Friday, March 30, 2007

Art Of War Tonight

Sweet. I'm going to see my first MMA show in China this evening. I'll post pictures (if I'm allowed to take them) and some commentary tomorrow. I'm in the third row so if I can take them, I ought to get some pretty good pictures.

Can't wait.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Freakin' Sweet

Marcello Garcia is making his MMA debut. I'm totally pumped about this - Marcello is a submission grappling wizard, and more important, he's a finisher - I don't know where to find his submission grappling record online (help?), but it seems like most of his fights end by rear choke. His arm-drag techniques are awesome, and it'll be nice to have someone in there who's actually making people fear giving up the back.

I had the priveledge to attend a Garcia seminar in 2005, and the guy was just awesome. When we sparred he shut down all my shrimping, all my upas, all my escapes without even using his hands. Definitely the real deal.

Jacare is also fighting on the card, and it seems we may be on the verge of a resurgance of the jiujitsu wizard in MMA. Recently strikers have been making all the noise, and submissions seem more and more like something to be wriggled out of than a serious sweat. The most impressive submission finishes have also bean coming from the Japanese of late. The additions of Garcia, Jacare, and Roger Gracie (who tapped Ron Waterman in the first) could change that dynamic. Granted, they're just starting out in MMA, and have a long way to go, but you have to start from somewhere.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

It's Official

The Fertitta brothers now own Pride. Sherdog has three articles on the subject, but it was this piece in the New York Times that caught my attention since it was on the main web page (albeit below the fold). Good to see the 'real' media covering the world's greatest sport, although I wonder where the article appeared in the print edition.

This looks like good news for the fans to me. The Fertittas plan on running Pride as a separate organization and keeping a Japanese flavor to it, which seems like a smart idea to me. There's a reason UFC was more successful in the US and Pride in Japan - culture matters. Now we can finally see Wanderlei (or maybe Hendo now?) VS Chuck and Fedor VS someone from the UFC (please Randy, don't, it's not a good matchup).

For the fighters, however, this represents a loss of bargaining leverage. I even heard Brandon Vera re-signed with the UFC. Aside from EliteXC, BodogFight, and a host of other orgs that have dubious staying power, there's no gigantic "other" that fighters can threaten to flee to if the Zuffa doesn't pony up. Fortunately, salaries have been rising though, and if the trend continues I won't worry. As more and more money flows into the sport I have to imagine some of it will make it's way to the fighters. And remember, Tito negotiated a raise way back when not by fleeing to Pride, but by not fighting at all. At least that's still an option.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Apparently Not

Dana says there's no deal in place to buy pride. So, he and Sakakibara are saying exactly the opposite, maybe one's lying, maybe one's trying to keep it under wraps till everything's done, who knows.

Assertion and retraction within two days - it looks like the MMA media is as reliable as the national media.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Pride Being Sold To Zuffa?

It looks like the volatility of position in the MMA world applies not just to fighters, but also to the organizations. A couple years ago people argued that the UFC could never match the salaries of Pride fighters, and as a result, Pride would always steal away the UFC's top talent and remain the superior league. Now we hear that a deal selling Pride to Zuffa is all but sealed.

It looks like the league will continue to be run separately, but there will be no barrier to cross-promotion fights, which seems like a good thing. I'm uncertain how this will affect the MMA scene in the long run. Zuffa seems to have displaced what was, for many years, the dominant competitor worldwide, but with Showtime Elite XC, and the IFL there seems to be more competition domestically. And then there's K-1, which continues to have a TV deal in Japan, but not nearly the caliber of fighters that Pride did.

At least the next few years won't be boring.

Also, although I can still post, I haven't been able to actually view the blog for a while, so I cannot respond to any comments. Blogger seems to have pissed off the great fire wall or something. . .

Thursday, March 22, 2007

This Is Getting Ridiculous

First Nick Diaz, and now Diego Sanchez have both tested positive for marijuana. For some odd reason Diego was able to pay his fine and serve the three month suspension before any MMA news outlets got wind of it. Very odd.

It's still total bullshit that they even care about this though. What does having some marijuana metabolites in your system have to do with your ability to compete in MMA?

For those who are saying it may be second-hand smoke, sorry, I was piss and hair tested at one point during college and my friends CONSTANTLY smoked around me. I even went to Amsterdam with them. You have to smoke it yourself.

Frankly though, I didn't realize Diego was this cool. I'm beginning to warm up to 'the nightmare'.

Silva/Marquardt + Ortiz/Evans

I'm pretty excited about these matchups. Silva VS Marquardt has the potential to be a boring decision, but it could easily be the fight of the night. I think Marquardt knows that as the champ Silva will have an advantage going into a decision, and he can probably out-point Marquardt on the feet, so I think Nate will have to push the action and really go for a submission. Silva by TKO in the 4th.

Tito is definitely the biggest test Rashad has had so far, and I think it will come down to Rashad's mental development as a fighter - Tito has a lot more experience and he might be able to frustrate Rashad as the fight progresses. That said, I think Rashad is a better wrestler, and a more explosive athelete. I expect him to put Tito on his back several times during the fight. I'm not sure how things will develop on the feet. Tito looked much better standing the second time against Chuck, and while it wasn't enough to stop the Iceman, it may work better against Evans. Rashad by unanimous decision.

Monday, March 19, 2007

MMA Show In Beijing, March 31st

I'm so pumped to go see my first Art of War fighting championship, May 31st here in Beijing.

I've been training with some of the fighters in the upcoming show, and they are just beasts. Two of the guys cut to 155 and the "big guy" weighs 186 now and could definitely cut to 170, and they're all stronger, faster, and more athletic than me. Overall, jiujitsu is their weak point since they come from wrestling and San Da backgrounds, but against the competition in China, Jiujitsu is their biggest advantage.

It'll be fun to see what kind of production the show has and what the competition looks like. Someday I'll be saying "I was there when MMA just started in China" and some 8 foot Chinese dude from Qing Hai will be wreaking havoc in the UFC superheavyweight division.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

OMG: Nick Diaz Smoked Weed

While there's no official word yet on whether Nick Diaz will be suspended by the NSAC or his bout with Takanori Gomi ruled a no contest, my guess is that he'll at least be suspended (which is bullshit); otherwise, why would they bother testing for marijuana?

It's amazing that people still think it's worthwhile to test atheletes for drugs that are clearly not performance enhancing, and which are almost certainly not even in their systems by the time of the event. Ross Ribagliati almost lost his gold medal in snowboarding (98?) for the same thing.

Why is it that you can still compete if you beat your wife or assault someone, but if you smoke weed it would send such a bad message if you didn't have to give up your livelihood?

Then again, Nick Diaz is mexican. Marijuana makes him want to have sex with white women, and act surly towards cops. (Headline: Reefer Crazed Wetback Gogoplatas, Rapes White Woman)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Looks Like Forrest Really Does Have Staph

One of the great things about the internet age is that we don't really have to wonder (unless you go for big conspiracies involving forging evidence, etc.) whether somebody really was injured or how bad it is.

Their buddies just videotape it and put it on youtube. This is really kinda nasty, and I can't blame him for pulling out, even a month before the fight.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

6' 4" 155 lbs.

Remember when I said the one dude in the Ultimate Fighter 5 pic looked REALLY tall.

Well, he is. His name's Corey Hill and he's 6' 4"!!!

Even more interesting, he's a wrestler, not a striker.

Can't wait to see that guy fight.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Please Frank, Retire

I hope Frank Mir reads this Sherdog article. Mir is a shadow of his former self, and should not be competing at the top levels of the sport. If he wants to hang around at King of the Cage or other B level shows, fine, but Frank, you're never going to be champ again, and you're gonna get hurt. Even in victory against Dan Christenson, the-man-who-ate-Frank-Mir looked terribly fat and out of shape, though his gas tank, which has always been very bad, didn't look much worse than before.

I agree with most of the others on Sherdog's list, but some of them could simply step down their competition levels. Coleman is never going to be a champ like Couture, but there's no reason it wouldn't be fun to see him fight Japanese pro-wrestlers, or serve as a gate keeper, provided he's willing to fill that role.

And I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Tank, but he is no longer fit for top competition. I would always love to see him in a slug-fest with some local talent though. Tank is a big enough draw though that he's probably not willing to settle for that amount of money. Please Tank, don't start thinking Abbott-Arlovski would be a good matchup.

One notable name missing from the list is Ken Shamrock. Again, Ken in King of the Cage would be fine, but he is simply not capable of beating Tito Ortiz or pretty much any other light heavy in the UFC. Please Dana, don't subject us to Ortiz Shamrock 4.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Ultimate Fighter 5

Via UFC Mania, the Ultimate Fighter season 5 is ready, and it looks pretty awesome. All one weight class, so a lot more potential matchups, and only one champion at the end.

BJ Penn and Jens Pulver as coaches, setting up a great fight between them after the finale. And damn, that guy in the back of the picture looks freakin' tall for a lightweight.

Dana seems stoked about the new season, so I'm hoping most of the fights don't go to a close decision, something lightweights have a tendency to do sometimes. At least with these guys though, there shouldn't be as much gassing and fatigue in the fights (which for heavier guys is understandable - they aren't getting to taper and rest up for the fight, but are fighting right out of hard training).

Pedro Rizzo May Be Back

Rizzo beat a very game Justin Eilers by unanimous decision in Dallas Friday night. According to the article, he actually pushed the action, and it sounds like it was a great fight. Both guys had a lot to prove, as Justin is coming back from absolute demolitions at the hands of Arlovski and Vera, and Rizzo hasn't looked good since beating Arlovski at UFC 36.

This is great news, as Rizzo is a very talented guy who never had things together at the right time in the right place to become a champion. Despite being knocked out twice in Pride, if his head is on straight I think he can stand with anyone in the MMA world, and before those two quick defeats he was known as a very durable fighter, if somewhat of a bleeder.

There's still some good fights left in him if he can keep this up. Amazingly for a guy who fought Randy Couture before he was old, he is only 33.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Elbow Inconsistency

The UFC's rules prohibit downward strikes with the point of the elbow, but apparently that only applies to strikes that are downward with respect to the floor and ceiling, not to the strikers body.

This is just silly. If those strikes are dangerous, it's because you're using the point of the elbow and have a lot of leverage striking downward, not because the trajectory is actually downward. These strikes have been used very effectively by Hughes from the sidemount, and by Anderson Silva when he had Travis Lutter in the triangle choke.

Now, I'm glad the strikes are available - I think knees on the ground should be available to, but it just seems odd to prohibit them only in when oriented a certain way.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

In Case You Haven't Seen

Apparently Nyquil is stronger than the combined fists of Babalu, Overeem, Mezger, Randleman, and Tiger White.

Sorry, not buyin the Nyquil story. If I had to guess, Chuck spent the entire night before up drinking (maybe some extracurriculars on the side to help) and showed up still somewhat drunk. He wants to fight Tommy Morrison?

What Makes Mixed Martial Artists So Durable?

Randy Couture is 43. Chuck Liddell is 37. These guys are probably the exception rather than the rule, but MMA seems to be one of those sports in which you can stay at your peak through your 30s and into your 40s. It's not the only sport like that; powerlifting records, for example, have been set by men in their forties. But most high-impact sports that require quick reactions (like basketball or football) are dominated by men in their 20s, and only the best stay around for much of their 30s. Other sports, like swimming, are even more skewed towards younger competitors, not only in terms of how long they last, but how early they become world class (Ian Thorpe could dominate the Olympics at 17, but can you imagine something like that in MMA?)

So why is this? Training for MMA is extremely strenuous. It may not have the same impact on your knees as basketball, but basketball doesn't require you to get kicked and punched and to heal from those injuries. MMA is also extremely cardio-intensive, so why can't younger guys out-hustle the Couture's and Liddell's of the world?

Captain America Strikes Again

Damn, Randy Couture is my hero. This is the second time he's made a major comeback, changed weight classes, and shocked the MMA world by winning a match many saw as impossible. The man is just not human.

I am very happy to see Tim Sylvia dethroned, and to have a class act on top of the heavyweight division again. In my mind, all of Couture's criticisms of Sylvia were borne out by his performance; he was entirely too cautious (not bothering to escape from Couture's rear mount for four minutes), and could not come up with a new game plan, sticking with the same old jab and cross. Couture epitomizes the intelligent fighter, tailoring his gameplan to his opponent. Sylvia is a lumbering, one-size-fits-all fighter who counts on his size and reach to win fights.

Speaking of Couture's game plan, his head movement in this fight was awesome. It was almost certainly what kept Slyvia from landing one of his bombs (along with the constant pressure and threat of the takedown), and shows that Couture is always improving and learning new things. If Arlovski had used head movement like that in his fights against Sylvia I'm confident he would have knocked him out.

Couture was already a hall of famer, I think he's just put himself back in the running for greatest fighter ever. Now the only question is, how will he fare against Crocop?