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)!

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A Puncher’s Chance (Part 2 of 2)

Welcome back one and all, to this part 2 of the UFC 167 main event discussion.

In the first one, we focused on the long reigning champ, Georges St. Pierre. This one would be around the challenger, Johnny Bigg Rigg Hendricks.

If you weren’t following MMA and the UFC, you should know the normal flow of events when it comes to the Welterweight title. Here’s a standard example:

1. New challenger named

2. For weeks/months the hype is that this is GSP’s most dangerous contender yet

3. The man steps in to the octagon, gets beaten by the champ

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Every time, people will say, but this time the contender is really the most dangerous one.

So what’s new?

So far, all of GSP’s opponents have been dangerous. Carlos Condit is a complete fighter with an iron chin, Nick Diaz is a tri-athlet with sick BJJ, Fitch was dominating his opponents before and after GSP, Alves is a gifted striker, Jake Shields may have the best BJJ in UFC, BJ Penn is a legend, Koschek is a great wrestler. So what’s special about Hendricks?

GSP could prepare for any of the above in terms of skills. He’d have the perfect game plan come fight night to nullify all of their advantages and capitalize on where he has the edge.

Bigg Rigg has something that (to paraphrase Joe Rogan) you can’t develop. You either have it, or you don’t. a one punch KO shot. Johnny Hendricks has the ability to knock his opponent out with one left punch.

Now, people will say that Johnny has a puncher’s chance against GSP, meaning he doesn’t have a chance of winning unless he lands that left. But these people forget that Hendricks is also a phenomenal wrestler. That is very important to consider, because GSP uses his wrestling skills, not only to control opponents on the ground, but also to control the fight itself. When GSP can enforce where the fight takes place inside the cage, he’s free to utilize any strategy he wants. If Hendricks can nullify GSP’s edge on that department, it will significantly improve his chances of winning.

Why would Hendricks win this fight?

  • Because his left hand… if he can hit GSP with an accurate shot he stands and excellent chance to win the belt.
  • Because Hendricks is a phenomenal wrestler who has the skill in that department to limit GSP’s options.
  • Because Hendricks – at least so far – showed that he is not intimidated by “big names”. Key to his chance is confidence.
  • Because… did I mention his left hand?

So who WILL win?

Every brain cell in my brain says GSP. He is a more well-rounded fighter. More experienced but still in his prime. His conditioning is better and he goes 5 rounds on a regular basis where Hendricks showed some gas tank inefficiencies in 3 round fights.

Yet, that left hand… Would Hendricks catch GSP?

I will go ahead and say no. I don’t think he will. GSP might have worked a lot on skills and conditioning, but if there’s anything we know about GSP is that he works the strategy. I believe he’ll utilize that to avoid Johnny’s left.

Only time will tell how this fight will end (and luckily the time is soon :)).

Let me know what you think! Who wins this?

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

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

Big Country / UFC 166

Hello everyone and welcome back to this humble blog.

Last night on UFC166 I went 2 for 3 with my predictions. I went with Cain Valasquez to retain his Heavyweight title, with Cain’s training partner, Daniel Cormier to beat Roy Nelson, and with Diego Sanchez to beat Gilbert Melendez.

I went with Cain, considering his well roundedness, his skill and unparalleled tenacity. It proved to make the difference and Cain won convincingly.
I went with Diego Sanchez because I like him and that was more of a wishful thinking kind of deal. Melendez won fair and square. Not a shocking result by any stretch of the word.
Then there was Daniel Cormier Vs. Roy (Big country) Nelson…

Before we go any further I’d just like to say that I respect any fighter who’s willing to step into the octagon and fight. Win or lose, these guys are doing what most of us don’t have the guts to do.

I like Roy Nelson. I don’t really know anyone who does not. What’s not to like? The guy won’t say “No” to any fight. He’ll go in the cage with anyone and look to take his head off with a thunderous overhead right. Roy says he wants to be a UFC champ, and I wish him all the best with that.

But I see a big problem (No pun intended) standing in his way.

Roy came to last night’s fight in the best shape in his career, weighing in at 249 lb… and although much smaller than ever before, still sporting a pretty significant gut.

Now, Big country is many things. He’s full of fight and heart, he has a granite chin and the aforementioned KO deliverer. Add all of that to a black belt in BJJ and you should definitely have a legitimate title contender. This is not the issue though. The issue is that Roy seems to have two obstacles on his way to realize his dream.

Look at photos from last night and check out the two main eventers – Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos and Cain Valasquez. Go ahead, check it. I’ll wait.

Alright. That is what a legit title contender should look like. At the absolute peak of his physical readiness. Junior lost that fight (Someone has to lose…) but he fought for 5 rounds against a man with a machine like endurance.

Roy looked like a zombie after a round and a half.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Physical build alone does not guarantee anything. Look at the likes of Chiek Congo, or Thiago Alves to see how well-built musclemen could underachieve (and this is not a knock on these two guys either). In addition, fighting Daniel Cormier, a decorated Olympic wrestler, WILL do that to a man.

But this is not the first time we see Roy taking huge breaths after 1 round.

It looks to me (and I’m no expert) that our legs shouldn’t be carrying so much weight around. Not if we need to move (fast preferably)  for 15 to 25 minutes inside a cage and fight. There has to be a balance between strength and weight. Muscle and fat.

Cain is not a skinny all muscle guy. His physical condition is proof that there is such a balance. It can be achieved.

The second obstacle in Roy’s way seem to be his insistence to rely on one technique – his KO punch.

It is evident by looking at the champions, that one skill set is no longer enough to rule. You have to round-up your game. Cain could not be a threat on his feet without his wrestling and wouldn’t scare anyone with his wrestling without his hand work or his leg work for that matter. Look at GSP, Aldo, Jones, Henderson. The top-tier of MMA are well-rounded fighters who could be dangerous all over and are utilizing all of their arsenal to get the win.

Roy has a fantastic BJJ. He just chooses to stay away from it, for reasons beyond my comprehension. The same could be said about Frank Mir.

I’ll say it again. I LOVE Roy Nelson. I hope he goes the extra mile and rounds up his game in addition to working on conditioning. With these additional layers… what a scary thought for his opponents…

I won’t finish this post without bowing down in awe to two great men. Cain Valasquez and Junior Dos Santos. Truly the baddest men on the planet. This heavyweight trilogy was nothing short of phenomenal. These two professionals have shown all that is noble and  great in MMA. Respect to the sport, to each other and to the fans. Junior lost the fight, but NOT an inch of respect. It’s fights like this one that make a fan like me stand up and cheer for both men and completely forget the result. It was a battle of two gentlemen who embody the essence of martial arts.

Thanks for checking this out. Let your voice be heard. what did you think of UFC166?

Bring It!

Hi everyone and welcome back to the dot com.

To quote Bruce Buffer, MMA announcer extraordinaire – “Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit’s Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime!!!”

MMA stands for Mixed Martial Arts and as a combat sport requires the engagement of two individuals in a fight.

The fights in the UFC (and excuse me other organizations for focusing on the main one) are judged based on “mixed martial arts techniques, such as effective striking, effective grappling, control of the ring/fighting area, effective aggressiveness and defense.” (Source: http://www.ufc.com/discover/sport/rules-and-regulations#14).

If you’re not a fan, this should at least sound like a pretty aggressive sport. It is.

In recent years, many fans voiced criticism toward certain fighters and fight camps for not being aggressive enough. Some might say that certain fighters avoid engagement (running, backing up) and try not to lose, rather than win. Some wouldn’t settle for a win unless the opponent was submitted or knocked out. In the end of the day, the question I keep seeing is – Is MMA more a sport? or more entertainment? Think about it. The answer may not be that trivial.

To each his own, I guess. I would like to point out a couple of things though, about aggression and engagement. Then ultimately offer my take on the Sport Vs. Entertainment question.

Aggression in a sport could mean more than one thing. In MMA, the way I see it, it means seeking contact, initiating attack and/or forcing the action on to the opponent. Be it by threat (fake), punch, kick, strike, submission attempt, improving position etc.

Engagement means something a little different. One may choose to play the counter striker in a fight, for one of many reasons. That doesn’t automatically put him as less aggressive (Think Chuck Liddell). The important part is to remain engaged and not try to avoid the fight.

Some fighters who were “under fire” and criticized for not being entertaining (read: not being aggressive enough, not trying to “finish the opponent”, running) include Welterweight champion George St. Pierre (GSP), Clay Guida, Carlos Condit, Nik Lentz and more.

MMA coach and master strategist Greg Jackson made more than a few people frustrated by directing his fighters to employ less aggressive (at times ridiculous) approaches to win fights. In many cases Jackson’s fighters got the win, but some of these came at the cost of the fighter’s popularity and the impression he left on UFC president Dana White.

In a wonderfully crafted segue, I want to bring up one thing that I believe heavily contributed to more fighters employing these tactics. Dana White notoriously follow the “Three strikes and you’re out” philosophy. Meaning that quite a few fighters found themselves cut from the UFC after three consecutive losses. Am I in support of this? Well, to some extent yes. The sport needs to stay competitive and there’s an impressive amount of talent waiting for the opportunity to break into the main stage.

The side effect is that fighters (who make their living solely on MMA fighting) do their best to avoid this fate and some end up changing their game and choosing to fight to win, rather than fight to impress. Can you blame them? I never walked in their shoes so I will definitely not judge them.

Another old argument (Which I don’t expect to end here and now) is – whose responsibility is it to make the fights as interesting and entertaining as can be?

First and foremost it’s the people who book them. I will take my hat off and say that they’ve done a pretty good job match making in order to set the stage for good fights.

Then the proverbial ball is in the fighters’ court, Here I would like to divide my answer to two categories. Title holders and non-title holders.

The criticism of George St. Pierre is partly fair. Yes, he is admittedly “fighting safe”, meaning he’s looking not only at winning, but to avoid damage. If you go back up to how the fights are judged and watch UFC fights, there should be absolutely no doubt that GSP has won each and every fight in the UFC except for his first fight with Matt Hughes and the first Matt Serra one. Why? Because he won on all categories. Yes, including that last word – “defense”.

He is a reigning champion who wants to set title defenses record and establish his status as the best Welterweight in history.  He is always aggressive, always pushing forward, never backs down from contact as a tactic. He is always the one who initiates attack on his opponents. He did not “finish” an opponent in a long while and yes, that cost him some criticism.

My problem is not with title holders. Jose Aldo, a big fan favorite has also found it difficult to finish his top contenders (excuse me Korean Zombie) such as Faber, Hominick and Edgar.

My issue is with fighters who are not yet considered title contenders. Like in every work environment, you’d expect to be promoted/move ahead/be considered a real contributor only if you make the effort to excel, In MMA and definitely in the main stage – the UFC, you have to “Bring it!”. Dana White does not give title shots to just anybody (Sonnen is the exception to the rule ;)). You have to earn the shot.

If a fighter earned a shot at the title, whose job is it to be the aggressor? I think that’s a rhetorical question. But I will answer it just the same. It is definitely up to the challenger. The champion has the belt. It is called a “title defense” for a reason. I expect every title contender to take their A game to the champ and do their absolute best to win the title. I expect the champion to do his best to keep it.

So, MMA, sport or Entertainment?

A sport exists only if the interest is there. That’s why ESPN doesn’t carry the world nose-picking competition. The extreme flip side is the WWE. It might be entertaining but it is not a sport,

My answer is that MMA is big enough to give us all what we want. We should know that some fights will be a technical competition and appreciate the skills the two brave people in the cage posses. We should know that some fights will be wild exchanges between two fighters who like to brawl. We should know that in every sport, the finals (championships) tend to be more about the tension, rather than the actual score.

I love MMA for more than one reason. I like a good “Finish”. I like a perfectly executed submission. I also like a 5 rounds fight that takes place all over the cage. As long as it’s competitive and engaging, I’m on board. If one fighter is not only backing up but avoiding engagement and shows no signs of aggression I will use that time to get more beer.

Watch UFC fight night, tomorrow, Wednesday, August 28th (Fox Sports 1) and pay close attention to the two main events.

Don’t forget UFC 164 on PPV this Saturday night (August 31st). Interesting title fight!

What’s your take on MMA Sport Vs. Entertainment? Don’t be shy, leave your comment.

Until the next time

Along Came “The Spider”

Happy 4th of July to all Americans and welcome back everyone (including myself…). Man, work is hectic, which shouldn’t be a complaint these days. So, being grateful for my employment, I finally got to sit down and write this post. With no further ado, I’d like to talk a little about a man called Anderson Silva.

Anderson-Silva-Hand-Raised

The Spider in a typical snapshot

Before talking about Anderson “The Spider” Silva, we must address two terms that are thrown around to make an argument.

P4P (Pound For Pound) – The meaning of the term is – regardless of weight class, who is the best? In MMA forums and all over the web, this question is still open-ended and there are as many opinions as there are people with keyboards. The consensus in the media as well as within the UFC is that Anderson Silva is indeed the best fighter regardless of weight class. My opinion? P4P is just a term used to praise whoever you like best. True, you can’t really make a case for just any fighter being P4P, but there are about 5 that are hovering around that spot. I will let you be the judge.

GOAT (Short for Greatest Of All Time) – Seriously? not only the best, but of all times? Well, here I get a bit more tolerant for the definition, as this is taking a little step back and looking not only at talent but also talking about impact, contribution and other aspects. On that list too, Anderson Silva is the consensus #1.

Why is Silva considered the best of the best?

Anderson is the UFC middleweight champion who successfully defended his title ever since he won it back in 2006… that’s almost 7 years to the day and 14 fights (not all for title, though guess what? He holds that record too…)

Record – His career record is 33 Wins Vs. 4 Losses (1 by DQ), while his UFC record is 16 and 0. with the vast majority of his fights ending via a form of knock out or submission.

One of the 2 most dominant champions you can think of.

I’m not going to write down the full Anderson Silva statistics or history because you can easily find it on many other sites and because this is not the purpose of this post. I hope that you will follow this up by actually finding out more about this fantastic fighter.

Have you seen “The Matrix?” Were you also going “Wow!” When Neo dodged the bullets on the roof? Want to see that without the aid of special effects? Watch an Anderson Silva fight. One of the things I love the most about him, is his unfathomable ability to avoid his opponent’s strikes by “simply” moving his head or torso out of the way… Standing right in front of the other guy with his hands down and frustrating him by slippin’ and slidin’ at ease. In more than one case he followed that up with a flash knock out strike of his own that did find the target.

Key fights

Almost any Silva fight you’d pick would be a great introduction. I would, however, make his first fight Vs. Chael Sonnen the last I watch. Not because it’s not good. It most definitely IS. Possibly one of the best fights ever. Just give yourself some time and get to know Silva first. Trust me. It would make watching this fight an even more gratifying experience.

His title win over Rich “Ace” Franklin is a good one. Then go on to see him defend his title with seeming ease, until UFC 117…

Anderson Silva may very well be the #1 P4P and GOAT. He most definitely is one of the top 3. When it comes to personal opinion, I still think that Georges Saint-Pierre is dominating his weight class against slightly higher skilled opponents. I think GSP is a more well-rounded fighter than Silva. MMA fans all over the world are tired of waiting for a super fight between these two, but to be honest I don’t think this fight is worth booking (other than for revenue). It would not prove anything in my opinion. If you ask me to predict, I’d say probably Silva.

You’re most welcome to leave your comment here. I hope you check out who this Spider is (in case you don’t already know).

Don’t forget to watch Anderson fight on UFC 162 this Saturday!

Thanks for stopping by again!