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.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Crocop's Future

What to do with Crocop now? The UFC cannot afford to let this guy the just signed to a huge contract just fall by the wayside, so he needs a good fight. The feed-someone-to-him approach didn't work too well with Eddie Sanchez, who avoided getting high kicked into Mirko's entrance footage, so I suggest giving him a good stand up war. If he loses, he's not fit for the top tier of the heavyweight division anyway, so better find out now. I say give him Check Kongo or Tim Sylvia - either one will almost certainly end by KO (with the off-chance of a decision), and be an instant fan-favorite. If Sylvia beats Crocop, he's right back in the title picture, if Crocop wins, he's a couple fights from being back in line.

Arlovski would also make an exciting matchup for Crocop, but something tells me Andrei is in position to fight for the title after Gonzaga unless the Fertittas bring in Nogueira or another star heavyweight from pride, and Crocop's stock with the casual fan may have dropped enough that a victory over him wouldn't do that much for Andrei, and if Crocop wins, he can't fight for the title one fight after getting KTFOd.

It may be some time before we see Crocop in the Octagon again though, considering how his leg looked after he fell in a heap. Hopefully this time he'll actually train with a cage. . . At any rate, Crocop should get a real challenge this time - he needs to prove he's worth what the UFC paid to lure him here.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

When Will It End?

Up until the Crocop-Gonzaga fight I thought I was going to get a good card with exciting fights, but unsurprising results. Then Gonzaga dominated Crocop and knocked him out IN THE FIRST ROUND WITH A HIGH KICK. Jesus, that's 3 UFCs in a row where a huge underdog has taken out the favorite in spectacular fashion. Arguably the least surprising of the 3 was Couture beating Sylvia because he did it via decision, although no one saw him knocking Sylvia down in the first.

I was impressed with Gonzaga before this fight, mainly because each time he shows up in better shape and finishes quicker, but I really think he may be the next heavyweight champion. He's definitely a bad matchup for Couture - a big man, with a great groundgame, and now some heavy striking to add to that. The elbows he was throwing against Crocop were awesome - he would grab Mirko's hand, push it down, and then throw the elbow with the same arm. That technique seems almost impossible to stop using a defensive, holding guard. The only thing I can think of is to start working for a sweep or armbar because the arm is extended, which is good for Gonzaga in other ways - at any rate I hope other fighters start using this technique as well.

It's unbelievable to me that we're going to see a heavyweight title fight where both challenger and champion were not even ranked at heavyweight a couple months ago. Except for Fedor at the top, the heavyweight rankings are in chaos - the only real winners from tonight were UFC heavies in general, as two top Pride heavies failed to deliver.

Speaking of which, what exactly was Fabricio Werdum's game plan? I know he can strike a little, and I did worry when he came with those flurries, but he only tried to take the fight to the ground like twice. Did he really think he was going to knock Arlovski out? Andrei did not deliver the riveting performance we've come to expect from him, but he won, he used good tactics, and he stuck to his game plan, which has been a problem in some previous fights. His english seems to be getting better, as he was able to do the interview with no interpretation, so I was happy to see that. Let's just hope he doesn't start sinking into a decision rut like Sylvia has. This is only his second decision in his career though, so there's no need to worry - yet.

Also, how fucked up must Crocop's leg be? Rogan kept talking about his knee, but my guess would be that his ankle is totally screwed. His shin seemed to be in line with his thigh when he was down, but his ankle was turned back 90 plus degrees, as if he'd gotten inverted heel-hooked. The way he went down was eerily reminiscent of the way Silva fell to his high kick several months ago. And why did that kick land like that anyway? It wasn't crazy fast, and there wasn't a whole lot of set up, just a kick and BOOM! Crocop must have had a very off day - aside from that middle kick he didn't have anything in that fight.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Fedor "The Rock Of Gibraltar" Emelianenko

Oh, Fedor who art wherever it is in that corrupt, cold country of yours that you liveth, hallowed be thy name. Thank you for keeping our faith alive, and providing a haven of stability for we MMA fans who have been so shaken by recent events. You didn't lose spectacularly to a huge underdog (though I almost wouldn't have been surprised these days), no, you armbarred him in the first.

In 2007 first Silva was toppled, then Sylvia, then St. Pierre, and along the way Minotoro and Arona were knocked out cold in the first minute by an unkown Judoka. But Fedor still reigns supreme. He's been untouchable for almost five years now, and despite looking like your average guy at the bar, is unquestionably the baddest man alive.

Friday, April 13, 2007

More MMA Drugs

Now Melvin Guillard gets busted for recreational drug use, but this time it's cocaine, which actually could enhance your performance, both as a stimulant and as a pain killer.

Cocaine's effects are relatively short-lived, however, and my best guess would be that Guillard was partying it up in Vegas rather than trying to give himself a physical edge (like he needs one?).

These drug tests detect the presence of metabolites, not the presence of the drug itself, and while cocain'es metabolites don't last nearly as long as marijuana, it's still unclear whether any was actively effecting him at the time of the test.

Granted, knowing they are going to be tested for these substances it's beyond retarded that these fighters put their careers in jeopardy by not staying clean for a reasonable time before the fight.

In my view there are 3 main problems with the doping regime in sports. First, the innane inclusion of purely recreational drugs like marijuana, which have no demonstrable performance enhancing properties. Second, the fact that you're testing for byproducts, so in many cases it's hard to know whether the chemical in question is still in the atheletes system and able to affect his/her performance. Lastly, the decision of which drugs or supplements are unacceptable inevitably seems somewhat arbitrary. There are plenty of supplements that are widely considered performance enhancing but completely legal to use. The reasoning behind steroid prohibition has more to do with their percieved danger than performance enhancement. And as science advances the detection and regulation regimes will always lag slightly behind the latest doping methods. In the end (many years from now)I suspect people are going to accept that atheletes have not been "natural" for a long time and will just let them do whatever they want.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Stoppages

While the stoppages in the Art of War here in China tended to be on the early side (although many turned out to be tapouts on tape review) I have to comment on the late stoppages in the latest round of Pride and UFC.

I cannot believe that Mike Swick did not get stopped against Okami in the third round. He was mounted and taking lots of punches, and while he was blocking them and trying to roll to his back, he was having only limited success through a substantial barrage of blows. For most fighters this fight would have been stopped. I understand and agree with the rational that fighters who have proved themselves competent in such situations get a little leeway (such as Tito not getting stopped in the first against Liddell), but this deprived Okami of the TKO that was rightfully his. Fortunately, Swick did escape, and he didn't get beaten to within an inch of his life, which somewhat vindicates the decision to let it continue.

There is no excuse, however, for letting Don Frye take a minute of uncontested punches from a monster like James Thompson just because he looks like Magnum PI and the ring ropes were holding him up. Frye was clearly out on his feet (and that only because he got knocked against the ropes with each punch), and his efforts to flail back at Thompson indicated how out of it he was. Yes, I know Frye has balls of steel and this is probably the way he would want to lose, but c'mon. I eagerly tell people how safe MMA is compared to boxing and how no one has ever died in the ring. Don't make me a liar guys.

Also, people are ripping on the refs for this, but what about the corner? Swick's corner would have little reason to do so, but why didn't Frye's corner throw in the towel? It's no stain on the fighter's toughness if his corner sees him getting mauled and decides to spare him further injury, so why don't they? Yes, fighters want to win at all costs, but in some situations you know there's almost no possiblity of winning - if that coincides with taking a massive beating, corners really should be throwing in the towel.

Finally, people on Sherdog who say such late stoppages make them sick seem very odd to me. Yes, on retrospect I think there need to be some changes, but until the end I was loving it seeing Frye get tooled, especially after they both went for the Frye-Takayama-hold-your-opponent's-head-and-punch routine. It was comical seeing him flail like that and I unashamedly admit I laughed at the sight. That doesn't mean I think that's what should have happened, I don't. But c'mon - at least one reason you watch MMA is to see people get absolutely knocked silly, and Frye-Thompson delivered. Don't act like you didn't like it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

My Head Really Is Going To Explode

The Nevada State Athletic Commision just changed Nick Diaz's amazing gogoplata win over Takanori Gomi to a No-Decision because Diaz had high levels of THC metabolites in his urine.

Allow me to wretch.

Dr. Tony Alamo is officially retarded. He actually thinks that Diaz was so stoned at the fight that he didn't feel Gomi's punches, and yet he was able to whether the storm, give Gomi a beating on the feet, and then win with a gogoplata, which he presumably made up while smoking blunts back stage. Groan.

Does this guy not understand that the presence of metabolites does not equal THC in your bloodstream? Or that THC is not exactly Morphine?

And are we really going to believe that Nick Diaz would otherwise have tapped because getting punched hurts (being KOd or stopped by the ref would almost certainly be EASIER if you were either stoned or on real painkillers)? Has Alamo ever seen any of Diaz' other fights?

The fact that someone this stupid can be licensed to practice medicine in our nation fills me with dread, revulsion, and a desire to take at least 6 bong rips to get this fool out of my head.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

My World Is Collapsing Around Me

Can someone please explain to me what is going on? First Couture utterly embarasses Sylvia, and now Matt Serra, who until last night had most of his wins by decision and not a single KO or TKO, TKO's Georges fuckin' St. Pierre. In like two minutes. In Pride, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou knocks out his second top 10 light heavyweight in as many fights. Hasn't someone told him this isn't how it works?

The UFC welterweight division is entirely upset at this point. Hughes and St. Pierre just suffered losses, Diego (was going to be the next challenger) just lost, and Serra is at the top of the heap. Who is he going to fight? I think eventually Hughes will regain the title and be toppled again by St. Pierre, but if the UFC follows its usual formula this will take probably a year. Hell, Kendall Grove could be the next champ - he was the only welter that performed to expectations.

Fedor better be kept under lock and key, there's something in the air (nervousness about the Pride acquisition) that's taking our champions down. I was happy to see Sylvia go, but no one looks safe now.

I had mixed feelings about Diego losing. A year ago I would have been delighted, but not only has it been revealed that he's a pot smoker, but Koschek fought a very conservative, boring fight strategy (although he did nail some nice jabs). Diego definitely not bring his A game - he looked tentative and afraid to let go, which seemed odd because forcing Koscheck to take him down would have been good for him. The one time they did go down he swept to mount and almost to back. Maybe he was stoned. . .

That Okami guy sure is tough, Swick had some moments at the end of the second, but he basically got schooled. Roger Huerta is a badass. That's all for now. . .

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Art Of War

So I saw Art Of War V on Saturday, took some good pictures, and came away impressed overall. The production is on TV, with a potential broadcast audience in the hundreds of millions, and the production was good overall - reminded me of a lower budget Pride (same aesthetic sensibilities, which makes sense).

The crowd was better than the average UFC crowd. While the Chinese don't go for the Japanese respectful-silence-followed-by-applause-during-grappling-transitions, there were no boos, no cries of "quit dancing you homos", although there was occassional shouting, it was more of the "jia you" (literally 'add oil', but it basically means 'go!') variety.

There must have been fifteen or so fights - it was a lot in any case.

The three guys from the Beijing JiuJitsu Academy absolutely outclassed their opponents, and all three won by strikes - their opponents (all Mongolian Judokas) briefly put Shuang Hai and Tie Quan in a bad position, but they quickly escaped, and once the judokas started getting hit they quickly folded. Ao Hai Lin's fight was even quicker - he was relentless.

Zhao Zi Long, a San Da champ who is starting out in Jiujitsu rapidly took his opponent out with stinging low kicks.

The fights between fighters I didn't know were a mixed bag. On the one hand, there were some really compelling fights, one in particular, in which the two guys landed big shots and, amazingly, didn't go down before running out the time and coming to a draw (no decisions here). On the other hand, there was some truly horrid jiujitsu on display: dropping for a footlock with controlling the leg, throwing the leg over for an armbar while paying no attention to the hips, and even not using hooks properly from the back. It's clear that a lot of these guys have seen MMA on TV, but have never had any proper instruction. I think the market is ripe for some instructional videos in Chinese, of which there are currently none.

Of course, this is only the fifth professional MMA event in China, and there's only one team fielding fighters that can actually grapple - you can't expect the UFC or Pride. But this country is soon to have the largest economy in the world, and it's leisure-loving middle class is growing daily. I don't think it's at all unrealistic to think that in 10 years MMA will have a sizable following in China, and that we will be seeing a few Chinese atheletes having success in the UFC or Pride.

The recent acquisition of Pride by the Fertittas brings new challenges to the Adoria Entertainment, the company putting on Art of War. While it's now the dominant (and only) player in China, it's going to have to work to make sure Zuffa isn't able to steamroll it's way in, buy off the top atheletes, and take the Chinese market for itself. Of course, simply selling out to Zuffa could be a lucrative option as well. . .

Monday, April 2, 2007

Art Of War Pics

Commentary to follow tomorrow. . . sorry for the delay.