Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Couture/Sylvia Thoughts

On paper of course, Tim Sylvia should kill Randy Couture - he's much bigger, has a better record, lots of KOs, and Couture has been getting KOd lately. In addition, Couture's last two losses in the heavyweight division (after which he moved down to light heavy to upset the Iceman at UFC 43), were to bigger men: Ricco Rodriguez and Josh Barnett. All in all, the matchup would seem to be a bad one for Captain America.

But if there's a crucial difference, it's that the two big men who beat Randy were large grapplers. Tim Sylvia may crow about his ground skills and claim to have made Jeff Monson 'gurgle', but he clearly does not have the ground skills of a Barnett or Rodriquez. If he's going to dominate the Natural, it's going to be on the feet.

And while a big man should be harder to take down, Sylvia is tall and gangly, with long legs that are just begging to grabbed. We've never really seen Sylvia's bottom game against someone with a legitimate ground and pound attack. It may be that Randy Couture has the tools to upset Sylvia and win a record fifth UFC title.

That said, I still think the odds rest with Sylvia. Call it 65/35 Sylvia.

Tim Sylvia Hating

I think Tim Sylvia probably outnumber his fans at least two to one. Not that that's bad for the UFC - I'll tune in to watch a guy I hate lose (hopefully). Now, I hate Tim Sylvia because he's Andrei Arlovski's nemesis, but everyone has his/her own reasons, ranging from his hick persona, to his petulant behavior, but when even a guy who runs a blog called "UFC Mania" calls you out for toolishness and sucking, you know you're a career heel.

So let's all raise our grasshoppers in support of Randy Couture this coming weekend!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

MMA Everywhere

I was reading Andrew Sullivan's blog (not related to MMA) when suddenly I see Bisping's face staring at me from my screen. When the sport has entered into the consciousness of gay conservative (of doubt) bloggers, we know the sport has arrived.

On an unrelated note, I forgot to comment on Shogun's performance last night in Vegas. When he tools his opponent standing, I'm always impressed by his striking abilities, and the way he can mix in the occasional jumping-reverse-roundhouse, but this fight with Overeem was the third occasion I've seen Shogun losing the fight on the feet (not getting owned, but losing). The other two were against Overeem the first time, and against Cyborg in Cage Rage. In all three of the fights, Shogun has willingly mixed it up on the feet, but eventually moved the conflict to the ground where he dispatched his opponent with ruthless bombs; that shows heart, a willingness to change strategy, and well rounded skills.

Unfortunately, I think that raises doubts about his chances against two other top 205ers - Dan Henderson and Chuck Liddell. Both of these guys have murderous fists (Hendersons having been acquired fairly recently), and both are better wrestlers than Shogun. If things were to sour on the feet for Rua, I don't see him being able to take them down, and certainly not dispatch them with punches. A submission is possible, and I like the ChuteBoxe fighter's willingness to attempt them, but neither he nor his stablemates have ever shown themselves to be real finishers with submissions.

Pride 33

One word: wow.

I can't remember the last event this good. 3 big upsets, only one decision, top fighters and great action. Best of all, it turned the MMA world upside down as much as any event can.

Nick Diaz really impressed tonight. He's always put on a good show in the UFC, but his last couple of fights he hasn't been able to really impose his will and keeps ending up on the wrong side of the judges cards. I was concerned he might be to big for 160, but looked great, and it was his height that allowed him to pick Gomi apart with striking (I loved how the commentator kept calling Diaz' striking 'unorthodox' as Gomi is swinging wildly). The finish was exceptional as well - the gogoplata seems to be THE new submission in Pride. Diaz also showed he has a chin, taking a heavy shot from Gomi and popping right back up.

For his part, the fireball kid seemed to gas very easily tonight, but I suspect that had a lot to do with the stinging shots Diaz kept landing at will on him. At the end of the first he was stumbling around the ring like he was drunk. Something must have been in the desert air last night though, because Gomi was not the only Pride superstar to forget his A game in Japan.

The most shocking upset of the night had to be Rogerio Nogeuira getting knocked out cold by an unkown Judoka; I would never have thought that a guy with his iron chin would go down in less than a minute, especially having seen the punishment he can take. Sokoudjou definitely has the physique, now he's made waves with his debut match - I'm anxious to see him fight a few more times. Maybe he can take on the former middleweight champion.

Looking back, I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was to see Wanderlei Silva crumple under Dan Henderson's left hook. Since moving down to middleweight, Henderson has developed some serious power (though usually in his right hand), knocking out many opponents, even one's you would think were better strikers, like Gono. I thought he might have trouble moving back up, but apparently not.

Henderson deserves props, but Silva didn't look like himself tonight. From the staredown, he didn't seem to have the usual aggression, and he definitely didn't fight like his usual self; much less aggressive, not pushing the action, and he didn't look like he had a gameplan. Maybe Crocop is still in his head, maybe he had problems training, who knows. What I do know is that there's no reason to write off Silva as washed up or past his prime as many on the usual forms are predictably doing. Crocop had a string of losses, Rampage got KOed twice by Silva in more dramatic fashion, and Couture suffered back to back losses to bigger men. 2 losses is hardly the end of the world. Besides, it's things like this that make MMA the most exciting and compelling sport on the planet. Fights can end in a split second, and good style matchups create possibilities unsuggested by win/loss records. Sometimes you get boring-as-hell snoozefests like UFC 33. Sometimes you get Pride 33. Sometimes theres a man, sometimes, there's a man.

UFC Rolling In Money

According to UFCmania (Via Dave Meltzer's wrestling observer), the UFC made a cool $220,000,000 in PPV buys last year

Damn. I mean, I knew they would be making some dough now that they were on cable and entering into the popular conciousness, but I had no idea. That doesn't include what they make on tickets, merchandise, or from Spike TV.

Consider also, that their fighter payrolls pale in comparison. For UFC 67, the fighters took home only $803,000, heavily skewed towards a few fighters, of course. Actually though, UFC 67 was one of the better UFCs as far as the fighters are concerned; only one fighter made the usual 3 grand, and a good half the card made five figures.

Now, I'm a proper capitalist, so I think it's fine that the UFC is making money hand over fist; I'm sure the Fertitas absorbed some losses when they first purchased the organization. But it's good to see fighter salaries going up; these guys are as hardworking as any. Here's hoping they continue to rise.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Werdum VS Arlovski in Manchester

Via Sherdog

How the world changes. A year or two ago all the trolls on Sherdog could talk about was how the UFC heavyweight division was thin (and thus Sylvia and Arlovski deserved no respect), and now the UFC is picking off Pride's top heavies one by one, leaving the undisputed baddest man in the world with fewer and fewer top opponents (Fedor/Nogueira 4 anyone?).

This is a HUGE fight, classic striker VS grappler, and presents great future matchups for the heavyweight division. I almost don't care that the UFC is apparently losing Brandon Vera. I am, of course, heavily biased towards Arlovski (trained with him), but I do feel he'll pull out the win this time, although Werdum is no long shot. If Andrei can stop the takedown, it's bad news for Fabricio; if he can't, he'd better be working on submission defense and standing up. The absurdity of MMA-Math notwithstanding, Werdum was submitted by Pe De Pano in ADCC, so it's not unreasonable to think Andrei will be able to avoid tapping in this fight either, although I think he'll have a tougher time with Werdum.

As far as the division goes, it's fantastic to be adding a top grappler to the mix, especially one who is a natural heavyweight without being ridiculously jacked (Monson). Now that Frank Mir is washed up, the submission threats above 205 have been limited to Gonzaga and Monson, who haven't distinguished themselves in MMA the way Werdum has, despite Monson's title shot.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Slate's Television Critic is an Ignorant Ass

Sigh. I love Slate. Not only do I often read articles by Christopher Hitchens and William Saletan, but I have a special place in my heart for this article, which laments the fact that a fantastic sport in which skill triumphs over brute force is being killed by John Mccain and other morality cops.

Thankfully, those days are gone for, but MMA's new popularity has attracted the attention of ignorant douches like Troy Patterson, who wrote this review after watching one and only one episode of UFC Unleashed. I found this nonsense as I was reading about Terry Gilliam's movie Brazil, and saw the words "what kind of moron watches Ultimate Fighting?" in the side panel.

Mr. Patterson proceeds to portray UFC fans as a bunch of bloodthirsty hooligans who just want to see someone go out on a stretcher. While this actually is a somewhat accurate description of 75% of the fans at live events (if you add drunk and stupid), Mr. Patterson might consider watching an actual event before making some of his startlingly wrong conclusions.

The article covers three fights: Arlovski VS Cabbage, Arlovski VS Buentello, and Shamrock VS Ortiz 1. On this basis, Patterson concludes that 1) no fights go to decision (may I suggest he watch UFC 33? And did he not realize that Unleashed is a BEST OF and fights that go to decision aren't as exciting, and more importantly, too long?), 2) All UFC fights are mismatches, especially when one guy is jacked and the other kind of dumpy (I refer Patterson to the undisputed #1 fighter in the world, Fedor Emelianenko, and to the reigning UFC champ, Tim Sylvia, who still has a saggy stomach), and 3) the paramedics see more action than the ring judges. If I remember correctly all three of these fights ended with the loser exiting the ring under their own power, with any paramedic checks purely a formality for the safety of the fighters.

I realize writers have deadlines to meet, but if Mr. Patterson isn't going to actually learn anything about the UFC (by say, going on the FUCKING INTERNET), he should kindly refrain from focusing his diarrhea of the mouth on it.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Some Thoughts on Frank Vs Renzo

Man, what a dissapointing finish, especially given the surprising competitiveness of the fight up until that point.

First, this was a freak knockout. Yes, I know strikes to the back of the head can be dangerous (what, it's not dangerous to hit the chin or the temple?), but knees from the bottom have much less leverage than the top, and if you could normally knock people out like that we'd have seen it before now.

Shame on Frank for poor sportsmanship. "I thought we were fighting?" Give me a break. If you were fighting, Renzo would have turned your face into jelly with headbutts, and then slammed a couple of knees into the side of your head, using the superior leverage that comes from having taken you down and passed your guard like it was nothing.

I've heard people say that Renzo was 'dominating' the fight, but that's far from true. He was getting owned standing, but he managed to take the fight to the ground at will. I'm sure Renzo could take me down, but he's never been considered a takedown artist. Something is seriously wrong with Frank Shamrock's takedown defense; he's younger, stronger, more athletic, and trains with the Stanford wrestling team.

And what is with Frank Shamrock's non-existent guard? Fine, you don't like sitting in the guard forever, but that doesn't mean being side-mounted is good for you. I like how he continuously strikes from the bottom (and the knees to the ribs were looking good), but to offer no resistance to the pass is foolish. I was surprised when Shamrock fought Jeremy Horn that he gave up the mount so easily, but for him to still be giving up position like this is shocking.

Finally, while it's certainly possible Renzo wanted to take the DQ for a payday, there's little reason to think that's the case, and it's basically a bogus charge. Seriously, this is the guy who got his arm snapped without flinching against Sakuraba. Renzo was taking him down at will and working for an armbar (albeit slowly and methodically), if he could continue, it makes sense that he would think he could win by submission, and win all the glory that comes with tapping out Frank Shamrock for the art of Jiujitsu.

Frank lost his cool and started to play dirty, that's what happened. I loved Frank back in the day, but I'm starting to agree with Dana White's assesment of him. No, he did not (as he said in the previews) beat every champion there ever was, and he is not the Michael Jordan of MMA. Since he left the UFC he's been fighting only average opponents, and intermittenly at that. And now, he's not even winning.