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)