Thursday, September 29, 2011

ESPN's MMA Live

With the popularity of mixed martial arts increasing daily, I think it's time that ESPN finally moves the show MMA Live to a better time slot. I think it's a little absurd that it only airs once per week on Fridays at 2am EST. I would never see it if I didn't DVR the show.

Now I'm one of the guys that used to watch the show when it was only on espn.com/mma and loved it then. I was really excited when they finally got air time on ESPN2. But since then, the executives at ESPN seem to have forgotten about them. They've never been moved to a better time slot and let's face facts, Sportscenter barely mentions the results of UFC events, let alone any other organization. And that is only if a big name like Brock Lesnar is fighting. At most there is a blurb or the main event and maybe the co-main event across the ticker for a couple hours. I can see the score for any baseball team all day, but only a couple hours for MMA results.

The next issue I have with ESPN's poor choice in time slots is the fact that MMA Live rarely starts on time. My program schedule says it starts at X time. But 9 times out of 10 it won't actually start until 30-45 minutes later. I actually have my DVR set up to record an extra hour past the scheduled time just to make sure I actually get the program.

On behalf of MMA fans everywhere, I implore the executives at ESPN to not only move MMA Live to a better time slot for the weekly show, but add live post fight shows (as they've done in the past), add more highlight content to Sportscenter and finally, air the show on time.

The popularity of MMA is growing, show the foresight to capture that audience now and create loyal fans. Anyone reading this blog, I urge you to write ESPN and ask them to make some changes.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

UFC Live 6 Main Card Breakdown/Predictions

Time for my UFC Live 6 Main Card Breakdown/Predictions.

Dominick Cruz vs Demetrious Johnson

The title fight between Dominick Cruz and Demetrious Johnson in my mind is a foregone conclusion. Cruz has 1 loss on his record to Urijah Faber, which he avenged in his last title defense. His unorthodox striking style makes him difficult to hit and frustrating for opponents. And his takedown defense is good and even if you get him down, good luck keeping him there. Faber couldn't keep the fight grounded no matter how hard he tried. Demetrious Johnson lives on his wrestling and submission game. If Faber couldn't hold down Cruz, I don't see how Johnson can. Johnson will also be giving up a height and reach advantage to Cruz. This all points to one thing for me, another successful title defense.

I think Cruz who isn't known for being a finisher will finally get a stoppage in this fight. The reach advantage and his takedown defense will lead Johnson to over-commit and get caught.

My prediction is Cruz by 3 round TKO.

Pat Barry vs Stefan Struve

If patterns hold, this is Pat Barry's fight to win. Barry is 3-3 in the UFC alternating wins and losses. Coming in off the spectacular comeback of the year candidate loss to Cheick Kongo, he's due for a win. Struve is a tall order (literally) for Barry however. Barry will be giving up a full 12 inches of height in this fight.

If Struve uses his head, he'll take this fight to the ground where Barry's ground game is suspect at best (he was choked out by Mirko Cro Cop). But Struve is young and Barry has been trash talking him into a standup fight. I believe that Struve falls for the trash talk and keeps the fight standing. Struve will try to use his height and reach but like in the past, he won't be able to as Barry gets inside on him.

My prediction is that Barry will score a 2nd round TKO.

Anthony Johnson vs Charlie Brenneman

Brenneman is coming off his upset victory over Rick Story. Brenneman is a welterweight version of Clay Guida. He has an endless gas tank and great wrestling. But he's fighting Anthony Johnson, another great wrestler who happens to have great knockout power. Brenneman is basically a one dimensional fighter who will go for constant takedowns in an effort to work his ground-and-pound. Johnson I believe will stuff the majority of these takedowns and pick Brenneman apart on the feet. I believe Johnson's size and power will be just too much for Brenneman.

My prediction is Johnson by 2nd round TKO.

Matt Wiman vs Mac Danzig

The first fight on the main card could be interesting. This is a rematch in which Wiman won via technical submission because the referee jumped in and stopped the fight after Danzig got caught in a guillotine choke. Danzig never tapped out and was fighting to get out of the position when the ref stopped the fight.

The fight was over so quickly that there isn't a lot to work with from the first meeting. But if I recall correctly, Danzig was technically winning when he got caught. No matter what happened in the first fight, I expect Danzig to be aggressive. I expect him to push this fight to the ground and work for a submission. Danzig wants to avenge this loss.

My prediction is that Danzig does in fact avenge his loss via 3rd round armbar.

So this wraps up my UFC Live 6 Main Card breakdown/predictions. Looking forward to fight night.

UFC's Tallest Fighter versus the Shortest Fighter

The picture says it all. This is just awesome!

UFC Counter-Programming Themselves

So this morning I read an article on Cage Potato in which Dana White made an announcement that when the UFC goes to Japan on February 26th, they will also plan an event for Las Vegas the same night. When Dana White was asked how he would pull this off, he just smiled and said "You'll see." I don't understand why the UFC would purposely counter-program themselves.

No I'm of the same thought as the article. How do you do this logistically? Dana White can't obviously be in 2 locations. Neither can Joe Rogan nor Mike Goldberg. The rumor on the ring girls is that Chandella and Rachael Leah will be in Japan. So does that mean Arianny is going to be in Las Vegas? What about Bruce Buffer? This is going to make my head explode.

The logistics are one thing, the other is why split your audience? I get almost every pay-per-view. Now I'll have to decide which one I want to watch. Why make me decided which to watch, that sounds like it will hurt business more than help. Now I do believe pay-per-view buys in Japan will be huge for the Japanese event, but by hosting a Las Vegas show that night, I think the buys for North America will be slim for the Japan event. Again, why split the audience?

Time will tell how this plays out. Right now, all I see is a bad choice by the UFC to counter-program themselves. Dana White obviously believes he's got a solid plan. Let's hope he does.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

UFC Live 6 Prelim Breakdown/Predictions

Time to breakdown the preliminary fights for UFC Live 6.


Yves Edwards vs Rafaello Oliveira

What a tough fight for me to predict. Nothing truly stands out to me for either fighter. Edwards has a ton of experience posting a record of 40-17-1. Edwards has fought a lot of bigger names as well. Oliveira has a few tough fights to his credit as well, but nothing near the level of experience of Edwards. Edwards seems to have trouble with good strikers, but Oliveira is a Brazilian jiu jitsu guy so I believe he'll be just fine.

My prediction is Edwards by unanimous decision.

Michael Johnson vs Paul Sass

Michael Johnson an Ultimate Fighter finalist is in for a tough fight here, taking on undefeated Paul Sass. Johnson likes to utilize his wrestling to get his opponents down, control and unleash some ground-and-pound. Sass is a high level Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioner. Sass opened his career with 7 straight triangle choke submission victories. Fighting off his back is no big deal. I expect the triangle master to continue his dominance.

My prediction is Sass via 1st round triangle choke.

Mike Easton vs Byron Bloodworth (late replacement the week of the fight)

Byron Bloodworth is replacing Jeff Hougland the week of the fight. I haven't found out the injury that force Hougland to pull out, but he has and in steps newcomer, Byron Bloodworth. Originally I thought Hougland would wear Easton down and submit him. But with Bloodworth stepping in with such short notice I feel that Easton should be able to prevail. Easton has been preparing for a fight for awhile now and Bloodworth I don't think has much time to prepare for Easton. Bloodworth should be in shape, he is coming off a KO victory just over a month ago.

My prediction is Easton by unanimous decision.

Shane Roller vs T.J. Grant

Both have good ground skills. Grant has 75% of his wins via submission and Roller has 60% of his win by submission. Needless-to-say, I think this fight will be primarily a ground battle. I think that both men are savvy enough to defend submissions. I believe this fight will go the distance.

My prediction is T.J. Grant by split decision.

Josh Neer vs Keith Wisnieski

Both men are making a return to the UFC. Wisnieski had a one-and-done back in 2005 and Josh Neer is a UFC veteran with 10 fights under the UFC banner, posting a dismal 4-6 record. Both men are riding winning streaks into this contest. Wisnieski is on a 6 fight winning streak stretching back to 2008. While Neer is on a 4 fight win streak. This is a tough fight for both men, both have a ton of experience, both are comfortable wherever the fight takes place.

In this fight I'm leaning toward Josh Neer. Wisnieski I believe will prefer to fight this battle on the ground to utilize his jiu jitsu. Josh I believe has more standup abilities and will try to finish this on the feet. I believe this fight will be fought everywhere. Neer will be able to defend submission attempts and get back to his feet and will win the standup battle.

My prediction is Neer by unanimous decision.

Walel Watson vs Joseph Sandavol

 The first fight of the UFC Live 6 prelims belongs to 2 up-and-comers. Watson and Sandavol are making their UFC debuts. Watson is 8-2 and Sandavol is 6-0. This is also a striker versus grappler matchup. Watson has 87.5% of his wins by submission and Sandavol is a striker. I can't imagine Sandavol will want to fight Watson on the ground, but that's exactly where I think the fight will go.

My prediction is Walel Watson by 1st round anaconda choke.

After looking at the matchups, it appears to me that the UFC Live 6 undercard will be a grapplers paradise with a lot of high level Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioners.

UFC - Sport or Entertainment

So a couple of weeks ago I read an article from WWE star, Triple H, claiming the UFC was boring and not entertaining enough. This sparks the argument, is the UFC a sport or just for entertainment. Now in my opinion, this should not even be debatable. The UFC is a legitimate sport. In a sport, sometimes you get a boring fight or game. You can't tell me that last weekend's NFL games were all exciting. I feel these comments by an entertainer, not a professional athlete, are ignorant. The UFC is a sport, and sports do entertain people. But every fight will not always be exciting.

Now with that said, I do see some favoritism being shown to fighters that are more entertaining. A fighter like Dan Hardy who's lost 4 straight hasn't been cut because his fights are always exciting. Or a man like Jon Fitch who can't get another title shot because his fights are terribly boring. In that aspect, I can see where being more entertaining has its advantages. Fighters like Urijah Faber, Leonard Garcia or Stephan Bonnar will always find work because they are always involved in exciting fights. They just seem to relish a war and bring the best out of their opponents.

So there is some emphasis on entertaining fights. But I still argue that the UFC is a sport, not just some entertainment industry like the WWE. So, creating matchups that promote an entertaining fight will always be considered, but the fact that some fighters just have a boring style and they are still fighting in the UFC shows that this is a sport.

What do you think? Is the UFC a sport or just entertainment?

Monday, September 26, 2011

UFC 135 - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

UFC 135 - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Today I'd like to make a few comments about last weekends UFC 135 event in a new segment I'm calling The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

The Good

Jon Jones looked like a beast against Quinton Jackson while the two men earned Fight of the Night honors. Picking Jackson apart on the feet, getting the takedown in the 3rd and cutting him in some nasty ground-and-pound, then the 4th round rear naked choke finish. I predicted a 3rd round stoppage in my prediction blog, but I truly thought he'd finish with some nasty ground-and-pound in route to a TKO. To my surprise and most of the world, Jones submitted Jackson. This is only the 2nd submission loss of Jackson amazing career. And the 1st since 2001 when Kazushi Sakuraba submitted him with a rear naked choke as well. Since that loss, Jackson has been almost un-submittable, until now. I know people throw around the word "era" all the time. But I believe that this may very well be the Jon Jones era!

Both Josh Koscheck and Matt Hughes looked good, even though Hughes got KO'd in his second straight fight. Up until the knock out, Hughes was actually winning the stand up battle. He was using a beautiful jab and really picking Koscheck apart. Hughes stuffed Koscheck's takedown attempts and looked good. However, Koscheck was patient and kept throwing power shots until one finally connected. After rocking Hughes, Koscheck moved in for the finish and unleashed some nasty ground-and-pound in route to knocking Hughes out with 1 second left to go in the 1st round, that earned him Knockout of the Night honors. Koscheck looked good in his first fight since his one sided beat down loss to GSP 10 months ago.

Nate Diaz looked phenomenal against former Pride star Takanori Gomi. Diaz used his reach advantage to stay on the outside and pick Gomi apart. Gomi had no answer for this and kept throwing haymakers that connected with nothing but air. In frustration Gomi actually took Diaz down. Diaz then put on a jiu jitsu clinic, transition from triangle chokes to armbars until finally finishing Gomi with a sick armbar that earned him Submission of the Night honors.

Tony Ferguson looked like a man possessed in his fight with Aaron Riley. The two men stood toe-to-toe in a great stand up war. Riley throwing tons of kicks and really mixing up his strikes while Ferguson just kept moving forward utilizing his boxing. Throughout the course of this 1 round fight, Ferguson blocked most of what Riley would throw. And when Ferguson engaged he did so with pinpoint accuracy. Somewhere near the middle of the first round, Ferguson landed an big left uppercut that broke Riley's jaw. Riley fought to the end of the round like a warrior. He really poured on the offense in an effort to finish Ferguson but he could not. In between round the doctor stopped the fight.

Tim Boetsch looked good against Nick Ring. The first round was competitive as Ring used his speed to move in an out to outpoint Boetsch. However, that would end as Boetsch would finally take control of the fight in the 2nd when he finally got Ring down, threatens a guillotine and right at the end of the round sinks in a sick kimura, if he had 4-5 more seconds the fight could have been over then. Round 3 was all Boetsch, landing some effective stand up and finishing the round with a beautiful hip toss that landed him in a crucifix. In Boetsch's second fight at middleweight, he's looked good.

Takeya Mizugaki looked really good against Cole Escovedo. Mizugaki controlled the stand up throughout the fight as Escovedo just kept pushing forward without much success. Escovedo's biggest threat came when he jumped up for a flying triangle, but Mizugaki escaped and continued to pour it on. The end came when Escovedo went for a sloppy muay thai clinch and Mizugaki absolutely punished him with 6-8 nasty punches. A left hook drops Escovedo and the fight is over.

The Bad

Mark Hunt looked terrible against Ben Rothwell, however Rothwell looked worse. In the battle of "how did this make the main card?", Hunt won this fight pretty handily. But the fact that he couldn't finish the completely exhausted Rothwell is disappointing. All I can say of both men, do some cardio, seriously, you're professional athletes, act like it.

Travis Brown versus Rob Broughton is making my "bad" category in the fact that it was a pretty lackluster fight. Browne won this fight pretty handily winning every round, but both men just didn't seem to have any sort of gameplan. The fight just went where it wanted and no one really landed anything big or did anything substantial.

The Ugly

The first fight of the night was James Te Huna versus Ricardo Romero. Romero was flat out stupid. He had no gameplan except get the fight on the ground. He walked out and shot in on Te Huna, with no set up at all. Te Huna easily stuffs it, a big right hand to Romero's face to pay for it. Romero again with no set up shoots for a takedown and this time Te Huna hits him with another big right hand and Romero is out cold. 47 seconds of stupidity and losing consciousness for it seems pretty ugly.

I've already touched on a few of these ugly things while talking about the good the other fighter accomplished. But let's examine them once more. Takanori Gomi looked ugly against Diaz. He had no gameplan it seemed except throw bombs and hope one lands. Matt Hughes suffers another big knockout loss but states he's not done fighting yet. Anyone feel like we're watching Chuck Liddell not take the hint again? Nick Ring against Tim Boetsch looked ugly. He ran the entire fight and never mounted any real offense. I think his plan was to out point Boetsch on the feet but running away doesn't win too many points. And finally, Ben Rothwell and Mark Hunt. Cardio boys, do some cardio. Both men were gassed. But Rothwell was absolutely pathetic. At one point he actually stopped fighting, put his hands on his knees and started sucking air. There is nothing more ugly.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Where's the Rampage?

So the other day, while I was doing my breakdown/prediction blog for UFC 135, I commented on how Rampage has turned into strictly a counter-puncher these days and no longer utilizes his wrestling or his clinch game. This got me to thinking about his moniker, Rampage. With Jackson no longer being an offensive fighter, living primarily off counter-punching, I have to ask. Where is his Rampage?

As I was watching the Countdown to UFC 135 show last night, I was laughing at how much trash-talk was flowing from Jackson. Now in the past we've seen these displays, most notably with Rashad Evans. He didn't back up his claims then and I can't think he'll back up his claims now against Jon Jones. However, the one thing I'll say, Jackson has gotten into the head of Jones. Jackson's accusations of Jones spying on him really seem to be getting in Jones' head. Jon Jones has never fought an opponent who started the fight early with head games. Jackson, being a veteran, knows that if he can rattle Jones before the fight starts, he'll be more likely to make a mistake. In this aspect, I have to congratulate Jackson on his preemptive strike on Jones' psyche. In the verbal war, it appears Rampage is still alive and kicking.

In the Countdown to UFC 135 show, Jackson talked about training jiu jitsu in preparation for the Jones fight. Jackson is still only a blue belt in BJJ and hasn't tried to progress his ground game in years. This is one of the major reasons I believe Jackson has become one dimensional. The fact that he's training BJJ now, in my opinion, is because he knows he's going to end up on his back. But this is a defensive move, Jackson hasn't legitimately gone after a submission since he submitted Kenneth Williams via rear naked choke back in 2001.

Another facet of Jackson's fight game back in his Pride days was his clinch. Some of the knees he threw would knock the face off an elephant. I can't remember the last time he initiated a clinch and threw those nuclear weapons into an opponent. Now, looking at his old Pride fights with Wanderlei Silva, I can understand being a bit gun shy in going to the clinch. However, he hasn't fought anyone with that caliber of muay thai since coming to the UFC. Why has he abandoned such a nasty weapon in his arsenal? Where did the knees of Rampage go?

The third major facet of Jackson's early days was his wrestling. More accurately, his slams. Everyone has seen his legendary power bomb of Ricardo Arona. In his early days, Jackson utilized a wrestling attack to get opponents down so he could unleash some ground-and-pound. Many times, this involved him picking someone up and slamming them. This would keep opponents guessing and opened up his striking game. When you are always worried about a takedown shot from your opponent, it doesn't allow you to get comfortable enough to let your hands and feet go. Where is the Rampage that slammed his way to victories?

In my opinion, Jackson has become a one-dimensional fighter. He stands and waits for his opponent and then counter-punches. No longer is there a threat of nasty knees from the clinch, no longer does he go for takedowns, no longer does he pick up fighters and slam them. Going back to my prediction of his up-coming fight this weekend with Jon Jones, I believe Jones will exploit this quickly. He will pick his shots and pick apart any hope Jackson has of becoming champion again.

In my opinion, Jackson only has 2 choices if he wants to win on Saturday. First, stick to your regular game plan and get that one lucky punch to land. The second, shock Jones and shoot a double leg, or get inside and clinch with him and unleash your knees. Shock Jones by not being that same old Jackson who lacks the Rampage.

So, let's recap, Jackson still has some Rampage in his verbal attacks. But the Rampage seems to have left the building from the rest of his career. So, I've got to ask, where's the Rampage?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hendo Returns

Dan "Hendo" Henderson has agreed to meet Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 139 on November 19th in San Jose, CA. No details have yet come to light about the contract Hendo has signed. I know that he was looking to fight in both Strikeforce and the UFC in an effort to defend his Strikeforce title and possibly win a UFC title.

Hendo will be making his return to the UFC riding a 3 fight win streak and his most recent win being a KO victory over Fedor Emelianenko. Shogun will be coming into this fight riding a victory over former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin.

So, it's official, Hendo returns to the UFC. I can only assume that this fight has number 1 contender written all over it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

UFC 135 Main Card Breakdown/Predictions

Today I'm going to give my UFC 135 Breakdown/Predictions. 

Jon "Bones" Jones vs Quinton "Rampage" Jackson

Let's start at the top. Bones versus Rampage for the light heavyweight title. In my opinion this fight is cut and dry. Bones will demolish Rampage for several reasons. 

First, is Rampage's one dimensional and predictable stand up. Since Rampage came to the UFC he's be strictly a counter puncher. How it has been working for him so long baffles me. So far only Forrest Griffin with brutal leg kicks and Rashad with classic lay-and-pray have figured him out. In every one of Rampage's recent fights he's lived off counter punching alone. No threat of take downs, no nasty clinch work. I think Jones will exploit this quickly.

Second, is obviously the fact that he is no longer looking for takedowns. Without that threat, Jones can stay on the outside and pick his shots. Nothing to worry about when your opponent is waiting on you to make a move. 

The last reason is Jones. Bones will utilize that amazing wing span to keep distance in the stand up game forcing Rampage to lunge in to close the gap. At that point Rampage is susceptible to the takedown. Once Rampage is on his back, Jones will demolish him with his notoriously nasty ground-and-pound. Do I need to remind you that he broke Brandon Vera's orbital bone with a nasty elbow. Or should I remind everyone that he put Vladmir Matyushenko in a crucifix and elbowed him until the ref couldn't stand to watch anymore.

My only hope in this fight is that Jones toys with Rampage for a couple of rounds before finishing him. I did pay good money to see this fight and I want my money's worth!

My prediction is Jon "Bones" Jones wins by verbal tapout in the 3rd round after he puts Rampage in the Bones demolition machine.

Matt Hughes vs Josh Koscheck

This is a tough fight for me. Mainly because I know that Matt Hughes is at the end of his career. I truly hope that Hughes will find a way to win. But I have the feeling that Koscheck will be too much for him. I don't think Hughes will be able to stop Koscheck's takedowns and I believe Koscheck will grind on him.

I would love to see Hughes take it to Koscheck. I hope he comes in aggressive and leaves it all in the cage. But Hughes is a notoriously slow starter. I think Koscheck will take advantage of that fact and push hard in the opening minute to get Hughes down. Now, I know that Hughes has been training with BJ Penn, but I don't think BJ can teach him how to submit a guy off his back in this short of time. So when Koscheck takes Hughes down, I hope he has been training his butt off to get up quickly.

The stand up category is interesting. If this fight somehow stays on the feet, I think Hughes' striking is adequate enough to hang in there as long as he shows some head movement and doesn't take a big shot. Hughes' chin is looking fragile after BJ crushed him into unconsciousness. 

Hughes is a legend and I hope he can finish his career with a win.

My prediction is for Koscheck to take Hughes down repeatedly in route to a 2nd round TKO via gound-and-pound.

Travis Browne vs Rob Broughton

In Travis Browne and Rob Broughton we have a matchup of heavyweights. Browne is undefeated in his MMA career posting an 11-0-1 record. Broughton is also an accomplished fighter posting a 15-5-1 record in his career. However, I believe Browne has fought the tougher competition in his career.

This matchup depends on 2 things. First, both men have power, but Browne has 9 of his 11 wins via knockout and will be sporting a 5 inch height advantage over Broughton. Again, both men are capable of the knockout. But if the fight stays on the feet the likelihood that Browne scores that knockout is greater.

The second, is if this fight hits the canvas. Broughton has a decent submission game for a heavyweight. If this fight goes to the ground, Broughton has his best chance of finishing this fight.

My prediction is that Travis Browne makes use of his height and knockout power in route to a quick night. Browne via 1st round KO.

Nate Diaz vs Takanori Gomi

This fight for me, is a fight for relevancy. Diaz is on a 2 fight losing streak as a welterweight and will be dropping back to 155 pounds for this fight. Gomi has lost 2 of his 3 UFC appearances. Whoever loses this fight could be looking at the exit door.

Stylistically this fight will be interesting. Gomi has dynamite in his hands and he proved that when he KO'd Tyson Griffin. Griffin had never been stopped in his career until that knockout. Diaz will most likely come out and chose to box with Gomi. It's just something the Diaz brother seem to do. They both have ridiculous jiu jitsu, but neither man truly pursues a takedown. I believe Gomi's striking is better and he will negate the reach disadvantage easily. Once Diaz starts feeling Gomi's power I think he'll start trying to get the fight on the ground. If the fight hits the ground, I believe the fight is over. In Gomi's 7 career losses, 5 of come via submission.

The other random fact is that Gomi has fought Nate's brother Nick. Nate will surely use his brother's knowledge of Gomi in the gameplan.

My prediction is Diaz finds away to get the fight grounded. Diaz by 2nd round arm triangle.

Ben Rothwell vs Mark Hunt

So the main card starts with a thud as 2 big heavyweights who are both looking to turn their respective careers around. To say that I'm not excited for this fight is an understatement. All I hope is they come to fight, and the fight ends fast.

Both men will be riding 1 fight win streaks into this fight. For Hunt, his first win in 5 years after losing 6 straight, 5 by submission. Rothwell, is now 1-1 in the UFC after outpointing Gilbert Yvel 15 months ago.

Now in my opinion, I expect both men to come to the center of the ring and begin unloading strikes at one another. Rothwell will use his better wrestling to take the fight to the ground. Rothwell has a submission game and will use it to great affect against the submission ignorant Hunt. The end will come quickly.

My prediction is Rothwell by kimura within the first 3 minutes of round 1.

UFC 135 Prelims Breakdowns/Predictions

This is going to be a big week for me. I've got tickets to UFC 135 and I'll be attending the pre-fight Q&A session (with Rashad Evans), the weigh-ins and of course, the fights. If all goes well, I'll be posting pictures and some stories from the event. But for now, I'm going to do my UFC 135 Prelims Breakdown/Predictions.

Tony Ferguson vs Aaron Riley

Tony Ferguson, the season 13 Ultimate Fighter winner will square off against the veteran Aaron Riley. This will be a battle of sluggers. Ferguson who has 7 of his 11 wins via (T)KO and Riley who hasn't submitted an opponent since 2006. As a matter of fact, Riley hasn't finished an opponent since 2006.

I think the UFC is giving  Ferguson a chance to shine. Aaron Riley is a gatekeeper at best. He's got a record of 30-12-1 and has been in the ring with a lot of bigger names in the sport. However, he's also lost to all those bigger names. The fact that he appears to have abandoned his submission game that scored him 14 wins.

If Ferguson's stand up looks a crisp as it did in June when he knocked out Ramsey Nijem in the first round to win the Ultimate Fighter. The fact that Riley is 2-2 in his last 4 fights with his 2 losses coming via TKO, leads me to think he's chin is suspect.

My prediction is Ferguson by 2nd round TKO.

Tim Boetsch vs Nick Ring

This is another battle of a gatekeeper versus a prospect. Boetsch is a decent fighter but can't seem to get over the hump and beat a legit contender. Nick Ring is undefeated at 12-0 but has yet to face a real challenge. This fight will be Ring's first step-up in competition.

Ring truly looks comfortable no matter where the fight goes. Boetsch on the other hand prefers to strike and work some ground-and-pound if he can get his opponent to the ground. The key in this fight for Boetsch is to exploit that ground-and-pound and put Ring in an uncomfortable position. For Ring, it's obviously to not end up on his back getting punched in the face.

I think if this fight stays standing, we could be in for a real slugfest. Both men possess knock out power and good striking. However, if it stays on the feet, I think Ring will pick Boetsch apart.

My prediction is Nick Ring by 1st round TKO.

Junior Assuncao vs Eddie Yagin

Assuncao is making his return to the UFC after going 1-2 in his first stint back in 2006-2007. For Yagin, this is his UFC debut. In my opinion, this is a striker vs grappler matchup.

Yagin's record doesn't really indicated that he's a striker but I believe he wants to stand and bang. My reasoning behind this, is that all of his 5 submission victories have come via guillotine choke. That indicates to me that he was stuffing a takedown, then sunk in the guillotine. I believe he'll want to stand and trade in this match up.

Assuncao wants this fight on the ground. Half of his wins are via submission. I expect Assuncao to trade briefly in an effort to set up the takedown. With Yagin's 5 guillotine victories, Assuncao won't want to leave his neck exposed in his takedown attempts.

I believe that Assuncao has fought better competition in his career. Along with Yagin making his UFC debut I believe Assuncao will emerge victorious.

My prediction is Assuncao by unanimous decesion.

Takeya Mizugaki vs Cole Escovedo

The battle of journeymen. Mizugaki and Escovedo have both fought all over the world, in tons of different promotions. Both men have fought top competition and both men have lost to those top fighters. Both men are coming into this fight off of losses. And in my opinion, both men are fighting to keep their jobs. I believe whoever losses this fight will be shown the door.

In my breakdown of this fight I have been really studying both fighters' past accomplishments. Mizugaki can't seem to finish anyone with 9 of his 14 wins coming via decision. Escovedo on the other hand has 16 finishes out of his 17 wins. Escovedo has knockout power, but appears to live on his submission game with 10 submission victories in his career. Mizugaki is durable and submission defense savvy. I expect this to be a back-and-forth battle with Escovedo wearing down Mizugaki through takedown attempts and a smothering top game.

My prediction is Escovedo via 3rd round flying triangle choke.

James Te Huna vs Richardo Romero

Yet another striker versus grappler fight. Te Huna in the last 3 years as gone 6-1 with 5 (T)KO's. Romero in the last 2 years has also gone 6-1 with 5 submission victories. 

The X factor in this fight for me is conditioning. Te Huna is coming from Australia. Long flight into the high altitude of Denver, Colorado. Romero is only coming from New Jersey. I think the elevation plus jet-lag will play a factor.

I believe that Romero will push the pace, initiating takedowns and constantly working for submissions. Te Huna will throw bombs in the 1st round before getting gassed.

My prediction is Romero via 2nd round kimura.

So that is my UFC 135 Prelims Breakdown/Predictions

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Shields Overrated?

As I watched Jake Shields get demolished by Jake Ellenberger, I have to wonder if Shields may have been overrated. After the fight ended, 2 of my friends called me within minutes of each other both exclaiming, "Shields is overrated!". And I have to agree, given his performance against Ellenberger.

The big question mark is obviously the death of Shields' father, Jack Shields. His unexpected and sudden death 3 weeks before the fight had to be weighing on Jake Shields' mind. However, in all his pre-fight interviews, Shields claimed he was fine and that mentally he was ready for his fight.

So assuming that he was mentally ready, it makes me ask the question. Is Jake Shields overrated? Now prior to his loss to GSP in a close title fight, Shields had not lost in 6 years. But those wins in my opinion were against lesser competition. Now people will point out his win over Dan Henderson in which he dominated him in route to a one sided unanimous decision. But Hendo came into that fight injured and almost knocked Shields out in the first round. If they were to fight again, I believe Hendo would mop the floor with him.

In Shields' UFC debut, he won a split decision over Martin Kampmann. I believe Kampmann won that fight, but the judges gave it to Shields. In his title fight with GSP, Shields did end GSP's streak of 30 consecutive winning rounds. But that was only after GSP sustained an eye injury and was fighting half blind. But just like fighting an injured Dan Henderson, Shields couldn't finish an injured GSP either. As we know, GSP went on to win the decision and retain his title.

Again, with the death of his father I can completely understand if he was not mentally ready for his fight and that was a major cause to his loss. But I'm not taking anything from Ellenberger. He did land a devastating knee to severe Shields from consciousness.

Going forward, we will see if my friends and I are right to believe Shields is overrated. Shields will now have to win several fights in a row to get back in title contention. He will have to run a gauntlet of talent in the UFC.

My immediate thought for his first fight would be against Josh Koscheck. But that is dependent on Koscheck staying at welterweight. Prior to his matchup with Matt Hughes at UFC 135, he was slated to return at middleweight at UFC 139.

So what do you think? Is his consecutive losses in the UFC against tougher competition an indication of things to come? Or is this a minor hiccup due to the loss of his father? Is Jake Shields overrated?

Friday, September 16, 2011

UFC Fight Night 25 Weigh-In Results

All the fighters made weight today for UFC Fight Night 25 tomorrow. Here is the breakdown of the weigh-ins.

MAIN CARD
Jake Shields(171) vs Jake Ellenberger (170)
Court McGee (184.5) vs Dongi Yang (186)
Jonathan Brookings (145.5) vs Erik Koch (146)
Alan Belcher (186) vs Jason MacDonald (185)

PRELIMINARIES
Cody McKenzie (155.5) vs Vagner Rocha (155.5)
Shamar Bailey (156) vs Evan Dunham (156)
Lance Benoist (170.5) vs Matt Riddle (171)
Ken Stone (136) vs Donny Walker (135.5)
Seth Baczynski (171) vs Clay Harvison(170)
Mike Stumpf (171) vs T.J. Waldburger (171)
Mike Lullo (146) vs Robert Peralta (145.5)
Justin Edwards (171) vs Jorge Lopez (171)

Sherdog's Heavyweight Top 10 Rankings

So today I looked at Sherdog's newest Heavyweight Top 10 Rankings and am I a bit confused. As I look at the rankings, I wonder how much is based on potential and not on performance. Number 1, 2, and 3 make sense to me, Cain Velasquez at number 1, the undefeated undisputed heavyweight champion of the UFC. Second is Junior dos Santos, who is undefeated in the UFC, riding an 8 fight win streak and challenging for the UFC heavyweight title in November. Third on the list is Alistair Overeem. Now I contend that he hasn't faced the toughest of competition but he hasn't lost since 2007, with 10 wins and 1 no contest.

Number 4 I'm puzzled about. I don't deny Fabricio Werdum should be a top 10 heavyweight, but number 4 seems a bit generous. In the last 4 years he has gone 5-3. With losses to Andre Arlovski, Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem. His losses at those times were to top heavyweights, we all know Arlovski has fallen hard in the last couple of years. Now, Werdum is the first man to beat Fedor Emelianenko, but that alone does not justify a number 4 ranking especially coming off his one side decision loss to Alistair Overeem. I believe if you pit Werdum against Shane Carwin, Frank Mir, or Josh Barnett, I don't see how he can win.

Number 5 is Brock Lesnar. He is only 5-2 in his career and has fought the top guys in the world almost every time out. He hasn't fought since in almost a year since his devastating TKO loss to now champion Cain Velasquez. He has been fighting another bout of his diverticulitis. Number 5 seems a touch high to me, but considering the other men on the list, I'm fine with his ranking.

Number 6 is Shane Carwin. Again, I have to wonder how is ranked so high. He's coming off consecutive losses in which he was submitted in one and beaten to a bloody pulp in a one sided loss in the other.

Number 7 is Frank Mir. Some people would think a number 7 ranking fair for Mir, but I disagree. He has gone 6-2 in the last 4 years. His only 2 losses coming in title fights. Mir, in my opinion should be ranked at least 5th possibly even 4th.

Number 8 is Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Big Nog is always a threat when he is healthy and he proved that again knocking out Brendan Schaub in his last outing. Nogueira has had some ups and downs in his last 5 years in MMA but has wins over Josh Barnett, Randy Couture and Tim Sylvia (for the UFC interim heavyweight title). I'm happy to see Nogueira still winning and I am happy with his ranking in the top 10.

Number 9 is Josh Barnett. Now Barnett has had some steroid issues and that may be hurting his ranking, but his results should prove otherwise. In the last 5 years, he's gone 13-2 his only losses were to Mirko Cro Cop in his prime and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, again, in his prime. He's currently riding an 8 fight win streak and has barely be touched in his last 2 fights. How Barnett is ranked so low baffles me. Barnett should definitely be considered top 5 in my opinion.

Number 10 is the head-scratcher for me. Daniel Cormier is making his entry into the top 10. He is 9-0 and has fought increasingly better competition each time he has entered the cage. But I don't know if he's quite top 10. His only 2 wins of note are against Jeff Monson and Antonio Silva. Those 2 wins in my mind don't justify a top 10 ranking. But in his defense, the other men scratching at the top 10 definitely don't belong there. So undefeated and a couple notable wins are good enough. Welcome to the top 10 Mr. Cormier.

I'm in no way a ranking expert, but a couple of these rankings a puzzling to me. Feel free to leave comments on your opinions.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

UFC Fight Night 25 Main Card Breakdown/Predictions

Here is my UFC Fight Night 25 Main Card Breakdown/Predictions


Jake Shields vs Jake Ellenberger

Great matchup between 2 men with very similar records. Shields is 26-5-1 and Ellenberger is 24-5. The difference is how they get it done. Shields utilizes his wrestling and submission game, while Ellenberger tries to knock you out. This is a battle of who can dictate where the fight takes place. If Shields gets this fight down, Ellenberger is in a world of trouble. If the fight stays on the feet, Shields striking game is good enough that this could be a really competitive fight.

The X factor in this fight will be Shields' mindset. The recent death of his father, who was his manager and biggest supporter has to be on Shields' mind. The second issue is he is coming in off his first loss in 6 years when he lost a tough fight against welterweight king, Georges St Pierre. How he responds to both losses will be crucial.

My prediction is that Shields will need this win for the memory of his father more than anything. I predict Shields gets this fight on the ground and dominates Ellenberger for all 3 rounds in a unanimous decision victory.

Court McGee vs Dongi Yang

In another battle of styles, Court McGee takes on Dongi Yang. McGee is a submission specialist and Yang loves to stand and bang. Yang who is 10-1 has finished every fight he's won with 9 wins by TKO/KO. McGee has over half of his 13 wins via submission.

In my opinion Yang has yet to fight a good wrestler/submission guy. In McGee he'll get just that. This fight will be decided based on where it takes place. If Yang has good takedown defense, he should be able to utilize his superior striking to get another TKO victory. If McGee gets this fight down, the likelihood that he sinks in a submission is high.

My prediction is McGee finds a way to get it down. McGee via 2nd round rear naked choke.

Jonathan Brookins vs Erik Koch

This will be Brookins first fight since winning the Ultimate Fighter title 10 months ago. In that win his stand up looked terrible but he weathered the storm and eventually got the fight to the ground and wore out Michael Johnson in route to a unanimous decision.

Koch is no slouch on the ground but possess the superior striking ability in this matchup. I expect Koch to try to keep this fight standing and exploit Brookins on the feet.

I think that ring-rust will be a factor, combined with Koch's superior striking I think this is a tough fight for Brookins to prevail in. My prediction is Koch by 2nd round TKO.

Alan Belcher vs Jason MacDonald

Alan Belcher will finally make his return to the octagon after a 16 month layoff after suffering a detached retina. Belcher known for exciting fights will be a shot in the arm for the middleweight division. Welcoming Belcher back journeyman warrior Jason MacDonald. MacDonald has fought a who's who list of fighters in his 39 fight career and will be coming in off a triangle choke victory over Ryan Jensen.

You've got to wonder how ring-rust will affect Belcher coming into this fight. This is the longest layoff of his career and he's coming in to fight a submission specialist in MacDonald. I've got to think that Belcher will try to keep this fight standing while MacDonald will do whatever it takes to bring Belcher into his world on the ground.

This is a tough fight for me to call due to Belcher's long layoff. But I'm going to make a bold prediction that Belcher finds a way to nullify MacDonald's takedowns and wins this fight by unanimous decision.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hendo Wants It All

So I read a story on ESPN today in which Dan "Hendo" Henderson basically states he wants it all. The short of it is that he wants to fight in both Strikeforce and the UFC. He wants to keep his Strikeforce light heavyweight title, fight the winner of Jones/Jackson and wants a title shot against middleweight king, Anderson "The Spider" Silva.

Now I think this is something that Hendo is more than capable of doing, if he stays healthy. He is the only man in MMA history to hold titles in 2 different weight divisions, when he was the Pride middleweight and light heavyweight champion. But I highly doubt Zuffa will let this happen. Let's assume Zuffa complies with Henderson's wishes and he actually manages to win the UFC middleweight and light heavyweight titles. Then he would have to defend 3 titles. This puts a huge hold on both promotions for title fights. Most champions fight 2 to 3 times per year, barring any injuries. At the very best, he would defend the Strikeforce and UFC titles only once per year. That would create a backlog of challengers waiting for their shots.

The biggest obstacle in this deal, in my opinion, is that I believe Zuffa will merge Strikeforce into the UFC sometime next year. If that happens, there is no need for Hendo to defend his Strikeforce light heavyweight title. It makes more sense to have a unification bout with the current UFC light heavyweight champion, be it Jones or Jackson after there fight on September 24th.

Henderson has previously stated he didn't want to compete at middleweight anymore. So, as far as moving between weight classes, Henderson stated he will only compete at middleweight if he gets an immediate title shot against Anderson Silva. This is due to his burning desire to avenge his loss to the Spider. I could see this fight happening considering the landscape of the middleweight division right now. Silva has truly run out of challengers. His only viable challengers in the near future, in my opinion, are the Chael Sonnen/Brian Stann winner or the Michael Bisping/Jason Miller winner. Henderson could jump over everyone and get his shot to avenge his loss against Silva.

The next few weeks will shed more light on Hendo's requests. Hendo is currently in contract negotiations with Zuffa and states that they are 2 weeks to a month from finalizing a deal. But right now, Hendo is telling Zuffa that he wants it all!

UFC Fight Night 25 Prelim Breakdown/Predictions

Here are my UFC Fight Night 25 Prelim Breakdown/Predictions

Cody McKenzie vs Vagner Rocha

This is a matchup is pitting two men coming off losses. Cody McKenzie (also known as Guillotine Jesus in my circle of friends) is coming off the first loss of his career in which he tapped to a rear naked choke against Yves Edwards. Vagner Rocha is coming in off a unanimous decision loss to Donald Cerrone.

Both men are submission specialists. McKenzie has won 11 of his 12 fights by submission, 10 of those by guillotine choke. Rocha has won 4 of his 6 wins via submission, 3 by armbar. So I expect this fight to go to the ground fast.

McKenzie likes to bull his opponent to the ground and then work to sink in the guillotine. I expect the same in this fight. My prediction is Cody (Guillotine Jesus) McKenzie to win by 1st round guillotine choke.

Evan Dunham vs Shamar Bailey

Evan Dunham was the next big thing until he ran into a controversial split decision loss against Sean Sherk and then followed that up with a TKO loss to Melvin Guillard. Shamar Bailey is a solid fighter but really hasn't fought anyone yet. This is a step up in competition for Bailey.

Dunham will probably look to stand and bang and I think Bailey will gladly trade with him. If the fight does end up on the ground, I think Dunham has an advantage there. His ground game is fairly solid. I believe Dunham has the advantage no matter where this fight takes place. I see this as a gift from the UFC to get the up-and-comer winning again.

My prediction is Dunham getting back into the win column via unanimous decision.

Matt Riddle vs Lance Benoist

Matt Riddle vs Lance Benoist is a battle of prospects. Riddle who got his start on The Ultimate Fighter has had all of his 7 professional fights in the UFC. Benoist will be making his UFC debut with a 5-0 record.

Riddle likes to stand and strike and Benoist appears to like the ground game with 4 of his 5 wins coming via submission in the first round. Riddle is still really raw around the edges and only has 1 finish on his resume with 4 of his wins coming via decision.

I believe Benoist will make the most out of his UFC debut and continue his path of destruction by submitting Riddle in the 1st round via rear naked choke.

Ken Stone vs Donny Walker

In this matchup I will admit, that I know very little of either man. Walker has a bit of an experience advantage and both men have lost in their UFC debuts. However, Stone has fought better competition in my opinion so I'm going to go out on a limb and make a prediction for Ken Stone via 1st round TKO.

Clay Harvison vs Seth Baczynski

Another battle of prospects that I barely know. Baczynski will be make his return to the UFC after an Ultimate Fighter stint followed by a loss at the finale. He has since won 2 fights by KO and will now get another crack at the UFC. Harvison is 7-1 coming off a split decision victory in his UFC debut.

Looking at records, both men have ground skills over half of their wins coming via submission. However, in recent outings both men have chosen to stand and bang. I expect this fight to be a battle on their feet. Baczynski has a large experience advantage with over twice as many fights as Harvison.

My prediction in this fight is Baczynski via 2nd round TKO.

Mike Stumpf (extremely late replacement) vs Anthony T.J. Waldburger

Mike Stumpf is stepping in to replace Daniel "Ninja" Roberts, with just 5 days notice. My initial thoughts on Roberts and Waldburger was a ground battle with a late submission. I actually see the same fight happening between Stumpf and Waldburger. Both men have a majority of their victories by submission. Waldburger has 10 submissions in his 13 wins and Stumpf has 7 submissions in his 11 victories. I expect this to be a ground war.

Both men are in the same boat with out 5 days notice to work with. The only question mark is Stumpf's conditioning. If he was preparing for another bout with a different organization I see him as being ready. But if he was in between fights and relaxing when the call came in, he could run out of gas in the later rounds. My thought is that Stumpf being a Team Curran fighter is in excellent shape and ready to perform.

My prediction however, is for Waldburger via 3rd round rear naked choke.

Mike Lullo vs Robert Peralta

This looks like the classic striker vs grappler matchup. Peralta is making his UFC debut riding a 7 fight win streak and sporting a record of 14-3 with 11 wins by TKO/KO. Lullo is coming off a loss in his UFC debut versus Edson Barbosa. Lullo is 8-3 with 6 of his wins coming via submission. Before losing to Barbosa, he was on an 8 fight win streak.

Expect Lullo to try and get this fight on the ground. But if Peralta's takedown defense is good, expect another TKO loss on Lullo's record.

My prediction is that Lullo will work takedowns constantly and eventually wear Peralta down. I expect Lullo to win via 3rd kimura.

Justin Edwards vs Jorge Lopez 

For this fight, I'm just going to make my prediction. Edwards appears to live on counter grappling with 66% of his wins coming via guillotine choke. Lopez is a striker not likely to dive for a takedown. I expect Lopez to win this fight by 2nd round TKO.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Demise of Strikeforce

Today I'd like to briefly hit on the demise of Strikeforce. Zuffa is dismantling Strikeforce one fighter at a time. I could hit on all the fighters that the UFC have picked up or all the fighters that they will most likely go after in coming months, but if you've been following the news from Zuffa you already know. The demise of Strikeforce draws near.

My prediction, is that when the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix wraps up early next year, that will be the end of Strikeforce and Zuffa will pull all the remaining fighters they want under the UFC banner.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Missing Ingredient

I was having a discussion with a friend of mine today and he hit on the missing ingredient for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters. The missing ingredient, takedowns.

As the discussion developed I mentioned the problem for the high level BJJ fighters is ego. These guys have so much faith in their BJJ that they think that American wrestling is inferior and therefore, not worth training. They are letting their ego hinder them from being better fighters. For every BJJ fighter, the fight has to get on the ground for them to execute their game-plan. Why not training double and single leg takedowns?

We all know most of these guys don't mind fighting off of their backs, but a savvy opponent won't take them down or just randomly jump into their guard. So now the BJJ fighter has to take the initiative to get the fight down on the ground. And as we've seen in recent years, they have a problem getting it down.

Let's look at a couple of examples. The first one that pops into my head is the title fight between Demian Maia and Anderson Silva. Maia had incredibly terrible takedown attempts that Silva, who is notoriously bad at takedown defense, easily shrugged off. Can you imagine how different that fight would have been if Maia had some actually takedown ability?

Another example is Frank Mir. Mir is a BJJ submission specialist, but he has absolutely no takedown ability. For that matter, his ability to deal with good wrestlers is weak to say the least, but that's a discussion for a different time. The last time Mir actually took an opponent down and submitted him was UFC 74 where he "dragged" Antoni Hardonk to the ground. Not took him down, not shot a double leg, but dragged him down.

If BJJ specialists would drop their ego about learning some American wrestling, there ability to get fights to the ground and finish opponents would improve dramatically. In my opinion, the missing ingredient is takedowns.

Cung Le Signs with UFC

Cung Le signs with the UFC. I was hoping this would happen. Cung Le is a Chinese movie star who has put his money where is mouth is. Most great martial arts movie stars never step into actual combat. Cung Le chose to do just that. He has a 7-1 record in his mixed martial arts career, all 7 wins coming via T(KO), and is the one time Strikeforce middleweight champion. His only loss a shocking come from behind knockout by Scott Smith. They rematched 6 months later and Cung Le brutalized Smith en route to a 2 round technical knock out via body kicks.

In his UFC debut, Cung Le will face another great striker in Vitor Belfort. Belfort is coming off a brutal KO victory over Yoshihiro Akiyama. I have to think that whoever wins this fight will be in prime position to challenge for the UFC middleweight title.

For Cung Le, this will be a step up in competition. I really like Cung Le's exciting style of fighting, but I don't know how well that will translate against a good wrestler. Cung Le will have his hands full against Vitor Belfort in his debut. I wish Cung Le the best of luck now that he's signed with the UFC.

Weekend Wrap Up

Weekend Wrap Up

Strikeforce

"King Mo" Lawal vs Roger Gracie
Gracie, the latest in a line of great jiu jitsu practitioners look completely out of his element and was entirely outclassed by Lawal. In a fight where you'd expect Gracie to try and get the fight to the ground, he chose to stand with Lawal. Gracie is the taller fighter and had a reach advantage. I don't know if he thought his weak jabs would be enough to keep King Mo at bay, but it didn't work. King Mo clubbed him with a monstrous right hand and dropped Gracie, a follow up punch on the grounded Gracie left him stiff on the canvas.

Jacare Souza vs Luke Rockhold
The middleweight title fight between Jacare Souza and Luke Rockhold. Now if any of you have been reading my blog, I predicted Souza to handle this fight easily against an over-matched opponent who hasn't fought in like 19 months. I was totally wrong!

Souza came out fast and furious in the opening 2 rounds displaying amazing counter punching and just overall better stand up. But every time Souza hurts Rockhold he would initiate a take down attempt along the cage. He would expend a bunch of energy and would accomplish anything except letting Rockhold regain his senses. In rounds 3 and 4 I saw both rounds going to Rockhold who didn't slow down the entire fight. In rounds 3 and 4 Souza looks visibly gassed. Rockhold pours on pressure and lands some big strikes, including some jumping spin kicks. Round 5 I could have seen going either way, with the back-and-forth battle all throughout the round. On my scorecard I gave the round to Rockhold.

In the end the fight went to the judges who awarded the Strikeforce middleweight title to Rockhold via unanimous decision. The official scores were 50-45, 48-47 and 48-47, all for Rockhold. I'd love to know what that first judge was smoking giving all 5 rounds to Rockhold.

Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva vs Daniel Cormier
Now in my breakdown/prediction blog, I thought Cormier would have a chip on his shoulder wanted to get respected and would utilize his wrestling to outpoint Silva to a unanimous decsion. Well, I got the winner right! Cormier had a bigger chip on his shoulder than I thought and came to destroy Silva. From the opening moments of the 1st round it's obvious that Cormier's striking has improved dramatically as he cracks Silva with overhand rights. Bigfoot just doesn't have an answer and tries to shoot on Cormier who stuffs his attempts with ease. The fight is entirely one sided with a brutal knockout coming at 3:56 of the opening round when Cormier drops Silva with another huge overhand right. As Silva hits the canvas, Cormier bounces his head with 2 hammerfists before the referee can save Silva. During the in-cage post fight interview, Cormier is quick to talk about getting respect. And predicts he'll win the tournament.

Josh "Warmaster" Barnett vs Sergei Kharitonov
In the final fight of the night, Barnett made Kharitonov look like a bum off the street. The fight opens and Barnett eats a couple punches, they clinch up trade a couple shots, then Barnett decides he's had enough. Barnett utilizes a body lock trip and lands directly into full mount. Kharitonov looks like a fish out of water. He makes no real attempt to get up. Instead he tries throwing punches off of his back. Barnett takes his time, working ground-and-pound and just beating on Kharitonov for fun it appears. Kharitonov finally starts trying to get Barnett off of him and gives up his back. Barnett just keeps pounding away on Kharitonov as he just turtles up. Barnett starts to flatten him out and Kharitonov rolls to his back. As he rolls, Barnett sinks in an arm triangle and Kharitonov taps at 4:28 of the first round.


Bellator
I'm just going to briefly hit on the Bellator 49 welterweight tournament. After I woke from my coma thanks to Ben Saunders I relapsed until this morning when by a miracle I recovered.

Douglas Lima, Luis Santos, Chris Lozano and Ben Saunders all advance to the semi-finals. However, only Ben Saunders did it in convincing fashion. The other 3 men all ground out boring unanimous decisions. Saunders really seemed to want to work his ground game. Through the first 2 rounds he repeatedly took down Cisneros and attempted submission after submission. Cisneros escaped everything but was being handled decisively. As the two men came out for round 3 Saunders throws some punches and Cisneros clinches with Saunders (the muay thai kneeing machine). Saunders goes to work immediately and lands some nasty knees crumbling Cisneros to the ground. A couple follow-up punches and the referee jumps in to end it at 29 seconds of the 3rd round. Hopefully the semi-finals are a bit more exciting.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Non-talked about Fight

In the wake of the Nick Diaz drama and the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix semi-final fights this weekend, Ben Henderson vs Clay Guida is turning into the non-talked about fight. This matchup has been set for November 12 for the UFC on Fox 1 card. I don't know how this fight has managed to fly so far under the radar. This fight will more than likely be a #1 contender fight with the winner getting the next shot at the lightweight crown.

Ben Henderson in coming into this fight riding the momentum of the one sided beating he put on Jim Miller. Clay Guida is riding a 4 fight win streak coming into this fight with his final victim being the former WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.

Both of these men are more than deserving of a title shot. Guida the cardio monster who just out works almost every opponent and Henderson who's only loss in the last 4 years came to Anthony Pettis by decision. Whoever wins this fight is sure to be next line for the winner of Edgar/Maynard.

When the event draws nearer, I'll break down the fight. But for now, I just want to mention the unfortunate fact that this has turned into a non-talked about fight. This fight isn't getting the attention it deserves.

Banana Hammock Dropping to 155

Dennis Hallman, otherwise known as "Banana Hammock" will drop to 155 for his next fight. At UFC 140 in Toronto, Hallman will square off with up-and-comer John Makdessi.

As many of your remember, probably due to the mental scarring that occurred, Hallman came to the ring in a "banana hammock" to fight Brian Ebersole at UFC 133.

This will be the first time Halman's fought at 155 pounds since 2001 when he lost a title shot to then UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver. Hallman has a ton of experience with a record of 50-14-2. His opponent at UFC 140 John Makdessi is 9-0. This is definitely a huge step up in competition for Makdessi and a stylistic nightmare for him. Makdessi is a pure striker with 7 of his 9 wins coming via TKO/KO. In Hallman's 50 wins, 39 have come via submission. Hallman knows how to get the fight to the ground and once there, sinks in the submission. Makdessi has his work cut out for him.

The main reason I did this blog is to make sure that Dennis "Superman" Hallman gets a nickname change. From now on, all should call him Dennis "Banana Hammock" Hallman.

Diaz now draws Penn

After Carlos Condit was pulled from his fight with BJ Penn to fight champion Georges St. Pierre, Penn was left without an opponent. Now it seems the UFC is willing to give Diaz a chance to redeem himself as he now draws Penn at UFC 137.

I'm actually really excited about the turn of events. I believe that Condit is actually a tougher opponent for GSP. Also, stylistically I think Diaz and Penn are almost twins of each other. Both have good striking skills, both have phenomenal jiu jitsu. However, I believe Penn is both the better striker and has better jiu jitsu than Diaz. This in my opinion, this is BJ's fight to lose.

There are two questions that pop in my head about this fight. The first, will Diaz fight Penn or duck him like it appears he is ducking GSP? The second, if Diaz loses, will the UFC release him following all the issues with his fight with GSP? Time will tell.

Diaz Ducking GSP?

I've got to wonder, is Nick Diaz ducking GSP?

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine yesterday and he brought up this idea. It got me thinking, is Diaz truly ducking GSP? I have to think he is. For all the talk that comes from Diaz about wanting to fight GSP it really seems like he wants no part of him. Why would you sign a contract to fight the man, then not show up to the press conferences, avoid calls from the UFC president Dana White, hide from your trainers and just not live up to your bad ass reputation.

Speaking of reputation, this has got to hurt Diaz's mystic. He always talks a big game and up to now he usually delivers. But the flat out avoidance of this fight make me think he isn't the man he thinks he is.

On the flip side of this, it has been speculated that Diaz suffers from some social disorder that make him scared of press conferences. I know he rarely did any pressers when he was in Strikeforce. Maybe he does have some phobia about answering questions in a public forum.

So that is the big question, is Nick Diaz really ducking GSP or does he have some weird social disorder?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Semi-Finals

Today I'd like to break down the 2 semi-final matches for the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.

Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva vs Daniel Cormier.

This is an interesting fight. Cormier is a small heavyweight and Silva is a giant of a man. Silva is coming off the destruction of Fedor. Cormier is coming in off a decision victory over Jeff Monson in which he showed improved striking skills to go along with his already impressive wrestling.

Now in this fight, Silva is favored. Silva's resume speaks for itself, especially with his complete destruction of Fedor. He has notable wins over Andre Arlovski, and Ricco Rodriguez. His only loss in the last 4 years was a decision loss to Fabricio Werdum. Plus going into this fight he will have a size and reach advantage over Cormier.

However, I believe Cormier has a legitimate shot in this fight. Cormier fights out of AKA (American Kickboxing Academy) and trains with UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. Training with high caliber fighters is an advantage for Cormier I believe. Plus, I think Cormier has a chip on his shoulder for a couple of reasons. First, he wasn't considered for this tournament originally and secondly, he is trying to get respected as a top heavyweight in the world.

I'm going to make a bold prediction for this fight and say that Daniel Cormier springs the upset by way of unanimous decision.

Josh "The Warmaster" Barnett vs Sergei Kharitonov

This is a battle of 2 former Pride fighters, 2 grizzled veterans who have fought all over the globe with 57 fights between them. Stylistically this is a battle of contrasts. Kharitonov is a heavy handed striker with half of his wins coming via knockout. Barnett is a wily veteran who utilizes his ground game with over half his victories coming by way of submission.

The X factor in this fight is Barnett. He tested several times in his past for performance enhancing drugs and it's always a question if he'll show up clean or not. This fight in my opinion is Barnett's to lose in my opinion. His striking game is good, not as good as Karitonov's but good enough to get the job done. But his ground game is vicious. He utilizes nasty ground-and-pound to wear down his victims before sinking in a submission.

My prediction, in my opinion, this fight should be a one sided affair with Barnett grinding Kharitonov for a couple of rounds before finishing him via submission in the 3rd round.

I hope all the fighters are healthy and perform well on Saturday. I'm excited to see how the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix plays out.

Diaz Pulled, Condit is In

Nick Diaz is out and Carlos Condit is in against Georges St. Pierre!

As I sit down to breakdown this weekend's Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix semi-final matches I come across this article. In a shocking move, the UFC has pulled Nick Diaz from his upcoming title shot against GSP for failure to show up to 2 consecutive press conferences.

In the article it states that during the press conference while Dana White was at the podium
“Cesar just said, ‘I agree with what you’re doing 100-percent. I’ve been trying to chase Nick Diaz all around town,’” White relayed.
 GSP commented about doing press conferences.
“I despise doing this. I don’t like the staredown, the face-to-face, the pictures, the click-click,” said St. Pierre. “I don’t like doing this, but I have to do it. It’s the contract. To promote the fight, you need three entities: the organization and the two fighters. And one fighter didn’t do his job. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for your family. It’s a little bit selfish.”
Dana White also mentioned his phone call with Carlos Condit.
“When we called Carlos for this fight, he started crying and had to call us back 15 minutes later,” White said. “Condit deserves this shot. He’s the guy.”
I'm a huge fan of Carlos Condit and believe he has more than earned his shot at the welterweight crown. Condit was the long time and finally WEC welterweight champion. He lost his UFC debut to Martin Kampmann by a controversial split decision, his only loss in 5 years. Since then, he's rattled of 4 straight wins over Jake Ellenberger, Rory McDonald, Dan Hardy and Dong Hyun Kim. Scoring 2 knockout of the night awards and a fight of the night award.

The last thing White said about Diaz is this:
“Cesar Gracie had him in his house,” said White. “Nick snuck out the back door. Nobody has been able to find him. If I had known this would happen, I never would have made this fight. We’ve spent $15,000 in just flights for Nick Diaz in the last couple days. It’s a pretty big financial blow.” 
Dana White and Zuffa have had issues with Nick Diaz for a long time. Back in 2006 when Diaz was released from the UFC he was on a 3 fight win streak. The personal issues with Nick not living up to contractual obligations will be his ruin. If Dana White is mad enough, Nick Diaz could be on the outside looking in again, not just at the championship fight he has now lost, but at his contract with the UFC.

Strikeforce - Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza vs Luke Rockhold

This weekend's Strikeforce card has some great matchups on it. The first one I'd like to talk about is the Strikeforce middleweight champion, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza vs Luke Rockhold.

This is a great showcase for Souza who on paper has Rockhold outclassed in every category. Souza is considered one of the top 5 grapplers in all of MMA. In his first title defense he submitted Robbie Lawler with a 3rd round rear-naked choke. Rockhold in his own right has some ground skills. He is 7-1 in his career, with 6 of his wins coming via submission. Rockhold also has never been out of the first round in any fight.

For Rockhold to win this fight he needs to have some good take-down defense and have good striking. It's a long shot but if he lands that big strike he could win. But Souza's stand up is good. He has good boxing and counter-punching, and has a variety of kicks at his disposal. Once Rockhold gets into trouble he'll most likely look to get the fight to the ground out of pure instinct. Once that happens, Souza will meticulously break him down and submit him.

I predict Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza via 2nd round rear-naked choke.

The Snowman vs The Last Emperor

Jeff "The Snowman" Monson confirmed Tuesday that he has signed to fight Fedor "The Last Emperor" Emelianenko in an M-1 Global event in Russia on November 12th. Monson is a veteran of the sport with a record of 42-12. This matchup I think definitely favors Fedor who is riding a 3 fight losing streak into this contest. Fedor is a guy who likes to stand and knock people out. Monson has very little knock out power with only 2 of his 42 wins coming via knock out.

Monson in his last outing lost a decision to Daniel Cormier on a short notice fight. Before that, he was riding an 8 fight win streak. However, looking through the Snowman's past, he has lost every fight to a top level fighter. So in this contest, I don't expect anything different. I expect the Last Emperor to dictate where the fight takes place and score a knock out. This prediction is rather bold in my opinion because Monson is notoriously hard to finish. His only 2 knockout losses were to Ricco Rodriguez and Pedro Rizzo. The last knock out came back in 2007.

I believe this is a good matchup for Emelianenko. Monson is a veteran so he doesn't lose any respect for fighting a bum, but stylistically this is a great matchup for Fedor to return to his winning ways. The Snowman vs The Last Emperor could be the start of a new run for Emelianenko.

Hughes vs Koscheck is Official

Hughes vs Koscheck is now official. The UFC made the matchup official late Tuesday via Twitter.

Now I'll be the first to admit, I'm not a Koscheck fan. I hope Hughes demolishes him. But I think that this matchup favors Koscheck. I believe his wrestling is better than Hughes' wrestling and I believe Koscheck has better striking abilities.

The other thing to consider is that Koscheck was looking to return at UFC 139 on November 19th at middleweight. If Koscheck is bulking up to make the move to 185 pounds, he could have a distinct size advantage on Hughes.

I believe that Hughes will look to retire after this fight. It's the last fight on his current UFC contract and I think he's hit the end. I don't see the passion that Hughes once had for the sport. Also he's becoming one of the old guard. He's just not evolving anymore and his tactics have been figured out long ago. The only fights left for Hughes if he does continue are interesting fights like the one he had with Renzo Gracie.

I just hope that if this is Hughes' last fight, he goes out on top like Chris Lytle recently did. That being said, Hughes vs Koscheck is now official for UFC 135 and I'm rooting for Hughes to get the win.

Overeem signs with UFC

I will be the first to admit, I did not see this one coming. Alistair Overeem has signed exclusively with the UFC and is scheduled to fight Brock Lesnar on December 30 at UFC 141.

I have yet to find the details of the contract. But the UFC made it official today with the announcement.

The match-up with Lesnar will be a number one contender fight with the winner getting first dibs on the winner of the Velasquez/dos Santos fight on UFC on FOX 1, November 12th.

Stylistically this is a battle of opposites. Overeem is a stand up machine and Lesnar will look to use his wrestling. In my opinion this fight boils down to Lesnar getting a takedown. If the fight stays on the feet, Lesnar will get picked apart and KO'd.

What a way to end the year, Overeem vs Lesnar for the final card of 2011.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

UFC to Return to Japan

The UFC announced today that it intends to return to Japan on February 26th, 2012. This will be the first trip for the UFC to Japan since April of 2000. Dana White mentioned that every Japanese fighter on the promotions roster could fight on the card. No official fights have been announced as of yet.

Also, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira mentioned after his win in Brazil that he would like to fight on this card. So that possibility definitely exists for his return to Japan where he made his name with legendary fights in the Pride organization.

The UFC stated that they want to make the trip to Japan an annual event, along with other events across Asia to expand that market.

The other interesting thing is that the fights will run in the same time slot as usual for UFC events in the U.S. with the preliminaries starting at 10 am locally in Japan and the main card running from noon to 3 pm in Japan.

The rumors are confirmed, the UFC is returning to Japan.

Injury Bug Strikes Again

The injury bug strikes again for UFC 135. This time Diego Sanchez has pulled out of his fight with Matt Hughes citing a broken hand.

This time I'm really disappointed, as I was looking forward to seeing Diego come to the ring shouting his signature "YES!" The UFC has moved quickly and rumor is Josh Koscheck has been tapped to replace Sanchez.

Now Koscheck's replacement is still pending Hughes' approval. I hope he accepts the new challenger in Koscheck so that the co-main event isn't pulled from the card.

Again, I hope that the injury bug does not strike again for this event.

Friday, September 2, 2011

UFC on Fox 1

UFC on Fox 1, the inaugural broadcast has been announced. Cain Velasquez will defend his heavyweight title against challenger Junior dos Santos.

The Fox show will only be an hour long with 2 fights, the title fight between Cain and Junior and a featherweight bout between Dustin Poirier and Pablo Garza. There will be a full preliminary telecast before the main event on FOX. Details about where that is airing has not been revealed yet.

The UFC is coming out with a bang on FOX. What is more important in combat sports than the heavyweight title? The answer is nothing. And the 2 men involved, Cain Velasquez, undefeated champion taking on the number one contender who is undefeated in his 7 UFC fights, Junior dos Santos.

UFC on Fox 1 will be a momentous event for the UFC.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

More Signings for the UFC

Also in today's news is more signings for the UFC. Carlos Condit and Ben Henderson both inked new deals with the UFC today. Both fighters have signed multi-fight contract extensions with the UFC, First Round Management President Malki Kawa announced. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

This is a no-brainer for the UFC. Both men are on win streaks. Condit is on a 4 fight win streak with wins over Jake Ellenberger, Rory McDonald, Dan Hardy and Dong Hyun Kim. He also has a co-headlining bout scheduled against BJ Penn at UFC 137 on October 29th. In my opinion, if he beats Penn, he's next in line for a crack at the 170 pound title.

Henderson is on a 2 fight win streak beating Mark Bocek and Jim Miller. Henderson is considered a top contender at 155 pounds and is no more than 1 fight away from a title shot.

I really enjoy watching both fighters compete. I'm truly happy that the UFC has signed these guys to longer contracts.

News from the U.K.

A couple of news worth things from the U.K. popped up today.

First, Michael Bisping has signed an 8 fight deal with the UFC. This has to be because of his brand recognition in the U.K. His last fight was his TKO win over Jorge Rivera after which he spit at his cornermen. In Bisping's defense, he has gone 11-3 in the UFC but has yet to beat a top level fighter. Losing to Rashad Evans, Dan Henderson and Wanderlei Silva. If he had signed a 4 fight deal, I would not be surprised. In my opinion, an 8 fight deal is a bit excessive.

The second piece of news comes from Ross Pearson who lost a controversial split decision last weekend against to Brazilian Edson Barboza. Pearson who feels he won that fight is lobbying for an immediate rematch. Being a fan of good fights, I would actually love to see them fight again. It was a great technical striking battle and an entertaining fight.

So that is today's news from the U.K.

Nogueira Ready for More

So Antonio Rodrigo Nogeuira aka Big Nog is ready for more! He has already stated he will be fighting on the December 10th, UFC 140 event at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto or possibly a return to Japan where he fought for years in Pride. No firm date has been announced for a UFC show in Japan, though Zuffa, LLC, representatives are reportedly targeting Feb. 26 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, as a potential destination.

Big Nog stated his opponent will either be Brock Lesnar or Frank Mir pending which date he gets slated for. This is very interesting news. I would love to see a health Big Nog rematch Frank Mir. I would also love to see him fight Lesnar. Either fight will be exciting to say the least!

Personally, if Nogueira is ready for more, I'd love to see him rematch Frank Mir.

UFC 135 Injury Bug

The injury bug is back at UFC 135. So, I'm more than interested in the UFC 135 card due to the fact that I have tickets to the event. There has already been 2 fights canceled from the undercard. I am super disappointed.

The first is due to an injury to Manny Gamburyan. He suffered a shoulder injury and pulled out of his fight with Diego Nunes. Nunes then decided to pull off the card citing tendinitis and family issues. Nunes has a bit of a feud with Gamburyan from their WEC days and has decided to wait for both to be healthy to fight him.

Now today Norifuni "Kid" Yamamoto and Damacio Page have both pulled out of their fight stating that they are injured. Those injuries have yet to come to light. But the fight has been scratched from the card.

Both fights had fighters I really wanted to see and intriguing matchups. Again, I'm super disappointed. 

Now I don't go to that many live events so when I get an opportunity I want to see as many fights as possible. UFC 135 is now down to 10 fights on the card. Granted, their are some good fights. But UFC Fight Night 25 has 11 fights on the card and it's not a pay-per-view and last weekend's UFC134 had 12 fights on the card. Call me selfish but I hope the UFC adds at least one more bout to the card. Maybe a couple of young guys making their UFC debuts.

Hopefully the UFC 135 injury bug goes away.