organization, they would return to the state of New York for the first time since Marco Ruas put on a foot stomping clinic all the way back at UFC 7 in 1995. That event took place in Buffalo, so the event in New York City would be a massive milestone for the company. Keeping with the New York theme, recently outspoken bantamweight contender Aljamain Sterling finally got his wish and received a fight booking. Sterling will be taking on Nova Uniao striking coach Johnny Eduardo in what is instantly the biggest fight on UFC Fight Night 80 (sorry, Paige and Joanne). The card will be the kickoff to a string of three events in three nights, one of the most ambitious undertakings the UFC has ever pursued. Sterling remains undefeated in his MMA career, and a win over another top 10 fighter (he already holds a win over Takeya Mizugaki) would push him closer to the title and the paydays he so craves. Eduardo is one of the few fighters who has been more inactive than Sterling of late. A torn labrum and the resulting surgery has kept him on the shelf since his stunning upset of Eddie Wineland back in May 2014. Eduardo will certainly hold a technique advantage over Sterling, but the speed and power are close, not to mention Sterling’s massive edges in wrestling and submissions. Finally, one of the greatest middleweights the UFC has ever seen announced his retirement today. Rich Franklin, who held the 185lb title in 2005 and 2006, has finally made official what had been assumed for some time. He will be stepping away from active competition in the sport, but will still be working with ONE FC. Franklin is the third-longest reigning champion in middleweight history, and was in the title picture at the exact right time, as his high profile during the TUF boom (including a coaching stint on TUF 2) helped make him one of the most recognizable faces in the UFC. Franklin captured his title from Evan Tanner at UFC 53, and proceeded to defend it against Nate Quarry and David Louiseau. Once Anderson Silva showed up in the UFC, it seemed Franklin’s chances to hold a title once again were doomed. Following a second defeat to Silva a year later than their first clash, Franklin began focusing more on high-profile, entertaining fights. That resulted in him facing Wanderlei Silva (twice), Dan Henderson, Chuck Liddell, Vitor Belfort, and Forrest Griffin.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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