There’s A Lesson In There Somewhere

Good morning folks.

Somewhere, Ronda Rousey sat last night muttering “Unbelievable… I lost the title just so… Miesha Tate will now hold it?

If you did not enjoy UFC 196, I seriously don’t know what else they can offer. It’s not about who you were behind on the fights, if you had a favorite. It’s about the beauty of this sport. The hype leads up to an event and on that event – excuse the cliché but it’s true – anything can happen. The hype can get a boost, it can die down in a silent whimper, or, as in the case of last night – it can live up to its build-up in a pretty unexpected way.

I do, however, see a few lessons coming off of last night’s drama.

The first lesson is for Conor McGregor. Some people may be gloating. Thinking that something terrible happened to him. But Conor should keep going full speed ahead. This guy is all about testing the limits of his skills and abilities. Last night he met a fighter who is clearly a far better grappler than he is. A fighter who is a better boxer than he is. And Conor went into his wheel house willingly, electing to box with him instead of kick-box and ultimately initiating the ground game, where he ended up being submitted. And did we mention that this fight was at 170, where Nate has fought plenty and Conor did not? That’s ok. Conor’s still young and has time to think about his mistakes in this fight. Both guys deserve a lot of respect for jumping at the chance to fight each other. Conor’s lesson is – at least for the time being – In order to fight at 170 at a title threatening capacity, there’s a lot of work to be done. Nate is a great fighter, but he’s not even Rory, Tyron, Demian, Carlos or Robbie… I’m sure Conor will fight next back at 145 or 155. I for one, will continue to enjoy watching him push his limits. And Nate? Well, the checks are coming to the 209. You can take that to the bank.

The second lesson is for Dana White. If the last few months should have demonstrated anything, it is that, no matter how strong or dominant your golden goose may seem, there’s always a bigger, stronger, better one in the making. Things change, shit happens, upsets happen. If that wasn’t clear enough when Chris Weidman beat Anderson Silva, it sure as hell crystallized when Holly Holm demolished Ronda at the peak of her prime and when Conor sent Aldo home in 13 seconds. It was fairly clear when Jon Jones fought the law and the law won… I am still absolutely stunned at the gap between Holly Holm’s payday to Miesha Tate’s…. how can one fighter get paid so much and the other so little in comparison – for the same fight? Did someone completely write Miesha off? Was that fight scheduled as a “filler” until the “real” challenger decided she’s ready to step into the octagon? How come Nate Diaz gets paid on par with a main event participant, and Miesha who fought for a title (and won, may I add) doesn’t? The lesson for Dana, therefore is – stop playing favorites. Leave that to the Vegas clowns and pay your fighters fairly.

The last lesson is for us fans. The hype is ok, It sells PPV and tickets and gets us all excited for an event. But let’s take it for what it is – a tried and tested marketing tool. It is, in the end of the day – a sport. We all saw that Conor does not, in fact hate Nate and Nate – wait for it – respects Conor after all. To use the words of Diaz – Not surprised mo#@$#ers. It’s a sport. It’s ok to have favorites (I do), the key is to enjoy the fights and appreciate the effort, enjoy the ride. Every fight I watch is a whole new case study. We all just got two very interesting cases last night.

I will definitely like to hear what you learned from UFC196, so leave a comment right here if you’d like.

As for my predictions

  1. Nunes Vs. Shevchenko – Well, I was impressed with the Russian last time I saw her. She sure can hit you. Hard. But I also was impressed with Nunes, who I’ve seen on more occasions and believed her to be more diverse in her skills. It was closer than I thought, but Amanda clinched it. 1 for 1.
  2. Lawlor Vs. Anderson – Sometimes the judges mess up my predictions, and sometimes they make it work. Yesterday it was the latter. I do believe that Filthy Tom won that fight on the first two rounds. It seemed like every shot he threw at Corey stung or wobbled him. The late effort from Anderson wasn’t enough in my book to overturn this fight. The judges thought otherwise. 2 for 2.
  3. Villante Vs. Latifi – I had it wrong. This fight wasn’t very exciting. It was a test of strength more than anything and in that department, Ilir won. 2 for 3.
  4. Holm Vs. Tate – I love Miesha Tate. Always have. Since I watched her on Strikeforce, she represented for me the potential in women MMA. Before Dana admitted that women can fight, before Ronda Rousey came over. Miesha is the OG. The most well-rounded WMMA fighter. Watching Holly Vs. Rousey, and seeing how easily Holm stood back up after Ronda flipped her to the ground, I thought she could negate Miesha’s TDs and win this standing. Though I honestly have nothing against Holm, I am truly happy to be wrong on this prediction. No one deserve the success and recognition of a belt more than Miesha and last night she got it!. 2 for 4.
  5. McGregor Vs. Diaz – I’ve said it all up there, but to re-iterate, Conor made a couple of mistakes, not the least of which was relying on his hands too much, when we all know how effective he can be with kicks. A barrage of low kicks would’ve definitely further his cause better. Of course, easier said than done. Just ask the Cowboy. Diaz out-boxed him and ultimately defeated him on the feet, forcing Conor to take him down – unthinkable when you’re facing someone with as good a BJJ as Nate’s. 2 for 5

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED!?

See you soon with more predictions and thoughts about our beloved sport of MMA.

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(Fighter) Safety first

Welcome everybody.

Normally on the Monday following a UFC event, you’d expect to find the “morning after” report in the same prediction post, but since I have more to say than just after thoughts about my picks, I decided to do it in a whole new post of its own. More fun for you, I guess.

Let’s start with the original purpose.

The Morning after:

  1. Much like Joe Rogan, I was watching out for Jordan Mein to show us again why he’s considered such a promising young man. And not that he didn’t. THe first round was his, and he was able to do more than Thiago. The second round brought us Thiago “The Pitbull” Alves. With a beautiful body kick (More on this later) he enabled Mein enough to allow him to swarm with a perfectly legal knee to the head and a couple of punches before earning the TKO. 0 for 1.
  2. Tim Boetsch always come to work. For the majority of the fight he showed why he’s called the Barbarian. Leites did continue to show improved striking skills and held his own for the most part, though the strength differences were pretty obvious in the strikes. Then, Thales was finally able to bring the fight to his world, on the ground and after Boestch did the unthinkable and escaped the first attempt of Leites’ arm triangle, he was locked in a second one and Leites earned the submission victory. 1 for 2.
  3. I was fairly confident in this prediction. Though Lauzon is by far, no pushover, I just believed in Iaquinta’s chin and strength. It was a fun fight like any of Lauzon’s and Iaquinta eventually found the openings he needed and just punched Joe all over the cage (more on that later). 2 for 3.
  4. The crowd booed for the majority of the fight and if you don’t understand MMA, you’d think they were right. What the Vegas douches need to understand are two things. First, when two fighters with knock out power meet, especially when both are knocking on contender-ship door, they are likely not going to stand in front of each other and risk getting knocked out for your entertainment. If they would, I’d seriously doubt their legitimacy. The second thing is that, as opposed to most of the booing “fans”, these two are willing to get into the cage and fight. Easier said than done. Not a great fight, but a fight non the less. Woodley by a hair. 2 for 4.
  5. In the main event, Anderson Silva came back from a horrible injury to prove to himself that he could still do this. Nick Diaz… well, I just don’t know. Never was a fan of Nick (more of Nate). The constant whining, the delusional speeches, the childish behavior… He calls for fights then comes in and spends half of the time taunting (time he could be using to score points), then he’s frustrated. I don’t know. Silva dominated for the vast majority of the fight and clearly won. 3 for 5.

You can watch highlights (Credit: mmaweekly.com) at the bottom of this post.

Now. Having said all that, I wanted to say a few things about fighter’s safety. These thoughts were always bouncing in my head, but I decided to write a little about it after this last week’s weigh in, as well as some of the recent fights.

We all like a good, action packed, aggression filled fight. We love us some knock outs and submission victories. Hell, there were quite a few fights that went the distance and were so full of action, we didn’t really want them to end. That’s why MMA is such a great sport. But what’s the price?

Fighters want to be champions. That is great and motivating. Without the competitive aspect, this sport would be WWE. But what’s the price?

I want to consider a couple of things, with your permission. Or without it, heck, it’s my blog.

Weight Cut

I view weight cut as the necessary evil to allow for a reasonable pairing. It’s not a n easy task for anyone, let alone those who cut a significant amount of weight in order to get to a lower weight class than they might seem to belong to. The motivation is clear. I might be a smaller Middleweight in frame, or height, or reach, so let me drop to 170 and be a big welterweight. Makes sense. Except it doesn’t.

Weight cut might seem trivial, but our bodies are not expecting this dramatic change, nor do they like it. Ask Kelvin Gastelum, or Jimy Hattes. You know what? Ask the new Light-Heavyweight challenger – Anthony “Rumble” Johnson who kept missing weight at Welterweight! A guy like Rumble who is a big LHW, trying to cut all the way down to 170. He’d gas out and not taken seriously. And that’s just the less significant aspect of standings in the organization.

My humble opinion is – if you can’t make weight with relative ease – seriously consider a heavier weight class. It would likely be better for both your health as well as your chances to succeed. And we won’t have to read about you being rushed to a hospital hours before a fight…

 Training Regime

Now I won’t go telling professional MMA fighters how to train. First, because I’m no expert on the matter, and second due to the fact tat the sport is relatively new and still evolving. It’s still somewhat a learning process and we can see new techniques being developed in different camps. Here, I only want to suggest that again, safety should come first. It’s frustrating for fans to see GSP, or Cain Valasquez, or Chris Weidman having to pull out of a an anticipated title fights. I’m sure it’s even more frustrating for the fighters themselves. After all that’s their livelihood.

So if I may use a TV term. Be safe out there!

Stoppages

Let’s talk about that touchy topic for a minute. Some fights end with a definite KO. The fighter is out, period. Some fights end with a tap-out. clear-cut. But what about those TKOs? And the submissions with no taps?

How many times did the referee stop a fight, only to spark the whole “Early stoppage or not?” argument? Or on the flip side – how many times did you wonder whether the referee should’ve stepped in earlier than he did?

Now, again, we want entertainment, but my humble opinion is – better if a fight is stopped a little earlier (to the best judgment of the ref) than too late. The safety of the fighter ensures that we’d be able to watch him fight again. It beats the alternative. We do not want unnecessary career risking injuries or god forbid death in the cage.

That’s it folks. Just wanted to get this out there and perhaps get your perspective on Fighter safety Vs. Fan entertainment Vs. Fighter’s goals and aspirations.

As usual, feel free to leave a comment, share, like and all that 🙂

Enjoy the highlights from UFC 183 below.

P.S. HERE IS an interesting article. Benson Henderson moving up to 170. Along the lines of what I said in the above, that may very well be a really good step for the champ.

P.S.S. LISTEN to what Anthony “Rumble” Johnson has to tell Kelvin Gastelum and John Lineker about weight management.

Thank you,

UFC 183 – Predictions

Hello everyone! New format for my predictions. All credits go to UFC/Zuffa for all photos.

So with no further ado, let’s get down to business. Here are my predictions for UFC 183 (On Monday morning we will revisit these so don’t forget to check back here for the “morning after”). We ride!

fight1

Jordan Mein by UD

fight2

Thales Leites by submission

fight3

Al Iaquinta by TKO

comain

Kelvin Gastelum by UD

and now! the moment millions of MMA fans have been waiting for, from Las Vegas Nevada! This is the main event of the evening!

main

Anderson Silva by TKO.

Don’t forget to get back here by Monday morning for the after MMAth!

And of course, don’t forget to watch UFC 183 on PPV – This Saturday, January 31st!

Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii-t’s TIME!

SEE THE MORNING AFTER AND MORE ON THIS NEXT POST.

Duck,Duck, Goose

Welcome back one and all to an up and running blog thing. I had some domain issues but these were resolved and we’re back in full swing (no pun intended).

I was (and still am) very busy at work, so I did not make it for a UFC174 prediction post. Had I posted it, I would’ve been 4 out of 5 (with Jimmo losing being the missed 1). You’re just going to have to trust me on that one 😉

My favorite fight (as I assume many other’s) was the Rory MacDonald show. It was a thing of beauty, talent, tactics and awesomeness. It was so great that, in comparison, the main event was predictably dull. This doesn’t go to say I think less of Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. These were too fights where the more complete, all-rounder fighter just had his way with a good-but-not-good-enough opponent.

What happens following a successful title defense, especially following a seemingly ‘easy’ one, is normally the discussion about who’s next for the champion. Such was the case following Jon Jones’ destruction of Glover Teixeira and it started with Demetrious Johnson, seconds after he convincingly put Ali Bagautinov away.

Nothing wrong with wondering who the next challenger is, except that in MMA it seems like every fan is an authority on qualifying the contenders. Most of the time, based on favoritism of course.

When Jones was asked (as every winner does) who he’d like to fight next, his reply was Daniel Cormier. That set fire under some people’s back side. Oh, the cheek on this arrogant prick! Who is he to pick and choose? MMA is turning into boxing (an insult).

When Demetrious Johnson was asked whether now, after both he and John Dodson won so convincingly in their last fights, he’d like a re-match with “The Magician”, he said he’d prefer to fight someone he hasn’t fought yet. Which sanded some more vaginas (pardon my French).

Let’s look at a couple of statistics:

I don’t consider the term P4P (Pound for pound) anything more than speculative opinion, but let’s look at the UFC’s top 5:

P4P

Whether you agree or not, you have to concede the both Jones, as well as Johnson belong in the top 10 (Jones should without a doubt be #1).

Now let’s look at both fighters recent title defenses:

Jones (* will indicate former champions):

 Mauricio Rua* (To win the belt), Quinton Jackson*, Lyoto Machida*, Rashad Evans*, Vitor Belfort*, Chael Sonnen, Alexander Gustafsson, Glover Teixeira.

Mighty Mouse:

 Ian McCall (To win and inaugurate the belt), Joseph Benavidez (Twice), John Dodson, John Moraga.

Both champions have fought a succession of top-tier competition. Some world-class fighters with proven track records. Jon Jones made a few resounding statements with big wins over Shogun Rua as well as Lyoto Machida.

Yet, when both fighters express their desire to compete against someone they haven’t yet fought, they are accused of “Ducking”.

Like Jon Jones or hate him, He stepped into the cage with anyone the UFC put him in with (and won). He did not shy away from competition. On the contrary, he welcomed the challenges of fighting the best the UFC had to offer. After his title defense against Alexander Gustafsson, it was clear to all MMA fans that there’s a re-match in the future.

But then something else happened. Daniel Cormier decided to drop from heavyweight to Jones’ domain, the light heavyweight. Knowing well, he wouldn’t have a shot at the HW title (against his good friend Cain Valasquez), he decided to look for one where the champ was not a camp member.

So now, Jones has NOT yet fight every challenger in the division. There’s a world-class fighter who’ve beaten some really stiff competition, and on a heavier weight class. So by wanting to fight Cormier before he re-matches Gustafsson, in some twisted fan logic, Jones has “Ducked” The Swede… Interesting…

Demetrious Johnson has fought John Dodson. He beat him. He will fight him again. This is simply inevitable. But what’s the pressure on having him fighting Dodson again right now?

Everyone wants to see the best fights all the time. But keep two things in mind please.

We want to see a sport where good performance is rewarded. Fighters who make their way up the ladder deserve to get a shot at the title. If the UFC keep booking re-matches, these fighters will not get the nod they deserve.

We also want to see something new and exciting. If anyone wants to tell me a Jones Vs. Cormier fight is nothing short of exciting, I’d question their love for this sport.

I could go back in time and show how Anderson Silva (no less) or Georges Saint-Pierre, were accused of ducking, even though they fought every top challenger in their respective weight class (and some who moved classes just to have the chance to fight them).

The bottom line, as I see it, is that I can’t see how fighters, great fighters, Champions like Jones, Mighty Mouse, Silva, GSP and others can be accused of avoiding stiff competition when all they do is defend their respective belts against the very best. Us fans should enjoy fresh fights and, more importantly, not be so damn judgmental of people who, unlike us, actually walk into the cage to test their strength and will against the very best in the world.

Let me know what you think:

  • Do you agree?
  • Who should Demetrious Johnson fight next?
  • Who should John Dodson fight next?

As usual, until next time,

Anderson “The Spider” Silva A.K.A G.O.A.T

Hello everyone. Thanks for checking back, even though no one forced you (right? rrrrright? right!).

On December 16, 2010, two Lightweights fought for the WEC title for the last time. The fight ended with a unanimous decision but is much more known for “the kick heard around the world”. It was a thing of beauty. The innovation, the execution, so fitting of the final event of this promotion. For weeks after that, people argued whether Anthony Pettis was “for real” or just a guy who executed a nice kick. I think we all know the answer to that question. The UFC LW belt tells it all.

UFC 168 on Last Saturday night possibly marked another “last event” with another kick that was heard around the world. This one was checked by the Middle Weight champion Chris Weidman. I will give the champ all due respect at a later time. These next paragraphs are dedicated to the man who delivered the kick. The man who is the Greatest MMA fighter of all time. Anderson “The Spider” Silva.

I could fill this post by simply pasting all of his records and statistics, but mere numbers won’t do this man justice. It’s true that no other champion in the history of the sport has defended his title more than Silva. It’s also true that Anderson holds the record for most UFC wins in a row. But as I said, this is just a dry statistical overview of someone who is much more significant to MMA and UFC than data.

If you saw him in the octagon you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, go do it now.

I watch MMA fights since 2009 and have gone back and watched a significant number of fights dating way back. I’ve seen great fighters. I’ve seen some really fancy stuff. But I’ve never seen a fighter like Silva. A man who can “dodge bullets” if you will. Neo.

Perhaps it’s the Capoeira, or simply agility, or many other attributes. Whatever it is, until Chris Weidman capitalized on an open chin, no one could touch him. Fighters have thrown punches and kicks, only to be frustrated by his sneaky movement. Frustration led to recklessness, which in turn led to defeat. Silva didn’t need to exert too much energy it seemed. All he had to do was stand in front of his opponent, duck to the left, bend to the right, quick step back, punch, kick, knock out.

Anderson is class, inside the cage and out. Respects the sport and is respected by all. Silva doesn’t talk much. He just works, and last Saturday he came to do some work on the champion who took his title.

We don’t know whether that kick ended Silva’s career. At least according to some reports, he still – at the age of 38 – entertains the thought of going back to training following surgery. If you ask me, he shouldn’t. He has nothing to prove.

Regardless of what Silva does from now on, I look at the current roster of fighters in MMA’s biggest stage, UFC. I see a lot of talent. A lot of promise. I have a good feeling about the future in terms of competition and the evolution of the sport.

I know one thing though. With the exception of Jon Jones (we will talk about him in the near future), It’s very difficult to believe that anyone could show this kind of domination over a division the way The Spider did.

Thank you Anderson, A.K.A G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time)!

A Puncher’s Chance (Part 1 of 2)

Hello everyone. Happy you could make it 🙂

On today’s agenda two men, both will weight 170 lbs on November 15th.

I’m referring of course to Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks and Georges “Rush” Saint-Pierre. The Challenger and the UFC Welterweight champion respectively.

On Saturday, Nov 16th at around 11:30 PM to Midnight, these two will do battle inside the octagon and at the end of this fight, one of two things will happen. Either the seemingly inevitable GSP win, or the punch that would shock the world.

Ok, after I grossly oversimplified the situation, let me elaborate.

The first part of this discussion will focus on the champion. The next one will be for the challenger.

Georges Saint-Pierre (GSP) is the reigning 2 times UFC WW champion ever since he beat Matt Serra in a rematch way back in April 2008. That’s right. 5 and a half years ago.

What happened since then? Well, GSP’s record is (Wikipedia.org):

  • Second most consecutive title defenses in the UFC history (8) – Second to Anderson Silva.
  • Most successful title defenses in the UFC Welterweight division (8)
  • Most consecutive title defenses in the UFC Welterweight division (8)

List of notable victims: BJ Penn, Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves, Jake Shields, Nick Diaz, Carlos Condit

How he does it?

I will not go into the endless debate surrounding GSP. I covered this piece on a different post. I want to talk about what makes GSP such a dominant champion. For an MMA fan, this might be stating the obvious, but it’s worth saying because a) not everyone is a fan and b) If it was that obvious, others would do the same, no?

So, it begins with one main quality. GSP has the work ethic to go the distance (no pun intended). Starting MMA with good Karate is nice. Not enough to win a belt though. So GSP went to work on filling his arsenal. BJJ (Black belt), Wrestling (Training with Olympic wrestlers), Boxing (Working with Freddie Roach among others), Muay Thai (Working with Firas Zahabi and Phil Nurse) and as it became plain to see – conditioning and athleticism (Again, Olympic gymnasts).

Another layer of GSP’s ability is his work with Greg Jackson MMA. Some people have a lot to say about Jackson, but the fact remains, he is a master tactician. GSP didn’t retain his title for so long without a) knowing exactly what he was  going to do in each round, b) being able to implement and no less important, c) Having Jackson to adjust on the fly.

So, Ever improving skill set, work ethic, tactics and guidance. Add to this a drive to leave a legacy behind and commitment to do whatever it takes and what do you have? Yes, the most dominant fighter and champion in Welterweight history. One of the widely held top 3 P4P (we’ll talk about this later) fighters in the world, Oh, and a pretty nice person too.

Why would GSP win this fight?

  • Because he’s much more well-rounded than his opponent. Even his striking (where Hendricks might feel he has the advantage) is better technically. Cleaner, crisper style.
  • Because GSP’s takedowns are legendary. And his takedown defense is superb.
  • Because GSP wrestled wins out of wrestlers, stroke strikers to a bloody pulp and in general showed superiority to most his opponents.
  • Because GSP can fight 5 intensive rounds and so far there’s no indication Hendricks can do so for 3.
  • Because if there’s something GSP is excellent at, it’s… not getting hit as much.
  • Because the game plan is simple – circle away from the power bomb and then be GSP.

Remember folks, check back next week for part 2, in which we will discuss Johny Hendricks and… Yes, I will put my (virtual) money on a winner.

In the meantime, let me know if you agree, or if you’d like to comment on this upcoming fight!

and of course – TUNE IN TO UFC 167 – NOV 16, 10 PM ET

Until next time

And just like that…

Killing time before a flight, I just wanted to put in a mini-post to share my thoughts on last night’s historical UFC event.

My last post was all about the greatest MMA fighter of all time, Anderson “The Spider” Silva. I told those of you who didn’t see him before to check him out on UFC 162 against Chris Weidman because I thought Weidman, being a top notch, young and physically strong wrestler had a good chance of making this fight very competitive.

I talked about the Chael Sonnen fight because I (as many other MMA enthusiasts) thought this would be the blueprint for a possible upset (a win for Weidman would be considered one).

I also spoke about Silva’s matrix-like ability to avoid strikes, a skill he used so many times to frustrate and scare his opponents. In other words, clown them…

Well.

If you took my advice and watched the fight you’d know that the first round was exactly as advertised. Weidman took Silva to the ground (as expected), silva spent the second part of the round clowning and all was well with the universe.

Then came the second.

Weidman got over the initial round of taunting and kept his cool while Silva tried to trap him with his “antics”. At one point the champion seemed to have been hurt by a punch from Weidman but wait, he was just clowning again.

What came next was just… Surreal.

Silva leaned to the right, hands down. Weidman saw what so many challengers before him did. An opening. Silva’s chin exposed and ripe for a knock out punch.

As opposed to all others though, Weidman was able to actually land, and land he did. Silva’s eyes rolled, his legs gave and he dropped to the mat like… Well, like so many of his opponents did.

And just like that we have a new middleweight champion – Chris Weidman.

The Internet of course, is full of talk about the fight. Some say it was fixed (ridiculous in my humble opinion). Others say Anderson beat himself/threw the fight…

Me? As usual, I like to give the credit to the winner. Chris Weidman came prepared. He wasn’t thrown off by Silva’s games and when the opportunity presented itself, he capitalized.

Sounds simple, right? Ask any opponent who faced Anderson Silva before how simple it is…

Well, I’d love to stay and chat, but I (literally) have a plane to catch. Feel free to share your thoughts and comments here.

See you all again soon!

Yours truly,

Gil