Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Sidekick

Will Cung Le be the man to bring the sidekick the respect it deserves? Sherdog's pictures of his fight with Tony Fryklund show Le landing several sidekicks that look like they really have some oomph on them. Almost no one else has used them yet in MMA, but perhaps that's because no one knows how to use them properly. There was also a point at which no one had used a back kick or a spinning kick, and although there has yet to be a proper hook kick knockout, the back kick has shown its effectiveness in several fights.

Maybe soon he'll even whip out the skipping or sliding side kick ala Bruce Lee.

Here's hoping.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Still Got It

At least, so it seems - Frank Shamrock could possibly still be a middleweight contender.

Now, I haven't yet seen the fight, but word on the net is that Frank handled Baroni on the feet and then put him to sleep with a rear choke in the second round. Baroni says he tore his groin in the opening moments, and that may be true, but it still sounds like he got owned.

This is exciting news - if Frank can still hang with some of the better talent, there's a chance he may get crack at the top dogs in today's middlweight division - Silva, Franklin, Henderson, Kang, etc.

Unfortunately, given their history, it seems unlikely we'll see Shamrock in the UFC (though you would also have said that about BJ Penn before he came back), and the UFC seems to be poaching the top talent of it's recent acquisition, Pride FC. Except for Dan Henderson though, no middleweights have made the move, and so there could be a good number of exciting matchups if Frank moves over to the land of the rising sun.

Of course, Ninja also just fought (and won) on the Elite XC card, so perhaps a matchup between him and Frank could be next. I know I would pay (or not and download instead) to see that one.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Frank Shamrock will compete in his first bout against a competitive opponent since fighting Tito Ortiz in, what, 1999?

I loved the guy, he was awesome. Totally in shape, one of the first cross-trainers, fought aggressively . . . and then he decided there was no competition for him, just before competition started to take off.

Frankly, I don't think he can hang with top middleweights today, but sadly, there's no way to know how he would be doing if he had continued to compete at the top. Phil Baroni is not a top middleweight, but that's a good thing. Phil has beaten tough guys, he trains with a good team, and he's probably stronger than Shamrock. If Frank manages to beat Phil, he proves he's still a viable commodity, and then I'd be real interested to see him against Franklin, Okami, Silva, Henderson, Filhio, those kind of guys.

Honestly though, after the Renzo performance, I hate to see it, but I see Frank getting straight up Menne'd.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Are Submission Doomed?

A Jiujitsu friend of mine recently told me he heard that Randy Couture said in an interview that he believed submissions will play less and less of a rule in MMA as fighters become more comfortable with them, and eventually most fights will be decided by standup and wrestling.

Recent UFCs sometimes seem to confirm this - there are UFCs where almost every fight is a knockout or TKO, but I can't think of one where almost every fight ended by submission. Yushin Okami's failure to get Rich Franklin to tap to a kimura that was tight and extended quite far also make you wonder whether more and more fighters will be able to just muscle out of them.

For my part, I just can't imagine submissions dissappearing from the game. First of all, learning to defend submissions properly requires years of jiujitsu training and practicing submissions. And I can't see why any fighter would spend years learning them and then not employ them in a fight.

The recent season of the Ultimate Fighter actually had no knockouts (some TKOs), but many submissions, and while they almost never end the majority of the fights, most UFCs have at least one or two submissions.

What I believe is changing is true is that most fighters entering the UFC today do not see themselves as submission guys, having been trained primarly in wrestling or in boxing. There's also the fact that crowds today like to see the knockout - there's not much clamoring for submissions against knowledgeable fans.

And let's not forget (let's not forget!) that both fighters having good standup can lead to a stalemate as well. Boxing and K1 both have many fights that go to decision, and in boxing that means up to 12 or 15 rounds without a KO.

What is true is that fewer and fewer fighters can expect to just impose their specialty on their opponent, whether than specialty is wrestling, standup, or submissions - fighters are just too well rounded. Submissions seem to have lost their edge when jiujitsu fighters are stall by wrestlers with good standup or kickboxers with a sprawl like crocop. But this is only natural - if you have an advantage in one area and the ability to determine where the fight takes place, you're going to win. Stand up fighters neglected their ground abilities early in the sport's history (and wrestlers their standup and submission skills), but these days it is often the jiujitsu man who fails to enlarge his skill set.

Back Of The Head

What exactly is it about blows to the back of the head that necessitates banning them in MMA? Are they more likely to result in a KO (or, more importantly, permanent damage) than blows to the temple or chin?

What got me thinking about this was the Cole VS Joe Lauzon fight from the Ultimate Fighter, and the fact that Cole was so visibly hurt by the blow. But then again, that elbow would also have hurt if it struck the temple. . .

Blows that at least glance the back of the head are almost unavoidable when the opponent turtles, and it seems like at least half of successful soccer kicks strike the back of the head. Is it silly to have a rule that is almost always at least slightly tread upon in the fight? Have you ever seen a (long) fight where Big John didn't warn the fighters at least once to watch the back of the head?

And if it's such a sensitive area, you'd think it would be possible to knock someone out from within your guard with an elbow or palm strike, particularly if they are controlling your head, but I've never seen it. And it certainly seemed to make Frank Shamrock's knees from the bottom more effective against Renzo, though again, they might be just as effective from the temple.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Say It Ain't So Royce

Man, even freakin' Royce Gracie tests positive for steroids. It's a sad day for mixed martial arts. What can you say? I guess the rumors of steroid use being persive through most sports are looking more and more true.

Of course, I have to say that Johnny Morton is even dumber than Royce for using steroids - not only did he not get his hundred grand for fighting, but NFL teams may be having second thoughts at this point. (The NY times article on his upcoming fight mentioned that he is considering offers from several teams)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Surprises Continue

Being a big Rampage fan, and having followed his career closely since he made his debut in Pride, I was not surprised to see him beat Chuck Liddell a second time. To me, the match seemed like a tossup, though I would have given Liddell a slight edge. I was VERY surprised to see him KO the Iceman midway through the first round.

While Mike Goldberg did say "Rampage has KO power in both hands," I'm not sure I would have agreed with that until this fight was over. Sure, he KOd Randleman, and he did knock out Cyril Abidi in K-1, but he's usually not known as a KO puncher. Most of his TKO's came the same way he beat Chuck Liddell the first time - steady pressure, slams, and then a barrage of punches. Effective, brutal, but not the one-shot KO that Liddell is known for.

Rampage's movement looked awesome in this fight, making Liddell move, but not over-extending and exposing himself to the Iceman's counters. In retrospect it's easy to say Liddell was foolish for throwing that body-shot out of the blue, but the man's never been KO'd before, and he can usually take a punch. This one was right on the button though, and Rampage followed up beautifully.

I am confused, however, by the UFC's decision to bring in Dan Henderson as the next challenger. UFC fans are barely familiar with Rampage. A win over Henderson won't boost his image much in their eyes, and a loss could be devastating. And what about Pride? Is their plan to take all of the top talent away and leave Pride as a mostly-Japanese organization? I can see some benefit in that, vis-a-vis having the top fighters all compete for one belt, but Japan is a big market, and I can't imagine they wouldn't be miffed to have their organizatoin, which was once the undisputed top dog, relegated to second-class status.

Most of the other fights on the card last night were awesome as well. Houston Alexander absolutely crushed Keith Jardine, and it was just brutal the way he slumped head-first into the canvas after that uppercut. Another huge upset for 2007. Come to think of it, Terry Martin knocking out Sallavery with a slam was pretty surprising as well. What is it about this year that insists on turning all MMA expectations on their head. If I'm ever going to take on Fedor Emelianenko, this might be the time, cause who knows what can happen these days?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

MMA In The New York Times

I love MMA, so I'm always happy to see it get more exposure in the popular media. The New York Times has an article on Johnny Morton, and ex-NFL player I'd never heard of, training for his MMA debt, and all in all, it's a good read. Certainly I'm excited about the possibilities when guys as athletic as this dude (benching 400 lbs as a reciever) want to step into the cage.

But then you get a line like this:
Together, they are teaching Morton how to compete in mixed martial arts, one of the few sports that may be more violent and more dangerous than professional football.
Now, it's a throwaway line, and it has the qualifier "may", but it's yet another example of people's reflexive view that MMA is really, really, dangerous, despite lack of any evidence. Now, MMA doesn't have nearly the participation rate, and hasn't been around as long as something like football (so it's hard to make a direct comparison), but there's substantial evidence that football is QUITE dangerous, particular for neck and spine injuries, and people have died while playing and practicing.

Of course there's danger in a sport where you Mirko Crocop can soccer kick you in the head, but there's hardly a physical activity that doesn't involve some risk of serious injury or death. To me, it seems fairly obvious that the biggest injuries come from being hit with a lot force from behind or from an angle you can't see - something much more likely to happen in football than in MMA.

Friday, May 18, 2007

New Art Of War

Having been out of Jiujitsu for the past month due to an ankle injury, I was unaware there was a new Art of War in the making, and it looks pretty good.

This time the theme appears to be "foreigners", as there is at least one lao wai involved in each of the bouts on the poster. There's a couple Koreans, including a Tae Kwon guy (I love you man, but I hope you have insurance), a few Japanese, an Italian, and, most surprising, two Indians (Ghandi, not Sitting Bull).

I had no idea there even were mixed martial arts fighters in India, but apparently there are at least two willing to come to Beijing and mix it up. I'm very excited to see if they're any good.

Speaking of which - why isn't India a sports powerhouse? They have nearly as many people as China, and they're plenty good at pressuring their kids to become doctors, bankers, or programmers, why not atheletes?

My guess is it has something to do with Commmunism, and a resulting tendency to create all sorts of special sports schools which can create top atheletes even when a lot of the population is too poor to train or eat properly.

But at some point, India almost has to become a sports powerhouse - the question is when. 2020? 2050?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What to do with Fedor?

Pride's recent aquistion by the UFC creates a whole slew of interesting fight possibilities, but the recent exchanges between the two orgs seem as one-sided as the last couple years have been in the opposite direction. The UFC has acquired Rampage, Crocop, Assuerio Silva, and now Nogueira, and not a single big name has left for Pride.

I dearly hope that Fedor, who is now riding high on a near universal concensus that he is the baddest man on the planet, will not be forced to coast through his remaining prime years without top competition - that would be a complete travesty.

The heavyweight picture needs to be shaken up - the UFC now has too many of the sport's best, and Pride too few. And while simply switching the two division will create more interest temporarily among newer fans, for the hardcore bunch, it will be a string of rematches in a different ring/cage.

Sending Tim Sylvia to Pride might be a good start. He's huge, which Japanese fans like, and his ego will be assuaged there because they will never boo him no matter what stupid shit he says. Matches with Fedor, Alex Emelianenko, or even Japanese pro-wrestlers would be entertaining. I fear a matchup with Mark Hunt would end up with Sylvia conservatively using his reach to out-point Hunt.

Arlovski might also be interesting if sent to Pride, and the new set of competitors would let both him and Sylvia at least a couple fights in before their inevitable fourth encounter, which Japanese fans would probably appreciate more anyway.

At any rate, let's hope that the Fertittas plan on sending someone good for Fedor to fight so that the greatest fighter of all time does not languish for lack of good matchups. And if recent rumours are right that there the Fertitta's acquisition deal may not ultimately go through, let's hope they are able to acquire Fedor and bring him to the UFC.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Arlovski Not Next is citing a Chicago tribune article in which Dana White is quoted as saying Andrei Arlovski will not be the next challenger for the heavyweight title after Gabriel Gonzaga. Although White hinted that Andrei would be next before the Werdum fight, the lackluster action in Manchester apparently put off Andrei's title hopes for a while.

Like UFCMania, I have to agree that putting on exciting fights is a legitimate criteria for advancing fighters. As much as I like Andrei both personally and as a fan, the fight was not very good after the first round.

I don't ascribe Andrei's lack of aggressiveness as much to fear of being KOd (like many Sherdoggers) as a justified fear of going to the ground with Werdum. Fortunately, Werdum didn't seem to be doing much to take the fight there. While he may have been confused by Werdum's strategy, Andrei certainly should have stepped it up in round 3 and looked for the KO.

Of course, we should put even more blame on Werdum - did he think he was going to knock Andrei out with that bitch slap?

Despite having to wait at least one more fight for a shot, I think Andrei did the right thing. A win is a win, and he'll get a shot eventually - there are only so many top heavyweights. I think the best matchup for him now may be Crocop.

Of course, nobody has been talking about the real reason Dana White can postpone Andrei's title shot - Nogueira. You might say you make fights with the fighters you have (thank you, Donald Rumsfeld), and until now, Dana only had so many legit heavyweights, particularly after Crocop was left in a heap by a jiujitsu man. My hunch is that Dana is itching to make Nogeuira the next UFC champ, and then set him up for a string of fights with Arlovski, Cropcop, etc, before finally bringin in Fedor - because after all, who can Fedor fight in Pride these days?

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

UFC 72 - LIVE!

According to, UFC 72 will be broadcast live on Spike TV.


Granted, I haven't been paying for my UFC pay-per-views, but now I can dispose of whatever shred of guilt I was supposed to have about that.

This is what we MMA fans have been waiting for. Enjoy, my brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mirko Not Crippled

According to UFCJunkie, apparently he only has ligament damage to one of his ankles. It seems I was right that his shin was basically in line with his knee and didn't twist, but I'm not at all surprised that he hurt something - that foot was turned back well over ninety degrees. Having experienced some ligament damage in my own foot while training jiujitsu recently, I feel at least part of Filipovic's pain (the part not in his head). Let's hope this means we'll see him back in the UFC fairly soon, hopefully against Kongo, Arlovski, or Sylvia.