Let me start by saying this is no way an endorsement of the rather classless things UK boxer Dereck Chisora did to Vitali Klitschko before their WBC Heavyweight Championship fight on Saturday. First, at the weigh-in Chisora slapped Klitschko right across the face, which started a small tussle that really didn’t go anywhere because of Vitali’s completely ice cold murderer stoicism. Almost anyone caught up with what’s went on in the boxing world for the last four years or so seemed to indicate this meant Chisora had a deathwish. If that wasn’t bad enough, as the match was approaching the opening bell, Chisora took the opportunity to get nose-to-nose with Vitali’s brother Wladimir (aka, #2 pound-for-pound boxer in the world, and reigning IBF, WBO, and IBO Heavyweight Champion) and then be so kind as to spit water in his face. This incident again was snuffed out by the eerie Ukrainian stoicism Wladimir responded with, but pushed the fight to must-see levels of interest.
There is no discrediting Georges St-Pierre’s accomplishments in MMA and the victories that have secured his place as an all-time great and current top three pound-for-pound fighter. But with that said, there is also no denying his biggest victories are no longer over the top fighters in the welterweight division. There is now, finally a new group of welterweights ready to take a shot at his throne.
John Hendricks was able to take the luster off St-Pierre’s biggest victory on Friday night by accomplishing two equally impressive feats in one punch: knocking out Jon Fitch and making a Fitch fight exciting. Continue reading
Brock Lesnar was never shy about his motivation for becoming mixed martial artist; he wanted to make money and feed his competitive urge. He was able to accomplish those goals and claim a UFC Heavyweight title along the way.
Lesnar’s relationship with the UFC was a mutually beneficial one. They made him one of the sport’s highest paid fighters and he provided them with some of their best Pay-Per-View numbers. Maybe he was pushed into the title picture before he was ready or deserving, but Continue reading
Fighter of the Year: Jon Jones
Whether you love him for his in-cage brilliance, or hate him for his incessant arrogance, Jones is the definitive choice for the award. He finished his four fights in 2011, three of them against legends (“Rampage” Jackson, “Lyoto” Machida, and “Shogun” Rua), and the other against the then undefeated Ryan Bader. Like his freakish reach, Jones’ Continue reading
Anthony Pettis was given a lay up of a fight, and after a lucky bounce, it went in. He was supposed to outclass the slower and less technical Jeremy Stephens; instead he outwrestled him, kinda. Pettis certainly has potential, but he’s a long way from getting back that title shot he lost in the Clay Guida fight.
Jorge Santiago cannot compete against top UFC middle weights. He was outstruck by Brian Stann and outgrappled saturday night against Demian Maia. Maia’s takedowns were impressive, but his striking defense is going to leave him looking like…
Melvin Guillard was sloppy against Shane Roller, but his athleticism saved him, he was sloppy against Joe Lauzon and he was tapped out for his troubles. I don’t think this fight says anything we didn’t suspect: Lauzon is dangerous and Guillard needs to focus more. It’s a shame too, because he still might be the best 155er in the world.
I didn’t care much for the Leonard Garcia v. Nam Pham fight as much as some others. Typical Garcia fare; it was entertaining for sure, but this is starting to feel like another sequel to an bad action movie: excitement, but not much substance. Pham looked polished, I’d like to see if he’s improved his takedown defense.
Chael Sonnen looked as expected. Have to give credit to Brian Stann for avoiding a takedown attempt, and getting back to his feet. He also landed a good blow, but just couldn’t keep the fight standing. Sonnen is working his ground game. Watch out Anderson Silva, and also your wife.
Kenny Florian took Jose Aldo into deep water thinking Aldo would break…he didn’t. Aldo outstruck and outgrappled Florian en route to a lackluster decision. Florian didn’t choke, he just lacked the skill set to hurt Aldo whose obvious weakness is takedown defense and cardio. Aldo will lose to Chad Mendes if the same fighter who has shown up the last couple fights shows up agaisnt him.
Gray Maynard couldn’t do what Joe Lauzon could: finish a hurt opponent with a submission. This has failed him twice now against Frankie Edgar. Why has Maynard been able to tag Edgar twice in the first round? No idea. It became even more evident this fight, after Maynard wisely did not punch himself out in the first, that Edgar is the superior striker and all-around fighter. He has top level wrestling and striking combined with a great scrambling and cardio.
So Aldo is too big for 145 and Edgar is too small for 155? Superfight at 150.
I wanted to preface this article by saying that I am by no means an MMA expert. I am more than a casual fan, but going forward, most MMA pre and post-fight card analyses are going to come from joeb87. It also comes more than a week and a half later than I wanted it to…whatever. I was busy this past week with working and drinking.
Overall, this was one of the most exciting fight cards that I’ve watched yet this year which took me by total surprise. Not to put Strikeforce down, but their cards are usually a showcase of talent that can’t be employed (literally and metaphorically) elsewhere (i.e. in the UFC). The fights are often sloppy and/or one-sided.
Pat “Bam Bam” Healy vs. Maximo Blanco
I had never seen Blanco fight before, but he has a quick, impressive (although daffy and overzealous) style of striking. Early off, Blanco dropped Healy with a sweep kick followed by a seamless, driving left straight. Healy, the veteran, ended up taking advantage of one of Blanco’s cavalier advances. He took him down against the cage, following with a rear naked choke some minutes later adding a 26th win to his extensive fight record. Despite the loss, the younger Blanco (27) could be a very fun fighter to watch in the future.
Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal vs. Roger Gracie
I was really looking forward to this fight because I thought it would be a good litmus test (a classic joeb87 metaphor) for Gracie’s comprehensive ability. Wins over guys like Trevor Prangley and Kevin Randleman are definitely wins (they aren’t cans), but it still left me curious as to how good Gracie really was. Going 4-0 entering into the fight, he looked pretty sharp as a striker and the BJJ and grappling background made for a solid resume, not to mention the “Gracie” name recognition.
Gracie looked lost in this fight. Despite the height and reach advantage, he not only left a low guard, he continually made these half-assed clinch advances on King Mo who actually does have heavy hands. King Mo caught him with a devastating right hook that dropped Gracie to the mat and then ragdolled him with another right before it was called.
Gracie better sharpen his standup, particularly against guys like King Mo who have the clichéd one-punch knockout power. BJJ is great, but if you can’t stand with somebody, you’re in for trouble. That being said, I still look forward to seeing Gracie fight in the future. Now, I’m more interested in seeing King Mo fight.
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs. Luke Rockhold
This was the best fight on the card and also the most surprising. I was expecting the typical, boring unanimous decision for Jacare after five rounds of him taking his opponent down and then sitting on them. Rockhold, who was coming into this fight after being out of the cage for 19 months, immediately showed that he wasn’t afraid to strike with Jacare. He is just as spry on his feet as Jacare and offers a wide arrange of kicks coming from his AKA background (which sets up very well in punch-kick combinations later in the fight).
Jacare was able to take Rockhold down a total of three times in the first round, but in atypical fashion, Rockhold stood up from all three. Jacare landed some frighteningly accurate blind hooks while on the ground. This proved further that Rockhold must have a decent chin. At the end of the first round, Rockhold set up a sweet kick by leveraging himself on Jacare’s left thigh and unleashed a high left kick. After that he, as Mack from It’s Always Sunny would say, put on a clinic. Though Rockhold looked very strong at the end of the fight and was able to stand up from Jacare’s takedowns, I still gave the round to Jacare.
In the second round, Rockhold seemed to scare Jacare on a few occasions with his kicks and his combination onslaughts. Rockhold stalked Jacare for the majority of the round and forced Jacare to play his game. Round 2 for Rockhold.
Rockhold began the third round with a number of impressive flurries that landed. Unfortunately, he tagged Jacare in the coin purse about 1 ½ minutes in. It was clearly inadvertent, but Jacare was clearly pissed (can you blame him?). Jacare earned a takedown when Rockhold tried to pogo and punch at the same time. For the remainder of the round Rockhold determined the pace and ultimately earned himself the round in my book.
Round 4 was a hell of a round. Rockhold is landed a number of 3-4 punch/kick combinations, though Jacare effectively countered on some of these advances because of Rockhold’s low guard. Jacare had some heavy blows around the 2 minute mark, but Rockhold largely controlled the round with very active striking.
Both fighters were definitely tired in Round 5, but it wasn’t the gas-fest I expected it to be. Rockhold certainly didn’t have the power behind his kicks and Jacare was a little heavy on his feet. This for me was the hardest round to judge. Rockhold was the more active striker, but Jacare did get a takedown, had some impressive counter-strikes and a sweet front kick to Rockhold’s jaw at 1:23.
I personally had the fight scored 48-47 Rockhold. One could make the argument for 49-46 Rockhold with the last round as a toss-up. Whichever judge scored the contest 50-45 should be fired. I am very much looking forward to seeing Rockhold fight again. His landing percentage was almost identical to the former champion’s and he threw almost 3 times as many strikes. I think the obvious fight is a rematch between him and Jacare.
And who let Herschel Walker in the ring after the fight??
Do yourself a favor and watch it.
Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva vs. Daniel Cormier
Though I like Bigfoot Silva as a fighter, Cormier simply made him look bad in this fight. Silva came into this fight with a 20 lb. weight advantage, a 5 inch height advantage and an almost 10 inch reach advantage. Very early on in the fight, Silva rushed Cormier against the fence and looked menacing. Seconds later, Cormier downed Silva with a concrete right; within fifteen seconds, Cormier motioned Silva to his feet. After Cormier tagged Silva 3 or 4 more times, the clearly dazed Silva shot for a pathetic takedown. It had to have been a stall tactic on Silva’s part (because why would you shoot on an Olympic wrestler?) as Cormier didn’t look to be too interested in the ground game anyway.
Not long after standing up, Silva threw a kick and Cormier swept him for a second takedown. When the referee stood the fight up again, Silva worked a smiling Cormier around the edge of the cage before Cormier caught yet another of Silva’s kicks, ducked under a backfist and then landed a left hook. After that, he just outstruck Silva hitting a four-punch combo. Silva crumbled and absorbed two unnecessary (and entirely brutal) hammer punches before Ref. Franklin (Rich’s brother) called it.
I wasn’t surprised by the outcome because Cormier looked solid against Monson (particularly at the ends of the 1st and 3rd rounds), but to dismantle Bigfoot Silva like that amazed me.
Josh “the War Master” Barnett vs. Sergei Kharitonov
First off, let me just say that “the War Master” is a way better nickname for Josh Barnett than “the Babyface Assassin.” His pre-fight interview was absolutely hysterical and his post-fight wrestling with referee Dan Miragliotta is totally ridiculous…not to mention the mic grapple with Mauro Ranallo. Ranallo may have hit the nail on the head with his $20 word: Barnett is a master of “histrionics.” (Josh Barnett being a War Master) In fact, Barnett more than any other fighter in MMA, with the exception of Jason “Mayhem” Miller, could easily make the transition to pro wrestling.
That being said, Barnett looked really good out there. Early on in the fight, Kharitonov stunned him with 2-1-2 combination—and Kharitonov’s hands look as heavy as I’ve seen anybody’s. Not long afterward, Barnett got a sweep flowing immediately (and gracefully for a 260 lb. monster) into full mount, and began a relentless ground and pound. He took the fight by rear naked choke within a minute.
Part of me was upset that limb wasn’t torn from limb and blood wasn’t spilled, but it was a more than impressive win for Josh Barnett. Now we have the final Cormier vs. Barnett to look forward to.
So it turns out Joe Son, the idiot who played Random Task in the first, and only watchable Austin Powers, is not only famous for these idiotic actions: Joe Son carries cross to ring; wears thong, not all in one fight, or this deserving punishment: Groin strikes of death. But he’s also infamous for his heinous crime of felony torture and gang rape. It’s a shame Keith Hackney couldn’t have done those groin strikes four years earlier. Son was sentenced to life in prison. May he be remembered as a bad actor, a winless fighter, and an atrocious human being.
Imagine a world where getting into the redzone was worth more than a touchdown; where getting a runner into scoring position was worth more than actually scoring. Welcome to the world of mixed martial arts, where a fighter putting himself into a position to inflict damage is often rewarded over actually inflicting it.
Wrestling is mixed martial arts version of ball control. The superior wrestler dictates where the fight takes place. In football, a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers keeps possession of the ball with their running game in order to limit opponents like the Indianapolis Colts from using their aerial assault. This is similar to how the superior wrestler keeps opponents desiring to strike against the fence or on their back.
Combatants should be able to use every legal means to win a fight: If a fighter cannot avoid being controlled, he deserves the disadvantages that come with it. What mixed martial arts judging mismanages is the valuation of stalling and favorable positions.
A fighter does not deserve points for failed takedowns or favorable positions where he does not inflict damage. To put it bluntly: Hitting an opponent in the face hurts him, and failing to secure a guillotine tires the fighter attempting it more than it damages the fighter receiving it. If a fighter hits his opponent with a flying knee, and then is wrestled to the ground, held there for the rest of the round without receiving damage, why is his action and his opponent’s inaction rewarded similarly? Jon Fitch is not the enemy: He’s given an assignment, and he finds the most effective way to accomplish it. Besides, as unaesthetic as his approach is, Fitch may stall the action, but he still inflicts more damage than his opponents do. The problem is a system that rewards position over performance.
Fighters, for the most part, behave rationally; their primary incentive being victory. If the rules allowed for groin strikes and fish hooking they would enact these tactics in order to win, and who could really blame them. If the judging of takedowns and top control were properly valued, than stalling a fight would become ineffective to victory. Risking losing possession to attempt a submission would gain value because being in an unfavorable position wouldn’t lose you points unless your opponent actually effectively used his positional advantage. Until then, fighters with inferior skills will continue to out point fighters who have styles that are valued inferiorly.