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.